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date: 19 November 2017

Abstract and Keywords

This chapter discusses three developments in European that had a profound effect on the Christian concept of atonement, the first of which is the enormous impact of the Enlightenment, in particular the so-called ‘anthropocentric turn’. This turn included a new confidence in the powers of human reasoning, unaided by revelation or traditional theological confessions, to discern the nature of God and the universe. The second development is that of a series of powerful reductive critiques of religion, including of atonement. The third has been closely linked with the first: sustained critiques of substitution and satisfaction-based models of the atonement (including retributive, sacrificial, and forensic models). The concluding section offers a brief overview of trends in constructive accounts of the atonement from the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, including classic accounts by Schleiermacher and Barth, and the non-satisfaction-oriented alternatives that have been rehabilitated in light of the larger developments.

Keywords: Enlightenment, human reasoning, religion, atonement theology, Karl Barth, Friedrich Schleiermacher

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