Stephen Finlan is an adjunct professor of theology at Providence College, Rhode Island. He has previously taught at Fordham, Drew, and Durham universities, and has served as a pastor. Among his titles are Bullying in the Churches (2015), The Family Metaphor in Jesus' Teaching (2013), and Problems with Atonement (2005).
Stephen Finlan surveys sacrifice and atonement and what they may reveal about patterns of injury, guilt, shame, and appeasement. Early chapters examine the language in both testaments of purity and the “scapegoat,” and of payment, obligation, reciprocity, and redemption. Later chapters review theories of the origins of atonement thinking in fear and traumatic childhood experience, in ambivalent attachment, and in “poisonous pedagogy.” The theories of Sandor Rado, Erik Erikson, and Alice Miller are examined, then Finlan draws conclusions about the moral appropriation or rejection of atonement metaphors.