Christian Cyclopedia

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(ca. 293–373). Known in E tradition as “The Father of Orthodoxy.” His life shows great heroism, fortitude, and faith. In 325 accompanied his bp., Alexander, to Council of Nicea as deacon; 3 yrs. later became bp. Alexandria. Known for defense of Nicene formula, which stressed that Jesus Christ is homoousios* with the Father. Made little use of this term in early apologies of Christian faith, Against the Gentiles and On the Incarnation; but by 325 felt that it was the only one that would preserve the teaching of the ch. from the ravages of Arianism.* Though homoousios is not a Biblical term, he felt that it captured the witness of the Scriptures to the deity of Christ better than any of the specifically Biblical formulations that might have been substituted. His many works against the Arians include The Decrees of the Council of Nicea; History of the Arians; Orations Against the Arians.

Perhaps his most important contribution was made ca. the middle of the 4th c. when he brought together the Gk. theologians of the E, who emphasized that the Godhead is made up of 3 Persons, with the theologians of the W, who insisted that God is One. Athanasius' efforts, with those of such men as Basil and Hilary, led to settlement at Constantinople (381), where it was agreed that there is 1 true God, in whom there are 3 Persons, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. WWO

See also Fathers of the Church; Cappadocian Theologians; Doctor of the Church; Ecumenical Creeds, C 1; Monasticism, 3; Patristics, 6; Persecution by Christians 1.

MPG, 25–28; NPNF, Ser. 2, IV; J. N. D. Kelly, Early Christian Creeds, 2d ed. (New York, 1960).


Denial of the existence of God. Term used in various senses, depending on definition of God. Pagans applied it to early Christians because they rejected heathen idolatry. In theol. controversies of early ch. contending parties at times called each other atheists, and the RC Ch. justified the burning of heretics by applying this epithet to them. — Aside from this improper use the term has been variously used in scientific literature. In its widest sense it denotes the antithesis of theism and includes pantheism and deism. In a more restricted sense it denotes the denial of the Deity above and outside of the physical universe. In the most commonly accepted sense it is a positive dogmatic denial of anything that may be called God. The term is also used to express a merely negative attitude on the question of the existence of God, such as agnosticism* and the so-called “practical atheism,” which is not based on scientific reasoning, but is merely a refusal to worship any deity.

The materialism of the 18th and 19th c. and biological evolution have given strong impetus to atheistic trends of thought. In Fr. the 18th c. produced many antitheistic writers, among them the Encyclopedists D. Diderot,* P. H. D. d' Holbach,* and Voltaire.* The latter called Holbach's Système the Bible of atheism. F. K. C. L. Büchner,* L. A. Feuerbach,* E. H. P. A. Haeckel,* K. H. Marx,* and K. C. Vogt,* Ger. materialists of the 19th c., were aqually outspoken. A. Comte's* Positivism,* Eng. secularism (main exponents include G. J. Holyoake* and C. Bradlaugh*), and continental socialism* are essentially atheistic. Of the great religions of the world, Buddhism,* Jainism,* and the Sankhye system of Brahmanic philosophy (see Brahmanism) deny the existence of a personal God.

It is not possible for a man to be an atheist, in the commonly accepted sense, in his innermost conviction. No amount of reasoning will erase from the human heart the God-given conviction that there is a Supreme Being; those who theoretically deny God's existence replace Him with something else. Likewise, no people has ever been found entirely devoid of religious belief. The difficulties that atheism involves are expressed by Bacon: “I had rather believe all the fabulous tales in the Talmud and the Koran than that the universal frame is without mind.” The hopelessness of antitheism is apparent in the confession of Romanes, who speaks of “the appalling contrast between the hallowed glory of that creed which once was mine and the lonely existence as now I find it.”

See also Evolution; God, Arguments for the Existence of; Humanist Manifesto, A; La Mettrie, Julien Offroy de.

T. Graebner, God and the Cosmos (Grand Rapids, 1932); F. A. Lange, The History of Materialism, and Criticism of Its Present Importance, tr. E. C. Thomas (London, 1925); A. B. Drachman, Atheism in Pagan Antiquity (London, 1922): Fritz Mauthner, Der Atheismus und seine Geschichte im Abendlande, 4 vols. (Stuttgart, 1920–23; reprint Hildesheim, 1963).


(2d c.). Gk. Christian apologist and philos. of Athens; addressed apology to Marcus Aurelius Antoinus and his son Lucius Aurelius Commodus ca. 177. See also Apologist, 6.


Belief that there are discrete material elements. See also Democritus; Epicurus; Leucippus; Lucretius.


Term employed by the KJV in tr. of Gk. katallage, Ro 5:11, often otherwise “reconciliation,” Ro 5:10; 2 Co 5:19. At-one-ment properly reflects the core significance of the Gk. term, a mutual exchange, a drawing together of parties previously separated. Behind the concept lies the situation that the fall of mankind into sin, and the idolatry and rebellion of the individual sinner, set up a cleavage bet. God and man (Is 59:2) to which God's ultimate reaction is withdrawal, separation potentially permanent (Ro 1:18–32; Mt 8:12). Atonement is removal of this separation.

Emphases in the doctrine of the atonement vary as Biblical references are used to answer the question: who reconciles whom? Does God reconcile men, or do men reconcile God, or does Jesus Christ reconcile God to men or men to God? Some teachers focus on the gravity of man's offense and of God's wrath against it (cf. Apology IV 80, “Christ is set forth to be the propitiator, through whom the Father is reconciled to us”). Such a position stresses the justice, in human dimensions, of God, who cannot overlook sin but must punish it, and sees in the atonement the way by which God can be just and yet merciful. Other teachers stress that God the Father in love Himself moves in, despite His wrath for man's sin, on the need of man and gives His own Son to redeem man from sin, take the curse of sin on Himself, and work peace bet. God and man (2 Co 5:18–21; Cl 1:12–22; Jn 3:16). In this process the primary factor is that God for Christ's sake does not hold man's sin against Him (Ro 3:25; 2 Co 5:19), or forgives it. Here the OT concept tr. “atonement” is absorbed, namely to cover, k'phar, a sacrifice involving shedding of blood and giving up of life prefiguring the means by which God forgives man's sin (cf. especially Lv 16 and Heb 9). The process of the atonement in Christ is brought home to the individual through the “word of reconciliation“ (2 Co 5:18–20; Cl 1:22–29), the Gospel of the cross of Christ, by which the individual is moved to faith in God's atoning love in Christ. Luth. teaching of the atonement stresses that God's act is objective, taking the initiative (cf. the OT concept of the Covenant) in reaching out toward man, and that Christ's work is vicarious, in that He bears the burden of sin, which is rightfully man's (Gl 3:10–13; cf. Is 53). See also Apologetics, II D; Christ Jesus, III 2; Double Reference Theory of the Atonement; Justification; Propitiation; Reconciliation; Redemption; Soteriology.

F. Pieper, Christliche Dogmatik, vol. 2 (St. Louis, 1917), tr. T. Engelder, Christian Dogmatics (St. Louis, 1951); W. Elert, Morphologic des Luthertums, vol. 1 (Munich, 1952), tr. W. Hansen, The Structure of Lutheranism (St. Louis, 1962); J. M. Reu, Homiletics, 4th ed. (Columbus, 1934), pp. 351–354; W. J. Wolf, No Cross, No Crown (New York, 1957); V. Taylor, The Atonement in New Testament Teaching, 5th ed. (Chicago, 1950). RRC

Atonement, Theories of.

Among the theories of atonement, which objectors to the Scriptural doctrine of the vicarious atonement of Christ offer as substitutes, are 1. The Accident Theory: Christ's death was an accident, as unforeseen and unexpected as that of any other victim of man's hatred (held by Modernists; see Modernism); 2. The Martyr Theory: Christ gave up His life for a principle of truth that was opposed to the spirit of His day (held by Modernists; see Modernism); 3. The Declaratory Theory: Christ died to show men how greatly God loves them (see also Ritschl, Albrecht Benjamin); 4. The Moral-Example Theory (Moral-Influence Theory; Moral-Power View of the Atonement): Christ died to influence mankind toward moral improvement (held by Socinians [see Socinianism and H. Bushnell*); 5. The Governmental Theory: God made Christ an example of suffering to exhibit to erring man that sin is displeasing to Him; or: God's govt. of the world made it necessary for Him to evince His wrath against sin in Christ (held by H. Grotius* and New* Eng. Theol.); 6. The Guaranty Theory: Reconciliation is based not on Christ's expiation of sin, but on His guaranty to win followers and thus conquer human sinfulness (held by F. D. E. Schleiermacher,* O. Kirn,* and J. C. K. v. Hofmann*); 7. The Classic or Dramatic Theory: the atonement as divine conflict and victory (held by G. E. H. Aulén*). All these and other man-made theories of atonement deny Christ's vicarious satisfaction and are based on the same leading thought: salvation by works, or salvation through personal sanctification, stimulated by Christ's death. See also Christus Crucifixus; Double Reference Theory of the Atonement; Lund, Theology of; Recapitulation; Sweden, Lutheranism in, 6. JTM

R. S. Franks, A History of the Doctrine of the Work of Christ in Its Ecclesiastical Development, 2 vols. (London, 1918) and The Atonement (London, 1934); G. Aulén, Christus Victor, tr. A. G. Hebert (London, 1931); P. A. W. H. Althaus, Die Theologie Martin Luthers (Gütersloh, 1962), pp. 191–195, 2d ed. (Gütersloh, 1963) tr. R. C. Schultz, The Theology of Martin Luther (Philadelphia, 1966), pp. 218–223.

Atterbury, Francis

(1662–1732). Angl. prelate; controversialist; politician. B. Bedford; ordained 1687; bp. Rochester 1713; banished as Jacobite (see Jacobites, 2) 1723; d. Paris.


(d. 425). Patriarch of Constantinople; for a time Pneumatomachian (see Pneumatomachians); opposed J. Chrysostom.*


1. That which is indispensable to a substance. 2. Characteristic of God.* 3. That which is permanent or essential to a being. 4. The way in which feelings, images, or sensations differ.


Term used by RC theologians: hatred of sin arising from love of the offended God is called perfect contrition; arising from other motives (fear of hell and of punishment, realization of the heinousness of sin), attrition. They teach that attrition alone does not justify, but that “by it the penitent, being assisted, prepares a way for himself unto justice” (Council of Trent, Sess. XIV, ch. 4), and that if, with attrition, he properly receives the sacrament of penance he is justified. See also Contrition; Indulgences, 1.

Attwood, Thomas

(1765–1838). Eng. musician and composer; highly regarded by Mozart,* his teacher; organist St. Paul's Cathedral, London; among first in Eng. to recognize genius of Mendelssohn.

Edited by: Erwin L. Lueker, Luther Poellot, Paul Jackson
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