Author Topic: Christus Victor or Penal Substitution?  (Read 4617 times)

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Offline Pericles

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Christus Victor or Penal Substitution?
« on: February 07, 2013, 12:34:28 PM »
The Christus Victor view of salvation holds that in his death and ressurection Christ defeated the powers of evil and set us free. Penal substitution teaches that Christ had to die in our place as satisfaction for our sins. The former was the most widely believed in the Patristic age and the latter is a western concept promoted by St Anselm.

What are the relative values of each and which it more compatable with Orthodoxy?

In my own opinion I prefer a victorious Christ to one that was compelled to die. Also penal substitution is based on Jewish sacrificial thinking that belongs in the temple, not the Church of Christ!
Graecia capta ferum victorem cepit.

Offline NicholasMyra

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Re: Christus Victor or Penal Substitution?
« Reply #1 on: February 07, 2013, 12:39:30 PM »
The Christus Victor view of salvation holds that in his death and ressurection Christ defeated the powers of evil and set us free. Penal substitution teaches that Christ had to die in our place as satisfaction for our sins.

Specifically, penal substitution is the notion that Christ had to die vicariously in order to fulfill a need that God had to get revenge against sinful beings through punishment. The corollary is that Old Testament sacrifices involved animals being vicariously punished for the avenging of sins and offenses.

Orthodox and Roman Catholics and most theologically-inclined Anglicans and many Lutherans and many Protestants today disagree with this.

The former was the most widely believed in the Patristic age and the latter is a western concept promoted by St Anselm.
True penal substitution didn't really emerge until after the Reformation.

What are the relative values of each and which it more compatable with Orthodoxy?
The former (Christus Victor) is incomplete, the latter (Penal Substitution) is unacceptable.

penal substitution is based on Jewish sacrificial thinking
I would disagree with that.
« Last Edit: February 07, 2013, 12:40:10 PM by NicholasMyra »
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Offline Alpo

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Re: Christus Victor or Penal Substitution?
« Reply #2 on: February 07, 2013, 12:41:05 PM »
Subscribed.
The user should probably be sleeping by now.

Offline Nephi

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Re: Christus Victor or Penal Substitution?
« Reply #3 on: February 07, 2013, 01:29:34 PM »
Penal substitution teaches that Christ had to die in our place as satisfaction for our sins. The former was the most widely believed in the Patristic age and the latter is a western concept promoted by St Anselm.
Penal Substitution and Anselm's Satisfaction Theory are significantly different theories about the atonement. In Penal Substitution Christ bears the Father's punishment of sin, but in Satisfaction Theory he offers himself as a satisfactory sacrifice to the Father. A very important distinction.

Quote
What are the relative values of each and which it more compatable with Orthodoxy?

In my own opinion I prefer a victorious Christ to one that was compelled to die. Also penal substitution is based on Jewish sacrificial thinking that belongs in the temple, not the Church of Christ!
Penal substitution is simply not taught, and condemned, by Orthodoxy. Christus Victor is only one (necessary) aspect of the atonement, and by itself is insufficient.

Offline Pericles

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Re: Christus Victor or Penal Substitution?
« Reply #4 on: February 07, 2013, 06:36:07 PM »
Christus Victor is only one (necessary) aspect of the atonement, and by itself is insufficient.
In what way is it insufficient?
Graecia capta ferum victorem cepit.

Offline Nephi

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Re: Christus Victor or Penal Substitution?
« Reply #5 on: February 07, 2013, 06:41:34 PM »
Christus Victor is only one (necessary) aspect of the atonement, and by itself is insufficient.
In what way is it insufficient?
It speaks primarily of defeating sin, death, Satan and the powers of evil.

It does not adequately, by itself, explain the healing of humanity's corruption nor the deification of humanity - for a couple examples.

Offline Pericles

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Re: Christus Victor or Penal Substitution?
« Reply #6 on: February 07, 2013, 07:06:26 PM »
It speaks primarily of defeating sin, death, Satan and the powers of evil.

It does not adequately, by itself, explain the healing of humanity's corruption nor the deification of humanity - for a couple examples.

It explains the healing of humanity's corruption in the defeat of evil as the source of that corruption.
I'm not sure it needs to explain sanctification as a theology of atonement.
Graecia capta ferum victorem cepit.

Offline Nephi

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Re: Christus Victor or Penal Substitution?
« Reply #7 on: February 07, 2013, 07:24:19 PM »
It explains the healing of humanity's corruption in the defeat of evil as the source of that corruption.
I'm not sure it needs to explain sanctification as a theology of atonement.
The healing of humanity, and our subsequent deification, is necessarily the result of Christ's incarnation, death, and resurrection. It's not, however, the necessary result of Christ defeating evil. Read St. Athanasius' "On the Incarnation" and you'll understand what I'm saying. It has to do with the Incarnate Word taking flesh, and sanctifying humanity from corruption, and our being joined with him.

Further, the Fathers speak of sacrificial and substitutionary elements of the Atonement that would not be addressed with a solely Christus Victor atonement.

Offline Pericles

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Re: Christus Victor or Penal Substitution?
« Reply #8 on: February 07, 2013, 07:36:56 PM »
The healing of humanity, and our subsequent deification, is necessarily the result of Christ's incarnation, death, and resurrection. It's not, however, the necessary result of Christ defeating evil.

According to Christus Victor theology Christ defeated evil by his incarnation, death and resurrection.
Graecia capta ferum victorem cepit.

Offline Nephi

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Re: Christus Victor or Penal Substitution?
« Reply #9 on: February 07, 2013, 07:48:16 PM »
The healing of humanity, and our subsequent deification, is necessarily the result of Christ's incarnation, death, and resurrection. It's not, however, the necessary result of Christ defeating evil.

According to Christus Victor theology Christ defeated evil by his incarnation, death and resurrection.
My point is that many aspects of the atonement (minus Penal Substitution/Satisfaction Theory) must be considered together to fully understand the atonement. You cannot just ascribe to "Christus Victor" to present an Orthodox atonement.

Offline Pericles

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Re: Christus Victor or Penal Substitution?
« Reply #10 on: February 07, 2013, 08:03:53 PM »
My point is that many aspects of the atonement (minus Penal Substitution/Satisfaction Theory) must be considered together to fully understand the atonement. You cannot just ascribe to "Christus Victor" to present an Orthodox atonement.
Point taken.
Graecia capta ferum victorem cepit.

Offline Hinterlander

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Re: Christus Victor or Penal Substitution?
« Reply #11 on: February 07, 2013, 08:37:06 PM »
How does the Ransom view relate to this?  Is this synonymous with one of the views already mentioned?

Offline Pericles

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Re: Christus Victor or Penal Substitution?
« Reply #12 on: February 08, 2013, 02:01:20 AM »
How does the Ransom view relate to this?  Is this synonymous with one of the views already mentioned?
Yes ransom theory is Christus Victor.
Graecia capta ferum victorem cepit.

Offline thethinker

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Re: Christus Victor or Penal Substitution?
« Reply #13 on: February 18, 2013, 08:52:38 PM »
The healing of humanity, and our subsequent deification, is necessarily the result of Christ's incarnation, death, and resurrection.

What do you mean by your term "our subsequent deification"? The deification language sounds Mormon.

Offline Armchair Theologian

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Re: Christus Victor or Penal Substitution?
« Reply #14 on: March 01, 2013, 03:02:42 PM »
Even as a protestant I never believed in penal substitution or the satisfaction theory. It always made me cringe to hear a preacher make it sound like Christ came to save us from God, as apposed to sin and death and the devil, since it was God who so loved the world that he gave his Son, and who was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself according to scripture. It's true that there are places in scripture that talk about Christ essentially getting what we deserved, but that doesn't instantly translate into penal substitution. I wish more western Christians understood that there are different ways of looking at it.   

Offline Nephi

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Re: Christus Victor or Penal Substitution?
« Reply #15 on: March 01, 2013, 03:36:23 PM »
The healing of humanity, and our subsequent deification, is necessarily the result of Christ's incarnation, death, and resurrection.

What do you mean by your term "our subsequent deification"? The deification language sounds Mormon.

Deification = theosis.

Offline thethinker

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Re: Christus Victor or Penal Substitution?
« Reply #16 on: March 02, 2013, 08:11:19 PM »
It's true that there are places in scripture that talk about Christ essentially getting what we deserved, but that doesn't instantly translate into penal substitution.

Even then I don't like saying that Christ got what we deserved. It implies that God needed to vent anger.


Quote
I wish more western Christians understood that there are different ways of looking at it.

I am Reformed and have had some tense discourse with my Reformed brothers about this. They insist that God had to punish.

Offline thethinker

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Re: Christus Victor or Penal Substitution?
« Reply #17 on: March 02, 2013, 11:14:37 PM »
The healing of humanity, and our subsequent deification, is necessarily the result of Christ's incarnation, death, and resurrection.

What do you mean by your term "our subsequent deification"? The deification language sounds Mormon.

Deification = theosis.

Okay thanks, I looked it up.  ;)

Offline Nephi

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Re: Christus Victor or Penal Substitution?
« Reply #18 on: March 02, 2013, 11:50:17 PM »
Okay thanks, I looked it up.  ;)

No problem. Mormons often refer to Christian deification/theosis in order to justify and normalize their Exaltation doctrine, but it is misleading as there are fundamental differences.

Offline john_mo

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Re: Christus Victor or Penal Substitution?
« Reply #19 on: April 20, 2013, 05:29:54 AM »
Penal substitution in a nutshell: God killed God in order to please God.

Notice how the focus is on the punishment (the death) and not the resurrection.
Love is not blind; that is the last thing that it is. Love is bound; and the more it is bound the less it is blind.

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Offline Daedelus1138

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Re: Christus Victor or Penal Substitution?
« Reply #20 on: April 24, 2013, 10:00:24 AM »
   There is definitely a place in the early Fathers for the idea that Christ is punished in our place or for us.   I also don't believe it is entirely foreign to Eastern Orthodoxy.  It is regrettable when certain Orthodox theologians dispute this, as it is needlessly polemical and distorting.    The rhetoric of "being saved from God" is rather an unfair distortion of what many Protestants actually believe.    For what it's worth, I don't care for explaining the atonement in terms of penal substitution... but I don't see it as wrong per se.

  Christus Victor- Christ is only a victor if he had to deal with something.  Otherwise there is no atonement, reconciliation to God, going on for the believer.  The Cross is not merely dealing with death, it is also dealing with sin and disobedience.   
« Last Edit: April 24, 2013, 10:10:58 AM by Daedelus1138 »

Offline podkarpatska

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Re: Christus Victor or Penal Substitution?
« Reply #21 on: April 24, 2013, 11:17:27 AM »
Fr. Jonathan's blog post today is on this very subject. Long, but worthwhile.. http://janotec.typepad.com/terrace/2013/04/the-cross-peace-over-violence.html

Offline TheTrisagion

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Re: Christus Victor or Penal Substitution?
« Reply #22 on: May 31, 2013, 11:05:34 AM »
What is the Orthodox understanding for Isaiah 53:10 that states:

Quote
Yet it pleased the LORD to bruise him; he hath put him to grief: when thou shalt make his soul an offering for sin, he shall see his seed, he shall prolong his days, and the pleasure of the LORD shall prosper in his hand

Many of my evangelical friends point to this verse as "proof" of penal substitution and I don't really care to join in a proof texting war with them, I just want to know how the Church interprets this verse.
Guys! They're not intercoursing. It's just an unfortunate angle.

Offline mabsoota

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Re: Christus Victor or Penal Substitution?
« Reply #23 on: June 12, 2013, 03:45:05 PM »
our septuagint comes to the rescue again!

isaiah 53:10 courtesy of the orthodox study Bible:
'The Lord wishes to cleanse Him of His wound, and if you give an offering for sin, Your soul shall see a long-lived seed'.

i also didn't subscribe completely to substitutionary atonement as a protestant, but that was partly because the groups i hung out with disliked all tradition and theology, including protestant theology!
but now i hang out a lot with a calvinist, so heavy theology is on the menu, and i have decided to read:
'on the incarnation' by saint athanasius (the one with the nicean creed in 451AD), available here:
http://www.copticchurch.net/topics/theology/incarnation_st_athanasius.pdf

i will post more if i understand it (don't hold your breath; over 90 pages), and in the mean time would welcome any orthodox summaries of this small book, especially why we don't believe the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ involved the wrath of God the Father being directed to God the Son.
your prayers would also be very welcome!
 :)

Offline orthonorm

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Re: Christus Victor or Penal Substitution?
« Reply #24 on: June 12, 2013, 04:35:19 PM »
our septuagint comes to the rescue again!

Rewriting stuff does help win arguments.

Let's see what the most authoritative translations into English say:

Quote
Isaiah 53:10
The Message (MSG)
10 Still, it’s what God had in mind all along,
    to crush him with pain.
The plan was that he give himself as an offering for sin
    so that he’d see life come from it—life, life, and more life.
    And God’s plan will deeply prosper through him.

http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Isaiah+53%3A10&version=MSG

Quote
Yeshayah 53:10
Orthodox Jewish Bible (OJB)
10 Yet it pleased Hashem to bruise him; He hath put him to suffering; when Thou shalt make his nefesh an asham offering for sin, he (Moshiach) shall see zera [see Psalm 16 and Yn 1:12 OJBC], He shall prolong his yamim (days) and the chefetz Hashem (pleasure, will of Hashem) shall prosper in his [Moshiach’s] hand.

http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Isaiah%2053:10&version=OJB

[/case]
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Offline Clemente

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Re: Christus Victor or Penal Substitution?
« Reply #25 on: June 12, 2013, 04:53:49 PM »
our septuagint comes to the rescue again!

Rewriting stuff does help win arguments.

Let's see what the most authoritative translations into English say:

Quote
Isaiah 53:10
The Message (MSG)
10 Still, it’s what God had in mind all along,
    to crush him with pain.
The plan was that he give himself as an offering for sin
    so that he’d see life come from it—life, life, and more life.
    And God’s plan will deeply prosper through him.

http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Isaiah+53%3A10&version=MSG

Quote
Yeshayah 53:10
Orthodox Jewish Bible (OJB)
10 Yet it pleased Hashem to bruise him; He hath put him to suffering; when Thou shalt make his nefesh an asham offering for sin, he (Moshiach) shall see zera [see Psalm 16 and Yn 1:12 OJBC], He shall prolong his yamim (days) and the chefetz Hashem (pleasure, will of Hashem) shall prosper in his [Moshiach’s] hand.

http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Isaiah%2053:10&version=OJB

[/case]

I wonder if we should read The Message during DL. It would certainly shake things up.