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Christus Victor

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4.07  ·  Rating details ·  337 ratings  ·  48 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 Atoneme
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Paperback, 16
Published April 28th 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 th ...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
Th
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Ryan Dufoe
Apr 14, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I gave it a 4 as a classic within the history of the church and NOT as a free-standing work. I think much better anthologies of thought on atonement theory have been written, but the importance this book has in bringing the Christus Victor view back into the conversation is part of the reason why the other books are so good. I appreciated the read among my other readings in the field for what it was. For a better read covering multiple theories, see Pugh's "The Atonement: A Way Through The Maze" ...more
Jackson Swain
Jul 28, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A really great summary of the 3 main views of atonement throughout Church history. Aulen clearly has his opinion as to which should be considered the "correct" view of the modern Christian, but he doesn't let his opinion intrude on his academics. This book really opened my eyes to the ways the doctrine of atonement has evolved over the centuries, especially compared to how it was originally understood in the early church and how it appears to be understood by the authors of the New Testament. ...more
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." Accordingly
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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 tha ...more
Ispeakinglish
I mean this isn't light reading or anything, but it is a good explanation of the history of the theology of Atonement. ...more
Chungsoo 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) wr
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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 mig
...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
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 L ...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 alternative
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Josh Maynard
Feb 27, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A couple years ago I rejected Calvisnism for the false gospel that it is. In debates with Calvinists I kept coming up against the famous (and notably based on logic instead of scripture) challenge to a Universal Atonement. I will paraphrase it like this: If all are atoned for, then why aren't all saved? The obvious answer is that the Calvinist understanding of the atonement is lacking. Without PSA (Penal Substitutionary Atonement) I was left to wonder if in my understanding of the atonement, I w ...more
Blake Holbrook
This is the most important book I have ever read.

Our understanding of God shapes how we live our lives. Our understanding of God is most influenced by how we understand and interpret what happened on the cross.

Aulén writes about the classic understanding of the atonement which is the understanding of the early church fathers like Iraneous, Gregory of Nyssa, and others. This classic understanding is most clearly seen in Luther's writings.

Aulén compares this classic understanding of the atonemen
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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.
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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.
...more
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. ...more
Phillip Mast
Informative But very dry

If your a very dedicated theology nerd this might be a good read for you. Most people will find the language to be tedious though even if they like the subject.
Katie
Dec 31, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A theological classic and a must-read.
Thomas Creedy
I mean, it's fine, but hardly a classic.

Seriously, though, an interesting read with some enduring nuggets.
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Nicholas Vara
Jan 13, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Probably the most consequential book I've ever read. ...more
Hunter  T Barnes
Apr 26, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Showing that the gospel is better than we think!

This book has reaffirmed what my soul was whispering all along, that the gospel is far better than we think.
Jonathan Latshaw
Jul 06, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Helpful
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. ...more
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 o
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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, s ...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 inconsiste ...more
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Gustaf Aulén (1879-1977) was the Bishop of Strängnäs in the Church of Sweden and the author of Christus Victor: An Historical Study of the Three Main Types of the Idea of Atonement in 1931. This classic work analyzes the doctrine of the atonement of Jesus, suggesting that the three main interpretations in Christian history are the Christus Victor theory, the Satisfaction theory, and the Moral Infl ...more

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