Biblical Nuggets: Abailard’s “Moral Influence” View of the Atonement


Abailard rejects Anselmian “Satisfaction” view of the atonement. He finds the idea of satisfaction inexplicable and nonsensical. He believes faith must be subjective to reason and reason alone must have authority. So, he raises a number of objections to Anselmian view.

(1) How could God be reconciled with the death of his Son when murder of his Son is far greater crime than eating fruit in the garden of Eden?

(2) What standard of justice is carried out since an innocent person is killed over nothing and people are pleased? It seems cruel to demand the blood of an innocent person and wicked to please by that price.

(3) How can this satisfaction be effective?

(i)     To whom was the ransom paid – God?

(ii)   Who set the price – God?

(iii)  To who was this obligation to be discharged – God?

Abailard proposes solution to this problem by shifting emphasis away from the Death of Christ to his Life and shift away from the satisfaction of divine justice to the impact of Divine Love. And he concludes that there is no other explanation for atonement of Christ than the revelation of divine love. Therefore, there is no logic apart from love.

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