George Alvarado: The Atonement

April 1, 2017

George Alvarado is an Air Force mechanic and student of theology. He blogs at Truth in Grace and is one of the podcasters at G220 Radio. In this episode, we discuss the Atonement. Penal Substitutionary Atonement is the primary view of the Atonement that we hold to as Reformed believers, but other views complement it, and some contradict it. We discuss various Biblical and unbiblical views.


Outline of the Discussion
  • George begins by sharing about his ministry and church. He began by doing evangelism in England while stationed over there with the Air Force. He and Ricky Gantz host G220 Radio, a podcast ministry they share, and he blogs at Truth in Grace. As an aside, George and Ricky had Andy on as a guest to their show back in February to discuss stay-at-home dads.
  • The view of Penal Substitutional Atonement describes the nature of Christ's crucifixion as it applies to us as sinful people. Christ stood in our place, as guilty (we are, he was not), to make payment for the demands of justice as a substitution for us taking God's wrath for sin.
  • Opposition to the Penal Substitutionary view of Atonement can be for many reasons. Some see it as incompatible with God's love for Christ, his son. Others see it as contradictory to their view of human free will.
  • There are people who hold to a view of Substitutionary Atonement that isn't Penal in nature. Some will make a distinction between Christ dying on behalf of sinners and Christ dying in the place of sinners. In the place of would be penal in nature, and would be seen as more exclusive, that Christ died only for the Elect. Some also can't stomach the idea that sin is so bad that it would require the death of God the Son in order to save sinners from the punishment due them for those sins. They also want to apply the death of Christ to everyone, not just those who are among God's Elect.
  • We sidetracked for a moment to discuss Open Theism, as George encounters a lot of Open Theists in his discussions of Atonement. They hold to a view that the future is Open, that even God does not know the future. It is, ultimately, though heretical, the most consistent view held by those who reject the Reformed understanding of Election.
  • Atonement views that are Biblical, and should complement Penal Substitutionary Atonement include: Recapitulation, Satisfaction Theory, and Christus Victor.
  • Recapitulation was a view of the Atonement held by Irenaeus, which sees Christ as being the second/last Adam, and He reversed all of the damage that Adam did. What Adam did, Christ undid.
  • Satisfaction Theory was first articulated by Anselm of Canterbury and says that Christ restored God's honor in His death. It says that Christ's death was a ransom paid by God and to God. It is seen by many to be the precursor to a fully articulated Penal Substitutionary Atonement view.
  • Christus Victor is a view that sees Christ as victorious over death, sin, and the forces of darkness.
  • Atonement views that we see as heretical, unbiblical, and incompatible with Penal Substitutionary Atonement include: Ransom Theory, The Moral-Example Theory, and Governmental Theory.
  • Ransom Theory says that Christ died as a ransom paid by God to Satan to buy back the redeemed from the Devil.
  • The Moral-Example Theory says that Christ died purely as a moral example to us; to impress upon man's heart, leading to repentance.
  • Governmental Theory says that Christ died as an example of suffering and God's displeasure for sin.
Scriptures Referenced
  • Romans 5
  • 1 Corinthians 15
  • Hebrews 2:14
  • Matthew 20:28
  • Galatians 2:13
  • 1 Timothy 2:6
Additional Resources
Related Episodes

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