Aulen states that the subject of the atonement is absolutely central in Christian theology and it is directly related to the nature of God (page 12). Indeed, i think this is correct because every religion sets up a problem for the world and then provides the solution. in the 'classic view' the problem is that humankind is sinful and sin affects the order of the universe. God needs satisfaction for this but humans can't provide it, because God and sin are supposedly infinite and humans are finite. So God in Christ reconciles the world by becoming human and satisfying the justice needed.
Christus Victor however, states that humanity is in bondage to sin/death/devil and the solution is for God/Jesus or God in Jesus to come down and destroy sin/death and free captive humanity from sin/death/devil. I do the slashes as this is the whole package facing mankind and has some important nuances within it. that being said, i'll lay out where Aulen gets this idea.
Irenaeus is the first dude to really tackle this problem. granted the images of atonement are indeed found within the gospels (specifically John) and the epistles (specifically Paul, Hebrews, and Peter) and the early hymns and liturgies of the church. why? well, it is my prof Lee Barrett's idea that theology is parasitic on religious life. the life, hymns and songs, happen first, the emotional/subjective experience; and then along comes theology to figure out what it all means. kinda like science (WARNING WARNING: science analogy about to be used! ;-)) where events occur naturally and the scientist comes along later to establish the how's and why's; the purpose of the subjective action.
Irenaeus was the first to articulate that the early church looked at Christ's death and resurrection and said "hey, i kinda feel forgiven. let's sing about it!" Irenaeus picks up on the Pauline and Johannine writings and sees there's some direct connection with the thought of Christ as victor over sin and death. The devil has some objective existence, lord of sin and death, and having deceived mankind in the garden has gained dominion over them. God being perfectly just, somehow honors this pact and seeks to free humanity from it. Since God finds mankind under the condemnation of the Law, God delivers mankind from the powers of evil and reconciled the world to Himself [sic] and God becomes both the reconciler and the reconciled.
Aulen traces the thoughts of Irenaeus through the patristic traditions and through Protestant thought as well. adding to this idea through fancy nuances like God attains his purpose by internal, not external means, he overcomes evil not by an almighty fiat but by putting something of his own through a divine self-oblation (Great Catechism ch. 26). all of these thoughts rest on the doctrine of the fall and a dualistic understanding of the world where "darkness cannot endure when the light shines nor can death remain in being where Life is active."
there is the start of my problems.
1. if the fall is not in the Jewish understanding of the story of Genesis, then how can this stand? if Genesis is just a story, then how can it have any genetic binding on the souls of people?
2. how did this concept of the devil come into being? where in scripture is the fall of Satan? where can i find this story in rabbinic thought? Islam has a cool story of Ibis and how in parts Ibis/Satan is a jinn or jealous of God's love for humanity or even working on behalf of God to tempt the faithful and test them (like in some strains of Judaism). is the devil co-equal with God? is this some Zoroastrian version of Christianity?
3. I don't agree with the dualistic idea that darkness can't be around light. aren't they not connected? isn't it the shadows that define light? aren't life and death two aspects of a spectrum and while we live we are yet actively dying, subjecting to the natural law of entropy?
so those are just the start of my questions. i have other concerns too, like the idea of how we were ransomed by God yet many weren't aware of the fact we were in bondage in the first place! shouldn't a memo have been sent to all the other religions?
Dear Pagans, Buddhists, Hindus, Shitos, Taoists, and Gentile-masses,
Hi, this is God. Not god or gods, but the great beyond that all of your avatars point to. I hate to be the bearer of bad news but y'all are in bondage. But don't worry! I'm coming down there and atoning for your sins and freeing you from Satan, who got a little too attached to his work. This will both be really cool, cause I'll give you things like the beattitudes and some parables, as well as get to fire Satan (which will be great cause now it'll give another angel a chance to win the office's March Maddness Bracket, Gabriel is really excited at this). Oh, one caveat, you have to believe both that you're in bondage and that this guy Yeshua of Nazareth is me (which he'll never come out and say directly, cause you know, I'm freaky mysterious like that).
-G.In class we're going to discuss this and hopefully i can get some clarity and some help connecting the dots. Aulen didn't help here. in fact, he made it worse. too many assumptions going into this theory for it to hold up in light of science and what we know about the world today. it is too reliant on tradition and an outdated metaphysic of angels, demons, and heavenly hosty sorta stuff.
i can affirm the basic concept of a Divine Love which cannot be imprisoned in categories of merit and of justice and thus breaks them into pieces. THAT i get! that is what i feel these images and metaphors point to but fear that they are hopelessly outdated and bear really bad fruit. Just read the Proverbs of Ashes to see what the model of self-sacrificial love can do... esp. in terms of sexism! but that subject is a whole other post. i think that's enough ranting for now.