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Benjamin Wheaton

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  • Suffering Not Power

    $26.99

    Overturning a popular view of the atonement

    Was Christ’s death a victory over death or a substitution for sin? Many today follow Gustav Aulen’s Christus Victor view, which portrays Christ’s death as primarily a ransom paid to the powers of evil and which, according to Aulen, reflected the beliefs of the early church. Aulen held that this ransom theory view dominated until Anselm reframed atonement as satisfaction and the Reformers reframed it as penal substitution.

    In Suffering, Not Power, Benjamin Wheaton challenges this common narrative that Christ’s work of atonement was reframed by Anselm, showing that sacrificial and substitutionary language was common well before Anselm’s Cur Deus Homo. Wheaton displays this through a careful analysis of three medieval theologians whose writings on the atonement are commonly overlooked: Caesarius of Arles, Haimo of Auxerre, and Dante Alighieri. These figures come from different times and contexts and wrote in different genres, but each spoke of Christ’s death as a sacrifice of expiation and propitiation made by God to God.

    Let history speak for itself, read the evidence, and reconsider the church’s belief in Christ’s substitutionary death for sinners.

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