Insufficiency of the Subjective View of the Atonement
1 John 2:1-6
My little children, these things write I to you, that you sin not. And if any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father…

1. If the Cross was nothing more than the revelation of God's love, the power of the Cross was manifestly limited to those who knew of it. This surely could not be called a "larger view." Rather it belittled the Cross and limited its power. There were men and women who lived before Christ came; had they no share in the Cross? There were millions of heathen in the world; were they untouched by the passion of God? There were unbelievers around, some willing, some unwilling; were they all quite shut our from the Cross because they knew not the love revealed? "I beheld, and lo a Lamb as it had been slain." The Cross was in heaven as well as upon earth. It touched God as well as man; it had a meaning and a blessing for every human soul.

2. The subjective view failed to explain the whole ritual of the Jewish sacrifices.

3. It failed to explain terms and phrases of very frequent occurrence in the New Testament, such as "reconciliation," "peace by the blood of His Cross," "saved from wrath," etc. To say that Evangelical Christians put a heathen meaning into these terms and phrases, they would naturally ask how it came to pass that inspired men were allowed to use words that would so easily slip into heathen meanings. The words were misleading if the atonement was not a power on God as well as on man.

4. The subjective theory failed to satisfy the nature of man. Man had a conscience as well as a heart. A clergyman of Norfolk, once a Unitarian minister, said he should never forget his experience as he stood one day by the death bed of a poor, wretched man in a workhouse. He had just come to see that the Cross meant more than he had previously thought, "and for the first time in his life he had a plea for the awakened conscience." Nothing can satisfy the moral nature that does not meet God's love of righteousness.

(G. S. Barrett, D. D.)

Parallel Verses
KJV: My little children, these things write I unto you, that ye sin not. And if any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous:

WEB: My little children, I write these things to you so that you may not sin. If anyone sins, we have a Counselor with the Father, Jesus Christ, the righteous.

For the Sins of the Whole World
Top of Page
Top of Page