Concordia Theological Monthly

Publication Date


Document Type



atonement, aulen, christ victor, doctrine, luther, christus, lutheran, salvation, theology

Submission Type

Bible Study; Lecture; Sermon Prep


One of the most significant theological books published in recent decades is Christus Victor by Gustaf Aulen. In it he suggests that there are three main ideas or theories of the atonement: the classic, the Latin, and the subjective-humanistic. That which makes the book both significant and controversial is the author's contention that the authentic Scriptural doctrine of the atonement is the classic idea, that Luther was an exponent of the classic idea and that therefore the orthodox Lutheran doctrine of the atonement differs markedly both from Scripture and from Luther. Aulen asserts that “the doctrine of Lutheranism became a very different thing from that of Luther." The translator in his preface informs us that “Dr. Aulen shows how sharp is the contrast between Luther and the Lutherans" (p. ix). Hence Christus Victor faces us with an insistent challenge to seriously re-examine and re-evaluate the "traditional" Lutheran doctrine of the atonement. That the question cannot be avoided is made clear by Edgar Carlson's assertion that Aulen's view of the atonement is in the main taken for granted in present-day Lundensian theology (Seminarian, pp. 36 f.).


Religious Thought, Theology and Philosophy of Religion

Scripture References in this Resource (separated by semi-colons)

Mark 10:45; Ephesians 1:7; 1 Peter 1:18; Hebrews 2:14; Hebrews 2:17;

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Submission Audience

Laity; Ministers; Scholars