Wednesday, February 07, 2018


On a podcast, I heard a speaker say that the atonement is so complicated that it needs many images to describe it. This is true, but the weakness is with the images, not the understanding of the atonement.

The problem with complicating the atonement is that it becomes hard to explain what Jesus death on the cross actually does.

The cross was God’s solution to a human problem. It was also a problem for God, because he was held back from accomplishing his purposes for the world.

Understanding the nature of this problem is the key to understanding the atonement.

The problem is simple. Although humans were created by God and given authority over the earth, they wanted to be independent and rejected his authority.

This problem produced many bad consequences. Some were primary effects and others were consequent to them. This is why atonement often seems so complicated. I demonstrate this in the attached diagram. The boxes further from the centre are the consequence of prior consequences.

Sin had many consequences. The problem with any image of the atonement is that it may illustrate a couple of the consequences, but will not work for all of them. No image can fully explain the problem and all its consequence.

God's solution to the human problem is demonstrated in the next diagram. The cross dealt with the basic human problem. It resolved some of the consequences immediately. They are the ones in the red boxes in the diagram. Not all consequences were resolved immediately. However, the cross established a process that ensures that all the consequence of the human problem will be resolved.

A key consequence was the outpouring of the Holy Spirit. The remaining consequences (blue and brown) will be resolved by the Holy Spirit working through the church.

The ones in brown have hardly started.

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