Caught in the act of atonement


fordgeMy thanks to Fr Aidan for sharing a wonderful article by Gerhard Forde (d. 2005) of Lutheran Seminary (St. Paul) with me this morning. The article, “Caught in the Act: Reflections on the Work of Christ” (World in World 3/1 1983), is a short but very helpful meditation on the Cross, certainly relevant to my reading through Rutledge’s The Crucifixion. I’m reluctant to confess it, but ten minutes of Forde was more refreshing, freeing, and enlightening than the whole mountain of atonement monographs I’ve been sifting through for weeks. Parts of Forde’s piece were so simply helpful and clarifying, I wanted to share some of it. For those of you familiar with Girard, you’ll see the compatibility.

After summarizing the ‘objective’ vs ‘subjective’ views of the atonement, along with the insights of the Christus Victor model, he recommends that we sidestep these theories and deal with the “brute fact”…

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5 Responses to Caught in the act of atonement

  1. Fr Aidan Kimel says:

    Download Forde’s essay “Caught in the Act.”


  2. Iain Lovejoy says:

    What does our accepting of God’s mercy and forgiveness consist of?


  3. Fr Aidan Kimel says:

    Starting to live on the basis of it, baby step by baby step. Now that God has forgiven you, Iain, now that you are enveloped in the divine mercy and goodness, how are you now going to live?


  4. Julian says:

    I think there are two aspects to the Atonement: To cure us of the disease of sin and to free us from the devil. God can and does forgive us, but until we are cured of the disease of sin, we are still beings fit only for destruction. By having faith in and being baptized into Jesus, we are united with him in his death to the disease of sin and raised in him to newness of life.

    Second, it seems that the devil has a legal claim of some kind on us. It’s not completely clear what that claim is, but I think it originates in our listening to the devil instead of to God. Thus, we came under the devil’s domain. I think that by inspiring the rulers of this age to murder Jesus – put him to death illegally – the devil forfeited his legal claim on us. If all humanity had refused to murder Jesus, then the devil himself would have done so, and his claim on us would be null and void.


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