Monday, November 17, 2008

Christus Victor - Looking at the Atonement

Un/limited Atonement or Multiple Intentions View (Four Point Calvinist Position)

1. Statement of the Position
God’s intentions in the death of Christ are complex not simple, multiple not single: 1) Christ died for the purpose of securing the sure and certain salvation of his own, his elect. 2) Christ died for the purpose of paying the penalty for the sin of all people making it possible for all who believe to be saved. 3) Christ died for the purpose of securing the bone fide offer of salvation to all people everywhere. 4) Christ died for the purpose of providing an additional basis for condemnation for those who hear and reject the gospel that has been genuinely offered to them. 5) Christ died for the purpose of reconciling all things to the Father.

"Extent of the Atonement: Outline of The Issue, Positions, Key Texts, and Key Theological Arguments"; Bruce A. Ware, Professor of Christian Theology, The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, page 3

About a month ago I came across the above article by Dr. Bruce Ware. I have to confess a certain sympathy for some of the points he makes regarding how we view the atonement. Please read the whole article to set what I say below in context.

The one primary purpose in the atonement is the glory of God. Any other purpose, including the salvation of the elect, is secondary to that. The atonement has purpose that includes more then just individual salvation. There is a cosmic purpose relating to the whole created order. As another writer put it:

"As this story illustrates, we need both penal substitution and Christus Victor to properly understand Christ's atonement. Penal substitution explains the heart of Christus Victor--how exactly Christ defeats the Devil, and Christus Victor supplies the larger context for penal substitution.

Christus Victor informs us that salvation aims not merely at individuals but is for the entire world. God intends through Jesus "to reconcile to himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross." Our personal salvation is part of something larger than ourselves. We belong to the church, the body of Christ that extends the Kingdom of God in the world."

"Don't Stop Believing", Dr. Michael Wittmer, (Zondervan, 2008) page 96

I also confess a certain sympathy for a view of the atonement that does not force me into performing exegetical gymnastics to defend either a particular redemption view or a universal redemption view. Both sets of passages can be allowed to say what they say.

Am I saying that now I am now a 4.0 point Calvinist? No, I'm only reiterating what I said a few years ago about calling myself a 4.95 point Calvinist in order to deliberately irritate those on both sides of that issue. What I'm finding is there is more then that at stake. In looking back, I see just how some areas of Reformed theology are actually anthropocentric in spite of the claim to be theocentric.

Jesus reigns!

~ The Billy Goat ~

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