The moral influence view of the atonement is a doctrine in Christian theology that explains the effect of Jesus Christ's death as an act of exemplary obedience which affects the intentions of those who come to know about it.[1] This understanding dates back to the early fathers, and can be found in biblical sources as well as in the teachings of St. Augustine. Its most famous proponent is the medieval logician Peter Abelard. More recently, the English philosopher and theologian Hastings Rashdall expounded the view in his 1915 Bampton lectures.[2]

The moral influence view can be contrasted with the objective views that Christ affected human nature by His death,[3] the various penal substitution views, and the classic view that Christ's death was a ransom or redemption paid to free human kind from its bondage to sin.[4]


  1. hence St. Paul's emphasis on the necessity of preaching
  2. The Idea of Atonement in Chistian Theology
  3. cf. St. Athanasius, De Incarnatione
  4. cf. Aulen, Gustaf, Christus Victor tr. A.D. Hebert (SPCK 1931)

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