The Unification Doctrine of the Atonement

Journal of Unification Studies Vol. 12, 2011 - Pages 11-40

In Christian theology the atonement is the work of Christ, which is usually considered to be done through his death on the cross. The English word "atonement," derived from "at-one-ment," was coined by William Tyndale (c. 1494-1536) to correspond to the Greek word καταλλαγη (meaning "reconciliation") in biblical passages such as Romans 11:15 in his translation of the New Testament in 1526. Thus the atonement means that God and alienated fallen humans become one by being reconciled through the work of Christ.

Historically there have been a variety of theories of the atonement. Among them, there are four major ones: 1) the "classic" theory, widespread amongst early Church Fathers and in the Church in the first eleven centuries of the Christian era; 2) the "satisfaction" theory in the Catholic Church since the 11th century; 3) the "penal substitution" theory in the Reformation tradition; and 4) the "moral influence" theory amongst liberal Christians. Other theories are usually variations of them. This article will discuss the Unification doctrine of the atonement mainly based on these four major ones.

If one reviews all the major Christian theories of the atonement, one is faced with at least three areas of ambiguity or uncertainty. This is not an unfair statement. For, as will be seen, many serious believers and theologians have pointed out these areas of ambiguity.

First, given the variety of competing theories, there is no official consensus about the atonement. Regarding this ambiguity, the Anglican theologian John Macquarrie observes: "The Church has never formulated a doctrine of the atonement with the same precision with which it has tried to define the person of Christ."[1] The work of Christ should be one of the most important topics in Christian theology because it is related to our redemption and salvation. And yet, this ambiguity is the reality. In the words of the prominent Oxford theologian J. N. D. Kelly, "Indeed, while the conviction of redemption through Christ has always been the motive force of Christian faith, no universally accepted definition of the manner of its achievement has been formulated to this day."[2]

A second area of ambiguity is that while many Christians agree with St. Paul that the resurrection of Christ as well as his death is "of first importance" (1 Cor. 15:3-5), these major theories of the atonement put so much emphasis on his death on the cross that they basically fail to appreciate the value of his resurrection. One prime example of this is the satisfaction theory, developed by St. Anselm of Canterbury in the 11th century, and when it maintains that for the atonement the death of Christ successfully "satisfied" the honor of God offended since the time of the fall of Adam, it does not talk about any role of the resurrection of Christ at all. Wouldn't this create ambiguity or uncertainty in our faith in Christ? Perhaps the only exception is the classic theory, which appreciates not only the death of Christ but also his resurrection and even all the other things that happened in his entire life on the earth since the Incarnation.

A third area of ambiguity concerns those who helped to kill Christ on the cross such as his own faithless disciples, religious leaders, and Roman officials and soldiers. According to all the major theories, his death for the atonement was in accordance with God's will from the beginning. If so, all those who helped to kill Christ helped God's will to be done. They should, then, be praised as "agents of divine will," so to speak. However, is this conclusion really acceptable? Perhaps not. For they have always been blamed and held accountable for what they did. Were they, then, agents in opposition to God's will? Here is a tremendous amount of uncertainty. The typical Church response has been that the death of Christ, which is a great event planned by God, is a mystery of faith anyway. But recent scholarship, involving especially a new school of theology inspired by the French philosophical anthropologist René Girard,[3] intriguingly exposes this inner disjuncture behind the crucifixion.

The present paper will see how the Divine Principle, which is the doctrinal teaching of the Unification Church based on a new interpretation of the Bible,[4] addresses the above three areas of ambiguity or uncertainty. In the process of having the Divine Principle address them, the present paper will show the Divine Principle view of the atonement, i.e., the Unification doctrine of the atonement, in the context of the Christian tradition. Whether or not the Unification doctrine of the atonement is acceptable will depend on how well the Divine Principle addresses the areas of ambiguity. It will also depend on whether or not any new and unique contributions the Divine Principle makes are convincingly reasonable.


Four Major Theories

1. The Classic Theory

The classic theory was developed by early Church Fathers such as Irenaeus (d. c. 200) and Origin (d. c. 254). It was the standard view until the 11th century. It maintains that because humans became the children of the devil under his dominion due to the fall of Adam, Christ was offered as a "ransom" (Matt. 20:28; Mark 10:45; 1 Tim. 2:6) to the devil to liberate them from his dominion. So, it is also called the ransom theory. This theory is about Christ victoriously defeating Satan's dominion to bring a complete change in the relationship between God and humans; so, it points to the "kingly" mission of Christ. It should be noted that Satan is not a mythological figure for early Church Fathers, who literally believed in his actual existence.

After the 11th century, the classic theory was forgotten because the satisfaction theory appeared at that time and became popular since then. It was finally in 1930 that the classic theory was rehabilitated from oblivion through special lectures at Uppsala University in that year by the Swedish Lutheran theologian Gustaf Aulén. His lectures became a book entitled Christus Victor, whose English translation, published in the following year, turned out to be groundbreaking in the West, drawing everyone's attention to the classic theory.[5] So, this theory has "Christus Victor" ("Christ the Victor") as another name.

What is interesting about this theory is its assertion that all the things that happened in the entire life of Christ, including the Incarnation, his three temptations, his Sermon on the Mount, his miracle performances, and his death, resurrection, and ascension, were equally redemptive because they all had the same purpose of battling against the devil's dominion. Although it believes that Christ had to die on the cross, it does not emphasize his death in such a way as to neglect the importance of other things that happened in his life. Thus, in the words of Aulén, there is "a continuous line from the Incarnation, through the entire earthly life of Christ, and His death, to His resurrection and exaltation," and "no one point in this line claims anything like an exclusive emphasis."[6]

2. The Satisfaction Theory

The satisfaction theory was formulated by Anselm (c. 1033-1109) in his book Cur Deus Homo ("Why the God-Man") written 1098, and since then it has been spread widely in the Catholic Church. Anselm explicitly rejected the then accepted idea that Christ was offered as a ransom to the devil for the deliverance of fallen humans. He rejected it because he could not believe that the devil had any right to hold humans, given the almighty power of God.

According to Anselm, the fall of Adam offended the honor of God, incurring an infinite debt to divine justice. So, someone needs to "satisfy" the offended honor of God, by paying the debt somehow. Fallen humans cannot do that work because of their grave sinfulness; the infinite debt can be paid only by God. But, since it is humans who owe it, it must be paid by someone who is also human. Christ as the God-Man, therefore, had to die on the cross on our behalf to pay the debt, in order to thus satisfy God's honor. Christ voluntarily did this act of "giving His life, or laying down His life, or delivering Himself up to death for the honor of God."[7]

The work of Christ is thus propitiation or appeasement to God on our behalf, and it points to the "priestly" mission of Christ. It is an "objective" atonement because it is for the satisfaction of God, our "object" of faith, outside and independent of us, "subjects" of faith, although God's satisfaction eventually brings us forgiveness and a new life.

One noteworthy thing about this theory is that it regards the death of Christ on the cross as the only way for the atonement, leaving out of sight all the other events that happened in his entire life even including his resurrection: "[Its] whole emphasis is on the death as an isolated fact, and as in itself constituting the satisfaction."[8] This makes this theory very different from the classic theory that believes that all the events in his life are equally important for the atonement. Another thing that makes the satisfaction theory very different from the classic theory is its removal of the devil from the equation.

3. The Penal Substitution Theory

The penal substitution theory, adhered to by John Calvin (1509-1564) and other Reformers, is very similar to the satisfaction theory, in that it points to the "priestly" mission of Christ as an another "objective" theory. It holds that Christ died on the cross on behalf of us, yet outside and independent of us, to propitiate and appease the wrath of God (caused by the fall of Adam), although the propitiation eventually brings us forgiveness. Justice demands that in front of God's judgment our sin inherited from the fall of Adam deserve "death" as the "wages of sin" (Rom. 6:23). As our "substitute," however, Christ received this "penalty" of death on the cross. "Christ," in the words of Calvin, "interposed, took the punishment upon himself, and bore what by the just judgment of God was impending over sinners."[9]

While this theory is very similar to the satisfaction theory, its legal notion of penalty for the atonement makes it quite different from the latter where voluntary obedience rather than penalty is stressed for the satisfaction of God's honor in accordance with the Catholic doctrine of penance.

But the penal substitution theory is again similar to the satisfaction theory, when it isolates the death of Christ from all the other events that took place in his life such as the Incarnation, his sermon on the mount, and his resurrection, seeing the crucifixion as the only way for the atonement. This theory also does not involve the devil in its discussion of the atonement.

4. The Moral Influence Theory

This theory was originally developed by Peter Abelard (1079-1142) in his book Expositio in Epistolam ad Romanos (Commentary on the Epistle to the Romans) and accepted by liberal theologians in the 19th and 20th centuries such as Horace Bushnell (1802-1876) and Hastings Rashdall (1858-1924).[10] Like Anselm, Abelard rejected the classic theory's assertion that the death of Christ was a ransom paid to the devil for the deliverance of fallen humans. But Abelard also rejected Anselm's idea that the death of Christ was a debt-payment to satisfy God's offended honor. Abelard was not so much interested in how to satisfy God to have him change his attitude towards sinful humans as in how to let sinful humans see the love of God that is ever present. God's love is so abundant that he overrules his need for satisfaction.

For Abelard, therefore, the sacrificial death of Christ on the cross is a demonstration of God's abundant love, so that that love may be morally awakened in sinful humans as they respond to it as a supreme "example" (1 Peter 2:21). Regarding the benefit of the death of Christ, Abelard states: "Every man is made... juster, that is to say, more moving to the Lord after the passion of Christ than he was before, because a benefit actually received kindles the soul into love more than one merely hoped for."[11]

It is a "subjective" atonement because it exercises an impression and influence on us, "subjects" of faith. It points to the "prophetic" mission of Christ for our moral awakening. This theory presupposes the optimism of human nature and discusses the atonement in personal terms.

This theory believes that the death of Christ was necessary as the ultimate way of displaying God's love for the moral inspiration of humans. While other events that took place in his life also displayed the love of God, his death was the supreme exhibition of that love.


The Divine Principle View

How does the Divine Principle view the atonement? It maintains that due to the fall of Adam and Eve all their descendents became the children of Satan under his "sovereignty."[12] So, it naturally views the atonement as our deliver¬ance from the dominion of Satan to go back to be under the dominion of God. It thus resembles the classic theory very much and differs from the other major theories, which have removed Satan from the equation. It also agrees with the classic theory that Satan is not a mythological figure but a spiritual being that really exists, although as in the classic theory the Zoroastrian type of dualism is out of the question.

But the Divine Principle has a more detailed explanation of the nature of Satan's dominion than the classic theory, because it maintains that sinful humans are of "the lineage of Satan" instead of "the lineage of God" after Adam and Eve fell and "bound themselves in blood ties with Lucifer."[13] When you use the word "lineage" to explain about "dominion," you are most likely talking about Adam's so-called "natural headship" (rather than "federal headship") under Satan, which indicates a tighter relationship than the word "dominion" generally would indicate. Also, the word "lineage" shows the idea of the sexual fall of Adam and Eve, which is quite a unique idea, although it is not entirely alien in the Christian tradition, given the fact that early Church Fathers such as St. Clement of Alexandria (d. c. 215) and St. Ambrose (d. 397) accepted it.[14]

According to the Divine Principle, Jesus Christ originally came as "the second Adam"[15] to defeat Satan's lineage and dominion and restore God's lineage and sovereignty on the earth. He continuously made efforts to accomplish that task. But he eventually realized that it was impossible to accomplish it due to unspeakably strong opposition from the Jewish leaders in the chosen nation, and that the only way left was for him to sacrifice his own life out of love for his opponents and all humanity, so that this act of love on his part might be able to lay a foundation for the future accom¬plish¬ment of that original task at his Second Coming.[16] That foundation for the future was none other than his resurrection following his death.

When the Jewish leaders rebelled against Christ instead of accepting him, Satan decisively took possession of them, other Jewish people, and all humanity. At that moment, God decided to save them all even by "delivering Jesus into the hands of Satan," who in turn wanted to kill Jesus "even though he might have to hand back all of humanity, including the Jewish people, to God."[17] The release of sinful humans from Satan was made possible by the resurrection of Christ arranged by God after he was killed by Satan:

Because Satan had already exercised his maximum power in killing Jesus, according to the principle of restoration through indemnity, God was entitled to exercise His maximum power. While Satan uses his power to kill, God uses His power to bring the dead to life. As compensation for Satan's exercise of his maximum power in killing Jesus, God exercised His maximum power and resurrected Jesus. God thus opened the way for all humanity to be engrafted with the resurrected Jesus and thereby receive salvation and rebirth.[18]

Here we can note a difference between the Divine Principle and the classic theory, although both agree that humans have to be delivered from the dominion of Satan. The difference is that while the classic theory believes that the death of Jesus was in accordance with God's will from the beginning, the Divine Principle does not believe so. According to the Divine Principle, the death of Jesus was never in accordance with God's original will. Satan killed Jesus through the religious leaders who were against God's will, and God just had to permit it to happen. This issue of who killed Jesus will be further discussed when our third area of ambiguity is addressed.

The Divine Principle is also different from the classic theory, in that while the classic theory believes that the atonement in terms of the release of sinful humans from Satan's dominion, brought by the death and resurrection of Christ as planned by God, was complete, the Divine Principle does not believe so. The Divine Principle holds that the atonement brought by the death and resurrection of Christ, as a result of the faithlessness of the Jewish leaders, was not complete and was only "spiritual."[19] (In this regard, the Divine Principle is also different from the other major theories because they all believe in their own ways that the atonement by Christ 2000 years ago was complete.)

The original task of Christ, according to the Divine Principle, was to bring a "full" atonement,[20] by completely delivering sinful humans from the lineage of Satan, which the Divine Principle believes to be the real meaning of the dominion of Satan. What if the Jewish leaders had wholeheartedly accepted Jesus instead of rebelling against him? He would have had an alternative course of life on the earth, and it would have been able to bring the full atonement, involving the creation of the lineage of God. And all the events that took place and would have taken place in his entire earthly life would have been instrumental for this atonement. The full atonement, how¬ever, now became what must be brought at his Second Coming. This full atonement is a uniquely important topic in the Divine Principle, but it can only be understood properly after we first address the three areas of ambiguity mentioned above.


Integrating the Various Theories

Reviewing the four major theories, we recognize the above-mentioned first area of ambiguity, which is that there is no real unanimity on the atonement in Christianity. The classic theory talks about the atonement in terms of defeating the reign of Satan, whereas the others, having removed Satan from the equation, are preoccupied with what happens to God first or what happens to sinful humans first. Preoccupied with what happens to God first are the objective theories (satisfaction theory and penal substitution theory), whereas the subjective theory (moral influence theory) is more interested in what happens to sinful humans first.

These various theories are also each prone to criticism. The objective theories are usually criticized for emphasizing Christ's propitiation of God's offended honor or wrath so much that they fail to understand any essential connection of love between Christ and sinful humans. They are also criticized for picturing God not as a loving God but rather as a harsh God who demands justice by sending Christ to the cross. Thus the Yale theologian George Barker Stevens blames the satisfaction theory, by saying that "it would be difficult to name any prominent treatise on atonement, whose conception of sin is so essentially unethical and superficial."[21] John Macquarrie critiques the penal substitution theory for being "sub-Christian" in its idea that Christ was punished by God for the sins of humans.[22] More recently, Steve Chalke, an insider of British evangelical circles where the penal substitution theory is regarded as their essential teaching, has denounced that theory for being "morally dubious and a barrier of faith" because of its image of God as "a vengeful Father."[23] Chalke's denunciation stirred a great controversy amongst evangelicals, causing them to have a public debate in London in 2005.[24]

On the other hand, the moral influence theory is criticized for an opposite reason, i.e., for being simply subjective, referring the work of Christ "man¬ward" and not "Godward," in spite of the fact that the Bible also says that it is Godward: "Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God" (Eph. 5:2).[25] This theory is also critiqued by Bernard of Clairvaux (1090-1153), a contemporary of Abelard, for teaching human¬istically that if the death of Christ is merely an example, the actual work of salvation is done by the efforts of humans.

Even the classic theory is not free from criticism. Anselm's critique of it, which says that it wrongfully acknowledges certain rights of the devil, is quite well-known. Also, many modern people criticize its belief in the actual existence of the devil.

If John Wesley is right when he says, "Nothing in the Christian system is of greater consequence than the doctrine of the atonement,"[26] then how can we tolerate this fact that different atonement theories just compete with one another and are also each prone to criticism, without there being any officially agreed-upon position? To address this question, many people have recently admitted that each and every one of the various theories actually conveys some truth about the work of Christ. Thus the American evangelical theologian Millard J. Erickson, while believing the penal substitution theory to be "the most basic" of all, says, "Each of the theories... seizes upon a significant aspect of his [i.e., Christ's] work," and "each one possesses a dimension of the truth."[27]

The Scottish Presbyterian theologian John McIntyre, however, goes one step further, by "making a plea for an inclusive treatment of the theories of the atonement" where all of them are retained to the exclusion of none because "they mutually influence and condition one another" within "the coherence of the system" of Christ's work.[28] His position implies that the various theories can be integrated in one coherent system. But the question is: What would be that one coherent system? It would not be the penal substitution theory, contrary to Erickson's claim that it is the most basic of all, as it is no more than an objective view. Macquarrie answers that it would be the classic theory because it can integrate both the objective and subjective theories within itself, transcending their distinction: "The classic view of atonement gathers up in itself the most important elements in both the subjective and objective views, thus transcending them."[29]

Maquarrie, of course, is deeply aware that "subjective and objective accounts are by themselves inadequate and misleading," but he still believes that "they both make useful contributions toward understanding the atone¬ment when they are brought into relation to the classic view and treated as supplementary models."[30]

According to Macquarrie, the classic theory includes an objective element in itself in so far as it holds that "the self-giving of God for his creation" is really involved through the self-giving of Christ, and it also contains a subjective element in itself in so far as it "shows us a life of perfect obedience, overcoming every temptation to idolatry and remaining faithful even to the cross."[31] Macquarrie also says that the kingly office of Christ finding expression chiefly in the classic theory can embrace the priestly and prophetic offices finding expression in the objective and subjective theories, respectively:

Christ the king, who wins his victory over the enslaving forces, is also Christ the prophet who gives us the "example" of obedience, but still more he is the priest who utterly gives himself as sacrificial victim and thereby brings right into human history the reconciling activity of God in a new and decisive manner.[32]

There is, however, an even better way of describing how the classic theory is both objective and subjective at once—better than Macquarrie's description. It is by saying that the classic theory refers to a completely new relationship between God and humans after humans are delivered from the dominion of Satan, for in that new relationship both God and humans are equally in a changed status through the work of Christ. Irenaeus, an important advocate of the classic theory, mentions this new divine-human relationship, when he says in his Against Heresies that Christ being resurrected after his death "poured out the Spirit of the Father to bring about the union and communion of God and man."[33] It should be noted here that the resurrection of Christ, along with the work of the Holy Spirit, is essential for the atonement in the classic theory.

The Divine Principle agrees with Irenaeus' description of the classic theory that the atonement means to liberate humans from the dominion of Satan to bring about a completely new divine-human relation¬ship under the dominion of God. It agrees, therefore, that the atonement is both objective and subjective at once, involving both God and humans together in that new relationship. This point is evident when it asserts that the "spiritual rebirth" of sinful humans occurs in their new relationship with God through the mediation of the resurrected Jesus and the Holy Spirit.[34]

According to the Divine Principle, this scheme of spiritual rebirth shows that humans, who are being reborn spiritually, stand in front of the "spiritual Trinity" of: 1) God, 2) the resurrected Jesus, and 3) the Holy Spirit, and that this spiritual Trinity and humans constitute a so-called "four position foundation" centering on God.[35] The relationship of four positions within the four position foundation is such that all of them affect one another.[36] Therefore, the Divine Principle view of the atonement is objective as well as subjective, being able to unite both within the four position foundation.

The Divine Principle use of the Trinity and the four position foundation for the integration of the various theories of the atonement is not entirely novel. Interestingly, Robert Sherman in his book King, Priest, and Prophet develops a trinitarian theology of atonement, which associates "the three commonly recognized models" of the atonement, i.e., the "kingly" classic theory, "priestly" objective theory, and "prophetic" subjective theory, with the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, respectively, to argue that the three models are undivided as long as the three persons are undivided, as the tradition affirms: Opera trinitatis ad extra indivisa sunt ("The external works of the Trinity are undivided").[37] Although associating the threefold office of Christ with the Trinity may be a little too simplistic and may not be entirely legitimate, his general idea that the atonement should be grounded in the Trinity is correct.

When the Divine Principle uses the four position foundation based on the spiritual Trinity to integrate the objective and subjective theories, it does not mean to accept these theories as they are. It agrees with Macquarrie that they "are by themselves inadequate and misleading." They are by themselves merely partial, by being objective or subjective. At the same time, even the classic theory, centering on which they can be integrated, is not enough, for the reason that it does not see another alternative for the life of Christ in which he would have been able to continuously live, without being rebelled against and killed by the people of his day, to bring what the Divine Principle calls the full atonement. If so, unfortunately even the Divine Principle's four position foundation on the basis of the spiritual Trinity is not enough, either, as it is also not about the full atonement yet. (Again, the full atonement will be discussed below once these three areas of ambiguity are addressed.)

But it is safe to say at this juncture that the best elements in the objective, subjective, and classic theories are gathered up in the four position foundation on the basis of the spiritual Trinity. A best element of the objective theories (satisfaction theory and penal substitution theory) is their idea that God is affected by what Christ does on behalf of humans in accordance with the divine will, although what the divine will truly means may still be debatable; a best element of the subjective theory is its assertion that sinful humans are encouraged by Christ on behalf of God to repent and improve themselves; and a best element of the classic theory is its description of how the resurrected Christ and the Holy Spirit work together to bring about a new divine-human relationship under the spiritual dominion of God. All these elements are gathered up in the God-centered four position foundation, because according to the Divine Principle the four positions of that foundation (God, the resurrected Christ, the Holy Spirit, and humans) relate to and affect one another. It should be noted that the Divine Principle teaches that even the omniscient and omnipotent God is so affected as to feel "joy" from what is done in accordance with "the purpose of creation,"[38] and also that humans are always encouraged by God to fulfill "their own portion of responsibility."[39] Thus sinful humans are expected to make efforts to stand engrafted into the spiritual Trinity, having prepared for their spiritual rebirth.


Appreciating the Resurrection of Christ

Our second area of ambiguity concerns the role of the resurrection of Christ for the atonement. It is usually believed that Christ was resurrected with a glorified and imperishable "spiritual body" (1 Cor. 15:42-44) after his death on the cross.[40] The problem is that while people such as St. Paul strongly believe the resurrection of Christ as well as his death to be important for the atonement, quite surprisingly the objective and subjective theories of the atonement do not appreciate the value of his resurrection. This causes ambiguity in our faith in Christ.

The satisfaction theory, as developed by Anselm, goes extreme, because his Cur Deus Homo, his major work on the atonement, has no reference whatsoever to the resurrection of Christ. This theory is so much preoccupied with describing how the death of Christ satisfies the offended honor of God that it forgets about his resurrection. Perhaps it does not even think that his resurrection is needed for the atonement. The Catholic theologian Thomas G. Weinandy is aware of this weakness of the satisfaction theory, when he says: "Anselm provided no account of the importance of the resurrection of Christ."[41] Weinandy also talks about a second weakness resulting from the first within this theory: the complete absence of the Holy Spirit because of the neglect of the risen Christ:

Because of his [i.e., Anselm's] failure to grasp the importance of the Resurrection, he gave the impression that the merits of Christ are dispersed as if they were monetary increments given to individual believers. Rather, the merit of Christ is that new resurrected life, which the believer shares in by being united to the risen Christ and so shares in the benefits of being a member of his body, the Church. Thus, the role of Holy Spirit, who is the fruit of the cross and the life of Christ's body, is completely absent within Anselm's soteriology.[42]

How about the penal substitution theory? This theory, too, is preoccupied with explaining how the death of Christ propitiates God for the atonement. It asserts that only the death of Christ can handle retribution for sin that flows from the wrath of God against sinners. So, it fails to recognize the real importance of the resurrection of Christ. Even the American conservative Calvinist theologian Richard B. Gaffin, Jr., who is an advocate of the penal substitution theory, observes that "in the history of doctrine, especially in soteriology, Christ's resurrection has been relatively eclipsed," and he correctly goes on to admit of this problem in Western Christianity and especially in the penal substitution theory in the Reformation tradition:

In Western Christianity (both Roman Catholic and Protestant)... attention has been focused heavily and at times almost exclusively on Christ's death and its significance. The overriding concern, especially since the Reformation, has been to keep clear that the Cross is not simply an ennobling and challenging example but a real atonement – a substitutionary, expiatory sacrifice that reconciles God to sinners and propitiates his judicial wrath. In short, the salvation accomplished by [the death of] Christ and the atonement have been virtually synony¬mous. My point is not to challenge the validity or even the necessity of this development, far less the conclusions reached. But in this domi¬nating preoccupation with the death of Christ, the doctrinal or soteriological significance of his resurrection has been largely overlooked.[43]

According to Calvin, who is the most well-known advocate of the penal substitution theory, the atonement is already completed through the death of Christ: "in his death we have an effectual completion of salvation, because by it we are reconciled to God, satisfaction is given to his justice, the curse is removed, and the penalty paid." So, the resurrection of Christ has only a secondary role of bestowing "the power and efficacy" of his death upon us and renewing "righteousness" in us.[44]

The moral influence theory does not appreciate the resurrection of Christ as much as his death, either. According to this theory, his death on the cross is already the supreme exhibition of God's love, to which his resurrection cannot be superior. This theory, of course, considers all events surrounding Christ including his resurrection to be exhibitions of God's love; but it still believes that the death of Christ is the ultimate exhibition of divine love.

The moral influence theory is advocated by liberal Christians, many of whom deny the historicity of supernatural phenomena such as the resurrection of Christ. Even though the resurrection of Christ is not a historical event for them, they still cherish its demythologized version, by saying that it means a rejuvenation of the tradition of love which was evident in his life and which therefore could be put to death. Thus the Episcopal theologian John Shelby Spong, who is well-known for his liberal stance, states that even though Easter "is not an event that takes place inside human history," it "becomes for us a timeless invitation to enter the meaning of God by living for others, expecting no reward, loving wastefully no matter what the cost."[45] This kind of interpretation has actually led many liberals to engage in social action ministries. Nevertheless, this does not mean that they reject the supremacy of the death of Christ in favor of what they mean by his resurrection; they rather uphold the former strongly by means of the latter.

The general neglect of the resurrection of Christ in the objective and subjective theories, as seen above, is not in accordance with Paul's assertion that the resurrection of Christ as well as his death is "of first importance" (1 Cor. 15:3-5). According to Paul, the resurrection of Christ is essential to the atonement: "if you confess with your lips that Jesus is Lord and believe that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved" (Rom. 10:9); "If Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile and you are still in your sins" (1 Cor. 15:17). Also, the Acts of the Apostles reports that the apostles enthusiastically testified to the resurrections of Christ (Acts 2:31; 4:33; 17:18; 26:23).

By reviewing all the major theories of the atonement, one can realize that only the classic theory seems to understand the value of the resurrection of Christ for the atonement because only this theory believes that his resurrection, with a glorified "spiritual body" (1 Cor. 15:42-44), finalizes his spiritual victory over the dominion of Satan that brings the atonement. The other theories do not treat the atonement in terms of Christ's victory over the reign of Satan but rather in terms of a vicarious debt-payment through his death or a demonstration of an example of love through his death; they assume that his death basically did everything for the atonement, thus not appreciating his resurrection as much. Regarding the resurrection of Christ, as appreciated by the classic theory, Aulén says that it is "the manifestation of the decisive victory over the powers of evil, which was won on the cross; it is also the starting-point for the new dispensation, for the gift of the Spirit, for the continuation of the work of God in the souls of men."[46] Therefore, the classic theory "lays emphasis not merely on the death of Christ, but also on His victory, His triumph, His passage through death to life."[47]

The Divine Principle again agrees with the classic theory that the resurrection of Christ finalized his spiritual victory over the dominion of Satan for the deliverance of humans. But, while the classic theory appreciates both the death and resurrection of Christ equally, the Divine Principle seems to have a much stronger appreciation of his resurrection than of his death, as when it asserts that when Satan exercised "his maximum power in killing Jesus," God, as compensation for that, exercised "His maximum power and resurrected Jesus" for the spiritual rebirth of fallen humans.[48] This assertion means to say that while Satan caused the death of Christ, his victorious resurrection was brought by God. In other words, it was not through his death, caused by Satan, but rather through his victorious resurrection, brought forth by God, that the atonement was able to occur.

According to the Divine Principle, there was actually another element behind the reason why God was able to resurrect Jesus, and it was that even in face of the crucifixion caused by Satan and his cohorts, Jesus never complained nor vindicated himself but forgave and loved his opponents until the end, sticking to God's principle of love. In the words of Rev. Moon:

He did not complain or despair just because he had to die on the cross. Even when he entered the position of death, he did not speak in his own defense. As you all know, Jesus did not try to vindicate himself even while he was passing through the court of Pilate, even on the hill of Golgotha to be crucified on the cross. He was the champion of no self-vindication. He could feel that even the opposition that he received from the people was his own responsibility... Jesus did not become a friend of life but a friend of death. Although countless people walked the path of death in the course of history, Jesus is the only one who became the friend of death on behalf of the deaths of all people. He died on behalf of all must understand, it was the course of Jesus to love without any grudges.[49]

The classic theory, too, is aware of this great love of Christ for his opponents, but that theory usually explains about his resurrection, mainly by saying that it occurred because the ransom payment satisfied or even exceeded Satan's rights, or because the offering of Christ tricked Satan when he preyed on his flesh without knowing that the presence of God or the divinity of Christ was hidden under his humanity just like a fishhook is hidden under a bait.

Some contemporary theologians share the Divine Principle's stronger appreciation of Christ's resurrection than his death and its under¬standing that his resurrection, which was going to realize the reign of God, resulted from his unchanging love for his enemies and also from his nonviolent and obedient response to his death plotted by his enemies. For instance, the Mennonite thinker J. Denny Weaver's "Narrative Christus Victor" theory, a fairly recently developed version of the classic theory ("Christus Victor") from the perspective of the nonviolent tradition of Mennonitism, states: "In this giving of himself [i.e., Christ] for the reign of God, the nonviolent confrontation of his enemies has high theological significance. It displays the love of God for enemies, a making visible of the reign of God that is even willing to suffer rejection at the hands of its enemies."[50] Weaver goes on to say: "When Jesus was executed, the powers of evil enjoyed a momentary triumph – Jesus' very existence was removed. However, God raised Jesus from death, thereby revealing the reign of God as the ultimate power in the cosmos."[51] Thus, while his death itself "accomplished nothing for the salvation of sinners,"[52] his resurrection liberates us from the reign of the powers of evil for our atonement.

Weaver's stronger appreciation of the resurrection of Christ than of his death echoes Rev. Moon's statement that Christianity "came into existence not by the principle of the cross, but by the principle of the resurrection," and "Because Christianity began on the foundation of Jesus' resurrection, Christianity has been strictly spiritual."[53]

The above assertion that Satan and his cohorts, constituting the powers of evil, triumphantly killed Christ (although immediately afterwards his victorious resurrection took place) may not sound very familiar, for through¬out Christian history it has been told that his death on the cross was directed and executed by God's plan from the beginning. Was it, then, God who killed Christ? If so, did all those who helped to kill him help God to kill him? Or were they rather agents of Satan? This brings us to our third area of ambiguity.


Satan Killed Christ

This third area of ambiguity exists in all the major theories of the atonement, because they believe that his death was in accordance with God's will from the beginning. Especially the satisfaction theory and the penal substitution theory overemphasize the importance of the death of Christ, by isolating his death from all the other events that happened in his whole life. If, however, it was God's will from the beginning for Christ to die, then those who helped to kill him such as his faithless disciples, Jewish leaders, and Roman officials and soldiers should be praised for what they did in accordance with God's will. In reality, however, they have been blamed and held responsible. For example, St. Stephen accused those Jews who killed Christ of "betraying and murdering" him (Acts 7:52). Paul criticized "the rulers of this age" for having "crucified the Lord of glory" because of their ignorance of a "hidden wisdom of God" (1 Cor. 2:7-8). Even Jesus, when still alive, brokenheartedly blamed the people of Jerusalem for not accepting him, by saying: "O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, killing the prophets and stoning those who are sent to you! How often would I have gathered your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, and you would not" (Matt. 23:37).

This discrepancy is pointed out by scholars such as the Swiss Jesuit theologian Raymund Schwager. According to Schwager, the discrepancy arises when one believes that while Christ stood in his mission with the divine will, his opponents also at the same time acted as "agents of divine will" to help to kill him. To avoid this "contradictory opposition," one should conclude that "the will of his opponents was not similarly in agreement with that of the Father, for they acted... in the most shameful and reprehensible way."[54] In other words, the opponents of Christ were never agents of divine will. Rather, they killed him through what René Girard calls "the single victim mechanism" (mécanisme victimaire) that was "the work of Satan."[55] Thus they were agents of Satan, and Satan killed Christ through them. By the way, Schwager is one of the so-called "Girardian theologians" who apply Girard's anthropological theory to theology.

According to Girard, the single victim mechanism is the universal mechanism in any civilization or community through which a scapegoat is singled out to be victimized and murdered, being blamed for all social chaos and disorder, so that this scapegoating may bring peace and order to the chaotic and disorderly community. Social chaos and disorder consists in violent rivalries which result from people's "mimetic desire," i.e., their desire to imitate one another in pursuit of the same object. Although "we should not conclude that mimetic desire is bad in itself," it is "responsible for most of the violent acts that distress us,"[56] and the resulting "single victim mechanism," through which scapegoating takes place for the purpose of peace, is the work of Satan. To show that this universal mechanism killed Christ, Girard refers to the high priest Caiaphas' statement in John 12:50: "It is better that one man die and that the whole nation not perish."[57]

J. Denny Weaver, who has developed Narrative Christus Victor, is not a Girardian theologian, but he, too, clearly says that the death of Christ was not the act of God but "the product of the forces of evil that oppose the reign of God,"[58] whether these forces of evil are "understood as Satan, or in terms of earthly structures such as Rome, which is the symbolic representative of Satan in Revelation, or as the powers of death, sin, the law, and the flesh."[59]

The Divine Principle agrees with Girard and Weaver that Satan was behind the death of Christ on the cross. The Divine Principle, noting that after the three temptations Satan departed from Jesus until an opportune time (Luke 4:13), says that Satan now came back to kill him when his opponents betrayed him:

It is written that Satan, who was defeated in the three temptations, left Jesus' side "until an opportune time," indicating that Satan had not left Jesus for good but might confront him at a future date. As a matter of fact, Satan did confront Jesus, working primarily through the Jewish leadership, the priests and scribes who disbelieved in Jesus. In particular, Satan confronted Jesus through Judas Iscariot, the disciple who betrayed him.[60]

Hence Rev. Moon states: "The crucifixion was not God's victory. Instead, it was Satan's victory."[61] Right after this statement, Moon refers, as proof for that, to what Jesus said to the Jewish religious leaders before his arrest: "This is your hour, and the power of darkness" (Luke 22:53). Interestingly, to prove that "the Cross and the mechanism of Satan are one and the same thing," Girard, too, refers to the same biblical passage and says: "This hour, the moment of the power of darkness, is the hour of Satan."[62]

But, if it was not God but Satan who was behind the death of Christ, the question would naturally arise: What, then, was God's real purpose of sending Christ? Weaver answers that "God did not send Jesus to die, but to live, to make visible and present the reign of God."[63] This answer is very interesting because it mentions Christ's other alternative which has nothing to do with the crucifixion. Weaver, however, has no further explanation of what would have happened if Christ had lived without being killed or opposed to at that time. He simply says that the death of Christ was "inevitable."[64]

What is Girard's view of Christ's other possible alternative, which would be for him to live if God was not behind his death? It seems that Girard has no thought of the other alternative. His thought is that although the cycle of mimetic violence as the continuous pattern of society was used by Satan to kill Christ, nevertheless after his murder that cycle or pattern was abolished and the spell of Satan ("violent contagion") broken through his resurrection: "The Resurrection is not only a miracle, a prodigious transgression of natural laws. It is a spectacular sign of the entrance into the world of a power superior to violent contagion."[65] According to Girard, this explains the uniqueness of Christianity, because in other civilizations or communities the cycle of mimetic violence naturally repeats itself in such a way as to have peace followed by chaos again. As an apologist for traditional Christianity, therefore, he stops at this point without exploring Christ's other possibility of living without the cross.


The Full Atonement

The Divine Principle acknowledges the value of the "spiritual" atonement brought by the resurrection of Christ, but the uniqueness of the Divine Principle is its assertion that the spiritual atonement is not a full atonement, no matter how great the victory of his resurrection may have been. If the Jewish leaders and their nation had accepted him in accordance with the will of God and not with Satan's, the atonement through his work on the earth would have been a full atonement or "full salvation," both spiritual and physical: "Had the people believed in Jesus and so united with him in both spirit and flesh, they would have received salvation both spiritually and physically."[66] God originally sent Jesus as the second Adam, not to be crucified but to live for the realization of God's kingdom on the earth where this full atonement would take place. The Divine Principle, therefore, can draw on Weaver's general idea that God sent Jesus to live to make the reign of God visible and present, although unfortunately Weaver himself does not explore it further.

This general idea of Weaver is actually echoed by other theologians who are not related to the Mennonite tradition nor to the Girardian school. The Italian-born German Catholic priest Romano Guardini, for example, insight¬fully says: "Jesus ushered in the kingdom. It would have come in full bloom had the people accepted it. But the people failed and lost the kingdom which in the new order of things should have been theirs."[67] Another interesting point by Guardini is that the people's acceptance of Jesus "would have cancelled Adam's sin," but that their failure to accept him became "the second fall."[68] The German New Testament scholar Willi Marxsen, a central figure in the controversy in Germany from 1964 to 1968 on the resurrection of Christ, believes that "the purpose of Jesus" (Sache Jesu), that of the earthly Jesus, continues to be such an important thing that what is perceived to be his resurrection cannot be established as an actual historical event,[69] and maintains that "Jesus did not see his death as a saving event," given his important earthly activity for the eschaton.[70]

The same idea can be found among radical feminist and womanist theologians in America. The feminist theologians Joanne Carlson Brown and Rebecca Parker believe that the death of Jesus on the cross consists in "divine child abuse" because God the Father apparently killed the Son, and they complain that although the cross is thus a symbol of abuse which the forces of oppression too easily use to subjugate women, nevertheless all the historical theories of the atonement parade this abusive image of the cross as salvific. So, Brown and Parker want to "do away with" all these atonement theories, simply asserting that Jesus "did not choose the cross" and lived "in opposition to unjust, oppressive cultures."[71]

The womanist theologian Delores Williams observes that African-American women, who have been suffering under males and white females alike, can relate to the exploited experience of Hagar as Sarah's surrogate in the house of Abraham, and she criticizes the satisfaction theory and the penal substitution theory for making Jesus "the ultimate surrogate figure," who on behalf of humans takes their sin upon himself and suffers to die on the cross. According to Williams, this image of redemption through the ostensibly sacred surrogacy of Jesus is wrong because it expects African-American women to "passively accept the exploitation that surrogacy brings."[72] She believes instead that Jesus, without dying on the cross, was supposed to resist the system of exploitation to bring a real atonement between God and humans and also among humans through his work on the earth:

It seems more intelligent and more biblical to understand that redemption had to do with God, through Jesus, giving humankind new vision to see the resources for positive, abundant relational life—a vision humankind did not have before. Hence the kingdom-of-God theme in the ministerial vision of Jesus does not point to death... Rather, the kingdom of God is a metaphor of hope God gives those attempting to right the relationship between self and self, between self and others, between self and God as prescribed in the sermon on the mount, in the golden rule and in the commandment to show love above all else.[73]

Because of her emphasis on the importance of the work of Jesus on the earth, Williams does not want to see any value of his death and resurrection, somewhat resembling Marxsen who so emphasizes the purpose of the earthly Jesus that he questions the historicity of the resurrection of Christ.

While the Divine Principle cannot agree with Marxsen and Williams when they completely neglect the importance of the resurrection of Christ, it appreciates them (and, of course, others such as Weaver, Guardini, Brown, and Parker) for their understanding of Jesus' other alternative course of life without the crucifixion, i.e., his earthly ministry for what is expected to be the full atonement. Especially Williams' notion of the atonement as the realization of "the relationship between self and self, between self and others, between self and God" is a very good point.

According to the Divine Principle, the full atonement, which is both spiritual and physical, is the restoration of the relationship between God and humans in accordance with God's original purpose of creation. Following God's original blessing of "Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth and subdue it" (Gen. 1:28), Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden were supposed to realize a God-centered ideal family based on the "four position foundation," which would involve the unity of love of four positions: 1) God, 2) Adam as father, 3) Eve as mother, and 4) their sinless children,[74] the first three of whom would constitute an original Trinity.[75] This way, Adam and Eve as "the True Parents of humankind"[76] were supposed to create "the lineage of God" in which all their descendents would be born as "the children of God" and the kingdom of God would be built under his "sovereignty." Unfortunately, however, Adam and Eve succumbed to the "sexual" temptation of the Archangel Lucifer,[77] and "bound themselves in blood ties with" him, creating "the lineage of Satan" in which all their descendents became "the children of Satan" and "this world has come under Satan's sovereignty."[78] As a result of this, the God-centered four position foundation was lost, and it was replaced by a Satan-centered four position foundation: 1) Satan, 2) Adam as father, 3) Eve as mother, and 4) their fallen children, the first three of whom formed a "fallen" Trinity.[79] The full atonement, there¬fore, means to completely defeat this Satan-centered four position foundation to restore the God-centered four position foundation through someone who is in the position of the unfallen Adam.

Two thousand years ago Jesus came in this position of the unfallen Adam to bring the full atonement, according to the Divine Principle. If the Jewish leaders at that time had accepted him, not killing him on the cross, he would have been able to bring the full atonement, by realizing an ideal family to restore the lineage of God and the sovereignty of God based on the God-centered four position foundation. When Weaver, Guardini, Marxsen, Brown, Parker, and Williams talk about Jesus' other alternative course of life without the crucifixion, they all allude to this full atonement from the viewpoint of the Divine Principle.

When the Divine Principle claims that Jesus was supposed to create an ideal family, it means to say that he was supposed to be married. But it does not mean to say that he was actually married.

The Divine Principle, therefore, does not agree with Dan Brown's popular yet controversial idea in his novel, The Da Vinci Code, that Jesus was married to Mary Magdalene,[80] nor does it accept William E. Phipps' assertion in Was Jesus Married? that Jesus may have already been married, given the Jewish view of his days that marriage was a sacred duty for everyone, and also given the silence of the New Testament about his marital status.[81] Yet, the Divine Principle does agree with Phipps that Jesus, as described in the gospels, had a deep understanding and appreciation of the role of women, and that unfortunately the traditional view of Jesus as a celibate savior was established under the influence of Greek asceticism that came into Christianity.

The Divine Principle holds that Jesus' mission as the second Adam to be married was frustrated by his death on the cross due to the faithlessness of the Jewish leaders behind whom Satan stood. As was already discussed previously, however, his victorious resurrection in spite of his undesirable death on the cross brought the spiritual atonement, making the spiritual four position foundation: 1) God, 2) the resurrected Jesus as spiritual father, 3) the Holy Spirit as spiritual mother,[82] and 4) their spiritually reborn children (i.e., Christians), the first three of whom formed a "spiritual" Trinity. Thus the resurrected Jesus and the Holy Spirit "could fulfill only the mission of spiritual True Parents."[83]

Therefore, Christ must come back to the earth to bring the full atonement, which is both spiritual and physical, by creating an ideal family based on the God-centered four position foundation: 1) God, 2) the Christ of the Second Coming as father, 3) his Bride as mother, and 4) their own direct children and also all humankind as their children, the first three of whom form a "perfect" Trinity where the Christ of the Second Coming and his Bride are the True Parents of humankind who give rebirth both spiritually and physically for the removal of original sin: "Christ must return in the flesh and find his Bride. They will form on the earth a perfect trinity with God and become True Parents both spiritually and physically. They will give fallen people rebirth both spiritually and physically, removing their original sin."[84] This is how God's original purpose of creation is restored and accomplished, and it is referred to as "the marriage of the Lamb" in the Bible (Rev. 19:7).

The idea of the Divine Principle that the Christ of the Second Coming fulfills God's will here on the earth is truly biblical. To begin with, God gave Adam his blessing to be realized on the earth: "Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth and subdue it" (Gen 1:28). God also promised Abraham and his seed the inheritance of "the land" as a blessing (Gen. 12:1-3; 13:14-17). Abraham, however, never received the promise as he always stayed as a sojourner. So, according to Irenaeus, as the seed of Abraham "those who fear God and believe in him" in the Church will receive the inheritance of the land in the last days, if not now.[85] Jesus, who talked about the meek inheriting the earth (Matt. 5:5), had to die without fulfilling the inheritance of the land. So, commenting on Jesus' statement at the last supper that "I shall not drink again of this fruit of the vine until that day when I drink it new with you in my Father's kingdom" (Matt. 26:29), Irenaeus says that drinking of the fruit of the vine new in the future kingdom means the inheritance of the land in the last days when Jesus returns.[86] This idea of Irenaeus is more understandable, if one is reminded that he was a sharp critic of Gnosticism.

In accordance with the biblical teaching on the inheritance of the land, Christian eschatology generally asserts that God's will is to be realized on the earth in the last days. According to premillennialism, adhered to by early Church Fathers in the first three centuries of the Christian era and also by evangelical Christians today, after earthly believers are literally raptured at the return of Christ (1 Thess. 4:17), he as king and they as royal subjects will come down to the earth to inaugurate and reign the earthly millennial king¬dom, making Satan surrender (Rev. 20:2-3). According to postmillen¬nial¬ism, advocated by many Americans during the Great Awakening from the 18th to 20th century, Christ will return at the culmination or conclusion of the successful development of the earthly millennial kingdom that already started long before through the growth of the church in the world. Perhaps amillennialism, accepted by the Catholic Church and mainline Protestant denominations, may be less earthly than the other two schools because it denies a literal 1000-year earthly kingdom and holds that the millennial kingdom only means the church as it exists on the earth now, imperfectly pointing to God's kingdom in heaven; but it still does believe that Christ will return to the earth, after the age of the church, for the general resurrection and the final judgment, and that at least the second one of the two resurrections described in Rev. 20:4-5 is bodily.


The Task Not Easy

From the God-given original task of Adam and Eve, through their failure to accomplish it due to Satan's invasion, to the spiritual atonement by the resurrected Jesus and the Holy Spirit, we find two basic metaphysical notions of the Divine Principle: the four position foundation and the Trinity. That these basic notions of the Divine Principle are related to the atonement is nothing new because theologians such as Robert Sherman have developed a theology of atonement grounded on the Trinity to integrate all the major atonement theories, as was seen in a previous section. But, when we apply these basic metaphysical notions also to the task of the Christ of the Second Coming and his Bride to bring the full atonement, the story may sound somewhat mechanical and simplistic, without being able to convey the involvement of a difficult process through which the task is going to be accomplished. Therefore, the present paper will end with some words on this matter.

To begin with, when the Christ of the Second Coming comes in the last days, he will be misunderstood and persecuted by the world: "But first he must suffer many things and be rejected by this generation" (Luke 17:25). This is exactly what happened also to the Christ of the First Coming two thousand years ago, and he ended up being killed on the cross by the forces of Satan. But the Christ of the Second Coming as "the third Adam"[87] is expected to continuously live in order to defeat the reign of Satan. Of course, the Christ of the First Coming became spiritually victorious over Satan through his resurrection that was made possible by his unspeakable love and forgiveness even for his opponents at the time of the crucifixion; but the Christ of the Second Coming will become both spiritually and physically victorious by continuously living on the earth and making efforts in his entire life to show his utmost love for his enemies in spite of tremendous opposition from them. This full victory by the Christ of the Second Coming can be understood, when Weaver's Narrative Christus Victor's understanding of the power of Christ's love at the time of the crucifixion is applied to the entire earthly life of the Christ of the Second Coming that lasts as he continues to live in face of opposition. This full victory can also be understood well, when the perspective of feminist and womanist theology, according to which Jesus was supposed to live to resist the system of exploitation on the earth for the purpose of atoning between God and humans and amongst humans, is applied to the Christ of the Second Coming.

Building the God-centered four position foundation substantially on the earth, which was once shattered into pieces and lost due to the fall of Adam and Eve, is not that easy. Even the resurrected Christ and the Holy Spirit, after his noble sacrifice out of love, were able to build only the spiritual Trinity, forming the four position foundation only spiritually, with the result that the substantial four position foundation still stayed shattered and lost. This must be the reason why Christianity had to witness a variety of fragmented atonement theories called "subjective" or "objective" theories without being able to have any agreed-upon official atonement doctrine, although the classic theory (as well as the Divine Principle view of the resurrected Christ, of course) has the ability to integrate the objective and subjective theories at the spiritual level. So, when the substantial four position foundation is built, involving the unity among God, the Christ of the Second Coming, his Bride, and all humankind, it should be able to reassemble those fragmented theories by lifting them up to the substantial level. This unity and reassembling can be done through love and sacrifice on the part of all parties involved in the new relationship of the lineage of God, which fully defeats the reign of Satan.

Contributing to this full atonement, then, is not only what the Christ of the Second Coming as the Mediator does together with his Bride in his entire life, but also what God does and what humans do. The Divine Principle teaches that God as the Creator has always been investing himself and still does so to realize the full atonement, that humans are also expected to fulfill their portion of responsibility to join this atonement by overcoming various challenges, and that God and humans relate to and affect each other in their relationship of love through the mediation of the Christ of the Second Coming and his Bride. This is how the substantial four position foundation is formed, and in that four position foundation in which all the stakeholders are finally united, humans are fully atoned with God.

A. G. Herbert in his "Translator's Preface" to Gustaf Aulén's Christus Victor states that the classic theory, rehabilitated by Aulén, can bring the "Reunion" of the Catholic and Protestant traditions, overcoming the division between them by integrating objective and subjective theories within each of both traditions (i.e., Anselm's satisfaction theory and Abelard's moral theory in the Catholic tradition, and the penal substitution theory and the moral influence theory in the Protestant tradition).[88] If that is true, the Unification doctrine of the atonement, which integrates objective and subjective theories in the four position foundation for the full atonement defeating the dominion of Satan fully, should be able to bring that "union" of the Catholic and Protestant traditions.



[1] John Macquarrie, Principles of Christian Theology, 2nd ed. (New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1977), p. 314.

[2] J. N. D. Kelly, Early Christian Doctrines, revised ed. (New York: Harper & Row, 1978), p. 163.

[3] René Girard is, strictly speaking, not a theologian, but his own theological application of his anthropological theory of "mimetic desire," which will be discussed later in the present paper, can be seen in his books such as: Things Hidden Since the Foundation of the World, trans. Stephen Bann and Michael Metteer (Stanford, Calf.: Stanford University Press, 1987); and I See Satan Fall Like Lightning, trans. James W. Williams (Maryknoll, N.Y.: Orbis Books, 2001). So-called Girardian theologians, who are inspired by Girard, include Raymund Schwager, James G. Williams, Robert G. Hamerton-Kelly, and Anthony W. Bartlett. For their works on the atonement, see, for example, Raymund Schwager, Jesus in the Drama of Salvation: Toward a Biblical Notion of Redemption, trans. James G. Williams and Paul Haddon (New York: Crossroad, 1999); Robert G. Hamerton-Kelly, Sacred Violence: Paul's Hermeneutic of the Cross (Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 1992); and Anthony W. Bartlett, Cross Purposes: The Violent Grammar of Christian Atonement (Harrisburg, Pa.: Trinity Press International, 2001).

[4] The Divine Principle has been expressed in a few different published texts in the Unification Church. The present paper will use Exposition of the Divine Principle (New York: HSA-UWC, 1996), which is currently the official text in English. The text is henceforth abbreviated as EDP.

[5] Gustaf Aulén, Christus Victor: An Historical Study of the Three Main Types of the Idea of the Atonement, trans. A. G. Herbert (New York: Macmillan, 1969). According to Aulén, the classic theory was restored by Martin Luther in the 16th century, but that Luther's followers did not accept it. This thesis of Aulén on Luther, however, has been disputed.

[6] Ibid., p. 28. This observation by Aulén obtains, especially when we look at Irenaeus' theory of recapitulation in Christ, which juxtaposes his life as the Incarnation of the Word and his death on the cross as equally important for the undoing of the effects of the disobedience of Adam (Against Heresies II.22.4; V.16.2-3); see Alexander Roberts and James Donaldson, eds., The Ante-Nicene Fathers series, American ed., edited by A. Cleveland Coxe, vol. I: The Apostolic Fathers with Justin Martyr and Irenaeus (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1981), pp. 391, 544.

[7]Cur Deus Homo II.7; see Anselm, Why God Became Man and The Virgin Conception of Original Sin, trans. Joseph M. Colleran (Albany, N.Y.: Magic Books, 1969), p. 136.

[8] Aulén, Christus Victor, p. 89.

[9] Jon Calvin, Institutes of the Christian Religion, trans. Henry Beveridge, rev. ed. (Peabody, Mass.: Hendrickson, 2008), 2.16.2, p. 325.

[10] Hastings Rashdall expounds the moral influence theory in his well-known book, The Idea of Atonement in Christian Theology (Charleston, S.C.; BiblioBazaar, 2009), originally published in 1919.

[11] Quoted in Rashdall, ibid., p. 358.

[12] EDP, p. 68.

[13] Ibid.

[14] Clement of Alexandria's idea of the sexual fall of Adam and Eve can be seen, when he refers to all humans as "lovers of pleasure" and states that "the first man of our race did not bide his time, desired the favor of marriage before the proper hour, and fell into sin by not waiting for the time of God's will; 'for everyone who looks upon a woman to lust after her has already committed adultery with her'" (Stromateis III.14.94); see John Ernest Leonard Oulton and Henry Chadwick, eds., Alexandrian Christianity: Selected Translations of Clement and Origen (London: SCM Press, 1954), p. 84. Ambrose, following Philo's psychological reading of the serpent, Eve, and Adam, proposes a sexual interpretation of the fall: "The serpent is a type of the pleasures of the body. The woman stands for our senses and the man, for our minds. Pleasure stirs the senses, which, in turn, have their effect on the mind. Pleasure, therefore, is the primary source of sin" (De Paradiso 15.73); see his Hexameron, Paradise, and Cain and Abel, trans. John J. Savage (Washington, D.C.: Catholic University of America Press, 1961), pp. 351-52. The idea of the sexual fall by both Clement of Alexandria and Ambrose is rejected in Ludwig Ott, Fundamentals of Catholic Dogma, trans. Patrick Lynch, ed. James Canon Bastible (Rockford, Ill.: Tan Books, 1974), p. 107.

[15] EDP, p. 203.

[16] EDP, p. 121.

[17] EDP, p. 278.

[18] EDP, p. 279.

[19] EDP, p. 119.

[20] EDP, p. 118.

[21] George Barker Stevens, The Christian Doctrine of Salvation (Edinburgh: T. & T. Clark, 1905), p. 242.

[22] Macquarrie, Principles of Christian Theology, p. 315.

[23] Steve Chalke and Alan Mann, The Lost Message of Jesus (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2003), p. 182.

[24] Published as a result of this public debate is Derek Tidball, David Hilborn, and Justin Thacker, eds., The Atonement Debate: Papers from the London Symposium on the Theology of Atonement (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2008).

[25] H. D. McDonald, The Atonement of the Death of Christ: In Faith, Revelation, and History (Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1985), p. 180.

[26] John Wesley, A Compendium of Wesley's Theology, ed. Robert W. Burtner and Robert E. Chiles (Nashville: Abingdon, 1954), p. 79.

[27] Millard J. Erickson, Introducing Christian Doctrine, 2nd ed., edited by L. Arnold Hustad (Grand Rapids, Mich.: Baker Academic, 2001), p. 254.

[28] John McIntyre, The Shape of Soteriology: Studies in the Doctrine of the Death of Christ (Edinburgh: T & T Clark, 1992), pp. 28, 82.

[29] Macquarrie, Principles of Christian Theologies, p. 320.

[30] Ibid.

[31] Ibid.

[32] Ibid., 321.

[33]Against Heresies V.1.1; see Roberts and Donaldson, eds, The Ante-Nicene Fathers series, American ed., edited by Coxe, vol. I: The Apostolic Fathers with Justin Martyr and Irenaeus, p. 527.

[34] EDP, pp. 171-72.

[35] Ibid.

[36] For this mutual relationship of the four positions, see the notion of "three object purpose" in EDP, p. 25.

[37] Robert Sherman, King, Priest, and Prophet: A Trinitarian Theology of Atonement (New York: T & T Clark, 2004), pp. 8-23.

[38] EDP, p. 33.

[39] EDP, p. 43.

[40] Resurrection is not resuscitation, which is the reanimation of a corpse that will eventually die again.

[41] Thomas G. Weinandy, Jesus the Christ (Huntington, Ind.: Our Sunday Visitor, 2003), p. 157.

[42] Ibid.

[43] Richard B. Gaffin, Jr., "Redemption and Resurrection" (

[44] Calvin, Institutes of the Christian Religion, 2.16.13, p.334.

[45] John Shelby Spong, Resurrection: Myth or Reality?: A Bishop's Search for the Origins of Christianity (San Francisco: Harper San Francisco, 1994), p. 143.

[46] Aulén, Christus Victor, p. 32.

[47] Ibid., p. 42.

[48] EDP, p. 279.

[49] Sun Myung Moon, Sermons of the Reverend Sun Myung Moon (New York: HSA Publications, 1994), vol. 1, pp. 240-41.

[50] J. Jenny Weaver, The Nonviolent Atonement (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2001), p. 42.

[51] Ibid., p. 43.

[52] Ibid., p. 72.

[53] Sun Myung Moon, "The Life of Jesus as Seen from God's Will, and God's Warning to the Present Age, the Period of the Last Days," speech delivered at the 20th Anniversary of the Washington Times Banquet, May 21, 2002 (

[54] Schwager, Jesus in the Drama of Salvation, p. 163.

[55] René Girard, I See Satan Fall like Lightning, trans. James W. Williams (Maryknoll, N.Y.: Orbis Books, 2001), p. 36.

[56] Ibid., p. 15.

[57] Ibid., p. 36.

[58] Weaver, The Nonviolent Atonement, p. 45.

[59] Ibid., pp. 73-74.

[60] EDP, p. 277.

[61] Moon, "The Life of Jesus as Seen from God's Will."

[62] Girard, I See Satan Fall Like Lightning, pp. 36-37.

[63] Weaver, The Nonviolent Atonement, p. 74.

[64] Ibid.

[65] Girard, I See Satan Fall Like Lightning, p. 189.

[66] EDP, p. 118.

[67] Romano Guardini, The Lord, trans. Elinor Castendyk Briefs (Washington, D.C.: Gateway Editions, 1982), p. 250.

[68] Ibid., p. 247.

[69] Willi Marxsen, "The Resurrection of Jesus as a Historical and Theological Problem," in C. F. D. Moule, ed., The Significance of the Message of the Resurrection for Faith In Jesus Christ, trans. Dorothea M. Barton and R. A. Wilson (London: SCM Press, 1968), pp. 38-39.

[70] Quoted in Walter Kasper, Jesus the Christ, trans. V. Green (New York: Paulist Press, 1977), p. 115.

[71] Joanne Carlson Brown and Rebecca Parker, "For God So Loved the World?" in Christianity, Patriarchy and Abuse: A Feminist Critique, ed. Joanne Carlson Brown and Carole R. Bohn (New York: Pilgrim Press, 1989), pp. 1-30.

[72] Delores S. Williams, Sisters in the Wilderness: The Challenge of Womanist God-Talk (Maryknoll, N.Y.: Orbis Books, 1993), p. 162.

[73] Ibid., pp. 165-66.

[74] EDP, pp. 34, 172.

[75] EDP, p. 172.

[76] EDP. P. 172.

[77] EDP, pp. 63-65.

[78] EDP, p. 68.

[79] EDP, p. 172.

[80] Dan Brown, The Da Vinci Code (New York: Doubleday, 2003).

[81] William E. Phipps, Was Jesus Married?: The Distortion of Sexuality in the Christian Tradition (New York: Harper & Row, Publishers, 1970).

[82] The idea of the Holy Spirit as spiritual mother is not totally alien in the Christian tradition. In Aramaic (and hence in the dialect known as Syriac), the gender of the word "spirit" was feminine; so, Syriac documents, which remain in today's Syrian Orthodox Church, refer to the Holy Spirit as feminine. Some Eastern Christian theologians such as St. Clement of Alexandria, Origen, and St. Jerome (d. 420) identified the Holy Spirit as the Mother. So did Zinzendorf (1700-1760), bishop of the Moravian Church.

[83] EDP, p. 172.

[84] EDP, p. 172.

[85]Against Heresies V.32.2; see Roberts and Donaldson, eds, The Ante-Nicene Fathers series, American ed., edited by Coxe, vol. I: The Apostolic Fathers with Justin Martyr and Irenaeus, p. 561.

[86]Against Heresies V.33.1; ibid., p. 562.

[87] EDP, p. 203.

[88] Aulén, Christus Victor, p. xxvi.