The Moral Governmental Theory of Atonement: Re-envisioning Penal Substitution

Bibliographic information:

Todd, Obbie Tyler. The Moral Governmental Theory of Atonement: Re-envisioning Penal Substitution. Eugene, Oregon: Cascade Books, 2021.


The American moral governmental theory of the atonement (MGT) was arguably the most contextualized doctrine of atonement in the history of the Protestant tradition. Hewn from the theology of Jonathan Edwards, and engineered to address the theological, political, philosophical, moral, and even economic milieu in the early republic, MGT became the doctrinal centerpiece of “the first indigenous American school of Calvinism.” As a result, it stands as a kind of theological time capsule to the people and principles that shaped the tumultuous period between the first Great Awakening and the Civil War when it flourished in America. For over a century in the Anglo-American world, the doctrine of atonement was under heavy construction in the broader Reformed community. By endowing new meaning to old theological terms like imputation, substitution, justice, punishment, and even atonement, MGT represents a theological watermark of sorts in Reformed dogmatics, defining its limits, testing its boundaries, and demanding a level of precision from today’s theologians. This book offers a contextualization, distillation, and conversation with this Edwardsean doctrine of atonement.


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