Every Wednesday during Lent, I’m going to explore an alternatives to the penal substitutionary understanding of the atonement, the dominant theory of the atonement in my part of the (theological and geographical) world. You can read all of the posts, and my past posts on this topic, here. I’ve got an ebook on the subject as well.
The most recent major player on the scene of atonement theories is one developed by an anthropologist/literary critic who is still alive: René Girard and the scapegoat theory. But before getting to the atonement, we need a little background on Girard’s thought.
René Girard is a professor emeritus at Stanford University and one of only 40 members, or immortels, of the Académie Française, France’s highest intellectual honor. Girard’s breakthrough, according to James Alison, is this: