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Author Topic: The atoning blood of Christ in His passion  (Read 2577 times) Average Rating: 0
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Matthew777
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« on: December 26, 2006, 08:25:17 PM »

Certain Eastern Orthodox "traditionalists" have insisted that Christ's sacrifice of the cross was not for the sins of the world, given that He already forgave sins before the crucifixion. But I know that in the Divine Liturgy of Saint James, we refer to Christ's "atoning blood." Do we believe that Christ's sacrifice was for the remission of sins?

Peace.
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« Reply #1 on: December 27, 2006, 12:00:43 AM »

To tell you the truth, this is probably going to grow into a debate in the OO Church as well. 

I have seen both sides of the issue here as well as in EO (there are some EO's supposedly who have believed in this atonement).

What I think is most important is that Christ united all of what was human with us, and more so took upon Himself a huge curse, that is being hung on the wood of the cross, for us, and accepted suffering and death for us, and what's most hopeful, rose from the dead for us.

We too because of the hope of the Resurrection, will rise with Him.  That is what is common.

Now, I think perhaps what many consider "Anselmian" might be wrong.   Such a thought was never found in ancient Alexandrian fathers.  I don't think a sin can be infinite, and I don't think Christ was on the cross for God's wrath; the judicial view is quite dry and produces some wrong arguments (such as the fact that God REQUIRES the punishment, or that we ROBBED God's glory and honor), although it might be manipulated for contemplative Orthodox thought ("God's wrath" not in human manner, and not really infinite, but for every man past, present, and future).  Yet, I do think there was an atonement not for God, but for the fulfilling of the Law, for man's sake.  I do not believe that this was a sacrifice to God, but a sacrifice for us.  In our Coptic liturgies, we even say "you have no need of our servitude, but we need your Lordship".  He fulfilled the Law partly by being punished by the Law.  This therefore destroys the need of the Law for us, and we follow the spirit of the Law, where now all our senses are directed to the spiritual while we become and grow into the Body of Christ that saves, cleanses, fills, enlivens, and empowers us with Divine energy.

Perhaps, a contemplative article by Fr. Matta el Maskeen can help give you one view:

http://www.stmacariusmonastery.org/stmark.htm

The article is far from agreeing with Anselmian thought.  It shows more of how much God loves us that He accepted the punishment of a sinner for us.  The article is very beautiful, and I tend to agree with it.  The fruits of such an article does not teach about a judicial approach, but an approach that shows the free self-emptying and self-humbling (indeed even selfless sacrifice) of Christ to the extreme of accepting death, and not any ordinary death, but a humiliating death on the Cross, which to the Jews are a sign of a cursed man, and to the Gentiles a sign of a criminal, but to us, hope and salvation.  It teaches us to humble ourselves when we see a fellow sinner:

http://www.stmacariusmonastery.org/earticle0003.htm

God bless.

Mina
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« Reply #2 on: December 27, 2006, 12:11:53 AM »

Quote
Certain Eastern Orthodox "traditionalists" have insisted that Christ's sacrifice of the cross was not for the sins of the world, given that He already forgave sins before the crucifixion. But I know that in the Divine Liturgy of Saint James, we refer to Christ's "atoning blood." Do we believe that Christ's sacrifice was for the remission of sins?

"For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God; Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus: Whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith in his blood, to declare his righteousness for the remission of sins that are past, through the forbearance of God; To declare, I say, at this time his righteousness: that he might be just, and the justifier of him which believeth in Jesus. - Rom. 3:23-26

"Having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will, To the praise of the glory of his grace, wherein he hath made us accepted in the beloved. In whom we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of his grace - Eph. 1:5-7

"Giving thanks unto the Father, which hath made us meet to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light: Who hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath translated us into the kingdom of his dear Son: In whom we have redemption through his blood, even the forgiveness of sins...And, having made peace through the blood of his cross, by him to reconcile all things unto himself" - Col. 1:12-14, 20

Hebrews 9-13

I'm not a big believer in the "post a verse, answer the question" posting style, and I certainly don't claim that the above totally answers the question, but there's some verses fwiw.

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« Reply #3 on: December 27, 2006, 12:30:09 AM »

I'm not a big believer in the "post a verse, answer the question" posting style, and I certainly don't claim that the above totally answers the question, but there's some verses fwiw.

Consulting the Scriptures is a good thing, we can't have good theology without it.

Isa 53:5      
But he [was] wounded for our transgressions, [he was] bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace [was] upon him; and with his stripes we are healed.

Mat 26:28      
For this is my blood of the new testament, which is shed for many for the remission of sins.

Mat 20:28      
Even as the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many.

John 1:29
The next day John seeth Jesus coming unto him, and saith, Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world.

Rom 3:24      
Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus:
Rom 3:25      
Whom God hath set forth [to be] a propitiation through faith in his blood, to declare his righteousness for the remission of sins that are past, through the forbearance of God;

Hbr 9:15      
And for this cause he is the mediator of the new testament, that by means of death, for the redemption of the transgressions [that were] under the first testament, they which are called might receive the promise of eternal inheritance.
Hbr 9:16      
For where a testament [is], there must also of necessity be the death of the testator.
Hbr 9:17      
For a testament [is] of force after men are dead: otherwise it is of no strength at all while the testator liveth.
Hbr 9:18      
Whereupon neither the first [testament] was dedicated without blood.
Hbr 9:19      
For when Moses had spoken every precept to all the people according to the law, he took the blood of calves and of goats, with water, and scarlet wool, and hyssop, and sprinkled both the book, and all the people,
Hbr 9:20      
Saying, This [is] the blood of the testament which God hath enjoined unto you.
Hbr 9:21      
Moreover he sprinkled with blood both the tabernacle, and all the vessels of the ministry.
Hbr 9:22      
And almost all things are by the law purged with blood; and without shedding of blood is no remission.

Such a thought was never found in ancient Alexandrian fathers.  I don't think a sin can be infinite, and I don't think Christ was on the cross for God's wrath; the judicial view is quite dry and produces some wrong arguments (such as the fact that God REQUIRES the punishment, or that we ROBBED God's glory and honor)

I believe that the Old Testament emphasizes that the forgiveness of sin requires sacrifice and that the New Testament presents Christ as the final sacrifice, the lamb of God that takes away the sins of the world. That does not have to mean, however, that this is the appeasement of a vengeful God.

Peace.

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« Reply #4 on: December 27, 2006, 12:54:12 AM »

Quote
Do we believe that Christ's sacrifice was for the remission of sins?

YES, and the only way remission of sins can be accomplished and as such there is no salvation without the Cross of the recall of this majestic scene and act of atonement in the Eucharist.

Quote
Certain Eastern Orthodox "traditionalists" have insisted that Christ's sacrifice of the cross was not for the sins of the world, given that He already forgave sins before the crucifixion.

This is not the way we understand the proclaimation of forgiveness of sins before the Cross given to certain individuals by the Lord. It is nothing more than removing their sins to the Cross that is yet to come, a cheque to be chashed after the Cross if such analogy makes it easier to understand. This is not different than the forgiveness of sins given to David the King by God through Nathan the prophet. A removal of sins until the time of the Cross where it is wiped out in the blood.

As for the articles of Matta the blasphemer:

Matta: When Christ was slandered and accused of being a sinner and did not defend Himself; He accepted these accusations and on the exterior became a representative of sinners. Internally, He received the sins of mankind as His own when He deferred from defending Himself from their slanderous accusations of Him being an evildoer.

Christ did not accept the accusation or admitted that He deserves the judgement, for the same one who has taken all the sins of the world is the one who by mere appearance to the soldiers made them fall down nor were the sins of the world part of thr nature of Christ to be His responsibility and as such merit Him the terrible penality of death. Responsibility for the sins is understood as an act of will and not of adoption.

Matta: Christ accepted being considered a violator of the Law.

Christ accepted being considered a defiler of the Sabbath.

Christ accepted being considered a blasphemer of God.

Christ accepted being considered an evildoer.



Where did Matta the blasphemer get this from and who did he refer ? Matta has semi-arian views that make him view Christ as somebody elevated to divinity and not being divine Himself as evident from his writings, therefore, and according to Matta's corrupt theology he cannot see the contradiction in having God accept being a blasphemer against God, having the Truth Himself accept a lie to be part of His actions.

Matta should have read the Bible in more depth to see that Christ when asked about who He is never denied his Sonship to the Father not accepting such accusations.

Matta: Christ then advanced to the Cross to pay for the deadly sins committed against the ancient Law, one of which was the violation of the Sabbath, as he who defiled the Sabbath was to be stoned

Matta's poor theological training does not allow him to understand that the Lord is not subject to the Sabbath and that the Sabbath was already broken for God since the sin of Adam. The real meaning of thre Sabbath evaded Matta, and as such he does not know that the Sabbath of the Lord is to save all mankind. Since this was not accomplished before the Cross, Christ by virtue of His divinity and to work with the Father had to work on Sabbath.

WHat kind of blasphemy is this to separate Christ from His divinity in proclaiming that He indeed deserved a punishment ... it empties the salvation on the Cross from its basic foundation that requires a lamb without blemish or spot (without sin) to be offered instead of all humanity. Not with, instead of all humanity.



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« Reply #5 on: December 27, 2006, 12:57:47 AM »

WHat kind of blasphemy is this to separate Christ from His divinity in proclaiming that He indeed deserved a punishment

What about the assertion that we deserve punishment, but that Christ offered up himself in our place?
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« Reply #6 on: December 27, 2006, 02:04:43 AM »

I think you totally misread Fr. Matta specifically in this article.  He did not say that Christ deserved punishment.  In fact, he said the total opposite, and made it clear from the very beginning:

Quote
Christ proceeded to the Cross by His free will. He did not hesitate or retreat for a second. He came to the Cross by the freedom of His will, not for Himself but as a representative of all mankind.

The fact that Fr. Matta reiterates the freedom the Son of God had to choose the crucifixion shows that He also had the freedom not to undergo it.  How can one deserve something and be free?

Later on, Fr. Matta goes on to say that Christ out of His own freedom allowed that He "deserve" punishment, not in the same sense as if He is a true sinner, but in the sense that the Law was applied correctly, although to the wrong person, which leads to the condemnation of the high priests and all others, rather than the condemnation of Christ.

In addition, Fr. Matta's Christology is in line with Orthodox Christology.  The body of Christ is a body subject to corruption, not incorruption.  This body is also a body that He took that He may bear the sins of all, hence the "sinful" body, or the Pauline "became sin" not that He was sinful, but that He bore the sins of others to destroy sin.  He took the punishment of the Law upon Himself to destroy the punishment.

Quote
He bore every human sin. He bears every sin committed by man in his fallen state since the fall of Adam, including every sin procreated by Adam since the beginning and until the end of time.

And here, Fr. Matta then asks a question which removed doubt from my mind on Fr. Matta's intentions:

Quote
How did Christ take on sin in His flesh, while we know He was without sin, and was born from a pure body without sin, and lived without sin?

So now, we are faced with another part of Fr. Matta's understanding.  Christ came in His free will unto the Cross, and He came being without sin.  Where is this language that Christ deserved the Cross?

And I do not understand how this article makes Fr. Matta a semi-Arian.  In this article, Fr. Matta not only says that Christ is fully human, consubstantial with all mankind who is sinful while being sinless, but also fully God and perfect and sinless.

God bless.

Mina
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« Reply #7 on: December 27, 2006, 02:08:44 AM »

What about the assertion that we deserve punishment, but that Christ offered up himself in our place?

I think that is exactly what Fr. Matta was contemplating about.  He said nothing more than this.  He did not write down that He deserved it, but accepted unto Himself what we deserve, and did not even show a feeling of grudge, but of happiness that He is fullfilling the will of the Father and the salvation of mankind.

Quote
I believe that the Old Testament emphasizes that the forgiveness of sin requires sacrifice and that the New Testament presents Christ as the final sacrifice, the lamb of God that takes away the sins of the world. That does not have to mean, however, that this is the appeasement of a vengeful God.

Just as the Sabbath was made for man, and not man for the Sabbath, similarly, the sacrifices were there for man, not man for the sacrifices to God.  God sees it as acceptable, but in the sense that it helps us.  He is pleased by the sacrifice that helps us, but as we read in prophecies and psalms later, there were many vain sacrifices that did not help man, that man did not become edified by because they were dry.  Man did not do sacrifices for the forgiveness of his sins, but just for show, thinking that it's pleasing to God, and God despised that.  In fact, St. Paul talks about how the Law was used wrongly, and one of Christ's missions was to put a stop to that, and to revitalize the spirit of the Law in a more fulfilled manner.

God bless.

Mina
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« Reply #8 on: December 27, 2006, 02:17:29 AM »

In fact, St. Paul talks about how the Law was used wrongly, and one of Christ's missions was to put a stop to that, and to revitalize the spirit of the Law in a more fulfilled manner.

In his letter to the Hebrews, St. Paul wrote that "without shedding of blood is no remission," which signifies that the crucifixion was the fulfillment of the temple sacrifices.
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« Reply #9 on: December 27, 2006, 02:49:15 AM »

I did not misread anything. The whole idea od Matta the heretic is that Christ indeed deserved the punishment as somebody who broke the law and as such is subject to the punishment according to the law. As such, Matta's Christ is not anymore the Savior of the world but just somebody who really deserved to be crucified. It does not matter that he contradicts himself again in some other parts of the article. Consider this:

Quote
What was the position of the people’s leaders? In today’s judicial language they represented the Attorney General.

Their accusations were true. The High Priest stood with the people’s elders to present the case before the only source of authority at the time, the Roman judicial system. He stood and spoke, as was his right as the Attorney General, the defender of the law and the administrator and custodian of Moses’ law. He set the maximum punishment for a person being accused of acting against the Law.

First: He was a blasphemer of God.

Second: He had defiled the Sabbath.

Third: He had violated Moses’ law, thus the label, “an evildoer”: “If this man were not an evildoer, we would not have handed him over” (John 18:30). This means he had a history full of violations against the law.
[/i]

If these accusations are true, and Christ indeed acknowledges his responsibility for them by his own admission, then he is no more sinless. He is indeed a blasphemer.

And this:

Quote
Thus the judgment here is a correct application of the law.
[/i]

There could not be a worth application of any law than the case of Christ, having failed to prove any single accusation against the "man" and with the defendent refusing to acknowledge his own sin. Where did Christ accept the punishment as being correct ?
And this:

Quote
What was Christ’s opinion concerning this sentence?

It was without doubt a correct judgment.
[/i]

If Christ acknowledges his guilt, then this is no case of a Savior but of a criminal. Matta's heresy is in contradiction to all biblical references that shows the immense injustice done to Christ. 

And this:

Quote
Christ proceeded bearing all of humankind in His flesh.

The last one sums up Matta's heresies as it is his introduction to Universalism and his weird participation of humankind in their own redemption (called by HE Anba Bishoy the co-redemption heresy).

Quote
When they accused Him of being a blasphemer, and He accepted the accusation without defense, He became a blasphemer.
[/i][/b]
You do not have any problem in calling Christ a blapshemer ? For Christ to acknowledge such sin makes Him a sinner, and as such separates Him from His divinity. He then died for his own sins (as H.H. explains in his refutation of the heresies of Matta) and not for the sins of the world.

Christ then advanced to the Cross to pay for the deadly sins committed against the ancient Law, one of which was the violation of the Sabbath, as he who defiled the Sabbath was to be stoned

He then deserved it as he acknowledged that he is sinful of both. Maybe Matta has no understanding of what the Sabbath represents.

Quote
Now that Christ had fulfilled the punishment for minor sins, he embraced the punishment for all the major sins.
[/i]

Quote
At this point Christ’s heart was shaken, because if Pilate’s attempt was to succeed then the Cross was lost.


And his foreknowledge ?

The writings of the man are a complete mess, contradicting himself from one line to another.






 
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« Reply #10 on: December 27, 2006, 03:01:56 AM »

Quote
And I do not understand how this article makes Fr. Matta a semi-Arian.  In this article, Fr. Matta not only says that Christ is fully human, consubstantial with all mankind who is sinful while being sinless, but also fully God and perfect and sinless.

By proclaiming that CHrist indeed deserved the punishment for minor sins and for breaking the law, Christ indeed is a sinner who is subject to the law and has to pay for his own sins with the law of Moses and cannot possibly make an atonement for mankind. Such view empties Christ from any divine essence that is not subject to sin nor does it accept the shame of sin as being its responsibility.

For Christ to acknowledge the charges is equal to Him being a sinner who admits his wrong deeds.

Such line of thought is not alien to those familiar Matta's writings in which he clearly denied the presence of Christ since the beginning or him being divine by nature. He refers to any divine attributes of the incarnate Logos as being "awarded" and never natural to his being in many of his writings.

Matta's main problem even before he took a form of a monk was Universalism. In his own memoirs he acknowledges that he believes that all mankind is saved and makes a mockery of Anba Samuel and Deacon Yassah Hanna (a great man who spent his life in service) who believed otherwise as well as all the orthodox people. With his views regarding Christ, he formulates a flawed christology that makes it easy for everybody to be a christ in essence because to matta Christ is never divine in essence as I have shown in many posts before.

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« Reply #11 on: December 27, 2006, 03:09:25 AM »

Let's please keep to the original question, which was whether Christ's sacrifice was for the remission of sins.  The topic of this thread is not whether Fr. Matta's writings on Christ's death were heretical or not.  If someone wants to discuss that, that person may start a new topic.

Thank you for your anticipated cooperation.    Smiley
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« Reply #12 on: December 27, 2006, 03:13:20 AM »

You might wonna ask our very good and pious friend Mina to refrain from referring to Matta's heretical views on any topic, for they will be challenged each time he brings one of those up. If heretical views are accepted for posting, then they should be subject to discussion and refutation as well. It is part of the body of the topic as long as they are left, and I believe it is ridiculus to ask every poster to open a new topic to refute certain views presented on a different topic.



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« Reply #13 on: December 27, 2006, 03:37:28 AM »

Personally, I would prefer that people use patristic sources, such as St. Athanasius, etc., to discuss matters such as this.  However, if someone wants to use a modern source, even a controversial one like Fr. Matta, he may do so.  If another person wants to refute the position of the poster who used Fr. Matta as a source, that is O.K. too.  An example of this would be using a different source to contradict what Fr. Matta or the poster had to say.  However, doing a full scale analysis of what Fr. Matta may or may not have meant in his writings and whether his Christology is heretical, is taking the thread in another direction.  I want to keep this on topic.  Thanks.
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« Reply #14 on: December 27, 2006, 03:58:52 AM »

By the way, my above posts are not meant as a reprimand, but as a gentle reminder, not only to Stavro, but also to Mina and anyone else who may be tempted to get sidetracked into a discussion about Fr. Matta.  I am only doing this because I know how all-consuming those discussions can be.

Again, I look forward to hearing what other OO theologians have had to say on our soteriology (I think that's the right word.)  With a 2,000 year old history, the OO Church should have plenty to say, from a variety of ancient fathers, on this topic.
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« Reply #15 on: December 27, 2006, 05:51:11 AM »

Again, I look forward to hearing what other OO theologians have had to say on our soteriology (I think that's the right word.)  With a 2,000 year old history, the OO Church should have plenty to say, from a variety of ancient fathers, on this topic.

I cannot stress enough that whatever our theology may be, it cannot contradict sacred Scripture.

Peace.
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« Reply #16 on: January 09, 2007, 05:10:06 PM »

The following is from the Orthodox Study Bible...

"Hebrews moves back to the sacrificial act of the Day of Atonement (from vv.11-14). The blood sprinkled here brings the life of the covenantal people into God's presence: it reconciled God and man. The final reconciliation, the eternal one, is the presentation of Christ's sacrificial blood (12:24) to God in heaven."

In speaking of Matthew's Gospel, "The Old Covenant was sealed by the blood of bulls and goats. The new is sealed by the gift of Christ who shed His own blood. (vs. 28 ) to reconcile us with God and reunite us to Himself. He calls it the blood of the new covenant, that is, God's promise, the new Law. By new He means we now have immortal and incorruptible Life."

Peace.
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He who has a why to live for can bear with almost any how. - Friedrich Nietzsche
www.aramaicpeshitta.com
http://www.mechon-mamre.org/e/et/et0.htm
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