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Author Topic: Why don't Orthodox accept notion that Christ appeased Father's wrath?  (Read 6253 times) Average Rating: 0
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« on: March 26, 2005, 12:12:36 AM »

I'm reading this excellent book right now, Not by Faith Alone: The Biblical Evidence for the Catholic Doctrine of Justification, by Robert Sungenis. Overall I find that the arguments in this book are beautifully argued in support of the Catholic (and for the most part, Orthodox) understanding of justification.

However, there are several arguments in the book which seem to go against the grain of Orthodox teaching. These arguments are, nontheless, supported by many Biblical quotes.

The one argument I am having difficulty with is his argument that Christ offered himself up to God the Father in order to appease the Father's wrath against mankind for its sins, which have personally damaged the honor of God. Drawing from OT figures, Sungenis shows how many of these righteous individuals acted as mediator to appease God's wrath. The primary example Sungenis uses as a prefigurature of Christ's appeasement is Moses' appeasement of God in Exodus 32 and Exodus 33. God wants to destroy His people for their disobedience, but after Moses implores God not to destroy them, God relents and decides not to destroy his people.

Sungenis further sides with individuals like Anselm and Aquinas, who furthered the idea of "ransom" to include appeasement of God's wrath.

The author at one point admits that not all Catholic theologians agree with the appeasement of wrath concept. I quote the following excerpt:

Quote
Catholic theologian Joseph Fitzmeyer argues that even though the Old Testament imagery speaks to appeasement of anger, this was not Paul's intent, rather, Fitzmeyer sees expiation as the primary effect of Christ's atonement, citing the use of the Greek word +è+++¼-â+¦+++++¦+¦ in the LXX of God's forgiveness of sins. The problem with expiation, however, is that it can either be strictly defined (e.g., to make emends, pacify, apologize, etc.)  Fitzmeyer does not specify which he is using (The Jerome Biblical Commentary, op. cit., p. 302). In any case, appeasing God's anger against sin and the subsequent forgiveness for those sins that issues forth from the appeasement are certainly overlapping concepts, neither negating the other. As Fitzmeyer limits his analysis to +è+++¼-â+¦+++++¦+¦ he fails to address the numerous cognates of the word in the LXX and the various Hebrew words that are behind these cognates which suggest an alternative meaning. (Sungenis 684)

So, what's up with Sungenis, Aquinas and Anselm? And why are the Orthodox adamant in not accepting the idea that Christ appeased God's wrath for mankind?

I appreciate any help you can give! Smiley
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« Reply #1 on: March 26, 2005, 01:59:52 AM »

I'm not totally sure about this, but:

If God (the Father) wanted to destroy humanity, we would call that a function of His Will.  If it is a function of His Will, then the Son of God would submit to that Will.  Thus, the Son of God would not oppose the Will of the Father.  Since Jesus is the Son of God, He would not oppose the Will of the Father if He wanted to destroy humanity.  If that were true, then He would have done so from the beginning, opposing the Flood and any intention of similar acts.  So, again, not being totally sure of this, but I don't think the Son could or would have opposed it, so I don't believe that it was the intention of the Father to destroy humanity.

In fact, He didn't need to - they had destroyed themselves.  ('I was sent to the lost sheep of the House of Israel').
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« Reply #2 on: March 26, 2005, 03:13:07 AM »

Quote
And why are the Orthodox adamant in not accepting the idea that Christ appeased God's wrath for mankind?


I already raised this question myself, and received some great and profound answers which I’m still trying to process: http://www.orthodoxchristianity.net/newboard/index.php/topic,5262.0.html

You also might want to search for the thread concerning the river of fire article - i think it might be in the "Reviews" section.

Very basically, it seems we reject it because a) it presents a distorted conception of God, foreign to how He is characterized in the Bible and early church tradition, and b) it is a foreign concept to the early church's understanding of soteriology, to which Orthodoxy remains faithful.

Peace.
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« Reply #3 on: March 26, 2005, 07:28:42 AM »

Just to say a few things in explanation of why the Orthodox will have no
truck with Anselm and the atonement theology which he developed.
 
His writing of Cur Deus Homo was a significant development in the West
(we even had to study it at Catholic high school), but it did not affect
the East at all. It profoundly changed the Western theology of the
atonement. For hundreds of years afterwards Western theology, Protestant
as well as Catholic, traced its soteriology (the understanding of
salvation and how we are saved) back to Anselm. Because of the split
between East and West, Anselm's theology had little or no influence in
the East.
 
This common Westren doctrine is one of the reasons that Orthodox
Christians tend to see Catholics and Protestants as having far more
in common with each other than eitherdoes with Orthodoxy.
 
Anselm developed what has been called the "judicial" theory of the
atonement. In his book he sought to answer the question "Why did God
become man?" He found the answer in a concept in the mediaeval law of
his time - the concept of satisfaction. If one person wronged another,
it harmed the other person's honour, and so the wronged person demanded
compensation, or "satisfaction". Man's sin had offended God, and because
God is infinite, and God's honour is infinite, the insult man's sin
causes to God's honour demands infinite satisfaction. But man is in no
position to provide this satisfaction, so God sent his Son to offer the
satisfaction on behalf of man. By dying on the cross he appeased God's
wounded honour, and made the full and adequate satisfaction for man's
sin.
 
Of course you know all that already, and it is a very much
oversimplified (but accurate) account of Anselm's theology, as it has
developed in the West, but Orthodox theology knew little of this. The
Western theological development stressed salvation from an angry God,
whereas Orthodox theology stressed, as it always had, salvation from
sin, evil, death and the devil.
 
Anselm's problem is that he could not escape being a prisoner of his own
times and he developed his theology out of the current ideas of justice
and satisfaction which he then read back into verses of the New
Testament which he found sympathetic to his own thoughts. In other
words, he allowed himself to overbalance, and he lost the precious
balance which is the hallmark of true patristic theology. To create his
system he made the additional and gross mistake of relying too much on
his own human reason, which in his work he speaks of as "infallible
reason." Human reason is never infallible, and especially when it is
being applied to the deep mysteries of God's work of our salvation.
 
Since salvation is one of the fundamentals of the Christian faith, this
difference means that Eastern and Western Christians have moved quite
far apart in their culture and ethos and their understanding what the
Christian faith is about. Though the Roman teaching about the double
procession of the Holy Spirit (filioque) brought about the parting of
the ways, it is the countryside which those ways have traversed since the
parting that makes us even greater strangers to each othe.r

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« Reply #4 on: March 26, 2005, 07:35:19 AM »

There is an interesting essay and well worth reading -
"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.

"... 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" [41]. 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" [42]. 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 #5 on: March 27, 2005, 06:30:45 AM »

I've recently been re-reading 'Enemy Territory' by Andrew Walker (a member in the Russian Orthodox Church). He points out that the West developed Atonement theories that left out the Devil and Death. The East has always seen Christ as defeating these, whereas the West developed theories that made the Atonement a 'domestic affair.'

In the West, we need to be defended from a wrathful God the Father.

In the East, we need to be rescued from sin, death and the Devil.

The way I see the idea of Jesus taking the Father's wrath for us is this. It is a displacement theory, not a forgiveness theory.

If we are offended, we can retaliate, or displace our offended feelings, or forgive.

If we retaliate, we hit back.

If we displace, we take it out on someone or something else. (get shouted at by the boss, later kick the cat, or really whack the squash ball)

If we forgive, the offended feelings melt away.

The idea that Jesus bore the Father's wrath, is a picture of displacement. The Father had to so something with His wrath, someone had to pay.

The idea that Jesus defeated sin, death and the Devil, and the Father's wrath just melted away, fits forgiveness, I believe.

Christina
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« Reply #6 on: March 28, 2005, 11:38:20 AM »

The judicial aspect of the redemption is not ignored by Orthodoxy, but it is framed in a very different way.  The best treatment I've read on this is found in Romans 3:25, where we are told that it was precisely because of God's patience and mercy (His decision to "pass over" our sins), that He sent His Son to "justify" (make just) sinners.  In other words, the "legal" aspect of the redemption is a part of the "moral" significance of the redemption.  God doesn't "hate" us as we understand that emotional sensation (though this is how we humans will experience God's "displeasure" with us), but He does "hate" what mankind has done with itself - this is something utterly incompatable with Him.  This of course goes beyond legal/moral categories into ontological matters (like how we enter this world graceless and subject to spiritual and physical corruption), but there is that moral element to be sure.

"Justice" is not some compelling force which is somehow apart from and "above" God, which He must answer to, like the greco-roman gods had to contend with "fate".  Rather, justice pertains to God's "character", in the sense of what He reveals of His goodness.  So, what is "unjust" is always that which is "ungodly".  Thus, Christ makes sinners "just".

This understanding sticks to the letter of the Sacred Scriptures, without going beyond them into overly anthropomorphic/idolatrous views of God.  The problem with later western models of the redemption, is not simply their lop sidedness (over emphasis of the legal/forensic aspect of salvation), but the growing distortion of that point of emphasis.  This has the danger of implying that the Divine Will of the Son (keeping in mind that the Son has a human will as well - despite what certain ancient heretics have taught), is different than the Divine Will of the Father and the Holy Spirit - such a teaching is impliictly Arian, and I'd submit that many of the non-confessional Protestant groups in the west now are de factor Arians in their Christology (and this is in large part because of their soteriological views.)  In the strict sense, the saving feat in which sinners are "made just" in God's sight, is a sacrifice not simply to God the Father, but to the Holy Trinity - Orthodoxy dogmatically maintains this, as a safe guard against the Arianizing doctrine which implies that Christ and His Father have two different wills (they can agree perhaps, but are different nonetheless.)  And that makes sense, in the Orthodox understanding of the redemption - since the Father is not an "angry despot" in need of some whipping boy to take "his frustration" out on (blasphemy), but rather desires that men be restored to justice - which is the will of the Son and the Holy Spirit, and these Three all participate in making that happen.  One will, hence, one end.

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« Reply #7 on: April 27, 2005, 12:33:56 AM »

Don't we believe that Jesus was crucified to atone for our sins as the final sacrifice? Some Orthodox Christians reject the doctrine of vicarious atonement.
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« Reply #8 on: April 27, 2005, 10:21:46 AM »

Quote
Don't we believe that Jesus was crucified to atone for our sins as the final sacrifice? Some Orthodox Christians reject the doctrine of vicarious atonement.

I think it's the sense of this doctrine as held by heterodox confessions which Orthodoxy doesn't accept.

The belief that God is compelled, that He simply cannot forgive without first "taking it out" on someone, or anything like this, is not held by Orthodox Christians.  Also, often implicit to such conceptualizations of the redemption (whether present in doctrinal formulations or more often, popular piety) is a quasi-Arianism; the idea that somehow the Father and the Son have different wills - as if the Son is somehow the "nice one" Who wants us to be saved, but first must assuage the wrath of His angry Father Who if not placated, will simply keep thrashing us.

This is an impious type of thinking, and does set up a "duality" between the Father and the Son which not only implies their inequality, but also some wise, a disagreement on their part...different wills, which is an Arianizing doctrine.

OTOH, if we say that Christ suffered and died to manifest in His members the justice of God (not as something which oppresses and compells the Divine Will, but rather as a manifestation of "God's character" so to speak, His goodness etc.), a justice common to the Holy Trinity (and not simply God the Father), and so as to rob the devil of any grounds to accuse those forgiven of their sins, then that's good and true.

This subject also is a good lesson in why the teaching of the Church against monophysitism and monothelitism is so important - precisely because while affirming the unity of Christ as "God-Man", it makes comprehensible just how He could also be "obedient" and "a servant" - precisely because while having a Divine Will, He also had a human will, and this indeed (being creaturely) was "lesser" than the Divine Will, could be obedient, servile, etc.  Without affirming this, one could only read of our Lord's agony in the Garden of Gethsemene, and draw from this some kind of Arian type doctrine (since it is clear here that Christ as a man, must choose obedience, and that there is at work a will which is not identical to that of God, even if unfathomably and infinitely wedded to the Divine Will in the Incarnation.)

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« Reply #9 on: April 27, 2005, 11:25:12 AM »

For every act of forgiveness, there is a sacrifice involved. For example, if your daughter broke your lamp, you'd forgive her but you'd still have the purchase a new lamp.
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« Reply #10 on: April 27, 2005, 11:51:32 AM »

thanks Augustine and Irish Hermit - those were very insightful and succinct summaries and done without setting up western strawmen.

When I first began studying Othodoxy I was having enough trouble getting through this issue; the fact that many Orthodox created strawmen to dismantle only added to my frustration; you each have fairly represented the western view (which I once once adamantly held) and gave a measured and intelligilble Orthodox response (which I now adhere to).

thank you for the refreshing posts!
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« Reply #11 on: April 27, 2005, 01:15:28 PM »

Don't we believe that Jesus was crucified to atone for our sins as the final sacrifice? Some Orthodox Christians reject the doctrine of vicarious atonement.

Matthew,
It is one-liner statements like these that make many of us want to throw our hands up in frustration and think that you're a troll.  It's as if you didn't even bother to read (and think about) the statements by Irish Hermit, British Enquirer and Augustine.
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« Reply #12 on: April 27, 2005, 01:18:04 PM »

thanks Augustine and Irish Hermit - those were very insightful and succinct summaries and done without setting up western strawmen.

When I first began studying Othodoxy I was having enough trouble getting through this issue; the fact that many Orthodox created strawmen to dismantle only added to my frustration; you each have fairly represented the western view (which I once once adamantly held) and gave a measured and intelligilble Orthodox response (which I now adhere to).

thank you for the refreshing posts!

Ditto.  These are keepers.
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« Reply #13 on: April 27, 2005, 01:26:22 PM »

For every act of forgiveness, there is a sacrifice involved. For example, if your daughter broke your lamp, you'd forgive her but you'd still have the purchase a new lamp.

No, you wouldn't have to buy a new lamp. You also have the option of not buying a new lamp and letting her wander around in darkness, bumping into things, getting hurt, and eventually walking straight into the broken lamp, electrifying herself. But that wouldn't be very loving as a father, would it? So you buy a new lamp so that she may see and be safe.
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« Reply #14 on: April 27, 2005, 02:36:07 PM »



Matthew,
It is one-liner statements like these that make many of us want to throw our hands up in frustration and think that you're a troll. It's as if you didn't even bother to read (and think about) the statements by Irish Hermit, British Enquirer and Augustine.

I asked the question because Orthodox Info said something along the lines that vicarious atonement is a Catholic idea that is foreign to Orthodoxy.
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« Reply #15 on: April 27, 2005, 03:37:18 PM »



I asked the question because Orthodox Info said something along the lines that vicarious atonement is a Catholic idea that is foreign to Orthodoxy.

 You may want to check out this article from the same website which does teach the vicarious atonement:
http://orthodoxinfo.com/inquirers/christcross.aspx
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« Reply #16 on: April 27, 2005, 05:26:13 PM »

Brother StGeorge,

Let's assume that Aquinas and Anselm were right. (I have to say that they follow the teachings of St Agoustine).

They talk about a Father that loves and has all the Goodness. But He is also Just because of His nature. So He is justly wrathful. By their viewpoint there is nothing wrong about the Father being wrathful - not being wrathful because of His wrathful nature but becoming wrathful as the result of human transgressional behavior.

So, moved by His love He wants to accept humans into Heavens but human transgression against His laws makes that impossible because then He would not be Just. Even Father has to obey to His Devine Just Nature. Otherwise He would have denied Himself. He could not behave otherwise. If he would have forgiven humans without the exercise of punishment then He would not been Just. So being, as a perfect God, full of Love and Forgivingness and being at the same time perfectly Just, He found Himself in a deadlock situation.

There were (supposedly) two major problems. First there was not a punishment to be performed over humans that would be worthy of Devine Justice and at the same time to let humans survive afterwards. For to disobey God the just sentence is to die. The second major problem was that no man was worthy to satisfy the justly wrath of God. The insult was against God, and the satisfaction had to be given by a Devine Person.

In His loving Justice He came up with a perfect plan. He asked His Son to be punished in place of humans. The Son accepted this plan because He was an obedient Son. He incarnated in time and as a human He “paid for our sins”. Being a man-God and by his resurrection He overcame the in-justice that He suffered by becoming a scapegoat.

In this way the Father accomplished to be both Just and Loving full of Forgivingness. The Devine Justice was satisfied by the suffering of a Devine Person and at the same time Father showed mercy and love to humans.

This is more or less the Anselmian theology.

Let’s try to see why Orthodox theology never agreed on such a proposition: If we see this interpretation of salvation, the central idea is neither humans nor God - related as persons. The central position in the explanation of salvation is the NATURE of God. In this context we have to admit that God is Just and Loving because He obeys to a “need”, not because He is the Person He wanted to be. This “need” is His Devine nature. Father can not be anything else but Himself as He is prescribed by His transcendental nature. He either “needs” to be according to His Nature or He can not be at all (he may then deviated from Godhead).

By Anselmian dogmatic God's Trinity Persons have to obey to Uncreated needs set by God’s nature. In this case God is presented as a being that has a Nature that defines Him to be Divine. This Nature is the cause for the existence of Trinity Persons and for Their actions. It sounds that God is someone like a perfect “human”, a “super-being” of transcendental nature that lives eternaly but He is restricted for not being able to perform as we wants. He has to behave according to His super-natural nature. The personal relation between the Trinity Persons and the relations that these Persons have with human persons are defined by his Nature.
 
What humans can do, to have a personal behavior that can be against their nature, Trinity Persons can not do at all. The moment They do it they stop being Devine. But "fortunately" for Anselm and Aquinas and St. Augustine the Trinity Persons have not a choice in this matter. It’s like asking a human to be without head. His head is absolutely necessary for human to exist and he has no choice to be with or without a head. Likewise Trinity Persons have no choice but to be what they are. They have no other way of being Devine but to act according to this precondition: perform as you want but there are limits in who you are according to your nature.

This whole “Anselmian explanation” is an after-platonic idea of God that comes into Personal being as the result of a Devine impersonal nature. Its Christian-Catholic origin comes from St. Augustine.

As strange as it sounds - to our own platonic education - Orthodox Church indoctrinates that God can be as He likes to be. He can either be in a transcendental Devine nature and he can also be in a human nature at the same time, as Christ did (Christ will be human in nature for ever, as man-God. Neither His Devine Nature not His Human nature "make" Him God. Being the Son in personal relation to Father "makes" Him God. And being the Son of the Father is not naturaly caused aftermath, because of course being Son and Father are not reffering in physical relationships because then there would be two God's with different natures - but God is One). God's Personal being is the cause of being Devine. He is not limited by any “need” and He does not perform His “actions” according to them, He is even free from the “needs” of His nature. The Trinity Persons are the cause of the Devine Nature and the Person Father is the cause of both Devine Person Christ and Devine Person Spirit.

According to Orthodox doctrine God is "Who He is" because He wants to be “Who He is”.  

I am not, explaining the Orthodox Dogma, but I am trying to answer your question “why Orthodox do not agree with Catholics on this issue”. You can find Orthodox thesis in link : http://www.trinitylight.net/theology/ziz_being.htm,

In case you do not know: “platonic ideas” refers to the theories of ancient Greek Philosopher Plato.
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« Reply #17 on: April 27, 2005, 10:30:05 PM »



 You may want to check out this article from the same website which does teach the vicarious atonement:
http://orthodoxinfo.com/inquirers/christcross.aspx

Thank you for the article. I was getting worried.  Afro
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« Reply #18 on: October 16, 2005, 08:15:16 PM »

Romans 5:9 
"Since we have now been justified by his blood, how much more shall we be saved from God's wrath through him! 10For if, when we were God's enemies, we were reconciled to him through the death of his Son, how much more, having been reconciled, shall we be saved through his life! 11Not only is this so, but we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation."
Read the Commentary on the Divine Liturgy of Sts.Germanos and Nicholas Kabasilas.
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« Reply #19 on: July 06, 2011, 11:12:42 PM »

Very basically, it seems we reject it because a) it presents a distorted conception of God, foreign to how He is characterized in the Bible and early church tradition, and b) it is a foreign concept to the early church's understanding of soteriology, to which Orthodoxy remains faithful.

Peace.

But, are you sure that's the case? Sts. Athanasius, Symeon the New Theologian, Cyril, Severus (for OOs anyway), John Chrysostom and others all teach the doctrine of atonement from a judicial standpoint.

St Severus of Antioch:
"So he became sin to remit the sins of others: so also he paid the debt that was incurred for us, and we ourselves became righteousness in him; for those who have been freed from debts are righteous, and |203 are not termed liable. And, because during the time of his Humanization he did no sin, therefore also iniquity was not found in him, but he showed himself righteous, that is, he is righteousness; and, when he became flesh, all our nature again was justified in him as in firstfruits; and this is what the wise Paul said to the Corinthians about the Father, «He made him sin for our sake, who knew no sin, that we might be the righteousness of God in him»" ~letter 65

St Cyril:
"The Divine Scripture says that Christ hath been made the High Priest and Apostle of our confession [Heb. 3:1] and He hath offered Himself for us for an odour of a sweet smell to God the Father. If any one therefore say that not the Very Word of God was made our High Priest and Apostle when He was made Flesh and man as we, but that man of a woman apart from himself as other than He, was [so made]: or if any one say that in His own behalf also He offered the Sacrifice and not rather for us alone (for He needed not offering Who knoweth not sin), be he anathema." ~10th anathema to Nestorius

St Athanasius:
"For being over all, the Word of God naturally by offering His own temple and corporeal instrument for the life  of all satisfied the debt by His death" ~ "On the Incarnation"

St John Chrysostom:
“It is as if, at a session of a court of justice, the devil should be addressed as follows: ‘Granted that you destroyed all men because you found them guilty of sin; but why did you destroy Christ? Is it not very evident that you did so unjustly? Well then, through Him the whole world will be vindicated." ~Commentary on St. John the Apostle and Evangelist, Homilies 48-88

Symeon the New Theologian:
“God, Who is incomparably higher than the visible and invisible creation, accepted human nature, which is higher than the whole visible creation, and offered it as a sacrifice to His God and Father.... Honoring the sacrifice, the Father could not leave it in the hands of death. Therefore, He annihilated His sentence." ~The First-Created Man

Testimony from Scripture*:
"Much more then, being now justified by his blood, we shall be saved from wrath through him." ~ Romans 5:9

"And almost all things are by the law purged with blood; and without shedding of blood is no remission."
~Hebrews 9:22

I know as Orthodox we place more emphasis on the ontological view of the atonement, that is, Christ
dying to grant us life and "God becoming man so we can become [like] god", but, I feel that we must at least place some emphasis on the judicial theory in order to remain completely loyal to Holy scripture and the patristic tradition.

Seeking your prayers,
Severian

*All scriptural citations taken from the King James Version
 
And yes, most of the content of my post was taken from the "orthodox.info" website linked above.
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« Reply #20 on: July 08, 2011, 07:22:20 PM »

A thought or two:

First, it is important to distinguish Anselm's and Aquinas's understandings of the atonement from the penal understandings that were developed by Protestant theologians.  Neither Anselm nor Aquinas, at least so I understand, taught that Jesus needed to be punished, in our place, to satisfy the demands of justice.  As David Hart writes:

Quote
... the closer the attention one pays Anselm's argument, the harder it becomes to locate the exact point at which he supposedly breaks from patristic orthodoxy. The divine action follows the same course as in the "classic" model: human sin having disrupted the order of God's good creation, and humanity having been handed over to death and the devil's rule, God enters into a condition of estrangement and slavery to set humanity free .... Anselm's is not a new narrative of salvation. In truth, this facile distinction between a patristic soteriology concerned exclusively with the rescue of humanity from death and a theory of atonement concerned exclusively with remission from guilt - the distinction, that is, between "Physical" and "moral" theories - is supportable, if at all, only in terms of emphasis and imagery; Athanasius, Gregory of nysea, and John of Damascus (to name a few) were no less conscious than Anselm of the guilt overcome by Christ on the cross, nor he any less concerned than they with the Son's campaign against death's dominion .... And it is explicitly not a story about a sustitutionary sacrifice offered as a simple restitution for human guilt, but concerns, rather, the triumph over death, the devil, and sin accomplished in Christ's voluntary self-donation to the Father, which the Father receives (as Gregory the Theologian would say) "by economy", so that its benefits might rebound to those with whom Christ has assumed solidarity ....

Even here, then, in the text that most notoriously expounds the sacrificial logic of atonement, the idea of sacrifice is subverted from within: as the story of Christ's sacrifice belongs not to an ecomony of credit and exchange but to the trinitarian motion of love, it is given entirely as gift - a gift given when it should not have needed to be given again, by God, at a price that we imposed upon him .... the primordiality of the gift is the truth of Christ's paschal donation: the gift God gives in creation continues to be given again, ever more fully, in defiance of all rejection, economy, violence, and indifference; there is no division between justice and mercy in God, on Anselm's account, because both belong already to the giving of the gift - which precedes, exceeds, and annuls all debt.

Also see Eleonore Stump's discussion of Aquinas and atonement.  Personally, I find a satisfaction construal of atonement difficult to preach, as it is so vulnerable to misunderstanding.

Second, the language of satisfaction and debt is present in the Eastern tradition, as well as in Scripture.  Sts. Athanasius and Nicholas Cabasilas immediately come to mind.  It is also found in the liturgy:

Quote
Come, all ye peoples, and let us venerate the blessed Wood, through which the eternal justice has been brought to pass. For he who by a tree deceived our forefather Adam, is by the Cross himself deceived; and he who by tyranny gained possession of the creature endowed by God with royal dignity, is overthrown in headlong fall. By the Blood of God the poison of the serpent is washed away; and the curse of a just condemnation is loosed by the unjust punishment inflicted on the Just. For it was fitting that wood should be healed by wood, and that through the Passion of One Who knew not passion should be remitted all the sufferings of him who was condemned because of wood. But glory to Thee, O Christ our King, for Thy dread dispensation towards us, whereby Thou hast saved us all, for Thou art good and lovest mankind.  (Vespers of the Exaltation, doxastikon for "Lord I have cried")

This language cannot be dismissed, but it does need to be properly interpreted.

Third, however we understand the wrath of God, it cannot be understood as competing with God's love and mercy.  When we think of the divine wrath, it seems that we almost immediately assume a retributive understanding of punishment--an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth.  But I think this needs to be challenged, at least when we are contemplating the justice of God.  The connection between sin and deserved punishment is by no means obvious. What exactly does "punishment," as well as other words like "debt" and "penalty," mean in this context? If I, with evil intent, inflict injury upon my brother, what does justice demand? Reparation immediately comes to mind. The person responsible for the injury needs to make just compensation and do all that he can to restore that which was lost and perhaps more than was lost. But beyond restitution, justice also requires that the evil-doer should repent and seek the forgiveness of the one he has unjustly injured. He needs to offer apology and make atonement and do penance, thereby demonstrating the sincerity and genuineness of his repentance. Beyond this, is further punishment needed? Does justice demand the direct infliction of suffering upon the one who has committed evil? If yes, why? Who benefits from the infliction of this suffering?

If we disobey the commandments of God, does God demand that the sinner be punished? Is such punishment a precondition for reconciliation between the sinner and God?   We need to be clear. My sin does not literally injure or damage God. My sin does not literally create a debt that needs to be paid. My sin does not literally offend God's honor. My sin does not literally grieve his heart. We, of course, employ such language, but it's all metaphor. God is God. My sin literally makes no difference to him, but it makes all the difference to me, the sinner. I am the one who is directly injured by my sins. Sin diminishes me. Sin destroys me. Sin punishes me.

Theories of atonement abound in the history of the Church. Each, I think, illumines, to one degree or another, but some illumine more than others. Juridical models of atonement are particularly vulnerable to misunderstanding because they are so easily misinterpreted as declaring that man needs to propitiate the Deity before reconciliation can occur. But this is completely wrong. As revealed in the gospel, the love of God is unconditional. God is the one who graciously acts to restore sinful mankind to himself. God is the one who takes the initiative. God is the one who enters into the breach. God is the one who bears the costs. "But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was on him; and with his stripes we are healed."

For an evangelical presentation of the patristic understanding of the atonement Substitutionary Atonement in the Church Fathers.  I cannot vouch for its scholarly soundness, however.   
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« Reply #21 on: July 08, 2011, 08:51:20 PM »

Greetings in that Divine and Most Precious Name of Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ!

I'm not totally sure about this, but:

If God (the Father) wanted to destroy humanity, we would call that a function of His Will.  If it is a function of His Will, then the Son of God would submit to that Will.  Thus, the Son of God would not oppose the Will of the Father.  Since Jesus is the Son of God, He would not oppose the Will of the Father if He wanted to destroy humanity.  If that were true, then He would have done so from the beginning, opposing the Flood and any intention of similar acts.  So, again, not being totally sure of this, but I don't think the Son could or would have opposed it, so I don't believe that it was the intention of the Father to destroy humanity.

In fact, He didn't need to - they had destroyed themselves.  ('I was sent to the lost sheep of the House of Israel').

textbook Orthodox answer Smiley

This is precisely how the "one will/one operation" Christological debates got started in the first place and I do believe they have been rightfully settled since.

stay blessed,
habte selassie
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« Reply #22 on: July 09, 2011, 01:10:58 AM »

   
Quote
Why don't Orthodox accept notion that Christ appeased Father's wrath?
I recently blogged on this...



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« Reply #23 on: July 09, 2011, 01:29:27 AM »

   
Quote
Why don't Orthodox accept notion that Christ appeased Father's wrath?
I recently blogged on this...


You have a blog? Is it against site rules to place the address in your .sig? If it reflects the quality of your posts here, it is certainly a goldmine.

Will definitely have a look around. Hengel and Goedel? Two of my favorite thinkers.
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« Reply #24 on: July 09, 2011, 01:49:30 AM »

   
Quote
Why don't Orthodox accept notion that Christ appeased Father's wrath?
I recently blogged on this...


You have a blog? Is it against site rules to place the address in your .sig? If it reflects the quality of your posts here, it is certainly a goldmine.

Will definitely have a look around. Hengel and Goedel? Two of my favorite thinkers.
Thanks Orthonorm, that's very kind of you to say. I actually only started the blog so I could link a friend to the essay I wrote on fractals, but the blog has evidently gotten a huge number of hits; I might start adding to it on a regular basis if the traffic stays so high (one Orthodox website also recently re-posted the linked essay on propitiation with a very kind review).
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« Reply #25 on: July 09, 2011, 09:36:42 AM »

For an evangelical presentation of the patristic understanding of the atonement Substitutionary Atonement in the Church Fathers.  I cannot vouch for its scholarly soundness, however.

I only skimmed over the first few pages, but from what I saw, he made a good distinction between "substitution" and "penal substitution".
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« Reply #26 on: July 09, 2011, 12:42:40 PM »


You have a blog? Is it against site rules to place the address in your .sig? If it reflects the quality of your posts here, it is certainly a goldmine.


For Pete's sake, I am about to pound my head through a wall. This is the fourth time in four days I have had to direct someone to the Board Policies thread, an excerpt of which follows:

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2) Links to one's own blog as a means of advertisement, without citing the relevant part of the blog that the author is quoting, are not allowed.  However, alerting users to another blog is acceptable as long as it is relevant to a thread.

*Note: links in your signature are permissible and do not require authorization

(Bold text is mine)

Posters....for the sake of my sanity,

PLEASE READ THE BOARD POLICIES THREAD
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« Reply #27 on: July 09, 2011, 01:03:17 PM »

For an evangelical presentation of the patristic understanding of the atonement Substitutionary Atonement in the Church Fathers.  I cannot vouch for its scholarly soundness, however.

I only skimmed over the first few pages, but from what I saw, he made a good distinction between "substitution" and "penal substitution".

This distinction is crucial.  The language of sacrifice/ransom/debt is a figurative way to speak of the work of redemption accomplished for us and on our behalf in Jesus Christ.  It has its roots both in the ritual and torah of Israel and in the ritual and laws of the first millennium pagan cultures of the Mediterranean.  But as employed in the Church, it does not imply the appeasement of God, as if it is necessary for humanity to persuade God to change his stance toward humanity, from one of wrath to one of mercy.

Reformed Protestants would of course insist that their understanding of penal atonement is also grounded in divine love:  God initiates the process of reconciliation and provides himself as a penal sacrifice.  The work of atonement thus occurs within the Trinitarian life of God.  This view presupposes a retributive understanding of divine justice.  It is this understanding of justice we need to directly challenge.   
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« Reply #28 on: July 12, 2011, 05:58:13 PM »

Quote
And yes, most of the content of my post was taken from the "orthodox.info" website linked above.
Actually, now that I've come to think of it, no it wasn't. Besides the quotes from Saint John Chrysostom and Symeon the new theologian, everything I posted was from what I've read of the Fathers. And I'm not even that well-versed in patristics! Anyone who does enough reading will come to realize that the judicial theory of the atonement, so long as it is balanced with the ontological view, is not in any way erroneous or heterodox. But, if I have missed something, please correct me.

Pray for me,
Severian

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