Monday, July 02, 2007
Christus Victor or Substitutionary Atonement
Its not just a academic historical debate.
Christus victor is the idea that on the cross and through the Resurrection Christ won victory over the enemies of humanity.
Penal substitution is the idea that Christ died on the cross to absorb God's wrath; God the Father punished him instead of sinners.
The article reports that evangelicals in England are splitting over which one of these is correct. I resonate with this statement by J.I. Packer:
According to J. I. Packer, British-born board of governors' theologian at Regent College and CT senior editor, various biblical understandings of the atonement need not conflict. Rather, penal substitution, Christus Victor, and other Scriptural views of atonement work together to present a fully orbed picture of Christ's work.
"To omit any part of this story," Packer said, "is to distort and damage the gospel."
I agree. Both are in the Scriptures, both amply supported in the Christian tradition and in Lutheran theology. I find in my preaching there are times to emphasize the one and at other times the other.
I normally do not like both/and solutions to theology but this one fits.