Commercial Theory of the Atonement

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The Commercial Theory of the Atonement was first set forth by Anselm (A.D. 1033-1109) which is the theory that sin robbed God of his honor. Therefore, it was necessary to have God's honor restored by either punishing sinners or through an atonement. God chose to atone by the death of Christ which brought honor to God and the reward which was passed on to sinners.1

The problem with this theory is that the motivation of God's atoning work is holiness rather than love. John 3:16 says that "God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son . . . " Also, there are no verses that suggest it was God's holiness that was the motivation for the atoning work. This theory also ignores the legal aspect of Christ's atonement.


  • 1. Enns, Paul P. The Moody Handbook of Theology, p. 320.
About The Author

Matt Slick is the President and Founder of the Christian Apologetics and Research Ministry.