Our first discussion finds it’s starting point in Peter Schmiechen’s work on atonement theology, Saving Power. Schmiechen is a professor of theology and president emeritus of Lancaster Theological Seminary.
In Saving Power, Schmiechen looks at a wide range of atonement theories developed during the course of church history, including the penal substitution view, and examines how they reflect their proponents broader vision of the church and its ministry in the world. Rather than championing one particular view, he overviews and evaluates ten distinct theories finding positive aspects of each along with offering his own critiques.
Through the process, Schmiechen hopes to demonstrate that while most Christians assume the basic theme of atonement to be sin and forgiveness, other powerful themes such as liberation from oppressive powers, reconciliation in the face of division, and the hope of resurrection in the face of death, also deserve to be studied and preached. Most importantly for our discussion, Schmiechen works toward developing a framework by which one can evaluate the sufficiency of the various atonement theologies.
It is this later thrust of Schmiechen’s work that will likely occupy much of our discussion early on: What are the central components of this framework? Does it incorporate the biblical “essentials” of atonement you deem necessary? How might Schmiechen’s framework serve as a template for your own framework for evaluating atonement theories? etc…