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Author Topic: Why Orthodox do not believe in the penal satifaction theory...  (Read 71677 times) Average Rating: 0
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PeterTheAleut
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« Reply #315 on: April 20, 2007, 05:26:27 PM »

Post moved to more appropriate thread. (PtA)
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« Reply #316 on: April 29, 2007, 09:37:26 PM »

I'm sorry to post this for the nay sayers but this must have surely bin overlooked when you read St. Athanasius.

Athanasius of Alexandria, On the Incarnation of the Word
 
Chapter 20
 
5. And so it was that two marvels came to pass at once, that the death of all was accomplished in the Lord's body, and that death and corruption were wholly done away by reason of the Word that was united with it. For there was need of death, and death must needs be suffered on behalf of all, that the debt owing from all might be paid. 6. Whence, as I said before, the Word, since it was not possible for Him to die, as He was immortal, took to Himself a body such as could die, that He might offer it as His own in the stead of all, and as suffering, through His union with it, on behalf of all, 'Bring to nought Him that had the power of death, that is the devil; and might deliver them who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage'.
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Excellence of character, then, is a state concerned with choice, lying in a mean relative to us, this being determined by reason and in the way in which the man of practical wisdom would determine it. Now it is a mean between two vices, that which depends on excess and that which depends on defect.
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« Reply #317 on: April 30, 2007, 06:59:07 PM »

I really think culture conditions what strands of scriptural understanding of the atonement people latch onto and emphasize (or feel speaks to their situation). I read an interview with an Indian (not Native American; but a native of India). He encountered Christianity in Britain and as he read the New Testament and studied Christainity, he felt that he could not understand and relate to the concept that Jesus paid for our sins. But he immediately saw that Jesus paid for our karma. He immediately came to view him as the eternal bodhisattva and came to faith in Christ.

Hence, it's not just east vs. west; this wonderful multi-faceted diamond in scripture sparkles at just the right angle for each culture it is introduced to.

PS. I am not suggesting any sort of cultural relativism. I am saying that this absolute truth and eternal mystery is so big and so awesome as to embrace and speak to all of human culture over all of time.
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« Reply #318 on: April 30, 2007, 07:57:07 PM »

I really think culture conditions what strands of scriptural understanding of the atonement people latch onto and emphasize (or feel speaks to their situation). I read an interview with an Indian (not Native American; but a native of India). He encountered Christianity in Britain and as he read the New Testament and studied Christainity, he felt that he could not understand and relate to the concept that Jesus paid for our sins. But he immediately saw that Jesus paid for our karma. He immediately came to view him as the eternal bodhisattva and came to faith in Christ.

Hence, it's not just east vs. west; this wonderful multi-faceted diamond in scripture sparkles at just the right angle for each culture it is introduced to.

PS. I am not suggesting any sort of cultural relativism. I am saying that this absolute truth and eternal mystery is so big and so awesome as to embrace and speak to all of human culture over all of time.

Your correct BrotherAidan. This text was writen in the east so it should be translated from the eastern tradition. One could easily be mislead when veiwed from a different cultural background.
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Excellence of character, then, is a state concerned with choice, lying in a mean relative to us, this being determined by reason and in the way in which the man of practical wisdom would determine it. Now it is a mean between two vices, that which depends on excess and that which depends on defect.
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« Reply #319 on: April 24, 2008, 10:55:35 AM »

I'm going to post this once and then continue next week, since this is a topic that greatly interests me and puts me into a longing position to try to understand St. Augustine without all the anti-Western bias.

When people think "penal system" they think of Anselm.  There are two things in Anselm that I find that I so far cannot find in St. Augustine:

1.  The concept of an "infinite" sin
2.  The concept of "robbing" God's glory

These two concepts to me are troublesome, since it undermines certain ontological beliefs.  However, all other concepts against the penal system I don't find unorthodox, things like "appeasing the wrath of God," or "ransom."  Even the author you post admits that these languages are found in the Eastern fathers and the OT, but they did not proceed to explain them, but rather taking them in an allegorical sense.  "Appeasing the wrath of God" simply could be the allegory to the destruction of sin that so burns us in our relationship with God, and this allegory should not undermine the "Loving Fire of God."  The "ransom" is Christ's substitution on behalf of all mankind, turning curse into blessing.  Taking this allegory further, we can see the Orthodox beliefs of theosis being born clearly, showing that Christ came as man to give us what is His, that we may be glorified in Him.

God bless.



Good point. I kinda saw the samething. What I find bad about Saint Augustine however,....at least at this time....is his view of the loss of free will after the fall of Adam and Eve,. As well as his view of the imputation of Adam's guilt on mankind.

From what I saw, he changed his view about grace, and free will 2 times.

He changed it the first time when he read something by Saint Cyprian when Cyprian quoted 1st Corinthians 4:7 by Saint Paul. He even admits it himself. According to him he had a revelation, and he thought it came from God.

This was when he formed his view of "Prevenient grace".....I could be wrong about this, but this was when I first noticed his ussage of it.

 From that time onward he saw "faith" as being a gift from God. However, he still believed that our will still had the power to accept or reject the free gift of Faith. This is pretty much where I stand at this time. But he seemed to change his mind again.

Towards the end of his life he started to teach some form of "determinism". It's not really clear, but he would keep making statements in his latter theological works that would make it seem as if God coerces our will as He pleases.


He also changed his mind in regards to alot of scripture passages in regards to God wanting to save "all mankind". Early in His christian life, he believed that "all men" meant every single individual, but latter in his christian life....he changed his view to "some of every kind".

Now how this relates to his views about the Atonement is unknown to me at this time.




But I agree with everything you said in this post.






I've been reading Augustine off and on for 7 years now. Some months ago, I was charting some of his changes in regards to the topic of grace and free will, but I put that on hold for awhile.





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« Reply #320 on: April 24, 2008, 11:55:13 AM »

There are two aspects when determining how the Orthodox view the matter. As St. Gregory stated. There was a ransom and reconciliation. The ransom was to the devil as stated above. The reconciliation was to the father. One must understand that the word reconciliation doesn't imply that it was a forced union as the west sees it. It means a putting together or reuniting.
  To unite the created with the uncreated a sinless example of a human was needed. To see this more clearly we can go back to the Jewish tradition. What exactly were they trying to accomplish with there offering of a blameless lamb. Since there was no sinless human to offer to god they use to deliver up sinless animals in there place. But the animals are not the temple of the holy spirit.  The union of the uncreated and created can only be accomplished with a vessel of the holy spirit. Only through a man can it be accomplished. When the world sent Christ to the cross. They united human nature with the uncreated. It's wasn't to satisfy an angry God.


Awsome!!!




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"loving one's enemies does not mean loving wickedness, ungodliness, adultery, or theft. Rather, it means loving the theif, the ungodly, and the adulterer." Clement of Alexandria 195 A.D.

http://ancientchristiandefender.blogspot.com/
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« Reply #321 on: April 24, 2008, 12:03:30 PM »



Your right. The church of the past has always taught us that life eternal is based on communion with Christ. But the Church according to OC net. is teaching us that eternal life belongs to all. Huh
The problem is they can't seem to back it up.


Eternal life belonging to all is in regards to "access" or "posibility". The Church is meant to save every individual on the Planet.


But this doesn't mean that "every individual" will choose to Join themselves to the Church.








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"loving one's enemies does not mean loving wickedness, ungodliness, adultery, or theft. Rather, it means loving the theif, the ungodly, and the adulterer." Clement of Alexandria 195 A.D.

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« Reply #322 on: April 28, 2008, 11:46:13 PM »

I'm sorry I can see that this is a one year old discussion, but I've just recently come across it and feeling really strongly about the issue I feel like I just have to add my 2 cents worth in response to the question posed in the subject line:

Because it is reminiscent of ancient pagan deities whose bloodthirsty wrath could only be assuaged by the blood of virgins
Because it disfigures God into some cruel and ruthless being who can only be satisfied by blood
Because the selfless act of salvation and redemption is turned on its head and becomes a selfish act to satisfy God's own self and honour
Because it diminishes the love of God
Because it makes literal what are merely metaphors and analogies
Because the crucifixion becomes an act of divine necessity rather than one of voluntary divine love
Because it causes a separation within the Triune God, the Son appeasing the Father rather than making man one with the Triune God as He prays to His Father for
Because it is void of the ontological deification of man
Because it is void of man's sacramental participation in God through Christ
Because it is void of man's spiritual struggle in Christ
Because it makes God our active enemy and the Devil an innocent bystander with salvation and redemption taking place to overcome God's wrath rather than the Devil, death and sin
Because it is the foundation of the Protestant understanding of salvation and how the church and her mysteries are not necessary for salvation
Because it diminishes man's role in the process of salvation
Because it was even rejected by Catholic scholars and saints and is not a dogma of the Catholic church
Because it diminishes the wonder, beauty and majesty of the act of salvation
Because salvation is simply reduced to a moment in time
Because it creates division and contradiction with the divine attributes (as though there is some struggle between divine mercy and justice and both require satisfaction)
Because it is not explicitly contained either within the scriptural, patristic or liturgical testimony
Because it has been explicitly crticised and refuted by many prominent Orthodox theologians
Because it dismisses the entire act of salvation throughout the life of Christ and reduces it simply to the crucifixion

Perhaps others can add to, adjust, correct, elaborate on any of these...

And finally some powerful quotes from St Isaac the Syrian:

Mercy is opposed to justice. Justice is equality of the even scale, for it gives to each as he deserves... Mercy, on the other hand, is a sorrow and pity stirred up by goodness, and it compassionately inclines a man in the direction of all; it does not requite a man who is deserving of evil, and to him who is deserving of good it gives a double portion. If, therefore, it is evident that mercy belongs to the portion of righteousness, then justice belongs to the portion of wickedness. As grass and fire cannot coexist in one place, so justice and mercy cannot abide in one soul. As a grain of sand cannot counterbalance a great quantity of gold, so in comparison God’s use of justice cannot counterbalance His mercy. As a handful of sand thrown into the great sea, so are the sins of the flesh in comparison with the mind of God. And just as a strongly flowing spring is not obscured by a handful of dust, so the mercy of the Creator is not stemmed by the vices of His creatures.
(Part I, Homily 51)

Do not call God just, for His justice is not manifest in the things concerning you. And if David calls Him just and upright (cf. Ps. 24:8, 144:17), His Son revealed to us that He is good and kind. 'He is good,' He says, 'to the evil and to the impious' (cf. Luke 6:35). How can you call God just when you come across the Scriptural passage on the wage given to the workers? 'Friend, I do thee no wrong: I will give unto this last even as unto thee. Is thine eye evil because I am good?' (Matt. 20:12-15). How can a man call God just when he comes across the passage on the prodigal son who wasted his wealth with riotous living, how for the compunction alone which he showed, the father ran and fell upon his neck and gave him authority over all his wealth? (Luke 15:11 ff.). None other but His very Son said these things concerning Him, lest we doubt it; and thus He bare witness concerning Him. Where, then, is God's justice, for whilst we are sinners Christ died for us! (cf. Rom. 5:8 ). But if here He is merciful, we may believe that He will not change.
(Part I, Homily 60)



EDIT:  Fixed unintended smiley (and nothing more)  -PtA
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« Reply #323 on: April 29, 2008, 11:58:47 PM »

Beautiful Falafel! What you wrote is beautiful!

Anyone who wants to see what the Church teaches about our salvation
can study our liturgical prayers and hymns to understand what we believe.
We pray our theology and there is nothing in that theology which speaks of
a wrathful God or penal satisfaction...Christ came to rescue us and to destroy
death.

http://www.ocf.org/OrthodoxPage/prayers/triodion/hwk_sat

Below from Matins of Great and Holy Saturday:

TONE 8

TODAY HELL CRIES OUT GROANING:
I SHOULD NOT HAVE ACCEPTED THE MAN BORN OF MARY.
HE CAME AND DESTROYED MY POWER.
HE SHATTERED THE GATES OF BRASS.
AS GOD, HE RAISED THE SOULS THAT I HAD HELD CAPTIVE.
GLORY TO YOUR CROSS AND RESURRECTION, O LORD!   (Twice)

TODAY, HELL CRIES OUT GROANING:
MY DOMINION HAS BEEN SHATTERED.
I RECEIVED A DEAD MAN AS ONE OF THE DEAD,
BUT AGAINST HIM I COULD NOT PREVAIL.
FROM ETERNITY I HAD RULED THE DEAD,
BUT BEHOLD, HE RAISES ALL.
BECAUSE OF HIM DO I PERISH.
GLORY TO YOUR CROSS AND RESURRECTION, O LORD!

TODAY, HELL CRIES OUT GROANING:
MY POWER HAS BEEN TRAMPLED UPON.
THE SHEPHERD IS CRUCIFIED AND ADAM IS RAISED.
I HAVE BEEN DEPRfVED OF THOSE WHOM I RULED.
THOSE WHOM I SWALLOWED IN MY STRENGTH I HAVE GIVEN UP.
HE WHO WAS CRUCIFIED HAS EMPTIED THE TOMB.
THE POWER OF DEATH HAS BEEN VANQUISHED.
GLORY TO YOUR CROSS AND RESURRECTION, O LORD!

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« Reply #324 on: April 30, 2008, 12:04:48 AM »

Quote
Because it was even rejected by Catholic scholars and saints and is not a dogma of the Catholic church

Great to hear.  So we should never attack the Roman Catholics or "Westerns" in general, alluding to Roman Catholic "scholasticism."
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« Reply #325 on: April 30, 2008, 12:26:27 AM »

Great to hear.  So we should never attack the Roman Catholics or "Westerns" in general, alluding to Roman Catholic "scholasticism."



Brother wasn't your church influenced by the Anglican church at one time,,may be this is why your defense is for the western approch on this subject...I read this on catholic answers forum when they had the eastern christianity sub forum...i believe Fr.Ambrose mentioned it there....Can you enlighten me about it,thats if you known anything about it......Coptic christians seem to go for the awefull western religious art...... i wounder if this could be anglican influence as well.... stanislav.......Christ has Risen ....................SmileyCentral.com" border="0
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« Reply #326 on: April 30, 2008, 12:33:55 AM »

Great to hear.  So we should never attack the Roman Catholics or "Westerns" in general, alluding to Roman Catholic "scholasticism."

Right. Anselmian satisfaction is not penal substitution. We have not dogmatized the workings of the Atonement, but "penal substitution" is not accepted by us. In fact, a Catholic promoting that might well be accused of Jansenism.
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« Reply #327 on: April 30, 2008, 12:43:48 AM »



Brother wasn't your church influenced by the Anglican church at one time,,may be this is why your defense is for the western approch on this subject...I read this on catholic answers forum when they had the eastern christianity sub forum...i believe Fr.Ambrose mentioned it there....Can you enlighten me about it,thats if you known anything about it......Coptic christians seem to go for the awefull western religious art...... i wounder if this could be anglican influence as well.... stanislav.......Christ has Risen ....................SmileyCentral.com" border="0

I am not necessarily taking it personally because of some Anglican influence on my Church (actually I never really heard of that, but I am not very learned of contemporary Coptic history).  In the beginning, I asked if Anselm held views that are similar to views like "Infinite Sin" and "Robbing God's glory" that I would have a hard time to accept.  I based my personal views on St. Athanasius' ideas to keep God's laws consistent.

God bless.

PS  I would venture to say that while I'm not a fan of borrowing Western art as our own, I wouldn't necessarily deem Western art as "awful." It's actually very attractive, just as attractive as Ethiopian, Greek, Russian, Armenian, Indian, or Coptic art.   And I've understood that Egyptian people due to their piety would take any art portraying love of certain saints like the Theotokos to be sacred for their own veneration, and it seems that they have taken a lot of influence from that Western style.
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« Reply #328 on: April 30, 2008, 12:44:56 AM »



Coptic christians seem to go for the awefull western religious art......

I have to admit a preference to Western religious art, too. I take "awefull" to mean awesome. Tongue It took me awhile to appreciate Eastern icons, and even still I search for those that favour a Western rendering.
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« Reply #329 on: April 30, 2008, 12:57:04 AM »

I have to admit a preference to Western religious art, too. I take "awefull" to mean awesome. Tongue It took me awhile to appreciate Eastern icons, and even still I search for those that favour a Western rendering.
Is it just me or are some of the folk here who complain about "awful western art" more eastern than any easterner? I mean ... how on earth can people attribute some negative quality to the art of the 'west' since western art borrows from every major tradition in art no matter where it comes from and you'll find in western art everything that is available in eastern art - in fact i am not sure that there is really a genuine distinction to be made between the art of east and west except perhaps for an emphasis in Orthodox churches on icons and an emphasis in Catholic churches on art from several traditions including Renaissance realism.

weird!
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« Reply #330 on: April 30, 2008, 12:59:04 AM »

Is it just me or are some of the folk here who complain about "awful western art" more eastern than any easterner? I mean ... how on earth can people attribute some negative quality to the art of the 'west' since western art borrows from every major tradition in art no matter where it comes from and you'll find in western art everything that is available in eastern art - in fact i am not sure that there is really a genuine distinction to be made between the art of east and west except perhaps for an emphasis in Orthodox churches on icons and an emphasis in Catholic churches on art from several traditions including Renaissance realism.

weird!

Different strokes for different folks, I guess.
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« Reply #331 on: April 30, 2008, 01:15:22 AM »

I am not necessarily taking it personally because of some Anglican influence on my Church (actually I never really heard of that, but I am not very learned of contemporary Coptic history).  In the beginning, I asked if Anselm held views that are similar to views like "Infinite Sin" and "Robbing God's glory" that I would have a hard time to accept.  I based my personal views on St. Athanasius' ideas to keep God's laws consistent.

God bless.

PS  I would venture to say that while I'm not a fan of borrowing Western art as our own, I wouldn't necessarily deem Western art as "awful." It's actually very attractive, just as attractive as Ethiopian, Greek, Russian, Armenian, Indian, or Coptic art.   And I've understood that Egyptian people due to their piety would take any art portraying love of certain saints like the Theotokos to be sacred for their own veneration, and it seems that they have taken a lot of influence from that Western style.



Brother no offence to you or the holy coptic orthodox church....i my self rarely seen a icon of the holy Virgin by her self in eastern orthodox church mostly with the holy infant child in her lap....in a lot of the u-tub video's that iv'watched of the coptic church some had the western art of the saints and  of the virgin by her self...even in the egyptian coptic apparition she seems to resemble the western despiction,,why is that.....like the images of fatima or lourdes its so odd  .....stanislav,,,,,Christ Has Risen...........SmileyCentral.com" border="0
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« Reply #332 on: April 30, 2008, 01:16:39 AM »

Okay.  Back on topic, please.
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« Reply #333 on: April 30, 2008, 01:45:56 AM »

So what do Orthodox Christians believe about the atonement given that the topic header states that Orthodox Christians do not believe in the penal satisfaction theory?
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« Reply #334 on: April 30, 2008, 01:48:18 AM »

So what do Orthodox Christians believe about the atonement given that the topic header states that Orthodox Christians do not believe in the penal satisfaction theory?
A good place to go for answers to this question:  Why Did Jesus Have to Die For Our Sins???
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« Reply #335 on: April 30, 2008, 02:03:00 AM »

A good place to go for answers to this question:  Why Did Jesus Have to Die For Our Sins???
Thanks for the link; I'll read it shortly.

I went to page 1 of this thread where there is a bit of to and fro between Orthodox forum members about anti-western bias and the language used in saint Anselm and/or saint Augustine. It appears that there is some debate going on about what Orthodox Christians believe and teach on the subject of the thread. That is healthy, there is similar debate in Catholic circles - Franciscan and Dominican orders have debated this topic since the 13th century.
 scyth
I am still curious however, is there any kind of emerging consensus among the members of this forum about the meaning of the atonement and does that consensus (if it exists) correspond to some specific theory of the atonement?
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« Reply #336 on: April 30, 2008, 02:18:41 AM »

Great to hear.  So we should never attack the Roman Catholics or "Westerns" in general, alluding to Roman Catholic "scholasticism."

While the satisfaction theory of the atonement is widely acknowledged by theologians to be a by-product of Scholastic theology as well as the feudalistic society of Anselm's time, many reknown Catholic saints of the time criticised and rejected the theory, and the Roman Catholic Church, while it could have, never accepted it as a dogma of the church. Obviously many of its short-comings as are recognised by theologians and faithful today were also realised then - namely that it does injustice to God's love and reduces salvation to a necessity within the Divine nature.
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« Reply #337 on: April 30, 2008, 02:30:58 AM »

So what do Orthodox Christians believe about the atonement given that the topic header states that Orthodox Christians do not believe in the penal satisfaction theory?

The beauty about the Orthodox understanding of the atonement and what you will find in a careful reading of St Athanasius and other patristic writers is that Christ did not have to die to achieve our salvation, nor did he have to incarnate or take a human body, be baptised, suffer and so on. He could have achieved our salvation through any means he may have so desired. However, the divine wisdom freely chose the way of suffering and death because it was through this that God could most reveal his love for mankind and how great this love truely is.

In the atonement (at-one-ment) God becomes one with man and identifies with him in everything, even death, and at every moment where man struggles, is weak and lacks the strength Christ, the God-man, provides the victory. In so far then as we walk today in Christ's steps and become one with him we are afforded the same victory as he takes what is ours and gives us what is his.
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« Reply #338 on: April 30, 2008, 04:53:43 AM »

If you read our prayers, we do, we just don't admit it!  Cheesy
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« Reply #339 on: April 30, 2008, 07:00:08 AM »

^ I have no problem with people disagreeing with me, but I do have a problem with people presuming to tell me what I do and do not believe.
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« Reply #340 on: April 30, 2008, 09:45:47 AM »

If you read our prayers, we do, we just don't admit it!  Cheesy
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« Reply #341 on: April 30, 2008, 05:34:04 PM »

^ I have no problem with people disagreeing with me, but I do have a problem with people presuming to tell me what I do and do not believe.


George,

All these doubters have to do is read the prayers and hymns from Holy Week and they will see there is no mention of the guilt of original sin or of a wrathful God who demands justice. All the prayers speak of Christ's victory over death and His rescue of those who were in Hades. I provided a link on the OCF site which lists all the services for Lent and Holy Week if anyone wants to know what the Church teaches on the subject.

http://www.ocf.org/OrthodoxPage/prayers/triodion/triodion.html
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« Reply #342 on: April 30, 2008, 11:29:18 PM »

But we do have prayers that at least imply some of the concepts of penal satisfaction/substitutionary atonement

the Jordanville prayer book morning prayer to Christ: "if faith in thee savest the desperate, bhold I believe....Let faith instead of works be imputed to me O my God for thou wilt find no works which could justify me. But may my faith suffice instead of all works, amy it answer for, may it acquit me ..."

a praye of St. Basil: "...who in your great compassion sent down your Onlybegotten Son...for the redemption of mankind and by his precious cross destroyed the writing of our sins."

Granted, these do not have to be interpreted in terms of substitution/satisfaction, but they very easily can be

Because it is a minor theme in Orthodox prayers and dogma (unlike in the West where it is not only the major theme, but often the only one) and because we do stress the conquering of sin and death and the victory of Christ over the devil and the newness of life he brings and the healing of our sin-sick souls does not mean that there is no concept at all of Christ dying for our sins, taking on himself the punishment each one of us deserves, being wounded for our transgressions, etc.

It's there, we don't elaborate and speculate on it like the West tends to, in some way and in some sense Christ took our place in bearing our sins; just like the eucharist is there: water, wine and bread/body and blood of Christ - we accept the mystery without defining, speculating.
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« Reply #343 on: April 30, 2008, 11:59:48 PM »

But we do have prayers that at least imply some of the concepts of penal satisfaction/substitutionary atonement

the Jordanville prayer book morning prayer to Christ: "if faith in thee savest the desperate, bhold I believe....Let faith instead of works be imputed to me O my God for thou wilt find no works which could justify me. But may my faith suffice instead of all works, amy it answer for, may it acquit me ..."

a praye of St. Basil: "...who in your great compassion sent down your Onlybegotten Son...for the redemption of mankind and by his precious cross destroyed the writing of our sins."

Granted, these do not have to be interpreted in terms of substitution/satisfaction, but they very easily can be

Because it is a minor theme in Orthodox prayers and dogma (unlike in the West where it is not only the major theme, but often the only one) and because we do stress the conquering of sin and death and the victory of Christ over the devil and the newness of life he brings and the healing of our sin-sick souls does not mean that there is no concept at all of Christ dying for our sins, taking on himself the punishment each one of us deserves, being wounded for our transgressions, etc.

It's there, we don't elaborate and speculate on it like the West tends to, in some way and in some sense Christ took our place in bearing our sins; just like the eucharist is there: water, wine and bread/body and blood of Christ - we accept the mystery without defining, speculating.
But the Jordanville prayer book cannot be placed on par with the liturgics of Holy Week which have been accepted by the whole Orthodox world through the centuries. I have a copy of this prayer book which was the third edition in 1979 so I wonder when it was first produced and where. Plus, from what I have learned so far, we must be very careful about some of the translations from the Slavonic works which were produced during the western captivity of Russia. For example; the Russian absolution prayer is very different than the Greek version of the same prayer.
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« Reply #344 on: May 01, 2008, 12:09:02 AM »

But the Jordanville prayer book cannot be placed on par with the liturgics of Holy Week which have been accepted by the whole Orthodox world through the centuries. I have a copy of this prayer book which was the third edition in 1979 so I wonder when it was first produced and where. Plus, from what I have learned so far, we must be very careful about some of the translations from the Slavonic works which were produced during the western captivity of Russia. For example; the Russian absolution prayer is very different than the Greek version of the same prayer.
I think you may be missing BrotherAidan's point, though.  I don't see him arguing that we should believe in the penal satisfaction theory based on its presence in the Jordanville Prayer Book; rather, I see him arguing that the Jordanville Prayer Book is evidence that the penal satisfaction theory is not totally absent from Orthodox theology.
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« Reply #345 on: May 01, 2008, 12:13:25 AM »

But we do have prayers that at least imply some of the concepts of penal satisfaction/substitutionary atonement

the Jordanville prayer book morning prayer to Christ: "if faith in thee savest the desperate, bhold I believe....Let faith instead of works be imputed to me O my God for thou wilt find no works which could justify me. But may my faith suffice instead of all works, amy it answer for, may it acquit me ..."

a praye of St. Basil: "...who in your great compassion sent down your Onlybegotten Son...for the redemption of mankind and by his precious cross destroyed the writing of our sins."

Granted, these do not have to be interpreted in terms of substitution/satisfaction, but they very easily can be

Because it is a minor theme in Orthodox prayers and dogma (unlike in the West where it is not only the major theme, but often the only one) and because we do stress the conquering of sin and death and the victory of Christ over the devil and the newness of life he brings and the healing of our sin-sick souls does not mean that there is no concept at all of Christ dying for our sins, taking on himself the punishment each one of us deserves, being wounded for our transgressions, etc.

It's there, we don't elaborate and speculate on it like the West tends to, in some way and in some sense Christ took our place in bearing our sins; just like the eucharist is there: water, wine and bread/body and blood of Christ - we accept the mystery without defining, speculating.

You are right, in so far that there are allusions to juridical elements of the atonement within Orthodoxy, even more so we cannot escape the Biblical passages which imply such. No one can argue that such allusions are not made either within scripture, patristics or liturgics, however these should be distinguished from the western theories of atonement which they have tended to lead towards. While scripture simply employed a rich and diverse use of language in order to metaphorically and figuratively demonstrate the power, wonder and majesty of the atoning sacrifice of Christ, I don't think that any of these were intended to be used as rigid and literal theories or dogmas with regards to the atonement. Therefore, we need to understand the main point of the analogy being provided and not attempt to stretch it too far.  
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« Reply #346 on: May 01, 2008, 10:53:34 AM »

I am still curious however, is there any kind of emerging consensus among the members of this forum about the meaning of the atonement and does that consensus (if it exists) correspond to some specific theory of the atonement?

Unless you're trying to woo Protestant converts, it's probably not something you sit around and think about a whole lot.  I certainly had completely forgotten about this thread.
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« Reply #347 on: May 01, 2008, 04:05:48 PM »

I think you may be missing BrotherAidan's point, though.  I don't see him arguing that we should believe in the penal satisfaction theory based on its presence in the Jordanville Prayer Book; rather, I see him arguing that the Jordanville Prayer Book is evidence that the penal satisfaction theory is not totally absent from Orthodox theology.

Exactly!
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« Reply #348 on: May 01, 2008, 04:15:07 PM »

You are right, in so far that there are allusions to juridical elements of the atonement within Orthodoxy, even more so we cannot escape the Biblical passages which imply such. No one can argue that such allusions are not made either within scripture, patristics or liturgics, however these should be distinguished from the western theories of atonement which they have tended to lead towards. While scripture simply employed a rich and diverse use of language in order to metaphorically and figuratively demonstrate the power, wonder and majesty of the atoning sacrifice of Christ, I don't think that any of these were intended to be used as rigid and literal theories or dogmas with regards to the atonement. Therefore, we need to understand the main point of the analogy being provided and not attempt to stretch it too far.  

Again, thanks for catching my point.

In our zeal to have no shadow of Anslem's theology come across our dogma, we tend to ignore, deny, re-intepret or interpret disengenuously certain portions of Scripture, prayers etc. that use an analogy or diverse use of language to describe Christ's saving work that might even hint at substitution or penal satisfaction.

The problem in the West, as falafel said is "stretching it too far." Let's us not constrtict it to thin.
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« Reply #349 on: May 02, 2008, 01:25:24 PM »

Thread split complete...  New thread:  Myths of the Theotokos in the Jordanville Prayer Book
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« Reply #350 on: May 02, 2008, 01:57:04 PM »

But the Jordanville prayer book cannot be placed on par with the liturgics of Holy Week which have been accepted by the whole Orthodox world through the centuries. I have a copy of this prayer book which was the third edition in 1979 so I wonder when it was first produced and where. Plus, from what I have learned so far, we must be very careful about some of the translations from the Slavonic works which were produced during the western captivity of Russia. For example; the Russian absolution prayer is very different than the Greek version of the same prayer.

Anyone know what the Old Believer (priested, of course) absolution prayer is?  I wonder how it matches up to the "western captivity" Russian one.
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« Reply #351 on: December 28, 2008, 02:28:18 AM »

This thread was linked to by ozgeorge in another, more recent thread, and I noticed that I had posted in it (which I had forgotten), and then saw that ozgeorge had responded.  So, a year and a half later, my response. 

David,
I have read your articles, and I liked them, but I don't think we can draw the conclusion that the "judicial" and "ontological" views complement each other, and I'm not sure how you are trying to make this connection when you say:
I mean...God demands a perfect humanity for union with Himself and will take no less, for to do so would 1) go against the reality of holiness' incompatibility with iniquity and 2) damn us all as a natural consequence...and His love for us could not bear the latter, nor would His holiness allow for the former to pass unchallenged and unconquered.
(1) above, is ontological- evil and good, impurity and purity cannot mix, because that would mean that God is no longer Pure, and therefore, no longer God., and in (2), it is not God Who is damns us, and He acts, not with "Justice" but with Mercy to solve an ontological problem:
our impurity and consequential seperation from Him Who is the All Pure Source of Life vs. His desire that we be united with Him

I think that what I was looking to say regarding the "juridical" and "ontological" views was that God judges based on ontological criteria.  In other words, His being is revealed to our being, and that revelation is itself our judgment.  I would say that His judgment is not based on any type of legal fiction but rather on what we actually have become by grace through faith.  So I agree that (1) is ontological, yet it is also why many will stand in stark relief on Judgment Day against the holiness of God, because they themselves are not holy.  (2) is also a "damning" of sorts in addition to being a salvation, for His ontological appearance and interaction with Creation will be at a point when He knows that many people will not be ontologically ready to receive Him, yet He will appear and consume the ungodly with His presence anyway.  They will be damned by the appearance of a Love which they hate.  So while He has acted in mercy to solve the problem of human and divine natures' being incompatible with one another, not all humans will have taken advantage of it, and God's appearance will burn them as "wrath."

When we put on Christ, we become Him in reality, our entire being being changed into what He is through faith, by grace.  When we see Him, we shall be like Him, and instead of His presence bringing everlasting punishment at His appearing, His presence will bring times of refreshing.  So we were ransomed from death and corruption by Christ's substitution on the Cross in order that we would undergo an ontological change through theosis and thus be saved from the "everlasting punishment" which those who have not put on Christ and thus remain united to death and corruption will undergo.

All of this, I think, would be very comfortable to western ears.  Where the Orthodox differ from SOME in the West would be this: we do not say that Christ's ransom was paid because the Father demanded it, as if He had any need of it for the sake of some eternally offended pride.  (Which, by the way, is something Anslem mentions as absurd in Cur Deus Homo; he himself states that God had no need of Christ's sacrifice, yet some Reformers took Anselm's seed and ran with it to places where Anselm himself never wanted to go).
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« Reply #352 on: December 28, 2008, 06:05:35 AM »

There is an interesting essay "Salvation By Christ: A Response to Credenda /
Agenda on Orthodoxy's Teaching of Theosis and the Doctrine of Salvation
,"
by Carmen Fragapane.

http://orthodoxinfo.com/inquirers/frag_salv.aspx

Carmen Fragapane writes:

"...In EH Jones writes that in Orthodoxy "discussions of substitutionary
atonement and propitiation are virtually absent from their published
explanations of salvation. 

[It is absent from Bishop Kallistos Ware's The Orthodox Church]

"... the notion that redemption should be rigidly interpreted in one
particular way is itself foreign to early Christian thought: "The seven
ecumenical councils avoided defining salvation through any [one model]
alone. No universal Christian consensus demands that one view of salvation
includes or excludes all others" .

J.N.D. Kelly further explains:

"Scholars have often despaired of discovering any single unifying
thought in the Patristic teaching about the redemption. These various theories,
however, despite appearances, should not be regarded as in fact mutually
incompatible. They were all of them attempts to elucidate the same great
truth from different angles; their superficial divergences are often due to
the different Biblical images from which they started, and there is no
logical reason why, carefully stated, they should not be regarded as
complimentary". And this is precisely what we find in Orthodoxy: "While
insisting in this way upon the unity of Christ's saving economy, the
Orthodox Church has never formally endorsed any particular theory of
atonement. The Greek Fathers, following the New Testament, employ a rich
variety of images to describe what the Savior has done for us. These models
are not mutually exclusive; on the contrary, each needs to be balanced by
the others. Five models stand out in particular: teacher, sacrifice, ransom,
victory and participation" ..."


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« Reply #353 on: December 28, 2008, 10:10:41 AM »

So we were ransomed from death and corruption by Christ's substitution on the Cross in order that we would undergo an ontological change through theosis and thus be saved from the "everlasting punishment" which those who have not put on Christ and thus remain united to death and corruption will undergo.
David,
Again, in my mind, this raises the questions:
1) To whom was the "ransom from death and corruption" paid?
2) If a substitution was required for the forgiveness of sin, how could Christ forgive the sins of the Paralytic and the Woman caught in adultery before this substitution had taken place?
3) If Theosis was impossible before the "substitution", how did Elijah not die and get taken up into Heaven in his body and meet Christ on Mount Tabor at the Transfiguration?

I mention this only because, as you say, such ideas of substitution and ransom may be "very comfortable to Western ears", but in this day and age, when people are questioning the basis of our belief, such questions can be raised and are quite valid, and we need to be ready with an answer.
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« Reply #354 on: December 28, 2008, 12:53:34 PM »

Again, in my mind, this raises the questions:
1) To whom was the "ransom from death and corruption" paid?

The idea of the "Atonement" as a Ransom was repudiated in no uncertain terms by
Gregory Nazianzen (4th century) who said:

"Was it paid to the evil one? Monstrous thought!
The devil receives a ransom not only from God but of God ..
To the Father? But we were not in bondage to him ...
And could the Father delight in the death of his Son?"

(Orationes, 45.22)

Of course salvation can be thought of as a ransom. Following
the Church Fathers, the East teaches that Christ, on the Cross,
gave "His life a ransom for many" (Matt. 20:28), (Mark 10:45).

The "ransom" is paid to the grave. As the Lord revealed to the Prophet Hosea
(Hosea 13:14),
"I will ransom them from the power of the grave, I will redeem them from
death."


In a sense, He pays the ransom to the devil who is the keeper of the grave and
holds the power of death (Heb. 2:14).
"Since the children have flesh and blood, he too shared in their humanity
so that by his death he might destroy him who holds the power of death--that
is, the devil."


But despite Gregory's objections above the idea became popular. Saint Gregory
protested that the question of "Who received the payment?" should not be pressed
hard. No matter what debt the Devil was owed it could not possibly have included
God himself. On the other hand, the Father could not have been the recipient of
the ransom, since he was not the one holding us captive. And if the blood of
Isaac had not pleased him, why would he desire the blood of his beloved son?

Saint Gregory sums up: "the Father accepts Christ's sacrifice without having
demanded it; the Son offers it to honour him; and the result is the defeat of
the Evil One. This is as much as we shall say of Christ; the greater portion
shall be reverenced with silence."


Anselm took aim at the exaggerated versions of the ransom theory, but didn't
agree to leave the greater portion to silence. He theorised that the payment
*was* made to God the Father. In Anselm's formulation, our sins were like an
offence against the honour of a mighty ruler. The ruler is not free to simply
forgive the transgression; restitution must be made. (This is a crucial new
element in the story; earlier Christians believed that God the Father did, in
fact, freely forgive us, like the father of the Prodigal Son - that parable
deserves serious thought in connection with this discussion.) No human would be
adequate to pay this debt, so God the Son volunteers to do so. "If the Son chose
to make over the claim He had on God to man, could the Father justly forbid Him
doing so, or refuse to man what the Son willed to give him?" Christ satisfies
our debt in this, the "Satisfaction Theory." Western Christian theology marched
on from that point, encountering controversies and developments and revisions,
but locked on the idea that Christ's death was directed toward the Father. When
Western theologians look back at the centuries before Anselm they can't find his
theory anywhere (well, there are some premonitions in Tertullian and Cyprian,
but it wasn't the mainstream.) And Anselm's ideas which developed when
Christendom had been rent in two remain, still, essentially unknown to the
ancient Churches of the East.

-oOo-

It would seem to be important to establish a vocabulary. After all, if there
are Christians who teach that substitutionary atonement is such bedrock
theology, then there must be a vocabulary connected with it which can be traced
through the writings of the first Christians and through the early centuries of
Church authors and teachers. It is just too vague to write: "this is all the
language of atonement." The Church fathers never had any problems coining words
to convey concepts which they considered important to them - they never did so
in the case of "atonement." If they had such a concept they would have found a
concrete way of expressing it.
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« Reply #355 on: December 28, 2008, 02:35:42 PM »

Thanks Father.
No matter how many times I quote St. Gregory the Theologian on this thread and no matter how many times I insist that “ransom” and “substitution” and “atonement” cannot be taken literally, people insist that we need to use these terms to make our (Orthodox) soteriology palatable to the West. But I keep arguing that these terms make no sense if taken literally rather than metaphorically. I can’t see how the “scholastic” West could find these terms "palatable" since even slightly scratching the surface of them causes them to fall apart.
George

St. Gregory the Theologian, Second Oration on Pascha

"To whom was that Blood offered that was shed for us, and why was it shed? I mean the precious and famous Blood of our God and High Priest and Sacrifice. We were detained in bondage by the evil one, sold under sin, and received pleasure in exchange for wickedness. Now, since a ransom belongs only to him who holds in bondage, I ask, to who was this offered and to what cause? If to the evil one, fie upon the outrage! The robber receives ransom, not only from God, but a ransom which consists of God Himself, and as such has an illustrious payment for his tyranny, a payment for whose sake it would have been right for him to have left us alone all together.
But first I ask, how? For it was not by Him (God) that we were being oppressed. And next, on what principle did the Blood of His only Begotten Son delight the Father, Who would not receive even Isaac when he was being offered by his father, but changed the sacrifice, putting a ram in place of a human victim? Is it not evident that the Father accepts Him, but neither asked for Him nor demanded Him; but on account of the Incarnation, and because Humanity must be sanctified by the Humanity of God, that He might deliver us Himself and overcome the tryant, and draw us to Himself by the mediation of His Son, Who also arranged this to the honour of the Father, Whom it is manifest that He obeys in all things."


So, again, I ask, to whom was the ransom paid if it is a literal ransom? As St. Gregory says, the one who held us in bondage is the evil one, so did he receive the ransom?
The problem with viewing terms like "ransom" and "atonement" too literally is that doing so imprisons God. Basically, it means God cannot forgive sin unless an atonement is made or a ransom paid.
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« Reply #356 on: December 28, 2008, 06:27:32 PM »

Thanks Father.
No matter how many times I quote St. Gregory the Theologian on this thread and no matter how many times I insist that “ransom” and “substitution” and “atonement” cannot be taken literally, people insist that we need to use these terms to make our (Orthodox) soteriology palatable to the West. But I keep arguing that these terms make no sense if taken literally rather than metaphorically. I can’t see how the “scholastic” West could find these terms "palatable" since even slightly scratching the surface of them causes them to fall apart.
George

St. Gregory the Theologian, Second Oration on Pascha

"To whom was that Blood offered that was shed for us, and why was it shed? I mean the precious and famous Blood of our God and High Priest and Sacrifice. We were detained in bondage by the evil one, sold under sin, and received pleasure in exchange for wickedness. Now, since a ransom belongs only to him who holds in bondage, I ask, to who was this offered and to what cause? If to the evil one, fie upon the outrage! The robber receives ransom, not only from God, but a ransom which consists of God Himself, and as such has an illustrious payment for his tyranny, a payment for whose sake it would have been right for him to have left us alone all together.
But first I ask, how? For it was not by Him (God) that we were being oppressed. And next, on what principle did the Blood of His only Begotten Son delight the Father, Who would not receive even Isaac when he was being offered by his father, but changed the sacrifice, putting a ram in place of a human victim? Is it not evident that the Father accepts Him, but neither asked for Him nor demanded Him; but on account of the Incarnation, and because Humanity must be sanctified by the Humanity of God, that He might deliver us Himself and overcome the tryant, and draw us to Himself by the mediation of His Son, Who also arranged this to the honour of the Father, Whom it is manifest that He obeys in all things."


So, again, I ask, to whom was the ransom paid if it is a literal ransom? As St. Gregory says, the one who held us in bondage is the evil one, so did he receive the ransom?
The problem with viewing terms like "ransom" and "atonement" too literally is that doing so imprisons God. Basically, it means God cannot forgive sin unless an atonement is made or a ransom paid.


That fact that the term "atonement" had to be invented should tell people something.
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« Reply #357 on: December 28, 2008, 10:01:24 PM »

That fact that the term "atonement" had to be invented should tell people something.
What do you suggest this should tell us?
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« Reply #358 on: December 28, 2008, 10:37:32 PM »

That fact that the term "atonement" had to be invented should tell people something.
What do you suggest this should tell us?

What St. Isaac the Syrian says:

Do not call God just, for His justice is not manifest in the things concerning you. And if David calls Him just and upright, His Son revealed to us that He is good and kind. ‘He is good’, He says ‘to the evil and to the impious.’ How can you call God just when you come across the Scriptural passage on the wage given to the workers? … How can a man call God just when he comes across the passage on the prodigal son who wasted his wealth with riotous living, how for the compunction alone which he showed, the father ran and fell upon his neck and gave him authority over all his wealth? Where, then, is God’s justice, for while we are sinners Christ died for us!”    — St. Isaac of Syria, Ascetical Homilies, 51
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« Reply #359 on: December 28, 2008, 10:53:07 PM »

Father's answer was very good, and one with which I agree.  But, to respond to ozgeorge,

David,
Again, in my mind, this raises the questions:
1) To whom was the "ransom from death and corruption" paid?
2) If a substitution was required for the forgiveness of sin, how could Christ forgive the sins of the Paralytic and the Woman caught in adultery before this substitution had taken place?
3) If Theosis was impossible before the "substitution", how did Elijah not die and get taken up into Heaven in his body and meet Christ on Mount Tabor at the Transfiguration?

1) There is no "whom," but a "what": the reality of all mens' common mortality.  It held us captive as would a human captor, and Christ's blood was the only element strong enough to overturn the rule of death.

2) Melito of Sardis comments that, when the angel in the book of Exodus saw the blood of lambs on the Israelites' doorposts, the angel was not truly "seeing" the blood of lambs, but the blood of Christ which would cleanse all sins (which are shortcomings of being as well as of action, and which are made up for in the Life offered by Christ in His blood).  Likewise, the forgiveness offered to the Paralytic and the Adulterous Woman was "looking forward" to the Cross.  The Cross is the Axis on which all of Time, all of Creation turns; as such, there is no "before" or "after" regarding its effectiveness.  As St. Irenaeus of Lyons said, "it was necessary that he who would be saved should come into existence, that the One who saves should not exist in vain."  The "In the beginning" of Genesis 1:1 was uttered because of the Cross.  The healing of souls and bodies offered by Christ during His Advent was available because of the same.

3) Enoch, as well as Elijah, had faith in God as told in Hebrews 11, and as such shared in an imperfect participation in the yet-to-be-temporally-realized Crucifixion.  Again, any benefit men in the Old Testament received from the Lord was an economia of sorts based on what would happen on Calvary.
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Tags: scholasticism Peter Moghila Semi-Pelagianism Anselm atonement ransom 
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