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Author Topic: How "Orthodox" is this article by Federica........  (Read 6841 times) Average Rating: 0
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« on: January 17, 2006, 11:02:07 PM »

Greetings!

During one of my excursions on the mad house that is beliefnet.com, I came across this byMatushka Green. http://beliefnet.com/story/182/story_18227_1.html

I am not very informed in this realm of theology from an Orthodox point of view, but is this article in standing from an Orthodox standpoint. It seems that very little posters from the Orthodox boards are defending it against the onslaught of remarks against her (heretic, pelagian, ect).

Im not posting this to say Federica is unOrthodox or start trouble, Im just wanting to know if this is what we believe and possibly some books from Orthodox authors on the subject.

Thanks,
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« Reply #1 on: January 17, 2006, 11:24:12 PM »

It is absolutely Orthodox. Christ's Passion and Death were a rescue mission to deliver humanity from death. Not one Liturgical Prayer of the Orthodox Church views Christ's death as somehow "paying a penalty" on our behalf for sin.
St. Gregory the Theologian writes:
To whom was that Blood offered and why was it shed?...We were detained in bondage by the evil one, sold under sin, and received pleasure in exchange for wickedness. Now, since a ransom belongs only to him who holds in bondage, I ask, to whom was this offered and for what cause? If to the evil one, fie upon the outrage! The robber recieves ransom not only from God, but a ransom which consists of God Himself!....For it was not by God that we were being oppressed and next; on what principle did the Blood of His Only-Begotten Son delight the Father Who would not even receive Isaac when he was being offered by his father, but changed the sacrifice, putting a ram in the place of the human victim? Is it not evident that the Father accepts Him; but neither asked for Him nor demanded Him, but on account of the Incarnation, and because humanity must be sanctified by the Humanity of God, that He might deliver us Himself, and overcome the tyrant, and draw us to Himself by the mediation of His Son Who also arranged this to the honour of the Father, Whom it is manifest that He obeys in all things?"
- St Gregory the Theologian- Second Oration on Pascha.

 
We proclaim the deliverance of humanity from death and it's sanctification in our Orthodox Churches every Sunday in the Octoechos:


Tone One
While the stone was sealed by the Jews, and the soldiers were guarding Thy most pure body, Thou didst arise on the third day, O Saviour, granting life to the world. For which cause the Heavenly Pow'rs cried aloud unto Thee, O Giver of Life: Glory to Thy resurrection, O Christ! Glory to Thy Kingdom! Glory to Thy Providence, O Thou who alone art the Lover of Mankind.


Tone Two
When Thou didst submit Thyself unto death, O Thou Deathless and Immortal One, then Thou didst destroy Hell with Thy Godly power; and when Thou didst raise the dead from beneath the earth, all the powers of Heaven did cry aloud unto Thee:O Christ Thou Giver of Life, Glory to Thee!


Tone Three
Let the heavens rejoice and the earth be glad; For the Lord hath done a mighty act with His own arm; He hath trampled down death by death, and became the first-born from the dead; He hath delivered us from the depths of Hades, granting the world the Great Mercy!


Tone Four
Having learned the joyful message of the resurrection from the angel, the women disciples of the Lord cast from them their parental condemnation, and proudly broke the news to the disciples, saying: Death hath been spoiled. Christ God is risen, granting the world great mercy!


Tone Five
Let us believers praise and worship the Word, co-eternal with the Father and the Spirit, born of the Virgin for our salvation; For He took pleasure in ascending the Cross in the flesh, to suffer death, and to raise the dead by His Glorious Resurrection.


Tone Six
When Mary stood at Thy grave looking for Thy sacred Body, angelic pow'rs shone above Thy revered tomb, and the soldiers who were to keep guard became as dead men. Thou led Hades captive and wast not tempted thereby; Thou didst greet the Virgin and didst give life to the world; O Thou Who art risen from the dead, O Lord, Glory to Thee!


Tone Seven
Thou didst shatter death by Thy Cross; Thou didst open Paradise to the thief; Thou didst turn the sadness of the ointment-bearing women into joy, and didst bid Thine Apostles proclaim a warning that Thou hast risen, O Christ, granting to the world the Great Mercy!

Tone Eight
From the heights Thou didst descend, O Compassionate One, and Thou didst submit to the three-day burial, that Thou might deliver us from passion; Thou art our life and our resurrection: O Lord, Glory to Thee!
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« Reply #2 on: January 17, 2006, 11:33:17 PM »

OZ

Thank you for your well written reply

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« Reply #3 on: January 18, 2006, 12:17:44 AM »

I believe that she (and Ozgeorge) strays into unneeded apologetic territory, here (though I have had this conversation with George before, lol). This is not a black and white issue, where it is "bad Augustine! Good easterners!"ÂÂ  I have read in both St. Nicholas Cabasilas and St. Gregory Palamas talk that would be labeled by some Orthodox people "Augustinian" or "Anselmian" had it come from a westerner of the same time period as these towering saints of the Orthodox Church. The Scripture itself clearly speaks of a debt, a payment, the requirement of blood (without which there is no remission of sins), and many other things which might be theological difficulties, and which might make us uncomfortable.

But Bp. Kallistos rightly points out that Orthodoxy never reduced salvation to one formula or metaphor, but retained the extremely diverse ways of speaking of salvation, and how that salvation was and is accomplished. The author correctly pointed out that we do not inherit guilt; however, to say that no guilt remains would make God into a terribly cold-hearted being, for this would mean that God was allowing us to suffer the consequences for something for which no guilt remained. We do not inherit guilt, no; but humanity as a whole was still under the consequences of guilt, and this debt had to be paid. It didn't have to be the only, or even the primary, reason that Jesus Christ came; but it is a reason that he came.

Regarding George's claim about no hymn of the Church discussing the debt, I do not know the hymns well enough to answer that. What I can say it that both the Scripture and the Fathers speak of it, which should hopefully be enough, even if hymnographers perhaps left that part out while emphasising other parts.

PS. An interesting quote from Scripture...

Quote
For when we were still without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly. For scarcely for a righteous man will one die; yet perhaps for a good man someone would even dare to die. But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from wrath through Him. For if when we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more, having been reconciled, we shall be saved by His life. And not only that, but we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received the reconciliation.
   
Therefore, just as through one man sin entered the world, and death through sin, and thus death spread to all men, because all sinned—(For until the law sin was in the world, but sin is not imputed when there is no law.  Nevertheless death reigned from Adam to Moses, even over those who had not sinned according to the likeness of the transgression of Adam, who is a type of Him who was to come. But the free gift is not like the offense. For if by the one man’s offense many died, much more the grace of God and the gift by the grace of the one Man, Jesus Christ, abounded to many. And the gift is not like that which came through the one who sinned.

For the judgment which came from one offense resulted in condemnation, but the free gift which came from many offenses resulted in justification. For if by the one man’s offense death reigned through the one, much more those who receive abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness will reign in life through the One, Jesus Christ.) Therefore, as through one man’s offense judgment came to all men, resulting in condemnation, even so through one Man’s righteous act the free gift came to all men, resulting in justification of life. For as by one man’s disobedience many were made sinners, so also by one Man’s obedience many will be made righteous. Moreover the law entered that the offense might abound. But where sin abounded, grace abounded much more, so that as sin reigned in death, even so grace might reign through righteousness to eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord. - Rom. 5:6-21
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« Reply #4 on: January 18, 2006, 09:05:43 AM »

to say that no guilt remains would make God into a terribly cold-hearted being,
Huh You mean, unlike the tender hearted and all-merciful God Who demands that a man be stripped, humiliated, flogged and nailed to a tree before He will forgive sins?
Did not Christ, our God, forgive sins on Earth even before his Passion? (Mark 2:5, Luke 5:20, Luke 7:47) How is this possible if the "debt" had not been paid yet?
Could you quote the Scripture which, as you claim, "clearly speaks" of Christ paying a debt owed to God for sin?

for this would mean that God was allowing us to suffer the consequences for something for which no guilt remained. We do not inherit guilt, no; but humanity as a whole was still under the consequences of guilt, and this debt had to be paid. It didn't have to be the only, or even the primary, reason that Jesus Christ came; but it is a reason that he came.
You are confusing conequences of sin with culpability. If a murderer is forgiven, his victim does not rise from the dead- the consequences of his sin remain even if he is forgiven and justified. Even when sin is forgiven, it's echoes in the universe remain, but this does not mean that the guilt of the person is not removed by forgiveness.
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« Reply #5 on: January 18, 2006, 06:01:31 PM »

Whats interesting to note is that she starts off right away with the phrase "I think" very rarely can we take a person's opinion and say its the end all, be all law. Is this article Orthodox? Yes. Is it set in stone Dogma? Not really. Everything is meant to be taken with a grain of salt and an op ed (or opinion piece) does not qualify as Dogma.
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« Reply #6 on: January 18, 2006, 06:36:12 PM »

I think if we are just looking at tendencies, the East emphsizes Christ as Victor over sin and death, ransoming us from the power of sin and death, transforming us through union with our humanity, when we are brought into union with Him through baptism and chrismation. This sort of fits with the Greek emphasis on being/ontology.

The West emphsizes transgression against a holy God and the need for human guilt to be propitiated; baptism cleanses from guilt and the legal transaction that takes place (a person's sinfulness substituted by Christ's righteousness) is the juridical transaction that takes place in conversion or confimation.
This reflects the Latin preoccupation with law (Roman law historically) and practice (administration of an empire).

Agreed that the language of substitution and shedding of blood are present in scripture. But the western reason for that  often leads to a faulty understanding of God. At the crass, popular level He is wrathful and angry at our sins like some pagan deity; actually worse, at a purely theological level is that God is limited or controlled by a law that the West views to be a part of the divine essence, hence God no longer acts freely and without necesssity. This is the problem the Western view creates via Augustine and Anselm filtered through Aquinas, as Fr. John Romanides aptly points out in ANCESTRAL SIN and as Fr. Geroge Gabriel points out in  MARY, THE UNTRODDEN PORTAL.

Whatever the reason for substitutionary language, scapegoats and blood sacrifices, it is not bound up in some NECESSITY in the divine essence, as the Western church would posit. God always acts freely and without necessity.

Augustine began to import actions/characteristics of the divine energy into the divine essence and that is where some of the problems began.
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« Reply #7 on: January 19, 2006, 11:34:52 AM »

"Not one Liturgical Prayer of the Orthodox Church views Christ's death as somehow "paying a penalty" on our behalf for sin."

Not true, some do and the first that comes to mind is the prayer of the Sixth Hour:

O God, Lord of Powers and Maker of the whole creation, through Your compassion beyond our understanding, You sent down Your Only-begotten Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, for the salvation of our race. Through His cross He cancelled the debt of our sins and triumphed over the powers and masters of darkness. Now accept from us sinners these prayers of thanksgiving and petition, and preserve us from any deadly fall in the darkness and against every visible and invisible enemy who may seek our harm. Pierce our bodies with fear of You, and let not our souls fall into evil words or thoughts, but instead, wound them with longing for You so that, looking upon You at all times and guided by the light that emanates from You, we may contemplate the unapproachable eternal light. May we ever address our thanksgiving and worship to You, O Eternal Father, and to Your Only-begotten Son, and to Your All-holy, gracious, and life creating Spirit, now and ever, and forever. Amen.
 
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« Reply #8 on: January 19, 2006, 02:35:35 PM »

Quote
O God, Lord of Powers and Maker of the whole creation, through Your compassion beyond our understanding, You sent down Your Only-begotten Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, for the salvation of our race. Through His cross He cancelled the debt of our sins and triumphed over the powers and masters of darkness.

Where are you getting that translation? The Slavonic text for that prayer has "и Честным Его Крестом рукописание грех наших растерзавый". "рукописание" is "handwriting" (рука, "hand" + писание, "writing"), not "debt". ROCA translates it: " by His precious Cross didst tear asunder the handwriting of our sins".
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« Reply #9 on: January 19, 2006, 04:18:37 PM »

Where are you getting that translation? The Slavonic text for that prayer has "и Честным Его Крестом рукописание грех наших растерзавый". "рукописание" is "handwriting" (рука, "hand" + писание, "writing"), not "debt", which is how ROCA translates it: " by His precious Cross didst tear asunder the handwriting of our sins".

This translation, like the idea of Christ "paying a debt owed to God" is simply a result of the "Western Captivity" of Orthodoxy and the projection of Roman Catholicism and Protestantism onto it. And yet another argument against the use (abuse) of the vernacular!
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« Reply #10 on: January 19, 2006, 04:26:50 PM »

Quote
And yet another argument against the use (abuse) of the vernacular!

Not really, as the ROCA / HtM translation is perfectly acceptable and accurate. Although I see I phrased my previous post a bit confusingly, so I've edited it to hopefully make it more clear.
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« Reply #11 on: January 19, 2006, 04:30:49 PM »

Not really, as the ROCA / HtM translation is perfectly acceptable and accurate. Although I see I phrased my previous post a bit confusingly, so I've edited it to hopefully make it more clear.
By "this translation" I am referring to the one used by Fr. Deacon Lance.
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« Reply #12 on: January 19, 2006, 04:35:02 PM »

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By "this translation" I am referring to the one used by Fr. Deacon Lance.

Ah.
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« Reply #13 on: January 19, 2006, 04:39:46 PM »

Tearing up handwriting is an idiom for the cancelling of debt, as in tearing up the note.  Please do not misunderstand, I am not claiming our texts imply Protestant Atonement theory.  The statements was made that no Eastern prayer contained the idea that Christ cancelled a debt and some do.
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« Reply #14 on: January 19, 2006, 04:47:08 PM »

Tearing up handwriting is an idiom for the cancelling of debt, as in tearing up the note. ÂÂ
Only if you project it.
In the Orthodoxy I know, tearing up the handwriting is actually an idiom for tearing up a record of sin-  ie, the sin is forgotten.
You have simply projected the concept of "debt" onto this.
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« Reply #15 on: January 19, 2006, 06:53:07 PM »

Indeed -- I'd always linked it to the references in the lives of the saints of one's sins being written by angels, and torn up when one repents, such as the entry for March 30 from the Prologue from Ohrid:

Quote
This monk was lazy, careless, and lacking in his prayer life; but throughout all of his life, he did not judge anyone. While dying, he was happy. When the brethren asked him how is it that with so many sins, you die happy? He replied, "I now see angels who are showing me a letter with my numerous sins. I said to them, Our Lord said: `stop judging and you will not be judged' (St. Luke 6:37). I have never judged anyone, and I hope in the mercy of God that He will not judge me." And the angels tore up the paper. Upon hearing this, the monks were astonished and learned from it.
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« Reply #16 on: January 20, 2006, 02:14:51 AM »

I think a lot is being over simplified in this discussion - and it should be pointed out that some very wonderful and holy Hierarchs have held opposing views on this.  There was a fairly extensive debate on this topic within the ROCOR - for more information see Orthodox Dogmatic Theology or The Life and Works or Fr. Seraphim Rose.   
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« Reply #17 on: January 20, 2006, 02:29:32 AM »

Quote
This translation, like the idea of Christ "paying a debt owed to God" is simply a result of the "Western Captivity" of Orthodoxy and the projection of Roman Catholicism and Protestantism onto it. And yet another argument against the use (abuse) of the vernacular!

Now you are being just plain ridiculous.  Of the major players in this theological debate I think the only native English speaker was Fr. Seraphim Rose.  The rest were native Greek and Russian speakers (and all parties involved were quite competent in liturgical Greek). 

You are also mischaracterizing those who disagreed with Vladyka Anastasy's "Dogma of Redemption."  (Remeber all of your rants where you accused me of bearing false witness?).  They clearly do not hold the Western (post-schism) view of Cross solely being to pay off a debt, rather they see that as one analogy among many to describe what is essentially ineffable. 
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« Reply #18 on: January 20, 2006, 04:30:03 AM »

Now you are being just plain ridiculous.ÂÂ  Of the major players in this theological debate I think the only native English speaker was Fr. Seraphim Rose.ÂÂ  The rest were native Greek and Russian speakers (and all parties involved were quite competent in liturgical Greek).ÂÂ  
Nektarios,
You don't have to be a Westerner to opine according to the Western Captivity of the Church. The Western Captivity of the Church as described by Father George Florovsky has gone on for centuries and has affected Orthodox theologians of Eastern origin by osmosis.
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« Reply #19 on: January 20, 2006, 04:33:52 AM »

You are also mischaracterizing those who disagreed with Vladyka Anastasy's "Dogma of Redemption."ÂÂ  
This may surprise you, but I have no idea who Vladyka Anastasy is....and I don't care, so please don't bother to describe what happened in his case. Stick to the subject and don't try and tell me what I'm thinking.

EDIT:
OK Nektarios, I relent. My curiosity has gotten the better of me as usual. I'll take the bait: What was the crux of this "Vlayka Anastasy's "Dogma of Redemption" , and who "disagreed" with him and why?
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« Reply #20 on: January 20, 2006, 03:49:50 PM »

Quote
You don't have to be a Westerner to opine according to the Western Captivity of the Church. The Western Captivity of the Church as described by Father George Florovsky has gone on for centuries and has affected Orthodox theologians of Eastern origin by osmosis.

Now you are changing the subject.  First you had stated "And yet another argument against the use (abuse) of the vernacular!"  That statement is absurd because language had nothing to do with this subject considering that the people on both sides of this theological debate knew liturgical Greek and Slavonic. 

Quote
This may surprise you, but I have no idea who Vladyka Anastasy is....and I don't care, so please don't bother to describe what happened in his case

Well since you don't care...
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« Reply #21 on: January 20, 2006, 06:11:59 PM »

It's actually Metr. Anthony Khrapovitsky who wrote The Dogma of Redemption.
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« Reply #22 on: January 21, 2006, 01:24:34 AM »

Yes - I noticed that after I posted and didn't get a chance to edit... still Metr. Anastassy agreed with it while others in the ROCOR (i.e St. John, Fr. Michael P., Fr. Seraphim Rose et al) didn't.  I'm not going to step into the debate over the actual dogma... just wanted to point out that venerable hierarchs have held contrary opinions on it. 
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« Reply #23 on: January 21, 2006, 02:13:59 AM »

just wanted to point out that venerable hierarchs have held contrary opinions on it.ÂÂ  
And there is room in the Church for differing views on many things, but Dogma is not one of them.
So while I can listen to differing views about Orthodox issues, I will never accept a teaching which says that God doesn't think an apology is sincere enough unless someone bleeds.
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« Reply #24 on: January 21, 2006, 11:14:27 AM »

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I will never accept a teaching which says that God doesn't think an apology is sincere enough unless someone bleeds.

Which if you read the primary sources on the issue, you'd see that isn't the case.  The opinion of people such as St. John Maximovitch was that while it was wrong to see the Cross solely in terms of a legal "debt" being paid it was wrong to completely ignore the imagery of Old Testament prophecies, books such as Hebrews (especially chapters 6-8) or liturgical refrences towards the sacrificial nature of the Liturgy.  My better book on the subject is out on loan to a friend for the time being, but later today I'll post some excerpts from Fr. Michael Pomaansky.
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« Reply #25 on: January 21, 2006, 12:08:05 PM »

but later today I'll post some excerpts from Fr. Michael Pomaansky.
I think you mean "Fr. Michael Pomazansky", and if you are referring to "Orthodox Dogmatic Theology", it's sitting on my desk beside me right now.
But what we are discussing in this thread is not the stavroclastic nature of the teachings of Metropolitan Anthony Khrapovitsky at the turn of last century, but the article published by Frederica Mathewes-Green. In which she specifically mentions the sacrificial nature of the Death of Christ (and hence, cannot be accused of stavroclasm) yet rejects the notion of "paying a debt on our behalf".
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« Reply #26 on: January 21, 2006, 08:56:02 PM »

Perhaps this article, first posted some time ago by TruthSeeker in an old thread, may help

http://www.orthodoxconvert.info/Q-A.php?c=Salvation-Blood%20Sacrifices%20and%20Forgiveness
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« Reply #27 on: January 21, 2006, 10:07:24 PM »

Perhaps this article, first posted some time ago by TruthSeeker in an old thread, may help
http://www.orthodoxconvert.info/Q-A.php?c=Salvation-Blood%20Sacrifices%20and%20Forgiveness

Thanks. In this article, Reader Timothy Copple seems to come closer to what I understand Frederica is saying, that in the Orthodox view, Christ's Death was Lifegiving, not Death-substituting.
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« Reply #28 on: January 21, 2006, 10:21:57 PM »

Thanks. In this article, Reader Timothy Copple seems to come closer to what I understand Frederica is saying, that in the Orthodox view, Christ's Death was Lifegiving, not Death-substituting.

And compare this with the Roman Catholic view that sin requires that the Justice and Holiness of God should strike the world in order to be appeased (even by so-called "progressive" Catholics who refer to God as "She or He"):
 "And the Holiness of God still abhors sins. They also mean that sins today are part of the cause of that suffering. She or He pleads for rebalancing - penance so the Holiness of God may not need to strike the world. He to wants to hold back in the hope of saving more souls: CF Wisdom 12.8-10." Source: http://www.ewtn.com/library/SCRIPTUR/INTERLIF.TXT
 
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« Reply #29 on: January 21, 2006, 10:40:55 PM »

Quote
In this article, Reader Timothy Copple seems to come closer to what I understand Frederica is saying, that in the Orthodox view, Christ's Death was Lifegiving, not Death-substituting.

The two are not mutually exclusive.  To say that the two are and that the later view has no place in Orthodoxy does approach Metr. Anthony's Dogma of Redption. 
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« Reply #30 on: January 22, 2006, 01:33:48 AM »

The two are not mutually exclusive.ÂÂ  To say that the two are and that the later view has no place in Orthodoxy does approach Metr. Anthony's Dogma of Redption.ÂÂ  
Nektarios, I just don't see how saying "Christ paid a debt to God for our sins" and "Christ did not pay a debt to God for our sins" can possible not be mutually exclusive. Met. Anthony's Dogma of Redemption teaches that Christ acheived our redemption in the Agony in Gethsemane. Matthewes-Greene and Copple say that it was By the Death and Resurrection, they are nowhere near each other.
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« Reply #31 on: January 22, 2006, 02:42:56 AM »

Nektarios, I just don't see how saying "Christ paid a debt to God for our sins" and "Christ did not pay a debt to God for our sins" can possible not be mutually exclusive.

George,

But that is not what you originally said.  You said originally, that "in the Orthodox view, Christ's Death was Lifegiving, not Death-substituting."  "The giving of life" =/= "Christ did not pay a debt," nor does "the substituting of death" =/= "Christ did pay a debt." 

We owed a death, each one of us, because of our fallen nature.  This was not a debt owed to a vengeful, petty, hurt, bloodthirsty God who held us hostage, as you said.  However, the "debt" owed was more to the reality of our situation, as my priest likes to put it.  We were sentenced to die, period.  We owed a debt of death, to be paid to our very nature.  We couldn't get out of it.  So Christ, then, died in our places, thus placing His divine death in the slot where all our deaths would have one day had to go.  His death truly subsituted for our death.  But it did not stop there, for in the substitution of one death for another, the reality of our situation--or, "death" itself, as it is mentioned in the Pascha troparion (trampling down death as if it were a person)--was radically changed, turned on its ear.  It is through this substitutionary death of Christ (which is not satisfaction atonement in the least but merely One dying in the place of others condemned to die, not by God, but by their very nature) that life is given to Creation.  To say, then, that this substitution which you yourself mentioned is somehow mutually exclusive with "the giving of life," which you also mentioned, is unfathomable to me.  The two terms, as I hope I've pointed out, do not even remotely mean the same thing as Christ paying or not paying a debt to God the Father.
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« Reply #32 on: January 22, 2006, 03:01:05 AM »

George this thread is typical of your posting style.  You twist what other people say and then deny you ever said various things.... within a few more posts you'll accuse everyone who disagrees with you of not having any love or something like that....and then a few posts later you'll say that you never resort to personal insults like your opponents do. 

Read the Epistle to the Hebrews.  Read the other Epistles of St. Paul - Christ is reffered to as a sacrifice or an offering multiple times - was this just St. Paul's Western Captivity?  What does this mean in context of the old testament prophecies - particularly the ones from the five books of Moses?  What do the fathers have to say on these texts?  Or is this just a hold over from Protestantism (which you did accuse me of before, indirectly) since I am suggesting looking towards the Bible as refrence (oh and BTW, I was never in my life a Protestant). 
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« Reply #33 on: January 22, 2006, 03:19:45 AM »

We owed a death, each one of us, because of our fallen nature.ÂÂ  This was not a debt owed to a vengeful, petty, hurt, bloodthirsty God who held us hostage, as you said.ÂÂ ..... We were sentenced to die, period.ÂÂ  

Pedro,
I have heard you, and I have heard everyone who agrees with this.
But I disagree. I've stated why. It was not a "debt" if there is no one to whom the "debt" is owed. It was a consequence from which Christ redeemed us, not a "debt".
How can we possibly deduce that we owe a "debt" of death for sinÂÂ  if death is our wages for sin?[bible] Romans 6:23 [/bible] You can believe what you wish. I choose not to agree with you.
George
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« Reply #34 on: January 22, 2006, 03:44:58 AM »

George this thread is typical of your posting style.ÂÂ  You twist what other people say and then deny you ever said various things.... within a few more posts you'll accuse everyone who disagrees with you of not having any love or something like that....and then a few posts later you'll say that you never resort to personal insults like your opponents do.ÂÂ  
Thank you Nektarios. I am everything you say and worse.
Now that we have the customary personal attacks out of the way:

Read the Epistle to the Hebrews.ÂÂ  Read the other Epistles of St. Paul - Christ is reffered to as a sacrifice or an offering multiple times - was this just St. Paul's Western Captivity?ÂÂ  What does this mean in context of the old testament prophecies - particularly the ones from the five books of Moses?ÂÂ ÂÂ  
I've said it before, it is not a question of whether the Cross was a Sacrifice, it is a question of "what do we mean by Sacrifice?"
Let's look at the Sacrifice Our Lord commanded us to do in memory of Him. We offer bread and wine, and they become for us the Lifegiving Body and Blood of Christ which we then receive and eat and drink, and the Priest says as he give us the Gifts to consume: "The Servant of God, N, Communes, to the forgiveness of sin and to Eternal Life. Amen." So in the Sacrifice which is the Eucharist, which we do in memory (anemnesis) of Christ's Sacrifice on the Cross ("when you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim His death until He comes"), and in this Sacrifice which makes present again in a bloodless manner, the same Sacrifice of the Cross, can anyone show me where we offer the Eucharist as an atonement or to pay a debt we owe to God? Where do we say in the Eucharist which Christ commanded we do in His memory that we are making this offering to pay the debt owed to God for our sins? Where, in the Eucharist do we "remember" (make present again) this "fact" of "atoning nature" or "substitution" or "debt paying" of the Sacrifice of Golgotha which the Eucharist makes present again? And if the EucharistÂÂ  is not offered to atone for our sins or pay a debt, yet we insist that the Sacrifice of Golgotha was offered to atone for our sins (or pay a debt), then the Sacrifice of the Eucharist must be something other than the Sacrifice of Golgotha.
Our Lord commanded us to remember Him in the Eucharist. I hope we are remembering the right Person, and not some concept we have projected.

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« Reply #35 on: January 23, 2006, 12:46:48 PM »

On one hand there is the extreme of heterodoxy, which to varying degrees has an Arian import to it - that somehow there are two wills, with a "nice, compassionate Jesus" paying a debt to an "angry, offended God the Father".  This is offensive for obvious reasons.

I've thought a lot about this semi-controversy (though in reality it seems to be more of an academic issue than something that upsets very many people in the pews), and am of the opinion that the real problem is that the essence of the different Biblical analogies for discussing Christ's feat of salvation are typically ignored and instead people are clawing each others' eyes out over ostensible/superficial "contradictions" in terminology.

There is a sense in which it could be said "God is just" and also that His plan of salvation involves "restoring justice" to mankind.  This isn't just something theologically degenerated westerners post-1054 thought up.

OTOH, on a deeper level, we need to keep in mind (as St.Isaac the Syrian points out) that God's justice is not like that of men - to the point that they barely have anything in common.  Indeed, if you want to say "God is just" meaning justice as men would reckon it, then St.Isaac would tell you "don't say God is just".

In fact, God's justice is the perfection of justice - it is what justice is supposed to be.  In fact, from what I've been able to gather, it is why enlightened jurists in civil law will tell you what "law" tries to give people (however imperfectly) - wholeness.  A good judge desires to fix a situation by restoring wholeness to the parties involved - to try and make things like they were before the transgression occured.  It is obvious then, that however good intentioned human courts may be, they will always fail to be truly "just".

This is not the case with the Lord.  He can restore this wholeness - and not simply for those who have been wronged, but even for those who have wronged.  And He does this in the only way possible; not by trying to take from creatures (who can do nothing to erase the mess they've made...they can undo some of it perhaps as a sign of good faith, but never utterly remove what they've done), but by pouring out Himself.

When rightly understood, that would seem to be at the heart of what the more "legalistic" portrayals of the economy of salvation are getting at.  I think what makes such descriptions problematic at times, is because so often fallen men replace justice with vindictivness or "revenge".  Of course, that is a dead end - since as we all know too well, even a mountain of corpses from amongst our enemy's family, friends, countrymen, etc. will not do a thing to fix whatever it was they broke in us.

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« Reply #36 on: January 23, 2006, 05:03:42 PM »

When rightly understood, that would seem to be at the heart of what the more "legalistic" portrayals of the economy of salvation are getting at.ÂÂÂ
I understand what yourself, Silouan and Pedro are saying about "rightly understanding" the more judicial view, however, the judicial view has a string of confusing metaphors like the concept of a "debt" which is not owed to anyone if "rightly understood."ÂÂ  Why should we insist on clinging on to such awkward, confusing and cumbersome metaphors?
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« Reply #37 on: January 26, 2006, 03:36:03 PM »

Y'know what George, upon reflection I'm inclined to agree with you.  While "rightly divided" the "language of the courts" has some value, I think for many nowdays (particularly westerners who have grown up with heterodox forms of Christianity as the basis for their understanding, whether they are religious or not) a lot of that language is so pregnant with false assumptions that it needs to be used very carefully, with heavy qualification.

Wading into Controversy?  - A clearer/more lucid version of my thoughts on the subject

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« Reply #38 on: January 27, 2006, 06:21:07 PM »

I appreciate very much what Augustine has added to this discussion

I would like to RE-emphasize what Fr. Romanides points out regarding the Western jurudical view - that is places necessity in the essence of God - He MUST regard human sin in holy righteous anger and MUST judge it - either by hell's fire or the death of the Son of God. By locating this juridical code in the divine essence God is "forced" to act this way.

Fr. Romanides rightly points out that in Scripture and in the early Fathers God  is in NOT seen as acting from necessity. God acts freely in His love and without necessity.

I would like to see more comment on this aspect of this "debate."

According to Fr. R (if I have read him correctly) holiness, righteousness, and other "attributes" should be located in the divine energies.
The West runs into the same problem in locating fore-knowledge in the divine essence; if an event is known by God in His essence it MUST come to pass, because God does not change. Thus the West ends up inexorably with predestination, along with its original sin concept and divine anger/propitiating sacrifice image - all from placing these various attributes (including fore-knowledge) in the divine essence rather than the divine energies.
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« Reply #39 on: January 28, 2006, 11:14:03 PM »

As an inquirer with a Western background, I've followed this discussion with interest.  It's hard for me not to see debts incurred from our sins.  In Hebrews 2: 2, for instance, we find that by law "every transgression and disobedience received a just reward [ retribution or penalty ]" ( New King James Version ).  In Romans 3 we see that God purposed to be "just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus" ( verse 26 ) and that the law is not nullified through faith but established ( verse 31 ).

Were God simply to justify people without ensuring that the penalties of their sins were paid, how could He be just? and how would the law be established by faith?

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« Reply #40 on: January 28, 2006, 11:37:18 PM »

Were God simply to justify people without ensuring that the penalties of their sins were paid, how could He be just?

Your question was best answered by St. Isaac the Syrian 1300 years ago when he said:
"How can a man call God just when he comes across the passage on the prodigal son, who wasted his wealth in riotous living, and yet only for the contrition which he showed, the father ran and fell upon his neck, and gave him authority over all his wealth? None other but His very Son said these things concerning Him lest we doubt it, and thus He bare witness concerning Him. Where, then, is God's justice, for whilst we were sinners, Christ died for us!"
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« Reply #41 on: January 29, 2006, 02:17:10 AM »

BTW, would anyone mind reading over the responses that have occurred from Orthodox readers on this article (mostly me) and give a critique of what might be said more clearly? Thanks~
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« Reply #42 on: January 29, 2006, 04:41:07 AM »

BTW, would anyone mind reading over the responses that have occurred from Orthodox readers on this article (mostly me) and give a critique of what might be said more clearly? Thanks~
I've read through them, and I think my critique given in this thread stands as far as I'm concerned. Others may (and probably do) disagree with me.
In my view, the moment we start talking atonement, debt payment, victim substitution etc, we enter dangerous ground which is far too easily misunderstood (as has been in the case of the responses on beliefnet.)
The only clear way to say it is exactley how Frederica said it- it was NOT a debt payment, it was NOT a victim/punishment substitution, it was NOT an atonement.
Your answers are great btw, and I see they have sparked some interest. Wink
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« Reply #43 on: January 29, 2006, 10:25:57 AM »


Elder Paisos On Divine Justice: http://www.pigizois.gr/agglika/paisios/03_On_divine_justice.htm
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« Reply #44 on: January 29, 2006, 03:55:30 PM »

Your question was best answered by St. Isaac the Syrian 1300 years ago when he said:
"How can a man call God just when he comes across the passage on the prodigal son, who wasted his wealth in riotous living, and yet only for the contrition which he showed, the father ran and fell upon his neck, and gave him authority over all his wealth? None other but His very Son said these things concerning Him lest we doubt it, and thus He bare witness concerning Him. Where, then, is God's justice, for whilst we were sinners, Christ died for us!"

Thanks for this quote from St. Isaac.  Still, while he asks how God could be just relative to the prodigal son's forgiveness, I can't help remembering that St. Paul said God, in setting forth Christ as a propitiation, intended to "be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus" ( Romans 3: 26 ).

After logging off last night, I recalled where our Lord taught us to pray,"... Forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors" ( Matthew 6: 12 ).  Here my Orthodox Study Bible notes:

Quote
Debts refers to spiritual debts: when we sin, we "owe" restitution to our offended neighbor and to God.

Our Lord elsewhere equated sins with debts:

Quote
"There was a certain creditor who had two debtors.  One owed five hundred denarii, and the other fifty.  And when they had nothing with which to repay, he freely forgave them both.  Tell Me, therefore, which of them will love him more?"

Simon answered and said, "I suppose the one to hom he forgave more."  And He said to him, "You have rightly judged."

Then He turned to the woman and said to Simon, "Do you see this woman?  I entered your house; you gave Me no water for My feet, but she has washed My feet with her tears and wiped them with the hair of hear head.  You gave me no kiss, but this woman has not ceased to kiss My feet since the time I came in.  You did not anoint My head with oil, but this woman has anointed My feet with fragrant oil.  Therefore I say to you, her sins, which are many, are forgiven, for she loved much.  But to whom little is forgiven, the same loves little" ( Luke 7: 41-47 ).

The OSB annotators pick up on the indebtedness or liability incurred by sin, for they remark:

Quote
7: 47 This is a great encouragement to all who feel so much of their lives has been given over to sin.  In the mercy of God, a sinful past is not a hopeless liability.  Forgiveness comes to those who truly love Christ ( underlining added ).

Just as the debt-forgiving creditor in our Lord's parable had to bear the burden of the forgiven debts, our heavenly Father, through His only-begotten Son, must be bearing the burdens of our sin debts; at least, that seems to be what our Lord's parable implies.  So, why am I wrong to think our Lord Jesus Christ made provision for mankind's sins so that whoever trusts and obeys Him may not perish but have everlasting life?

In Christ,
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