Christus Victor (Latin for “Christ Victorious”) designates a view of the Faith held by the ancient Church and largely still held today by the Orthodox Church. It is the view of the Faith held by Basileia.
The Christus Victor view sees the Incarnation as the broader context of the story of salvation in general and of Christ’s death and resurrection in particular. The Cross is, in this broader Incarnational context, seen at the center of the Epic Story of the restoration of all things, a restorative process that definitively began in Christ’s Incarnation. For in the Incarnation, the image of God in man, corrupted in Adam, was restored in Christ. Since man’s corruption led to the corruption of all creation, man’s restoration in Christ is in fact also the restoration of all things ruined by evil.
Thus the emphasis in the Christus Victor view on what Christ did at Calvary is on the exhausting of evil through the disempowering of sin through obedience. Christ’s atonement not only therefore secured our forgiveness from the guilt of sin, but also released a new power though humanity over sin, Satan and death. Christ crushed these enemies, not in His power as the Son of God, but in His humanity as the Son of Man. Yet because He did this as Word made flesh in the Incarnation, now we who are but flesh may be made like Him in the process of Theosis in which we become partakers of the divine nature.
The Christus Victor view is a broader, more encompassing view of the Faith than certain views that lose the context of the Incarnation by focusing more exclusively on the dimensions of legal forgiveness that Christ’s death has affected for us. To the forgiveness of the guilt of sin we say, “Thanks be to God.” But we give thanks for even more than this alone. While a legally, narrowly focused version of the Faith is true as far as it goes, it doesn’t go far enough to advance the Kingdom on earth as in heaven now. Abstracting legal justification from the context of the Incarnation hobbles the “gospel,” promising a “salvation” in a future heaven instead of the strapping, transformational salvation that separates evil now from what it has ruined in order to destroy the evil and restore all things ruined by that evil now, both in heaven and on earth.
We rejoice that the Christus Victor view of the Faith is in resurgence in the West in the twenty-first century. Basileia aims to participate in and accelerate this resurgence in ways that are faithful to our charism even as we seek to unite with other expressions of the Body of Christ that aim to do the same.
Also see Christus Victor (the story) Chivalry, Epic Story, and Theosis.