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Re: [LutheransLookingEast] Law & Gospel & Confusion

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  • Rosemarie Lieffring
    Did you get sufficient answers to your questions? Sometimes, early on for me anyway, Orthodox answers can seem like doublespeak since coming from our Western
    Message 1 of 12 , Jun 10, 2009
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      Did you get sufficient answers to your questions? Sometimes, early on for
      me anyway, Orthodox answers can seem like doublespeak since coming from our
      Western traditions we are not plugged into the same base. Someone recently
      put it like this...Orthodox theology begins with the question "Who is God?"
      while Lutheran theology begins with the question "How can I be saved?" I
      think that goes a long way in helping to understand perspective.

      The "Law" as you say in Scripture...ya, that's not there just to accuse us
      but we are really supposed to do those things. Christ really does heal and
      change us and in Him we can. My priest explained it this way though. Think
      of it like a dimly lit attic, you may see a little dust floating in the few
      rays of sunlight that shine through various cracks but turn on the lights
      and the filth is everywhere and most apparent--the more light the more dirt
      you are able to see. In a similar way, as Christ, the Light of the World,
      shines more and more in our lives we are able to see more and more of our
      sin...hence, as Randall writes...the hallmark of a devout individual is
      seeing himself as full of iniquity while one who thinks he is OK is deluded.

      The Orthodox have an expression that sin is like falling and when we fall,
      we get back up, and when we fall again, we get back up again and we do this
      throughout our lives. (My priest says the great sin against the Holy Spirit
      is failing to get back up again--or resigning oneself to sin.) So I guess
      we, too, go "around and around" with this in a way but in Orthodox
      understanding it would seem to be a matter of spiraling up as opposed to the
      around and around like a dog chasing his tail.

      I don't know if any of this is helpful but I have enjoyed your inquiries and
      the responses.-----R

      On Mon, Jun 8, 2009 at 4:09 PM, oruaseht <oruaseht@...> wrote:

      >
      >
      > Hi friends, I've been away for a while but I'm still looking East! I have a
      > question that needs some enlightening that I am hoping the Orthodox Church
      > can provide.
      >
      > To me, the hallmark theology of Lutheranism is "Law & Gospel," the rod and
      > the staff that wounds and heals. There is a wonderful richness in this
      > doctrine (preventing legalism & a religion based on works/piety and assuring
      > wounded souls of God's mercy, forgiveness and love), yet there is also much
      > confusion about it, such that disagreement has occurred about what
      > uses/functions God's Law has and that of the Gospel. Most Lutherans struggle
      > with it when it comes to prescriptive commands in homiletics. If I preach
      > the Law to someone, they are always accused.
      >
      > Example: Law: "Love your neighbor." Well, I'm a dirty rotten sinner, I
      > haven't loved my neighbor, I stand guilty of God's wrath and punishment.
      > Gospel: God forgives me my sin because of Jesus and His atoning work, so I'm
      > forgiven of my wretchedness, free to love my neighbor, but I probably won't
      > because I'm still a dirty rotten sinner and I need God's grace. So, around
      > and around and around we go until we die.
      >
      > My question is, does the Orthodox Church have a teaching like Law and
      > Gospel? More pointedly, is Jesus' sermon on the mount a spiritual to do list
      > that we must achieve in a prescriptive manner or is it a descriptive look at
      > the life of a saint that is somewhat realized now but won't fully be
      > realized until heaven? Or is it both? Further, how does the Church
      > understand keeping/obeying Christ's commandments in tension with our
      > propensity to sin and transgress God's Law? Some of the charges I have heard
      > against Orthodoxy are ones of legalism (the focus is on the individual
      > striving for personal piety/not sinning). To make a long question longer,
      > how does the Church understand prescriptive sanctification? Can we really
      > follow God's Law or are we just fooling ourselves into thinking we are doing
      > an OK job and making spiritual progress?
      >
      > I hope this makes sense and I apologize in advance if it doesn't!
      >
      > yours in Christ ><>
      >
      >
      >


      [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
    • oruaseht
      I thank everyone for their wise words on this topic. It has helped me to see how the Church understands these concepts a little better. One related concept to
      Message 2 of 12 , Jun 16, 2009
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        I thank everyone for their wise words on this topic. It has helped me to see how the Church understands these concepts a little better. One related concept to this notion of Law and Gospel is the role of the wrath of God. The one comment that the Father is miffed about original sin is truly the driving force of Western thought. This big angry God must be appeased somehow, hence Christ's sacrifice on the cross. Very Anselmic. However, that being said, the wrath of God is indeed present in Scripture. God in His all consuming fire Holiness hates sin. What is the Orthodox mind on the wrath of God? In the Lutheran mind, God's wrath is always white hot against the individual for their sins, yet at the same time His tender mercy and forgiveness trumps His anger and wrath. I've always found this to be confusing, as most Lutheran homiletics I have encountered preach to Christians as if they are not "in Christ!" (largely not to confuse or muddle law and gospel, justification and sanctification, etc.).

        Thank you in advance.
        Yours in Christ.
      • Christopher Orr
        I thought this quote from St Gregory of Nazianzus summed up nicely how the wrath of God is really only a sinner s experience of God Himself: When all have
        Message 3 of 12 , Jun 16, 2009
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          I thought this quote from St Gregory of Nazianzus summed up nicely how the
          wrath of God is really only a sinner's experience of God Himself:

          When all have known the Trinity, He is to some their illumination and to
          > others their punishment.
          >
          > - St. Gregory of Nazianzus, Oration "On Peace"
          >
          >
          > http://orrologion.blogspot.com/2009/06/illumination-punishment-vision-and.html
          >

          Here is a selection from St. John Cassian:


          *From The Twelve Books on the Institutes of the Coenobia*
          >
          > Book VIII. Of the Spirit of Anger.
          >
          > Chapter I.
          >
          > How our fourth conflict is against the sin of anger, and how manyevils this
          > passion produces.IN our fourth combat the deadly poison of anger has to be
          > utterlyrooted out from the inmost comers of our soul. For as long as
          > thisremains in our hearts, and blinds with its hurtful darkness the eyeof
          > the soul, we can neither acquire right judgment and discretion,nor gain the
          > insight which springs from an honest gaze, or ripenessof counsel, nor can we
          > be partakers of life, or retentive ofrighteousness, or even have the
          > capacity for spiritual and truelight: "for," says one, mine eye is disturbed
          > by reason of anger."1Nor can we become partakers of wisdom, even though we
          > are consideredwise by universal consent, for "anger rests in the bosom of
          > fools."2Nor can we even attain immortal life, although we are
          > accountedprudent in the opinion of everybody, for "anger destroys even
          > theprudent."3 Nor shall we be able with clear judgment of heart tosecure the
          > controlling power of righteousness, even though we arereckoned perfect and
          > holy in the estimation of all men, for "thewrath of man worketh not the
          > righteousness of God."4 Nor can we byany possibility acquire that esteem and
          > honour which is so frequentlyseen even in worldlings, even though we are
          > thought noble andhonourable through the privileges of birth, because "an
          > angry man isdishonoured."5 Nor again can we secure any ripeness of counsel,
          > eventhough we appear to be weighty, and endowed with the utmostknowledge;
          > because "an angry man acts without counsel."6 Nor can webe free from
          > dangerous disturbances, nor be without sin, even thoughno sort of
          > disturbances be brought upon us by others; because "apassionate man
          > engenders quarrels, but an angry man digs up sins."7
          >
          > Chapter II.
          >
          > Of those who say that anger is not injurious, if we are angry withthose who
          > do wrong, since God Himself is said to be angry.Wig have heard some people
          > trying to excuse this most perniciousdisease of the soul, in such a way as
          > to endeavour to extenuate it bya rather shocking way of interpreting
          > Scripture: as they say that itis not injurious if we are angry with the
          > brethren who do wrong,since, say they, God Himself is said to rage and to be
          > angry withthose who either will not know Him, or, knowing Him, spurn Him,
          > ashere "And the anger of the Lord was kindled against His people;"8 orwhere
          > the prophet prays and says, "O Lord, rebuke me not in thineanger, neither
          > chasten me in thy displeasure;"9 not understandingthat, while they want to
          > open to men an excuse for a most pestilentsin, they are ascribing to the
          > Divine Infinity and Fountain of allpurity a taint of human passion.
          >
          > Chapter III.
          >
          > Of those things which are spoken of God anthropomorphically.For if when
          > these things are said of God they are to be understoodliterally in a
          > material gross signification, then also He sleeps, asit is said, "Arise,
          > wherefore sleepest thou, O Lord?"10 though it iselsewhere said of Him:
          > "Behold he that keepeth Israel shall neitherslumber nor sleep."11 And He
          > stands and sits, since He says, "Heavenis my seat, and earth the footstool
          > for my feet:"12 thoughHe "measure out the heaven with his hand, and holdeth
          > the earth in his fist."13 And He is "drunken with wine" as it is said, "The
          > Lordawoke like a sleeper, a mighty man, drunken with wine;"14 He "who only
          > hath immortality and dwelleth in the light which no man canapproach unto:"15
          > not to say anything of the "ignorance"and "forgetfulness," of which we often
          > find mention in Holy Scripture: nor lastly of the outline of His limbs,
          > which are spokenof as arranged and ordered like a man's; e.g., the hair,
          > head,nostrils, eyes, face, hands, arms, fingers, belly, and feet: if weare
          > willing to take all of which according to the bare literal sense,we must
          > think of God as in fashion with the outline of limbs, and abodily form;
          > which indeed is shocking even to speak of, and must befar from our thoughts.
          >
          > Chapter IV.
          >
          > In what sense we should understand the passions and human arts which are
          > ascribed to the unchanging and incorporeal God.And so as without horrible
          > profanity these things cannot beunderstood literally of Him who is declared
          > by the authority of HolyScripture to be invisible, ineffable,
          > incomprehensible, inestimable,simple, and uncompounded, so neither can the
          > passion of anger andwrath be attributed to that unchangeable nature without
          > fearfulblasphemy. For we ought to see that the limbs signify the
          > divinepowers and boundless operations of God, which can only be
          > representedto us by the familiar expression of limbs: by the mouth we should
          > understand that His utterances are meant, which are of His mercycontinually
          > poured into the secret senses of the soul, or which Hespoke among our
          > fathers and the prophets: by the eyes we canunderstand the boundless
          > character of His sight with which He seesand looks through all things, and
          > so nothing is hidden from Him ofwhat is done or can be done by us, or even
          > thought. By theexpression "hands," we understand His providence and work, by
          > whichHe is the creator and author of all things; the arms are the emblemsof
          > His might and government, with which He upholds, rules andcontrols all
          > things. And not to speak of other things, what else doesthe hoary hair of
          > His head signify but the eternity and perpetuity of Deity, through which He
          > is without any beginning, and before alltimes, and excels all creatures? So
          > then also when we read of the anger or fury of the Lord, we should take it
          > not... according to an unworthy meaning of human passion,16 but in a sense
          > worthy of God, who is free from all passion; so that by this weshould
          > understand that He is the judge and avenger of all the unjustthings which
          > are done in this world; and by reason of these terms andtheir meaning we
          > should dread Him as the terrible rewarder of ourdeeds, and fear to do
          > anything against His will. For human nature iswont to fear those whom it
          > knows to be indignant, and is afraid ofoffending: as in the case of some
          > most just judges, avenging wrath isusually feared by those who are tormented
          > by some accusation of theirconscience; not indeed that this passion exists
          > in the minds of thosewho are going to judge with perfect equity, but that,
          > while they sofear, the disposition of the judge towards them is that which
          > is theprecursor of a just and impartial execution of the law. And this,with
          > whatever kindness and gentleness it may be conducted, is deemedby those who
          > are justly to be punished to be the most savage wrathand vehement anger. It
          > would be tedious and outside the scope of thepresent work were we to explain
          > all the things which are spokenmetaphorically of God in Holy Scripture, with
          > human figures. Let itbe enough for our present purpose, which is aimed
          > against the sin ofwrath, to have said this that no one may through ignorance
          > draw downupon himself a cause of this evil and of eternal death, out of
          > thoseScriptures in which he should seek for saintliness and immortality
          > asthe remedies to bring life and salvation.
          >
          >
          > http://orrologion.blogspot.com/2006/01/st-john-cassian-of-spirit-of-anger.html
          >

          You may also want to look at the blog of Fr. Stephen Freeman who often
          discusses issues surrounding God's wrath, justice, etc. For instance:

          http://fatherstephen.wordpress.com/2009/06/16/st-isaac-mercy-and-justice/


          Hope this helps.

          Christopher



          On Tue, Jun 16, 2009 at 11:32 AM, oruaseht <oruaseht@...> wrote:

          >
          >
          > I thank everyone for their wise words on this topic. It has helped me to
          > see how the Church understands these concepts a little better. One related
          > concept to this notion of Law and Gospel is the role of the wrath of God.
          > The one comment that the Father is miffed about original sin is truly the
          > driving force of Western thought. This big angry God must be appeased
          > somehow, hence Christ's sacrifice on the cross. Very Anselmic. However, that
          > being said, the wrath of God is indeed present in Scripture. God in His all
          > consuming fire Holiness hates sin. What is the Orthodox mind on the wrath of
          > God? In the Lutheran mind, God's wrath is always white hot against the
          > individual for their sins, yet at the same time His tender mercy and
          > forgiveness trumps His anger and wrath. I've always found this to be
          > confusing, as most Lutheran homiletics I have encountered preach to
          > Christians as if they are not "in Christ!" (largely not to confuse or muddle
          > law and gospel, justification and sanctification, etc.).
          >
          > Thank you in advance.
          > Yours in Christ.
          >
          >
          >


          [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
        • oruaseht
          Dear Christopher, your post linking to St. Isaac on Mercy and Justice was incredible. It was only overshadowed by the depth and wisdom of the related River of
          Message 4 of 12 , Jun 17, 2009
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            Dear Christopher, your post linking to St. Isaac on Mercy and Justice was incredible. It was only overshadowed by the depth and wisdom of the related "River of Fire" article: http://fatherstephen.wordpress.com/the-river-of-fire-kalomiros/ Never before in my entire life of theology have I encountered such wisdom! This should be the premier article to read for any Lutherans who are looking East yet struggling (as I am) with the Orthodox mind on sin/justice/the cross/salvation. I highly recommend this read to any of my other Lutheran Brothers and Sisters who have been enlightened by the Holy Spirit to seek the light of the truth in the East.

            I am still in awe from this text! When I eventually become Orthodox, this text will be one that will consistently be shared with my Lutheran friends. Thank you Christopher for drawing me to this wonderful truth! I have posted it amongst some of my Lutheran Pastor colleagues for discussion and I look forward to their comments.

            in Christ
          • Christopher Orr
            I m glad you enjoyed the link. River of Fire is very good though it can sometimes overstate what real Protestants really believe or what particular
            Message 5 of 12 , Jun 17, 2009
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              I'm glad you enjoyed the link. "River of Fire" is very good though it can
              sometimes overstate what real Protestants 'really' believe or what
              particular 'brands' of Protestants officially believe. That said, it opens
              up a different way of looking at the faith.

              Fr. Stephen has been posting quite a lot related to his very area of
              theology. A search of his site by various key words should bring up a
              number of pertinent posts.

              I have come to realize over the years that Protestants don't actually
              believe in forgiveness. They believe in someone else picking up the tab.
              In Lutheran theology, in particular, sins aren't forgiven, they are simply
              paid for by Jesus. The 'blood thirsty' demands of God's Justice must still
              be met - transgressions are not forgiven, and they are not free, they are
              simply free to us (in that system of thought) having been paid by another.
              Forgiveness in Orthodoxy is just that - forgiveness. The Father demanded
              nothing of Jesus, and Jesus' sacrifice offered to the Father was not
              substitutionary it was simply God 'sacrificing' His prerogatives as God and
              deigning to be killed by His own creation - that is a true sacrifice.
              Setting aside his divine prerogatives and the exercise of His rightful power
              was so that he could carry us (our human nature) in His very Person through
              death, through Resurrection and to the right hand of the Father where
              humanity now sits. Christ saved our nature and opened an avenue through
              which Divine energy could once again course through our veins, we must save
              our hypostases (persons). We are and are not yet saved.

              Christopher



              On Wed, Jun 17, 2009 at 12:55 PM, oruaseht <oruaseht@...> wrote:

              >
              >
              > Dear Christopher, your post linking to St. Isaac on Mercy and Justice was
              > incredible. It was only overshadowed by the depth and wisdom of the related
              > "River of Fire" article:
              > http://fatherstephen.wordpress.com/the-river-of-fire-kalomiros/ Never
              > before in my entire life of theology have I encountered such wisdom! This
              > should be the premier article to read for any Lutherans who are looking East
              > yet struggling (as I am) with the Orthodox mind on sin/justice/the
              > cross/salvation. I highly recommend this read to any of my other Lutheran
              > Brothers and Sisters who have been enlightened by the Holy Spirit to seek
              > the light of the truth in the East.
              >
              > I am still in awe from this text! When I eventually become Orthodox, this
              > text will be one that will consistently be shared with my Lutheran friends.
              > Thank you Christopher for drawing me to this wonderful truth! I have posted
              > it amongst some of my Lutheran Pastor colleagues for discussion and I look
              > forward to their comments.
              >
              > in Christ
              >
              >
              >


              [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
            • oruaseht
              You make some very interesting points. The one question that I offered to Fr. Stephen on his blog was the missing piece of Hebraic atonement. The whole
              Message 6 of 12 , Jun 18, 2009
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                You make some very interesting points. The one question that I offered to Fr. Stephen on his blog was the missing piece of Hebraic atonement. The whole atonement system of the Old Testament was based on substitution. Hence the "scape goat" that is sent off to Azazel with the sins of the people transferred onto it. I find this kind of substitution idea missing from the River of Fire essay. Also, it seems to ignore the vengeance of God. Do a quick word search of "vengeance" and it is quite prevalent in the Scriptures. But I totally agree with the essay in many ways that there cannot be some "higher maxim" that God is bound to, especially regarding His offended pride that must be avenged.

                I guess the point that I struggle with the most is that if there is no substitution, then there is really no point of sacrifice (if you can call it that). There is no point in Christ being the "Lamb of God who was slain" if it was simply to show that Christ was willing to be killed as an expression of love. I'm afraid I cannot grasp this idea of the cross as it seems to kind of miss the point (in my Western way of thinking)! Yet, in the parable of the Prodigal Son/Forgiving Father, there is no sacrifice and no vengeance, just mercy and grace. So I guess we see both in Scripture.


                --- In LutheransLookingEast@yahoogroups.com, Christopher Orr <xcjorr@...> wrote:
                >
                > I'm glad you enjoyed the link. "River of Fire" is very good though it can
                > sometimes overstate what real Protestants 'really' believe or what
                > particular 'brands' of Protestants officially believe. That said, it opens
                > up a different way of looking at the faith.
                >
                > Fr. Stephen has been posting quite a lot related to his very area of
                > theology. A search of his site by various key words should bring up a
                > number of pertinent posts.
                >
                > I have come to realize over the years that Protestants don't actually
                > believe in forgiveness. They believe in someone else picking up the tab.
                > In Lutheran theology, in particular, sins aren't forgiven, they are simply
                > paid for by Jesus. The 'blood thirsty' demands of God's Justice must still
                > be met - transgressions are not forgiven, and they are not free, they are
                > simply free to us (in that system of thought) having been paid by another.
                > Forgiveness in Orthodoxy is just that - forgiveness. The Father demanded
                > nothing of Jesus, and Jesus' sacrifice offered to the Father was not
                > substitutionary it was simply God 'sacrificing' His prerogatives as God and
                > deigning to be killed by His own creation - that is a true sacrifice.
                > Setting aside his divine prerogatives and the exercise of His rightful power
                > was so that he could carry us (our human nature) in His very Person through
                > death, through Resurrection and to the right hand of the Father where
                > humanity now sits. Christ saved our nature and opened an avenue through
                > which Divine energy could once again course through our veins, we must save
                > our hypostases (persons). We are and are not yet saved.
                >
                > Christopher
                >
                >
                >
                > On Wed, Jun 17, 2009 at 12:55 PM, oruaseht <oruaseht@...> wrote:
                >
                > >
                > >
                > > Dear Christopher, your post linking to St. Isaac on Mercy and Justice was
                > > incredible. It was only overshadowed by the depth and wisdom of the related
                > > "River of Fire" article:
                > > http://fatherstephen.wordpress.com/the-river-of-fire-kalomiros/ Never
                > > before in my entire life of theology have I encountered such wisdom! This
                > > should be the premier article to read for any Lutherans who are looking East
                > > yet struggling (as I am) with the Orthodox mind on sin/justice/the
                > > cross/salvation. I highly recommend this read to any of my other Lutheran
                > > Brothers and Sisters who have been enlightened by the Holy Spirit to seek
                > > the light of the truth in the East.
                > >
                > > I am still in awe from this text! When I eventually become Orthodox, this
                > > text will be one that will consistently be shared with my Lutheran friends.
                > > Thank you Christopher for drawing me to this wonderful truth! I have posted
                > > it amongst some of my Lutheran Pastor colleagues for discussion and I look
                > > forward to their comments.
                > >
                > > in Christ
                > >
                > >
                > >
                >
                >
                > [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
                >
              • randall hay
                I think that as some Protestants go overboard in their theology of substitutionary atonement, some Orthodox go overboard in rejecting the wrath of God and
                Message 7 of 12 , Jun 18, 2009
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                  I think that as some Protestants go overboard in their theology of "substitutionary atonement," some Orthodox go overboard in rejecting the wrath of God and Christ's substitutionary role.

                  I'm sure that article did explain that the "wrath of God" is not what Western Christians often perceive. However, just because it's not what Western Christians often perceive doesn't mean it is not a reality. St John Chrysostom discusses the punishment of God in the most fearful terms. Every Sunday every Orthodox who communes is supposed to pray the prayer of St Basil the Great, beseeching the Lord that the holy Body and Blood may be "an acceptable defense at Thy dread tribunal."

                  In a way the wrath of God, like the working of Christ's giving Himself as a ransom for us, is beyond our comprehension....hence different Fathers may stress different aspects.

                  I think we should always read the Fathers themselves, rather than just rely on what people say second, third or fourth-hand; so here are a few quotes. (This isn't everything I've run across, just a sampling I've collected.) You will note that the more prevalent themes of the Incarnation are tied to these....there's never the idea that 'because Jesus died for me I don't have to do anything.'

                  *

                  St. John Chrysostom

                  His advent arrested the wrath of God, and caused us to live by faith. (Homilies on Galatians, PNF p. 22)

                  For that He might hot save us to no purpose, He both Himself underwent the penalty, and also required of men the faith.... (Ibid, p. 72)

                  The wrath He appeased by His death, and hath made us meet for the Father’s love through the Spirit... (Ibid, p. 75)

                  He himself, though suffering punishment, did away with both the sin and punishment, and He was punished on the Cross. (Homilies on Colossians, PNF p. 286)

                  We all were under sin and punishment. [Christ] Himself, through suffering punishment, did away with both the sin and the punishment, and He was punished on the Cross. (Homilies on Colossians, PNF p. 286)

                  Think how great a thing it were to give His Son for those that had outraged Him. But now He hath both well achieved mighty things, and besides, hath suffered for Him that did no wrong to be punished for those who did wrong. (Homilies on II Corinthians, PNF p. 334)

                  The Father willed not to leave us this inheritance, but was wroth against us, and was displeased with us as being estranged from Him; He accordingly became Mediator between us and Him, and prevailed with Him...
                  We had offended; we ought to have died; He died for us and made us worthy of the Testament. (Homilies on Hebrews, PNF p. 443)



                  Athanasius

                  ...He suffered these things, not for His own sake but for ours. “Thou hast made Thy wrath to rest upon me,” says the one [i.e., Psalm 88]; and the other [Psalm 69] adds, “I paid them things I never took.” For He did not die as being Himself liable to death: He suffered for us, and bore in Himself the wrath that was the penalty for our transgression, even as Isaiah says, “Himself bore our sickness.” Letter to Marcellinus on the Interpretation of the Psalms, 4.

                  ...After offering Himself for us, He raised His Body from the dead, and, as now, Himself brings near and offers to the Father those who in faith approach Him, redeeming all, and for all propitiating God. (Four Discourses Against the Arians, 2.5)

                  ...To this end He takes to Himself a body capable of death, that it, by partaking of the Word Who is above all, might be worthy to die in the stead of all, and might, because of the Word which was come to dwell in it, remain incorruptible, and that thenceforth corruption might be stayed from all by the Grace of the Resurrection. Whence, by offering unto death the body He Himself had taken, as an offering and sacrifice free from any stain, straightway He put away death from all His peers by the offering of an equivalent. For being over all, the Word of God naturally by offering His own temple and corporeal instrument for the life of all satisfied the debt by His death. (On the Incarnation, 9-10)

                  Since here also the ministry through Him has become better, in that ‘what the Law could not do in that it was weak through the flesh, God sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin condemned sin in the flesh,’ ridding it of the trespass, in which, being continually held captive, it admitted not the Divine mind. And having rendered the flesh capable of the Word, He made us walk, no longer according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit, and say again and again, ‘But we are not in the flesh but in the Spirit,’ and, ‘For the Son of God came into the world, not to judge the world, but to redeem all men, and that the world might be saved through Him.’ Formerly the world, as guilty, was under judgment from the Law; but now the Word has taken on Himself the judgment, and having suffered in the body for all, has bestowed salvation to all.(Four Discourses Against the Arians, 1.60)


                  Cyril of Jerusalem Catechetical Lectures

                  If Phineas, when he waxed zealous and slew the evil-doer, staved the wrath of God, shall not Jesus, who slew not another, but gave up Himself for a ransom, put away the wrath which is against mankind? ( 13.2)

                  These things the Savior endured, and made peace through the Blood of His Cross, for things in heaven, and things in earth. For we were enemies of God through sin, and God had appointed the sinner to die. There must needs therefore have happened one of two things; either that God, in His truth, should destroy all men, or that in His loving-kindness He should cancel the sentence. But behold the wisdom of God; He preserved both the truth of His sentence, and the exercise of His loving-kindness. Christ took our sins in His body on the tree, that we by His death might die to sin, and live unto righteousness. Of no small account was He who died for us; He was not a literal sheep; He was not a mere man; He was more than an Angel; He was God made man. The transgression of sinners was not so great as the righteousness of Him who died for them; the sin which we committed was not so great as the righteousness which He wrought who laid down His life for us... (
                  13.33)

                  St. Symeon the New Theologian

                  Just think how great was the humility of the Lord Jesus when He, being God, humbled Himself even to voluntary death and died on the Cross a death which served as punishment for the worst kind of people. (Homily 37.2, “The Ancestral Sin and our Regeneration,” The First-Created Man, tr. Seraphim Rose [St. Herman of Alaska Brotherhood, 2001] p. 70.)

                  When God condemns for something, He also gives a sentence, and His sentence becomes deed and eternal chastisement . . . (Homily 1.1, “The Transgression of Adam and Our Redemption by Jesus Christ,” The First-Created Man, tr. Seraphim Rose [St. Herman of Alaska Brotherhood, 2001] p. 43.)

                  ...Christ was for us a curse, through being hung upon the tree of the Cross, so as to offer Himself as a sacrifice to His Father, as has been said, and to annihilate the sentence of God by the superabundant worth of the sacrifice. (1.3, p. 47.)


                  Nicholas Cabasilas

                  Life in Christ

                  God from the beginning vindicates His laws when they have been violated, in that He punishes him who has broken them by means of pain and suffering. He would not have seen fit to exact this penalty were it not the opposite of the offense and capable of delivering from judgement.
                  7. 4

                  He who had done no evil pleaded for us by dying on the cross. By this He paid the penalty for the sins which we had audaciously committed; then, because of that death, we were made friends of God and righteous. By His death the Saviour...released us and reconciled us to the Father... 1.7

                  [Christ] alone, then, was able to render all the honour that is due to the Father and make satisfaction for that which had been taken away. 4.4


                  Hilary of Poitiers, Homily on Psalm 53 (54).

                  He was subjected to suffering of no natural necessity, but to accomplish the mystery of man’s salvation; that He submitted to suffering of His own Will, and not under compulsion..
                  And although this suffering did not belong to His nature as eternal Son, the immutability of God being proof against the assault of any derogatory disturbance, yet it was freely undertaken, and was intended to fulfill a penal function without, however, inflicting the pain of penalty upon the
                  sufferer: not that the suffering in question was not of a kind to cause pain, but because the divine Nature feels no pain. (12)
                  He offered Himself to the death of the accursed that He might break the curse of the Law, offering Himself voluntarily a victim to God the Father, in order that by means of a voluntary victim the curse which attended the discontinuance of the regular victim might be removed. (13)
                  He submitted to death, . . . the debt which man must manifestly pay: but He rose again and abides for ever and looks down with an eye that death cannot dim upon His enemies, being exalted unto the glory of God . . . (14)


                  St. Gregory Palamas

                  He gave His Blood, which was sinless and therefore guiltless, as a ransom for us who were liable to punishment because of our sins, He redeemed us from our guilt. (Homily 16.31)

                  St. Ephraim of Syria

                  Hymns on the Nativity

                  Thy Day was able to reconcile the Just One, who was wroth at our sins; Thy day forgave thousands of sins, for in it bowels of mercy shone forth upon the guilty! III.6

                  The bowels of the Father brought Him down to us; He did not bring up our debts to Him, but made a satisfaction to that Majesty with His own goods. VI.1

                  Nisibene Hymns

                  Our Lord subdued His might and constrained it, that His living death might give life to Adam. His hands He gave to the piercing of the nails, instead of the hand that plucked the fruit: He was smitten on the cheek in the judgment hall, instead of the mouth that ate it in Eden. And because his foot bore Adam thence, His feet were pierced. ( 36.1)


                  John of Damascus

                  Exposition of the Orthodox Faith

                  Since our Lord Jesus Christ was without sin (for He committed no sin, He Who took away the sin of the world, nor was there any deceit found in His mouth) He was not subject to death, since death came into the world through sin. He dies, therefore, because He took on Himself death on our behalf, and He makes Himself an offering to the Father for our sakes. For we had sinned against Him, and it was meet that He should receive the ransom for us, and that we should thus he delivered from the condemnation. God forbid that the blood of the Lord should have been
                  offered to the tyrant. (III.27)

                  On the Divine Images

                  From the time that God, the Son of God...chose to suffer voluntarily, He wiped out our debt, by paying for us a most admirable and precious ransom. We are all made free through the blood of the Son, which pleads for us to the Father .... (I:21)

                  Barlaam and Ioasaph

                  On the third day he rose again from the dead, and redeemed us from our first penalty, and restored us to our first glory. (xxxiv)

                  Blessed Theophylact

                  It is the Father Who says, “I will smite the shepherd.” Since the Father permitted to the Son to be smitten, the Father is said to smite the One Who is smitten by His permission. (The Explanation of the Holy Gospel According to Mark, p. 123.)

                  He Himself bore our infirmities and our sins, and He took upon Himself our burdens which to Him were light. He paid off all that we owed.... (The Explanation of the Holy Gospel According to Luke, p. 193.)


                  Justin Martyr

                  ...If the Father of all wished His Christ for the whole human family to take upon Him the curses of all, knowing that, after He had been crucified and was dead, He would raise Him up, why do you argue about Him, who submitted to suffer these things according to the Father’s will,
                  as if He were accursed, and do not rather bewail yourselves? For although His Father caused Him to suffer these things in behalf of the human family, yet you did not commit the deed as in obedience to the will of God. (Dialogue With Trypho, 45)


                  St. John of Kronstadt

                  He Himself became my Teacher, my Healer, my Worker of miracles and my Saviour; He Himself bore the punishment for us, died for us in order that we should not be eternally lost. (My Life In Christ, p. 284.)


                  Cyril of Alexandria

                  The penalty for transgression of God’s law and contempt of the Lord’s will is death. But the Creator had pity on human nature thus doomed to destruction: and the Only-begotten became man, and wore a body by nature liable to death, and bore the name of flesh, so that, by submitting to the death which hung over us as a result of our sins, he might annihilate sin, and put an end to Satan’s accusations: for in the person of Christ himself we paid the penalty of the sins of which we stood accused. (On Worship in Spirit and Truth, 3)












                  ________________________________
                  From: oruaseht <oruaseht@...>
                  To: LutheransLookingEast@yahoogroups.com
                  Sent: Thursday, June 18, 2009 3:01:46 PM
                  Subject: [LutheransLookingEast] Re: Law & Gospel & Confusion





                  You make some very interesting points. The one question that I offered to Fr. Stephen on his blog was the missing piece of Hebraic atonement. The whole atonement system of the Old Testament was based on substitution. Hence the "scape goat" that is sent off to Azazel with the sins of the people transferred onto it. I find this kind of substitution idea missing from the River of Fire essay. Also, it seems to ignore the vengeance of God. Do a quick word search of "vengeance" and it is quite prevalent in the Scriptures. But I totally agree with the essay in many ways that there cannot be some "higher maxim" that God is bound to, especially regarding His offended pride that must be avenged.

                  I guess the point that I struggle with the most is that if there is no substitution, then there is really no point of sacrifice (if you can call it that). There is no point in Christ being the "Lamb of God who was slain" if it was simply to show that Christ was willing to be killed as an expression of love. I'm afraid I cannot grasp this idea of the cross as it seems to kind of miss the point (in my Western way of thinking)! Yet, in the parable of the Prodigal Son/Forgiving Father, there is no sacrifice and no vengeance, just mercy and grace. So I guess we see both in Scripture.

                  --- In LutheransLookingEas t@yahoogroups. com, Christopher Orr <xcjorr@...> wrote:
                  >
                  > I'm glad you enjoyed the link. "River of Fire" is very good though it can
                  > sometimes overstate what real Protestants 'really' believe or what
                  > particular 'brands' of Protestants officially believe. That said, it opens
                  > up a different way of looking at the faith.
                  >
                  > Fr. Stephen has been posting quite a lot related to his very area of
                  > theology. A search of his site by various key words should bring up a
                  > number of pertinent posts.
                  >
                  > I have come to realize over the years that Protestants don't actually
                  > believe in forgiveness. They believe in someone else picking up the tab.
                  > In Lutheran theology, in particular, sins aren't forgiven, they are simply
                  > paid for by Jesus. The 'blood thirsty' demands of God's Justice must still
                  > be met - transgressions are not forgiven, and they are not free, they are
                  > simply free to us (in that system of thought) having been paid by another.
                  > Forgiveness in Orthodoxy is just that - forgiveness. The Father demanded
                  > nothing of Jesus, and Jesus' sacrifice offered to the Father was not
                  > substitutionary it was simply God 'sacrificing' His prerogatives as God and
                  > deigning to be killed by His own creation - that is a true sacrifice.
                  > Setting aside his divine prerogatives and the exercise of His rightful power
                  > was so that he could carry us (our human nature) in His very Person through
                  > death, through Resurrection and to the right hand of the Father where
                  > humanity now sits. Christ saved our nature and opened an avenue through
                  > which Divine energy could once again course through our veins, we must save
                  > our hypostases (persons). We are and are not yet saved.
                  >
                  > Christopher
                  >
                  >
                  >
                  > On Wed, Jun 17, 2009 at 12:55 PM, oruaseht <oruaseht@.. .> wrote:
                  >
                  > >
                  > >
                  > > Dear Christopher, your post linking to St. Isaac on Mercy and Justice was
                  > > incredible. It was only overshadowed by the depth and wisdom of the related
                  > > "River of Fire" article:
                  > > http://fatherstephe n.wordpress. com/the-river- of-fire-kalomiro s/ Never
                  > > before in my entire life of theology have I encountered such wisdom! This
                  > > should be the premier article to read for any Lutherans who are looking East
                  > > yet struggling (as I am) with the Orthodox mind on sin/justice/ the
                  > > cross/salvation. I highly recommend this read to any of my other Lutheran
                  > > Brothers and Sisters who have been enlightened by the Holy Spirit to seek
                  > > the light of the truth in the East.
                  > >
                  > > I am still in awe from this text! When I eventually become Orthodox, this
                  > > text will be one that will consistently be shared with my Lutheran friends.
                  > > Thank you Christopher for drawing me to this wonderful truth! I have posted
                  > > it amongst some of my Lutheran Pastor colleagues for discussion and I look
                  > > forward to their comments.
                  > >
                  > > in Christ
                  > >
                  > >
                  > >
                  >
                  >
                  > [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
                  >




                  [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
                • oruaseht
                  After reading some more very interesting blog posts from Fr. Stephen, and the ensuing comments that followed, (see:
                  Message 8 of 12 , Jun 19, 2009
                  • 0 Attachment
                    After reading some more very interesting blog posts from Fr. Stephen, and the ensuing comments that followed, (see: http://fatherstephen.wordpress.com/2009/06/16/more-on-the-justice-of-god/) there seems to be a general acknowledgement that the Fathers from time to time have used atonement language. The debate seems to be if it is indeed "substitutionary" atonement language. Fr. Stephen is of the opinion that it is a completely foreign idea until Anselm and friends in the post 1054 Western church. Perhaps he is doing a very protestant/Lutheran thing and "reacting" against it because it has become THE dominant idea of salvation (in the West).

                    Several comments on that blog post were helpful to me especially this one: "Atonement was and is about purification, not about anything being substituted or paid. All you have to do is read the Old Testament to see that the sprinkling of the lamb's blood was to purify, to cleanse, to make the people whole."

                    It seems to me the over arching issue for Western Christians is that God's attributes trump His person. By that I mean He is bound to the attribute of justice/vengeance and must have it, hence Christ on the cross. Rather, the East seem to see it as "God doesn't need a payment from us, He wants/desires/calls us to allow His son to cleanse us, to purify us, so that we can join Him in the Holy of Holies. He wants us to be made whole, to have Theosis."

                    It is such a fascinating theological paradigm that makes me extremely uneasy!!! Glory be to God on high for such anfechtungen! ;)
                  • Christopher Orr
                    Coincidence that my priest just sent this out...? * Now I see John 9.25* ... It is almost ten years since I first experienced an Orthodox Liturgy, and what I
                    Message 9 of 12 , Jun 20, 2009
                    • 0 Attachment
                      Coincidence that my priest just sent this out...?

                      *'Now I see' John 9.25*
                      > (c) Margaret Barker
                      >

                      It is almost ten years since I first experienced an Orthodox Liturgy, and
                      what I saw and
                      heard on that occasion changed the whole course of my research and
                      understanding of the
                      Jerusalem temple. I had been in Oxford on Saturday, February 6th 1999, at
                      the invitation
                      of the Fellowship of St John the Baptist, to lead a study day on temple
                      themes. I still
                      have the pink folder with the spare handouts. One session was entitled 'On
                      Earth as it is
                      in Heaven' and the other 'For we have a Great High Priest.' It all seems a
                      very long time
                      ago, because, looking at those handouts now, I realise just how far my
                      thought has
                      developed.

                      In the first session I described the shape and significance of the
                      tabernacle and temple:
                      the veil, the priests who functioned as the angels, the high priest who
                      passed between
                      heaven and earth. In the second I described the Day of Atonement as I had
                      begun to
                      reconstruct it from texts contemporary with Christian origins, texts such as
                      the
                      Assumption of Moses, 1 Enoch, and the slightly but significantly different
                      version of
                      Deuteronomy found among the Dead Sea Scrolls. Atonement in temple tradition
                      was not
                      appeasing an angry God - familiar to me from my very Protestant upbringing -
                      but the act
                      of divine self-giving that renewed and restored the creation, human society,
                      and each
                      individual. It restored the bonds of the eternal covenant. The high priest
                      took blood into
                      the holy of holies, offered it at the throne, and then emerged again and
                      used it to heal and
                      restore. This blood represented the life of the LORD, his self offering.

                      The ritual of the temple could, I had come to realise, be discerned in
                      several Old
                      Testament texts that had somehow lost their context. One of these was
                      Deuteronomy
                      32.43, which describes the LORD coming to heal the land of his people on the
                      Day of
                      Judgement, that is, on the Day of Atonement. It was used by the early
                      Christians to
                      identify the role of Jesus (Hebrews 1.6), but part of this text has
                      disappeared from the
                      Hebrew used today. The vital line quoted in Hebrews is in the Greek text and
                      in the
                      Dead Sea Scrolls text; there is no question that the Christians 'added' it,
                      as had formerly
                      been supposed. It describes the LORD coming with his angels on the Day of
                      Atonement.
                      One possible explanation of the discrepancy between the texts is that this
                      verse was
                      dropped by the rabbis, along with several others, because it was an
                      important prophecy
                      for the Christians. Justin Martyr was complaining about this in the mid
                      second century,
                      in his Dialogue with Trypho.

                      My instinct was that this temple ritual of Atonement was the original
                      setting for the
                      Eucharist. The gospel accounts all set the Last Supper at Passover time, and
                      this has led
                      to an almost exclusive emphasis on Passover symbolism for the Last Supper.
                      The New
                      Testament, however, interprets the death of Jesus as the true Day of
                      Atonement sacrifice
                      (Hebrews 9.11-14), and there are many places where early Christian writers
                      used Day of
                      Atonement images to describe the Eucharist. Was it possible, I wondered,
                      that the
                      original understanding of the death of Jesus and the Eucharist had been
                      rooted in the Day
                      of Atonement and not just in Passover?

                      There were many arguments against the Passover context, despite the setting
                      of the Last
                      Supper. Passover was not a sacrifice offered by a priest, let alone the high
                      priest.
                      Passover blood was not taken into the holy of holies - in fact the Passover
                      ritual took
                      place in the temple courtyard and in people's homes - and Passover was not
                      for the
                      forgiveness of sins and the renewal of the covenant.

                      After the first session one of the participants - alas I cannot remember who
                      - asked if I
                      knew anything about the Orthodox Liturgy, because what I had been saying
                      sounded
                      familiar to him. I admitted to complete ignorance, and so he suggested that
                      I stay until
                      the Sunday and attend the Episcopal Liturgy at the Church of the
                      Annunciation in
                      Oxford. I did, and 'things' have never been quite the same since. It is not
                      easy, trying to
                      think back nearly ten years, to recover what happened in my mind that
                      morning. I found
                      my old diary and looked in that - nothing there except the times of the
                      sessions and a
                      reminder to make the photocopies. I have to try to reconstruct my thinking
                      as it was ten
                      years ago.

                      First, some personal background. I had been fascinated for many years with
                      the world of
                      the Jerusalem temple and how it related to the Dead Sea Scrolls and other
                      non-canonical
                      texts that were becoming more and more important in biblical studies. These
                      'pseudepigrapha' are now the fastest growing area of biblical studies and
                      any study
                      confined to the traditional 'sola scriptura' of my Protestant upbringing has
                      a wholly
                      inadequate view of the field. There was also an obvious chasm between the
                      work of Old
                      Testament scholars and New Testament scholars, and between them and just
                      about
                      everyone else in the field broadly known as 'theology', not to mention the
                      church
                      communities, their life and worship.

                      As I explored the earliest Christian texts, I had discovered that they had
                      understood the
                      death of Jesus in terms of the Day of Atonement, and that they had read the
                      whole Old
                      Testament very differently from the way we read it today - or rather, from
                      the way I had
                      been brought up to read it. The first Christians had understood that the
                      LORD,
                      [Yahweh/Jehovah] in the Old Testament, the God of Israel, had been the LORD
                      of the
                      New Testament. The One who appeared to the patriarchs had been the Second
                      Person
                      and not the First. This misreading had been reinforced by the Jerusalem
                      Bible, which
                      uses Yahweh in the Old Testament and 'the Lord' in the New, thus obscuring
                      what must
                      be the most important link in the Bible - the Jesus was Yahweh. [I explored
                      this in my book
                      The Great Angel, London: SPCK 1992] A new theology graduate attending the
                      study day
                      asked me what had happened to Yahweh after the Old Testament. He had somehow
                      disappeared, she said, at least from the way she had been taught the New
                      Testament.
                      She had asked an important question. If this fundamental aspect of the
                      Christian claim
                      had been lost [the original meaning of 'Jesus is LORD'], might the Day of
                      Atonement link
                      also have slipped from view?

                      On that Sunday in February 1999 I had almost finished writing my commentary
                      on the
                      Book of Revelation. [The Revelation of Jesus Christ, Edinburgh: T&T Clark,
                      2000] For
                      months I had been steeped in temple imagery and heavenly liturgy. This was
                      the world
                      of the first Christians: angel hosts around the throne, angels emerging from
                      heaven,
                      incense and hymns, the kingdom of priests established on earth. At the
                      centre was the
                      Lamb, slain but now living and enthroned in heaven, and preparing to return
                      to earth. John
                      had seen the risen LORD as the Great High Priest in the temple, and the
                      'Hebrews' had
                      been reminded that their Great High Priest had passed into the heavens,
                      having made the
                      great atonement sacrifice (Hebrews 1.1-4). The key prophecy for this claim
                      had
                      'disappeared' from the Hebrew scriptures, so it must have been important.
                      Perhaps it was
                      even represented in the earliest liturgies. The Book of Revelation does
                      suggest this.

                      I went to the little Orthodox church on Sunday morning for the Liturgy,
                      which was in
                      English that Sunday, and remember someone offering me a Greek text to follow
                      the
                      service. Perhaps it was Greek and English - I do not remember - but I do
                      remember
                      being amazed at 'familiar' Greek lines that I had never seen before. I
                      remember the
                      words as Bishop Basil was vested: 'He hath clothed thee in the garment of
                      salvation; and
                      with the vesture of gladness hath he covered thee; he hath placed a crown
                      upon thee as on
                      a bridegroom, and hath adorned thee as a bride with comeliness.' The words
                      are from
                      Isaiah 61.10, but here from the Greek which has 'robe of gladness', whereas
                      the Hebrew -
                      and thus the English versions - has 'robe of righteousness.' But why were
                      these linked to
                      vesting a bishop? Nothing in the Old Testament suggests this. The random use
                      of some
                      suitable words? Or was there more to it?

                      I had just finished writing a commentary on Isaiah [published in Eerdman's
                      Commentary
                      on the Bible, edd. J D G Dunn and J W Rogerson, Grand Rapids and Cambridge,
                      UK:
                      Eerdman, 2003] and so was more familiar with the Hebrew text that I might
                      otherwise have
                      been. The Hebrew here has a problem, since the verb used is 'he had made me
                      a priest',
                      so, literally, the Hebrew would read: 'As a bridegroom he has made me a
                      priest with a
                      turban.' This is usually emended to give the familiar 'as a bridegroom decks
                      himself with
                      a garland...', but the Authorised Version does mark the difficulty with a
                      note: 'decketh as
                      a priest'. The Greek text does not have this link to the priesthood, but it
                      does appear in the
                      Targum, the ancient Aramaic translation and expansion of Isaiah: 'As a
                      bridegroom who is
                      happy in his bride chamber, as the high priest that is adorned with his
                      garments, and as a
                      bride who decks herself with her ornaments.' These words of vesting - or the
                      memory that
                      prompted them - must have been rooted in the Hebrew Scriptures, not the
                      Greek, or else
                      in the Targum.

                      As I watched, especially the movement of the liturgy, it dawned on me that
                      this was the
                      temple. This was the high priest entering the holy of holies, behind the
                      veil, and
                      emerging again. This was not Passover. The Cherubic Hymn, though I had never
                      encountered it before, was clearly the theophanic procession implied in the
                      words in
                      Hebrews that are missing from the Hebrew text of Deuteronomy: 'When he
                      brings the
                      Firstborn into the world, he says "Let all God's angels worship him"'
                      (Hebrews 1.6).
                      This was St Peter's sermon in Solomon's porch as St Luke reconstructed it,
                      the earliest
                      exposition of the faith: Jesus returning from heaven on the Day of Atonement
                      to bring
                      times of renewal, that is, the Kingdom (Acts 3, esp. 17-21).

                      It was as though the beads in my kaleidoscope had been moved. I had already
                      accumulated a fair amount of material about the temple and its world, trying
                      to enter the
                      'mind' of the temple priests, rather than just recovering the practical
                      aspects of running
                      the huge operation that was the temple. I often quote the standard [and very
                      useful] work
                      of reference on Judaism in the time of Jesus [Emil Sch�rer The History of
                      the Jewish
                      People in the Age of Jesus Christ, rev. Geza Vermes and Fergus Millarm,
                      Edinburgh:
                      T&T Clark, 1973], that deals with the temple only in terms of the hierarchy
                      and priestly
                      families, their rights and revenues, management of ceremonial, security and
                      the duties
                      of Levites. The Mishnah itself, our major source of information about the
                      temple in the
                      time of Jesus, deals with practical matters like clearing the ashes from the
                      altar and wood
                      chopping, but has nothing of the theology. My quest was, and still is, for
                      the theology, the
                      mind set, the world view, of the temple priests. This has to be
                      reconstructed from other texts,
                      which may or may not have had a temple provenance. There is no way of
                      knowing. It is a
                      process not unlike trying to make up a jig-saw puzzle, with many pieces
                      missing, many pieces
                      mixed in from other puzzles, and no surviving box lid with the picture. I
                      had never dreamed
                      that this world of the temple had survived in the liturgy of the Church.
                      After that Sunday, excitement took over. I quickly wrote a piece 'Parousia
                      and Liturgy'
                      which became an excursus at the end of my Revelation commentary that was
                      about to go
                      to press. This appeared the following year, 2000. When I outlined my ideas
                      to the late
                      David Melling, he introduced me to the Akathist Hymn, and another familiar
                      world
                      appeared before me. I knew those images of Mary as descriptions of Wisdom,
                      the lost
                      Lady of the original temple. They had survived in this great Byzantine Hymn,
                      but
                      addressed to Mary. How this happened was to become another fascinating
                      quest.

                      Since that Sunday in February 1999, a lot of work has been done and there is
                      so much
                      more to do: fields to be re-ploughed and sifted, ancient cupboards to be
                      turned out and
                      their contents scrutinised, foundations of many current assumptions to be
                      uncovered and
                      tested. I often recall the words of Bulgakov, written about the Wisdom
                      tradition, but
                      applicable, I think, to the temple tradition as a whole.

                      *All this wealth of symbolism has been preserved in the archives of
                      ecclesiastical
                      antiquities, but, covered by the dust of ages, it has been no use to anyone.
                      The
                      time has come for us, however, to sweep away the dust of ages, and to
                      decipher
                      the sacred script, to reinstate the tradition of the Church, in this
                      instance all but
                      broken, as a living tradition*.


                      [S Bulgakov, 'The Wisdom of God' (1937) reprinted in A Bulgakov Anthology,
                      edd J Pain and N Zernov,
                      London: SPCK, 1976, pp. 144-56, p. 146]


                      Christopher




                      On Sat, Jun 20, 2009 at 2:30 AM, oruaseht <oruaseht@...> wrote:

                      >
                      >
                      > After reading some more very interesting blog posts from Fr. Stephen, and
                      > the ensuing comments that followed, (see:
                      > http://fatherstephen.wordpress.com/2009/06/16/more-on-the-justice-of-god/)
                      > there seems to be a general acknowledgement that the Fathers from time to
                      > time have used atonement language. The debate seems to be if it is indeed
                      > "substitutionary" atonement language. Fr. Stephen is of the opinion that it
                      > is a completely foreign idea until Anselm and friends in the post 1054
                      > Western church. Perhaps he is doing a very protestant/Lutheran thing and
                      > "reacting" against it because it has become THE dominant idea of salvation
                      > (in the West).
                      >
                      > Several comments on that blog post were helpful to me especially this one:
                      > "Atonement was and is about purification, not about anything being
                      > substituted or paid. All you have to do is read the Old Testament to see
                      > that the sprinkling of the lamb's blood was to purify, to cleanse, to make
                      > the people whole."
                      >
                      > It seems to me the over arching issue for Western Christians is that God's
                      > attributes trump His person. By that I mean He is bound to the attribute of
                      > justice/vengeance and must have it, hence Christ on the cross. Rather, the
                      > East seem to see it as "God doesn't need a payment from us, He
                      > wants/desires/calls us to allow His son to cleanse us, to purify us, so that
                      > we can join Him in the Holy of Holies. He wants us to be made whole, to have
                      > Theosis."
                      >
                      > It is such a fascinating theological paradigm that makes me extremely
                      > uneasy!!! Glory be to God on high for such anfechtungen! ;)
                      >
                      >
                      >


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