Source: (1999) Grantham, Pennsylvania: Messiah College.

In this essay, Collins studies the Christian notion of the Atonement. Asserting the essential place of the doctrine of the Atonement in Christian thought and faith, while seeking an orthodox theory of the Atonement (he distinguishes doctrine and theory), Collins critiques the satisfaction and penal theories of the Atonement that have dominated Western theology. After a summary of theories of the Atonement in Western theology, Collins addresses the problems he sees in the satisfaction and penal theories. In particular he faults them for being fundamentally judicial or juridical in character. With all of this in mind, he proposes an incarnational theory in which the Atonement is fundamentally based in or characterized by God’s grace and love for creation. Then he presents key advantages the incarnational theory has over other theories. This leads to a discussion of practical implications of the incarnational theory – for example, God’s special concern for redeeming the situation of the poor, the widow, the orphan, the prisoner, and any one who suffers. Collins’ paper includes an appendix written later that extends his perspectives on this theory.