Brief Notes on the Atonement in the Fathers

The controlling themes that surface in the atonement are basically substitution, Christus Victor, and healing – and these themes are often intertwined with each other. Healing and substitution go together (and you could probably fit these in under recapitulation) and both of those themes are kind of subsumed under Christus victor, which I personally take to be the dominant controlling theme, through and under which the other themes are developed. Under the theme of CV, the themes of substitution and healing cohere into one unified whole.

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Note on the Atonement in the ante-Nicene Fathers

The consensus of the ante-Nicene fathers on the nature of the atonement is firmly Christus Victor – actually, I’m hardly able to find any kind of dissenting viewpoint at all. Virtually every father saw the atonement as the triumph of Christ over the powers – while it’s not as developed as it would come to be, I think it’s safe to say that the early church’s view of the atonement was Christus Victor, and almost nothing else.