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Author Topic: Do Orthodox believe Jesus died for our sins?  (Read 2227 times) Average Rating: 0
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Nuckle
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« on: February 25, 2012, 03:53:27 AM »

I know Orthodox do not believe in the penal atonement, that Christ died because he had to placate God's wrath. However I am often left wondering as somebody who has merely scratched the surface or Orthodoxy if they believe Christ died for our sins at all. Certainly the Prophet Isaiah says in the 53rd chapter that Christ was, "Pierced for our transgressions and crushed for our iniquities." How could this not be believed, that Christ died to forgive our sins?
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« Reply #1 on: February 25, 2012, 04:03:15 AM »

Of course we believe He died for our sins. What would make you think differently?

BTW, welcome to the forum. Grin
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« Reply #2 on: February 25, 2012, 04:25:44 AM »

The issues surrounding the penal substitution thing (and orthodoxy's denial of it) are very confusing to me. I grew up in a Wesleyan/Arminian tradition but had Baptist relatives who seem to insist belief in penal substitution is what saves you, and to their mind salvation means going to heaven when you did. It is out of this environment I come. I do not see how on one hand Jesus can die for our sins and the Bible (Isaiah 53) points to this yet on the other hand much of what I have read implies that the Orthodox understanding is that Christ died to defeat death. I believe this is true but I also believe he died in our place. So many Bible verses point to this. Just because Catholics overemphasize the punishment/guilt thing does not mean in my humble opinion it is not true. The difference is that Christ died to liberate us from death, yes we still sin, but unlike Catholics I do not think we can suddenly exit a state of grace because we didn't say enough Hail Marys. Still the Orthodox view confuses me. As much as I read on it I still do not understand how it is reconcilable with Isaiah 53.
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« Reply #3 on: February 25, 2012, 04:44:59 AM »

Re: Do Orthodox believe Jesus died for our sins?

Yes.

I do not see how on one hand Jesus can die for our sins and the Bible (Isaiah 53) points to this yet on the other hand much of what I have read implies that the Orthodox understanding is that Christ died to defeat death. I believe this is true but I also believe he died in our place.
Yeah, we believe Jesus died in our place too.

We just don't believe Jesus died to appease God's desire for punishment, as recompense for offended honor, or revenge.
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« Reply #4 on: February 25, 2012, 04:47:16 AM »

double post
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« Reply #5 on: February 25, 2012, 05:56:18 AM »

Nuckle,



Will this help any?



http://orthodox-apologetics.blogspot.com/2011/02/propitiation-or-expiation-in-saint-paul.html (Propitiation or Expiation in Saint Paul)

Quote
quote:
"
    "All have sinned, all come short of the glory of God, but they are justified for nothing by His grace through the ransom provided in Christ Jesus, whom God put forward as the means of propitiation by His blood, to be received by faith". (Romans 3:23-25).


    The Term "Propitiation"


    The Greek word (hilasterion) is derived from a verb which in pagan writers and inscriptions has two meanings:

    (a) "to placate" a man or a god;

    (b) "to expiate" a sin, i.e. to perform an act (such as the payment of a fine or the offering of a sacrifice) by which its guilt is annulled.

    The former meaning is overwhelmingly the more common. In the Septuagint, on the other hand, the meaning (a) is practically unknown where God is the object, and the meaning (b) is found in scores of passages. Thus the biblical sense of the verb is "to perform an act whereby guilt or defilement is removed." The idea underlying it is characteristic of primitive religion. The ancients felt that if a taboo was infringed, the person or thing involved became unclean, defiled or profane. The condition of defilement might be removed by the performance of the appropriate act: it might be washing with water, or sprinkling with blood, or simply the forfeiture of some valuable object to the deity concerned with the taboo. Such acts were felt to have the value, so to speak, of a disinfectant. Thus in the Old Testament a whole range of ritual actions are prescribed for disinfecting the priest, the altar, or the people from various forms of defilement, ritual or moral. Our versions in such cases use the phrase "to make propitiation"; but the more proper translation would be "to make expiation". This meaning holds good wherever the subject of the verb is a man. But, as religious thought advanced, it came to be felt that, where the defilement was moral, God alone could annul it; and so the same verb is used with God as subject in the sense "to forgive".1

    In accordance with biblical usage, therefore, the substantive (hilasterion) would mean, not propitiation, but "a means by which guilt is annulled": if a man is the agent, the meaning would be "a means of expiation"; if God, "a means by which sin is forgiven". Biblical usage is determinative for Paul. The rendering "propitiation" is therefore misleading, for it suggests the placating of an angry God, and although this would be in accord with pagan usage, it is foreign to biblical usage. In the present passage it is God who puts forward the means whereby the guilt of sin is removed, by sending Christ. The sending of Christ, therefore, is the divine method of forgiveness. This brings the teaching of the present passage into exact harmony with that of v. 8-9.


    1 The full evidence for all this is given in my book, The Bible and the Greeks, pp. 82-95, where I have examined, I believe, every occurrence of the verb in the Septuagint.


C. H. Dodd, The Epistle of Paul to the Romans,
Fontana Books (1959), pp. 78-79.



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« Reply #6 on: February 25, 2012, 11:33:21 AM »

Welcome Nuckle!!

Others can explain this better than I can, since I'm a fairly newby myself - but yes, we believe that Christ died for our sins. . .but out of the Father's LOVE and BY His LOVE not out of the need for vengeance or retribution or something like that.  (See, I told you they can do better than I can.  Wink )

Stick around and read and search - the people here are very real and wonderful (bragging on everyone isn't a good thing, I know. . .but deal. angel)  and you''ll learn a lot. . .I always learn so much from these folks. 

I will say this, the Protestants mean well, but much of their beliefs are cultural hand downs. . . and misinterpretations.  As my grandmother used to say, "always go to the source." 
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« Reply #7 on: February 25, 2012, 12:43:22 PM »

This is starting to make sense.

My basic understanding of what you are trying to say is...

Sin made us unclean before God and God sent Jesus to die for us so our sins may be cleansed, in analogy with the Ancient Jewish tradition of cleansing. However God sent Jesus to get rid of our sins and defeat death, but it was not because he was angry with our sins and needed to be appeased. Jesus literally went down into Hell and smote death.


The Protestant understanding is...

God is angry because of what Adam and Eve did in the Garden and he must be appeased with an offering, that offering is Jesus. As we live we get a tabulation of sins and Jesus forgives them by dying in our place. The blood covers our sins and God does not punish us.

In a sense this is the Catholic understanding, however Protestants often add one thing...

Jesus did not actually go to Hell to defeat death, this is merely symbolic. Hell is actually a separation from God and God turned his back on Jesus (which doesn't make sense because it implies God is turning His back on Himself) and death will be defeated in the end times. And don't even get me started on that end times stuff because many Protestants are obsessed over it.

The thing is this is a big deal because as I said I am not Baptist but I have Baptist family and many Baptists imply that our salvation rests on believing in substitutionary atonement. They gripe of "legalism" yet their idea is God is up there saying, "Oh you didn't get this one doctrine totally right, sorry you are going to Hell."
« Last Edit: February 25, 2012, 12:45:08 PM by Nuckle » Logged
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« Reply #8 on: February 25, 2012, 01:10:27 PM »

This is starting to make sense.

My basic understanding of what you are trying to say is...

Sin made us unclean before God and God sent Jesus to die for us so our sins may be cleansed, in analogy with the Ancient Jewish tradition of cleansing. However God sent Jesus to get rid of our sins and defeat death, but it was not because he was angry with our sins and needed to be appeased. Jesus literally went down into Hell and smote death.


The Protestant understanding is...

God is angry because of what Adam and Eve did in the Garden and he must be appeased with an offering, that offering is Jesus. As we live we get a tabulation of sins and Jesus forgives them by dying in our place. The blood covers our sins and God does not punish us.

In a sense this is the Catholic understanding, however Protestants often add one thing...

Jesus did not actually go to Hell to defeat death, this is merely symbolic. Hell is actually a separation from God and God turned his back on Jesus (which doesn't make sense because it implies God is turning His back on Himself) and death will be defeated in the end times. And don't even get me started on that end times stuff because many Protestants are obsessed over it.

The thing is this is a big deal because as I said I am not Baptist but I have Baptist family and many Baptists imply that our salvation rests on believing in substitutionary atonement. They gripe of "legalism" yet their idea is God is up there saying, "Oh you didn't get this one doctrine totally right, sorry you are going to Hell."



Correct!

Here is another one that might be of some help:
http://orthodox-apologetics.blogspot.com/2010/08/expiation-vs-propitiation.html (Expiation vs Propitiation)


Or better yet:
http://orthodox-apologetics.blogspot.com/search/label/Atonement (Showing posts with label Atonement. Show all posts)


I hope this helps!
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« Reply #9 on: February 25, 2012, 02:16:14 PM »

Jesus literally went down into Hell and smote death.

Here "hell" means "death" or "the grave", and not the eternal fire that awaits the unrepentent after the judgement. Both of these ideas are often translated as "hell" into english when they have different terms used in greek and hebrew.

Anyway, there is a substitutionary element, just not penal. And while there is a legal forgiveness of our transgressions, it's not because God had to punish someone and He didn't care who, actually preferring to punish someone who didn't deserve it. Jesus didn't die because God was upset with us, but because we placed ourselves in bondage to sin and death, and the only way to destroy death is to be raised from the dead. The death that He died properly belongs to us because we are the ones held to it by sin. He takes on our condition, being made like us in all ways and being tempted as we are in all ways without sinning, dies the most cursed death. Being without sin and not properly subject to death, death cannot hold Him and He is raised from the dead. It is by taking on our curse to the point of death and being raised from that death, that He offers to us His life that He lives raised from the dead never to die again. Everything that has been corrupted by sin still has to die because that's the natural consequence of sin, even those alive at the second coming are written to be "changed in the twinkling of an eye" because corruption cannot inherit incorruption, but we have the promise of the resurrection where what is sown in corruption will be raised in incorruption because of the resurrection of Christ.
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« Reply #10 on: February 25, 2012, 02:39:15 PM »

Quote
God is angry because of what Adam and Eve did in the Garden and he must be appeased with an offering, that offering is Jesus.

Ugh. The way they explain that, they make God the Father out to be a petty pagan deity that needs appeased when humans displease Him.
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« Reply #11 on: February 25, 2012, 05:38:19 PM »

Quote
God is angry because of what Adam and Eve did in the Garden and he must be appeased with an offering, that offering is Jesus.

Ugh. The way they explain that, they make God the Father out to be a petty pagan deity that needs appeased when humans displease Him.

I'm not really quoting this as to respond directly to this wording, but I personally find the "wrath" of God to be a worthwhile concept for some/many Christians, ever inclined to sloth and sin, to reflect on.  If some/most Church Fathers (I have not them as yet) believed that we must not think that God [the Father] is ever literally angry or has other such impassioned emotions, in a way I think it can be useful to view Him as capable of such anger, warning of such a fiery wrath, etc.  Otherwise, if every aspect of God has to be (viewed from our perspective as) unbridled, unboundless, limitless and all-encompassing, all-tolerating love, some or many Christians might not actually "fear" committing any sin, or rationalizing away any having been committed, or will be committed again... it's just a matter of rote confession and absolution, or (for Protestants) rote statement "His grace covers all my sin, that was ever and will ever be committed [and therefore I have nothing to fear]."

This part following is narcissistic, so maybe don't read it, but - if even one person is so inclined to sloth (or any manner of sin) that only stern warning and literal fear of being cut off will correct them (and hopefully, eventually, set them on a higher plane of more willing, gentle pursuit of holiness), then is it OK to speak in terms of God's "wrath"?  The "even one person" is me (not that you couldn't guess.)  Whether at my job (the inclination anyway), home life as a child growing up or later with a succession of roommates, I am rather permanently inclined to all manner of sloth and laziness, messiness and disavowal of responsibility, with barely any resistance at all once the temptation to these sins is at the surface, or just "is".  The only exception is where the law of the land is such that I fear doing something "wrong" in the legal sense.   I don't think that even sacramental Confession would help me much in this regard (of course I've never done it...), the one thing that gets me seriously thinking about resisting sin is if I fear that God's love might not cover me at a certain point, and I will be more harshly judged - even to Hell at the final judgment, because for all half-hearted "oh God I'm sorry"s at some point trite words may just mean nothing, even and especially to God who sees and reads everything in the inner person.

Does not a person like this “deserve” to be cut off, to receive what has been called God’s wrath in the Scriptures?  Why do people so hate to think that God might have such a judgmental attitude about a wicked, unchanging sinner like me?  The Orthodox might say that it is simply my own self-condemnation, the result of sinful and unrepentant action, and that the Prophets and Apostles, wherever they might have spoken of God’s judgment as similar to a furious emotional action like “wrath” or “anger” were simply projecting human understandings for some unfathomable divine resolution to the problem of sin.

Ultimately there is, to my simplistic and limited mind, little effective difference in the Orthodox “denial” of penal substitution and the Protestant (lately mostly Evangelical, not mainline - just my hunch) narrow emphasis *on* whatever the penal substitution theory is.  The end might be the same – the Lord’s go to Paradise, those who reject Him are turned away either by Him, or they just can’t face Him.  It might be that I don’t understand the theory much, but I still take exception to what sounds like balking among Orthodox (Protestant converts?), and theologically liberal Catholics and Protestants… about seeming any notion of God’s wrath.
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« Reply #12 on: February 25, 2012, 06:18:13 PM »

Fr. Thomas Hopko on the Wrath of God:

http://ancientfaith.com/podcasts/hopko/the_wrath_of_god
http://ancientfaith.com/podcasts/hopko/the_wrath_of_god_-_part_2
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« Reply #13 on: February 25, 2012, 06:30:03 PM »

I listened to these and he wasn't that clear. In fact, he seemed to contradict himself.
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« Reply #14 on: February 25, 2012, 09:05:45 PM »

I listened to these and he wasn't that clear. In fact, he seemed to contradict himself.
What parts did you find self-contradictory?
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« Reply #15 on: February 26, 2012, 04:13:25 AM »

I listened to these and he wasn't that clear.
That's part of the appeal.
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« Reply #16 on: February 26, 2012, 08:05:29 AM »

My understanding of Fr. Hopko's view is that the wrath of God is fundamentally rehabilitative, He gets angry because He cares, He wants us to "snap out of it" and flee from sin so He puts the pressure on. Christ "took God's wrath" on the Cross because He gave us the grace to become united with His holiness thus removing any need for God to be angry with us since our sins are now gone. So, God's wrath "remains on him" who does not believe because he refuses to give His sins to Jesus and thus God will constantly pursue him with cleansing fire for eternity (God is love, so He can't just give up, He has to keep bringing the wrath).

The propitiation view by contrast sees God's wrath as restitutive. We've offended God and now He's out for blood (whether because He hates us or because He just needs to balance the cosmic scales of His Law). Jesus took the bullet for us and God is now free to not be angry with us anymore.

So, according to Hopko, God's wrath is a tool to bring us to repentence whereas according to the propitiation view it's a destructive obstacle (albeit a necessary one because of God's holiness) which must be overcome.

Does that help?
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« Reply #17 on: March 02, 2012, 07:44:30 PM »

My understanding of Fr. Hopko's view is that the wrath of God is fundamentally rehabilitative, He gets angry because He cares, He wants us to "snap out of it" and flee from sin so He puts the pressure on. Christ "took God's wrath" on the Cross because He gave us the grace to become united with His holiness thus removing any need for God to be angry with us since our sins are now gone. So, God's wrath "remains on him" who does not believe because he refuses to give His sins to Jesus and thus God will constantly pursue him with cleansing fire for eternity (God is love, so He can't just give up, He has to keep bringing the wrath).

The propitiation view by contrast sees God's wrath as restitutive. We've offended God and now He's out for blood (whether because He hates us or because He just needs to balance the cosmic scales of His Law). Jesus took the bullet for us and God is now free to not be angry with us anymore.

So, according to Hopko, God's wrath is a tool to bring us to repentence whereas according to the propitiation view it's a destructive obstacle (albeit a necessary one because of God's holiness) which must be overcome.

Does that help?

now if only he could be that clear. 
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« Reply #18 on: March 03, 2012, 11:59:33 AM »

I listened to these and he wasn't that clear.
That's part of the appeal.

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« Reply #19 on: March 03, 2012, 12:05:02 PM »

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AfXIWYdL8dU



According to Mr. Panos Jesus died for Greek people's sins.
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« Reply #20 on: March 03, 2012, 12:08:44 PM »

My understanding of Fr. Hopko's view is that the wrath of God is fundamentally rehabilitative, He gets angry because He cares, He wants us to "snap out of it" and flee from sin so He puts the pressure on. Christ "took God's wrath" on the Cross because He gave us the grace to become united with His holiness thus removing any need for God to be angry with us since our sins are now gone. So, God's wrath "remains on him" who does not believe because he refuses to give His sins to Jesus and thus God will constantly pursue him with cleansing fire for eternity (God is love, so He can't just give up, He has to keep bringing the wrath).

The propitiation view by contrast sees God's wrath as restitutive. We've offended God and now He's out for blood (whether because He hates us or because He just needs to balance the cosmic scales of His Law). Jesus took the bullet for us and God is now free to not be angry with us anymore.

So, according to Hopko, God's wrath is a tool to bring us to repentence whereas according to the propitiation view it's a destructive obstacle (albeit a necessary one because of God's holiness) which must be overcome.

Does that help?

Yes, it helped in my understanding of his view. Thanks Vol.

Re: second paragraph (God's justice) makes much more sense.
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« Reply #21 on: March 04, 2012, 07:05:15 PM »

Mr. Panos is amazing. 
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