"The richness of the early Christian [atonement] model lies not only in its coherence and clarity, but also in its refreshing breadth of vision, its sober assessment of the human plight, as well as its youthful optimism about human nature, its devotion to the death of Christ as well as its celebration of the resurrection, its attitude of humble gratitude as well as an audacity and freedom of spirit that come from believing that not only one is saved but also loved, not only debt-free but rich beyond imagining." - Ben Myers
In this lecture (available HERE), originally given at the Los Angeles Theology Conference (Jan 2015), Ben Myers lays out the Patristic atonement model or mechanism found across the early Fathers, including especially Irenaeus, Athanasius, Gregory of Nyssa, Gregory of Nazianzus, John Chrysostom and Cyril of Alexandria.
For those with an interest in atonement theology (how the Incarnation and Cross of Christ saves, from what it saves and who it saves), Myers' account is clear and faithful to the Fathers and the Orthodox tradition that has stewarded it. He also presents a clarifying critique of Gustaf Aulen's account in Christus Victor and he warns of (and demonstrates) the problems of anachronistic readings of the juridical theories of Anselm or Calvin into the Patristics.
According to Myers, the atonement solution centers around the dissolution of death by an incorruptible divine nature and the atonement surplus is the implanting of the divine life of the Son as a new principle within human nature, thus gifting it with incorruptibility and participation (by grace) in the divine nature. Quoting Myers:
God's real intention wasn't just to free human nature from death, but also to elevate us to a new status. If Christ had only freed us from death, we would still remain corruptible by nature ... the Son of God goes a step further. He not only removes us from the clutches of death, but also allows our nature to participate in his own incorruptible life. He interweaves his life with ours, Athanasius says. This is the flip side of the 'communication of attributes.'
Through the union of natures, the divine nature shares in the human experience of death, without ceasing to be impassible and divine. And conversely--the properties are going both directions--dying human nature is suffused with divine life, without ceasing to be human.