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Sacrifice and Atonement

Sacrifice and Atonement: Psychological Motives and Biblical Patterns

Author: 
Stephen Finlan (Author)
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Description

Beneath the commonplace affirmation that Jesus “paid for our sins” lie depths of implication: Did God demand a blood sacrifice to assuage divine anger? Is sacrifice (consciously or unconsciously) intended to induce the deity to show favor? What underlies the various metaphors for atonement used in the Bible?

Here, Stephen Finlan surveys psychological theories that help us to understand beliefs about 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 or avoidant attachment to the parents, and in “poisonous pedagogy.” The theories of Sandor Rado, Mary Ainsworth, Erik Erikson, and Alice Miller are examined, then Finlan draws conclusions about the moral responsibility of appropriating or rejecting atonement metaphors. His arguments bear careful consideration by all who live with these metaphors and their effects today.

ISBN: 
9781506401966
Price: 
$39.00
ISBN: 
9781506401973
Price: 
$39.00
Release date: 
May 1, 2016
Pages: 
224
Width: 
6
Height: 
9

Endorsements

"In the long legacy of objections to atonement theology, Stephen Finlan offers a psychologically sophisticated historical and theological analysis that will help us return to the life and message of Jesus Christ and trust in the God of love."

Rita Nakashima Brock | Brite Divinity School

 "In Sacrifice and Atonement, Stephen Finlan proficiently spans the breadth of Scripture and historical doctrine on the topic, but then takes another daring step. He explores the potential psychological genesis for the creation of each view, by asking the questions, 'Why do human beings feel the need for atonement?'; 'In what ways might each theory satisfy the human psyche?'; and 'Do we construct theories of atonement due to a deep psychological need?' A fascinating study that provides deep insight into the connection between the human psyche and doctrine."

Sharon L. Putt | Messiah College

"In this volume, Stephen Finlan, one of the most prolific modern Bible scholars to write about the topic of atonement, presents an even more wide-ranging study. Finlan observes: 'For two thousand years, Christians have been wrestling with the ideas of atonement, propitiation, forgiveness, moral character, and spiritual growth.' Given this situation, he provides orientation, insights, and answers in a this stimulating, yet provocative new book. Drawing on psychological theories, Finlan aptly describes problems in various atonement theories, which can rest on the premise of a wrathful God or posit violence at the core of the gospel. This is a must-read for all who are interested in exploring the ancient roots of atonement concepts, who wonder about their continuous relevance in our modern world, and who struggle with their sometimes paradoxical implications."

Christian A. Eberhart | University of Houston