GUSTAV AULÉN AND CHRISTUS VICTOR. In recent years, the theory of atonement known as Christus Victor (“Christ the victor”) has been both championed. Sep 5, Gustaf Aulen’s classic work, ‘Christus Victor’, has long been a standard text on the atonement. Aulen applies “history of ideas’ methodology to. 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.

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Thanks for telling us about the problem. Return to Book Page. In it he identifies three main types of Atonement Theory: The earliest was what he called the “classic” view of the Atonement, more commonly known as Ransom Theory or since ’31 known sometimes as the “Christus Victor” theory.

Some have argued that the penal substitution theory of the atonement was expressed by early church fathers, such as Justin Martyr c. A 3rd is the “subjective” theory, commonly known as the Moral Influence view, that Christ’s passion was an act of exemplary obedience which affects the intentions of those who come to know about it. Paperbackpages. To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

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Gustaf Aulén – Wikipedia

Lists with This Book. This book is not yet featured on Listopia. Jan 20, Joel Wentz rated it it was amazing. 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 s, 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 This classic work of theology is indispensable reading for anyone who grew up in the Western church tradition.

As an historical overview, Christus Victor clearly shows that this tradition emerged from what Aulen calls the “Latin” understanding of atonement, which wasn’t clearly articulated until around years into the church’s existence!

Rather, Aulen argues that the “classic” understanding of atonement Christ’s victory over sin and death has the strongest historical precedent. While Christus Victor isn’t an apologetic for any one atonement tradition though it’s clear that Aulen is convinced the “classic” understanding is the strongestit is a supremely helpful survey of how different strands of atonement doctrine have emerged through our history.

For me, it helped me understand some of my own discomfort with “penal subsitution”, as well as the scope of how the body of Christ have wrestled with this doctrine through the ages.

Jul 05, Judah Ivy rated it really liked it Shelves: 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.

He states multiple times in the book that he’s not writing an apologetic work in favor of the “classic” Christus Victor view of the atonement, but it’s obvious to see where his sympathies lie. Once you get the hang of it it all makes sense. He keeps on saying that the “Classic” type over against the “Latin” type emphasizes the importance of the Incarnation, but I don’t see how.


To quote from the section “An Analysis of the Three Types”: His true manhood receives full emphasis. But yet again, this does not mean that the redemptive work of Christ is regarded as performed by him purely as man, or that it gains increased value through the association of the Deity with the Humanity.

Why not just defeat the “enemies” in His unveiled Godhood? At the end of the book he points out that the “Classic” Christus Victor view has never been and will never be a “rational” theory or doctrine, but rather a motif, a theme, an Idea.

Not because it is indefinite, but rather because of bictor pairs of apparent contradictions it involves e. He ends with saying that “The images are but popular helps for the understanding of the idea, It is the Idea itself which is primary”, which almost convinces me that Chrietus.

Lewis read this book as well, considering this quote from Mere Christianity: That is the formula.

That is what has to be believed. Any theories we build gictor as to how Christ’s death did all this are, in my view, quite secondary: View all 3 comments. Aug 04, Jacob Aitken added it. Triumphing over the powers, July 15, This book provides an historically-faithful alternative to the substitutionary and exemplary models of the atonement.

Gustaf Aulén

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. The Christus Victor model presents the work of Christ as a triumph over the devil, powers demonsbondage of sin, and the “law. Christ united humanity to his nature to redeem it. He redeemed it still united to his nature on the cross. This is to be contrasted with the Latin views of the atonement, which are narrowly penal.

The Latin views incorporate merit and penance in the atonment model. For Aulen, this move removes the work of God from the work of Christ in redemption. Criticisms of the work: This is why I give it 4 stars.

I do not think he dealt as fairly with St Anselm as he could have. Aulen also used language that begged the question in favor of his position. Aside from the above aule, this is a paradigm-shifting book.

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. Apr 25, Chungsoo J.

Lee rated christuz it was amazing Shelves: Crhistus after all these years, do we really understand the meaning of the Cross victr have we exhausted all of its meaning?

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: Another exception to this linear progression is Tertullian, who along with Gregory the Great, started the motif of the judicial or legalistic view of atonement, which was later picked up and fully developed by Anselm of Canterbury, thus consolidating the view for the whole medieval period.

The judicial view is later further rationalized by the Protestant Orthodox, including Calvin despite their protest against the medieval Catholicism. The subjective view of atonement is championed by Schleiermacher in the 19th century and, wittingly or not, still dominates to the present day, including the American Evangelicals such as Billy Graham. The book is subtitled: His contemporary Karl Barth is briefly mentioned at the end as a dialectical theologian but is not categorized in any of the three groups.


After all, Barth had completely revised his commentary on the Epistle to the Romanswhich was published in the second edition ; and his work on the Church Dogmatics only began sometime between at Bonn where he held a short tenure as Professor of Systematic Theology before taking a post in Basel, Switzerland.

The idea auleen that Christ, the second Adam, defeated the power of sin and death that subjugated humanity ever since the first Adam. Adam fell at the forbidden tree; and creation was lost as result. But Christ conquered death on the cross, chrishus humanity from the bondage of evil and thus restoring creation back to life and reconciling humanity to God.

Atonement is an act of God offered to human, not human offering it to God, through which God reconciles the world to Himself. Just like Abraham sacrificing his own son, Isaac, God himself sacrifices Himself in his Son, to reconcile Himself with humanity: This idea is traced back to Irenaeus, who wrote: Man had been created by God that he might have life.

If now, having lost life, and having been harmed by the serpent, he were not to return to life, but were to be wholly abandoned to death, then God would have been defeated, ad the malice of the serpent would have overcome God’s will. But since God is both invincible and magnanimous, He showed His magnanimity in correcting man, and in proving all men, as we have said; but through the Second Man He bound the strong one, and spoiled his goods, and annihilated death, bringing life to man who had become subject to death.

For Adam had become the devil’s possession, and the devil held him under his power, by having wrongfully practised deceit upon him, and by the offer of immortality made him subject to death. For by promising that they should be as gods, which did not lie in his power, he worked death in them. Wherefore he who had taken man captive was himself taken captive by God, and man who had been taken captive was set from the bondage of condemnation” as quoted on For Irenaeus the Incarnation is part of God’s atoning work.

Viictor must become man to rescue man from the bondage of the evil.

By death death is conquered. By the Second Adam’s obedience the first Adam’s fall is corrected. Salvation is “recapitulation,” where the fallen or lost creation to the devil is restored and perfected.

The Hebrew word ” tikkun olam ,” repairing the world, has the same idea. If Christ’s death on the cross defeats the power of death, His resurrection auleen the creation through the work of the Holy Spirit. Thus, the entire life of Christ–from his birth to death and through resurrection and ascension–is the work of atonement through which God reconciles himself with the world. The classical view of atonement is sometimes referred to as the “ransom” theory, because Christ’s life is offered as “a ransom for many,” as Mark Then, ghstaf absurd question arises: Such a question distorts the classical view.

The idea of purchase at a price is foreign to the classical view held by the Greek Fathers. Christ is not paying the devil; rather, He is claiming back the world away from the bondage of sin and death.