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Tuesday, July 20, 2010

More on Aquinas' View of the Atonement (Eleonore Stump)

Eleonore Stump is the Robert J. Henle Professor of Philosophy at St. Louis University, a Roman Catholic Jesuit school. She is one of the leading authorities on the teachings of Thomas Aquinas. She wrote a book detailing his theological system entitled simply,  Aquinas (Routledge, 2003). In chapter 15 of the work, she writes a chapter on Aquinas' view of the Atonement.

Some scholars have maintained that Aquinas really taught Penal Substitution (for example, Pierced for Our Transgressions: Rediscovering the Glory of Penal Substitution by Steve Jeffery, Michael Ovey, Andrew Sach, pp. 184-85, and What About the Cross? by Waldron Byron Scott, pp. 92-98). Stump says its easy to see why some have come to this conclusion. Aquinas' language at first glance does seem to agree with the PST. The angelic doctor wrote:
Accordingly, Christ also willed to suffer death for our sins so that, without any fault of His own by himself bearing the penalty we owed [emphasis mine], he might free us from the sentence of death, in the way that anyone would be freed from a penalty he owed if another person undertook the penalty for him [emphasis mine] (Aquinas, Compendium of Theology, 227 cited by Stump, p. 431).
However, Aquinas made a distinction between two different kinds of "punishment": simple punishment (poena simpliciter ) and punishment as satisfaction (poena secundum quid). Someone has offered the following example to illustrate the distinction: A husband offends his wife. He can be punished (poena simpliciter ) by his wife (made to sleep on the couch) or he can offer a gift to his wife along with his remorse and love (poena secundum quid) and she can accept it as sufficient penalty for the husband's sin. Simple punishment comes upon a unrepentant person for his crime and it is received against his will. Punishment as satisfaction is offered by a repentant person for his crime and it is done voluntarily. The former is completely negative in connotation and the punishment is meted out in accordance with the severity of the crime (strict retributive justice). The latter is positive in connotation in that it results in a reconciliation between offender and offended and the punishment (as satisfaction) is accepted by the offended party as adequate to forgive the offense (less strict retributive justice). The latter is "punishment" in the sense that the offender suffers (loss or harm) in providing the offering but it is not "punishment" in the simple or most basic sense of the word (for more on this distinction, see here). In the PST, however, Jesus suffers simple punishment in place of sinners. Aquinas denies this and says that an innocent person cannot receive simple punishment (poena simpliciter; for more on this see here).

With that confusion out of the way, Stump turns to an explanation of Aquinas' view of the atonement.

1. The Atonement was not required to forgive sin.

Contrary to the PST adherents, Aquinas does not maintain that God would have sacrificed his holiness if he had chosen to forgive man's sin without the death of Jesus. Aquinas wrote:

[A] judge who has to punish a fault committed against another … cannot remit the fault or penalty without injustice. But God has no one superior to him; rather he himself is the highest and universal good of the whole world. And for this reason, if [God] remits sin, which is defined as a fault from its being committed against [God] himself, he does no one an injury, just as any human being who, without [requiring] satisfaction, remits an offense committed against himself does not act unjustly but is merciful (Summa Theologica , IIIa.46.2 and 3, cited by Stump, p. 431).

2. The atonement was the best way for God to forgive sin.
Something is said to be necessary for an end in two ways. In one way, [as] that without which something cannot be…; in another way, [as] that by means of which one arrives at the end in a better and more suitable manner, as, for example, a horse is necessary for a journey. In the first way, it was not necessary for God to become incarnate in order to restore human nature, for by his omnipotent power God was able to restore human nature in many other ways. But in the second way it was necessary for God to become incarnate in order to restore human nature (Aquinas, Summa Theologica IIIa.1.2 cited by Stump, p. 431).

3. The purpose of the atonement is to restore the sinner to harmony with God.

Stump writes:
Aquinas’s emphasis in his discussion ... is on the sinner, not on the person sinned against. So, for example, Aquinas sees penance in general as a kind of medicine for sin. It consists in detesting one’s sin and purposing to change one’s life for the better, and it aims primarily at the restoration of friendship between the wrongdoer and the one wronged. In discussing the remission of sins, which is on his view the goal of penance, Aquinas maintains that sins are remitted when the soul of the offender is at peace with the one offended.... So the function of satisfaction for Aquinas is not to placate a wrathful God or in some other way remove the constraints which compel God to damn sinners. Instead, the function of satisfaction is to restore a sinner to a state of harmony with God by repairing or restoring in the sinner what sin has damaged (p. 432).
Stump illustrates Aquinas' view of how the atonement works with the following example:

We can understand the gist of Aquinas’s idea about the way in which the making of satisfaction for a wrong done achieves this end by considering a homely example of minor evil. Suppose Anna is the mother of a feisty boy, Nathan, who loves soccer. Anna, on the other hand, loves flowers and has asked her son repeatedly not to play soccer on the side of the house where her flower beds are. But Nathan does play with his soccer ball near the flower beds, and the inevitable occurs: some of the flowers are trampled. Nathan, however, is so interested in his ball playing that he stops just long enough to run into the house and say,“Sorry, Mom, I trampled your flowers” before he returns to his game. What he has done then presents his mother with two problems, one regarding the flowers and one regarding her son. She has lost some of her flowers, and it will take her some time and energy and money to replace them. But her real problem is with her son, as she must see. In the first place, he does not love what she loves; if he had had any care for the flowers, he would have played with his soccer ball in a different place. And second, he does not love her as she would like him to do, because although he knows she loves her flowers, he does not have a care for the flowers for her sake. So what Nathan has done has created some distance between himself and his mother. His will and hers are not in harmony, and he does not love her as he might.

In the example, in recognition of his misdeed, Nathan has offered only a hasty and casual apology and nothing more. If, however, he had any real care for his mother or her flowers, if he were really sorry for what he has done, he would also have done what he could to fix the damage. And his mother would have been very glad of his efforts, even if they were clumsy and ultimately unsuccessful, because they would have manifested a change of heart: after the fact, at any rate, Nathan would have had a care for his mother and for her flowers. And so by his efforts at undoing the damage caused by his action, he would have restored a harmony of will and love between himself and his mother which his wrong action had disrupted. In Aquinas’s terms, Nathan would then have made satisfaction for his sin. The chief value of this satisfaction is not so much that it restores Anna’s flowers. If Nathan’s efforts are clumsy enough, the flowers may even be worse off than if he had not tried to improve their condition. Rather, the value of the satisfaction is that it restores the harmonious and loving relationship between Anna and her son
(pp. 432-33)

4. The atonement is a case of vicarious satisfaction.

Aquinas argues that in the case of satisfaction, another person can pay the penalty owed by the offender. He writes:

Although when it comes to punishment of sins, the person who sinned is the one who must be punished…, nonetheless when it comes to satisfaction one person can bear the penalty of another. [This is] because when a penalty for a sin is inflicted, the iniquity of the person who is punished is weighed; but, in the case of satisfaction, when someone voluntarily assumes a penalty in order to please someone who was wronged, the charity and benevolence of the person making satisfaction is considered (Summa Contra Gentiles,, cited by Stump, p. 434). IV, 55

Going back to the illustration of Nathan and the destroyed flowers, Stump introduces the concept of vicarious satisfaction.
Suppose that Nathan is too little to make any satisfaction himself. Perhaps to rectify the damage he would need to buy and plant new flowers, but he has no money and is too small either to go to the store or to use a shovel. If he is truly sorry for trampling the flowers, what can he do? Suppose that he has an older brother Aaron, who can do what Nathan cannot. And suppose that Nathan explains his predicament to his brother and asks his brother to buy flowers and plant them for him. If Aaron loves his brother enough, he may then use his own time and money to undo his brother’s mischief. If Nathan’s will really is set on some restitution for his misdeed, he will have returned to harmony with his mother even if all the actual work of restitution was done solely by Aaron. In this context, just in virtue of allying himself with Aaron’s restitution, Nathan shows he cares for his mother and for the things she values; and so he restores the close relationship with his mother although Aaron is the one who restores the garden (pp. 434-35).
Stump says the above example shows how it is possible for one to make satisfaction for another's sin. She writes:

In this way, then, it is possible for one person to make satisfaction for another’s sins. Because, on Aquinas’s view, the point of making satisfaction is to return the wrongdoer’s will to conformity with the will of the person wronged, rather than to inflict retributive punishment on the wrongdoer or to placate the person wronged, it is possible for the satisfaction to be made by a substitute, provided that the wrongdoer allies himself with the substitute in willing to undo as far as possible the damage he has done (p. 435).
Finally, Stump alters the story to make it align better with the doctrine of the atonement.

Or, finally, suppose that Nathan shows no signs of any interest in restitution or reconciliation with his mother. If Anna were, like the mother of Aeneas, endowed with the power of transforming herself, and if she really loved her son, she might appear to him in disguise and in that disguise try to talk him into letting her make his restitution for him. If we think of the problem between Nathan and Anna as consisting in her loss of flowers or her distress over the damage to the flowers, then, of course, this story is just farcical, for in this story Anna is in effect giving flowers to herself. But if we understand, as Aquinas does, that the real problem lies in Nathan’s will, which is turned away from his mother’s, and if we suppose not that Anna is wrathful and vengeful towards her son but rather deeply loving, then the story makes good sense. For by this complicated and somewhat demeaning method Anna may succeed in turning her son’s will and love back to her, so that the harmony of their relationship is restored. As long as Nathan wills heartily to undo the wrong he did, it does not matter whether he himself or someone else, including even Anna, actually does the work of making restitution. And this version of the story of Anna and Nathan is analogous in relevant respects to the vicarious satisfaction of the atonement, on Aquinas’s understanding of the notion of making satisfaction (pp. 435-36).
5. The atonement rectifies the root problem which leads to sin.
In general, a person sins by preferring his own immediate power or pleasure over greater goods. Human sin has pride and selfishness at its root, then, and it constitutes disobedience to God, whose will it contravenes. So what is most directly ruined by the sins human beings have committed is human intellect and will; a proud, selfish, disobedient mind and heart are the theological analogue of the trampled garden.. . .

The restoration involved in making satisfaction for human sinning, then, is a matter of presenting God with an instance of human nature which is marked by perfect obedience, humility, and charity and which is at least as precious in God’s eyes as the marring of humanity by sin is offensive. But this is just what the second person of the Trinity does by taking on human nature and voluntarily suffering a painful and shameful death. By being willing to move from the exaltation of deity to the humiliation of crucifixion, Christ shows boundless humility; and by consenting to suffer the agony of his passion and death because God willed it when something in his own nature shrank powerfully from it, Christ manifests absolute obedience. Finally, because he undertakes all his suffering and humiliation out of love for sinful human beings, Christ exhibits the most intense charity. So in his passion and death Christ restores what sin has marred in human nature, because he gives God a particularly precious instance of human nature with the greatest possible humility, obedience, and charity. So one answer to the question why Christ had to suffer is that humility, obedience, and charity are present in suffering that is voluntarily and obediently endured for someone else’s sake in a way in which they could not be, for example, in Christ’s preaching or healing the sick. In this way, then, because of his divine nature and because of the extent of his humility, obedience, and charity, Christ made satisfaction for all the sins of the human race
(pp. 438-39).

Here are some problems with this view as I see them.

1. The Atonement was not required to forgive sin.

If the atonement was not required in order to forgive sin then it seems that the death of Jesus was in a sense gratuitous. Granted that Aquinas says that God chose this method because of the goods that would result, but it still seems God chose a particularly violent and one might argue sadistic way to do it. What Jonathan Edwards wrote against the Socinians would apply equally here to the theory of Aquinas:
In short, since God could have forgiven men their trespasses without any satisfaction, which would have been an act of true bounty and liberality, and as such it is everywhere proclaimed in the Scriptures; why would he desire Christ first to pay him the debt, and then that he might liberally remit it? What is this but to take a needless circuit, to go a great way about to compass that, which might have been effected more compendiously; and indeed can be nothing less that downright collusion and imposture?

...Add to all this, that since God could pardon the sins of men out of mere grace and bounty, now to make him require strict payment and satisfaction to his Justice before he do so; is, say they, an argument of barbarous and savage cruelty, rather than kindness and liberality
(A Preservative against Socinianism [1698], pp. 126 and 129).

2. The atonement was the best way for God to forgive sin.

This seems to be a mere assertion or assumption on Aquinas' part. How does one know that atonement was the best way? It seems that since the Bible teaches atonement and since Aquinas believes that the Bible is the Word of God, and since in his concept of God, God must always act in a perfect manner, therefore atonement must be the best way to bring about the forgiveness of sin. It seems to me that this is merely "begging the question."

3. The purpose of the atonement is to restore the sinner to harmony with God.

Stump uses the illustration of Nathan destroying his mother's flower garden in direct disobedience to his mother's command not to play soccer near the garden. She argues that Nathan can be restored to harmony with his mother through showing remorse and then acting to restore the garden. His mother may forgive him on the basis of his attempt to restore what he has done wrong but more importantly on the basis of his remorse and repentance. If that is true, then the atonement can be accomplished by the sinner himself. This, of course, flies in the face of the NT passages which state that man cannot please God on his own. He must have a mediator between himself and God.

4. The atonement is a case of vicarious satisfaction.

While Stump and Aquinas acknowledge that God could forgive sins without satisfaction being made, simply on the basis of the sinner's repentance and remorse; they nevertheless argue that it is better or more fitting if God requires satisfaction. Since in the story about the flower bed, Nathan is unable himself to repair the damage he has done, his brother Aaron (who is innocent) offers to repair it on his behalf. While the innocent brother could not be punished by the mother for something he did not do, he can voluntarily repair the damage done by his guilty brother out of love for his brother.

This seems problematic to me for at least two reasons: a) the mother is still going to forgive the guilty son on the basis of his remorse and repentance. The fact that the brother repaired the damage becomes an auxiliary fact, unless somehow the brother's repair of the damage leads to the remorse and repentance in the guilty brother. While this is certainly possible, at this point the view of Aquinas becomes essentially the same as Abelard's Moral Exemplar Theory. In other words, the atonement is designed to impact man not God. This contradicts many NT passages which make it clear that the atonement propitiates God. The atonement is the basis on which God is able to justly forgive sin (e.g., Rom. 3:21-26). If I am reading the NT correctly, then the grounds for God's forgiveness of sin is the death of Jesus, which in the story is analogous to the brother's repair of the garden. Yet, as I have pointed out, in the story, the repair of the garden is not the basis for the mother's forgiveness, it is the remorse and repentance of the guilty son.

b) In the flower garden story, the innocent brother, Aaron, repairs the garden on his brother's behalf. Although this involves some time and effort on Aaron's part, it's hard to envision this constituting punishment (even punishment as satisfaction); working in the garden might actually be pleasurable for Aaron. It is very difficult to see how this compares with Jesus suffering and dying. The NT presents Jesus as submitting to the will of his Father in going to the cross and at least his human nature at times did not want to submit--it certainly was not something pleasurable but was clearly an act of punishment that he obediently endured.

5. The atonement rectifies the root problem which leads to sin.

Stump argues that the life and death of Jesus is an acceptable sacrifice to God for man's sin because Jesus gives God a particularly precious instance of human nature with the greatest possible humility, obedience, and charity . This gift of obedience involves even submitting to a violent execution which was wrongfully imposed upon him. Somehow, in Aquinas' and Stump's view, this sacrifice is deemed as acceptable satisfaction for the harm done by man's sin and thus becomes a vicarious satisfaction in lieu of man being punished for his own sin. It seems that the only way that God can accept the sacrifice of Jesus in lieu of the punishment of man's sin is that somehow the sacrifice of Jesus accomplishes the same thing that the punishment of man's sin would accomplish. If that is the case, then it seems impossible to escape the conclusion that Jesus suffered a similar fate that sinful man would suffer if he died in his sins. In one way or another, an innocent person is being asked to suffer in the place of the one who deserves the suffering. I continue to maintain that the suffering of an innocent person cannot accomplish justice.


  1. Scapegoating =/= problem solved.

    Ken, is there a solid historical record concerning the predecessors of the doctrine of atonement, say, as developed in a manner similar to eschatology, or did Christians always seem to believe that Christ's death was a redemption?

    And for an opinion question, do you think that this belief was likely post facto doctrine to explain how a God or prophet could die in such a common way? I think that the stories of the contemporaneous miracles, like the timing of the eclipse (possible, so far as I know), earthquakes, the inexplicable tearing of the Temple Veil, and the dead walking Jerusalem (not so much) are indicative of this.

  2. Zachary,

    Yes there is a history of the atonement doctrine. A quick summary can be found here. And yes I do believe the doctrine came about post facto as an attempt to understand why their Messiah had been executed. The death of the Messiah at the hands of the enemy was totally unexpected and actually disproved his Messiahship to most Jews. I believe that initially the disciples saw his death as that of a martyr but later on Paul especially seemed to theologize on the point and that is where the satisfaction theories find their root. Another interesting article on the history of the atonement can be found here, pp. 51-92. It is written by Joseph Priestly an 18th century Unitarian.

  3. Priestly sure had brainpower. He's also the one credited with the discovery of oxygen.

  4. Steve,

    Yes, I have been impressed with his writings. He has a lucid style too which is unusual for the older guys.

  5. Ah, Priestley the dissenter? Did this help him earn a riot?

    And thanks for the links!

  6. Ken,

    1. Jesus predicted his death before He died (they couldn't have been shocked, or shouldn't)

    2. Jesus proclaimed He is God during his life. Thus this should have given disciples an idea of who He is, certainly not martyr.

  7. ---

    John Stifer,

    I have one question for you. You say that "Jesus proclaimed He is God during his life." In the Gospel of John, Jesus makes two very unambiguous claims to his divinity. He states, "I and the Father are one" and "Before Abraham was born, I am." If those two statements were made by Jesus of Nazareth, and they are true, then I don't think you'd argue that they are among the, if not the most important words ever uttered on the face of the Earth. With that in mind, how is it possible that Mark, Matthew and Luke didn't find these words important enough to include in their Gospels.

    Luke starts his gospel by claiming, "Therefore, since I myself have carefully investigated everything from the beginning, it seemed good also to me to write an orderly account for that you may know the certainty of things you had been taught."

    Now, if some of the "things [they] had been taught" included the fact of Jesus's divinity, what could possibly have made them more certain of this reality than these words from the very lips of Jesus?

    It all seems rather odd to me...

  8. Exploring,

    Thanks for the good points.

    To me, when I read the gospels, I find them quite harmonious. They each have their own little details but they also have a lot of overlap. As far as that specific statement, you are right it is only in John. But there are many other passages that point to Jesus' divinity in the other gospels. As one example, we see that Jesus regularly fogave sins for people. This agrees with His claims to divinity. I also think that it was to the point where they were pretty used to it, so that they didn't have to repeat it in the exact same way. They heard him say it so many times (as we see in their other passages).

  9. Jesus' forgiveness of people's sins does not prove his divinity. In John 20:23, he authorizes the apostles to forgive sins. The gospels writers obviously saw this as a delegated authority, not a proof of deity.

    In John 10:31-39, Jesus goes all out to repudiate the claim that he was making himself God. (I can't believe so many evangelicals skim right over that text without blinking.) Luke 18:19 is another plain denial from Jesus that he is God. And in John 17:3, Jesus even calls the Father "the only true God."

    If Jesus really wanted us all to believe in his divinity, don't you think he would have stated it plainly instead of giving all these hints?

    Honestly, there are far, FAR more biblical texts that contradict the deity of Jesus than establish it. But ... majority opinion will always win out.

  10. John,

    I think the references you refer to were not spoken by Jesus but added as the tradition grew after his death and years later wound up written down in the gospels. If the discisples had known that Jesus was going to die and if they had known he was going to be raised (which is also in the gospels), why would they have all scattered and forsaken him at his death? Why wouldn't they have been standing around the tomb waiting for him to come back? If all the miracles recorded in the gospels really happened, then the disciples should not have doubted at all. I believe that the tradition about Jesus grew and was embellished between the time of his death and the time the gospels were actually written down. We know this happened because there are other gospels which did not make it into the canon which are obviously embellished with all kinds of wonder working feats performed by Jesus.

  11. Hi Ken,

    "If the disciples had known that Jesus was going to die and if they had known he was going to be raised (which is also in the gospels), why would they have all scattered and forsaken him at his death?"

    In Exodus the Israelites created the golden calf to worship when Moses did not come back fast enough for them. They had seen incredible miracles that you know of from studying the Bible and yet they turned away. Moses allowed those who were for the Lord to follow him and about 3,000 men were slain by the sword that day. People are fickle and stiff-necked and turn their backs on all kinds of things for no good reason. I realize that this blog is on Christianity and to refute Exodus you might change the title, but you have argued against the Old Testament before.

    Even you by your own account believed in Jesus as God and left the faith. Were you ever filled by the Holy Spirit? By your own testimony you would fall into the category of scattering and forsaking, but it doesn't make an good argument that what you were taught was embellished and added later.

    "We know this happened because there are other gospels which did not make it into the canon which are obviously embellished with all kinds of wonder working feats performed by Jesus."

    Who knows?!! "obviously embellished"-very poor reasoning. I have come to expect more from you than unsubstantiated statements.

  12. Steve,

    "In John 10:31-39, Jesus goes all out to repudiate the claim that he was making himself God. (I can't believe so many evangelicals skim right over that text without blinking.) Luke 18:19 is another plain denial from Jesus that he is God. And in John 17:3, Jesus even calls the Father "the only true God."'

    Please put the scriptures in your posts so that it is easier t show where each of your assumptions is false.

  13. Boyd,

    You assume that the Israelites really did see the miracles mentioned during the Exodus. I don't think there were actual miracles. As a matter of fact, I doubt there was even anything close to an Exodus as archeologists have never been able to turn up even the slightest proof of hundreds of thousands of people in the Sinai peninsula during that time. As for myself, I never saw any miracles. I believed what I was taught without seriously questioning anything. Later as I actually allowed myself to question, I realized I had been deluded.

  14. The crossing of the Red Sea has been found. Mt. Sinai has been found with the spot where water came forth from the rock and the erosion from its path. The alter of hewn rock where the molten calf was made is at the base of the mountain.

    I have seen miracles. I pray that you will see miracles from God also, and that your faith will be restored. Questioning is a very good thing to do. Remember the Bible does talk about false miracles also, so discernment is extremely important. God does ask us to love him with our mind. I think that you are on the right path to finding out the truth.

  15. Ken,

    On my reading of what I shall call Stump's account of the Atonement influenced by Aquinas, I did not see her as depicting the atonement in terms of justice. She touched on that topic lightly but she primarily depicted the Atonement in terms of a restoration of relationship. In her view, Humans were separated from God by their sin, which she defines generally as a person preferring one's own immediate power or pleasure over greater goods, namely, God given goods (what these are exactly are not particularly important for the purposes here). Since sin is necessarily contrary to the nature of God, if we assume, as I am sure Stump assumes, that God is the measure of perfect goodness whereby we may evaluate sin, then sin necessarily separates humans from God. On Stump's view, sin is not seen as a debt that needs to be paid for, or even as something deserving justice per se. Certainly it would disrupt God's creation and God's plan for humanity, but it seems more like a tragedy for humans than a crime against God. (I am not arguing whether there is or is not a crime against God that occurs on the occasion of the sin of a human. Certainly, if we view God's creation as his, say, property, and sin as some sort of marring of this property, then we might conceive of a crime against God needing justice.) So, Stump views Jesus's life, and death on the Cross as the best way to restore relationship between humans and God. Nothing need be said about punishing an innocent person, or even about punishment in the retributive sense. (Stump even compares Godly punishment as that done by a parent to a child. She distinguishes punishment, in light of the parent/child dynamic, as between the just response to wrong--ending undesirable behavior (retributive punishment) and the aim of the goodness and love of the child--the emergence of desirable behavior (restorative punishment)).

    Now, if you find dispute with this view, of atonement as restoring relationship (assuming my understanding of Stump's writing is on track) I think a workable discussion could result. But, as it stands, I see a misinterpretation of what Stump is trying to convey.

    Perhaps you find fault with the general idea of penitential substitution. That is fine.

  16. It also occurs to me that some of your worries against Stump's account of the Atonement indeed are about making satisfaction for wrong (which is of course penance). In that case, I bring this for you.

    For Stump, the separation of humans from God is in two parts: (1) the damage done to God's creation (we see this in the example of Nathan trampling his mother's Garden), and (2) the lack of care or Love for God and the things that God loves (if Nathan loved his mother and the things she cares about, namely the garden, he would have done what he could not to trample the garden). Stump focuses the majority of her writing on (2) because she sees this as being the deeper reason for the separation. I think that perhaps Stump does not address (1) as well as could be desired, but you address (2) in the first of three building scenarios involving Nathan and his mother Anna. You say "His mother may forgive him on the basis of his attempt to restore what he has done wrong but more importantly on the basis of his remorse and repentance. If that is true, then the atonement can be accomplished by the sinner himself." I would say rather that, in the case of Nathan and his mother, if restoration of a will to love and further an actual love of Nathan for his mother and for the things she loves is the goal, and Nathan comes to realize his wrong, then his remorse and repentence and effort at making satisfaction can be satisfactory for the mother. But, for Stump, this is not her whole account of atonement. She is here, merely trying to make a point, that were one to be able to make satisfaction, then that is sufficient for restoration of relationship. She however develops her account. In short, as I understand it, Stump proposes that in the context of the restoration of relationship between God and human, satisfaction made by humans is not possible (due to the separation sin causes and the 'stain of sin' effected on the human soul). Human's best efforts at making satisfaction would still come up short. (Perhaps this here seems unfair, that might be a place to discuss). So, on her view, the only one who can restore the relationship between God and humans, if humans cannot make satisfaction, is God through the person of Jesus.

    Please, I would love to discuss this further with you.