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Theological Term of the Week

ransom to Satan theory of the atonement
The view of the atonement that maintained that “the death of Christ constituted a ransom paid to Satan, in order to cancel the just claims which the latter had on man”1; also called the classical theory of the atonement. 

  • From Systematic Theology by Wayne Grudem: 

    This view was held by Origen (c. A.D. 185—c. 254). a theologian from Alexandria and later Caesarea, and after him by some others in the early history of the church. According to this view, the ransom Christ paid to redeem us was paid to Satan, in whose kingdom all people were by virtue of sin. 

    This theory finds no direct confirmation in Scripture and has few supporters in the history of the church. It falsely thinks of Satan rather than God as the one who required that a payment be made for sin and thus completely neglects the demands of God’s justice with respect to sin. It views Satan as having much more power than he actually does, namely, power to demand whatever he wants from God, rather than as one who has been cast down from heaven and has no right to demand anything of God. Nowhere does Scripture way that we as sinners owe anything to Satan, but it repeatedly says that God requires of us a payment for our sins. This view also fails to deal with the texts that speak of Christ’s death as a propitiation offered to God the Father for our sins, or with the fact that God the Father represented the Trinity in accepting the payment for sins from Christ….

  • From The Christian Faith by Michael Horton:  

    Assuming that the devil was the rightful owner of sinners, Origen taught that Christ was a trap: his humanity ws the necessary bait for luring Satan into thinking that he had at last won out over Yahweh, and then he conquered the devil by his deity.

Learn more:

  1. Got What are the various theories on the atonement?
  2. Christian Apologetics and Research Ministry: Ransom Theory of the Atonement
  3. William SasserErroneous Theories of the Atonement (pdf)
  4. Jeffrey Waddington: Surveying the Wondrous Cross: The Atonement in Church History

Related terms:

1From Systematic Theology by Louis Berkhof

Filed under Defective Theology.

Do you have a term you’d like to see featured here as a Theological Term of the Week? If you email it to me, I’ll seriously consider using it, giving you credit for the suggestion and linking back to your blog when I do.

Clicking on the Theological Term graphic at the top of this post will take you to a list of all the previous theological terms in alphabetical order.


Round the Sphere Again: Patriotic

American Flag
How to fly it. (mental_floss Blog) Answering all your flag display questions, like 

Is it true you have to retire and burn a flag that touches the ground? 
No, that’s a myth. The flag code is quite a bit more realistic about this situation. While the code states, “The flag should never touch anything beneath it, such as the ground, the floor, water, or merchandise,” there’s no rule saying that a flag that slips has to immediately be burned.

Canadian Flag
Has flying rules, too, although they don’t seem to cover as many specific details as the American Flag Code.


A Catechism for Girls and Boys

Part II: Questions about The Ten Commandments

40. Q. Is God pleased with those who love and obey him?
      A. Yes. He says, ‘I love them that love me’.  

(Click through to read scriptural proof.)

Click to read more ...


Sunday's Hymn: O Worship the King

O worship the King, all glorious above,
O gratefully sing His power and His love;
Our Shield and Defender, the Ancient of Days,
Pavilioned in splendor, and girded with praise.

O tell of His might, O sing of His grace,
Whose robe is the light, whose canopy space,
His chariots of wrath the deep thunderclouds form,
And dark is His path on the wings of the storm.

The earth with its store of wonders untold,
Almighty, Thy power hath founded of old;
Established it fast by a changeless decree,
And round it hath cast, like a mantle, the sea.

Thy bountiful care, what tongue can recite?
It breathes in the air, it shines in the light;
It streams from the hills, it descends to the plain,
And sweetly distills in the dew and the rain.

Frail children of dust, and feeble as frail,
In Thee do we trust, nor find Thee to fail;
Thy mercies how tender, how firm to the end,
Our Maker, Defender, Redeemer, and Friend.

O measureless might! Ineffable love!
While angels delight to worship Thee above,
The humbler creation, though feeble their lays,
With true adoration shall all sing Thy praise. 

—Robert Grant

Other hymns, worship songs, sermons etc. posted today:

Have you posted a hymn (or sermon, sermon notes, prayer, etc.) today and I missed it? Let me know by leaving a link in the comments or by contacting me using the contact form linked above, and I’ll add your post to the list.


Round the Sphere Again: Questions

About Assurance
How can I know I’m a Christian (Tim Challies)? And what is the right basis for assurance of salvation?

Of God
Both Mary and Zechariah asked God a question. “Why is Mary’s treated with respect while Zechariah’s is an occasion for spiritual discipline? (Justin Taylor)”

About the Dictionary
How do words get in the dictionary (Grammar Girl)?

And what is a dictionary, anyway? In answering this second question, Grammar Girl makes the point that 

most modern dictionaries are descriptive, which means they attempt to describe the language as it is actually used.

In other words, a dictionary isn’t going to tell you which words are acceptible and which are unacceptible. For that, you need a usage or style guide.