Being ready always to give answer to every man that asketh you a reason concerning the hope that is in you, yet with meekness and fear.—1 Peter 3:15In the recent book, The Heart of the Gospel, by Dr. James M. Campbell, the author has this referenceMoreBeing ready always to give answer to every man that asketh you a reason concerning the hope that is in you, yet with meekness and fear.—1 Peter 3:15In the recent book, The Heart of the Gospel, by Dr.
James M. Campbell, the author has this reference to the so-called “Moral Influence View” of the atonement, as set forth by the late Prof. Geo. B. Stevens, D.D., of Yale Theological Seminary: “The main thing lacking in the view is that it does not show how the work of Christ is so related to sin as to be made effective to salvation, nor does it tap the deep fountain of motive from which the moral influence of the Saviour’s influence springs.
It predicates an effect without an adequate cause.” And yet this “Moral Influence View” of the atonement is supposed by many to reduce to a minimum the difficulties in the rationale of the atonement—a conception with which the present writer finds himself unable to agree.The question of the method of salvation deserves a better answer than is commonly given to it- and certainly an answer that does not destroy the atonement.
Indeed, such an answer must be given, if the evangelical faith is to stand, if our rational hold on the grounds of salvation is to be maintained, and if we are to strengthen the faith of others. It cannot be that that Cross which is declared to be “the wisdom of God,” will not commend itself as wise in the method of its working, as well as effective in power, to a spiritually taught insight. The way of salvation must be supremely rational. Customary as it is for many to say that they have “no theory” of the atonement, yet all men who think about it at all do have some theory, whether they intelligibly define it or not.
This habit of speaking of having “no theory” on the subject, while holding to the saving value in the fact of Christ’s death, is the fashion of the hour. Sometimes it would appear to be an unoffending way of bowing out of court elements embraced in a Bible view of the subject which some hesitate to acknowledge, and yet which they do not quite have the frankness to disclaim. Doubtless some are in suspense what to believe.In the following pages I shall attempt an answer to the question, “How does the death of Christ save us?” The difficulty in the case is to show the ethical energy resident in Christ’s death as it takes effect upon us: to show how the work accomplished in the death of Christ is so related to sin—to our sin—as to become effective to our salvation: so as to engender motive and impart dynamic to ultimate holiness of life.H.C.M.