The Satisfaction view of the atonement (also known as the penal or punishment theory) is a doctrine related to the meaning and effect of the death of Jesus Christ and has been traditionally taught in Roman Catholic, Lutheran, and Calvinist circles. Drawing primarily from the works of Anselm of Canterbury and John Calvin, the satisfaction theory teaches that Christ was punished as a substitute on behalf of humankind so that the demands of divine justice could be met, and humans could thus be reconciled to God.

The classic Anselmian formulation of the Satisfaction View needs to be distinguished from Penal Substitution. Penal Substitution states that Christ bore the penalty (hence, penal) for sin, in place of those sinners united to him by faith (hence substitution). Anselm, by contrast, regards human sin as defrauding God of the honour he is due. Christ's death, the ultimate act of obedience, gives God great honour. As it was beyond the call of duty for Christ, it is more honour than he was obliged to give. Christ's surplus can therefore repay our deficit. Hence Christ's death is substitutionary; he pays the honour instead of us. But that substitution is not penal; his death pays our honour not our penalty.

Anselm & CatholicismEdit

Calvin & CalvinismEdit

Opposing viewsEdit

See alsoEdit

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