by Donald McKay
Notes on the church’s paradigm shift, from 3 messages on CD by David Bercot:
1] “What the Early Christians Believed About the Atonement”
2] “What the Early Christians Believed About Imputed Righteousness”
3] [answers to] “Questions About the Atonement”
In nearly all his talks, Bercot:
– summarizes the early [“Ante-Nicene”]+ Christians’ position given in their writings
– quotes them through those centuries to demonstrate their consistency
– quotes Scriptures to show their beliefs’ foundation to be the whole Bible, not proof-texts
– details when the church’s interpretation of Scripture changed, and why
TWO BASIC VIEWS OF THE ATONEMENT
St. Anselm’s “Satisfaction” Model,
Early Christians’ “Classic” Model especially as modified by
into the “Penal” or “Legal” Model
(church universal–first 1100 years, (majority of Western church–last 900
especially first 300 years) years, especially last 500 years)
1] God always has and still does freely 1] God forgives sins only upon debt-
forgive sins upon true repentance; it payment.
can be retracted, and is provisional.
2] Jesus ransomed us from the power 2] Jesus ransomed us from His angry
of death and of the devil. Father.
3] Jesus died as our heroic sacrifice. 3] Jesus died as a ritualistic,
4] Jesus won the victory over Satan 4] Jesus’ death was a vicarious punish-
and released us by His resurrection. ment; His resurrection is unrelated
to freeing us.
5] Jesus’ blood changes our heart: 5] Jesus’ blood changes God’s heart /
view of us:
– cleanses us from sin itself. – pays God’s exacted penalty for sins
– reconciles us to God. – reconciles God to us; it has
no effective power in us,
it only covers us.
– We are new creations in Christ. – We are still in our sins,
but now have a new legal standing
6] Death is sin’s consequence; 6] Death is sin’s penalty; incarnation was
Jesus is the 2nd Adam – necessary because a descendant of
we’re related to Him by the new birth. the 1st Adam had to die to pay it.
7] Knowledge of Jesus’ teachings and 7] Jesus was born and died;
life example (God’s ways) are nothing further is needed.
essential; they need to be followed (Our obedience, our personal
or sin’s bondage returns. holiness & righteousness–even our
repentance–all are optional).**
8] Righteousness is imputed to us 8] Christ’s righteousness was imputed to us
only if we abide in Him and obey by legal transaction in the heavenly
Him, only if we “walk in the light.” ledger when Christ died for us.
9] Jesus is our “propitiation” – that is, 9] Jesus is our “propitiation” – that is,
“rendered us favorable” to the Father, has “appeased” the Father for us,
& enabled us to regain His goodwill. placating His wrath over sin.
10] The OT sacrifices were a “tutor” 10] The OT sacrifices showed the need for
leading us to Christ: shed blood to placate God’s wrath;
they foreshadowed the coming
Lamb of God whose blood alone
a] They pointed to the requirement of could ultimately satisfy and pay
an innocent victim’s death in order God’s just penalty.
to free us from bondage to Satan, sin,
& death, and to reconcile us to God.
b] They were a reminder of the need
to be cleansed from sin;
they pointed to the blood’s healing &
sanctifying power we were to receive.
Alternative Conclusions–Which is Scriptural?
IF Christ’s blood was a payoff to the Father, then it’s over. The price is paid. God will now look the other way when we sin because heaven’s ledger book has us credited as being righteous.
IF Christ’s blood was shed in death as He willingly sacrificed Himself to ransom us from the power of Satan and death, then we are no longer Satan’s slaves; we have been redeemed and are now by right our Redeemer’s slaves.
* The English word “atonement” has a new meaning from when it was first used to translate from the OT Hebrew and NT Greek. It originally meant “at-one-ment,” that is, the making of two diverse entities “at one,” or “reconciliation,” as versions now translate it.
+ For the reasons why the speaker chose to limit his resources to this time-frame, see his book, Will the Real Heretics Please Stand Up, Scroll Publishing. CDs are available from http://www.earlychurch.com.
** my own deduction