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Tuesday
Apr192011

Theological Term of the Week

Christus Victor
A way to look at Christ’s death that focuses on it as victory over evil by the defeat of Satan and the satanic powers.

  • From scripture: 

    And you, who were dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made alive together with him, having forgiven us all our trespasses, 14 by canceling the record of debt that stood against us with its legal demands. This he set aside, nailing it to the cross. 15 He disarmed the rulers and authorities and put them to open shame, by triumphing over them in him. (Colossians 2:13-15 ESV)

    Since therefore the children share in flesh and blood, he himself likewise partook of the same things, that through death he might destroy the one who has the power of death, that is, the devil, 15 and deliver all those who through fear of death were subject to lifelong slavery. 16 For surely it is not angels that he helps, but he helps the offspring of Abraham. 17 Therefore he had to be made like his brothers in every respect, so that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest in the service of God, to make propitiation for the sins of the people. (Hebrews 2:14-17 ESV)
  • From the Heidelberg Catechism:
    Question 1. What is thy only comfort in life and death?

    Answer: That I with body and soul, both in life and death, (a) am not my own, (b) but belong unto my faithful Saviour Jesus Christ; (c) who, with his precious blood, has fully satisfied for all my sins, (d) and delivered me from all the power of the devil; (e) and so preserves me (f) that without the will of my heavenly Father, not a hair can fall from my head; (g) yea, that all things must be subservient to my salvation, (h) and therefore, by his Holy Spirit, He also assures me of eternal life, (i) and makes me sincerely willing and ready, henceforth, to live unto him. (j)

  • From Redemption Accomplished and Applied by John Murray: 

    [W]e may properly reflect upon the bearing of redemption upon Satan. It is to the triumphal aspect of redemption that this is to be allocated. The early fathers of the Christian church gave a prominent place to this phase of redemption and construed it in terms of ransom paid to the devil. Such a construction became fanciful and ludicrous. Its falsity was effectively exposed by Anselm in his epochal work, Cur Deus Homo. In reaction from this fanciful formulation we are, however, too liable to discount the great truth which these fathers were seeking to express. That truth is the bearing which the redemptive work of Christ has upon the power and activity of Satan and upon the spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenlies (cf. Eph. 6:12).

     

    …[R]edemption from sin cannot be adequately conceived or formulated except as it comprehends the victory which Christ secured once for all over him who is the god of this world, the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now works in the children of disobedience. We must view sin and evil in its larger proportions as a kingdom that embraces the subtlety, craft, ingenuity, power, and unremitting activity of Satan and his legions…. [I]t is impossible to speak in terms of redemption from the power of sin except as there comes within the range of this redemptive accomplishment the destruction of the power of darkness.

  • From Pierced for Our Transgressions by Steve Jeffery, Michael Ovey, Andrew Sachs: 

    [T]he Bible depicts the cross as God’s victory over evil. However, in order to see that victory in its biblical fullness and richness we must take account of its relationship to God’s justice. Penal substitution is at the heart of this, for it was as Christ bore in our place the penal suffering due to us for our sin that he removed Satan’s power of accusation; thereby disarming him. Penal substitution recognized that God must punish evil in order for his defeat to Satan to be fully consistent with his righteousness. 

Learn more:

  1. Leon Morris: Theories of the Atonement
  2. Martin Downes: Christus Victor and Penal Substitution
  3. Justin Taylor: Propitiation as the Ground for Christus Victor
  4. Sinclair Ferguson: Christus Victor (mp3)

Related terms:

Filed under Person and Work of Christ

Do you have a theological term you’d like to see featured here as a Theological Term of the Week? If you email it to me, I’ll seriously consider using it, giving you credit for the suggestion and linking back to your blog when I do.

Clicking on the Theological Term graphic at the top of this post will take you to a list of all the previous theological terms in alphabetical order.

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