Monday, January 29, 2007

The Satisfaction of the Cross

An article of mine on a forum I frequent was published by the admins and can be read here.

UPDATE: I had submitted a second, longer article that "piggybacks" on "Satisfaction," and I just saw that it's been published, as well. It's here.

12 comments:

November In My Soul said...

Clear and succinct. Well done. I was talking with my wife just tonight that the deeper we get into Orthodoxy the more it makes sense and the more assured I am that we have found the true faith. Thank you for being such a faithful, articulate witness of the truth.

Mimi said...

Very well done, Reader David. Thank you.

David Bryan said...

Thank you both for the compliments. November--I'm glad it resonates with what you've been taught upon coming into the Church.

John said...

Well put, David. Both articles were of great value to me, as my thinking can still get a little foggy on these issues. I particularly enjoyed the "light bulb" analogy you used--so simple, yet so insightful. Thanks again.

EYTYXOC said...

Since your post raises the subjects, let me ask you some questions about the Eastern Orthodox view of God's wrath and its relationship to the Atonement of Christ.

From things I've read, much is made or said about Jesus's death delivering us from and paying a ransom to death (versus appeasing an angry God), but there are some New Testament statements - beginning with John the Baptist in Matthew 3:7 and going on to Romans 1:18, 2:5, 5:9; Ephesians 5:6; Colossians 3:6; 1 Thessalonians 1:10; Rev 6:16-17; etc. - about being delivered from God's "wrath" to make me think that God's judgment is not simply a purifying fire that is warm and comforting to the righteous who want to see God's face, but painful and hot to the unrighteous who want to flee from Him. (See, e.g., The River of Fire - though I may not be accurately describing its teachings, just giving a simple/simplistic description of this line of thought.)

Jesus's death does seem to me to in some ways deal with God's righteous anger at sin, and I'm not sure I'm fully accepting of the ways that the EOC - or many EOs - seem to recast what to me seems to be a difficult, but clear, reading of Scripture, both Old Testament and New Testament. E.g., your two articles: The Satisfaction of the Cross and Ransomed from Death, Saved by the Father’s Love: A Meditation on the Work of Christ, and these two by Frederica Mathewes-Green: Why We Need Hell and Christ's Death: A Rescue Mission, Not a Payment for Sins.

Maybe it's something we can discuss over moussaka, baklava and coffee at Holy Trinity GOC this Saturday!

David Bryan said...

John,

Thanks for taking the time to read them; glad you liked them.

EYTYXOC,

Your concerns are absolutely valid ones, and ones that need to be addressed, specifically because many Orthodox do trivialize the wrath of God, almost to the point of ignoring it completely. Such a view, I think, is not only an injustice to the Holy Scriptures, but to many of the Fathers that specifically speak of the wrathful day of vengeance of our God.

So what does that mean, to speak of wrath and vengeance, yet still maintain the Orthodox perspective which shuns the placating of God's offended honor?

You do an excellent job of compiling verses of Scripture that mention very clearly the wrath of the Father; I think the key is to see the call of St. James to the believer--"be angry, yet sin not"--as a way to reconcile the two. That is to say, God willingly and knowingly will bring all mankind into His presence, whether said individuals are ready to encounter Him or not, in order to set all things right, now and forever, and unto the ages of ages. We could say (insofar as we can say such a thing without going too far) that God has a "passion" for setting things aright, for justifying Creation, as it were. He will do this, just as He promised, for He loves righteousness and hates iniquity.

Why, though, does He hate iniquity so? Is it because He loses face when His creations willfully reject Him? Is He pouting because we've hurt His feelings or somehow hacked Him off? Is His horrible day of judgement going to be a Day when He rolls up His sleeves, cracks His knuckles and says, "Aw, it's ON NOW!"? Not at all, of course. He does not look upon us in our iniquity and ask, "How could you do this to ME?" (as so many of us parents do in our self-conscious insecurity to our misbehaving children), but rather asks, "How could you do this to YOURSELF?"

God sees how we are, and it angers Him, but it is not an anger that simmers in an offended huff and waits to exact its revenge. Such an anger would be humans' projection of their own, fallen anger onto the term "wrath" in the pages of Scripture. God's wrath does not sin in that it is grounded, ultimately, in the love that demands that it not--and, indeed, it cannot--rejoice in iniquity or suffering or that any should perish, but rejoice in the truth and righteousness of sinners coming fully into the repentance to which He calls them. Those who will not come, however, are not exempt from the ultimate Day of Truth--God will not suffer any of His creations to dwell perpetually in delusion or deception--and He will reveal Himself as the Ultimate Reality, knowing full well that some will abhor His Appearing. His total indifference to those who have united themselves to falsehood, however, in no way diminishes His love for them; His placing of Truth above comfort for the sake of all mankind shows us that His passionate, determined promise is to make all things new--violently, totally, and suddlenly new and devoid of all iniquity, regardless of the response of the person who's chosen one way or another.

"Maybe it's something we can discuss over moussaka, baklava and coffee at Holy Trinity GOC this Saturday!"

Looking forward to it! Hope I haven't made things worse with my rambling...

EYTYXOC said...

Your "rambling" is very erudite, or at least well-stated.

Raoul The Destroyer said...

One question.

In the view of the Orthodox church, what happens to Protestants and Catholics, those who do not practise the "true" faith, when they die? What can they expect from God on the day of judgment?

In other words, are we even Christians to the Orthodox?

EYTYXOC said...

Raoul The Destroyer said...
One question.
In the view of the Orthodox church, what happens to Protestants and Catholics, those who do not practise the "true" faith, when they die? What can they expect from God on the day of judgment?
In other words, are we even Christians to the Orthodox?


An online (free) book that is recommended or has been read by many:

The Non-Orthodox

and reviews of it, including some negative opinions:

review

review

John said...

David Bryan and Extyxoc,

Wish I could join you two on Saturday...I had planned to be there,but will be attending a family funeral instead. I will be anxious to hear your impressions of the lectures.

Benjamin said...

David,

I appreciated your summary of the wrath of God. Thank you.

David Bryan said...

Raoul,

The following is from the first chapter in Patrick Barnes' book that EYTYXOC referenced:

"The status of the heterodox is properly seen in two ways. When speaking of their ecclesial status-—i.e., their relation to the Orthodox Church-—we would say that the heterodox cannot be seen as Her members, because they have not been grafted into the one true Body of Christ through Holy Baptism. On the other hand, when speaking of
their eternal status-—i.e., the implications of this ecclesial separation—-we leave them to
the mercy of God and do not judge them. Affirmation of their separation does not
require belief in their damnation."