The Re(dis)covery of Christus Victor

Over the last several years, on numerous occasions, I have heard Christians discuss all that Satan is doing in their lives. “I wanted this job, but Satan stepped in and things fell apart.” “I really am trying hard to make this relationship work but Satan creeps in and deceives me with lies.” Or I have heard prayers before a church service: “May Satan not mess up the sound system or the video board.” “May Satan not interfere with the words that are spoken.” For quite some time, I puzzled by this. It almost seemed as if Satan was actually doing more than God was in the world. Was God just sitting back letting Satan have his way? It was if our focus was shifted towards our fear of the work of Satan rather than on the work of Christ on the cross. Then I came across the concept of Christus Victor. Robert Webber writes that “the dominant interpretation of the work of Christ for the first thousand years of history is the proclamation that his death and resurrection constitute a victory over the powers of evil.” How quickly have we forgotten as Christians what Christ’s death on the cross meant. Yes, he did die as the atoning sacrifice for our sins. But there is more to it than just that. To view Christ crucified as simply an atoning sacrifice is doing an injustice to all that his death and resurrection encompassed. No, Jesus did not completely annihilate Satan from the earth when he died on the cross but he did let us know that the war between good and evil had been won. Webber continues this thought: “Just as Adam was seduced by the word of Satan and brought the whole human race under his influence, so Jesus broke the power of that seduction and set in motion the chain of earthly events that would ultimately and conclusively destroy the power of Satan.” Christ did not die for the sake of conquering death, but rather he died to conquer all evil. In the mean time, as we wait for the return of Christ and the new heavens and the new earth, Satan is still present and still wrecking havoc at time. But as Webber reminds us, “Guerrilla pockets may still exist, confrontation may still occur there and there; but the tide has been turned, the oppressor has been definitely routed, and it is only a matter of time until the end.”

So take heart all ye how have given Satan more credit than he deserves. A rediscovery of Christus Victor reminds us that Christ has overcome the world and the work of Satan. Now let us live accordingly.

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