[Note by crosstheology: when Jesse Morrell uses the term “ransom”, he means to indicate the Ransom to Satan Theory, which both of us hold to be unscriptural. I believe in the Ransom to God theory, Governmental Theory of the Atonement and the Moral Influence Theory. (See bottom for links).]
‘Atonement Theories: Ransom Theory, Penal Substitution, Moral Influence, Governmental Atonement:
The governmental view of the atonement is the only view of the atonement that I have seen that encompasses all that the Bible has to so about the atonement. It easily embraces the verses that say Jesus died for everyone and yet not everyone is automatically saved by His atonement, which the penal theory cannot embrace. It easily comprehends the ransom and redeemed verses of the atonement, as Christ paid a great price to save us from the penalty of the law. And recognizes that this ransom was paid, not to satan as some held, but to God, as the Bible says Christ was offered as a sacrifice “to God.” It also fully embraces all of the moral influence verses on the atonement, that Christ died to save us from our sins, to purify us, etc, as nothing could be a greater moral influence upon our hearts to love and serve Jesus Christ than the thought that He suffered vicariously for us on the cross to redeem us from the penalty of hell. The governmental view of the atonement is the only atonement view that I have seen that harmonizes with all of the scriptures on this matter. Whereas the Penal Theory and the traditional Ransom Theory have either ignore or ultimately deny certain emphatic scriptures that contradict their perspective.
The Penal theory cannot accept that Jesus died for everyone but that salvation through His sacrifice us conditional. It also has no proper definition of the forgiveness of sins as it cannot accept forgiveness as the remission of penalty. Neither can it explain all the verses that speak of God being merciful and favorably disposed towards mankind prior to the atonement. The Ransom theory, that Christ paid a ransom to the devil, cannot accept the verses that speak of His sacrifice being offered “to God,” or explain how no old testament foreshadow fits their model, or account for the scriptures connection between the shedding of blood and the remission of sins. And the moral influence theory, which isn’t really a sufficient or adequate theory in and of itself, only recognizes those verses that speak of the moral change that the atonement brings but not the objective purposes of the atonement – like declaring the righteousness of God for the remission of sins past, or shedding His blood for the remission of sins, or that He might be just and the justifier, as they do not recognize the governmental necessity for the atonement.
So again, the Governmental theory is the only theory out of all of them that can harmonize and embrace everything that the scriptures teach regarding the atonement of Christ. And the true view of the atonement of the scriptures must be able to embrace and accept all that the scriptures say on the atonement.’
source: Jesse Morrell (holyandpure).