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By Martin Weber

“What shall I do to be saved?” is a dilemma as old as Christianity itself. Eternity is at

stake, yet answers are varied and conflicted. For half of Christian history, two soteriological
models have competed for the faith of the church: the Satisfaction model and the Subjective
model. Despite their respective strengths, both leave important issues unresolved.
The dominant view down through the centuries, at least until after the Enlightenment, has
been the Satisfaction model. According to this view, sin is an offence against God that requires
meritorious satisfaction provided through the sacrifice of Jesus Christ. The alternative Subjective
model sees sin as alienation from God that naturally results in death. Jesus saves through His
revelation of divine love that draws unbelievers into a healing, life-restoring friendship with
God. Christ also provides a moral example for human relationships. In this subjective, relational
model, all forensic and expiatory language in Scripture is metaphorical.
Both theories have strengths but also serious weaknesses; I propose a third soteriological
option: the Representational model. It centers on Jesus not as expiator (Satisfaction model) or
loving example (Subjective model) but as Emmanuel, the divine/human representative who
restored the broken salvation covenant and reestablished God’s eternal and proactive purpose for
the world. He saved us from Adam’s corrupted and condemned humanity by establishing in
Himself a new human race, the church. In this view, historically and corporately, all were
adopted into Christ’s new humanity by His salvation accomplishments: victorious life, atoning
death, vindicating resurrection and royal glorification. Presently and personally, believers
activate their position in the body of Christ by faith. This brings them out of alienation into
relationship—with Jesus and with fellow members of His body. I propose that this koinonia with
its healing, transforming, and reproducing love is God’s ultimate goal in salvation.
My thesis is that this third model is the best option for resolving sin’s alienation and
death by reuniting us in community with God and one another. I present it in the spirit of
ongoing soteriological dialogue, comparing and contrasting it with the other models. This study
begins with a concise yet comprehensive background on all three models, followed by an
explanation of my procedures and limitations.


The Satisfaction model

The eleventh century pioneer of the Satisfaction model was Anselm of Canterbury. To
him humanity’s basic problem is: How can God forgive human sin? He explains that sin is
failing to “render to God what God is entitled to.” Satisfaction for sin, he posits, means “more
that what was taken away must be rendered back.”1
The great later medieval theologian Thomas Aquinas adds that satisfaction happens when
someone offers to the person offended a “delight greater than his hatred for the offence.” And so
Alister McGrath, ed. The Christian Theology Reader (Malden, MA: Blackwell, 1995), 182.

the sacrifice of Jesus was “not only sufficient but a superabundant satisfaction for the sins of the
human race.”2
The concept of superabundant merits has roots in the patristic era with Tertullian. Church
historian Gustaf Aulen documents his third century exhortation on satisfaction and merit, which
climaxes: “How absurd it is ... to leave the penance unperformed, and yet expect forgiveness of
sins! What is it but to fail to pay the price?”3
“Paying the price” to expiate sin has been fundamental to the Satisfaction model for the
past millennium. And when the Protestant Reformers confronted Roman Catholic concepts of
meritorious human works such as penance and purgatory, they left intact the basic Latin concept
of merits.4 The revolutionary distinction from Rome’s soteriology was where sinners get their
merits–whether within their own spiritual attainments by means of God’s created or imparted
grace within, or in the external, “alien” righteousness of Christ’s complete and meritorious
atonement.5 But the basic Latin concept of merits remained, as evidenced in the typical language
commonly heard from evangelical pulpits today: “Christ paid the price of our salvation,” and
“we trust in His merits not our own.”
The Subjective model
The Subjective model in its various forms has had various labels, most notably the
“Moral Influence Theory.”6 Its central issues are that the gospel must be rational, truth can bear
investigation, and God can be trusted. God calls us to be friends more than servants, expressing
love in action. This model regards God’s law in terms of communal relations and focuses on His
love and grace rather than rules of conduct. Sin involves distorted views of God rather than a
judicial violation of His law that incurs divine penalties.
In what sense is Jesus our savior? It was not to pay the price of sin but to heal the rift sin
caused between Creator and the created. Specifically, Christ saves us by revealing the love of the
heavenly Father, influencing us to return to the same loving and life-giving relationship with
God that Adam squandered. Also, Jesus came to show us a better way to relate to each other,
loving one another as He has loved us instead of participating in sin’s alienation and dysfunction.
To that end, the cross was the ultimate demonstration of the love that heals us from the sin
problem, both with God and one another.
The Subjective model has millennium-deep roots in the French scholar Peter Abelard,

McGraff, Reader, 185-186.
Gustaf Aulen, Christus Victor (New York: Macmillan, 1969), 81.
Aulen makes a strong case that Martin Luther himself emphasized the Christus Victor “classic” ransom
view of Irenaeus and other patristic theologians rather than (or at least more than) the Latin merit system
of fellow Reformers and their successors, who constructed Protestant Orthodoxy.
Stanley Grenz notes another Protestant modification to the Satisfaction theory: whereas Anselm focused
on Christ’s sacrifice restoring God’s honor, John Calvin viewed the cross in law court imagery as penal
substitution for expiating divine wrath. Stanley J. Grenz, Created for Community (Grand Rapids, MI:
Baker, 1998), 141.
A label regarded as pejorative by many adherents of the Subjective view and thus not used in this study.

who reacted against the legal views of his medieval contemporary Anslem. Abelard’s non-legal
concept of salvation journeyed into classic liberalism as a result of the Enlightenment, led by
theologians such as Friedrich Schleiermacher. Twentieth century proponents include scholars
such as C. H. Dodd, for whom “the idea of an angry (wrathful) God is a concept which breaks
down as the rational element in religion advances.”7 Abelard himself argues against the legal
model (diminishing but not abandoning the notion of merits). He regards all expiatory language
in Scripture as metaphorical:

Our redemption through the suffering of Christ is that deeper love within us
which not only frees us from slavery to sin, but also secures for us the true liberty
of the children of God, in order that we might do all things out of love rather than
out of fear—love for him who has shown us such grace that no greater can be

With that background, we are equipped to assess the respective strengths of the two
theories: Abelard magnified the life-changing power of God’s love—a remarkable emphasis,
considering that his ecclesiological and societal culture produced the Crusades. Anselm called
the medieval church to remember that solving the sin problem involves more than interaction
with mystical sacraments, rites, and relics; faith must find its foundation in Christ’s atoning
sacrifice, which alone can bring honor to God.
Despite their strengths, both theories suffer serious weaknesses. Anselm’s theory shows
evidence of medieval superstition in its soteriology of honor-motivated wrath.9 Abelard avoids
this but comes short of explaining Christ’s death on the cross. As Douglas John Hall asserts:
“The [Anselmian] theory is impossibly interwoven with medieval feudal and even superstitious
practices”10 Meanwhile, “as the sentimentalization of Abelardian atonement theology in the
hands of the liberals demonstrates all too plainly, it is not an adequate expression of the
C. H. Dodd, The Epistle to the Romans (London: Collins, Fontana Books, 1959), 60. In George Knight,
My Gripe with God (Hagerstown, MD: Review and Herald, 1990), 41.
Peter Abelard, Expositio in Epistolam ad Romanos, 2; in J. P. Migne, Patrologia Latina, 178.832C-D;
836A-B, in McGrath, 184.
There is a place for wrath motivated by love. God is “a jealous God” (Exo. 34:14), like a protective
husband who comes home to find his wife being assaulted. Will he not rise up in rage to deliver his
beloved? So will God react against sin because of its dysfunction, disease and death.
One day Jesus met a handicapped man planted as a trap by Christ’s enemies to induce Him to
heal on the Sabbath. Christ “looked around at them with anger, being grieved by the hardness of their
hearts” (Mark 3:5). Anger here is orge: wrath that is real, active and powerful, but much different from
ours. Outraged as Jesus was, His divine wrath was mixed with grief. This organic wrath of a loving God
is completely different from the Satisfaction model’s quantified wrath that seeks divine honor.
As the representative of fallen humanity, Jesus on the cross came under unmitigated divine wrath
so that “having now been justified [placed in a righteous relationship with God] by His blood, we shall be
saved from wrath through Him” (Rom. 5:9).
Douglas John Hall, Professing the Faith (Minneapolis, MN: Fortress, 1993), 501.

significance of the cross. Beyond that, it lacks the concreteness of participation in the human
condition, which belongs to the concept of representation.”11
In summary so far: the Satisfaction model asserts that Christ’s death paid a price which
appeases wrath and restores God’s honor, while the Subjective model regards Jesus primarily as
a demonstration of God’s love to influence human behavior.

The Representational model

The third soteriological model, presented here as a preferred alternative, is built on the
strengths of both historic theories while seeking to avoid their weaknesses. The core of it is
Jesus the victorious Representative, who saved us from sin and Adam’s corrupted and
condemned humanity by establishing in Himself a new human race, the church. Individually and
corporately, we gain unqualified acceptance into a relationship with God through which we
experience His presence by the indwelling Spirit. We also have continual access by our faith and
Christ’s intercession to every benefit Abraham inherited in the new covenant: life abundant and
eternal, relationships fruitful and fulfilling, plus all the wisdom, guidance, discipline and
provision needed for character formation and the fulfillment of God’s purposes and promises–in
sum, “all things that pertain to life and godliness.”12 The biblical warrant of this
relational/representational model is the “in Christ” motif, which is the overwhelmingly dominant
New Testament metaphor for salvation, occurring 164 times in Pauline epistles, “including
eleven times (counting pronouns and synonyms) in one of the great opening sentences of
Ephesians (ch. 1:3-14).”13
The gospel that reconciles us with God through Jesus our representative was not an
afterthought when sin and death entered this planet. Paul speaks of God’s original, proactive goal
to grant us “the unsearchable riches of Christ, and to make all see what is the fellowship of the
mystery, which from the beginning of the ages has been hidden in God who created all things
through Jesus Christ; to the intent that now the manifold wisdom of God might be made known
by the church to the principalities and powers in the heavenly places, according to the eternal
purpose which He accomplished in Christ Jesus our Lord, in whom we have boldness and access
with confidence through faith in Him” (Eph. 3:9-12).
This proactive approach of the Representational model transcends the reactive basis of its
rivals. The Satisfaction model teaches that the gospel rescues us from condemnation through the
doing and dying of Christ so that we have eternal life. The Subjective model sees the gospel as

Hall, 468.
The Representational model coordinates with a version of Seventh-day Adventism known as Messianic
Adventism. According to its founder, John W. Webster: “Salvation is the gift of Gods’ love, whereby
God remains faithful to God’s own original gracious purpose, restoring the broken covenant with
humanity (and the earth) by making their lost cause his own in Jesus Christ, who as reconciling God and
reconciled Man in one, is both the once-for-all accomplishment of at-one-ment, and (by means of the
Holy Spirit) is the witness and guarantor of its final fulfillment in the consummation when ‘God with us’
is as truly ‘Us with God.’” (J. W. Webster, Salvation/Incarnation—The Second Mode of the Adventus Dei
(Unpublished class handout, August 2000), 1.
George Knight, A Pharisee's Guide to Perfect Holiness (Boise, ID: Pacific Press, 1992), 101.

reclaiming us from alienation caused by sin and recreating us through a renewed connection with
the Life giver. The Representational model welcomes all these remedial elements of the gospel
but grounds itself in God’s eternal purpose for creation rather than in the sin problem.
To summarize this preparatory background: The Subjective model objects that a loving
God requires payment to forgive sin. Furthermore, to whom would Jesus pay that price–to the
Father? To the devil? Or to nobody at all, but for the sake of principle, specifically legal justice?
But how could God be bound by His own law and still be sovereign God?14
Such questions confront the Satisfaction model. Answers have been slow in coming over
the last millennium. Satisfactionists have been better at raising their own questions: If Christ’s
death is not a satisfaction for sin, why did He need to die? If only as an example, then in what
sense is He our savior? Is it only through teaching us and revealing His loving Father? But He
already accomplished that before He died. Nevertheless, suppose we do need Christ’s death for
the supreme revelation of God—then what about those who lived in Old Testament times? Why
didn’t God send Jesus instead of Noah? If somehow the antedeluvians could have been saved
without the death of Jesus, why do we suddenly need Christ’s revelation?
I do not presume in this brief paper to resolve all these questions that have endured for
the last millennium. This study is limited to a critique of the three models in their ability to fulfill
what I consider to be the basic challenge of the gospel: in negative terms, the alienation from
God and from one another that is the essence of sin and the cause of death on every level–
physical, emotional, relational and spiritual death–ultimately eternal loss. In positive terms, the
challenge of the gospel is the reconciliation with God and one another, thus restoring the original
purpose of our creation.
To evaluate the models, both in their positive and negative outcomes, I propose the
following testing elements:
1) Christology–our representational Savior,
2) Soteriology–the representational gospel,
3) Ecclesiology–the representational church.
Specifically, we want to see what our three models can contribute in these three areas.


1) Christology: Jesus the Representational Savior

The Subjective model regards Jesus as supreme teacher and loving exemplar, and the
Representational model fully affirms this but sees His work as Savior being much more than
merely didactic and motivational. So does the Satisfaction model, in fact. But whereas the
Satisfaction model sees Jesus as the price-paying substitute, the Representational model sees
Him primarily as victorious representative–although would concur that Christ is our substitute
within the bounds described here by James I. Packer: “A representative discharging the
obligations of those whom he represents is their substitute.”15 However, the scope of the
representative role that Scripture accords Messiah may include more than Packer envisions.

I believe that adequate and even persuasive answers exist for these questions, but they are not within the
scope of this study.
James I Packer, an untitled lecture at Tyndall House. In McGrath, Reader, 205.

Representative soteriology is based on Christology’s reciprocal connection between Jesus

as Son of God and Son of Man. As the eternal Word who created the world, He alone could
represent heaven to earth as Emmanuel, God with us. His victorious life, death and resurrection
then qualified Him to represent earth at heaven’s throne as our glorified High Priest.
At the core of the Representational model is the fact that Jesus as the corporate Son of
Man is the second Adam. Just as we were lost through the first Adam, we find salvation now
through Christ, head of a new humanity. Karl Barth notes this: “The activity of the second
Adam who took the place of the first, who reversed and overthrew the activity of the first in this
place, and in so doing brought in a new man, founded a new world and inaugurated a new
aeon—and all this in His passion.” Jesus fully identified with humanity’s condition, “making
their lost cause his own,”16
Something terrible happened to us in Adam—condemnation. The good news is that
something wonderful happened to us in Christ—justification: "Therefore, as through one man's
offense judgment came to all men, resulting in condemnation, even so through one Man's
righteous act the free gift came to all men, resulting in justification of life" (Rom. 5:18). The
Bible says we were "in Adam" when he sinned and brought condemnation upon the entire human
family, but we also were "in Christ" when He brought salvation to "all men." "God was in Christ,
reconciling the world unto Himself" (2 Cor. 5:19). So reconciliation with God is an
accomplished reality because of Calvary. Thus the question is not whether we can achieve
salvation but whether we will accept the salvation already achieved in Christ.
Anglo-Saxon culture conflicts with the communal aspect of soteriology. "This view is
difficult for the Western mind to grasp and accept because it is much more accustomed to
thinking in individualistic terms. However, the idea of all mankind, as a corporate unit,
participating in Adam's fall is clearly taught in the Scriptures.”17
Christ’s victory not only for humanity but as humanity is integral to the Representational
model, and it was held long before Anselm and Abelard proposed their rival medieval
alternatives. Gustaf Aulen documents this in his seminal work, Christus Victor. He affirms that
the dominant soteriological construct of the New Testament and the patristic theologians was
that “Christ ‘recapitulates’ the history of Adam, except he succeeds at every point at which
Adam failed. Thus Adam’s disobedience is matched by Christ’s obedience. Thus the salvation
of humanity, which was lost in Adam, was regained in Christ.”18
“In Christ” soteriology was foreshadowed even in Old Testament times through an

Karl Barth, Church Dogmatics: the Doctrine of Reconciliation, Vol. iv, Part 1 (Edinburgh: T. & T.
Clark, 1956), 254.
Jack Sequeira, Beyond Belief (Boise, ID: Pacific Press, 1993), 34.
Irenaeus, adversus haereses, V.i.1, in Sources Chretiennes, vol. 153, ed. A. Rousseau, L. Doutreleau,
and C. Mercier (Paris: Cerf, 1979), 18.19-20.20. In McGrath, 176. Unfortunately, Iranaeus in the second
century was not sufficiently clear about how Christ ransomed humanity from the devil; from this
ambiguity Origen and other patricians taught that God overcame Satan with deception, hiding deity
within humanity. Thus ransom soteriology became unnecessarily problematic. (See Grenz, Community,
138.) The Representational model suggested here incorporates the Christus Victor concept without the
fanciful and dubious notions that undermined it during the millennium preceding Anslem and Abelard.

experience of the patriarch Abraham. A metaphor of Christ’s representative function was

illustrated in the way that Levi, his great-grandson, fulfilled his spiritual obligation to pay tithe.
Though yet unborn, “through Abraham, even Levi, who received tithes, paid tithes" (Heb. 7:9).
How could someone yet unborn be considered a tithe payer? Verse 10 explains: "For he [Levi]
was still in the loins of his [great-grand] father [Abraham] when Melchizedek met him." So
unborn Levi was represented "in Abraham" when Abraham paid tithe to the priest/king
Melchizedek and thus fulfilled his own spiritual obligations–through his ancestor's obedience.
And just as unborn Levi was "in Abraham" during His obedience, so we were “in Christ” during
His overcoming.
Another soteriological “in Christ” lesson from Abraham is the fact that, though barren in
himself, God regarded him as the father of many nations. Likewise we, though bereft of real
righteousness, are counted as complete in Christ, our triumphant representative.
The significance of humanity’s corporate victory in Christ as the representative second
Adam is rejected entirely by the Subjective model and marginalized in the Satisfaction model.
The Satisfaction model honors Jesus as our substitute who died instead of us. The inadequacy of
such soteriology is evident in asking: If Christ died as our substitute, instead of us, was He also
raised as our substitute, instead of us? It seems a violation of both Scripture and reason to
consider Him our substitute in His death but not in His resurrection. The gospel truth is that
Christ both died and was raised as our representative.
Another soteriological flaw of the Satisfaction model is shortchanging the victorious
Messianic ministry of Jesus. Although it is only through His representational sacrifice on the
cross that we are saved from divine wrath, His whole life was a pageant of triumph on our
behalf. Indeed, Christ’s death and resurrection were His greatest triumph and indisputably,
irreplaceably, the fulcrum of soteriology. Yet salvation weekend was not a standalone event but
the culmination of a victorious ministry which began with the desert temptations immediately
after His anointing and continued without defeat until His final and triumphant death cry:

2) Soteriology: the Representational Gospel

The Subjective model sees the covenant as a metaphor rather than an actual salvation
provision of Jesus. It points to the loving heavenly Father’s agreement to receive and restore
alienated sinners to friendship and fellowship with Him, as illustrated in the parable of the
prodigal son. At the opposite end of the spectrum, the Satisfaction model sees the covenant as a
matter of legal substitution more than representation, in that the performance of Jesus perfectly
fulfills the demands of God’s law in place of our failures.
While welcoming the righteousness of God in Christ both in its mercy and its character
implications, the Representational model would concur with the Subjective model in seeing the
covenant relationally (specifically regarding the family of God) more than as a legal matter
(although there is an undeniable judicial aspect, which we cannot discuss in these few pages).
The Representational model connects with a deeper meaning of the covenant than either of its
long-term counterparts. We see this in the book of Galatians, which taps into the covenantal fidei
commissum provision of Roman law as a compelling illustration of how God adopted the Old
Testament patriarch Abraham and gave him an eternal inheritance through his faith response,

based upon the representational performance of Jesus Christ.19 The book of Galatians recounts
how God the Father established a covenant with Abraham that was conditional upon the
performance of his seed and our representative, Jesus Christ (see Gal. 3:16).
In this soteriological scenario, the testator or benefactor is God the Father, and His sole
heir is Abraham. Jesus came to earth as the seed of Abraham to fulfill the obligations of the
salvation covenant. Humanity at large as a family was included into this covenant through God's
acceptance of us in Christ. Through the faithful performance of our representative, Jesus Christ,
we become in Him the seed of Abraham and thus are adopted as children of God in the body of
Christ. The covenant established with Abraham was ratified at Calvary, but for us today to
benefit from it we must identify ourselves with it through faith in "the blessing of Abraham"
(Gal. 3:7-9). By accepting our position in Christ, the seed of Abraham, we are included in the
covenant blessings made possible by His life and death. We have nothing of our own to
contribute. If we tried to qualify ourselves by our own fulfillment of the law, we would
disqualify ourselves from the covenant and bring a curse upon our souls (see Gal. 3:10-13). And
so we trust in Christ's perfect performance, not our own, in fulfilling the salvation covenant. As
our victorious covenant-keeping representative, He died our death and now lives our life. We
don’t copy His example, we allow Him through His Spirit to live out His life within us. Our
achievement of personal righteousness is never an issue. Jesus, the “captain of [our] salvation,”
(Heb. 2:10), has defeated the devil, thus securing eternal life for all who are willing to take their
place on His team.
In summary, the Subjective model regards the covenant as a Representational metaphor
with no significance in Christ’s accomplishments, and the Satisfaction model regards Christ’s
performance as the seed of Abraham primarily as a legal, substitutionary function. The
Representational model regards both the familial and the formal aspects of the covenant as a
significant teaching tool of how God accepts us “in Christ,” our victorious representative in the
salvation covenant. Faith accepts God’s gift of a covenant-keeping new Adam in exchange for
the counterfeits of the first Adam, thus activating the atonement and participating in every
blessing of the covenant–with all the attendant privileges and responsibilities.
These responsibilities in the gospel have profound corporate implications regarding the
church, to which we now turn our attention.

3) Ecclesiology–the Representational Church.

Death resulting from sin is more than the absence of a pulse; in the broad sense it is the
demise of everything desirable, commendable, and valuable. Since sin is the opposite of love,
trust and justice, its selfishness and injustice is also the death of personal and societal
relationships. So sin’s inherent dysfunction destroys and dehumanizes people and their
communities–including the community of the saved, the church. The fundamental task of the
church is to reverse this individualistic trend and foster koinonia. This involves the sharing (both
spontaneous and strategic) of agape among those saved by grateful faith in reception of divine
grace through Christ. Koinonia is inclusive of everyone, regardless of race, gender, age,

For the fidei commissum concept as an illustration of the salvation covenant, I am entirely indebted to
Greer M. Taylor, "The Function of Pistis Christos in Galatians," Journal of Biblical Literature, vol.
LXXXV, part I, 58ff.

appearance, pedigree, reputation, ability or accomplishment. Being also unceasing and proactive,
koinonia reaches beyond the circle of the saved, inviting individual unbelievers everywhere to
accept Jesus as their representative and share the communal banquet of salvation.
Such is the ecclesiological task of the church. Let us see how our three soteriological
models fulfill this responsibility.
The Satisfaction model offers little in terms of fostering koinonia. With its emphasis on
individual guilt before God, the Christian life to some extent reflects a golf tournament, with
participants in apparent relationship as they progress around the course, but there is no real
community. Each one keeps careful record of his or her own “righteousness.” The focus is on
individual spiritual attainments in denial of communal righteousness in Christ.20 This diminishes
if not destroys koinonia and breeds both spiritual pride and discouragement, depending upon
whether one compares his or her “righteousness” to someone lower or higher on the Satisfaction
model’s totem pole of personal sanctification. There may be the call to live unselfishly, but the
model comes short of actually nurturing a sense of responsibility to the community. Hall notes
this tendency of some to avoid Christian responsibility:

“The substitutionary character of the sufficiency-of-grace approach leaves an

ethical vacuum. … [But to say] that the Spirit of God incorporates us into the
representative life and work of the Christ is to say that we are given a distinctive
ethical direction and calling. With and in the Christ, we are to live out of a
redeemed creaturehood, a new humanity, that lives not for itself but for others—
lives, that is to say, representatively.”21

The Subjective model also comes up short in its ecclesiological task of building
community. It focuses on one’s relationship with God but offers no specific doctrinal construct
for koinonia. Yes, there are admonitions to reflect the graciousness of God to one another,
perhaps more in terms of random acts of kindness than in the spirit of a purposeful communal
fellowship within the salvation covenant. The Subjective model sets one free from personal guilt
to become a friend of God. On a personal level this is wonderful, but in the larger view, so
what? How does the concept of individualized friendship with God translate into communal
praxis? Beyond ad hoc niceness among one’s acquaintances, for the most part there is no
specific, strategic need for koinonia.
One notable exception to this individualism is a “radical” movement within the
Subjective model that reflects many goals of Latin American liberation theology.22 It summons
the guilt-relieved friends of God out of their personal comfort zone onto the highways and
byways of their communities to effect social change, serving the needs of the poor and working
to overcome institutionalized oppression. The strength of the Subjective model’s radical wing
Another analogy is that of a laundromat, where customers might mingle and chat, but their goal is to
achieve spotlessness in their own laundry before closing time. Any koinonia that happens is unrelated to
the basic task of accomplishing the individual pursuit of cleanliness.
Hall, 525.
See Charles Scriven, “God’s Justice Yes; Penal Substitution, No,” Spectrum, October 1993, 35ff.

highlights a weakness of its mainstream, which for the most part offers no comparative clarion
call to social commitment and community.
In contrast to its soteriological counterparts, the Representational model at its core
involves communal responsibility and koinonia. Notes Douglas John Hall: “The inner logic of
representation can provide precisely what is required by way of a nonreligious linguistic vehicle
for the necessary theological interface of Christology with ecclesiology .. without an artificial
shift of metaphor.”23 This model reflects the biblical mandate of the priesthood of all believers
(1 Pet. 2:9) as a reflection of Jesus, our representative High Priest. The church, being the body
of Christ, must therefore adopt His priestly vocation. “What is meant is that the disciple
community is a representational community: it stands before God in behalf of the world, …
being brought to live the representative life of Jesus Christ in the world.”24
Although it is true that as individuals we must by faith activate our justification in Christ
for it to be effective personally, there are immediate and profound communal imperatives. We
are saved not as individualistic free-lancers, but we automatically join the community of the
corporate body of Christ. There is no option otherwise. Our life-long vacation from legalism
involves a vocation of service both within the church and the secular community. “The moment
of this grace is also the moment of our initiation into the discipleship it assumes. To be given the
gift of representation—to be there ‘with’ and ‘for’ others—and not to use this gift is the essence
of disobedience. The work of the community that is liberated from self-preoccupation is to be
occupied with the representation of others.”25
We see, then, that the Representational model closes the door against “cheap grace” and
opens the door to koinonia as the other models cannot. Thus it alone meets the theological task of
the church.

As noted, this brief study of the representational aspects and implications of the three
soteriological models leaves many questions for further research, particularly regarding the legal
issues of justification, sanctification, law, and wrath.26 I trust the point is made that eternal life
involves more than a heart that never stops pumping blood. It is “life more abundantly” (John
10:10), as Jesus promised His disciples. It is the “recapitulation” envisioned by Irenaeus, the
goal of the gospel in restoring imago Dei of our original creation (Gen. 1:27). It is also the
restoration of that koinonia granted Adam and Eve, a reflection of the unity and community of
the very triune Godhead. This life also envisions a fruitful and purposeful existence in harmony
with God’s commission to “be fruitful and multiply” while tending and keeping the paradise
originally provided and soon to be restored (Gen 2:15; 1:28).

Hall, 522-523.
Hall, 522-523.
Hall, 525-526.
Since God is love, it is certain that divine wrath—whatever it encompasses—must involve a loving
reaction against sin for its inevitable outcome of alienation, dysfunction, and death. See Richard Rice,
Reign of God (Berrien Springs, MI: Andrews University Press, 1997), 197.

Eternal life encompasses all of this and everything else that is ours as joint heirs together
in Christ, secure in His covenant of grace. Sealed in the Spirit, we have eternal life proleptically.
We joyfully and expectantly await “the appearing of our Savior Jesus Christ, who has abolished
death and brought life and immortality to light through the gospel” (2 Tim. 1:10).


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