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Christus Victor

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4.04  ·  Rating details ·  304 ratings  ·  42 reviews
s/t: An Historical Study of the Three Main Types of the Idea of the Atonement
The term Christus Victor comes from the title of Gustaf Aulén's groundbreaking book 1st published in '31 which drew attention to early Church understanding of the Atonement. In it he identifies three main types of Atonement Theory:
The earliest was what he called the "classic" view of the
...more
Paperback, 16
Published April 30th 1970 by SPCK (London) (first published January 1st 1930)
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Joel Wentz
Jan 20, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This classic work of theology is indispensable reading for anyone who grew up in the Western church tradition. Aulen was a prominent theologian in the early 1900s, and this short book is one of his most well-known works, and for good reason! Growing up in the evangelical church, I had always assumed that "penal substitution" was simply the only way of understanding Christ's atoning work. As an historical overview, Christus Victor clearly shows that this tradition emerged from what Aulen calls ...more
Judah Ivy
Jul 05, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Aulen's book was a much-needed elucidation for me. Before reading it I'd only heard references and short descriptions of the "Christus Victor" view of Christs' work of atonement.
It's a very informative work. He details the origin and development of the three main types of atonement theology:
The Classic view, which he puts forward as the authentic type, and shows to have been the main idea of the atonement held by the early church fathers.
The Latin type: proposed in its detailed form by Anselm
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Ispeakinglish
Mar 12, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I mean this isn't light reading or anything, but it is a good explanation of the history of the theology of Atonement.
Jacob Aitken
Triumphing over the powers, July 15, 2008
This book provides an historically-faithful alternative to the substitutionary and exemplary models of the atonement. Its strength lies in its presentation of a vivid and robust picture of the work of Christ. Its (the book, not the model) weakness is its simplistic reductions of other theologians' thoughts.

Overview:
The Christus Victor model presents the work of Christ as a triumph over the devil, powers (demons), bondage of sin, and the "law."
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James
Mar 27, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I finally got around to reading this book. Aulen's stated purpose is to outline the classic view of the atonement and to compare it to the objective (latin) model and the subjective (exemplar) model. Aulen does an excellent job of describing the patriotic view and the development of penal substitution. One major difference he sees between the classic model and the later penal models is an emphasis on Christ's divinity in the former and Christ's humanity in the latter. The classic view posits ...more
Steven Wedgeworth
Important for its day, this book is now largely discredited. Bad history and weak systematic imagination. If it merely gets the CV theory out it isn't a total flop, but it still requires much qualification and correction.
Chungsoo J. Lee
Apr 25, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: christianity
2000 years of theological history in 162 pages--this alone is quite an accomplishment. But after all these years, do we really understand the meaning of the Cross or have we exhausted all of its meaning? Aulén is a great thinker of categories. He is able to see through the complex, symbolic, and loose language of theologians (both ancient and modern) and categorize and trace the theme of atonement into three groups: the "classical," the Latin, and the "subjective." The progression of these three ...more
Lee Irons
Sep 20, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-2014
I’m sure you’ve noticed the rising popularity of the Christus Victor theory of the atonement. It is has always been the standard view in Eastern Orthodoxy, but it is making inroads in Mennonite circles and in the left wing of the evangelical movement who are trying to develop non-penal and non-violent ways of understanding the atonement. N. T. Wright holds to his own particular version of it. So I decided I really needed to read this book for myself.

Swedish theologian Gustav Aulén (1879–1977)
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Mark
Nov 14, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction, religion
My whole life as a Christian, I have struggled with the central story of the faith: Jesus' crucifixion and resurrection. More specifically, I have been bothered by the idea of the atonement as I learned it: that God demanded a perfect sacrifice to forgive humankind of its sins, and so God insisted God's own child die to serve as that sacrifice.

Reading Gustaf Aulen's classic 1930 study of the atonement, I learned that if I had grown up in the 1800s during the heyday of liberal Christianity, I
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Austin Mathews
Jan 26, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
It's not difficult to see why Aulén's historical overview of atonement theory was groundbreaking in the early 1930s: it rejects the losing battle fought between legalistic Orthodoxy and subjective Liberalism, looking again into the church Fathers, Luther, and the New Testament itself to reveal a forgotten and viable "classic" idea of atonement. Christ is the victor over sin, death, and the devil. God is the active agent of reconciliation (at-one-ment) in creation, destroying the enemies of his ...more
Eli
Mar 29, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
After reading this book I am even more committed to the Anselmian view of the atonement. However, Aulén makes many important points that ought to bring greater clarity and precision to anyone’s understanding of the atonement. All Christian preaching of the atonement truly should be Christus Victor, should sound the battle cry of victory. It should hold the dualism of the Bible in tension with the sovereignty of God, and not allow one side to swallow up the other. Anyone who wants to think about ...more
Chris Little
This is a very influential study of the atonement that I haven't read since theological college. Aulén claims that his aim throughout was 'an historical, not an apologetic' one but that's hard to believe. He's really positive about Luther (not Lutherism, so much) and the 'classic' idea of the atonement, but not so positive about the so-called Latin and subjective views.

Rather than a review, here are some of my reactions to the book.
* Aulén presents the three positions as choices or
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Ben Williams
Dec 31, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Thorough and Accessible

I appreciated the author's attention to detail while not getting lost in minutiae that would have obscured the discussion. In general, I found this book to be incredibly accessible while also exceptionally thought provoking. I highly recommend it for anyone interested in understanding the historical development of the Christus Victor model.
Ben Williams
Dec 31, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Thorough and Accessible

I appreciated the author's attention to detail while not getting lost in minutiae that would have obscured the discussion. In general, I found this book to be incredibly accessible while also exceptionally thought provoking. I highly recommend it for anyone interested in understanding the historical development of the Christus Victor model.
Alex
Jun 06, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A thought-provoking read which does expose the distinction between Luther's understanding of the atonement and the other common understandings. It seems to have a few holes, here and there, but still well done and enjoyable.
Nicholas Vara
Jan 13, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Probably the most consequential book I've ever read.
Thomas Creedy
I mean, it's fine, but hardly a classic.

Seriously, though, an interesting read with some enduring nuggets.
Katie
Dec 31, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A theological classic and a must-read.
Graham Heslop
The synopsis of this work provided by Goodreads is adequate, so I needn't provide an outline of Aulén's work. I also realise that my low rating is insignificant, since this work is undoubtedly seminal. In fact, I really hope to properly review it and engage with some of the ideas elsewhere. But for now, and here, I will merely outline a few of the weaknesses I perceived in the argument, in no specific order:

(1) In his treatment of Luther, which is prefaced by the point that the German Reformer's
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Anthony Locke
Read this for a paper/presentation for my Atonement seminar. Aulen's arguments are certainly interesting and thought provoking, particularly from a historical theology perspective. I do think he divides what should be joined together - the classic view (Christs Victor) and the Latin view (essentially penal substitutionary atonement). Definitely brings some interesting critique on the Latin and subjective positions. I also wish he argued more from the Scriptures.
Erik Graff
Dec 12, 2010 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Christians
Recommended to Erik by: David Lotz
Shelves: religion
I obtained this book in New York. It was probably assigned for a church history course at seminary, but whether it was for the Ancient class or the Medieval one I no longer recall. Being relatively short, odds are we read it between two class sessions as a supplement to the primary source materials covered.

Christian soteriological theology has generally perplexed me. Both the ransom and the satisfaction theories strike me as psychotic, what with their personifications of good and evil, notions
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Curtis
Jun 26, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This was a fantastic read! Aulén provides a different historical exploration of the development of atonement theory in contrast to what had been the standard to that point (written in the early 20th century) in academic thought. Starting with Irenaeus (early 2nd century) as one of the earliest and clearest examples of the 'classic idea' ("The Word of God, who is God Himself, has entered in under the conditions of sin and death, to take up the conflict with the powers of evil and carry it through ...more
Patrick Williams
GREAT BOOK! Written in German from lectures Gustaf Aulen presented in the early 1900's. Gustaf was a professor at a college in Switzerland and taught historical dogma (doctrine). This book explores what the earliest church's model of the atonement was - which was the "Chrisus Victor" or "the Classic Model" (as Gustaf called it. It is also known as the "ransom theory"). The Christus Victor model shows that Christ battled for us against the destructive powers that had us in their bondage (death, ...more
Harman
Nov 03, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Gustav provides what, in his time, was a groundbreaking theological resurrection of what he calls the 'classic' view of the atonement - that is, the view held by the Church Fathers and, as he argues, the Apostles. His argument from the Fathers (particularly of Sts. Irenaeus, Gregorys Nyssen, Nazianzen and the Great, and Athanasius) is solid and nigh unassailable, though the exegetical and biblical substance of his argument is less than convincing. I believe this is primarily due to an ...more
M
Sep 05, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Among the top five books I have ever read! "Christus Victor" is mildly technical, highly accessible, intriguing and compact theology. Any Protestant or Roman Christian will be challenged by this view of atonement. Most Western Christians (Protestant and Roman) do not know that their understanding of the cross is only one of the Christian views of the cross. Aulén presents the Eastern Orthodox theology of atonement, claiming it is the historic and Lutheran theology of atonement. Even if the ...more
John Roberson
Dec 09, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Aulen challenges the then-received wisdom that atonement theology was not seriously developed until basically Anselm, arguing that the first millennium of the church -- as well as the East since, and many in the West -- held a powerful understanding of the "atonement" worth bringing to the table. Succintly and passionately he exposits this ancient alternative: Christus Victor, Christ is victorious over the powers of sin and death forever! While most of the little details have been proven ...more
Donald Linnemeyer
Jun 04, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: theology
Solid overview of atonement theology. I realize I can't understand the historical significance of this work, but given my reformed background, it definitely is making me think.

It is a brief overview, though, so it does proceed remarkably hastily through a long, and much more complicated history (which he admits). I'd like more thoughts on how specifically a reformed atonement theology can be recast to allow for classic atonement theology, but that's not really his project, so I'll have to go
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Mitch Mallary
Jul 17, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Christus Victor was one of the first books I read in my theological education, and it remains to this day one of the most significant defining moments in developing my theological trajectory. Though I am no longer an apologetic defender of the Christus Victory understanding of the atonement - or any atonement theory for that matter - Aulén's seminal book teaches us the lofty but simple lesson that the cross is not the *mechanism* by which God forgives, but is instead the overcoming of the powers ...more
Ryan
May 20, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This review is more to do with the edition of the book than the work itself. Love it or hate it, Aulen's work is integral to any modern discussion of the Atonement. It is an enduring classic that hardly needs my recommendation.
I am writing to commend the red hardcover edition produced by Wise Path Books. It is a wonderfully printed and bound book that honors this work. Everything about it is first rate. If you get a print copy of this book, the Wise Path Books hardback is worth every penny (and
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Steve
Nov 02, 2010 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is certainly an important book but I think it is flawed on several accounts. For the sake of brevity I will offer only two points of critique. First, I don't agree that Aulen has accurately grasped Anselm's doctrine of atonement and therefore sets him up as a rationalist before rationalism. Second, Aulen did not interact sufficiently with the primary texts, instead glossing over them as if he didn't need to quote his sources. But the books merits include the fact that it finally (back in ...more
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