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Christ as a Sacrifice to God...

ignatius

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Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children; and walk in love, just as Christ also loved you and gave Himself up for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God as a fragrant aroma. ~ New American Standard Bible: 1995 update. (1995). (Eph 5:1–2). LaHabra, CA: The Lockman Foundation.

I know Orthodox often reject the notion that Christ was a sacrifice to God... how do you interpret this passage in this Epistle to the Ephesians?

Thanks!  :)
 

PeterTheAleut

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ignatius said:
I know Orthodox often reject the notion that Christ was a sacrifice to God...
On what basis do you make this statement? This doesn't sound like the Orthodoxy I know.
 

sakura95

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Try reading St John Chrysostom's homilies. It would give you a better understanding. Here's what he have to say about that particular part regarding Christ being a sacrifice to God,

Do you see that to suffer for one's enemies is "a sweet-smelling savor," and an "acceptable sacrifice"? And if you shall die, then will you be indeed a sacrifice. This it is to "imitate God."
So it is not that Jesus is a sacrifice to God. Rather, sacrifice here is a metaphor for suffering for one's enemies. To get the gist of what St John Chrysostom is talking about though, read the whole homily for yourself,

http://www.newadvent.org/fathers/230117.htm
 

ignatius

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PeterTheAleut said:
ignatius said:
I know Orthodox often reject the notion that Christ was a sacrifice to God...
On what basis do you make this statement? This doesn't sound like the Orthodoxy I know.
I have on many occasions heard Orthodox Posters reject substitutionary atonement and argue that Christ was 'not' a sacrifice to God but for the Devil (i.e. Ransom Theory). I'm sure a search would bring up some examples as I've heard them many times.

So I guess what I'm after is what is a holistic interpretation of this passage and if there is 'room' within Orthodox Theology for Christ as a Sacrifice to God. I thought St. Athanasius advanced substitutionary atonement within his work "On the Incarnation" but I'm not an expert or anything.

Thanks Again!
 

sakura95

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Orthodox accept Substitutionary Atonement. The Ransom or Christus Victor model is a form of Substitutionary Atonement. It is making the Atonement somewhat of a legal transaction or inflicted upon Christ to appease the wrath and anger of God that is rejected by Orthodoxy.

St Athanasius did put forward Substitutionary Atonement. However he does not put it in terms of Penal Substitutionary Atonement or the Satisfaction view of St Anselm.
 

Minnesotan

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Mor Ephrem said:
PeterTheAleut said:
ignatius said:
I know Orthodox often reject the notion that Christ was a sacrifice to God...
On what basis do you make this statement? This doesn't sound like the Orthodoxy I know.
+100
I believe the (Byzantine) Orthodox held a council to respond to Anselm's satisfaction theory. In it, they rejected the idea that Christ was a sacrifice to God the Father specifically, instead maintaining that Christ died as a sacrifice to the entire Godhead. The former idea, which was Anselm's, divides the Trinity too much and results in the "good cop/bad cop" view of the Son and the Father that has characterized the West for so long.

I'm not sure but I think this may have also been the same council that defended hesychasm against Barlaam's attacks. If not, it happened around the same time.

So the Orthodox (EO, anyway) would say that Christ was a sacrifice to God, if by "God" we mean the entire Trinity, rather than just the Father.
 

Jonathan Gress

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Minnesotan said:
Mor Ephrem said:
PeterTheAleut said:
ignatius said:
I know Orthodox often reject the notion that Christ was a sacrifice to God...
On what basis do you make this statement? This doesn't sound like the Orthodoxy I know.
+100
I believe the (Byzantine) Orthodox held a council to respond to Anselm's satisfaction theory. In it, they rejected the idea that Christ was a sacrifice to God the Father specifically, instead maintaining that Christ died as a sacrifice to the entire Godhead. The former idea, which was Anselm's, divides the Trinity too much and results in the "good cop/bad cop" view of the Son and the Father that has characterized the West for so long.

I'm not sure but I think this may have also been the same council that defended hesychasm against Barlaam's attacks. If not, it happened around the same time.

So the Orthodox (EO, anyway) would say that Christ was a sacrifice to God, if by "God" we mean the entire Trinity, rather than just the Father.
Good to know, thanks. Do you have a source? I remember in a passage of St Gregory the Theologian he explicitly rejects both the idea that Christ was offered to the Devil and that he was offered to the Father, though he doesn't offer an alternative. But Christ being offered to the Trinity corresponds with what I learned in Metropolitan Philaret's Catechism, which was standard in the Russian Church at least.
 

JamesR

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Being a sacrifice to God doesn't necessarily mean a sacrifice the satisfy God's wrath. The Orthodox don't deny that Christ was a sacrifice to God but we deny the Penal Substitutionary Atonement interpretation of it. We would say that Christ is a sacrifice to God in that His Death WAS FOR the Father, but it wasn't to satisfy the Father's wrath. God wanted His Creation to be liberated from Death by Christ's Death, and so Christ did willingly die that death for the Father--thus being a sacrifice to God--however, the sacrifice comes not from Him dying to satisfy His Father's wrath, but dying to trample down death by death FOR His Father because His Father wanted Creation to be liberated from Death.
 

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Interestingly, there is a common urban legend known as "The Drawbridge Keeper" that is sometimes circulated on the Internet and via e-mail, where it is commonly presented as an allegory for the Atonement.

There was once a bridge that spanned a large river. During most of the day the bridge sat with its length running up and down the river paralleled with the banks, allowing ships to pass through freely on both sides of the bridge. But at certain times each day, a train would come along and the bridge would be turned sideways across the river, allowing the train to cross it.

A switchman sat in a shack on one side of the river where he operated the controls to turn the bridge and lock it into place as the train crossed.

One evening as the switchman was waiting for the last train of the day to come, he looked off into the distance through the dimming twilight and caught sight of the train lights. He stepped onto the control and waited until the train was within a prescribed distance. Then he was to turn the bridge. He turned the bridge into position, but, to his horror, he found the locking control did not work. If the bridge was not securely in position, it would cause the train to jump the track and go crashing into the river. This would be a passenger train with MANY people aboard.

He left the bridge turned across the river and hurried across the bridge to the other side of the river, where there was a lever switch he could hold to operate the lock manually.

He would have to hold the lever back firmly as the train crossed. He could hear the rumble of the train now, and he took hold of the lever and leaned backward to apply his weight to it, locking the bridge. He kept applying the pressure to keep the mechanism locked. Many lives depended on this man's strength.

Then, coming across the bridge from the direction of his control shack, he heard a sound that made his blood run cold.

"Daddy, where are you?" His four-year-old son was crossing the bridge to look for him. His first impulse was to cry out to the child, "Run! Run!" But the train was too close; the tiny legs would never make it across the bridge in time..

The man almost left his lever to snatch up his son and carry him to safety. But he realized that he could not get back to the lever in time if he saved his son.

Either many people on the train or his own son - must die.

He took but a moment to make his decision. The train sped safely and swiftly on its way, and no one aboard was even aware of the tiny broken body thrown mercilessly into the river by the on rushing train. Nor were they aware of the pitiful figure of the sobbing man, still clinging to the locking lever long after the train had passed. They did not see him walking home more slowly than he had ever walked; to tell his wife how their son had brutally died.

Now, if you comprehend the emotions that went through this man's heart, you can begin to understand the feelings of Our Father in Heaven when He sacrificed His Son to bridge the gap between us and eternal life.

Can there be any wonder that He caused the earth to tremble and the skies to darken when His Son died? How does He feel when we speed along through life without giving a thought to what was done for us through Jesus Christ?
Interestingly, that story first appeared in a Baptist newspaper in the 1960s, but the view of the atonement being advocated here is about as far as you can get from PSA.
 

wgw

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This video of a talk by His Eminence Metropolitan Kallistos,Ware was very helpful for me in understanding the Orthodox view of Soteriology (salvation theology): http://youtu.be/3F7h-TStNd8

It should,be stressed adamantly that the Orthodox, or at least none I've encountered, regard Christ as having been sacrificed to the devil.  The devil has no rights, as His Eminence points out.  There are five aspects of Orthodox soteriology which H.E. the Metropolitan takes us through in this video,,and it is,followed by an illuminating question and answer session.
 
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