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MEDIEVAL-RELIGION  May 2004

MEDIEVAL-RELIGION May 2004

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Subject:

Re: Atonement (1)

From:

[log in to unmask]

Reply-To:

Scholarly discussions of medieval religion and culture <[log in to unmask]>

Date:

Wed, 12 May 2004 03:32:14 +1200

Content-Type:

text/plain

Parts/Attachments:

Parts/Attachments

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medieval-religion: Scholarly discussions of medieval religion and culture

----- Original Message -----
From: "Bill East" <[log in to unmask]>
>
> Fr Ambrose, you raise some interesting questions, but I wonder if you have
used "le mot juste" when you talk of Atonement. The Atonement is an
important doctrine for Christians of both east and west, for the Orthodox
just as much as for the Catholics or Protestants.

Dear Elastic Doctor, I have to differ. The Atonement has no place in the
doctrine of the East, and particularly in the form developed by Anselm
taught - the offering of a sacrifice (the Son) to the Father in order to
propiate the divine justice which required the punishment of the human race
as the result of Adam's sin.

Because it is after 3am where I live I am simply going to post at this time
a small thing which I used when debating the Atonement on a list which has
consdierable less theological knowledge than this august body (in whose
company I do not usually dare to raise my humble voice, being nothing but a
humble folk priest of the Russian Church on an Antipodean island.) So this
small essay below is both polemical and not of a calibre which this list
would expect.... but it is as I say after 3am... mea culpa.. Fr Ambrose


----- Original Message -----
From: "ambrós" <[log in to unmask]>
To: "[log in to unmask]" <[log in to unmask]>
Sent: Thursday, August 09, 2001 11:45 AM
Subject: [Wild_Goose_Cafe] Anselm/Cur Deus Homo Re: Atonement & Deification
(Theosis)


Dear Liam,

Just to say a few things in explanation of why the Orthodox will have no
truck with Anselm and the atonement theology which he developed.

His writing of Cur Deus Homo was a significant development in the West (we
even had to study it at Catholic high school), but it did not affect the
East at all. It profoundly changed the Western theology of the atonement.
For hundreds of years afterwards Western theology, Protestant as well as
Catholic, traced (and still does trace) its soteriology (the understanding
of salvation and how we are saved) back to Anselm. Because of the split
between East and West, Anselm's theology had little or no influence in the
East.

For this reason, Orthodox Christians tend to see Catholics and
Protestantism, who are united in this and other doctrines, as having far
more in common with each other than either does with Orthodoxy.

Anselm developed what has been called the "judicial" theory of the
atonement. In his book he sought to answer the question "Why did God
become man?" He found the answer in a concept in the mediaeval law of his
time - the concept of satisfaction. If one person wronged another, it harmed
the other person's honour, and so the wronged person demanded compensation,
or "satisfaction". Man's sin had offended God, and because God is infinite,
and God's honour is infinite, the insult man's sin causes to God's honour
demands infinite satisfaction. But man is in no position to provide this
satisfaction, so God sent his Son to offer the satisfaction on behalf of
man. By dying on the cross he appeased God's wounded honour, and made the
full and adequate satisfaction for man's sin.

Of course you know all that already, and it is a very much oversimplified
(but accurate) account of Anselm's theology, as it has developed in the
West, but Orthodox theology knew little of this. The Western theological
development stressed salvation from an angry God, whereas Orthodox theology
stressed, as it always had, salvation from sin, evil, death and the devil.

Anselm's problem is that he could not escape being a prisoner of his own
times and he developed his theology out of the current ideas of justice and
satisfaction which he then read back into verses of the New Testament which
he found sympathetic to his own thoughts. In other words, he allowed
himself to overbalance, and he lost the precious balance which is the
hallmark of true patristic theology. To create his system he made the
additional and gross mistake of relying too much on his own human reason,
which in his work he even speaks of as "infallible reason." Human reason is
never infallible, and especially when it is being applied to the deep
mysteries of God's work of our salvation.

Since salvation is one of the fundamentals of the Christian faith, this
difference means that Eastern and Western Christians have moved quite
far apart in their culture and ethos and understanding what the Christian
faith is about. Though the Roman teaching about the double
procession of the Holy Spirit (filioque) brought about the parting of the
ways, it is the countryside those ways have traversed since the
parting that makes us strangers to each other. The arguments between
Catholics and Protestants took place, for the most part, out of sight
and out of earshot of the Orthodox.

So Orthodoxy is neither Roman Catholic nor Protestant. It's a whole 'nother
ball game, as the saying goes.

_______________________________________




But there
> have been several different ideas about how exactly the Atonement was
> effected, and I agree with you that Anselm's particular model of the
> Atonement has never found much favour in the east.
>
> But it may be that we are talking in terms not understood by some of
> our non-specialist list-members, so with your permission I would like
> to spend a little time explaining the matter. I believe I did so once
> before on this list, but that was a long time ago. Those with long
> memories must forgive me if I repeat myself.
>
> Those who study the early councils of the Church - Nicaea, Chalcedon
> and so forth - find that those councils defined very precisely the
> nature of Christ: that he is truly God and truly Man, of one substance
> (homoousios) with the Father, possessing a reasonable soul and body.
> And so it goes on. This aspect of theology is known as Christology. But
> these councils do not have much to say about the work of Christ to
> bring about our salvation, that branch of theology which we call
> Soteriology. In particular they do not have much to say about how the
> death of Christ effects our salvation. We commonly talk about the
> 'saving death' of Christ: but how does it save us? These early councils
> do not shed much light on the matter.
>
> John Macquarrie, in "Principles of Christian Theology" points out that:
>
> "The Church has never formulated a doctrine of the atonement with the
> same precision with which it has tried to define the person of Christ.
> Instead, we find several explanatory models that have developed side by
> side. Even in the new Testament, a considerable variety of ways of
> understanding the atoning work of Christ is to be found. Sometimes
> these have been developed into rival theories, and the history of
> theology has not been without instances of bitter debate over the
> 'correct' doctrine."
>
> These debates for the most part took place in the Middle Ages, not in
> the patristic period, and we happy band of brothers and sisters who
> take an interest in medieval religion are well placed to study a
> considerable body of fascinating literatre discussing the working of
> the Atonement.
>
> It should be said too that the Church - certainly the Catholic Church,
> probably most other Churches - believes that we are saved, not only by
> Christ's death, but by his incarnation, his earthly ministry, his
> teaching, his passion and death, his resurrection and ascension, his
> sending of the Holy Spirit, his eternal intercession with the Father.
> In other words, by his whole "life's work." A soteriology which
> concerns itself solely with the death of Christ will be an unbalanced
> soteriology. But in the west, we have tended to concentrate on the
> saving death of Christ, more so than in the east.
>
> Three "models" of the atonement, to use Macquarrie's word, have been
> particularly influential, and they may be summed up in the words
> "Ransom" "Satisfaction" and "Example." All three can find support in
> the New Testament. Tomorrow I shall mention some of these New Testament
> texts; but I think this posting is quite long enough for one day.
>
> Bill.
>
> =====
>
>
>
>
>
>
>
>
>
>
> ____________________________________________________________
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