Since I didn’t remember seeing you here before, I searched your previous contributions and found this one. It interests me, hence my response.
(By the way, it’s great to see you participating in the forum! I hope you’ll be interested in doing that more often. We need some additional voices in the conversations here, I feel. We have good people, but too few people overall. More participants, serious and sincere people, can’t help but make for deeper and more interesting discussions.)
I’ve wondered about Christus Victor myself, and my idea on the questions you brought up is that the Christus Victor atonement theory is told in the form of sacred myth. That is to say, it’s not so much historic account of any literal events as it is a literary container for a truth too profound and too big to be adequately told in any other way (maybe in any way at all).
I waver back and forth with regard to belief in an actual person named Satan or Lucifer or etc. Like you, I reject any idea of the devil constituting a credible threat against the Kingdom of God. Legalists will insist that 1) God gave rulership of the earth to Adam and 2) Adam lost or in some way assigned that rulership to the devil when he “obeyed the devil” by eating the fruit of the TOKOGE. (I believe the garden narratives are also sacred myth, just to keep things out in the open.)
So… the Ransom/Christus Victor/Narrative theory… I think one way to look at this is that Jesus came to save us from our own flesh/beast nature. By “beast,” I mean our animal or natural or unconscious, non-sentient, instinctive, biological nature. We, having been waked to consciousness/sentience/and an understanding of right and wrong, have within us a desire to do what is right. Most of us have, anyway. We want to be good people. If we are not good people and yet unwilling to change, then we tell ourselves stories of why our bad is actually good. But I’m getting ahead of myself…
I think that Jesus came to save us from ourselves–to lift us up out of that semi/unconscious beast nature and that maybe (in the CV story at least), Satan is actually a representative of that instinctive/animal nature which is out for itself far over and above any concern for others. We needed that ransom. We feel helpless before the strength of our beastial nature. As Paul says in Romans 6 (heavily paraphrased from memory), when I want to do good, evil is always at hand, laying in wait for me, and I end up doing the bad thing that I hate and not the good thing I want to do. Wretched man that I am! Who shall save me from this body of death?!"
I DON’T mean to say that Jesus’ rescue mission was nothing but a psychological ploy to persuade us that WE on our own can be victorious over the flesh–to cheer us on by His example. I do think the example (moral example theory) was and is important, but I also think that He was actively DOING something in the spiritual realms to actively enable (not just cheer-lead) us to become victorious over sin (which as I imagine you know, means “missing the mark”).
I think that our spirits can now mingle in concert with the Holy Spirit, who can now dwell within us (because of what Jesus did) and not merely come UPON us as in the OT accounts of the prophets and some of the kings of Israel. We who believe (trust in, rely on, cling to, adhere to) in the Christ, can become AS the Christ (the anointed one). HE is the only begotten, who continually goes forth from the Father. HE, however is the source/head of the body, the church, which continually goes forth from HIM. As Eve came forth from Adam, so the church comes forth from her Bridegroom. NONE of this could have happened had Christ not come to pay the bride-price and purchase the church from her “father” (her beast-descended species) and bring her into the house of HIS Father. With Him, we (those who cling to Him) become AS Him (though subordinate). We will always be coming forth from Him and as the ages roll by will always be becoming more like Him through the agency of the Holy Spirit working in us.
The householder, the strongman, must be bound. (the beast within) The captives can then be rescued and the process of setting those captives free IS the rescue (which for all of us biologically among the “living” at least), continues to go on. I think it will ALWAYS be continuing. God is infinite. We can never become everything He is, but as His children, we will always be growing toward that goal.
So, that is for me, one way to interpret Christus Victor. I really believe that all the atonement theories are mere glimpses of what God in Christ Jesus did and is doing through the atonement. We in our limited understanding and capacity can no more comprehend this than a kindergartner can understand particle physics. Less so, really. Stories like this must be told to us before we can hear deeper truths. They prepare the soil for greater, more mature understanding that we can hardly dream of in our present state.