Thursday, April 7, 2011

What are we saved from?

Mark Galli, in "The Problem with Christus Victor," believes the model has value but that the way it is described today — as an alternative to substitutionary atonement — is biblically inadequate and doctrinally distorted, and, moreover, may appeal to our contemporaries for the wrong reasons:
The Christus Victor model has much to commend it. The idea is this: Christ is victor. Christ in his death and resurrection overcame the hostile powers that hold humanity in subjection, those powers variously understood as the devil, sin, the law, and death. While the model assumes humanity's guilt for getting ourselves into this predicament—beginning with the original sin of Adam and Eve—the theory's anthropology (view of humanity) emphasizes not our guilt but our victimhood, at least the way it is often discussed today. ....

It is no coincidence in a society where we imagine ourselves mostly as victims of social or biological forces, in a culture increasingly illiterate in the language of guilt, sin, and personal responsibility, that Christus Victor is winning the day in the Christian world.  ....

I have noticed—and do tell me if you see otherwise—that in general those who publically champion Christus Victor don't pepper their talks and prayers with personal guilt for sin or the need for divine forgiveness. By way of contrast, note the oldest advocates of Christus Victor, the Eastern Orthodox. Personal sin and guilt, and the consequent wrath of God, regularly weave themselves into their prayers. Note this prayer recommended for each morning:
Arising from sleep I thank you, O holy Trinity, because of the abundance of your goodness and long-suffering, you were not angry with me, slothful and sinful as I am. Neither have you destroyed me in my transgressions, but in your compassion raised me up as I lay in despair, that at dawn I might sing the glories of your Majesty.
But for some reason, when the Christus Victor theory is extolled by Protestants today, personal sin and guilt take a back seat. Way back sometimes. .... [more]
The Problem with Christus Victor | Christianity Today | A Magazine of Evangelical Conviction