Although raised in the tradition of Calvin, Priestley rejected the divinity of Christ, the doctrine of the atonement, the trinity and the inspiration of the Bible.
On the atonement Priestley taught:
“the present doctrine of the atonement, founded on the idea of the absolute necessity of and infinite satisfaction being made by one infinite being for offenses of an infinite magnitude, as committed against another infinite being, is subsequent to the Reformation. This doctrine was advanced by the Reformers in the course of their controversy with the Papists, about the doctrine of human merit, works of penance, and the power of granting indulgences. Now can it be supposed that a doctrine of so much importance, as this is always represented to be, should have been unknown so many ages?… Thus all these boasted ancient doctrines are in fact of late date…”