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Questions about Orthodox "soteriology"

Doubting Thomas

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I just had the pleasure of reading Clark Carlton's The Life: The Orthodox Doctrine of Salvation. (In fact I started it last night and finished it this morning :) ) Much of what I read was a breath of fresh air, and I also read much that I found myself already in agreement with.

There were a couple of points about which I was hoping for little more clarification.

1. I understand that Orthodox do not preach "imputed righteousness", but what does one make of Paul's statements in Romans 4:11, 23 about righteousness being, in fact, "imputed"? How is that interpreted in an Orthodox context, and how/why is that different from the way either Protestants or Catholics interpret that "imputation"?

2. Mr. Carlton made some comments about God not being "angry", suggesting that is an anthropomorphism along the lines of saying God has wings or hands, etc. I can see his point, especially since God reveals Himself to be immutable, and becoming angry would imply that God changes. However, why cannot God, who is Holy, be eternally "angry" at sin? What does one make of even NEW Testament references to God's "wrath" (Romans 1:18 and 12:19) and "vengeance" (Romans 12:19)? Let me quote Romans 12:19:
"Beloved, do not avenge yourselves, but rather give place to wrath; for it is written 'Vengeance is Mine, I will repay,' says the Lord." How does "vengeance" and "wrath" fit into Orthodox theology?

3. Mr. Carlton quoted Isaac the Syrian as saying that "God is not just", with the explanation that justice is incompatible with mercy. What then do we make of the repeated statements in the Bible that talk about God's "justice"? (I guess this question is an extension of sorts of #2) Is justice necessarily incompatible with mercy?

4. I know that Orthodoxy rejects the "satisfaction" theory of atonement, and I can see why. However, how is "substitionary" atonement different from the "satisfaction" theory and how does the Orthodox Church hold on to the first while distinguishing it from the latter?

Sorry if I am rambling. Perhaps, I am somewhat dense, but having grown up thinking in "Western" conceptual categories, I have assumed the ideas I mentioned above were at least in someway Biblical as these ideas (imputed righteousness, God's wrath/justice, and the substitutionary atonement) are mentioned in the Bible. I guess I just need further clarification about how the Chuch views these ideas and how it fits into its overall theology of salvation.
 

Thomas04

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Hi Thomas,

Wow, you really touched on a lot of issues. I'm sure some of the more theologically inclined folks here can give better in depth answers as far as some of the theological terms you brought up. But basically I understand what you're asking. :)

One of the main reasons that you could probably agree with as to why we dont believe muc of what you refered to is that the whole idea of God being an angry God, waiitng to smite us down because of our tresspasses was simply never believed by the early Church. This really didn't evolve until around the 10th or 11th Century by a Roman scholar/philospher of who's name slips my mind.

Yes, the Scriptures use terms like God's "wrath and anger" however we must understand these properly, and be careful not ascribe OUR anger or wrath to God.

Obviously when we see the term wrath, anger or whatever, we as fallen human beings immediately have an image as to what anger and wrath is. We might get yell, or clinch our fists, or our blood pressure might rise, or scores of things might come to mind when we think of being angry. However these are all part of our fallen human nature, certainly before the fall Adam and Eve weren't wrathful or angry. So if Adam and Eve weren't, then how can God experience such things?

The quote from Romans 12:19 you mentioned is not so much telling us how God reacts, rather Paul is telling US, how NOT to react. "Beloved do not avenge yourselves, but rather give place to wrath, for it is written, Vengeance is Mine, I will repay, says the Lord. -Romans 12:19

I think the point Paul is making is that WE should not be trying to eek out revenge, because we're not God and thus have no right to do so. My personal opinion is that to read this as meaning God DOES seek veangence is just reading to much into it. Paul is telling us what not to do, not neccessarily saying what God will do. Paul is saying that we're not to do so and so, and we should leave such things (judgement) up to God. He'll do what is right in the end.


As for St. Isaac, I know the quote your talking about, but I can't remember it all. Its actually quite beautiful. The thought is basically that if God was truly just, then He never would have come to save us in the first place since none deserve to be saved. Thats basically the idea behind what he said.

Basically the West sees God as the judge of the universe. Even in protestant Christian music videos, often God is portrayed as the judge in a courtroom, ready to send us to hell unless we accept Jesus. However this idea is in itself completely illogical. For if God is ready to inflict justice upon us, because we deserve it, (and yes actually we do) yet if we accept Jesus (God) as our Savior then we won't be judged, God is technically saving us from Himself. And this creates so many logical fallacies, as well as destroys major doctrines of the Church, such as the Trinity being of one essence and one will, that this idea can't be correct. Unless God has a split personality or something. When Rome adopted this theory, obviously it began to change other parts of their theology. No longer is Christ the the Victor, but He is Christ the victim. No longer is Christ the one who freely chose to become like His creation out of Love, rather He was "sent" as a helpless sacrifice and his life was "taken" from Him. Once Rome adopted this theory, then it became necessary to create a third place for the dead, because God could not send Christians to hell, yet becuase His justice needs satisfaction, something has to be done for our sins, hence purgatory.
As you can see, many theological problems can be traced back to this judicial God who needs to have his anger satisified because we, the human race, hurt His pride. And I in no way mean to single out Rome, because all protestants accept this basic idea of God as well.

Again, if the idea that God is angry at us, or in fact is just angry at sin and not us personally, but still He is Holy and just, and sin must be punished, unless of course we accept Jesus as our Savior, then God is saving us from Himself. (more accurately the Son would be saving us from the Father) This to Orthodoxy is totally unacceptable.

In Orthodoxy, Christ didn't come to save us from the Father's wrath, He came to save us from death hell and the grave. he came to free us from Satan, who held us captive in Hades. Death is (or was) the enemy, not God. Christ came so that we can be united to the Holy Trinity. He didn't come to save us from Himself or His own sence of justice or morality, He came to free us from Satan's hold on us.

To protestants God is so Holy that He cannot be in the presence of sin. Orthodox would 180 that, and say it is US who cannot be in God's presence without us being burned. (for our God is a consuming fire)


To Orthodox, salvation is a preperation for us to be in the presence of God in heaven. Christ prepares us through the Mysteries, especiallly the Eucharist, and helps us to change from one glory to another. If we don't prepare ourselves, then God's love will consume us, and burn us, thus we'd be in hell. But if we are prepared, then God's love will give us warmth and light in the afterlife.

Perhaps someone else can give a better description of it, and maybe answer your specific questions 1 by 1. Sorry I couldn't be of more help.

Oh, BTW, since some of what you were quoting was from Romans, and since people in Rome thought in judicial ideas, its possible Paul was using the language the early Roman Church would understand. For at that time, Paul had not visited Rome, and figured he couldn't explain God in this manner excpet in person.But thats just a theory.

 

prodromos

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Doubting Thomas,

your posts reflect a lot of what I was going through a few years ago. I basically devoured everything I could read on Orthodoxy and currently have over 1 Gb of websites stored on my hard drive for offline perusal.

What I have discovered since then is that, though not a complete waste of time, it didn't really make much difference in the end filling my head with all this knowledge (most of which I have already forgotten). The desire to have a complete and correct understanding is a strong Western trait that is hard to shake, but in the end it is not "right knowledge" which saves us (all to often it simply feeds our pride), rather becoming holy and attaining the Holy Spirit. No matter how much I have learned and striven to understand, I will never know Christ as richly and deeply as some old illiterate lady living in a small village up in the mountains somewhere in Serbia who faithfully goes to church and partakes of all the mysteries in holy fear of God :). It is humbling to remind ourselves of what is important to God. I have recently finished reading about Father Porphyrios, a man who never finished school, yet was given by God complete understanding of all the sciences. He talked to doctors in detailed medical terms, to engineers in their own terms, to astrophysicists in theirs. He was also blessed with discernment and deep theological insight, all because he gave himself over to complete obedience to God.

I don't want to discourage you though, you probably do need to go through all this yourself in order to appreciate it ;D, but I am learning to appreciate the advice of Father Paisios to Western converts more and more, and that is to read the lives of the saints in preference to submerging ourselves in theological works. We should try to follow the example of the saints as the disciples tried to follow the example of our Lord.

God bless,

John.
 

Doubting Thomas

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John,

Thanks for the well needed advice. :)

As my handle implies, I have a tendency to want to have things make sense to me before I give my full assent to them. That can be both good and bad. I think it may be good in the sense that I can then help answer objections others may have, particularly Protestants who don't understand this interest I have in orthodoxy. It's helpful to have things systematized somewhat or at very least to have answers that, although beyond our ability to fully grasp, aren't illogical and thus nonsensical. Even Paul told us to be ready to give a defense (apologia) to those who ask for the reason for our faith (I Peter 3:15).

OTOH, none of us as finite creatures will ever have all the answers and pursuing knowledge just for the sake of knowledge "puffs up". The important thing, as you pointed out, is to humbly live in Christ and walk with Christ, which by God's grace even the simplest can do.

DT
 

Thomas04

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Hi Thomas,

I would tend to disagree with with John in a round about way. Although in the end I would agree with him.

You and I, seem to be very similar in the way we think. And while its easy to put a blanket statement on us as being 'Western' I also think its not completely based on that, rathers its just who we are. (though certainly influenced in western thought)

I too went through nearly the same exact thing as you are. I studied every minute detail. Probably most protestants do, however I also know many people of the West (converts at my Church) who think in totally different ways than I do. For instance the people who were my "sponsers" at my Christmation had first went to an Orthodox Church while knowing absolutely NOTHING about. They saw an add in the paper for the Pascha service, and were curious, wondering why this Church celebrated Easter weeks after everyone else. They went, and by 4am that morning they simply KNEW they had to be Orthodox. It took them another year to finally get there, but I dont think thats the typical western way of seeing things. But they are was "western" as you can get.

OTH I refused to even step foot in an Orthodox Church until I knew it was true. Yet, even when I reached this point (and here is where I agree with John) even though I was totally convinced of Orthodoxy, and already knew I would convert, and had been to services prior, it wasn't until the Pascha service that I "became" Orthodox deep within my soul. The experience is still something I can't put into words. Needless to say I cried out, "my Lord and My God" it was as if I had seen the Lord, for the first time, ALIVE. Just like Thomas did. he doubted, wanted the evidence, got it, but once he truly "saw" Christ, everything changed. (thats why I chose Thomas as my name as well)
<p>
So yes, in the end I agree with John. However, I also think sometimes, even though most of us are "of the West" and think in those basic terms, we are still different. I am much more systematic than so many converts I know at Church, but in the end its the reality of the Church that truly matters. However, I would not have traded my experience for anything, because thats how I've always been, and that part of my life is a part of me. And I truly believe that is how Thomas was too. He wanted the "proof" and got it. I did too. And I'm sure if you keep searching, so will you.

But again, I do agree that in the end, all the "proof" in the world, will not prepare you for the living reality of Christ's Body.
 

prodromos

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Chuck,

thanks for your comments on my post, I agree with what you've written (especially the bit where you agree with me ;)). It is wise to have a balanced approach and to remember that everyones conversion experience will be unique. What works for one person will not work for everyone.

Thanks for keeping me honest :D

John.
 

JohnCassian

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Doubting Thomas said:
1. I understand that Orthodox do not preach "imputed righteousness", but what does one make of Paul's statements in Romans 4:11, 23 about righteousness being, in fact, "imputed"? How is that interpreted in an Orthodox context, and how/why is that different from the way either Protestants or Catholics interpret that "imputation"?

2. Mr. Carlton made some comments about God not being "angry", suggesting that is an anthropomorphism along the lines of saying God has wings or hands, etc. I can see his point, especially since God reveals Himself to be immutable, and becoming angry would imply that God changes. However, why cannot God, who is Holy, be eternally "angry" at sin? What does one make of even NEW Testament references to God's "wrath" (Romans 1:18 and 12:19) and "vengeance" (Romans 12:19)? Let me quote Romans 12:19:
"Beloved, do not avenge yourselves, but rather give place to wrath; for it is written 'Vengeance is Mine, I will repay,' says the Lord." How does "vengeance" and "wrath" fit into Orthodox theology?

3. Mr. Carlton quoted Isaac the Syrian as saying that "God is not just", with the explanation that justice is incompatible with mercy. What then do we make of the repeated statements in the Bible that talk about God's "justice"? (I guess this question is an extension of sorts of #2) Is justice necessarily incompatible with mercy?

4. I know that Orthodoxy rejects the "satisfaction" theory of atonement, and I can see why. However, how is "substitionary" atonement different from the "satisfaction" theory and how does the Orthodox Church hold on to the first while distinguishing it from the latter?
I would argue that these ideas aren't, strictly speaking, Biblical. Satisfaction theory first emerged in the writings of Anselm of Canterbury in the 11th Century, Imputation first emerges in the writings of Martin Luther in the 16th. This means that for between 1,000 and 1,500 years, no one saw these ideas in the Scriptures. This, to me, calls into question their Scriptural basis. At the very least I would tend to take the earlier interpretations as more valid. A number of Protestant scholars, like N.T. Wright, are currently making alot of waves in Protestant circles by going back to the Bible and challenging these traditional categories.

1) I would argue that neither of those verses are speaking of imputation, because of the real issue going on behind the scenes. For imputation to work, righteousness has to consist of merit. Justification then consists of receiving merit (Christ's merits, in this case), while Christ is imputed our sin, seen as demerit. However, the entire merit construct is one of the Medieval West that Protestantism failed to jettison. In the Old Testament, and in Jewish thought contemporaneous with St. Paul (from, for example, the Pseudepigraphic tradition), Justification is equivalent to Vindication. When St. Paul speaks about Justification, he's referring to the Old Testament theology of the Vindication of Israel. Early in the Old Testament, this takes the form of the belief that YHWH will destroy Israel's enemies who oppress her, after the pattern of the Exodus from Egypt. Once you enter the Prophetic corpus, and the period of II Maccabees, for example, this develops into a full fledged theology of Resurrection, where YHWH raises up Israel on the last day to judge those who have oppressed her and to reward her faithfulness to His covenant, which reward they did not receive on this Earth. This is the theology that St. Paul is talking about under the heading Justification.
St. Paul speaks about Abraham because Abraham, in the Old Testament, is the 'one man Israel', so whatever we can see about Abraham, we can likewise say about Israel as a whole. St. Paul points out that Abraham wasn't vindicated (i.e. declared to be a righteous man in the midst of an unrighteous world), because he performed a number of ceremonial works of washings and circumcision and the observation of sabbaths, which the Pharisees believed made one part of Israel, rather, he was vindicated /before/ his circumcision, apart from all of that, based on his response of faith to God's promise. To prevent a potential abuse of this idea, St. James points out that Abraham's faith was really faithfulness (i.e. it was expressed in his actions, chiefly being willing to sacrifice Isaac).
In St. Paul's mind, there's a second 'one man Israel', and that is Christ. Christ in His holy life on Earth was perfect and blameless, completely faithful to the covenant with His Father. Therefore, when He was murdered by sinful men, God raised Him up, and vindicated Christ in the face of His enemies. St. Paul sees this as Christ being the true Israel, and the fulfillment of the promised vindication. So he can say that Christ was 'raised for our Justification' (Romans 4:25). So proceeding from this, there is no 'substitution' in St. Paul. St. Paul never uses the Greek preposition anti, or 'instead of' to describe Christ's relationship to us. Rather, he speaks of us receiving our own justification, and sanctification and glorification for that matter, in Christ. St. Paul teaches us that as many of us as has been baptized into Christ have put on Christ (Gal. 3:27), and have been baptized into His death (Romans 6:3). The rest of Romans 6 further explains this. It is not that our sins are removed from us, and put on Christ, and His merit is removed from Him, and placed on us. Rather, we are placed in Him, and we, our old sinful selves, die with Him. We become dead to sin and alive in Christ. As St. Paul says in Romans 6, if we have died with Christ, we will certainly be raised with Him on the last day (justified). Our current baptism and justification are declarations which predict that final vindication.
Orthodoxy sees the overarching principle of salvation as Theosis. Jesus Christ, in His Incarnation, is consubstantial with the Father in His Divine Nature, and consubstantial with us in His human nature as the Second Adam. Christ therefore accomplished in His flesh our union with God. We become by Grace what Christ is by nature, not by our taking on a Divine Nature, but by our humanity, in Christ, being united to the Divine Nature. Our union with Christ in Baptism is the beginning of this salvation, which includes Sanctification (which is protological, returning us to our true humanity as held by Adam before the Fall, and in Christ), and Glorification (which is eschatological, as in Christ we are united to God and are glorified in Him with His uncreated Glory, as glimpsed in the Transfiguration, and depicted in iconography by the nimbus, or 'halo' that surrounds the Saints in Glory).
This is St. Paul's theology. Ultimately, the difficulty with imputation is that it is simply the 'better answer' to infusion, but its based on the same merit construct. That merit construct is foreign to Scripture, and so ultimately, holding to it confuses your reading. For more reading on this, I would recommend reading St. Paul's epistles with these ideas in mind, rather than merit, and also reading the Orthodox Baptism Service and/or Fr. Alexander Schmemann's 'Of Water and the Spirit' which is his commentary on that service.

More briefly:

2) In Orthodoxy, vengeance is related to the concept of vindication described above. In this world, the righteous suffer and the wicked prosper (Psalm 2). God's promise is His judgment, that He will ultimately set things right, and the righteous will be vindicated. What's addressed behind 1) above is how one is numbered among the righteous on that day.
God's wrath, in most Orthodox thought, I'm thinking for example of St. Maximus the Confessor, is the same as His love. The Love, and Grace, and Glory of God are beautiful peace, joy, and consolation to us in Christ as we are righteous. To those who reject and hate God, however, His Love, Grace, and Glory are a consuming fire. Put another way, God's wrath is immediate access to God unmediated by Christ. Hell, for Orthodoxy, isn't the absence of God, its precisely His undesired presence to the wicked.

3) I will punt slightly on this one. The best discussion I've seen on why God's Justice and Mercy are not opposed to one another is in Fr. Dumitru Staniloae's 'The Experience of God', the first volume of his Orthodox Dogmatics. He discusses all of the traditional 'Attributes of God' in that work, but turns the Western view on its head by focusing his discussion in Christ, and in Trinitarian theology rather than philosophical abstraction. Highest possible recommendation. Its published by Holy Cross Press, and is available from Amazon, amongst other places.

4) I think the 'we believe in substitution, but not poenal substitution' argument, like the 'we believe in transubstantiation, but not the scholastic form of it' argument, is really unhelpful. Its an attempt to try to embrace another group on its own terms for dialogue, but ultimately it just makes the Orthodox view more difficult to discern. Re: atonement, I'd point back to 1) above.

If anybody bothered to read my spammy foray into amateur theology, and wants clarification or more thought or Scripture on anything, let me know, and I'll be happy to keep going. My time isn't all that valuable. ;) On the other hand, neither is much of what I say. ;) ;)
 

Doubting Thomas

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JohnCassian,

Thanks for the lengthy and informative response.

I do have a question about your comment on #1. Given the way you describe the Orthodox as seeing "justification", how do you define "imputed" in thos passages since that is the word used in my bible version (NKJV). I'm not trying to argue--I'm just wondering how "imputation" is defined to fit in with that given view on justification.
 

JohnCassian

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Probably more lengthy than informative, but thanks for the kind words. ;)

The word 'imputation' comes up because the King James has the habit of transliterating Latin words from the Vulgate (which it generally follows) rather than translating them. So, for example, you get 'justification' and 'sanctification' which are really just Latin words preserved as technical terms. In this case, you're not even getting the straight Vulgate, which has 'reputatio', but Luther's gloss, where he changed it to 'imputatio'.

'Reputatio' in the Latin is there translating a form of the Greek verb 'logizomai' which generally means to tabulate or give an accounting. St. Paul is quoting the Septuagint, where that verb is used for a Hebrew root that generally means 'reckoned' either in the sense of estimating or evaluating, particularly the value of an item or product.

So what that means is simply that Abraham had Faith, and because of that Faith, God considered him righteous.

Put another way, Justification is seen in the Old Testament as vindication. So, for example, when Solomon heard the case over to which mother the baby belonged, he 'justified' the woman to whom he awarded the baby as the real mother. She was the party who was declared to be 'in the right' or 'righteous'. Correspondingly, the other woman in the lawsuit was condemned. As we read Genesis, the narrative moves from the story of Noah, through the brief episode of the Tower of Babel, into Abraham's story. Noah was justified by God quite directly. He was declared by God to be righteous while the rest of the world was condemned. He was justified, i.e. vindicated before the world. So when we come to Abraham's justification, likewise, God is declaring Abraham, on the basis of his faith, to be the righteous party, over against the surrounding world.

Now fast-forward to the first century A.D. The eschatological hope of Israel is that God's Messiah will come to rule over them, their enemies will be overthrown and condemned, and they will be vindicated ('justified') before the nations. The Pharisees believed that the way that they would identify themselves with the 'righteous' group who would be vindicated/justified/saved by God was by perfect obedience to the letter of Torah, especially the ceremonial purity laws of the central portion of Leviticus, which they believed made them true descendants of Abraham. St. Paul, in Romans, is countering their argument by asking, "How was it that Abraham himself was justified? On what basis did God reckon (impute) that Abraham was righteous?" St. Paul points out, over against the Pharisees, that Abraham was justified before he was circumcised, and before he had received or kept any of the purity laws. Abraham was declared by God to be a righteous man because he had faith, and so, St. Paul goes on to argue, are we justified by faith, not by the 'works of the Law' (keeping the Levitical ceremonial purity code). He never denies, and St. James makes explicit, that this Faith which justifies includes good works, by again returning to Abraham and showing how Abraham's faith was expressed in works.

So the word being translated as 'imputation' just means 'reckon' in the Greek. What you're struggling with is called, in the exegesis biz, an 'illegitimate totality transfer'. That's where theologians come up with a theological concept for a word, like 'imputation' or 'justification' or whathaveyou, and then every time you see that word in Scripture, you're tempted to read the whole full-blown theology back into the word. But most of the time, a word is just a word. And there's no relation whatsoever between the Greek word 'logizomai', or the Latin word 'reputatio' for that matter, and Luther's theology of 'imputation'.

And, to be blunt, the word 'imputation' isn't really there in the text. The King James chooses there to follow Luther and betray its Protestant bias. I'm assuming that this is one of the corrections they're making (or so I hear) to the NKJV New Testament for the complete Orthodox Study Bible once the Old Testament translation is finished.

Hope that clears things up, rather than muddying the waters to make them appear deep. :)
 

Doubting Thomas

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JohnCassian,

Thanks again for another informative response.

JohnCassian said:
So the word being translated as 'imputation' just means 'reckon' in the Greek. What you're struggling with is called, in the exegesis biz, an 'illegitimate totality transfer'. That's where theologians come up with a theological concept for a word, like 'imputation' or 'justification' or whathaveyou, and then every time you see that word in Scripture, you're tempted to read the whole full-blown theology back into the word. But most of the time, a word is just a word. And there's no relation whatsoever between the Greek word 'logizomai', or the Latin word 'reputatio' for that matter, and Luther's theology of 'imputation'.
I believe I've been guilty as charged :). When you've been taught to understand a concept in a certain way (eg. Justification, imputation) it's hard not to think about it every time you see the words in Scripture.

And, to be blunt, the word 'imputation' isn't really there in the text. The King James chooses there to follow Luther and betray its Protestant bias.
I was wondering about that. I know translations such as the NIV betray their Protestant bias by translating "paradosis" as "tradition" when that word is used in a negative light and "teachings" when it is used positively.

I'm assuming that this is one of the corrections they're making (or so I hear) to the NKJV New Testament for the complete Orthodox Study Bible once the Old Testament translation is finished.
Are they going to make such corrections in the NT for the Orthodox Study Bible? How about for the Psalms (ie use the LXX as its starting text rather than the Masoretic Text)? That would be good.

You've done a great job so far in clarifying some things for me. Now, in what way does the Orthodox believe that God laid on Christ the "iniquity of us all" (Isaiah 53:6 ) if there is no "substitutionary" atonement :) ?
 

Doubting Thomas

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Okay, I've just finished re-reading The Life by Clark Carlton, and I have a few more questions (just to see where I'm misunderstanding him):

1. How is it that Christ has objectively healed human "nature" by His Incarnation, Death, and Resurrection?

(Mr. Carlton distinguishes between objectively healing human nature on the cross, while the subjective healing of the human person is something each person has to work out)

2. If human nature has been objectively healed by Christ, then why are people still born with a tendency to sin? In other words, why are the consequences of Adam's sin still being passed on to his progeny?

3. If Christ restored the IMAGE OF GOD to Man, then was Man devoid of the image of God from the time of the Fall til the time of Christ?

Sorry, if these seem silly, but these are some questions I was wrestling with as I was re-reading The Life. I'm sure I'm missing an obvious answer somewhere. :-";"xx
 

peterfarrington

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Hiya

My take on these, and I've considered them also through reading Lossky, is:

Christ has renewed human nature in the sense that all who die in the waters of baptism and are raised to new life in Christ partake of this renewed nature. The old man is put to death and we pass from death to life. In Christ we are 'new creations'. So it is a new community of men and women which is being formed in Christ, and does not mean that all men are renewed despite themselves.

We partake of this renewed nature by being baptised and then being transformed through the experience of the Spirit in the Church.

An unbeliever has not been renewed in his nature. He still walks according to the old man. And even in the case of the children of believers it is the case that we still live in a fallen world, and our children need to be renewed by baptism and taught to walk in the light because they are born according to the nature of the world.

The Fathers distinguish between the image and likeness of God. Man is still made in the likeness of God but only by being born again in baptism and through living a spiritual life does the image of God make itself known. We are in the likeness of God but we are not an icon of God when we walk in sin.

This barely says anything but this is how I have begun to understand these things
 

Doubting Thomas

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peterfarrington said:
Hiya

My take on these, and I've considered them also through reading Lossky, is:

Christ has renewed human nature in the sense that all who die in the waters of baptism and are raised to new life in Christ partake of this renewed nature. The old man is put to death and we pass from death to life. In Christ we are 'new creations'. So it is a new community of men and women which is being formed in Christ, and does not mean that all men are renewed despite themselves.

We partake of this renewed nature by being baptised and then being transformed through the experience of the Spirit in the Church.

An unbeliever has not been renewed in his nature. He still walks according to the old man. And even in the case of the children of believers it is the case that we still live in a fallen world, and our children need to be renewed by baptism and taught to walk in the light because they are born according to the nature of the world.
Peter,
Thanks for the insight. I had thought previously that it was in baptism that one's nature is renewed since one is said to be baptized into Christ. I just thought that Mr. Carlton was somewhat ambiguous at that point.

In regards to the "image and likeness", I thought it was the other way around. I thought the "image" was still there, but that those who were being saved were being transformed into God's "likeness". Oh well.
 

peterfarrington

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Doubting Thomas said:
In regards to the "image and likeness", I thought it was the other way around. I thought the "image" was still there, but that those who were being saved were being transformed into God's "likeness". Oh well.
I was talking off the top of my head so I may have it backwards. But the idea is the same isn't it.
 

Thomas04

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Doubting Thomas,

You were right. Everyone is born with the Image of God. No matter how sinful, they are still an Icon of Christ. However it is part of the Christian Way, after baptism, to be molded into the Likeness of God. Which is a journey, that never truly ends. The Likeness implies being "like" Christ, in so much as we are able. But the Image is always there, whether Christian, Muslim, atheist, or Hindu.

But as Mr. Farrington said, the idea is essentially the same.
 
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Doubting Thomas said:
Okay, I've just finished re-reading The Life by Clark Carlton, and I have a few more questions (just to see where I'm misunderstanding him):

1. How is it that Christ has objectively healed human "nature" by His Incarnation, Death, and Resurrection?

(Mr. Carlton distinguishes between objectively healing human nature on the cross, while the subjective healing of the human person is something each person has to work out)

2. If human nature has been objectively healed by Christ, then why are people still born with a tendency to sin? In other words, why are the consequences of Adam's sin still being passed on to his progeny?
I know that for a while when I read things like this I wondered, "Why then do humans in fact still die, if Christ healed human "nature" by His Incarnation, Death, and Resurrection?

The best explanation I have heard goes something like this:

Christ assumed a fallen human nature corrupted by sin but did not sin himself. He put that corrupted human nature to death on the cross. Original, perfect human nature was restored in Him at His Resurrection. Actually he was even more perfect than original sinless man in the garden. He became what original man was destined to be, the perfect union of human and divine nature in one person.

He is the first born from the dead and the first perfect restored human. We must all of us likewise share in this process in order to be saved, in Him. But there is a painful process involved...

Christ must be born in us through repentance. We must put to death our old nature corrupted by sin and death through Baptism. We then must receive the Holy Spirit through Chrismation and we must continually receive the His New Life through the Eucharist, which is bread and wine transformed by the power of the Holy Spirit into the broken body and shed blood of our savior. "Whoever eats my flesh, and drinks my blood, has eternal life; and I will raise him up at the last day." John 6:54

By undergoing this process of being incorporated or grafted into His body (The Church) we are being saved by Him, through Him and in Him spiritually and physically.

Something that puzzles me however, if this model of salvation is correct, is how even those who are lost will be raised on the Day of the Lord as part of the general Resurrection, only to be condemned? How can those who reject Christ and have not died with him in Baptism still be raised?

I suspect there is either something not quite right about the explanation I was given, or my understanding of it was off or it is just a model that falls short of the reality of the mystery of salvation.

Can anyone help me out?


 
 
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