To the surprise of nobody who knows me, the section on how atonement theology fits within history was one of the most exciting parts of The Nonviolent Atonement. Many people won’t accept this, but the simple reality is that our theological positions are always a function at least in part of our context. Most people realize that the context of the biblical writers is important and we can’t just pull individual verses out to support whatever we want. Unfortunately most do not realize that those who have gone before us also always had a context for concluding the ideas that they did. Atonement is no exception.
In the early church, Weaver argues, the mindset was strictly toward what he calls narrative Christus Victor. The most important element from the motif for this aspect of the historical discussion, though, is that it is a very earthly theory with practical applications as to how to approach power and oppression. Jesus saved the world through challenging power in a non-violent way. In other words, he didn’t use power to fight power, which just results in the same framework of “might is right” at the end of the day, and lays underneath many of the theories from the medieval period right up to now.