Theology Christus Victor: The Salvation of God and the Cross of Christ Because the death and resurrection of Jesus are central to Christian faith, they have been the subjects of theological reflection from the beginning. But in the classic view i. He was also the author of Christus Victor: An Historical Study of the Three Main Types of the Idea of Atonement , a book that has had considerable influence in the study of theology on the issue of the atonement. The cross is understood not as a work of the love or grace of God but rather of the powers of evil that God overcomes. God will triumph.
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Theology Christus Victor: The Salvation of God and the Cross of Christ Because the death and resurrection of Jesus are central to Christian faith, they have been the subjects of theological reflection from the beginning. But in the classic view i. He was also the author of Christus Victor: An Historical Study of the Three Main Types of the Idea of Atonement , a book that has had considerable influence in the study of theology on the issue of the atonement. The cross is understood not as a work of the love or grace of God but rather of the powers of evil that God overcomes.
God will triumph. I propose to look briefly at the Gospel of John and a few passages in Paul to show how certain texts lend themselves to an understanding of the atonement that can aptly be classified under the rubric of Christus Victor.
Both portray human beings as captive to sin and death, and in need of deliverance or liberation. In his signs, Jesus provides food and drink —11; —15 , restores the sick and ailing to wholeness —52; —9; —7 , and raises the dead to life ch. In his words, Jesus presents himself as the one who embodies and offers eternal life from God: he is the bread that gives life to the world , the light that shows the way to the Father ; , the shepherd who protects the sheep from death —18 , the one in whom there is resurrection from the dead —26 , and so on.
To follow Jesus, to believe in him, to know him, to trust him, is to have that life that he brings. But that solution also reveals the human plight, namely, human beings are in darkness, where darkness is construed as ignorance, a failure to believe in God and the one whom he has sent. In John, unbelief is the epitome of sin. In their sin and unbelief, human beings are slaves, captives, unable to free themselves, and hence subject to death , 24, 31—36 , but the Son can set them free.
But the Son can open their eyes as he did the eyes of the man born blind. Like sheep vulnerable to predators, and like Lazarus, people are subject to death, but the one who is resurrection and life can protect them and give them life.
He calls them by name, and they follow him —4 and come out from the tombs , 28—29; In short, Jesus speaks and they live. His initiative to heal, restore, and give life dominates the narrative. On the cross, Jesus revealed the depths to which he would go to protect his threatened flock from death: the life of the world would be given in death, bringing the work of the life-giving Word to completion Here, no less than in his life, Jesus reveals the glory of God, the love of God for the world, love that will go to death to bring life to the dead and light into darkness.
The direction of the movement is from God to the world; life reaches into death, light into darkness. He personifies sin as a power.
And sin leads to death Rom , 21; ; Prior to his conversion experience, when he was known as Saul of Tarsus, he viciously persecuted early disciples of Christ. When the resurrected Jesus appeared to him in a light so great he was struck blind, Paul repented of his actions and became a proponent of Jesus as the Jewish Messiah. Writings attributed to him after that time form a significant portion of the New Testament. Sin exercises its dominion in death; but those who are baptized into and buried with Christ die with him in his death so that they may be raised with him to newness of life Rom — These captives do not merely need a pardon for the deeds that landed them in prison.
It is not that Paul denies that sins need to be forgiven, but that the problem is something far more deeply rooted: sinners sin because they have become captive to the power of sin. They need liberation. Again, this is not something that they can accomplish. On analogy, one may think of the Babylonian exile: the Israelites were sent into exile, taken captive, as a punishment for their sins.
Subsequently they are said to be ransomed or redeemed—terms used for the release of a prisoner or a slave. These prisoners are not innocent of wrongdoing; they need to be ransomed precisely because they have been guilty of misdeeds. The order of the action is important: God has rescued us; God has transferred us; in Christ we have redemption and forgiveness. By his gracious initiative, God brings us into the realm of life where we find that our sins are forgiven.
Instead, the primary question is, what has God done for them? To be sure, any theory of the atonement can make the point: salvation is both the gift and work of God. But the imagery of release from captivity, of giving life as salvation, and of overcoming the powers of sin, death, and the devil, show God as the actor in the drama from beginning to end, without in any way minimizing the importance of the cross. The God who calls into existence things that do not exist also gives life to the dead Rom From beginning to end, God is turned toward the world for its redemption, for its life.
Sin is powerful; death is powerful; but they are not all powerful. The promise of the New Testament witness to the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus is that through them God has overcome the power of sin, death, and the devil. These are no longer the destiny of those who are in Christ, who have been set free from sin and death. Indeed, Christ is the victor! Herbert; New York: Macmillan, Because the cross is an act of violence, he cannot locate it positively within the saving purposes of God.
In Jesus, God stands against violence, broadly characterized to include racism, sexism, poverty, and psychological harm 8.
The Orthodox Church still holds to the atonement view, based upon their understanding of the atonement put forward by Irenaeus, called " recapitulation ", Jesus became what we are so that we could become what he is. He does this by satisfying the demands of the Law for a sinless life and by suffering the wrath of the Father for past sins. Packer has notably argued for a version of satisfaction theory with less legal emphasis. In their view, the "divine opposition" is only apparent since the Father desires reconciliation with mankind and Jesus willingly offers himself as a penal substitute. Instead by suffering a death that, before the Law, meant an accursed status, Christ, instead of satisfying an obligation, overthrew the power of the Law, since its condemnation of a perfect man was unjust.
What is the meaning of Christus Victor? Question: "What is the meaning of Christus Victor? The idea that God is a Judge who was willing to kill His own Son to atone for the sins of humanity is repugnant to opponents of substitutionary theory. Problems with Christus Victor Christus Victor has two main flaws. The Bible clearly presents the suffering of Christ as a propitiation , or satisfaction 1 John The question then is, what was satisfied? God is fully aware that the Law puts us into a bind, legally speaking.
Christus Victor: The Salvation of God and the Cross of Christ
Apr 14, Ryan Dufoe rated it really liked it I gave it a 4 as a classic within the history of the church and NOT as a free-standing work. I think much better anthologies of thought on atonement theory have been written, but the importance this book has in bringing the Christus Victor view back into the conversation is part of the reason why the other books are so good. I appreciated the read among my other readings in the field for what it was. Aug 04, Jacob Aitken added it Triumphing over the powers, July 15, This book provides an historically-faithful alternative to the substitutionary and exemplary models of the atonement. Its strength lies in its presentation of a vivid and robust picture of the work of Christ.