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Watch Your Metaphors

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  • Christopher Orr
    Watch Your Metaphors By Fr. Stephen Freeman Metaphors
    Message 1 of 2 , Apr 21, 2007
    • 0 Attachment
      Watch Your Metaphors<http://fatherstephen.wordpress.com/2007/04/21/watch-your-metaphors/>
      <http://wordpress.com/tag/catholic/>

      By Fr. Stephen Freeman

      Metaphors are very important when thinking about any aspect of our
      salvation. People can sometimes state what they believe as doctrine very
      precisely without thinking about what their beliefs imply about God, the
      world, or themselves. Metaphors can work in a very hidden way - particularly
      those that are referred to as "root metaphors." A root metaphor is the
      over-arching imagery that generally governs how a train of thought goes. It
      provides the logical or image-driven framework upon which later thought will
      be built.

      Excellent illustrations of this are found if you look at the doctrines
      related to the Descent of Christ into Hades. The article by Bishop Hilarion
      Alfeyev [Russian Orthodox bishop of Vienna], Christ Descent into
      Hades<http://orthodoxeurope.org/page/11/1/5.aspx>,
      which was recently referenced here, notes contrasts in how the understanding
      of Christ's Descent into Hades developed in both East and West. The
      development, starting in the 4th or 5th centuries eventually resulted in
      very different understandings. *But the underlying issue was not the Descent
      into Hades but the metaphors which came to dominate the thought of Christian
      teachers, East or West*.

      Bishop Hilarion cited a passage from Cyril of Alexandria's Paschal Homily
      (7th Paschal Homily, 2) and noted:

      The doctrine of the descent of Christ into Hades occupies an essential place
      in the works of Cyril of Alexandria. In his 'Paschal Homilies', he
      repeatedly mentions that as a consequence of the descent of Christ into
      Hades, the devil was left all alone, while hell was devastated: 'For having
      destroyed hell and opened the impassable gates for the departed spirits, He
      left the devil there abandoned and lonely'.

      This imagery is also found in St. John Chrysostom's famous Catechetical
      Homily: "And not one dead is left in the grave."

      Bishop Hilarion contrasts this with the Descent into Hades' development in
      Western Christianity:

      The general conclusion can now be drawn from a comparative analysis of
      Eastern and Western understandings of the descent into Hades. In the first
      three centuries of the Christian Church, there was considerable similarity
      between the interpretation of this doctrine by theologians in East and West.
      However, already by the 4th�5th centuries, substantial differences can be
      identified. In the West, *a juridical understanding of the doctrine
      prevailed* [emphasis added]. It gave increasingly more weight to notions of
      predestination (Christ delivered from hell those who were predestined for
      salvation from the beginning) and original sin (salvation given by Christ
      was deliverance from the general original sin, not from the 'personal' sins
      of individuals). The range of those to whom the saving action of the descent
      into hell is extended becomes ever more narrow. First, it excludes sinners
      doomed to eternal torment, then those in purgatory and finally unbaptized
      infants. This kind of legalism was alien to the Orthodox East, where the
      descent into Hades continued to be perceived in the spirit in which it is
      expressed in the liturgical texts of Great Friday and Easter, i.e. as an
      event significant not only for all people, but also for the entire cosmos,
      for all created life.

      An excellent example of the sort of development in the West which Bishop
      Hilarion describes is found in the work of Thomas Aquinas. Bishop Hilarion
      offers this observation:

      Thomas Aquinas was the 13th-century theologian who brought to completion the
      Latin teaching on the descent of Christ into Hades. In his 'Summa
      Theologiae', he divides hell into four parts: 1) purgatory (*purgatorium*),
      where sinners experience penal suffering; 2) the hell of the
      patriarchs (*infernum
      patrum*), the abode of the Old Testament righteous before the coming of
      Christ; 3) the hell of unbaptized children (*infernum puerorum*); and 4) the
      hell of the damned (*infernum damnatorum*). In response to the question,
      exactly which was the hell that Christ descended to, Thomas Aquinas admits
      two possibilities: Christ descended either into all parts of hell or only to
      that in which the righteous were imprisoned, whom He was to deliver. In the
      first case, 'for going down into the hell of the lost He wrought this
      effect, that by descending thither He put them to shame for their unbelief
      and wickedness: but to them who were detained in Purgatory He gave hope of
      attaining to glory: while upon the holy Fathers detained in hell solely on
      account of original sin (*pro solo peccato originali detinebantur in inferno
      *), He shed the light of glory everlasting'. In the second case, the soul of
      Christ 'descended only to the place where the righteous were detained'
      (*descendit
      solum ad locum inferni in quo justi detinebantur*), but the action of His
      presence there was felt in some way in the other parts of hell as well.

      What is of interest to me is looking at what is happening on the
      metaphorical level in these two treatments of Christ's Descent into Hell. In
      St. Cyril's preaching, as well as in other Fathers of the Eastern Church,
      the root metaphor of Christ's Descent into Hell is literally that - Christ's
      Descent into Hell. Gustav Aulen, the Swedish Lutheran theologian, would
      later dub this imagery the "Christus Victor" model of the atonement. It is
      placing Christ's defeat of Satan and destruction of Hell as the dominant
      image that is pressed throughout its preaching and its use in doctrine. The
      East never broke the metaphor up (nor did it ever offer an analysis of Hell
      itself as in Aquinas' four distinctions). A number of Eastern Fathers,
      indeed the majority, will labor somewhat to state that not everyone will be
      saved in a "happy" sense, but they have to *labor* to reach that conclusion
      because the overarching metaphor of Christ Descent into Hades can easily
      lead one to see Hell as empty - and if Hell is empty, then all are saved. (I
      personally love Cyril's description of Satan being left "abandoned and
      lonely.")

      In the West, it is not the metaphor created by the Descent of Christ into
      Hades that controls the development of thought on the subject, but an
      alternative metaphor - that of the forensic, or legal world, as
      Bishop Hilarion noted. Thus Christ's Descent into Hades is analyzed by
      reference to a metaphor outside the event and made to conform, ultimately,
      to that metaphor.

      Thus it is today that we find the Roman Catholic Church re-examining the
      doctrine of limbo. My dear friend Fr. Al Kimel has posted an article on the
      current work of Catholic theologians on
      Pontifications<http://catholica.pontifications.net/?p=2262>.
      It is worth a read - but I would note to any reading it, that from an
      Orthodox perspective, what is going on is a reexamination of the legal
      metaphor and the possibility that some other approach might yield different
      results. It did in the Eastern Church - and will in the West if theologians
      there will let the event speak for itself.

      I will add as an additional observation, that the controlling or root
      metaphor in the West was not simply drawn from the legal world itself.
      Rather, an analysis of the Adamic fall and the use of some of St. Paul's
      imagery with that fall, come to be the dominant metaphor. Original sin
      therefore plays a role in the West that it never did in the East. It is
      worth noting that the thinking and doctrine concerning salvation which
      followed or were driven by that metaphor come to see the Descent into Hell
      as problematic. Rome treated the problem by subjecting it to scholastic
      analysis. For much of the Protestant tradition, the Descent becomes so
      problematic that it is virtually forgotten. Anglican Prayerbooks (even in
      1928) offered optional versions of the Apostles' Creed in which you could
      say, "He descended into Hell," or "He went into the place of departed
      spirits." At the most, the Descent into Hell was limited to a freeing of the
      "righteous." The alternative metaphor of original sin and juridical
      salvation gave little or no room for a salvation from Hell from within Hell
      itself. For a large number of modern Evangelicals, it is no exaggeration to
      say that there is no awareness at all that Christ ever descended into Hell
      (Hades, etc.). The metaphor which dominates their thoughts on salvation
      gives no room nor necessity for such a descent. This absence is similar to
      the absence of sacramental understanding in which Baptism and Eucharist play
      a role in salvation. They are reduced to memorials or ordinances because the
      controlling metaphor in modern Protestant thought has no room nor necessity
      for either.

      The ending of Chrysostom's Catechetical Sermon is a fitting end to these
      thoughts:

      O Death, where is thy sting?
      O Hell, where is thy victory?
      Christ is risen, and thou art overthrown!
      Christ is risen, and the demons are fallen!
      Christ is risen, and the angels rejoice!
      Christ is risen, and life reigns!
      Christ is risen, and not one dead remains in the grave.
      For Christ, being risen from the dead,
      Is become the first-fruits of those who have fallen asleep.

      To Him be glory and dominion
      Unto ages of ages.

      Amen.

      http://fatherstephen.wordpress.com/2007/04/21/watch-your-metaphors/
      Bishop Hilarion's article can be accessed at:

      http://orrologion.blogspot.com/2007/04/christ-conqueror-of-hell.html


      [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
    • tantuslabor
      I just finished reading Fr. Stephen s blog (the icon is beautiful, too). What a fine post he s made here! The unworthy priest, Fr. Gregory ...
      Message 2 of 2 , Apr 21, 2007
      • 0 Attachment
        I just finished reading Fr. Stephen's blog (the icon is beautiful,
        too). What a fine post he's made here!

        The unworthy priest,

        Fr. Gregory




        --- In LutheransLookingEast@yahoogroups.com, "Christopher Orr"
        <xcjorr@...> wrote:
        >
        > Watch Your
        Metaphors<http://fatherstephen.wordpress.com/2007/04/21/watch-your-metaphors/>
        > <http://wordpress.com/tag/catholic/>
        >
        > By Fr. Stephen Freeman
        >
        > Metaphors are very important when thinking about any aspect of our
        > salvation. People can sometimes state what they believe as doctrine very
        > precisely without thinking about what their beliefs imply about God, the
        > world, or themselves. Metaphors can work in a very hidden way -
        particularly
        > those that are referred to as "root metaphors." A root metaphor is the
        > over-arching imagery that generally governs how a train of thought
        goes. It
        > provides the logical or image-driven framework upon which later
        thought will
        > be built.
        >
        > Excellent illustrations of this are found if you look at the doctrines
        > related to the Descent of Christ into Hades. The article by Bishop
        Hilarion
        > Alfeyev [Russian Orthodox bishop of Vienna], Christ Descent into
        > Hades<http://orthodoxeurope.org/page/11/1/5.aspx>,
        > which was recently referenced here, notes contrasts in how the
        understanding
        > of Christ's Descent into Hades developed in both East and West. The
        > development, starting in the 4th or 5th centuries eventually resulted in
        > very different understandings. *But the underlying issue was not the
        Descent
        > into Hades but the metaphors which came to dominate the thought of
        Christian
        > teachers, East or West*.
        >
        > Bishop Hilarion cited a passage from Cyril of Alexandria's Paschal
        Homily
        > (7th Paschal Homily, 2) and noted:
        >
        > The doctrine of the descent of Christ into Hades occupies an
        essential place
        > in the works of Cyril of Alexandria. In his 'Paschal Homilies', he
        > repeatedly mentions that as a consequence of the descent of Christ into
        > Hades, the devil was left all alone, while hell was devastated: 'For
        having
        > destroyed hell and opened the impassable gates for the departed
        spirits, He
        > left the devil there abandoned and lonely'.
        >
        > This imagery is also found in St. John Chrysostom's famous Catechetical
        > Homily: "And not one dead is left in the grave."
        >
        > Bishop Hilarion contrasts this with the Descent into Hades'
        development in
        > Western Christianity:
        >
        > The general conclusion can now be drawn from a comparative analysis of
        > Eastern and Western understandings of the descent into Hades. In the
        first
        > three centuries of the Christian Church, there was considerable
        similarity
        > between the interpretation of this doctrine by theologians in East
        and West.
        > However, already by the 4th—5th centuries, substantial differences
        can be
        > identified. In the West, *a juridical understanding of the doctrine
        > prevailed* [emphasis added]. It gave increasingly more weight to
        notions of
        > predestination (Christ delivered from hell those who were
        predestined for
        > salvation from the beginning) and original sin (salvation given by
        Christ
        > was deliverance from the general original sin, not from the
        'personal' sins
        > of individuals). The range of those to whom the saving action of the
        descent
        > into hell is extended becomes ever more narrow. First, it excludes
        sinners
        > doomed to eternal torment, then those in purgatory and finally
        unbaptized
        > infants. This kind of legalism was alien to the Orthodox East, where the
        > descent into Hades continued to be perceived in the spirit in which
        it is
        > expressed in the liturgical texts of Great Friday and Easter, i.e. as an
        > event significant not only for all people, but also for the entire
        cosmos,
        > for all created life.
        >
        > An excellent example of the sort of development in the West which Bishop
        > Hilarion describes is found in the work of Thomas Aquinas. Bishop
        Hilarion
        > offers this observation:
        >
        > Thomas Aquinas was the 13th-century theologian who brought to
        completion the
        > Latin teaching on the descent of Christ into Hades. In his 'Summa
        > Theologiae', he divides hell into four parts: 1) purgatory
        (*purgatorium*),
        > where sinners experience penal suffering; 2) the hell of the
        > patriarchs (*infernum
        > patrum*), the abode of the Old Testament righteous before the coming of
        > Christ; 3) the hell of unbaptized children (*infernum puerorum*);
        and 4) the
        > hell of the damned (*infernum damnatorum*). In response to the question,
        > exactly which was the hell that Christ descended to, Thomas Aquinas
        admits
        > two possibilities: Christ descended either into all parts of hell or
        only to
        > that in which the righteous were imprisoned, whom He was to deliver.
        In the
        > first case, 'for going down into the hell of the lost He wrought this
        > effect, that by descending thither He put them to shame for their
        unbelief
        > and wickedness: but to them who were detained in Purgatory He gave
        hope of
        > attaining to glory: while upon the holy Fathers detained in hell
        solely on
        > account of original sin (*pro solo peccato originali detinebantur in
        inferno
        > *), He shed the light of glory everlasting'. In the second case, the
        soul of
        > Christ 'descended only to the place where the righteous were detained'
        > (*descendit
        > solum ad locum inferni in quo justi detinebantur*), but the action
        of His
        > presence there was felt in some way in the other parts of hell as well.
        >
        > What is of interest to me is looking at what is happening on the
        > metaphorical level in these two treatments of Christ's Descent into
        Hell. In
        > St. Cyril's preaching, as well as in other Fathers of the Eastern
        Church,
        > the root metaphor of Christ's Descent into Hell is literally that -
        Christ's
        > Descent into Hell. Gustav Aulen, the Swedish Lutheran theologian, would
        > later dub this imagery the "Christus Victor" model of the atonement.
        It is
        > placing Christ's defeat of Satan and destruction of Hell as the dominant
        > image that is pressed throughout its preaching and its use in
        doctrine. The
        > East never broke the metaphor up (nor did it ever offer an analysis
        of Hell
        > itself as in Aquinas' four distinctions). A number of Eastern Fathers,
        > indeed the majority, will labor somewhat to state that not everyone
        will be
        > saved in a "happy" sense, but they have to *labor* to reach that
        conclusion
        > because the overarching metaphor of Christ Descent into Hades can easily
        > lead one to see Hell as empty - and if Hell is empty, then all are
        saved. (I
        > personally love Cyril's description of Satan being left "abandoned and
        > lonely.")
        >
        > In the West, it is not the metaphor created by the Descent of Christ
        into
        > Hades that controls the development of thought on the subject, but an
        > alternative metaphor - that of the forensic, or legal world, as
        > Bishop Hilarion noted. Thus Christ's Descent into Hades is analyzed by
        > reference to a metaphor outside the event and made to conform,
        ultimately,
        > to that metaphor.
        >
        > Thus it is today that we find the Roman Catholic Church re-examining the
        > doctrine of limbo. My dear friend Fr. Al Kimel has posted an article
        on the
        > current work of Catholic theologians on
        > Pontifications<http://catholica.pontifications.net/?p=2262>.
        > It is worth a read - but I would note to any reading it, that from an
        > Orthodox perspective, what is going on is a reexamination of the legal
        > metaphor and the possibility that some other approach might yield
        different
        > results. It did in the Eastern Church - and will in the West if
        theologians
        > there will let the event speak for itself.
        >
        > I will add as an additional observation, that the controlling or root
        > metaphor in the West was not simply drawn from the legal world itself.
        > Rather, an analysis of the Adamic fall and the use of some of St. Paul's
        > imagery with that fall, come to be the dominant metaphor. Original sin
        > therefore plays a role in the West that it never did in the East. It is
        > worth noting that the thinking and doctrine concerning salvation which
        > followed or were driven by that metaphor come to see the Descent
        into Hell
        > as problematic. Rome treated the problem by subjecting it to scholastic
        > analysis. For much of the Protestant tradition, the Descent becomes so
        > problematic that it is virtually forgotten. Anglican Prayerbooks
        (even in
        > 1928) offered optional versions of the Apostles' Creed in which you
        could
        > say, "He descended into Hell," or "He went into the place of departed
        > spirits." At the most, the Descent into Hell was limited to a
        freeing of the
        > "righteous." The alternative metaphor of original sin and juridical
        > salvation gave little or no room for a salvation from Hell from
        within Hell
        > itself. For a large number of modern Evangelicals, it is no
        exaggeration to
        > say that there is no awareness at all that Christ ever descended
        into Hell
        > (Hades, etc.). The metaphor which dominates their thoughts on salvation
        > gives no room nor necessity for such a descent. This absence is
        similar to
        > the absence of sacramental understanding in which Baptism and
        Eucharist play
        > a role in salvation. They are reduced to memorials or ordinances
        because the
        > controlling metaphor in modern Protestant thought has no room nor
        necessity
        > for either.
        >
        > The ending of Chrysostom's Catechetical Sermon is a fitting end to these
        > thoughts:
        >
        > O Death, where is thy sting?
        > O Hell, where is thy victory?
        > Christ is risen, and thou art overthrown!
        > Christ is risen, and the demons are fallen!
        > Christ is risen, and the angels rejoice!
        > Christ is risen, and life reigns!
        > Christ is risen, and not one dead remains in the grave.
        > For Christ, being risen from the dead,
        > Is become the first-fruits of those who have fallen asleep.
        >
        > To Him be glory and dominion
        > Unto ages of ages.
        >
        > Amen.
        >
        > http://fatherstephen.wordpress.com/2007/04/21/watch-your-metaphors/
        > Bishop Hilarion's article can be accessed at:
        >
        > http://orrologion.blogspot.com/2007/04/christ-conqueror-of-hell.html
        >
        >
        > [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
        >
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