Anselm: Christus Victor?

David Bentley Hart argues for continuity between the Patristic understanding of Christ’s atonement and that of Anselm.

Indeed, in Cur Deus Homo the matter of guilt is somewhat recursed: it is guilt that is set aside, made of no account by Christ’s grace, so that the power of death should be overcome without violence to divine justice. From very early on in the text (1.6-7) Anselm is engaged in answering a single question: If the rights of the devil (who is himself infinitely indebted to God) over humanity are not really ‘rights’ in any true sense (a position of the purest patristic pedigree), why must the overthrow of death proceed in the fashion that it does? For God could have reclaimed his creatures by force, if all that were at issue were the devil’s prerogatives (1.7), but for Anselm the true issue is God’s own righteousness. From which unfolds Anselm’s story of the ‘necessity’ – the inner coherence – of the action of the God-man.[1]  Continue reading “Anselm: Christus Victor?”


Salvation and Metaphor


According to Gordon Fee Paul’s language of redemption, propitiation, reconciliation, etc. is metaphorical because, “for Paul salvation is an especially theological reality, in the sense that it is both a reflection of God’s character and the result of God’s initiative.” [1] In as far as salvation is a reflection of God’s character it is incomprehensible to finite man.  However, this does not mean that nothing can be known for certain concerning the realities of Christ’s work but that “God’s majesty in itself far outstrips the capacity of human understanding and cannot even be comprehended by it at all …” [2]  Neither is the appeal to metaphor a sly way of reducing the meaning of Paul’s language to mere signs.  N.T. Wright affirms this idea, “Recognition of god-language as fundamentally metaphorical does not mean that it does not have a referent, and that some at least of the metaphors may not actually possess a particular appropriateness to this referent.  In fact, metaphors are themselves mini-stories, suggesting ways of looking at a reality which cannot be reduced to terms of the metaphor itself.” [3]   Continue reading “Salvation and Metaphor”