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Author Topic: Did Christ bear our sins or guilt on the cross?  (Read 3641 times) Average Rating: 0
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Timon
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« on: October 20, 2011, 01:27:47 AM »

Huh

What is the Orthodox view of this? Is it dogma?

And whats the theological term for "Christ literally bearing our sins" on the cross?  I heard a speaker at a Baptist church mention it, but I forgot.  I know the guy, and I could just ask him, but I want him to think Im smart.....   Grin
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Have mercy on me, O God, have mercy on me.


« Reply #1 on: October 20, 2011, 06:00:15 AM »

Christ bears our sins because he suffers with us in our fallen humanity. He assumes our flesh, and redeems it. The Author of Life dies, that He might bring life to the dead. "Christ is risen from the dead, trampling down death by death, and upon those in the tombs bestowing life."

The idea that Christ was substituted for us that he might bear the penalty of our sins (that is, "penal substitution") is NOT Orthodox dogma. It has no place in the Church.
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« Reply #2 on: October 20, 2011, 06:56:47 AM »

Huh

What is the Orthodox view of this? Is it dogma?

And whats the theological term for "Christ literally bearing our sins" on the cross?  I heard a speaker at a Baptist church mention it, but I forgot.  I know the guy, and I could just ask him, but I want him to think Im smart.....   Grin

These articles may help you:

http://www.oodegr.com/english/swthria/antil2.htm

http://www.oodegr.com/english/ag_grafi/expiation.htm

http://www.oodegr.com/english/swthria/antilytron_4.htm

http://www.oodegr.com/english/protestantism/salvation_differences.htm

Peace,
Theophilos
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« Reply #3 on: October 20, 2011, 07:11:59 AM »

Interesting articles, particularly the third one down.
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« Reply #4 on: October 20, 2011, 08:01:05 AM »

Actually, I do remember reading in the Vespers doxasticon for the Exaltation the following:

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.

Δεῦτε ἅπαντα τὰ ἔθνη, τὸ εὐλογημένον ξύλον προσκυνήσωμεν, δι᾿ οὗ γέγονεν ἡ αἰώνιος δικαιοσύνη· τὸν γὰρ Προπάτορα Ἀδάμ, ὁ ἀπατήσας ἐν ξύλῳ, τῷ Σταυρῷ δελεάζεται· καὶ πίστει κατενεχθεὶς πτῶμα ἐξαίσιον, ὁ τυραννίδι κρατήσας τοῦ βασιλείου πλάσματος, Αἵματι Θεοῦ, ὁ ἰὸς τοῦ ὄφεως ἀποπλύνεται· καὶ κατάρα λέλυται, καταδίκης δικαίας, ἀδίκῳ δίκῃ τοῦ δικαίου κατακριθέντος· ξύλῳ γὰρ ἔδει τὸ ξύλον ἰάσασθαι, καὶ πάθει τοῦ ἀπαθοῦς, τὰ ἐν ξύλῳ λῦσαι πάθη τοῦ κατακρίτου. Ἀλλὰ δόξα Χριστὲ Βασιλεῦ, τῇ περὶ ἡμᾶς σου φρικτῇ oικονομίᾳ δι᾿ ἧς ἔσωσας πάντας, ὡς ἀγαθὸς καὶ φιλάνθρωπος.

So language of "punishment" or "penalty", and also "justice", seems to be acceptable in Orthodoxy. My impression is that the problem with Western theories of atonement (what we call "penal substitution") is that, following Anselm, they assumed that in some sense Christ became juridically guilty for the sake of His Sacrifice, therefore "earning" vicariously the penalty that the rest of us deserved before. I don't know exactly how Anselm argues for this, but perhaps because if Christ remained completely blameless, even as He suffered death for us on the Cross, one might accuse God the Father of being unjust.

In any case, I'm pretty sure this, at least, is not Orthodox. As the hymn demonstrates, Christ remained completely blameless even as He sacrificed Himself for us on the Cross. Yes, a penalty needed to be paid in accordance with justice, but through the great mystery of the Cross, it was paid in a manner that allowed both justice and mercy to be satisfied (see below on the right understanding of justice and necessity). If God the Father treated the Son as really guilty, that would in fact be unjust (since He was Just).

NB someone might object that the hymn calls the punishment "unjust" and extrapolate from this that justice played no part in the Sacrifice, but to me this only means that it was unjust insofar as it was inflicted on the Just One. For us, the punishment would have been just.

Here's a nice quote from St Gregory Palamas (Homily 16):

Man was led into his captivity when he experienced God’s wrath, this wrath being the good God’s just abandonment
of man. God had to be reconciled with the human race, for otherwise
mankind could not be set free from the servitude. A sacrifice was needed to
reconcile the Father on high with us and to sanctify us, since we had been
soiled by fellowship with the evil one. There had to be a sacrifice which both
cleansed and was clean, and a purified, sinless priest…. God overturned the
devil through suffering and His Flesh which He offered as a sacrifice to God
the Father, as a pure and altogether holy victim – how great is His gift! – and
reconciled God to the human race.

I think this shows that it's not quite right to say that there was no need to satisfy justice. While it is true that God is not bound by necessity, He is nevertheless just by nature, and so it would be inconsistent with His nature to act unjustly.

In conclusion, I would say "penal satisfaction" is a misnomer: a penalty was required. The "wrong" theory of atonement should be called "penal substitution", since it is indeed wrong to say that Christ actually became guilty for the sake of the Economy. He paid the price for us, yes, but all the while remaining completely innocent.
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« Reply #5 on: October 20, 2011, 08:57:27 AM »

Interesting articles, particularly the third one down.

I agree. The third one is rather interesting as it focuses on the textual differences between the Septuagint and the Masoretic version of the Tanakh.
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« Reply #6 on: October 20, 2011, 09:15:32 AM »

Oh wow, I never knew this! I always had a problem with penal substitution, glad we don't take any stock in it!
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« Reply #7 on: October 20, 2011, 09:37:26 AM »

Oh wow, I never knew this! I always had a problem with penal substitution, glad we don't take any stock in it!

I wouldn't say we put "no" stock in it. The Bible certainly contains language that suggests this view.

There are several ways to view the Cross and Resurrection, and we do not choose just one. We don't emphasize Penal Substitution much because it can become problematic if taken too far, as it does with some branches of Protestantism. Still, it is there in Orthodoxy, to a degree.
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« Reply #8 on: October 20, 2011, 12:03:04 PM »

Well, this is another confusing issue for me!

Would it be safe to understand it like this?  Protestants usually view sin as what Christ saved us from.  I think, but could be wrong, that most other people view death as what we needed to be saved from.  Is it better to say that Christ saved us from death rather than sin?  It seems that if you say sin is what we are saved from, then penal substitution makes a lot more sense.

I didnt get to read ALL of those articles yet, but Im going to try and get that done today.  Maybe it will make more sense after that.

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Jonathan Gress
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« Reply #9 on: October 20, 2011, 12:32:52 PM »

I don't think it's one or the other. Christ saved us from both sin and death. Death, of course, has two aspects, the material and the spiritual. Spiritual death in a sense can be equated with sin: when the soul turns from God, the soul dies. Not in the sense that the soul dissolves into nothing like the body does after death; that is impossible. But the soul is deprived of God's Grace, i.e. spiritual life, which is thought of more in terms of darkness and light. The dead soul is the darkened one, the living soul is the illuminated one. Material death, which I think is what St Paul is referring to when he speaks of Christ saving us from sin and death, is understood to be a consequence of spiritual death or sin, not by some material causation but by a mystical one, just as our body is mystically animated by our soul. So liberation from sin necessarily entails liberation from death, and liberation from death can only come about through liberation from sin. I would probably say that sin is logically prior to death, since the choice to disobey God and fall into sin is the cause of the death of the soul and then the body, rather than vice versa (contra Romanides; see below).

I think there is something in the idea that Western Christians, especially certain kinds of Protestants, have emphasized the sin aspect too much, mainly because they tend to think of sin in exclusively juridical terms, so that the connection between sin and mortality is not apparent. But I think that one can go to another extreme by trying to say that it is only death, i.e. material death, that we are saved from, e.g. Fr John Romanides' theory that all of our sinfulness is in fact directly caused by our fear of material death. I don't think this accounts for e.g. the sin of the Devil, which was not motivated by fear of death, or even the sin of Adam, which occurred before Adam was mortal and therefore also cannot be explained by fear of death.
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« Reply #10 on: October 20, 2011, 01:26:23 PM »

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

I'm not sure of the the Fathers comments, but I'm just going with my gut here.

In the Church, we see that Jesus Christ died because of Ancestral Sin, in that He was perfectly Human and therefore perfectly mortal and that morality itself originated in the consequences of Ancestral Sin.  Through the Incarnation, human nature was fully deified, and also the Word is fully humanized.  The "guilt" is our mortality, which Christ accepted.  In His death, He then participated in the consequence of Sin, even though He Himself is Sinless.  However, He did not bear our punishment in the sense that God needed to exercise His wrath, or because someone had to be punished.

Rather, what Paul was explaining when he talks about the Sacrifice of Christ in Hebrews or Romans and the atonement of His blood is not because Christ takes on our guilt so much as the our Salvation lies in the reality that God Almighty became a Man with blood to shed in the first place! This is the miracle of Salvation, for when God became Man, He inherently created the saving Grace for the physicality of human beings.  Sin is abolished in His death because His death symbolizes the absolute reality of His humanity. His death did not tip the scales of Judgment, nor did His sacrifice atone for sins in the sense that He personally and individually took on the punishment of all human beings at once.  The Grace of God saves humanity, by the Mysteries, and even beyond (such as the Thief on the Cross, or the Old Testament Saints) but it is not because Christ paid the price for God, because Christ is God.  Jesus Christ, in being human, offers the connection and bridges the gap, joining all of humanity as His Body. God saves humanity out of His Divine Love, which is manifested through Jesus Christ, it is a gift not a wage.  If Salvation were  a result of the price paid of Jesus Christ's sacrifice on the Cross, then it would be a wage, such as the wages of sin being death, as if Salvation could be earned or bought.  However we know that "the wages of Sin is death, and the gift of God is Life." 

Stay blessed,
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« Reply #11 on: October 20, 2011, 01:50:02 PM »

Well, this is another confusing issue for me!

Would it be safe to understand it like this?  Protestants usually view sin as what Christ saved us from.  I think, but could be wrong, that most other people view death as what we needed to be saved from.  Is it better to say that Christ saved us from death rather than sin?  It seems that if you say sin is what we are saved from, then penal substitution makes a lot more sense.

I didnt get to read ALL of those articles yet, but Im going to try and get that done today.  Maybe it will make more sense after that.



We tend to emphasize the Christus Victor model of atonement. We always understand the crucifixion in light of the resurrection. We do not isolate either event in terms of our salvation and how it was brought about.
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« Reply #12 on: October 20, 2011, 02:02:17 PM »

This article might be helpful:

http://monachos.net/content/patristics/studies-themes/54-the-spirit-of-exile-and-the-sin-of-man
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« Reply #13 on: October 20, 2011, 02:19:25 PM »

Interesting articles, particularly the third one down.

I would be interested in comparing the Qumran scroll of Isaiah with the Masoretic and Septuagint, because this guy is putting way too much of his argument on textual differences.

Edit: I looked up a translation of the Qumran scroll text which I believe is dated to the 1st century B.C., and the English translators have noted that the entire chapter is identical to the Masoretic text with the exception of a single word, which is of no consequence. These translators actually rendered the word in the 10th verse not as "bruised" but actually has "crushed". Doesn't help his argument out too much.

So it is rendered: "And the LORD was pleased to crush him and He has caused him grief."

This is in reference to the Suffering Servant, and it doesn't really help out those who wish to whitewash Orthodoxy of all elements of Penal Satisfaction/Substitutionary Atonement.

Well, this is another confusing issue for me!

Would it be safe to understand it like this?  Protestants usually view sin as what Christ saved us from.  I think, but could be wrong, that most other people view death as what we needed to be saved from.  Is it better to say that Christ saved us from death rather than sin?  It seems that if you say sin is what we are saved from, then penal substitution makes a lot more sense.

I didnt get to read ALL of those articles yet, but Im going to try and get that done today.  Maybe it will make more sense after that.

It's confusing for everyone who cares to understand. As others have noted, there is nothing wrong with that imagery as long as you don't take it too far. Pushing the imagery of Jesus "satisfying" God's wrath implies that it is God the Father who needed to be healed of his anger, not humanity of our sin and death. God is whole and lacks nothing. If he needs healing than he is not God. Simple as that.

As far as whether or not we are saved from sin or death, it's a false dichotomy. Death enters the world through sin, so our archetypical ancestor Adam's sins brought death into the world and disrupted all of creation. So the death we see in creation is a result of human sin. They go hand in hand. This is why Christ's salvation renews not only human souls, but saves all of material creation as well. The entire cosmic order is being not only restored, but filled with the glory of God. This is the coming Kingdom that we await eagerly, where death is gone and the lion lays with the lamb. Paradise is restored and the Tree of Life (the fruit of which is the Eucharist) fills all of creation. The light of the New Earth is the glory of God from his throne in the New Jerusalem.

So Christ saves not only humanity from sin and death by his death and resurrection, but restores the whole world from its corruption.
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« Reply #14 on: October 20, 2011, 05:00:11 PM »

Penal Satisfaction/Substitutionary Atonement.
These are not equivalents that you can simply associate via slash mark.
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« Reply #15 on: October 20, 2011, 06:22:47 PM »

I think Jonathan's post touches upon a lot of the issues very well. There's a couple things on which I'd like to expand and comment.

Actually, I do remember reading in the Vespers doxasticon for the Exaltation the following:

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.

Δεῦτε ἅπαντα τὰ ἔθνη, τὸ εὐλογημένον ξύλον προσκυνήσωμεν, δι᾿ οὗ γέγονεν ἡ αἰώνιος δικαιοσύνη· τὸν γὰρ Προπάτορα Ἀδάμ, ὁ ἀπατήσας ἐν ξύλῳ, τῷ Σταυρῷ δελεάζεται· καὶ πίστει κατενεχθεὶς πτῶμα ἐξαίσιον, ὁ τυραννίδι κρατήσας τοῦ βασιλείου πλάσματος, Αἵματι Θεοῦ, ὁ ἰὸς τοῦ ὄφεως ἀποπλύνεται· καὶ κατάρα λέλυται, καταδίκης δικαίας, ἀδίκῳ δίκῃ τοῦ δικαίου κατακριθέντος· ξύλῳ γὰρ ἔδει τὸ ξύλον ἰάσασθαι, καὶ πάθει τοῦ ἀπαθοῦς, τὰ ἐν ξύλῳ λῦσαι πάθη τοῦ κατακρίτου. Ἀλλὰ δόξα Χριστὲ Βασιλεῦ, τῇ περὶ ἡμᾶς σου φρικτῇ oικονομίᾳ δι᾿ ἧς ἔσωσας πάντας, ὡς ἀγαθὸς καὶ φιλάνθρωπος.

So language of "punishment" or "penalty", and also "justice", seems to be acceptable in Orthodoxy.

I think that a lot of the difficulty arises out of the interpretation of the word "justice" (dikaiosyne), which could also be translated "righteousness." This is the same word that is used in Romans 3:25-26: "Whom God Himself hath set forth to be an expiation through faith in his blood, for a showing forth of His righteousness on account of the paralysis of the sins that which were done aforetime in the forbearance of God, with a view to show forth His righteousness in the present time, that He is just and justifieth tho one who is of faith in Jesus (ONT)." (Compare the ONT transaltion to the KJV!) So, it is Scriptural to say that God's justice/righteousness was shown forth in Christ's sacrifice. The question becomes, what is justice in this context? See St. John Chrysostom's exegesis:

“To declare His righteousness [or justice].” What is declaring of righteousness [or justice]? Like the declaring of His riches, not only for Him to be rich Himself, but also to make others rich, or of life, not only that He is Himself living, but also that He makes the dead to live; and of His power, not only that He is Himself powerful, but also that He makes the feeble powerful. So also is the declaring of His righteousness [or justice] not only that He is Himself righteous [or just], but that He doth also make them that are filled with the putrefying sores (κατασαπέντας) of sin suddenly righteous [or just]. And it is to explain this, viz. what is “declaring,” that he has added, “That He might be just, and the justifier of him which believeth in Jesus.” Doubt not then: for it is not of works, but of faith: and shun not the righteousness of God, for it is a blessing in two ways; because it is easy, and also open to all men. And be not abashed and shamefaced. For if He Himself openly declareth (ἐνδείκνυται) Himself to do so, and He, so to say, findeth a delight and a pride therein, how comest thou to be dejected and to hide thy face at what thy Master glorieth in?

St. John's interpretation of the passage clearly shows that he understood justice in the sense of, e.g., social justice, God's desire to help those who could not help themselves. This type of justice is also one of the chief concerns of the prophets of the OT.

Quote
My impression is that the problem with Western theories of atonement (what we call "penal substitution") is that, following Anselm, they assumed that in some sense Christ became juridically guilty for the sake of His Sacrifice, therefore "earning" vicariously the penalty that the rest of us deserved before. I don't know exactly how Anselm argues for this, but perhaps because if Christ remained completely blameless, even as He suffered death for us on the Cross, one might accuse God the Father of being unjust.

Anselm's Cur Deus Homo is definitely worth the read for anyone interested in the history of the Satisfaction and Penal Substitution doctrines.

Quote
In any case, I'm pretty sure this, at least, is not Orthodox. As the hymn demonstrates, Christ remained completely blameless even as He sacrificed Himself for us on the Cross. Yes, a penalty needed to be paid in accordance with justice, but through the great mystery of the Cross, it was paid in a manner that allowed both justice and mercy to be satisfied (see below on the right understanding of justice and necessity). If God the Father treated the Son as really guilty, that would in fact be unjust (since He was Just).

NB someone might object that the hymn calls the punishment "unjust" and extrapolate from this that justice played no part in the Sacrifice, but to me this only means that it was unjust insofar as it was inflicted on the Just One. For us, the punishment would have been just.

Here's a nice quote from St Gregory Palamas (Homily 16):

Man was led into his captivity when he experienced God’s wrath, this wrath being the good God’s just abandonment
of man. God had to be reconciled with the human race, for otherwise
mankind could not be set free from the servitude. A sacrifice was needed to
reconcile the Father on high with us and to sanctify us, since we had been
soiled by fellowship with the evil one. There had to be a sacrifice which both
cleansed and was clean, and a purified, sinless priest…. God overturned the
devil through suffering and His Flesh which He offered as a sacrifice to God
the Father, as a pure and altogether holy victim – how great is His gift! – and
reconciled God to the human race.

I think this shows that it's not quite right to say that there was no need to satisfy justice. While it is true that God is not bound by necessity, He is nevertheless just by nature, and so it would be inconsistent with His nature to act unjustly.

In conclusion, I would say "penal satisfaction" is a misnomer: a penalty was required. The "wrong" theory of atonement should be called "penal substitution", since it is indeed wrong to say that Christ actually became guilty for the sake of the Economy. He paid the price for us, yes, but all the while remaining completely innocent.

The New Testament sometimes speaks of Christ taking punishment as a substitute for our punishment, e.g. Galatians 3:13. In Galatians, Christ's death is explained (in part) as taking one curse (hanging on a tree) as a substitute for our own (punishment for breaking the Law). This is certainly not the same thing as saying that He was punished as an outlet of God the Father's desire for retribution, which is a concept that I have yet to see in Scripture. Based on my readings of various patristic commentators and on the context of the passage, I question how literally Paul meant for us to take him in the aforementioned verse--he may simply be pointing to "hanging on a tree" as a fulfilment of OT law, rather than saying that the actual act of being cursed automatically lifted another curse.

I would personally interpret the saying that Christ took a penalty for us in light of Paul's explanation of Christ's death and resurrection in Romans--that is, I would not take the talk of a substitute penalty (or propitiation of God's wrath) literally. Rather, I would understand it in relation to the death of the Old Man in Christ's crucified flesh, and the regeneration of humanity in His resurrection for the salvation of all who believe through baptism into His death and participation in His life. I believe this interpretation is fully harmonious with the hymnography of the Church and what Tradition emphasizes. I am, however, open to being convinced otherwise, as I've modified my own views on this more than once.
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« Reply #16 on: October 20, 2011, 07:03:22 PM »

Just from reading the Wikipedia entry on the satisfaction theory, it says that Anselm thought of the satisfaction of justice as rendering God due honor, but satisfaction is not the same as punishment but rather replaces it, i.e. Anselm did not believe Christ was actually punished, but was repaying honor to God (itself questionable from the point of view of Orthodox doctrine). The idea that the punishment itself was satisfactory is apparently not in Anselm, but is Calvin's interpretation. So I think I was representing the Calvinist rather than the Anselmian interpretation above.

The entry also says that Anselm saw his theory as replacing the ransom theory. But I see that this particular form of the ransom theory is one I'm pretty sure was not accepted by the Orthodox Church, i.e. the idea that Christ paid the ransom for us to the devil. I seem to recall St Gregory of Nyssa (it always seems to be either him or St Augustine who get things wrong!) believed this. If this notion was the commonly received one in the West, it makes Anselm's reaction to it more understandable, although, as so often happens, he moved too far in the other direction.

It seems that there are a lot of very closely related ideas when it comes to atonement, but having the one idea does not necessarily entail the other. So in Orthodoxy there is definitely a sense that justice required some kind of restitution, but it receives a different emphasis than in the post-Orthodox West. Just after a little research I realize how easy it is to misrepresent and misunderstand these doctrines. So I am going to go back and read more material before unintentionally misleading others.

But I'd like to add one interesting quote from Thomas Aquinas:

"If we speak of that satisfactory punishment, which one takes upon oneself voluntarily, one may bear another's punishment…. If, however, we speak of punishment inflicted on account of sin, inasmuch as it is penal, then each one is punished for his own sin only, because the sinful act is something personal. But if we speak of a punishment that is medicinal, in this way it does happen that one is punished for another's sin."

So it seems Orthodox polemicists who accuse the traditional Thomist Catholics of teaching penal substitution, in a purely legal sense, are not correct. This specific doctrine is Calvinist, not Papist.
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« Reply #17 on: October 20, 2011, 07:14:12 PM »

But I'd like to add one interesting quote from Thomas Aquinas:

"If we speak of that satisfactory punishment, which one takes upon oneself voluntarily, one may bear another's punishment…. If, however, we speak of punishment inflicted on account of sin, inasmuch as it is penal, then each one is punished for his own sin only, because the sinful act is something personal. But if we speak of a punishment that is medicinal, in this way it does happen that one is punished for another's sin."


Hmmm. Medicinal punishment. Very interesting...
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« Reply #18 on: October 20, 2011, 07:21:38 PM »

Just from reading the Wikipedia entry on the satisfaction theory, it says that Anselm thought of the satisfaction of justice as rendering God due honor, but satisfaction is not the same as punishment but rather replaces it, i.e. Anselm did not believe Christ was actually punished, but was repaying honor to God (itself questionable from the point of view of Orthodox doctrine). The idea that the punishment itself was satisfactory is apparently not in Anselm, but is Calvin's interpretation. So I think I was representing the Calvinist rather than the Anselmian interpretation above.

Yes, the nuance is that Anselm believed that God had to punish in order to restore His own offended honor (sounds very Medieval, doesn't it?)

Quote
The entry also says that Anselm saw his theory as replacing the ransom theory. But I see that this particular form of the ransom theory is one I'm pretty sure was not accepted by the Orthodox Church, i.e. the idea that Christ paid the ransom for us to the devil. I seem to recall St Gregory of Nyssa (it always seems to be either him or St Augustine who get things wrong!) believed this. If this notion was the commonly received one in the West, it makes Anselm's reaction to it more understandable, although, as so often happens, he moved too far in the other direction.

Yes, Anselm's theory was contrived specifically to replace the payment-to-the-devil theory, which was generally accepted in the West: Adam gave humanity to the devil as slaves; God could not justly take us back by force, because we were the devil's rightful property, having given ourselves to him voluntarily. Therefore, God gave His Son as a payment.

Quote
It seems that there are a lot of very closely related ideas when it comes to atonement, but having the one idea does not necessarily entail the other. So in Orthodoxy there is definitely a sense that justice required some kind of restitution, but it receives a different emphasis than in the post-Orthodox West. Just after a little research I realize how easy it is to misrepresent and misunderstand these doctrines. So I am going to go back and read more material before unintentionally misleading others.

But I'd like to add one interesting quote from Thomas Aquinas:

"If we speak of that satisfactory punishment, which one takes upon oneself voluntarily, one may bear another's punishment…. If, however, we speak of punishment inflicted on account of sin, inasmuch as it is penal, then each one is punished for his own sin only, because the sinful act is something personal. But if we speak of a punishment that is medicinal, in this way it does happen that one is punished for another's sin."

So it seems Orthodox polemicists who accuse the traditional Thomist Catholics of teaching penal substitution, in a purely legal sense, are not correct. This specific doctrine is Calvinist, not Papist.

It's very enlightening to learn that Thomas distinguished between medicinal and penal punishment, especially in light of the Roman doctrines on indulgences and Purgatory. I would certainly place the Cross in the category of medicinal punishment, until proven otherwise.
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« Reply #19 on: October 20, 2011, 09:34:54 PM »

I have no idea what medicinal punishment is. Help?
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« Reply #20 on: October 21, 2011, 12:00:19 AM »

I have no idea what medicinal punishment is. Help?

when your doctor writes a prescription for something not available in generic?
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« Reply #21 on: October 21, 2011, 12:31:10 AM »

I have no idea what medicinal punishment is. Help?

"Medicinal punishment.... Whaaaat? Shut up Shawn..."
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« Reply #22 on: October 21, 2011, 12:52:50 AM »

I have no idea what medicinal punishment is. Help?

Yea, I need some help on this too...
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« Reply #23 on: October 21, 2011, 01:31:26 AM »

I have no idea what medicinal punishment is. Help?
The bill you get after seeing the doctor.
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« Reply #24 on: October 21, 2011, 02:46:41 AM »

I have no idea what medicinal punishment is. Help?
The bill you get after seeing the doctor.

ya that works too Cheesy
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« Reply #25 on: October 22, 2011, 01:36:15 AM »

Interesting articles, particularly the third one down.

I would be interested in comparing the Qumran scroll of Isaiah with the Masoretic and Septuagint, because this guy is putting way too much of his argument on textual differences.

Edit: I looked up a translation of the Qumran scroll text which I believe is dated to the 1st century B.C., and the English translators have noted that the entire chapter is identical to the Masoretic text with the exception of a single word, which is of no consequence. These translators actually rendered the word in the 10th verse not as "bruised" but actually has "crushed". Doesn't help his argument out too much.

So it is rendered: "And the LORD was pleased to crush him and He has caused him grief."

This is in reference to the Suffering Servant, and it doesn't really help out those who wish to whitewash Orthodoxy of all elements of Penal Satisfaction/Substitutionary Atonement.

Well, this is another confusing issue for me!

Would it be safe to understand it like this?  Protestants usually view sin as what Christ saved us from.  I think, but could be wrong, that most other people view death as what we needed to be saved from.  Is it better to say that Christ saved us from death rather than sin?  It seems that if you say sin is what we are saved from, then penal substitution makes a lot more sense.

I didnt get to read ALL of those articles yet, but Im going to try and get that done today.  Maybe it will make more sense after that.

It's confusing for everyone who cares to understand. As others have noted, there is nothing wrong with that imagery as long as you don't take it too far. Pushing the imagery of Jesus "satisfying" God's wrath implies that it is God the Father who needed to be healed of his anger, not humanity of our sin and death. God is whole and lacks nothing. If he needs healing than he is not God. Simple as that.

As far as whether or not we are saved from sin or death, it's a false dichotomy. Death enters the world through sin, so our archetypical ancestor Adam's sins brought death into the world and disrupted all of creation. So the death we see in creation is a result of human sin. They go hand in hand. This is why Christ's salvation renews not only human souls, but saves all of material creation as well. The entire cosmic order is being not only restored, but filled with the glory of God. This is the coming Kingdom that we await eagerly, where death is gone and the lion lays with the lamb. Paradise is restored and the Tree of Life (the fruit of which is the Eucharist) fills all of creation. The light of the New Earth is the glory of God from his throne in the New Jerusalem.

So Christ saves not only humanity from sin and death by his death and resurrection, but restores the whole world from its corruption.
  There is some question about the phrase:  "And it pleased the LORD to cleanse him." Now that word which we think is a perfect hiphil, if it was vowel pointed with a chateph-Qamatz under the cheth and the next 2 letters stayed the same, it would be a masculine noun which could mean "sickness", "disease", "affliction", "grief." All we have to do now is change the vowel pointing of the "He" to make it a definite article. Then we would have, "And it pleased the LORD to cleanse him the wound." My NETS translation reads, "And the LORD desires to cleanse him from his blow." I do not know Greek, so I do not know if the Greek or English translator placed the "from" and "his" in the passage. Perhaps either one thought the two words were implied. Isaiah 53:10 is a difficult verse.  People should not base their theology soley on this one verse.
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« Reply #26 on: October 22, 2011, 08:52:25 PM »

I still haven't really wrapped my head around this issue.

St. Athanasius said that Christ's death paid our debt in On the Incarnation. Is that penal atonement?
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« Reply #27 on: October 22, 2011, 10:24:17 PM »

I still haven't really wrapped my head around this issue.

St. Athanasius said that Christ's death paid our debt in On the Incarnation. Is that penal atonement?
William, this thread (in the private fora) may be of use to you:

http://www.orthodoxchristianity.net/forum/index.php/topic,38582.0.html
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« Reply #28 on: October 22, 2011, 10:45:28 PM »

I still haven't really wrapped my head around this issue.

St. Athanasius said that Christ's death paid our debt in On the Incarnation. Is that penal atonement?

Could you provide a quotation? I think I remember reading that part, but it wouldn't hurt to show everyone what you mean.

So far I think I understand and accept the following: our debt for sin needed to be paid for justice's sake, not because God is bound to follow justice, but because He is just by nature and never acts in a way contrary to justice. So the sacrifice for sin on the Cross was a payment of our debt. However, we don't think of the punishment that Christ endured for us as implying that God the Father was pouring His wrath on the Son. I think that notion is the core of penal substitution: in Anselm it began to be manifested as a Father angered at the offense to His own honor, while graciously accepting the sacrifice of the Son in lieu of our punishment, and then in Calvin it received its grimmest form, with the Father not even being content to forgo inflicting punishment, but requiring the Son to endure all of the Father's anger and offense for our sake.

That I'm sure is not Orthodox. The wrath of God is against sin and death. It was never against us as humans and God's creatures, but against sin, and affected us only insofar as we were subject to sin by our own free choice. So those who chose to follow God's Law before Christ were eventually released from Hades: their sojourn in Hades was not because God was blaming them for the sin of Adam, but because the sin of Adam itself had not yet been destroyed by the Cross. Original sin is not original guilt. It follows from this that the Father did not hold the Son guilty instead of us. The punishment that Christ bore was voluntary, not forced. The payment of the debt was not to restore the lost honor of the Father, but to restore the balance of justice.

Does this make sense to others?
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« Reply #29 on: October 22, 2011, 11:15:29 PM »

Yes. The hymns of the Church have no problem with substitutionary atonement. The problem is making that the ONLY interpretation of the redemptive act.
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« Reply #30 on: October 23, 2011, 01:02:30 AM »

I feel like a complete idiot right now.  Ive read all of this stuff, and I still just dont get it.  It seems that there are many different opinions on the topic.  Im assuming there isnt a dogma here and that this is somewhat open to interpretation.  Right now, my only peace is in knowing that at the end of the day, it really doesnt matter.  Christ died and rose again.  Period.  Because of that, we have the hope of salvation.  The topic is interesting though, so I enjoy reading your thoughts. 

And believe it or not, my brain is fully functional.  Ive just never given this issue much thought until now, so its taking me a while to digest all the information and make sense of it.  Ha!

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« Reply #31 on: October 23, 2011, 02:00:53 AM »

I feel like a complete idiot right now.  Ive read all of this stuff, and I still just dont get it.  It seems that there are many different opinions on the topic.  Im assuming there isnt a dogma here and that this is somewhat open to interpretation.  Right now, my only peace is in knowing that at the end of the day, it really doesnt matter.  Christ died and rose again.  Period.  Because of that, we have the hope of salvation.  The topic is interesting though, so I enjoy reading your thoughts.  

And believe it or not, my brain is fully functional.  Ive just never given this issue much thought until now, so its taking me a while to digest all the information and make sense of it.  Ha!

laugh that's totally understandable. Sometimes there isn't a yes or no answer, or an all or nothing explanation. Christ's sacrifice and the atonement is ultimately a mystery, we will never be able to fully explain it on this side, no matter how many different "theories" we come up with. The Church uses several different models in her hymnography and in the writings of the fathers. Certainly, the most prevalent approach you will see expressed is the "Christus Victor" model, as it is the traditional/historical approach, and it provides us much hope for the resurrection and a great sense of triumph over death. I think all of the models contain some usefulness; I do believe that the penal satisfaction theory is the least "useful" model though.
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« Reply #32 on: October 23, 2011, 02:07:26 AM »

check out this interview with Met. Kallistos Ware on the atonement theories:

http://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2011/july/fullnesscenter.html?start=1

Quote
Evangelicals agree with everything you have just said. But we tend to focus on a transaction that happened at the Cross and a transaction that happens when the believer puts faith in what happened at the Cross. We take up Paul's courtroom metaphors. How would you describe the East's way of looking at it?

            It's true, we Orthodox would, on the whole, not use the word transaction. It's also certainly true that we do not emphasize legal language.We prefer the image of Christ as victor over death, love stronger than death, the kind of victory that we sense at the Paschal service Easter midnight in the Orthodox Church, when there is a constant refrain, "Christ is risen from the dead, trampling down death by death, and to those in the tombs he has given life." That is the image of Christ's work that we chiefly stress.
We Orthodox are still certainly too inward looking; we should realize that we have a message that many people will listen to gladly.
But certainly within the New Testament there is a whole series of images. There is no single systematic theory of the Atonement, and we should make use of all these images. So, yes, we should find a place for the idea of substitution, which the Orthodox don't stress so much. It is there in the New Testament, in 2 Corinthians 5:21: "He who was without sin was made by God to be sin for us, that we in him might become righteousness." The idea of the sacrificial Lamb is also a profound scriptural image. We should make use of those images as well as Christ the Victor.
I don't care so much for the idea of satisfaction. Satisfaction is not a scriptural word. The legal imagery, I think, should always be combined with an emphasis upon the transfiguring power of love. The motive for the Incarnation was not God's justice or his glory, but his love. That was the supreme motive. "God so loved the world." That is what we should start from.
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« Reply #33 on: October 24, 2011, 12:29:56 AM »

check out this interview with Met. Kallistos Ware on the atonement theories:

http://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2011/july/fullnesscenter.html?start=1

Quote
Evangelicals agree with everything you have just said. But we tend to focus on a transaction that happened at the Cross and a transaction that happens when the believer puts faith in what happened at the Cross. We take up Paul's courtroom metaphors. How would you describe the East's way of looking at it?

            It's true, we Orthodox would, on the whole, not use the word transaction. It's also certainly true that we do not emphasize legal language.We prefer the image of Christ as victor over death, love stronger than death, the kind of victory that we sense at the Paschal service Easter midnight in the Orthodox Church, when there is a constant refrain, "Christ is risen from the dead, trampling down death by death, and to those in the tombs he has given life." That is the image of Christ's work that we chiefly stress.
We Orthodox are still certainly too inward looking; we should realize that we have a message that many people will listen to gladly.
But certainly within the New Testament there is a whole series of images. There is no single systematic theory of the Atonement, and we should make use of all these images. So, yes, we should find a place for the idea of substitution, which the Orthodox don't stress so much. It is there in the New Testament, in 2 Corinthians 5:21: "He who was without sin was made by God to be sin for us, that we in him might become righteousness." The idea of the sacrificial Lamb is also a profound scriptural image. We should make use of those images as well as Christ the Victor.
I don't care so much for the idea of satisfaction. Satisfaction is not a scriptural word. The legal imagery, I think, should always be combined with an emphasis upon the transfiguring power of love. The motive for the Incarnation was not God's justice or his glory, but his love. That was the supreme motive. "God so loved the world." That is what we should start from.

This was extremely helpful!  Thanks for sharing this.  I look forward to reading the whole article!
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« Reply #34 on: October 24, 2011, 01:52:49 AM »

glad to be of service...  Cool
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« Reply #35 on: October 26, 2011, 03:43:36 PM »

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

I have no idea what medicinal punishment is. Help?

Going to any hospital in the United States..



stay blessed,
habte selassie
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