Thumbnail Sketch of the Governmental Theory of the Atonement

For a great many Evangelicals, the Cross of Christ is not an objective, vicarious substitution but a public declaration of divine justice designed to stimulate sinners to choose to follow God. This is called the Governmental theory of the Atonement. In this theory the Father punishes the Son on the Cross NOT as a substitute paying for the designated penalty of a designated elect. Rather the Father is using the Son’s death as a cosmic public demonstration to all sinners everywhere at all times that justice for sin and disobedience has been paid in the abstract. Not for any one concrete individual or any concrete group (Church) but only in the abstract.

Now, that God has made this public declaration of abstract justice “whosoever” is welcome to return to God if they will. Preaching thus becomes a explanation of why Christ was such a victim of the Father and how feeling sorry for Christ should be a motivator for their repentance. This is where the pitiful sentimental pietistic Preaching comes from that so often happens in our pulpits today. God is not commanding all men everywhere to repent. Instead, Jesus is “softly and tenderly calling, calling for you and for me.”

Note in all this man remains sovereign in his salvation. God has provided an abstract justice but it is up to man to decide whether or not he’ll feel sorry enough for poor poor Jesus hanging on the Cross, punished by the Father, to actually choose him to be the sinners savior.

Of course this model still suffers from implicit Universalism. If the Father really has punished sin in the abstract then even the sin of unbelief in what the Father has done has already been punished in Christ and so the unbeliever in Christ is already saved since justice for sin, unbelief and disobedience has been demonstrated.

Author: jetbrane

I am a Pastor of a small Church in Mid-Michigan who delights in my family, my congregation and my calling. I am postmillennial in my eschatology. Paedo-Calvinist Covenantal in my Christianity Reformed in my Soteriology Presuppositional in my apologetics Kinist in my family theology Agrarian in my regional community social order belief Christianity creates culture and so Christendom in my national social order belief Mythic-Poetic / Grammatical Historical in my Hermeneutic Pre-modern, Medieval, & Feudal before Enlightenment, modernity, & postmodern Reconstructionist / Theonomic in my Worldview One part paleo-conservative / one part micro Libertarian in my politics Systematic and Biblical theology need one another but Systematics has pride of place Some of my favorite authors, Augustine, Turretin, Calvin, Tolkien, Chesterton, Nock, Tozer, Dabney, Bavinck, Wodehouse, Rushdoony, Bahnsen, Schaeffer, C. Van Til, H. Van Til, G. H. Clark, C. Dawson, H. Berman, R. Nash, C. G. Singer, R. Kipling, G. North, J. Edwards, S. Foote, F. Hayek, O. Guiness, J. Witte, M. Rothbard, Clyde Wilson, Mencken, Lasch, Postman, Gatto, T. Boston, Thomas Brooks, Terry Brooks, C. Hodge, J. Calhoun, Llyod-Jones, T. Sowell, A. McClaren, M. Muggeridge, C. F. H. Henry, F. Swarz, M. Henry, G. Marten, P. Schaff, T. S. Elliott, K. Van Hoozer, K. Gentry, etc. My passion is to write in such a way that the Lord Christ might be pleased. It is my hope that people will be challenged to reconsider what are considered the givens of the current culture . Your biggest help to me dear reader will be to often remind me that God is Sovereign and that all that is, is because it pleases him.

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