Thursday, January 03, 2013

Christus Victor

Gustav Aulen's work Christus Victor is noteworthy for several reasons, not least among them being the astonishing fact that it is a book on the atonement that makes no mention at all of Isaiah 53.  But he was right to draw attention to the Enlightenment attack on the "church doctrine" of the atonement:
"The theologians of the Enlightenment were the declared enemies of orthodoxy; and a chief object of their assault was just the satisfaction theory of the atonement, which they described as a relic of Judaism surviving in Christianity." (p. 7)
An example of what Aulen was referring to can be found in Immanuel Kant.  Note the following from Religion and Rational Theology:
It is totally inconceivable, however, how a rational human being who knows himself to deserve punishment could seriously believe that he only has to believe the news of a satisfaction having been rendered for him, and (as the jurists say) accept it utiliter [for one's advantage], in order to regard his guilt as done away with...No thoughtful person can bring himself to this faith.
That is Enlightenment man showing incredulity toward the atonement.

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