Christus Victor

July 30, 2013

christusvictor(Editor’s note: Several months ago, a friend of mine posted a link on Facebook to an article about Cristus Victor.  I commented that I had written a paper about the topic when I was in Bible College.  She replied, “So what were your conclusions?”  I told her I would blog about it, because a two sentence answer would not do the topic justice.  I apologize for the delay, and also that this answer may still be too brief, but here is my initial response.)

In 1930 a German theologian named Gustaf Aulen wrote a book arguing that the early church had a particular understanding of the atonement of Christ known as Christus Victor.  In short, Christus Victor is the idea that Christ’s atonement defeated sin and death.  Aulen argued that in the eleventh century, Anselm brought about a revision in the church’s theology with his substitutionary theory of atonement, which teaches that Christ’s death was a transaction by which God ransoms his people and buys us back from death.  Aulen rejected the idea that all humanity was subject to Satan because of Adam and Eve’s sin, and therefore rejected the idea that the cross was necessary to ransom us.

Simply put, I think that this is not a case of either/or but of both/and.  While Aulen brought back into focus the victory of the Lord Jesus Christ over Satan’s power, he missed the full picture of the Gospel.  Does Christ bring us victory over sin?  Absolutely!  Is that the only thing that Christ’s atonement did?  No.

The Bible clearly teaches that sin and death entered the world through the sin of Adam.  The only one who can offer perfect atonement for sin – satisfying God’s wrath, leading to forgiveness and peace with God – is God himself, because only God is perfect, and therefore only God can perfectly restore the soul from the power of the sinful nature.  Christ shed his blood to bring this atonement.  He died to put to death the sinful nature, crucifying sin and making a spectacle of Satan.  He rose again to give us new life, allowing us to be born again.  He is no longer in the grave, and so death no longer has power.  When we are found in Christ, we are born again into him.  The power of the ascension is the power to say, “No,” to sin, because Christ Jesus has power and authority over Satan, having put all things under his feet.

Is the cross necessary to ransom us from the power of sin?  Yes it is.  Does the cross also bring victory?  Yes it does.  In fact, without the victory of the cross we would not be able to be born again.  Satan would still have power over our lives and we would still be slaves to the sinful nature.

It is my conclusion therefore that the Gospel includes the theology of the penal and substitutionary atonement, as well as the victorious aspects of Christus Victor.  You cannot have one without the other.  It is also my conclusion that the church has lost touch with the true Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ, and today only teaches half-truths.  It has missed the power of the Gospel, and while claiming to belong to Christ denies him by its actions.  There is no victory over sin in the church today.  Why is that?

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The Mind in the Life of the Christian

July 23, 2013

the thinker

The mind is a part of the soul.  Since we were created in the image of God, all the faculties of that image are good.  A Christian is not someone who checks their brains out at the door when they enter the church.  We are commanded to love the Lord with all of our minds.  The Lord has asked us to be thinking Christians.

 

It was Ravi Zacharias who said, “After all, it is not that I think, therefore, I am, but rather, the Great I AM has asked us to think, and therefore we must. And we must serve Him with all our minds.”


Two Approaches to Reasoning

July 16, 2013

Last week I talked about the two types of logic – inductive and deductive.  I also alluded to this week’s topic.  If I may speak in broad terms, there are two general ways that people tend to approach reason as it relates to truth and this world. 

Some people view the world scientifically; that is, they use inductive logic and their five senses to evaluate truth claims.  Life is thought through based on what the person can see, hear, and touch.  This is called Empiricism.

Other people view the world philosophically.  They use deductive reasoning to evaluate life based on their experiences, but on an emotional level.  How they feel about a situation determines how they view the truth of the matter.  This is called Existentialism.

Many times these two approaches are viewed as contradictory.  In the secular sense, they are both philosophical distortions of truth and reality.  However, I serve a God of coherence.  The God of the Bible is the Creator of heaven and earth, saying something about the way we view the world empirically.  He is also present with his creation, speaking to our experience.  In theological terms we speak of God being transcendent over creation, as well as immanent in his relationship with us. Faith cannot be disconnected from the life we live, because it is a part of our existence in this world. 


Two Types of Reasoning

July 9, 2013

When we speak of the subject of logic, there are two types of reasoning. Inductive reasoning starts with individual pieces of evidence, and puts the puzzle together in order to reach a conclusion. This is a scientific way of looking at truth claims. Deductive reasoning does the opposite, and taking a general idea or conclusion, and then breaking it down to make sense of it in pieces. This is a philosophical way of examining truth claims.

Allow me to give an example. Look at the problem 2+2=x. We can figure out that x=4 by adding the individual numbers 2 and 2. That is inductive logic. Now suppose you are a detective committed to solving a crime. You know the end result of what happened (the crime itself), but have to collect the clues (the “pieces” of the puzzle) in order to figure out how it was carried out and by whom. That is deductive logic.

I am convinced that we can use both types of reasoning to help point to the existence of God. If you follow the trail of scientific evidence in nature, you will find that it leads to a Creator. If you follow the broad idea of the existence of moral right and wrong, and figure out how we come to morality, you will end up with the conclusion that a Moral Lawgiver must exist.

I do not believe in the Lord Jesus Christ because he is some kind of crutch that makes me feel good. I believe in him because the Gospel is true. Truth claims can be tested. I serve a God that says, “Come now, let us reason together. Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow” (Isaiah 1:18).


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