Skip to content
Do we misunderstand Christ’s atonement? Explore this question now

Faith Matters

The Christian world generally is struggling to understand Christ’s atonement. The old doctrines and explanations sound primitive and do not ring true to many would-be believers today.

Richard Rohr, the very influential Catholic teacher and theologian, points to what he sees as the limits and problems with a long-standing notion of  “substitutionary atonement.”  Rohr explains that, for most Christians, atonement is understood as

…a one-time transactional affair between Jesus and his Father, instead of an ongoing transformational lesson for the human soul and for all of history. I believe that Jesus’ death on the cross is a revelation of the infinite and participatory love of God, not some bloody payment required by God’s offended justice to rectify the problem of sin. Such a story line is way too small…

Rohr wants to see Christ’s atonement not as an event but as a redemptive process that plays out over time in the lives of individuals and in the broader “body of Christ.” (Read Rohr’s entire post here.)

We asked Terryl Givens, perhaps the most respected and influential theologian in today’s church, to explore what the restored gospel adds to our understanding. Terryl, with wife Fiona Givens, addressed this question in their groundbreaking book All Things New: Rethinking Sin, Salvation, and Everything in Between.  You can listen to the remarkable chapter from this book here. It challenges us to understand and experience Christ’s Atonement in more profound ways.

Terryl gives this exquisite and expansive response: The Restored Gospel’s Radical Perspective on Atonement and Grace.

He then invites other important voices into the conversation, including this conversation with Spencer Fluhman.

Then Adam Miller sits down with Aubrey and Tim Chaves  in this conversation to talk about his paradigm-shifting book Original Grace: 

Finally, if you want to hear an amazing story about how atonement and redemption can happen in life’s dark and hopeless places, you’ll want to watch Joseph Grenny’s incredible talk at the Faith Matters Restore 2022 gathering.

Share on

Additional Resources

Original Grace — A Conversation with Adam Miller

An Early Resurrection — A Conversation with Adam Miller

Atonement and Grace – Terryl Givens and Spencer Fluhman

The Restored Gospel’s Radical Perspective on Atonement and Grace

More Questions

How do we reconcile Book of Mormon “problems” with the claim that it is the “most correct” scriptural text? And is it essential that we see the Book of Mormon as truly historical—i.e. written by ancient writers about an ancient people? Could it be some other form of writing—inspired or otherwise?
How can I make sense of our history of denying priesthood and temple blessings to our Black brothers and sisters?
In what way is our church “the true church?”
Our history with plural marriage is really hard to accept. Shouldn’t we just renounce it in past, present and future and move on?
Are there big problems with the Book of Abraham?
Is there conflict between Latter-day Saint theology and evolution?