The history of theology has been a history of reactionary overstatements.
It boggles my mind why people react against Christus Victor as an atonement motif. Not the driving atonement theory? Fine, we can disagree there. But to tell people that even though it’s biblical it’s not something we “Evangelicals” should talk about too much. Now that bothers me. After all, it is biblical isn’t it? And Evangelicals are known for their high view of scripture aren’t we?
In Mark Galli’s article, The Problem With Christus Victor, he writes disapprovingly about the overtones of what Rob Bell had to say on substitution theory in Love Wins:
“The book also attacks “toxic” forms of substitutionary atonement, and advocates the use of a plurality of atonement theories.”
As if to say that “toxic” forms of substitution theory are actually a good thing and the use of a plurality of atonement theories is a bad thing. If this is what Evangelicalism is coming to, I’m ashamed. Do we find one bit of doctrine so venerable that we suppress other equally valid biblical doctrines because we feel they might somehow pollute Christian character? Dare we suggest to God that he should have left out the victory we have in Christ because people might stop talking about the need for forgiveness? Why is it that Christians would rather suppress biblical teaching simply because some have abused it, rather than to redeem what the scriptures teach.
This is the history of Christian theology. It is reactionary. It perpetuations the lopsided traditions we are all involved in. We don’t like how this or that particular doctrine has been abused, so we warn against emphasizing this or that particular doctrine, against talking about it too much, against suggesting that it might be important enough to preach with all vigor.
This is the problem with the history of Christian doctrine; from Augustine to Calvin to Galli, we do away with the baby with the bathwater. We pit grace against works, tradition against scripture, love against justice.