Sunday, June 13, 2010

Reading Group, 5a

The Moral Idea of the Dogma of Redemption

One: Background Discussion of Scholastic Errors

a. The formulation of the dogma of redemption has been the subject of constant reformulation in recent times. No one has yet given a clear, direct answer to the question of why Christ’s incarnation, sufferings, and resurrection are saving for us.

b. Three points have been established: 1) the juridical teaching is borrowed entirely from the non-Orthodox; 2) it is not found in the Holy Scriptures or the Holy Fathers; 3) this teaching cannot be brought into accord with either the doctrine of Divine righteousness or with the doctrine of His mercy.

c. The juridical teaching about redemption gives occasion to enemies of Christianity. It is taken from the law of feudal knighthood.

d. These remnants of paganism among the Roman Catholics of the middle ages have been passed down as the basis of the principles of the duel.

e. Medieval and later scholastic theology strove to explicate the redemption of mankind by Christ’s sufferings from the point of view of a duel. It would be reasonable to conclude from this perspective that the Lord showed mercilessness and injustice.

f. Scholastic theologians reply that not only the Son manifested love in accepting the crucifixion, but so did the Father Who subjected Him to it.

g. It is not denied for a moment that salvation would have been impossible had not the Lord suffered and risen from the dead.

h. Some may object that the juridical theory is not alien to the Holy Scriptures and to Sacred Tradition.

i. The goal will be to bring our interpretation of the dogma into full accord with the Fathers.

Two: A More Detailed Discussion of the Sources of the Juridical Heresy
a. Professor Svetlov asserts that the primary significance for our salvation belongs not so much to Christ’s sufferings, as to His incarnation.

b. Archimandrite Hilarion (Troitsky) did not reach a conclusion concerning the relationship between Christ’s sufferings and our salvation.

c. In response to Professor Skaballanovich, it is argued that the contemporaries of the Fathers understood the redeeming grace so clearly that there was no need for an exposition of it?

d. The internal contradictions of the juridical theory have become a commonplace.

e. These questions arise: In what aspect of Christ’s incarnation and sufferings do we find the cause of the fact that we are made more perfect? Ought we to consider Christ’s incarnation as saving for us only because He manifested in the person a demonstration of perfection? Why is this salutary for us? Precisely what does it mean to say that “He received us into His nature”?

f. Archbishop Sergei’s dissertation argues that our salvation consists in out spiritual perfection, the subduing of lust, the gradual liberation from the passions, and communion with the Godhead.

g. The juridical theory could be called “moral monism.”

h. The Pauline term righteousness (dikaiosuni) received its juridical character among scholastic theologians.

i. In order to answer the question of why Christ’s suffering and resurrection are saving for us the relationship of these sacred events must be brought into relationship with our longing for perfection and our inner struggle between good and evil. This question must be answered: “How does Christ’s passion help us in this, and why are we unable to attain holiness and communion of God without it?”

j. Due to the work of others, there is no need to prove: 1) that the juridical teaching came from the Latins; and 2) that redemption is the gift of grace which bestows the capacity to work out our own salvation, and that salvation is spiritual perfection through moral struggle and attainment of communion with God.
  1. What is the range of opinions to which Metropolitan Anthony is responding? Why are they insufficient?
  2. What are the fundamental questions about the dogma of redemption which Metropolitan Anthony raises?
  3. What does Metropolitan Anthony mean by calling the juridical theory of redemption “moral monism”?

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

1. I suppose that by asking, “What is the range of opinions” we are seeking a full spectrum of opinions. I’m not seeing this full spectrum but instead one “opinion” that has multiple delineations, namely the Roman Catholic juridical teaching of redemption. This juridical teaching is AN (not THE) answer to the question of why Christ’s incarnation, sufferings and resurrection are saving for us.

Metropolitan Antony briefly summarizes answers that he will elaborate on later as to why the juridical teaching is insufficient, saying: i) it is borrowed from the heterodox Roman Catholics; ii) the teaching is not found in Holy Scripture or the Fathers, nor are the concepts espoused by its specific terminology; and iii) the juridical teaching is not compatible with an Orthodox understanding of Divine righteousness or Divine mercy.

(As an aside) It should be noted that although the editors ascribe the “juridical heresy” to have roots in [St.] Augustine of Hippo. Met. Anthony does not take notice of this and seemingly neither do any of the contemporary authors that he cites: Archpriest Svetlov, Archbishop Sergei, Hieromonk Taras Kurgansky and Archimandrite Ilarion (now Saint). Is it possible that all of these theologians missed this connection?

2. The answer to this question is reflected in part of the answer from above, namely, that the fundamental question about the dogma of redemption which Metropolitan Anthony raises is: “Why are Christ’s sufferings and resurrection saving for us?”

(My reflections) He sets the stage very meticulously. He offers many answers that people have given but, as he says, all of them have missed the mark and not truly answered the question. He says that the answers given are mostly true and good in themselves but do not answer the question.

I’m enjoying the building up of these two parts and am wondering how he is going to answer the question, and then, “will I agree” and, what about all my defenses that I have for what I think? We’ll see as he progresses if he will quell my “lying in wait” defenses and anticipation.

3. By “moral monism”, Metropolitan Antony refers to a morality based on Christ’s life (and death) that encourages in us “our spiritual perfectionment, the subduing of lust, the gradual liberation from the passions, and communion with the Godhead.” (149) The reason that this is a pejorative term is because it tries to answer our above question when really it is only speaking to becoming morally better and not to how Christ’s life’s work is imputed to us so that we may attain salvation from his sufferings and resurrection, not to be confused with imputed righteousness because Met. Antony is not referring to that.