I've been reading about Theories of Atonement. Christians accept that Jesus' death was for the sin of mankind, but there has been a lot of theological debate as to how exactly that was accomplished. He died for us, but in what sense? The way I interpret it: Jesus gave up something and recieved nothing; God gave up something and recieved something; and man gave up nothing and recieved something. The equation balances, but that still leaves open the details and exact mechanism of what was being exchanged. Anyway, it's an interesting topic, and I thought I would share my summary. Ransom Theory
Sinners are in bondage to Satan, and God offers Jesus' life in exchange for their freedom.Recapitulation Theory
Jesus is interpretted as a repetition of Adam. Where the first man disobeyed God and doomed all who followed, Jesus was obedient even unto death, and thus undid that original curse. This theory emphasizes Jesus' solidarity with mankind; He became like us, so that we could become like Him.Satisfaction Theory
A modification of the Ransom Theory, which posed a problem since it involved God owing
something to Satan. This theory proposes that God is due honor, and human sin dishonors
Him. This dishonor becomes a debt which must be repaid. Since Jesus died sinless, he essentially overpaid. This overpayment is used to satisfy the sin-debt which the rest of humanity has accumulated.Penal-Substitution Theory
An evolution of the Satisfaction theory, which portrayed the relationship between God and man as a commercial transaction. Here the emphasis shifts from a debt being owed, to God's requirement for perfect justice. Sin violates God's law, and every sin must be punished. Jesus vicariously bore that punishment on the cross, thus allowing God to grant men forgiveness while still upholding His laws.Moral-Example Theory
This theory is built on numerous passages in the New Testament which exhort moral behavior. A rejection of the Ransom theory, which gave too much power to Satan, and the Satisfaction theory, which portrayed God as offended or judgemental. Here, the depth of Jesus' love was meant to inspire men to follow his example of obedience to God. Thus the death of Jesus does not change God's disposition, but influences the hearts of men. Governmental Theory
This theory removes the vicarious repayment/punishment seen in the Satisfaction and Penal-Substitution theories, and imo is the most complicated. God is given the role of a cosmic judge, with the authority to punish sin-but not the obligation
to do so. While sinners can be forgiven, to do this too freely would undermine God's moral law. Jesus' death was thus a public demonstration
of just how seriously God views sin. Since the purpose of punishment is to deter future bad acts, this single crucifixion is a lesson which affects humanity without each individual having to face personal punishment. God, having established the severity of sin and its consequence, is then willing to forgive anyone who repents.
This is a good starting point for more detailed descriptions:https://www.theopedia.com/atonement-of-christ
I originally included some bible passages supporting each theory, but that post was just too long. The proponants of each idea, at one point in time, made their own case. Except for the Moral-Example theory. Peter Abelard was an early developer of that, and he wound up being condemned as a heretic(not just for this, though). I actually think his was an appealing interpretation, since it was built on Jesus' demonstrable actions which any man can understand, and emulate.