Can the doctrine of substitutionary atonement be held alongside Christus Victor theology?

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Not only can penal substitutionary atonement be held alongside Christus Victor theology, but they must be held together. Jesus' death does not only have significance for human beings, it has significance for the entire created cosmos. This is what we see in the letters to the Ephesians and the Colossians, that, in the cross, the evil supernatural powers, the thrones, dominions and authorities of darkness are overthrown and put on public display — Colossians 2:15 — they're a public spectacle. The reason they are overthrown is because Jesus has dealt finally with human sin. Once human sin is dealt with and done away with, then those powers of darkness, the spiritual forces of evil, can no longer control us. They no longer have a claim over our lives. And so, in that way, they are overthrown.

Answer by Dr. Constantine R. Campbell

Associate Professor of New Testament at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School