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The purpose and goal of Christ's suffering


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#1 Sacha

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Posted 06 April 2012 - 04:42 PM

http://www.christian...-in-hell-72782/

How would the apostolic Fathers respond to this article, if they were reading it today?

#2 Rdr Daniel (R.)

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Posted 06 April 2012 - 10:05 PM

I am not sure to be honest. However, the article makes a mistake in saying Jesus was ever separated from God as He is God and the Son was at no time separate from the Father or the Holy Spirit.

I also thing it focus too much on this idea of Christ's sufferings being instead of our sufferings (in this case separation from God), and does not see the cross more in a sense of the fact that whereas the first Adam disobeyed God and caused death in Christ the New Adam human nature was obedient to God even unto death, or that human nature corrupted by the first Adam was healed through the wounds of the Second Adam. In short it is focusing still on the legal and not on the medicinal. At least that is my opinion.

In Christ.
Daniel,

#3 Sacha

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Posted 06 April 2012 - 11:12 PM

Daniel,

Yes, agree with everything you say.

Did the Apostles and Apostolic Fathers ever use the language of a "penalty paid"?

The impression I've had discussing related topics on this forum is that some full embrace this type of juridical language, whereas others reject it totally.

#4 Bryan J. Maloney

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Posted 07 April 2012 - 03:14 PM

The West blatantly fetishizes His suffering, as if the infliction of pain is the whole point of the Incarnation. How evil must some so-called "god" be if that is the whole point and process of the Incarnation?

#5 Rdr Daniel (R.)

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Posted 08 April 2012 - 02:54 PM

Daniel,

Yes, agree with everything you say.

Did the Apostles and Apostolic Fathers ever use the language of a "penalty paid"?

To be honset Sacha I am only starting to read the Fathers as I have only being Orthodox about a year and I did not read them before I started to look in to Orthodoxy. But I have never to my knowledge come across terms such as a penalty paid, to me the focus is in this regard (as opposed to when taking say of Christ the Victor) is the obedience of Human Nature in Man. I think the more one looks in to the Crucifixion of Christ our God the more it is clear that there is so much too it that though we can wonder at all the things He did for us they are so vast we must exclaim with the Apostle "O the depths of the Knowledge and Wisdom of God".

The impression I've had discussing related topics on this forum is that some full embrace this type of juridical language, whereas others reject it totally.

Is suppose it is how one understands the term one man may understand it other than another but to me I find it too loaded with Reformed Protestant meanings. I prefer in thinking of our reconciliation with God through the cross to thing not of a penalty paid but that the disobedience of Adam became obedience in Christ the New Adam using the words of the Blessed Apostle "Christ Jesus, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: But emptied himself, taking the form of a servant, being made in the likeness of men, and in fashion found as a man. He humbled himself, becoming obedient unto death, even to the death of the cross."

In Christ.
Daniel,

#6 Rdr Daniel (R.)

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Posted 08 April 2012 - 04:04 PM

P.S. "Human Nature in Man" should read "Human Nature in Christ" in the above post.

In Christ.
Daniel,

#7 Marcin Mankowski

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Posted 08 April 2012 - 05:56 PM

Did the Apostles and Apostolic Fathers ever use the language of a "penalty paid"?


This is tricky, even if they used such term they understood sin and punishment different way that it is today.

#8 Sacha

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Posted 08 April 2012 - 11:36 PM

I've read the Apostolic Fathers, and am constantly read their writings. I have never come across the language that Piper and the reformed/baptist/evangelical crowd uses, that of a 'penalty paid'.

#9 Sacha

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Posted 09 April 2012 - 02:23 AM

To be honset Sacha I am only starting to read the Fathers as I have only being Orthodox about a year and I did not read them before I started to look in to Orthodoxy. But I have never to my knowledge come across terms such as a penalty paid, to me the focus is in this regard (as opposed to when taking say of Christ the Victor) is the obedience of Human Nature in Man. I think the more one looks in to the Crucifixion of Christ our God the more it is clear that there is so much too it that though we can wonder at all the things He did for us they are so vast we must exclaim with the Apostle "O the depths of the Knowledge and Wisdom of God".

Is suppose it is how one understands the term one man may understand it other than another but to me I find it too loaded with Reformed Protestant meanings. I prefer in thinking of our reconciliation with God through the cross to thing not of a penalty paid but that the disobedience of Adam became obedience in Christ the New Adam using the words of the Blessed Apostle "Christ Jesus, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: But emptied himself, taking the form of a servant, being made in the likeness of men, and in fashion found as a man. He humbled himself, becoming obedient unto death, even to the death of the cross."

In Christ.
Daniel,


Indeed.

Consider the thrust of Piper's article: he argues that one can indeed equate the suffering of Christ on the cross for 3 hours with the suffering that millions should endure in hell if one truly appreciates His divine, infinite nature. Piper describes Christ as an infinite person, so a drop of infinity and suffering suffices. It almost sounds like he (Piper) must have had the lemniscate in mind to satisfy (pun intended) his need for mathematical accuracy.

Notice how he simply assumes that the justice of God absolutely necessitates the penalty to be inflicted on Christ for this cosmic balancing of debts. But where is this necessity in the teaching of the apostles and apostolic fathers? It is nowhere to be found. Instead we find much said about Christ as our ransom, willingly offered up to redeem us from the sin-death power.

There's a world of difference between these two visions of God: One on hand, a god who necessitates the punishment of Christ to balance the books and on the other, a God who willingly becomes a co-sufferer with man, in order to ransom him(buy back) from death and demonstrate the extent of His love for him. In the former we find a medieval, cold and calculating figure who must punish before he can forgive. In the latter we find the true medicinal love of God, the authentic picture of the Father who freely and willingly laid down His life to heal us and provide reconciliation.

This is not to say that there is no such thing as God's punishment. I think we must indeed tremble at what awaits those who reject such magnificent love, as the prophet Ezekiel reflects in the 15th chapter: "What more could I have done for you?" and elsewhere "Is it (the vine) useful for anything?" What else can God do with a soul that rejects the most incredible offer of forgiveness and love but to grant it the darkness it desires.

But it's nothing short of a tragedy: hundreds of millions of people across the world today believe that the cross primarily presupposes God's wrath and not His love. It is even reflected in contemporary hymns, such as the popular "In Christ Alone":

Til on that cross as Jesus died
The wrath of God was satisfied
For every sin on Him was laid
Here in the death of Christ I live, I live

If we understand the teaching of the apostles and fathers, shouldn't that line been instead re-written as: The love of God was magnified?

#10 Rdr Daniel (R.)

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Posted 09 April 2012 - 08:33 PM

Consider the thrust of Piper's article: he argues that one can indeed equate the suffering of Christ on the cross for 3 hours with the suffering that millions should endure in hell if one truly appreciates His divine, infinite nature. Piper describes Christ as an infinite person, so a drop of infinity and suffering suffices. It almost sounds like he (Piper) must have had the lemniscate in mind to satisfy (pun intended) his need for mathematical accuracy.

It does seem rather odd teaching, I think it has its roots in a fairy new trend which goes from the traditional Papal teachings on Christ paying a penalty for us as man, to the idea that it had to be Christ because He is God and God the Father needed not just the blood of a man but a Divine man above over men in order to be satisfied.

But where is this necessity in the teaching of the apostles and apostolic fathers? It is nowhere to be found. Instead we find much said about Christ as our ransom, willingly offered up to redeem us from the sin-death power.

Indeed, I have read that in the Fathers and it is a great shame that starting with Anselm this has been lost in the West.

Another teaching I have come across in the Fathers is that of Christ as a good thief who lay ambush for the devil so as to disarm him, I believe this view is that Christ not reviling his Godhead set an ambush for the evil one being seen as only man by him who thought he could take Him into death not knowing He is God as Saint Paul says, "None of the princes of this world knew; for if they had known it, they would never have crucified the Lord of glory." For Christ being consubstantial with His Father in is Godhood and having become consubstantial with us except sin in his Manhood was "free amongst the dead" He bound the devil destroying his power, smashing the gates of brass and the bars of iron, rescuing men from Hades, raising up Adam who had fallen long ago under the power of the devil, as "He lead captivity captive".

It's nothing short of a tragedy: hundreds of millions of people across the world today believe that the cross primarily presupposes God's wrath and not His love.

It is a great tragedy and I think this is one of the two main reasons that people become and stay atheists seeing only a wrathful God.

It is even reflected in contemporary hymns, such as the popular "In Christ Alone":
Til on that cross as Jesus died
The wrath of God was satisfied
For every sin on Him was laid
Here in the death of Christ I live, I live

I remember that song I had it on cd and used to sing it. I thought at the time it did not sound very nice but I was greatly unaware then of all that much, may the Lord have mercy.

In Christ.
Daniel,

#11 Steve Roche

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Posted 18 May 2012 - 02:11 AM

Notice how he simply assumes that the justice of God absolutely necessitates the penalty to be inflicted on Christ for this cosmic balancing of debts. But where is this necessity in the teaching of the apostles and apostolic fathers? It is nowhere to be found. Instead we find much said about Christ as our ransom, willingly offered up to redeem us from the sin-death power.


Good observation. I would agree.

There's a world of difference between these two visions of God: One on hand, a god who necessitates the punishment of Christ to balance the books and on the other, a God who willingly becomes a co-sufferer with man, in order to ransom him(buy back) from death and demonstrate the extent of His love for him. In the former we find a medieval, cold and calculating figure who must punish before he can forgive. In the latter we find the true medicinal love of God, the authentic picture of the Father who freely and willingly laid down His life to heal us and provide reconciliation.


Another good observation… This article (Pipers) illustrates how easily one can slide off base when describing the plan of redemption, or the great mystery of God. Pipers emphasis, as you put it, is on the suffering. This is the vision that Piper sees. What we “see” will alter our understanding and message. This is why the apostolic fathers are of such great value; particularly from the 1st and 2nd century AD. These fathers had “seen” what the Apostles had seen. As time went on, and through many distractions which came through historical events, the “vision” started to change, ever so slightly (at first), and then a great deal where we stand today. A beautiful illustration of the vision of redemption is seen in the Shepherd of Hermas. In true apostolic and prophetic language, Hermas describes the will and heart of God for His Church and for all mankind. Like many prophetic books, the information within is capable of being understood in different ways.

Steve

#12 Matthew

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Posted 18 May 2012 - 06:06 PM

Indeed.

Consider the thrust of Piper's article: he argues that one can indeed equate the suffering of Christ on the cross for 3 hours with the suffering that millions should endure in hell if one truly appreciates His divine, infinite nature. Piper describes Christ as an infinite person, so a drop of infinity and suffering suffices. It almost sounds like he (Piper) must have had the lemniscate in mind to satisfy (pun intended) his need for mathematical accuracy.

Notice how he simply assumes that the justice of God absolutely necessitates the penalty to be inflicted on Christ for this cosmic balancing of debts. But where is this necessity in the teaching of the apostles and apostolic fathers? It is nowhere to be found. Instead we find much said about Christ as our ransom, willingly offered up to redeem us from the sin-death power.

There's a world of difference between these two visions of God: One on hand, a god who necessitates the punishment of Christ to balance the books and on the other, a God who willingly becomes a co-sufferer with man, in order to ransom him(buy back) from death and demonstrate the extent of His love for him. In the former we find a medieval, cold and calculating figure who must punish before he can forgive. In the latter we find the true medicinal love of God, the authentic picture of the Father who freely and willingly laid down His life to heal us and provide reconciliation.

This is not to say that there is no such thing as God's punishment. I think we must indeed tremble at what awaits those who reject such magnificent love, as the prophet Ezekiel reflects in the 15th chapter: "What more could I have done for you?" and elsewhere "Is it (the vine) useful for anything?" What else can God do with a soul that rejects the most incredible offer of forgiveness and love but to grant it the darkness it desires.

But it's nothing short of a tragedy: hundreds of millions of people across the world today believe that the cross primarily presupposes God's wrath and not His love. It is even reflected in contemporary hymns, such as the popular "In Christ Alone":

Til on that cross as Jesus died
The wrath of God was satisfied
For every sin on Him was laid
Here in the death of Christ I live, I live

If we understand the teaching of the apostles and fathers, shouldn't that line been instead re-written as: The love of God was magnified?


Very well said, Sacha. Thank you for posting.

#13 Matt Varley

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Posted 18 May 2012 - 11:13 PM

Vladimir Lossky deals with the ideas expressed in Piper's article in "Redemption and Deification," in In the Image and Likeness of God (SVS Press). They derive from Anselm of Canterbury. Lossky locates the alternative, Orthodox, view in St. Gregory Nazianzen's 45th oration, from which I quote:

"Now we are to examine another fact and dogma, neglected by most people, but in my judgment well worth enquiring into. To Whom was that Blood offered that was shed for us, and why was It shed? I mean the precious and famous Blood of our God and High priest and Sacrifice. We were detained in bondage by the Evil One, sold under sin, and receiving 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! If the robber receives ransom, not only from God, but a ransom which consists of God Himself, and has such an illustrious payment for his tyranny, a payment for whose sake it would have been right for him to have left us alone altogether. But if to the Father, I ask first, how? For it was not by Him that we were being oppressed; and next, On what principle did the Blood of His Only begotten Son delight the Father, Who would not receive even Isaac, when he was being offered by his [f]ather, 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? So much we have said of Christ; the greater part of what we might say shall be reverenced with silence."

#14 John Ford

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Posted 19 May 2012 - 12:16 AM

The article makes an assumption - that God could be separated from himself? - which throws up images of Mel Gibson's film, The Passion of Christ, where the 'sacsacrailization of violence' (Edward Schillebeeckx's words), and overtly bloody scenes serve to tap into a populist theology that Jesus was being punished not by Roman soldiers but by the demands of revengeful God.

The 'scandal of the Cross' - will Christianity ever be able to bear the unbearable?

For Jews, Jesus died as a failed messiah - the promised one who would lead the Jews to victory over the Gentile nations - but a dead messiah is a contradiction in Jewish terms.

Quite simply, Western Christianity had to invent a better reason - to which the doctrine of the Atonement was the response - how an incarnated God came to die - soteriology, or how to put back together an otherwise fractured Creation. To unravel this thread would require us to go back and work through the various doctrinal arguments that lead to Nicaea - was Jesus really God or just playing God? - which is to cover well trodden turf.

I turn to Saint Athanasius for something of a response.

Athanasius, in De Incarnatione, makes two assertions - that Creation was made for incorruptibility and that it is sin that has made Creation corruptible. Thus, for Athanasius, God was faced with a dilemma, two dilemmas, apart from his own good name - he could not go back on his word that sin causes death, and equally, that humanity should go to ruination as a result - humanity was at an impasse, it could not go forward and there was no room to retreat. For Saint Athanasius, 'death was fully spent on Christ ... [who] is now able to share with them his incorruptible resurrection, uniting then to himself through grace' (Thomas A Weinandy Athanasius 2007: 33).

Thus, for Athanasius, and I suggest, for the Early Fathers, the concept of 'original sin' had little importance - a later development of Saint Augustine and other Western theologians. The point I think is made by James Alison, that Christ's act was not abolishing something than was bad, but fulfilling some that that was good, but not good enough (‘An Atonement Update’ in Undergoing God: Dispatches from the scene of a Break-in 2006:57-58).

I might divulge a particular Jewish thought that God can offer clemency without doing damage to his universe (Kaufmann Kohler)

The point I think needs to be made that the Early Fathers developed their theology from an apophatic position - that God is at best a mystery who can only be approached in prayer and that to try to conform God to human rationality and philosophy effectively leads to bad theology.

#15 Owen Jones

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Posted 19 May 2012 - 01:21 PM

I'm having difficulty understanding St. Gregory's point. He seems to be saying that there is no ransom, either to God or to Satan.

#16 Sacha

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Posted 19 May 2012 - 04:17 PM

I'm having difficulty understanding St. Gregory's point. He seems to be saying that there is no ransom, either to God or to Satan.


He isn't denying a ransom, but rather appears to be using a form of 'reductio ad absurdum', where the proposition being dismantled is the very idea of penal substitution, i.e., that God necessitates payment and satisfaction before He can extend forgiveness. I find Gregory's reasoning to be a gem in that he was not only offering a better alternative to Origen's idea of the ransom being paid to the devil, but he also anticipated and corrected the mistakes of Anselm of Canterbury and the protestant reformers who centuries later would grievously break with the church Fathers' understanding of the atonement.

Edited by Sacha, 19 May 2012 - 04:48 PM.


#17 Matt Varley

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Posted 19 May 2012 - 04:21 PM

I think what is suggested is that the metaphor of ransom, when applied to Christ's sacrifice, doesn't enable us to understand the mystery completely. It is equally a problem to believe that a ransom had to be paid to the evil one - he could not deserve it - as that it had to be paid to satisfy the Father (for what kind of Father would demand such a sacrifice?).

#18 Herman Blaydoe

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Posted 19 May 2012 - 10:56 PM

What exactly is a ransom? He who pays the ransom is paying what he thinks the person ransomed is worth. Who "gets" the ransom is rather pointless when the ransom is a life. If it was indeed "paid" to satan, look what happened when he tried to collect! The bottom line is not who was paid, it is WHAT was paid, and who it was paid for, and finally look what we are "worth" to God by the ransom that was paid!

#19 Steve Roche

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Posted 20 May 2012 - 06:44 AM

I think what is suggested is that the metaphor of ransom, when applied to Christ's sacrifice, doesn't enable us to understand the mystery completely.


You have reached the target... the ransom is a metaphor! It loosley explains the relationship of the mystery of redemption; but not entirely. If we try to demand from the term the logical expectations; the word no longer is useful to explain this mystery.

Steve

#20 Matt Varley

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Posted 20 May 2012 - 10:21 AM

The idea of a redemption (payment) for sins is also found in St. Paul's letter to the Hebrews. However, the more elaborated connection in the epistle is that Christ in his suffering and death acted as high priest performing the Temple ritual of the Day of Atonement.

Has atonement come to be (almost exclusively) synonymous since Anselm in the West with repayment or appeasement? The Jews of Jesus's time may have understood it more as healing and restoration.




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