He is risen, indeed! Alleluia!!
Our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ trampled down death with death. He rose from the grave and is the firstborn from the dead. We who put our faith in Him shall share in His resurrection and shall one day put on immortal bodies. Through His crucifixion and resurrection, Jesus took on the powers and principalities. He defeated death. He conquered the Devil and his minions. He took on the curse laid upon humanity and the world since Adam and broke it. He released the stranglehold that sin had on humanity.
How can we keep silent? How can we not sing His great praises? Christ is risen, let us rejoice!
As we sing the great praises of the most high God, as we hymn our Lord Christ, we sing not just of His victory for us human beings but for all creation as well. He is Christus Victor, a fact demonstrated by His mighty resurrection. I find that some of the Easter hymns we sang at Little Trinity on Sunday reflect a Christ the Victor mentality.
The chorus of “Up From the Grave He Arose” by Robert Lowry (1826-1899):
Up from the grave he arose;
with a mighty triumph o’er his foes;
he arose a victor from the dark domain,
and he lives forever, with his saints to reign.
He arose! He arose! Hallelujah! Christ arose!
The chorus and final verse of “Welcome, Happy Morning,” by Venantius Fortunatus (c. 590), trans. John Ellerton (1868):
“Welcome, happy morning!” age to age shall say:
“Hell today is vanquished, Heav’n is won today!”
Loose the souls long prisoned, bound with Satan’s chain;
All that now is fallen raise to life again;
Show Thy face in brightness, bid the nations see;
Bring again our daylight: day returns with Thee!
The chorus of “Thine Be the Glory,” by Edmond Budry (1884), trans. Richard Hoyle (1923):
Thine be the glory, risen conquering Son,
Endless is the vict’ry, thou o’er death hast won.
When we see the debates about Christus Victor, people talk as though NT Wright were doing something new, or introducing into Western theology something long missing. Robert E. Webber says that Christus Victor or the theory of recapitulation are often lacking in Western theology (see Ancient-Future Faith and Worship Old And New). However, the hymnists of the 1800’s seem to see something of this theme of Christ’s triumph over his foes. And it is not hard to see this great triumph extending not only to sin in humans but the brokenness of the entire world.
Finally, Christus Victor does not supplant the idea of Christ as victim, despite what some of its Western detractors and Eastern supporters may say. They are two concepts that help bring out the fullness of what Christ did for us through his passion, death, and resurrection. Indeed, if we are to look at the atonement fully, we will find it lacking if we support only one of these two views, Latin or Classic.
Christ is the victor! He has triumphed over his foes! He vanquished Hell! He set free the imprisoned souls! He defeated Satan! He won an endless victory over death! This is the glorious reality of the Easter miracle when a dead Man regained life. That life is now life for us all.