Atonement is the belief that Jesus Christ made amends for the rest of humanity for their sin, and thus opening the door for the rest of humanity to obtain entry to Heaven. The Atonement is the central element of the Christian faith. The cross is the universal sign of Christianity. Whereas the Resurrection reveals that Jesus Christ defeated death, the atonement is the significant part that provides salvation to man.
Early versions of Atonement
The arguments for atonement has changed for the centuries. For instance, the earliest theory of atonement was the Ransom Theory (1 Tim. 2:5-6 ; 1 Pet. 1:18-19 ; Eph. 2 ; Rom. 7 (esp. Rom. 7:14,23-24 ) and Rom. 8:23 ; Gal. 4 ; Mk. 10:45 ; etc). The Ransom Theory's basic notion was that sinners were being held captive by Satan and the death of Jesus on the cross was the ransom required to free them. Satan, however, was tricked, and he was not able to keep Jesus dead, and thus the resurrection proved Christ's victory over Satan and his demons.
In the eleventh century, the Satisfaction Theory was developed by Anslem, which stated that God's honor had been besmirched by man's sin and that man now owned a debt to God that he could not pay. Thus God decided to pay it for man through the sacrifice of his son Jesus Christ.
The current dominate held view is the Penal Substitutionary Theory (PST), but others includes the Moral Influence Theory, the Governmental Theory, and the Recapitulation Theory.
Penal Substitutionary Theory
The Penal Substitutionary Theory (PST) is the dominate view currently held by evangelical Christians. The PST states that God's holiness demands that sin be punished, and God being a just God, cannot let sin go unpunished. Thus, God sacrificed his only begotten son Jesus Christ to bear the punishment for man's sin. Jesus took the punishment, and thus God can forgive man without compromising his holiness or justice.
Counter apologistic to the PST
PST is Illogical
Punishment is the appropriate response for the one who is guilty of breaking a certain law. The important element of retributive justice then is that the guilty party and only the guilty part should be punished, and thus it is logically impossible to punish an innocent person. To punish an innocent person contradicts the very definition of the word "punish" in the judicial sense. Thus, the PST is an oxymoron.
PST is Immoral
According to Christianity, God gave us our sense of right and wrong. The Bible teaches that Jesus suffered in the place of sinners, while Jesus was sinless and thus innocent. Therefore, the PST is a contradiction; otherwise, Christians have to admit that its okay for God to do what he tells man not to do.
The Old Testament also makes numerous statements that God greatly dislikes human sacrifice, because it was a practiced by non-Jews to appease their gods (Lev. 18:21 ; Deut. 18:10 ). However, God did command Abraham to kill his own son Isaac in Genesis 22 , however God at the last moment stops the sacrifice and was satisfied with Abraham's obedience. This very fact, carried to its logical conclusion, would eliminate the necessity of the sacrifice death of Christ. It eliminates the atonement and thus over turns the whole Christian Gospel. If sacrifice is unacceptable to God, then the sacrifice of Jesus was not acceptable.