Church Fathers, Christus Victor and the Atonement: Gustav Aulen Got it Wrong

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7 Responses to Church Fathers, Christus Victor and the Atonement: Gustav Aulen Got it Wrong

  1. Fr Aidan Kimel says:

    This essay by Ben Myers is contained in the book Locating Atonement.


    • Anthony says:

      I was just going through this book the other night. Rowan Williams in his book The Sign and the Symbol also comments on Aulen’s over reductionist picture of atonement given the language of sacrifice surrounding the cross in the New Testament.


  2. Iain Lovejoy says:

    As someone who recoils in horror at the notion of penal substitution and can find it nowhere in the Bible, but who was left pretty much with speculation as a coherent alternative, this is extremely enlightening.
    I think, however, I struggle with some of the metaphysical presumptions, and I don’t know if anyone would be interested in a response viewed through a 21st Century Protestant lens.
    The use made of divine impassibility seems to me to be a restriction on the power of God, in the sense that it asserts he is somehow unable to directly fill the absence that is death: I am not sure I follow the argument as to why this would be beyond his powers. I would be inclined rather to substitute ideas of free will at this point and assert that God cannot unilaterally fill the void of death by executive fiat (without direct personal interaction) because it is so bound up in our natures that without our cooperation (secured through Christ) such a process would destroy our free will and therefore ourselves as separately existing created beings.
    I also struggle with the “realism” metaphysic, in that the notion of independently-existing “natures” in which beings of a particular class or type participate does not accord with my concept of how reality actually works. I would be more inclined to see the death and resurrection of Christ touching each person’s own void of death individually, but with the same notion of God entering via the cross and filling it, through faith (as I said, Protestant…), example, teaching and direct contact with the real presence of Christ at baptism, Eucharist and prayer (alright, not that Protestant, I’m an Anglican).
    Perhaps not orthodox (or Orthodox) or particularly coherent, but I’ll take it over “penal substitutory atonement any day of the week.


  3. Brian Stephen says:

    Fr. Aidan,

    I guess I’m just curious about your opinion of this chapter and what was your reason for posting it. If I’m reading the article correctly, it seems as though this Biola professor basically agrees with the traditional Orthodox view of the atonement best expressed by Athanasius (I believe) in that “God became a man, that we may become god”. Am I missing the point of the article? Or were you merely pointing out that now even a Biola professor is coming away from a juridical view to a more Eastern Christian way of understanding the atonement? Which, if true, is good news!


    • Fr Aidan Kimel says:

      Hi, Brian. I post (embed) articles that I have found interesting and helpful.

      BTW, Ben Myers teaches at the United Theological College in Australia. Ben blogs (only now occasionally, unfortunately) at Faith and Theology.


  4. Julian says:

    Nice model. Makes sense to me.


  5. Brian Stephen says:

    Thank you Fr. Aiden. Idle curiosity on my part.


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