Augustine on Atonement
Earlier this year, my friend and pastor of Bloom Denver, Andrew Arndt, sent this to me. I thought it’d be appropriate to share it today. Sometimes people emphasize the substitutionary aspect of atonement so strongly that it makes it seem like the Father killed the Son to appease Himself. Others, reacting against this, emphasize that the cross is what Jesus endured to forgive us, running the risk of making the cross all demonstration and no substitution. Both make the mistake of not thinking though the atonement in a Trinitarian way. St. Augustine helps us be rid of these errors.
And what is meant by “being reconciled by the death of his Son?” Was it indeed so that when God the Father was wroth [“angry” or “full of wrath”] with us, He saw the death of His Son for us, and was appeased towards us? Was then His Son already so far appeased towards us, that he even deigned to die for us; while the Father was still so far wroth, that except His Son died for us, He would not be appeased?…Pray [basically, “please understand”] that unless the Father had already been appeased, would He have delivered up His own Son, not sparing him for us?…But I see that the Father loved us also before, not only before the Son died for us, but before he created the world…Therefore together both the Father and the Son, and the Spirit of both, work all things equally and harmoniously; yet we are justified in the blood of Christ, and we are reconciled to God by the death of his Son.” St. Augustine in On the Trinity, Book 13, Ch 11.