Author Topic: Latin theology and OO: at one with the Atonement?  (Read 2800 times)

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Offline ialmisry

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Latin theology and OO: at one with the Atonement?
« on: August 08, 2008, 04:28:23 AM »
An Oriental who has swam the Tiber has said that the Oriental Orthodox are in agreement with the Vatican on the doctrine of the atonement.  As I cannot describe said doctrine practically without grinding my teeth, I'll let Wikipedia do the talking (yes I know).

Christians have used three different metaphors to understand how the atonement might work[4]. Churches and denominations may vary in which metaphor they consider most accurately fits into their theological perspective, however all Christians emphasise that Jesus is the Saviour of the world and through his death the sins of mankind have been forgiven.[5]

The first metaphor, epitomised by the “ransom to Satan” theory, was used by the fourth-century theologian Gregory of Nyssa based on verses such as Mark 10:45 – "the Son of Man came … to give his life as a ransom for the many". In this metaphor Jesus liberates mankind from slavery to Satan and thus death by giving his own life as a ransom. Victory over Satan consists of swapping the life of the perfect (Jesus), for the lives of the imperfect (mankind). A variation of this view is known as the “Christus Victor” theory, and sees Jesus not used as a ransom but rather defeating Satan in a spiritual battle and thus freeing enslaved mankind by defeating the captor.

The second metaphor, used by the eleventh century theologian Anselm, is called the “satisfaction” theory. In this picture mankind owes a debt not to Satan, but to sovereign God himself. A sovereign may well be able to forgive an insult or an injury in his private capacity, but because he is a sovereign he cannot if the state has been dishonoured. Anselm argued that the insult given to God is so great that only a perfect sacrifice could satisfy and Jesus, being both God and man, was this perfect sacrifice. A variation on this theory is the commonly held Protestant "penal substitution theory," which instead of considering sin as an affront to God’s honour, sees sin as the breaking of God’s moral law. Placing a particular emphasis on Romans 6:23 (the wages of sin is death), penal substitution sees sinful man as being subject to God’s wrath with the essence of Jesus' saving work being his substitution in the sinner's place, bearing the curse in the place of man (Gal. 3:13). A third variation that also falls within this metaphor is Hugo Grotius’ “governmental theory”, which sees Jesus receiving a punishment as a public example of the lengths to which God will go to uphold the moral order.

The third metaphor is that of healing, associated with Pierre Abélard in the eleventh century, and Paul Tillich in the twentieth. In this picture Jesus’ death on the cross demonstrates the extent of God’s love for us, and moved by this great act of love mankind responds and is transformed by the power of the Holy Spirit. This view is favoured by most liberal theologians as the moral influence view, and also forms the basis for Rene Girard’s “mimetic desire” theory (not to be confused with meme theory).
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Atonement#Satisfaction

I contend that the Orthodox, both Eastern and Oriental adhere to the first and third, but reject the second.  The Vatican (and Protestants) focus on the second.

Any thoughts from our Oriental brothers (or sisters)?

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Offline orthodoxlurker

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Re: Latin theology and OO: at one with the Atonement?
« Reply #1 on: August 08, 2008, 05:51:00 AM »
It's always been pleasure to read topics of my Almisry brother. So, though I'm not an Oriental, I'd like to add (just my personal) prospective.

Atonement, as a word, doesn't exist in Serbian language. Therefore, I could hardly accept "Christus Victor"

.. A variation of this view is known as the “Christus Victor” theory, and sees Jesus not used as a ransom but rather defeating Satan in a spiritual battle and thus freeing enslaved mankind by defeating the captor.

as a variation of atonement, than as a pre-condition for Resurrection.

Quote
1 Corinthians 15 (King James Version)
54So when this corruptible shall have put on incorruption, and this mortal shall have put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written, Death is swallowed up in victory.

55O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory?

56The sting of death is sin; and the strength of sin is the law.

57But thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.

Of course, the first and third theory, as presented by Wikipedia, is acceptable, while the Anselm's isn't. There is the explicit thought of St. Gregory of Nyssa (or St. Basil?) who warned us not to pose the question to whom "the ransom" has been paid ( I can't find it right now).

BTW, my signature
IC XC
NI KA
shaping the Cross, is expression of "Christus Victor" (in case someone hasn't noticed it).
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Offline minasoliman

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Re: Latin theology and OO: at one with the Atonement?
« Reply #2 on: August 08, 2008, 04:04:38 PM »
The analogy given to me when I was taught in Church was the idea of being vaccinated with baptism and chrismation.

I think there will be some OO's who will reject something as long as it's not within the bounds of a certain interpretation.  For example, I probably interpret the "ransoming God's wrath" part differently than maybe Anselm did.

We had a discussion on this in other thread when we were talking about Gibson's "The Passion of Christ."

The only problem I mentioned having with any idea is the idea of paying a price that is considered "exactly equal" to the price of sin, i.e. the assumption that Christ's infinite sacrifice equals some sort of an "infinite" sin, which to me thus far is blasphemous.  However, I don't find the analogy of Christ's sacrifice to the wrath of God as unworthy so long as the term "wrath of God" is not taken in the feudal sense as Anselm may have understood it.

Another lesson to be learned.  If a church seems to accept all those three analogies, then there's more to it about "number two" than what seems to be the obvious offensive part about it.  We have to remember an analogy is always limited and will never fully explain what is rightfully the "mystery" of redemption.

Finally, within every analogy represents a culture from where the analogy hails.  I think there should be a unifying message of the Atonement rather than looking at analogies.  For example, many Indians have found some of the Greek and Latin analogies confusing, but when they saw Christ as paying the price of Karma, it made perfect sense for them.  I think today as we update ourselves into new scientific and technological endeavors, a different analogy might prevail.

God bless.

PS from reading the catholic encyclopedia about Atonement, it has come to my attention that even Catholics may not accept all aspects of Anselm's idea of atonement, but also very open to Peter Abelard, which is something to consider before we condemn "Latin theology."  http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/02055a.htm
PSS from my reading, OO's seem to be closer to EO theology than Latin
« Last Edit: August 08, 2008, 04:14:05 PM by minasoliman »
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Offline Salpy

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Re: Latin theology and OO: at one with the Atonement?
« Reply #3 on: August 08, 2008, 06:15:17 PM »
http://www.orthodoxchristianity.net/forum/index.php/topic,13288.0.html

I think the above thread dealt with this a bit.

I've always been told that in matters such as this, the OO's are the same as the EO's.


Offline Fr. David

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Re: Latin theology and OO: at one with the Atonement?
« Reply #4 on: August 12, 2008, 04:14:50 PM »
Didn't EkhristosAnesti post a few years back about how the OO Church believed in satisfactionary atonement a la the Latin West?  I'm sorry, I tried searching his posts but I can't unearth it.
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Offline Salpy

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Re: Latin theology and OO: at one with the Atonement?
« Reply #5 on: August 12, 2008, 04:42:12 PM »
I don't remember that.  If you look at the link I posted above, he seems to indicate that we are different from the Latin West.  At least that is how I read it.

Offline minasoliman

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Re: Latin theology and OO: at one with the Atonement?
« Reply #6 on: August 12, 2008, 06:41:49 PM »
Vain existence can never exist, for "unless the LORD builds the house, the builders labor in vain." (Psalm 127)

If the faith is unchanged and rock solid, then the gates of Hades never prevailed in the end.

Offline Jetavan

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Re: Latin theology and OO: at one with the Atonement?
« Reply #7 on: August 12, 2008, 06:47:37 PM »
For example, many Indians have found some of the Greek and Latin analogies confusing, but when they saw Christ as paying the price of Karma, it made perfect sense for them.

Some have even seen Christ as ending the process of reincarnation/rebirth.
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Offline minasoliman

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Re: Latin theology and OO: at one with the Atonement?
« Reply #8 on: August 12, 2008, 09:41:13 PM »
Some have even seen Christ as ending the process of reincarnation/rebirth.

Well, that's just too bad.  But I was looking for more acceptable versions of Soteriology.  My point was using the language of the culture, using an analogy or a simile that reflects the culture, not using a religious belief that echoes the Gnostic way of teaching.
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Offline Jetavan

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Re: Latin theology and OO: at one with the Atonement?
« Reply #9 on: August 12, 2008, 10:34:51 PM »
Well, that's just too bad.  But I was looking for more acceptable versions of Soteriology.  My point was using the language of the culture, using an analogy or a simile that reflects the culture, not using a religious belief that echoes the Gnostic way of teaching.

I wouldn't say that the idea of Christ ending the reincarnation/rebirth process is necessarily "gnostic", especially given the fact that ending of the reincarnation/rebirth process is seen as a goal of the Vedic, Buddhic, Sramanic, and generally Indic traditions, and thus something readily understandable by contemporary Indo-Asians making the transition from Indic to Christic.
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Re: Latin theology and OO: at one with the Atonement?
« Reply #10 on: August 12, 2008, 10:42:59 PM »
I wouldn't say that the idea of Christ ending the reincarnation/rebirth process is necessarily "gnostic", especially given the fact that ending of the reincarnation/rebirth process is seen as a goal of the Vedic, Buddhic, Sramanic, and generally Indic traditions, and thus something readily understandable by contemporary Indo-Asians making the transition from Indic to Christic.

Reincarnation/rebirth are gnostic concepts because they are about the "resurrection" of the soul to the "higher state" instead of the body and soul.
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Offline minasoliman

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Re: Latin theology and OO: at one with the Atonement?
« Reply #11 on: August 13, 2008, 02:53:35 AM »
I wouldn't say that the idea of Christ ending the reincarnation/rebirth process is necessarily "gnostic", especially given the fact that ending of the reincarnation/rebirth process is seen as a goal of the Vedic, Buddhic, Sramanic, and generally Indic traditions, and thus something readily understandable by contemporary Indo-Asians making the transition from Indic to Christic.

What I meant is that it's similar to how the Gnostics used pagan concepts to mix in with Christianity.  When I use "Karma" I supposed it would be used in a slightly different way than Hindu theology, leaving out the reincarnation.  But to use reincarnation as symbolic and not actual, then I can agree with prodromas.
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Re: Latin theology and OO: at one with the Atonement?
« Reply #12 on: August 13, 2008, 11:20:47 AM »
Reincarnation/rebirth are gnostic concepts because they are about the "resurrection" of the soul to the "higher state" instead of the body and soul.

You may be comparing apples and oranges, when you compare reincarnation/rebirth with resurrection of body-soul.

Resurrection of the body and soul in Christianity is an eschatological concept, that is, a concept dealing with ultimate destinies.

Reincarnation/rebirth in the Indic traditions is not eschatological. One's ultimate destiny isn't reincarnation/rebirth. It's the ending of reincarnation/rebirth that is eschatological, that is ultimate.
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