Thursday, June 17, 2010

Reading Group, 5e

Resolving the Perplexities

a. The following perplexities must be resolved: 1) For what purpose, then, were the crucifixion of the Lord on the Cross and His death? 2) Why is He called a sacrifice for our sins and a propitiation of the Heavenly Father for us? And what is the meaning of the Apostolic words that His blood cleanses us from sins? 3) Why is it said that we must have become sinful and condemned through Adam’s disobedience, if we must explain the whole economy of salvation only in terms of moral values and make even metaphysical concepts, such as “nature” dependent upon them?

b. Russian readers will receive very sympathetically this transition of all theology into moral monism, and will judge it the best refutation of the criticism of Tolstoy.

c. It may be objected that the above three obstacles arose not only under the influence of feudal justice, but from the Epistles of the Apostles.

d. The action of redemption consists only in the rebirth of a person, while rebirth consists in his transformation. If a fallen person could correct himself only through repentance and a struggle with himself under the guidance of God’s commandments, and the good examples of righteous envoys of God, then redemption would not have been necessary.

e. In order to obtain a decisive victory, human nature needs help from without, help which is from someone Who is both holy, and Who co-suffers with it.

f. The Creator is responsible for the fact that it is impossible to find any other means for the rebirth and salvation of man except the incarnation of the Son of God and the grievous agony of His co-suffering love toward us.

g. It is in this sense that one can affirm that Christ was a sacrifice for our sinful life. One can admit use of the term “satisfaction of God’s justice,” but only in a peripheral way.

h. The comparison of Christ’s sufferings with the Old Testament sacrifices is completely without foundation.

i. Nowhere will one encounter the idea tat the animal being sacrificed was thought of as taking upon itself a punishment on behalf of people.

j. The analogy between Christ’s suffering and death and the Old Testament sacrifice is repeated many times in the New Testament, but those sacrifices are not given any other interpretation here either.

k. Only with great difficulty were Christians reconciled to the loss of the Old Testament religious order.

l. The main aim of Paul’s Epistle to the Hebrews was to comfort them in the loss of these externals and to explain that the spiritual comfort given by that service is doubly preserved for Christians.
m. These epistles, in speaking about Christ’s sacrifice, do not view them as punishment, but as a gift to God the Father.
  1. How is Metropolitan Anthony using the term “moral monism” and how does this relate to his criticism of Tolstoy?
  2. What does Metropolitan Anthony mean by stating that if man could self-regenerate, he’d have no need of redemption?
  3. How does Metropolitan Anthony justify his claim that there is no similarity between Old Testament sacrifices and Christ’s sacrifice? How does he explain the analogies in the New Testament.
  4. What is Metropolitan Anthony’s conception of justice, as it applies to the redemption?

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

1. I would have to say that I do not understand what the Metropolitan is saying of “moral monism” in relation to Russian readers and Tolstoy, and therefore I can’t give a good answer here.

2. “If man could self-regenerate, he’d have no need of redemption” means that if fallen man could transform himself only through repentance and a struggle based on God’s commandments then the Incarnation and redemption that comes through Christ would not be necessary. This would be a transformation with no grace, no help from God.

3. Metropolitan Anthony justifies his claim that there is no similarity between Old Testament sacrifices and Christ’s sacrifice by saying that the passages that people would point to really signify that the sacrifice was a gift to God as opposed to an appeasement of Divine wrath. This is why lambs were offered and also flour oil and salt.

Met. Antony explains that the New Testament analogies and especially those in the Book to the Hebrews are there to comfort the post-Jewish Christians in their loss of the external structures and rituals that they fondly remembered. The analogies were meant to enforce the strength of the spiritual realities that were even more so preserved now.

4. I am unsure about what Metropolitan Anthony’s conception of justice is as it applies to the redemption. He relates the various types of justice in criminal, military and commercial law and explains that Christ’s sacrifice is able to come under each of these headings. These, though, do not contradict the point, he says, that the sacrifice of an innocent was not needed to appease Divine justice. Instead they held to show the various dimensions of the one act through which the moral regeneration of the race is to take place. So my answer would be that in the case of redemption, justice is not served, for Met. Antony. Instead, it was a gift offered to God for the moral regeneration of the people.