Incarnation and Atonement

BA (Hons) in Theology - Year 1
COURSE UNIT 234 - 8234


The unit traces the historical development and differing theological articulations of the person and work of Christ.  Theories and metaphors of atonement are compared and contrasted and their significance for a Christian understanding of humanity will be explored. This includes an exploration of issues of justice and differing responses to the problem of human suffering.  The unit concludes with a sustained examination of the doctrine of resurrection and a consideration of the scope of final salvation by exploring the doctrine of election.


To explore the Christian doctrine of Christ and the distinctively Christian understanding of salvation.  The pastoral and ethical implications of these doctrines will be explored.


Category of outcome

By the end of this unit students should be able to:

Knowledge and understanding

·      articulate and evaluate the manner in which the person and work of Christ has been expressed within the tradition of the Church

Intellectual skills

·      reflect theologically on the significance of Christology and Atonement for the nature of humanity

Practical and Transferable skills; Personal qualities

·      apply key methods and concepts of historical, theological and ethical analysis

·      apply the content of the unit to the construction of teaching material and pastoral resources for use in ministry


Assessment task


Weighting within unit



45 minutes

45 minutes




·         234:

·         8234:

A class test

An online test



2000 words

1 hour

3000 words






·         234:


·         8234:

A written project

An unseen examination 

An essay

and a learning journal*


* Distance learning students are required to pass this element. So long as this element has been passed, they will be eligible for compensation if the overall unit mark is within the compensation zone (30-39%), and the compensatable credit allowance as set out in the Degree Regulations has not been exceeded.




Available on which programme(s)?

BA in Theology


1.    Introduction to the person and work of Christ

2.    Incarnation and atonement: the theology of Athanasius

3.    Chalcedon and beyond: one person, two natures

4.    The Priesthood of Christ

5.    The Cross as satisfaction: Anselm’s ‘Cur Deus Homo’

6.    The Cross as penalty; Calvin, P.T. Forsyth and the recent atonement debate

7.    Atonement as redemption and reconciliation: T.F Torrance

8.    The cross and the problem of suffering; Moltmann and ‘The Crucified God’

9.    Righteousness and rights

10.  Resurrection and the moral life

11.  The scope of salvation: the doctrine of election – Calvinism, Arminianism and Barth

Teaching method

234: Interactive lectures

8234: Distance Learning

Additional eLearning content

Unit materials are available at Spurgeon’s Online to support student learning


Written feedback to students within 15 working days from submission

Date of approval (for office use)


Information updated on

December 2015

Indicative reading

Anselm, Cur Deus Homo in The Library of Christian Classics X

Athanasius, On the Incarnation (London: Mowbray, 1953)

Barth, Karl, Church Dogmatics (Edinburgh: T & T Clark, 1956-1975) IV 1, 157-357

Fiddes, Paul S., Past Event and Present Salvation: The Christian Idea of Atonement (London: Darton Longman and Todd, 1989)

Goldingay, John (ed.), Atonement Today (London: SPCK, 1995)

Gunton, Colin E., The Actuality of Atonement (Edinburgh: T & T Clark, 1988)

McGrath, Alister E. (ed.), The Christian Theology Reader (Oxford: Blackwell, 20012)

Moltmann, Jürgen, The Crucified God (London: SCM, 1974)

Owen, John, The Death of Death in the Death of Christ in The Works of John Owen, ed. W.H. Goold (London: Banner of Truth, 1967) vol. X, 140-421

Smail, Tom, Once and for All (London: Darton Longman and Todd, 1998)

Torrance, Thomas F., Atonement (Milton Keynes: Paternoster, 2009)

White, Vernon, Atonement and Incarnation: An essay in universalism and particularity

(Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1991)

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Incarnation and Atonement

BA (Hons) in Theology - Year 1
Course Unit 234 - 8234





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Dr Graham J. Watts

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