OrthodoxChristianity.net
September 03, 2014, 03:34:00 AM *
Welcome, Guest. Please login or register.

Login with username, password and session length
News: Reminder: No political discussions in the public fora.  If you do not have access to the private Politics Forum, please send a PM to Fr. George.
 
   Home   Help Calendar Contact Treasury Tags Login Register  
Pages: 1   Go Down
  Print  
Author Topic: What Mel Missed  (Read 1869 times) Average Rating: 0
0 Members and 1 Guest are viewing this topic.
David
OC.net guru
*******
Offline Offline

Faith: Orthodox Christian
Jurisdiction: OCA (Diocese of the South)
Posts: 1,952


Retired GM


WWW
« on: September 29, 2003, 03:55:20 PM »

Ancient Faith, Modern Life
Frederica Mathewes-Green  (from www.Beliefnet.com )


What Mel Missed
There's a reason why the gospels don't dwell on the blood and gore of the crucifixion.

Most of us have yet to see Mel Gibson's "The Passion," but we've gained one sure impression: it's bloody. "I wanted to bring you there," Gibson told Peter J. Boyer in September 15's New Yorker magazine. "I wanted to be true to the Gospels. That has never been done before."

This goal means showing us what real scourging and crucifixion would look like. "I didn't want to see Jesus looking really pretty," Gibson goes on. "I wanted to mess up one of his eyes, destroy it." It's a mark of our age that we don't believe something is realistic unless it is brutal. But there's another factor to consider. When the four evangelists were writing their own accounts of the Passion, they didn't take Gibson's approach. None of them depict Jesus with a destroyed eye. In fact, the descriptions of Jesus' beating and crucifixion are as minimal as the writers can make them.

"Having scourged Jesus, Pilate delivered him to be crucified," the Synoptic Gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke) agree. "When they came to the place which is called The Skull, there they crucified him."

Little more than a dozen verses later he is dead. The evangelists did not linger over his suffering in order to stir our empathy. The account of physical action is so brisk that, back when I was in seminary, I asked one of my professors why we presume Jesus was nailed to the Cross, rather than bound with ropes. He supposed it was because Paul later refers to redemption through Christ's blood.

If Mel Gibson had allotted his time the way the evangelists do, the majority of his film would have been about the swirl of people around Jesus in his last days, how they interact with him and what they do because of him. The scourging and crucifixion would have passed in a flash.

Why would the earliest Christians have handled these events so discreetly? Not because the events were thought unimportant; the whole Gospel story builds toward them. Not because the writers were squeamish, or because they were ashamed. St. Paul speaks boldly about Jesus' saving blood and proclaims that he will boast in the Cross.


But in the earliest Christian writings we see a different understanding of the meaning of the Cross, one which, shockingly, didn't think it was important for us to identify with Jesus' suffering. For contemporary Christians it's hard to imagine such a thing. The extremity of Jesus' sacrifice has been the wellspring of Christian art and devotion for centuries. It has produced great treasures, from late Renaissance paintings of the Crucifixion, to the meditations of Dame Julian of Norwich, to Bach's glorious setting of "O Sacred Head, Sore Wounded." Mel Gibson's "Passion" arrives as the newest entrant in a very old tradition.

A funny thing happens, however, if we press further back in time. Before the middle ages, depictions of the Crucifixion show very little blood. Though the event itself was no doubt horrific, artists preferred to render it with restraint (like the Gospels, but unlike Gibson). The visual elements in an ancient icon of the Crucifixion are arranged symmetrically, harmoniously, and the viewer is placed at a respectful distance. The depiction is not without drama: Mary and the disciple John, at the foot of the Cross, reel in grief. But Jesus does not reveal any sense of torment. He is serene, almost regal.

What changed? In the 11th century, a theory emerged that shifted the common understanding of the Cross. Anselm, Archbishop of Canterbury, proposed that our sins constituted a debt to God that could not be simply erased without unbalancing justice. The debt was too immense for any human to pay, and only Jesus' death could be an adequate sacrifice. Protestant Reformers retained the same theory substantially intact, but during the Enlightenment some theologian proposed instead that Jesus' suffering is meant to unite us in grateful love toward the Father, rather than pay a debt.

In both cases, Jesus as the God-Man takes on the sin of the world, bears its crushing weight, and accomplishes divine reconciliation. The movement in this drama is from earth to heaven, and the Cross means "suffering."

Yet for the first millennium, and continuing in Eastern Christianity today, the Cross means "victory." In this idea of the atonement, God in Christ effects a rescue mission. Humans are being held captive by Death, due to their voluntary involvement in sin, and are helpless to free themselves. In a majestic sweep of events Jesus takes on human life in order to die, invade hell, and set the captives free. The focus is much broader than the Crucifixion alone. The movement is from heaven to earth, the reverse of the later pattern. Paul, writing about 60 AD, describes this divine descent in the words of the earliest existing Christian hymn:

"Who, though he was in the form of God,
Did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped,
But emptied himself, taking the form of a servant.
And being found in human form, he humbled himself to death, Even death on a Cross." (Phil 2:6-8) Early Christians understood the Cross to be the way that Jesus broke into the realm of Death. Suffering itself is not the point. How then could Jesus be a ransom, sacrifice, or offering? Early Christians understood such terms to mean that it cost Jesus his life to rescue us. It was a sacrifice to the Father, as a soldier might offer a superlative act of courage to his beloved general. It was the price of entry into the realm of Death. It cost Jesus his life's blood to enter Hades and save us, but it wasn't a payment to anybody.

This helps us see why they did not linger over the details of his suffering. It would be as odd as welcoming home a wounded soldier, and instead of focusing on the victory he won, dwelling on the exact moment the bayonet pierced his stomach, how it felt and what it looked like. A human soldier might well feel annoyed with such attention to his weakness rather than his strength. He would feel that it better preserved his dignity for visitors to avert their eyes from such details, and recount that part of the story as scantly as possible to focus instead on the final achievement.

This is the sense we pick up in the Gospels. Jesus' suffering is rendered in the briefest terms, as if drawing about it a veil of modesty. What's important is not that Jesus suffered for us, but that Jesus suffered for us. It is the contrast with his eternal glory that awed the earliest Christians.

Eastern Orthodox hymns for Good Friday convey fearful wonder:

"Today he is suspended on a Tree who suspended the earth over the waters. A crown of thorns is placed on the head of the King of angels. He who covered the heavens with clouds is clothed in a false purple robe."

At such sights, "The heavenly powers trembled with fear.The whole creation, O Christ, trembled; the foundations of the earth were shaken for dread of thy might... The sun hides its rays at seeing the Master crucified... The armies of the angels were amazed." Mel Gibson's "The Passion" promises to be a landmark expression of the strand of devotion that emphasizes identification with Jesus' sufferings. It is a strand that has produced powerfully affecting works of art, and moved and inspired Christians for centuries. The Crucifixion was, in fact, bloody and brutal---Gibson is on solid historical ground in wishing to depict them this way-and when he prayerfully reads the Gospels, no doubt these are the pictures that appear in his mind.

But these pictures are not, actually, there in the Gospels. The writers of the Gospels chose to describe Jesus' Passion a different way. Instead of appealing to our empathy, they invite us to awesome wonder, because they had a different understanding of the meaning of his suffering.
Logged

"When looking at faults, use a mirror, not a telescope."
-Yazid Ibrahim
GretchenX
Newbie
*
Offline Offline

Posts: 13


OrthodoxChristianity.net


« Reply #1 on: September 29, 2003, 05:39:53 PM »

Yeah, but on the other hand, maybe that's what Gibson sees when he thinks about the Crucifixion?  Maybe that's the most awful (as in "awe," not "bad") thing for him when he's in Easter services, and thinks "Wow, God did this for me; I'm totally undeserving and humbled.  This makes me want to try to say this to the world, on my own money, and even tho they are going to call me anti-Semetic for the attempt."

And come on, I seriously doubt that an Orthodox or Roman Catholic would see the film and think "Gee, 'The Last Temptation of Christ' did a better job."  Nor do I think that he's doing this for any materialistic gain.  Maybe I'm missing her intention, but I'm inclined to think better of the effort than what I'm interpreting in the article.

Gretchen
Logged

NULL
Oblio
Elder
*****
Offline Offline

Faith: Eastern Orthodox
Jurisdiction: OCA
Posts: 454

The Pointless One !


WWW
« Reply #2 on: September 29, 2003, 07:36:14 PM »

A repost from a fellow Orthodox at CF:


Here's a follow-up from Frederica:

I've had a lot of response from conservative Christian friends to the Beliefnet column I sent out yesterday--

Some of the response seems to be based in confusion, so I wanted to follow up with clarification. Don't feel you have to read this if you're not interested in these details; this isn't a new published article.

I'd like to pinpoint where the actual disagreement is. First, here's where I think we don't disagree.

--I expect that Mel's movie will be a powerful witness and help many revive or begin a commitment to Christ.

--Mel stands as an artist in a longstanding tradition of depicting the Passion graphically; as an artist, he is free to depict it any way he wants.

--Mel is historically accurate; the events really were that bloody.

Here's what snagged my curiosity. In the NYer article Mel says "I want it very bloody" and "just like in the Gospels." It had never occured to me before that the Gospels do not depict it as very bloody. Reality was very bloody, but when the writers of the Gospels came to that point in the story, they made a different choice than Mel does.

I thought further about this. I knew that the history of graphically bloody Crucifixes and Passion meditations goes back to medieval times, but before that I lose the thread. Starting at the other end, with the relatively restrained Gospels, and moving forward, I didn't know of any examples of early devotional writing that dwelt on the Passion using this tone of compassionate empathy. The early liturgies for Good Friday have a subtly different flavor--awe and gratitude for the suffering, rather than identifying with it. Early depictions of the Crucifixion are more like the Gospel of John--Jesus is serene and regal. Why did they choose to portray it that way? When did this change, and why?

Now at this point I'm not talking about Mel's movie any more, but about history. My goal was never attack the movie, but to use his one comment as a jumping-off place for exploration. I think however because of the way Beliefnet titled and packaged the piece it came across as Mel-bashing. My goal was a more comprehensive exploration of changing views of Jesus' suffering. My title was "The Meaning of His Suffering," which is why that's still the last line in the piece.

I discovered of course that depiction of the Passion has changed over the centuries depending on what people thought it meant to our salvation. It's actually not useful to turn to Scripture to settle the argument, because everybody believes their view is based in Scripture. (Translation can cause problems, too, for example "propitiation" instead of "expiation," though the term really has no perfect English equivalent.) People who espouse one view accuse opponents of ignoring the Scriptures they think most pertinent, and vice-versa.

But what we see is three distinct viewpoints, which arise at different points in history. This is news to many people; it has never occured to them that sincere believers read the bible differently in the ancient past. But the history really isn't in dispute. I was taught it thirty years ago in Episcopal seminary. (The best short summary of this history is "Christus Victor," by the Lutheran theologian Gustav Aulen, and I highly recommend it.) Scholars and historians agree that this shift occurred; the disagreement among believers is what you should do about it.

Some (like me) believe you should always adhere to the earliest consistent understanding in any theological question. Others say that later explanations may be better, more thorough or logical ("development of doctrine"), even if it reframes understanding of the question. And still others say that God is always doing a new thing, and may even appear to reverse himself; it's wrong to be locked to the past, change is good. Basically, three positions.

That's the core of our disagreement--whether you cling to the earliest understanding, or later development, or a "new thing" altogether. That's the point where conversation should take place.

***continued...
« Last Edit: September 29, 2003, 07:38:08 PM by Oblio » Logged
Oblio
Elder
*****
Offline Offline

Faith: Eastern Orthodox
Jurisdiction: OCA
Posts: 454

The Pointless One !


WWW
« Reply #3 on: September 29, 2003, 07:36:46 PM »

Here's the boring historical part. If you're with me so far, you don't necessarily have to read it. But if you're confused, keep going.

Many of my correspondents don't know this history and insist instead that the Blood Atonement theory is the earliest. It just isn't so. They believe this because they find evidence for it in the Scriptures, but as I've said, this is a matter of your favorite Scriptures lighting up for you, in accord with how you've been taught.

The appearance in history of the Blood Atonement, or Substitutionary, theory can actually be located pretty precisely, in the work "Cur Deus Homo?" ("Why Did God Become Man?") by Anselm, Bishop of Canterbury, in the 11th century. Anselm's idea is foreshadowed in some earlier writers, like Tertullian, but it was not the general view.

The general view of the early church was not as crisp, as thorough, as Anselm's. And this is why Catholic and Protestant theologians have seen Anselm's theory as a great advance. Henry Bettenson, in his anthology "Documents of the Christian Church," calls "Cur Deus Homo," "one of the few books that can truly be called epoch-making."

Catholic and Protestants have never claimed that Anselm's Blood-Atonement theory is the earliest; they've said it is the best. It was a breakthrough. That implies something else came before.

Anselm's theory, as we know, is that our sins create an overwhelming offense against God's honor, a debt. God cannot merely excuse this offense and wipe the debt away, because it constitutes an objective wrong in the universe; justice would be knocked out of balance. There must be punishment.

Anselm: "Let us consider whether God could properly remit sin by mercy alone without satisfaction. So to remit sin would be simply to abstain from punishing it. And since the only possible way of correcting sin, for which no satisfaction has been made, is to punish it, not to punish it is to remit it uncorrected. But God cannot properly leave anything uncorrected in his kingdom. Moreover, to remit sin unpunished would be treating the sinful and sinless alike, which would be incongruous to God's nature. And incongruity is injustice. It is necessary, therefore, that either the honor taken away should be repaid, or punishment should be inflicted."

He goes on to say that "no sinner can make" complete satisfaction for sin. "None can make this satisfaction except God. And none ought to make it except man...One must make it who is both God and man."

Because Christ did not deserve to suffer for us, but paid the debt voluntarily, he "ought not to be without reward...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?"

I think most of you will recognize this. It is the standard view of traditional Catholics and Protestants.

During the Enlightenment theologians began to criticize this theory as legalistic, as too rooted in the Old Testament and not enough in the New, as portraying a God who hardly seems to be one of love. They began to develop an alternative theory which was little concerned with punishment of sin; instead, Christ's sacrifice was meant to move and inspire, so that we voluntarily return to God, and God is moved to reconcile with us. This theory is called "exemplary" because Jesus is the example rather than the sacrifice. It's proponents claimed to root their view in Abelard, a younger critic of Anselm. The big debate in the 19th century cast these two views as "objective" and "subjective."

Because of this, conservative Christians in the West are disposed to see any attack on the Substitutionary theory as a move toward liberalism.

That is not so. There is a whole third viewpoint, which prevailed throughout the first millennium, and continues outside Western Christianity today.

***

Now I'm going to describe this theory. Though I've described it from time to time in my writing, I have a hunch that no non-Orthodox could explain it back to me, because its simply too unfamiliar. It's strange to us; its premodern. It has the Devil in it. A theory so odd doesn't fit any of our categories, so as soon as we read about it we forget it.

I've heard that you have to be exposed to an unfamiliar idea seven times before you remember it. So read this section seven times. :-) Without grasping this alternative classic theory, we fall back into presuming that, if it ain't substitutionary, it's modern, liberal, and bad.

This theory, in short, does not consider the possibility that God could not just forgive us. It presumes that he *does* just forgive us. The thing that so troubled Anselm--the image of a great offense against God that could not be paid or remitted--didn't occur to the early church.

However, "the wages of sin is Death." Because we are sinners, we are captives of Death. The term means more than mortality: it is a package including the Devil, evil spirits, temptation to sin, and so forth, "the Tyrant." We have sinful hearts that incline to choose self, and this cooperation with Evil keeps us infected with the seeds of our own destruction. We are responsible for our own fate, because we cooperate with Evil. We are powerless to escape this fate.

Note that the emphasis is not on sins being an offense against God. It is more organic, like a disease inside a person. But imagine that the person loves and caresses the disease, and joins his will to it in affirmation. What can be done? What would a loving parent do?

The classic view sees God the Father and Christ his Son agreeing to rescue lost humanity. The Son must actually go into the realm of Death and break it open. He sets the captives free.

The Cross is a high point in this story. But it is part of a complete story that begins with Christ's decision to become human, as we see in the Phillippians 2 hymn. It proceeds through the Resurrection and is crowned by the Ascension and "sitting at the right hand" and even the final Judgement. The whole story is what saves us. (by the way, salvation is organic too, and transforms the entire person; its not merely the legal remission of sin. It's called theosis.)

When I was researching this a few years ago I asked some Patristic scholars what I should read to get a handle on the early church theory of the Atonement. They replied that there really isn't one, in terms of Western thinking. The best thing to read would be "On the Incarnation," written by young Athanasius about 318. I kept saying, No, I'm not asking about the Incarnation, I'm asking about the Atonement. They said, It's the same thing. Salvation is the whole story. (You can probably find "On the Incarnation" on line; its not very long. I like the edition published by St Vladimir's Seminary Press, which has a great introduction by C S Lewis.)

Here's an example of how little the early church dwelt on the pain of the Passion. Athanasius asks rhetorically, If the whole point of the rescue was to get Jesus into Hades, why did he have to be crucified? Why couldn't he just have died peacefully as an old man? (You might be wondering that yourself about now.)

Athanasius reels off a lot of reasons in reply: that the Author of Life could not have possibly gotten sick, that the Crucifixion was a public death and so Christians wouldn't be accused of faking it. But he never says that it was necessary for Jesus to suffer in order to pay our debt.

It was necessary for him to suffer in order to get into Hades, yes. It was the price of admission. But not a punishment. Christ achieved our deliverance at the cost of his blood, but it was not a payment.

As I said, the early church writers did not try to work out a theory as crisp and complete as Anselm's. They agreed on the central reality--Christ went into Hades and set us free--but did not establish any detailed explanation of how it took place. The language in Scripture about "ransom" and "sacrifice" was explored poetically, without an attempt to establish explicit doctrine. Gregory Nazianzus says that such language is always bound to lead to uncertainty. If a "ransom" is paid to a kidnapper, it wasn't paid to God; God wasn't holding us hostage. But if it was paid to the Devil, the very idea is outrageous. The Devil was a usurper and had no right to fair payment. It couldn't be a sacrifice in payment to the Father, because the Father would not even accept the sacrifice of Isaac--how much more appalling would be the sacrifice of his own Son. So, Gregory concludes, we just can't press these images too hard.

It definitely cost Jesus his life's blood to rescue us. It was a ransom in that sense. He offered it in obedience to the Father. It was a sacrifice in that sense. When the sacrifice to the Father was explored in more depth and likened to Temple sacrifice, as in Hebrews, it was treated poetically, typologically, not literally.

It was this softness of logic that makes the classic theory frustrating to Western Christians, and elicits impatience. The answer "It's a mystery" sounds like "it's unreliable". Here we must note another influence on our thinking: the Scholastic movement and Thomas Aquinas. In the West we developed a tradition of vigorous intellectual inquiry, and to some extent divided this from popular piety, so that theology became a realm for experts. (An aside: this worship-study split shades into a heart-mind split, and I speculate is one reason Western worship services, heavy on emotion, are attended by more women than men. It's not that men are intrinsically less religious--look at Islam and Orthodox Judaism.)

It's hard for us to imagine a Christians culture in which people didn't pursue a theological question to the very end. The compensation is that study and worship are united, so that what we understand moves us to love God, and love moves us to deeper understanding. It would be strange to even to think of those as two different functions, because we are a unity. There are things we don't particularly need to know in order to live on this earth and follow our Lord. Early Christians would say that the exact mechanism of the Atonement is one of those things. We know that Christ has rescued us from the Evil One, and that we must exercise constant vigilance to keep from hurling ourselves voluntarily back into the pit. That's all we need to know.

To answer the initial question of "When did treatment of Jesus' suffering change?" it appears that graphic meditation on the Passion begins about the 14th century. In medieval times, too, the depiction of the Devil is reduced in significance, and he becomes a semi-comic figure. In the substitutionary atonement there is really no role for the Devil; the whole transaction is between Christ and the Father, so the Devil fades away (not in reality, of course).

I've been Orthodox ten years and only recently begun to see how different these views of the Atonement are. Every step of the way as these paths diverge they lead to divergent views of everything else: what sin is, what forgiveness is, what the Father's love is like, even the problem of evil (in the Christian east the West's big question, "how can a good God permit evil?" doesn't occur; we know evil is in the world because our sins keep polluting it, keep opening the door. Our sins empower the Evil One, and he delights in hurting the innocent, not only because he enjoys their suffering, but relishes the grief of observers as well.)

An unfamiliar idea like this is disruptive and unsettling, and prompts floods of other questions. I may not have time to answer them all. But I hoped, by this message, to at least lay out the groundwork

Logged
Elisha
Protokentarchos
*********
Offline Offline

Faith: Orthodox
Jurisdiction: OCA
Posts: 4,411


« Reply #4 on: September 30, 2003, 12:32:02 PM »

Nice response.  Thanks for posting, Oblio.
Logged
Ole Rocker
Newbie
*
Offline Offline

Posts: 12


Say yore prayers, varmint!


« Reply #5 on: September 30, 2003, 07:00:57 PM »

Most definitely a keeper. Thanks much!!!
Logged

Reach for the sky, critter!
Rock on,
Ole Rocker
David
OC.net guru
*******
Offline Offline

Faith: Orthodox Christian
Jurisdiction: OCA (Diocese of the South)
Posts: 1,952


Retired GM


WWW
« Reply #6 on: October 01, 2003, 12:06:44 AM »

Ole Rocker, nice to see you around again.  How's everything going on Nicholas' board?
Logged

"When looking at faults, use a mirror, not a telescope."
-Yazid Ibrahim
Ole Rocker
Newbie
*
Offline Offline

Posts: 12


Say yore prayers, varmint!


« Reply #7 on: October 01, 2003, 09:11:56 AM »

Doing well! I visit two Nicholas boards, but I'm assuming you mean Euphrosynos (the old ROCOR cafe)? I lurk there and post rarely. I lost my pointer to this one but got back to it through Anastasios posts at Euphrosynos. Good to be back.
Logged

Reach for the sky, critter!
Rock on,
Ole Rocker
David
OC.net guru
*******
Offline Offline

Faith: Orthodox Christian
Jurisdiction: OCA (Diocese of the South)
Posts: 1,952


Retired GM


WWW
« Reply #8 on: October 01, 2003, 09:30:27 AM »

Actually I was referring to Nicolas in Texas' forum, http://pub135.ezboard.com/bnicholasforum88957.  It's a nice community there, but I wish they'd get better software...kind of a pain browsing outline format message boards.

I also post rarely at eCafe.  Glad to have you back.
Logged

"When looking at faults, use a mirror, not a telescope."
-Yazid Ibrahim
Sabbas
Drink from your own wells
High Elder
******
Offline Offline

Posts: 503

St. Glicherie True Orthodox Church of Romania


« Reply #9 on: February 23, 2005, 03:31:04 PM »

As I said elsewhere I did not particularly like the "Passion" for its gore and seeming lack of showing that Jesus Christ is God, at least I got that impression. But I would like to say that as correct as Frederica is about Orthodoxy having a very different or more Loving view of the atonement and restoration of mankind I think her articles go to far in saying that Early Christianity did not associate the suffering of our Lord with his Incarnation and Redemption of mankind. In fact the suffering is addressed and considered important. Look at what St.Gregory the Theologian wrote in the Fourth Theological Oration:

He is sold, and very cheap, for it is only for thirty pieces of silver;76 but He redeems the world, and that at a great price, for the Price was His own blood.77 As a sheep He is led to the slaughter,78 but He is the Shepherd of Israel, and now of the whole world also. As a Lamb He is silent, yet He is the Word, and is proclaimed by the Voice of one crying in the wilderness.79 He is bruised and wounded, but He healeth every disease and every infirmity.80 He is lifted up and nailed to the Tree, but by the Tree of Life He restoreth us; yea, He saveth even the Robber crucified with Him;81 yea, He wrapped the visible world in darkness. He is given vinegar to drink mingled with gall. Who? He who turned the water into wine82 , who is the destroyer of the bitter taste, who is Sweetness and altogether desire.83 He lays down His life, but He has power to take it again;84 and the veil is rent, for the mysterious doors of Heaven are opened; the rocks are cleft, the dead arise.85 He dies, but He gives life, and by His death destroys death. He is buried, but He rises again; He goes down into Hell, but He brings up the souls; He ascends to Heaven, and shall come again to judge the quick and the dead, and to put to the test such words as yours. If the one give you a starting point for your error, let the others put an end to it.

Take, in the next place, the subjection by which you subject the Son to the Father. What, you say, is He not now subject, or must He, if He is God, be subject to God?20 You are fashioning your argument as if it concerned some robber, or some hostile deity. But look at it in this manner: that as for my sake He was called a curse,21 Who destroyed my curse; and sin,22 who taketh away the sin of the world; and became a new Adam23 to take the place of the old, just so He makes my disobedience His own as Head of the whole body. As long then as I am disobedient and rebellious, both by denial of God and by my passions, so long Christ also is called disobedient on my account. But when all things shall be subdued unto Him on the one hand by acknowledgment of Him, and on the other by a reformation, then He Himself also will have fulfilled His submission, bringing me whom He has saved to God. For this, according to my view, is the subjection of Christ; namely, the fulfilling of the Father's Will. But as the Son subjects all to the Father, so does the Father to the Son; the One by His Work, the Other by His good pleasure, as we have already said. And thus He Who subjects presents to God that which he has subjected, making our condition His own. Of the same kind, it appears to me, is the expression, "My God, My God, why hast Thou forsaken Me?"24 It was not He who was forsaken either by the Father, or by His own Godhead, as some have thought, as if It were afraid of the Passion, and therefore withdrew Itself from Him in His Sufferings (for who compelled Him either to be born on earth at all, or to be lifted up on the Cross?) But as I said, He was in His own Person representing us. For we were the forsaken and despised before, but now by the Sufferings of Him Who could not suffer, we were taken up and saved. Similarly, He makes His own our folly and our transgressions; and says what follows in the Psalm, for it is very evident that the Twenty-first25 Psalm refers to Christ.

The same consideration applies to another passage, "He learnt obedience by the things which He suffered,"26 and to His "strong crying and tears," and His "Entreaties," and His "being heard," and His" Reverence," all of which He wonderfully wrought out, like a drama whose plot was devised on our behalf. For in His character of the Word He was neither obedient nor disobedient. For such expressions belong to servants, and inferiors, and the one applies to the better sort of them, while the other belongs to those who deserve punishment. But, in the character of the Form of a Servant, He condescends to His fellow servants, nay, to His servants, and takes upon Him a strange form, bearing all me and mine in Himself, that in Himself He may exhaust the bad, as fire does wax, or as the sun does the mists of earth; and that I may partake of His nature by the blending. Thus He honours obedience by His action, and proves it experimentally by His Passion. For to possess the disposition is not enough, just as it would not be enough for us, unless we also proved it by our acts; for action is the proof of disposition.
And perhaps it would not be wrong to assume this also, that by the art27 of His love for man He gauges our obedience, and measures all by comparison with His own Sufferings, so that He may know our condition by His own, and how much is demanded of us, and how much we yield, taking into the account, along with our environment, our weakness also. For if the Light shining through the veil28 upon the darkness, that is upon this life, was persecuted by the other darkness (I mean, the Evil One and the Tempter), how much more will the darkness be persecuted, as being weaker than it? And what marvel is it, that though He entirely escaped, we have been, at any rate in part, overtaken? For it is a more wonderful thing that He should have been chased than that we should have been captured;-at least to the minds of all who reason aright on the subject. I will add yet another passage to those I have mentioned, because I think that it clearly tends to the same sense. I mean "In that He hath suffered being tempted, He is able to succour them that are tempted."29 But God will be all in all in the time of restitution; not in the sense that the Father alone will Be; and the Son be wholly resolved into Him, like a torch into a great pyre, from which it was reft away for a little space, and then put back (for I would not have even the Sabellians injured30 by such an expression); but the entire Godheadwhen we shall be no longer divided (as we now are by movements and passions), and containing nothing at all of God, or very little, but shall be entirely like.

And from the Second Paschal Oration:
Shall I say that which is a greater thing yet? Let us sacrifice ourselves to God; or rather let us go on sacrificing throughout every day and at every moment. Let us accept anything for the Word's sake. By sufferings let us imitate His Passion: by our blood let us reverence His Blood: let us gladly mount upon the Cross. Sweet are the nails, though they be very painful. For to suffer with Christ and for Christ is better than a life of ease with others.

Sweet are the Nails!
Beautiful! Let us all remember to suffer with Joy that our God has overcome as a Man the iniquity which we have done and the evil which we deserve.
Logged

www.hungersite.com  Ãƒâ€šÃ‚  www.freedonation.com you can donate up to 20 times at freedonation.  http://www.pomog.org/ has online 1851 Sir Lancelot C.L. Brenton English translation of Septuagint.http://www.cnrs.ubc.ca/greekbible/ Original Koine Septuagint and New Testament.
SaintShenouti
Sr. Member
****
Offline Offline

Posts: 224


« Reply #10 on: February 23, 2005, 04:45:47 PM »

I simply think he should have expanded the Resurrection scene a bit further.
Logged
Augustine
High Elder
******
Offline Offline

Posts: 565

pray for me, please


WWW
« Reply #11 on: February 24, 2005, 04:41:40 PM »

According to Romans 3:21-26 (actually, reading the whole chapter, or better yet, the whole epistle would be a good lesson), Christ expiated our sins by His Cross, for as the Prophet Isaiah taught (Isaiah 53:5,10) this was "the LORD's will." Said passage from Romans also makes clear, that it is precisely because God is merciful, that He sent forth His Son to "make things right".

Yes, God is merciful. Yet He is also a just God, a "jealous God" - not understood in the way fallen, passionate men are "jealous", but rather in the strictest sense; that to Him obedience is due, to Him is adoration due, for He truly is the greatest good, even good beyond good.

Sin (which at it's heart always has an injustice involved) is incompatable with godliness, which is the condition of those who would be with God in concord and peace forevermore. Christ "makes things right" in this regard. Far from a dualism which pits the Son against a blood-thirsty Father (blasphemy!), this is rather an act of the singular Divine Will (the will of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit), to correct that which is to be found wanting in sinners. It's because God is kind and merciful that the offer to have your debts setteled exists in the first place.

And yes, sin does create a debt with God - the Biblical Greek behind the Lord's Prayer makes it clear that 'debts' is the literal/accurate translation of the Greek word opheilema found in St.Matthew 6:12 (Strong's Greek-English NT Biblical Concordance 3783).

Logged
Tags: The Passion salvation 
Pages: 1   Go Up
  Print  
 
Jump to:  

Powered by MySQL Powered by PHP Powered by SMF 1.1.18 | SMF © 2013, Simple Machines Valid XHTML 1.0! Valid CSS!
Page created in 0.097 seconds with 39 queries.