Does torture satisfy God? Thanks to a book by Gustaf Aulen, the term “Christus Victor” (or CV) has become shorthand for the traditional Christian view of the atonement prior to the work of Thomas Aquinas. The view of the cross by Aquinas and the subsequent view of Protestantism are both commonly referred to as “Penal Substitutionary Atonement” (or PSA). Without taking sides between these two views, I hope to clarify three misunderstandings about Christus Victor.
The Holy Names I overheard a man who burnt his fingers, blew a tire, tripped a wire in the undergrowth and called upon the worst things he could think to say: Jesus, Mary, Joseph! The holy ones spoke to my heart too, their names leapt up gently as benediction. How good, I praised, that you are with us, Holy Family! How good that you become the curse of many! How good that they are shorting
I vividly remember tattooed punk rocker Joy Whitlock’s1 words. At Highpoint Church in Memphis, Joy gave her testimony before being baptized. She spoke repeatedly of “the new Joy” as opposed to “the old Joy.” Her own father baptized her and told us in a few words how great a change had happened. She and he said God had radically changed her; but I submit that mainstream Christianity fails to truly embrace the basic doctrine of
Imagine if one of the twelve disciples of Jesus had personally discipled a man whose pupil had written a short book for us, a book that explains the barest essentials of the apostles’ teaching. What a treasure it would be if we found such a book! In 1904, a priest of the Oriental Orthodox Church of Armenia uncovered exactly such a book, the Demonstration of the Preaching of the Apostles. Its author, Bishop Irenaeus of
A seemingly less discussed source of controversy within Christendom is the topic of prayers for the departed. In fact, I had never even heard of such a practice until more recent years. I believe that this is primarily due to a gaping paradigmatic difference in the understanding of soteriology [doctrines of salvation] from East to West that eventually led to the dispensing of this historically Christian practice from the memory of contemporary low-church Western traditions.
Part I of II “Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. For truly, I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not an iota, not a dot, will pass from the Law until all is accomplished. Therefore whoever relaxes one of the least of these commandments and teaches others to do the same will be
“It is Calvinism that understands the Scriptures in their natural, one would have thought, inescapable meaning; Calvinism that keeps to what they actually say; Calvinism that insists on taking seriously the biblical assertions that God saves, and that He saves those whom He has chosen to save, and that He saves them by grace without works, so that no man may boast, and that Christ is given to them as a perfect Saviour, and that
The coming of Christ, the Reformed understand, is one part in the eternal plan of God to reconcile his chosen people to himself. The Incarnation, rather than being a stand-alone celebration, proceeds from an eternal will that precedes it, and results in a death that reconciles.