The Atonement by Patrick Henry Reardon

The Atonement

I am convinced that a real theology—as distinct from a theory—of the Atonement properly commences with the "mind of Christ." I mean "mind" here in a plain and most elementary sense. When Jesus hung on the Cross, what did he think he was doing? What was his understanding of Calvary? What was his defining frame of reference?

Obviously, the deepest reaches of such inquiries elude inspection, because Jesus' understanding of the Passion was embraced within his unique relationship to the Father. Consequently, a real theology of the Atonement will insist that there must be no interpretive reference extraneous to that relationship. There, and nowhere else, can a real theology of the Atonement begin.

With respect to the meaning of the Cross, the Father and his incarnate Word shared a mutual understanding. And that understanding of the Cross is the only one that counts. This is the sole entrance into the mystery of the Atonement; we enter it cautiously and by invitation.


Patrick Henry Reardon is pastor emeritus of All Saints Antiochian Orthodox Church in Chicago, Illinois, and the author of numerous books, including, most recently, Out of Step with God: Orthodox Christian Reflections on the Book of Numbers (Ancient Faith Publishing, 2019).

Print &
Online Subscription

Get six issues (one year) of Touchstone PLUS full online access including pdf downloads for only $39.95. That's only $3.34 per month!


Get a one-year full-access subscription to the Touchstone online archives for only $19.95. That's only $1.66 per month!

bulk subscriptions

Order Touchstone subscriptions in bulk and save $10 per sub! Each subscription includes 6 issues of Touchstone plus full online access to—including archives, videos, and pdf downloads of recent issues for only $29.95 each! Great for churches or study groups.

Transactions will be processed on a secure server.

more from the online archives

20.4—May 2007

Children of the Reformation

A Short & Surprising History of Protestantism & Contraception by Allan C. Carlson

31.4—July/August 2018

Mission or Submission?

The Difficulty of Apologetics for Dead Souls in the Real World by R. J. Snell

22.6—July/August 2009

Unhappy Fault

on the Integration of Anger into the Virtuous Life by Leon J. Podles

calling all readers

Please Donate

"There are magazines worth reading but few worth saving . . . Touchstone is just such a magazine."
—Alice von Hildebrand

"Here we do not concede one square millimeter of territory to falsehood, folly, contemporary sentimentality, or fashion. We speak the truth, and let God be our judge. . . . Touchstone is the one committedly Christian conservative journal."
—Anthony Esolen, Touchstone senior editor

Support Touchstone