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Philosophy Professor Delivers Lecture on Atonement Theories

Reconciled to God — But How?

By Jeffrey Overstreet ( | Photo by Daniel Sheehan

Steve Layman, professor of philosophy
Professor of Philosophy Steve Layman

When Jesus was crucified, was he paying a debt that sinners owe? Or was he being “punished” for our sins? How should we understand his saving work?

Delivering the 40th annual Winifred E. Weter Lecture in Upper Gwinn Commons on April 10, 2014, Steve Layman spoke about the doctrine of the atonement and the ways in which we — through Christ’s life, death, and resurrection — are reconciled to God.

In his lecture, Layman, professor and chair of philosophy at Seattle Pacific University, weighed different theories of atonement, finding weaknesses in several. Offering his own theory, Layman described “the sin barrier” — a variety of fears and feelings, such as the fear that God won’t forgive us — that serves to separate us from God. Then he argued that, through Christ, “God has made it possible for us to understand that the fears and feelings comprising the sin barrier are groundless.”

Watch the lecture, titled “Philosophical Reflections on the Atonement.”