In my previous post where i revealed how big of a heretic i am, i stated later that i would clean up some inaccuracies on my part. This is that later. This post will divide up the sacrificial model of Anselm and posit the real Christus Victor model. both models have their pros and cons, and i will cover both.
The image of Christ as sacrifice is super old, prolly one of the oldest. the images pop up many times in the New Testament, featured heavily in Hebrews but also in the synoptics. it is also in the early church liturgy yet notably absent in the Didache, which i find really interesting... but i digress.
while the Pirate tried his best to offer up helpful metaphors for me, my prof did one better and offered up a section of the movie Dead Man Walking.
there is a part towards the end where the convict confesses to the nun. he starts off with some bravado he has had the whole movie yet acknowledges that he was a coward and thus was a victim by this other bully. however, the nun gently presses him and he finally admits guilt and responsibility for his actions. the nun forgives and the convict seeks forgiveness and notes that while his life was no good, maybe it will finally be of some good as his victim's family may take some comfort in his death. it hurts the nun to forgive as she finds a connection with a soon to be dead guy and it will hurt to see him die. it hurts the convict as it completely deconstructs his carefully held and constructed identity as a tough guy.
here's the kicker: in the view of sacrifice, God would be both the nun and the convict. the cross is the symbol of the connection between human guilt and divine perfection, love and empathy and repentance. Jesus as both divine and human becomes the rep of humans who need forgiveness as sinners and God who needs to forgive the wrongs done. Hurts humanity and God and the anguish on the cross symbolizes that.
this metaphor i can support more so than before. it gets strange when we ascribe Jesus as a substitute for us, as that gets legally strange, but to see Jesus as symbol of humanity, a representative of us, then that i can buy into. this requires a notion of a corporate self which Anselm and the early church would be operating with, yet we here in the Western 21st century might not get... but maybe, there are some connections for us.
just think of it like the government or sports team. if the government declares war on our behalf, then we are at war as a whole, whether we agree or not. if you listen closely to sports fans, they'll say strange things like "We WON!" but they weren't even on the team! They id. so closely that the team becomes the symbol for the city and everyone in it.
what does this say about God? the incarnation is a must in this theory. many divergent theologians come together here and state that this doesn't make God angry or any such thing, but those like Paul, Karl Barth, and even Paul Tillich (with his uber-abstract God) states that God is loving and merciful.
so in this instance the cross = the fact that love hurts. pain is the price of being in relationship and we are called to participate in this love and grace NOT thank God we got a substitute and we're off the hook and we can just believe and be fine (and buy Hummers, screw over the poor, and benefit from other's hard work, while giving those outside our faith a really hard time). i like this because i am in pain often due to my relationships... i'm always screwing something up or saying the wrong thing. even on this blog, i take pains to speak to others both inside and outside my faith tradition. there's a lot of forgiving and reconciling that goes on at a regular basis around here. this process involves sacrifice on both parts... of time to write responses, of giving up or questioning long held assumptions... so i understand this better now than the other...
the other view being, Gustaf Aulen in Christus Victor states that Christ as sacrifice is completely wrong! Aulen is Lutheran and so he went back to Luther and found that Luther too, didn't like this view held by Anselm. while this view is also scriptural and early "creedal" church Aulen was the first to give it a name.
Christus Victor = Christ victorious over sin and death and the devil. that is the "package" plaguing humanity and we need liberation from. this is heavily dependent on the Fall, original sin, and the idea of an objective and personified evil. the whole problem with the world is that we are at war, life is conflict, a battle between good and evil, angels and demons. Everyone else is pushed around by evil until Jesus comes and conquers it.
the best film to convey this idea is Mel Gibson's Passion of the Christ. take note of this "garden" scene. I've never watched the movie and doubt i will, and if you haven't all you need to do is watch this:
this is the whole movie in miniature. Jesus in agony, the devil being creepy, and humans behaving badly (either chickening out like the disciples or being corrupt like Judas and the Sadducees, or violent like the Romans). God needs to win back humanity as we are powerless to do it ourselves. So God disguises Godself and is "born to die" and the devil, being smart in all other things in the domination of the world, doesn't recognize God in human form. So when the devil goes to claim another tasty soul, BAM! it's God who kicks some ass, liberates humanity and rules supreme.
here evil is an external presences where in Dead Man Walking, evil was internal. and isn't that the case, that laws and systems can be corrupt and unjust and thus catch people up in the cogs? aren't there things in society that you rail against stating "this isn't the way it's supposed to be!" but are powerless to change?
well that's me playing the advocate for this theory. i still have more problems with this one than with the sacrificial model.
critics of Aulen raised objections stating that he is just a failed manacheist or Zoroastrian, which his dueling Good-God/Bad God. this would make him a polytheist! plus what kind of creator lets evil sneak into the world? that's rather incompetent. and doesn't God take God's sweet time in making the correction? why didn't God just nuke evil from the start? and if Christ conquers sin/death/devil then why do we still have crappiness/death/and evil?
Aulen wasn't dumb, not by any means. if good comes from some cosmic "font of goodness" then why can't the bad come from a similar font? what would it mean if it came from the same font? entropy exists much like the south did after Gettysburg. They couldn't win, yet they still fought. same with many isolated islands on the Japanese side in WWII. They knew they lost yet fought into the mid-50s anyway.
so Aulen states that Good Friday shouldn't be the focus (like in those sacrificial folk), Saturday shouldn't either because that's when Jesus is turning over hell, but Easter is the true V-day. Worship them should be a victory celebration and proclamation until the cosmos and humanity catch onto this fact.
i don't like the spiritual warfare motif. i think Aulen had to have written this before the 20s because after he saw the Nazi conspiring with the Lutheran church, i don't think he would have held that view. the church is just an agent of institutional evil as anything else out there and with the European Catholic scandal going on, i really don't feel the need to argue this point.
i don't like the idea of God tricking or deceiving nor the idea of God being indebted to evil or Satan or some how accidentally letting evil into the world. i really don't think there is a perfected shalomic state we were supposed to be in from the start, i think we're supposed to grow and constantly work toward that goal.
and then insert the objections i had in the last post to this one... although i find myself more at peace with the sacrificial model now than i have been in a long, long time. once penal substitution is ruled out, i'm cool with it. Christus Victor, however, is a super-hero story transposed onto the scriptures. God the good defeats the evil Satan, evil genius and ruler of this world. i don't remember reading anywhere in the scriptures about how the devil came into being. that is more Catholic oral tradition than anything else. i wonder where that stuff came from.
Where I'm At: I'm more of a Trinitarian than i thought. I like the play of internal and external evil, but i'm not choosing one over the other. i think both are problems we gotta deal with both individually and corporately. i'm not a dualist (or duelist in this case) and see how good people do bad things and bad people do good things and how good can come out of bad and vice versa. so i see how both models can't cover everything, but what system or theory can?