Saturday, January 23, 2010

Charles Hodge: Refutation of the "Moral Influence" theory of the atonement

The idea that there is no forgiveness with God; that by inexorable law He deals with his creatures according to their subjective state and character, and that therefore the only salvation necessary or possible is sanctification, is appalling. No man is in such an inward state, either during life or at death, that he can stand before God to be dealt with according to that state. His only hope is that God will, and does, deal with his people, not as they are in themselves, but as they are in Christ, and for his sake; that He loves and has fellowship with us although polluted and defiled, as a parent loves and delights in a misshapen and unattractive child. ... Anything that turns the sinner’s regard inward on himself as a ground of hope, instead of bidding him took to Christ, must plunge him into despair, and despair is the portal of eternal death. In any view, therefore, whether as bold rationalistic Deism, or as the most high-toned portraiture of divine love, the moral theory of the atonement presents no rational, because no Scriptural, ground for a sinner’s hope toward God. He must have a better righteousness than his own. He must have some one to appear before God in his stead to make expiation for sin, and to secure for him, independently of his own subjective state, the full pardon of all his offences, and the gift of the Holy Ghost. (Charles Hodge, Systematic Theology, II:3:9:3, Soteriology: Theories of the Atonement: The Moral View)

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