Would you like to tell us about a lower price? If you are a seller for this product, would you like to suggest updates through seller support? Gustaf Aulen's classic work, 'Christus Victor', has long been a standard text on the atonement. Aulen applies history of ideas' methodology to historical theology in tracing the development of three views of the atonement. According to Aulen, however, there is another type of atonement doctrine in which Christ overcomes the hostile powers that hold humanity in subjection, at the same time that God in Christ reconciles the world to Himself. This view he calls the classic idea of the atonement.
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The aim of this book is described by the author, as an attempt to articulate a historical study of the three main ideas of the atonement. Aulen actually spends more time defining, comparing and contrasting two of these views. The first view, he calls the classic view which he argues was held by the Early Church.
The second view, he describes as the Latin view. Aulen says that this view overtook the classic view at some point in earlier church history. During the Reformation, Luther revisited the classic view but it was short lived and quickly overtaken once again in church history. How does our view of atonement effect our understanding of conditional immortality?
How might our understanding of the incarnation, crucifixion, and resurrection of Jesus shape the way we think about life, death and eternal life? While Aulen does not ask these questions in his book directly, the two dominant theories of atonement speak to these questions if we will allow them to. After all, the doctrine of atonement is about life and death, and life after death. Where we land on our understanding of atonement will have an effect on our view of conditional immortality.
Aulen takes a historical approach to writing his book tracing the theories or views as they have been articulated and expressed throughout history. Aulen wants to remind the reader that their final view of the atonement will provide them with a portrait of who God is. This portrait should accurately reflect the narrative of scripture and the revelation of God found in Jesus Christ. The major problem for him is that the Classical view of the atonement of the early church has been lost.
As a result, he argues that we have also lost our understanding of spiritual warfare and the theme which undergirds all of scripture which is the story that God is at war with Satan, sin and death itself. Gods original intent for his creation is abundant life but something went wrong and God is seeking to restore his original creation to what he intended it to be. This is the work of Jesus in the incarnation, crucifixion and resurrection. As Aulen begins to examine the idea of the atonement he first visits the church father Irenaeus.
Irenaeus taught that immortality comes through the gospel of Jesus. Here we see in the teachings of the early church the doctrine of conditional immortality. For most modern Christians this will be a complete refrain of their understanding of the atonement. Most modern evangelicals see the atonement fixing a sin problem and not a death problem. In the next chapter, Aulen examines how Christ came to redeem his people and set them free from the fear of slavery to death.
One of the guiding questions for this chapter is how is evil overcome? In addition, how do we view the Trinity in light of the atonement?
Aulen says that the Latin view pits the Father against the Son doing an injustice to the unity of the Trinity, while the classic view sees the Father working in and through the Son to accomplish the task. Jesus said that he came to give his life as a ransom. While we should be careful to overanalyze atonement metaphors the idea of this statement begs the question. To whom did Jesus offer himself as a ransom? A normal understanding of ransom would lead us to ask the question of who is holding the victims at ransom and who are the victims.
The metaphor seems to break down and seem counterintuitive if we try to make it say that the Son was paying of the Father. If this is the case, the Father plays the role of the villain who holds humanity captive and the hero who sends his Son to pay himself off.
As Aulen moves to the New Testament he explains that the Classic view is concerned with a narrative format of atonement. Jesus overcomes Satan, who introduced sin, which resulted in death. Through death, Jesus makes a public spectacle of the power and threat of death revealing that they have no power over the Author of Life.
Col The guiding text for our understanding of conditional immortality says that immortality comes through the gospel. Aulen reveals that our soteriology has physical ramifications, not just moral ones. Scripture says that Jesus came to destroy the works of the Devil which is the sin that leads to death. Jesus overcomes death through death and is then able to offer immortality as a gift.
Next, Aulen asks the guiding question, how does forgiveness work? The Classical view proposes that God simply forgives because that is who he is, the Latin view, on the other hand, demands satisfaction in the form of payment in order to forgive. Another way we might ask this question is what is the guiding problem? Is the problem that death must be overcome, or is it that sin must be punished? Here he lays out a fourfold understanding of the Latin view of atonement.
In this chapter, Aulen revisits the Classic view through the lens and teaching of Luther. In doing so he contrasts the previous chapter by describing a fourfold understanding of the Latin view. Before moving to a final conclusion and summary, Aulen describes the time period after the Reformation and how atonement has been understood in more recent theology. Aulen rightly pushes us to have coherence in our theology. He wants our understanding of the atonement to match Jesus own teaching of who the Father is.
In the Gospel of Mathew chapter 9, Jesus both heals and forgives. What the religious elite find blasphemous is that Jesus claims authority to forgive people of their sins. What we see is that Jesus is forgiving people as a result of their faith and repentance before his crucifixion.
The final chapter contrast the Classic Christus Victor and Latin view Satisfaction in several ways, here are several examples:. Overall, Aulen does an amazing job at helping us understanding that our view of the atonement is important to our theology regardless of where we land on the topic. He successfully traces two of the dominant ways of understanding the cross through history. While this book is not specifically on the topic of conditional immortality it is highly entrenched in the topic.
Death is a human problem that we all have, and Jesus came to save us from death and offer eternal life to those that will choose to follow him. Aulen reminds us that humanities life is conditional, we are the created and are contingent upon the Creator. Christ has come to free us from the slavery of the fear of death and beckons us to come and follow him in abundant life now and after the resurrection.
He is currently pursuing his Ph. David has been a pastor and educator in Christian education for the last 15 years. He is the proud father of three children and competes in Ironman triathlons in his spare time. He started and administers a Facebook Group discussing Biblical Anthropology.
Your email address will not be published. Chapter 2 Irenaeus As Aulen begins to examine the idea of the atonement he first visits the church father Irenaeus. Chapter 3 The Fathers in the East and West In the next chapter, Aulen examines how Christ came to redeem his people and set them free from the fear of slavery to death. Latin view: Gods justice must be satisfied in order to forgive.
Classic View Satan has led humanity into sin that has led to death. Only God can disarm evil of its power of death and free humanity as captives. Jesus enters death and destroys it from the inside out showing Gods life-giving power. Satisfaction of sin is made by God, not to God, as mercy triumphs over judgment on the cross. Chapter 7 Since the Reformation Before moving to a final conclusion and summary, Aulen describes the time period after the Reformation and how atonement has been understood in more recent theology.
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BOOK REVIEW: Christus Victor by Gustaf Aulen
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. In order to answer that question, it will be helpful to keep in mind two primary questions: 1 What is the plight of humankind?
Christus Victor: The Salvation of God and the Cross of Christ
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