Institutes II.12.2-3. Calvin also wrote: “And so, by fighting hand to hand with the power of the Devil, with the horror of death, he won the victory over them and triumphed, so that now in our death we should not fear those things which our Prince has swallowed up” (Institutes II.16.11).
Saturday, April 09, 2011
Christus Victor Hoopla
Over at CT Mark Galli has an article on The Problem with Christus Victor where he notes the increasing popularity of the Christus Victor (CV) model for the atonement, but thinks it can down play notions of personal sin and guilt if not cojoined to the theory of penal substitutionary atonement (PSA). He concludes: " "
Tom Schreiner argues similarly in his response to Greg Boyd in The Nature of the Atonement. Several posts have appeared around the biblioblogosphere about Galli's article including the Anglican Priest, Through a Glass Darkly, Brambonius, and Already Not Yet to name a few.
I agree that CV and PSA go together because Jesus is only Christus Victor because he is also Agnus Dei. PSA deprives the Satan of his key weapon: accusation against the saints! However, I think CV is the the most comprehensive model of the atonement for several reasons:
1. Canonical: The first and last intimations of the atonement in Scripture are about the victory of Jesus' death (Gen 3:15; Rev 12:11).
2. Historical: CV appears to have been more popular in Church History as a model for the atonement than any other. Though PSA can be found in the fathers as a minor key, CV can be found among the Reformers as a minor key too.
3. Biblical Theological: CV links together a lot more themes than PSA does. CV brings together kingdom, atonement, resurrection, and new creation.
4. Pauline: Note how Romans 8 and 1 Corinthians 15 both start off with the sacrificial nature of Jesus' death, but then climax in affirmations of divine victory! PSA is the basis for CV, but CV is then the goal of PSA.
I like the words of John Calvin on the subject: “Finally, since as God only he could not suffer, and as man only could not overcome death, he united the human nature with the divine, that he might subject the weakness of the one to death as an expiation of sin, and by the power of the other, maintaining a struggle with death, might gain us the victory … But special attention must be paid to what I lately explained, namely, that a common nature is the pledge of our union with the Son of God; that, clothed with our flesh, he warred to death with sin that he might be our triumphant conqueror.”