Orthodox View of the Atonement Redux

Frederica Matthews-Green has a nice essay on how the atonement should be seen as a rescue, not a ransom. I also have posts on this topic here.

An excerpt from “First Fruits of Prayer: A Forty-Day Journey Through the Canon of St. Andrew”

Every day, Christians pray “deliver us from evil,” not knowing that the Greek original reads “the evil,” that is, “the evil one.” The New Testament Scriptures are full of references to the malice of the devil, but we generally overlook them. I think this is because our idea of salvation is that Christ died on the cross to pay His Father the debt for our sins. The whole drama takes place between Him and the Father, and there’s no role for the evil one.
But for the early Christians, the evil one was a very real and malevolent presence. Temptation coaxes us toward sin, and sin leads to sickness and death, and ultimately confinement in the realm of the evil one. The devil’s main purpose is not to scare us, in a horror-movie way; when we’re scared of him we’re alert to him, and that might undermine his plans. Instead, he wants to quietly, subtly lure us into stepping away from God. Sin leads to death, but death also leads to sin. Hebrews 2:14 explains that the evil one has always controlled the human race through fear of death; that’s what most deeply terrifies us and makes us grab at earthly security. But “whoever would save his life will lose it” (Matthew 16:25). That’s the bitter trick. Desperate, selfish clutching lands us in the realm of death.

Read more of Frederica’s essay at :

Christ’s Death: A Rescue Mission, Not a Payment for Sins

this article was originally written for [Beliefnet, January 10, 2005]

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