Academic journal article Anglican Theological Review

The Nonviolent Atonement

Academic journal article Anglican Theological Review

The Nonviolent Atonement

Article excerpt

The Nonviolent Atonement. By J. Denny Weaver. Grand Rapids, Mich.: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 2001. xiii + 246 pp. $22.00 (paper).

The church's understanding of the saving power of Christ's death has been on a thousand year detour, whose signposts read "Anselmian atonement." So argues the distinguished Mennonite theologian J. Denny Weaver in this brief, which makes a case for recognizing "narrative Christus Victor" as the early church's original preferred interpretation of the cross and for reclaiming it (with some updating) as the solution to a host of contemporary theological difficulties. The traditional peace church beliefs in normative nonviolence and in a fourth century fall of the church away from gospel purity are here combined with a careful reading of Black, feminist, and womanist critiques of atonement theology. Denny concludes that acceptance of a legitimate place for the sword in Christian life went hand in hand with theological recognition of retributive violence as part of the logic of redemption in the cross. Enshrined in the quasi-orthodoxy of substitutionary atonement and satisfaction, this logic of retributive violence has distorted biblical interpretation and Christian life. The plot, thus, is a morality tale, in which Anselm's theology and its relatives are heresies to be expunged root and branch. Some readers will wonder whether the author succeeds in denying such theology any authentic biblical roots, and whether the church's early tradition can be read as univocally as this script suggests, but they can hardly fail to profit from engagement with this crisply articulated case.

The Christus Victor motif that Denny maintains was characteristic of the early church focused on Christ's death and resurrection as an apocalyptic triumph of God over Satan and the fallen principalities, a cosmic inauguration of a new age. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.