Forgiveness and Atonement : Christ's Restorative Justice book cover
1st Edition

Forgiveness and Atonement
Christ's Restorative Justice

  • Available for pre-order. Item will ship after April 1, 2022
ISBN 9780367742188
April 1, 2022 Forthcoming by Routledge
272 Pages

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Book Description

This book analyzes the relationship between forgiveness, atonement, and reconciliation from a Christian theological perspective. Drawing on both theological and philosophical literature, it addresses the problem of whether atonement is required for forgiveness and considers important related concepts such as sin and justice. The author develops a sacrificial model of atonement that connects an understanding of Christian forgiveness with the biblical narrative of Christ’s sacrifice and makes reconciliation between God and humanity possible. Offering a fresh and coherent argument, the book will be relevant to scholars of Christian theology, biblical studies, and the philosophy of religion.

Table of Contents

Table of Contents




  • Where is Atonement in the Prodigal Son?
  • Reconciliation, Forgiveness, and Atonement
  • The Shape of the Project

1. Value-Driven Inquiry & Exegetically-Engaged Analytic Theology

  • Can There be Progress in Theology?
  • Value-Driven Inquiry in the Context of Theology
  • Analytic Theology as a Research Program
  • A Taxonomy of Value
  • The Value of Forgiveness
  • Theorizing Via the Deliverances of Intuition & Scripture
  • Reflective Equilibrium

2. Original Sin & the Biblical Witness Concerning Forgiveness

  • Grace vs. Nature, the Fall, and the Noetic Effects of Sin
  • Scripture and the Nature of Forgiveness

3. Forgiveness: A Christian Account

  • The Context of Forgiveness
  • What Forgiveness is Not
  • Philosophical Desiderata for a Definition of Forgiveness
  • The Many Definitions of Forgiveness
  • Functional Forgiveness
  • Some Final Thoughts on Functional Forgiveness

4. The Problem of Sin for Humanity and Its Members

  • At-one-ment: On Models, Mechanisms, and the Deposit of Faith
  • The Logic of Reconciliation
  • The Problem of Sin
  • Some Reflections from the History of Hamartiology: Mansfeld

5. Retribution and Restoration in the Narrative of Scripture

  • Anselm: Assessing Retributive Satisfaction
  • Retributivism: Philosophical Considerations
  • Scripture: On the Hope for Restoration

6. On Non-Retributive Penal Substitution

  • Penal Substitution – On the Definition of Punishment
  • On Non-Retributive Rationales for Punishment
  • Penal Substitution – A Restorative Model

7. What Should We Expect from an Explanation of Atonement?

  • Explanations of Varying Strength
  • Evaluating Penal Substitution Explanations
  • Stories, Substitution, and Sacrifice

8. For Us, an Atoning Sacrifice

  • The Elements of Hebraic Sacrifice
  • The Problem of Sin: A Redux
  • Connecting Sin and Sacrifice: Yom Kippur
  • Connecting Cross and the Covenant: Passover
  • Connecting the Flight of the Goat to Forgiveness: The Yom Kippur Scapegoat

9. Forgiveness & Atonement: The Expanded Sacrificial Account

  • What is Left Undone
  • Expanding the Illustrative Sacrificial Explanation: Defeat & Interpersonal Forgiveness



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Jonathan C. Rutledge is a Research Fellow in the Center for Philosophy of Religion at the University of Notre Dame, USA, and previously held a Postdoctoral Research Fellowship at the Logos Institute for Analytic and Exegetical Theology, University of St Andrews, UK. He hasa Ph.D. in philosophy from the University of Oklahoma and in divinity from the University of St Andrews.


"Millions of words have been devoted to analyzing the nature of forgiveness; even more words have been devoted to offering an account of the atonement that the New Testament declares to have been effected by the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Anyone who undertakes to add his own words to those millions must have something new to say on these topics. Jonathan Rutledge does indeed have something new to say; and he says it with lucid prose and compelling argumentation, backed up by astounding acquaintance with the relevant interdisciplinary literature." - Nicholas Wolterstorff, Yale University