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Durham University

Department of Theology and Religion


Publication details for Dr Rik Van Nieuwenhove

Van Nieuwenhove, Rik (2012). The Saving Work of Christ. In The Oxford Handbook of Aquinas. Davies, Brian & Stump, Eleonore Oxford University Press. 436-447.

Author(s) from Durham


The article outlines Aquinas's soteriology by examining the many themes that include the saving significance of the passion of Christ, the body of Christ, and the role of the Eucharist. Aquinas could argue that every aspect of Christ's life, death, and resurrection has a sacramental meaning and power. Aquinas pointed out that there are two major differences between punishment and making satisfaction. The first difference is that punishment is inflicted upon the sinner against his will, while making satisfaction is something human beings freely undertake to restore a broken relationship with somebody. The second major difference between punishment and making satisfaction is that one person can make satisfaction for another if the two are united in charity. Aquinas argued that Christ's saving activity benefits all the faithful. He argued that in the divine self-gift that is the life and death of Christ the divine mercy and justice are in perfect harmony with one another. The key presupposition governing Aquinas's soteriology is the intimate union between Christ and his faithful. Aquinas pointed out that Christ, was both priest and offering. A priest is a mediator between God and the people, somebody who bestows divine things upon the people. Christ freely offers himself to suffer on the behalf of human beings.