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Saturday, September 18, 2010

The Patristic Doctrine of Atonement

As seen from princeton.edu:

Quote:
"Saturday, February 12, 2011
8:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.

Taking our cue from Fr. Florovsky, who wrote with passion on this topic, we will examine the doctrine of atonement in many of the same authorities upon which Fr. Florovsky relied: the New Testament, St. Irenaeus of Lyon, St. Athanasius of Alexandria, and others. We will conclude with an analysis of Fr. Florovsky's own writings on atonement, followed by a panel discussion. So far, several well known Orthodox scholars have agreed to participate in the symposium, including the three listed below.

This symposium is co-sponsored by the Fr. Georges Florovsky Orthodox Christian Theological Society at Princeton University and the School of Christian Vocation and Mission at Princeton Theological Seminary"



To read the rest please visit princeton.edu:

20 comments:

Drake Shelton said...

I suggests Orthodox people read Gustaf Aulen's Christus Victor; Very revealing. Aulen acknowledges the objection that "Eastern theologians, places relatively little emphasis on sin, because he regards salvation as a bestowal of life rather than of forgiveness, and as a victory over mortality rather than over sin." [38]. He attempts to answer the objection by appealing to the fact that the Eastern view breaks down the barrier of the dividing wall or "partition between man and God." [39] Yet he never says what that partition is. The problem is the partition in the context of the entire system of the Eastern Church is man's mortal and material reality, which is clearly Gnostic. His clear acceptation of Gnostic teaching is made manifest as he calls Irenaeus' view of sin to be "organic;" Aulen says, "he always regards sin organically" [39]. This is Manichean par excellence. Aulen says again, "Athanasius does, in fact, regard sin as not merely the cause of the corruption from which men need to be saved, but as being identical with it." [60]. He makes it plain, sin is material corruption.

Flee the lower world-upper world model of the East for your souls sake. Your problem is not your lower ontological nature, you do not need to escape your "fleshly envelopments" to contemplate "the spiritual and intellectual world" per Gregory of Nyssa, On Virginity, Chapter 10. You do not need to interpret the Bible through an upper world lower world model that Origen used in his allegorical hermenuetic. This stuff is rooted in the Eastern System which is why as Ernst Benz pointed out is why Universalism keeps sprouting up in Eastern Churches.

Drake Shelton said...

You are also welcome to debate the hypostatic union. I am doing a series on it here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P7Z3MgozoRc

If I prove the hypostatic union wrong and the theory of redemption wrong, the whole system comes crashing down as does the entire Patristic system both Western and Eastern.

Drake

David B said...

Drake,

"The problem is the partition in the context of the entire system of the Eastern Church is man's mortal and material reality, which is clearly Gnostic. His clear acceptation of Gnostic teaching is made manifest as he calls Irenaeus' view of sin to be 'organic...'"

This is a misunderstanding of the Eastern soteriology, brought on in part by our failure to specify what σαρξ actually refers to in our biblical interpretation. The problem is not in our material reality, but in the death and corruption that has infected it and is thus alien to it. Christ's bestowal of life on mankind is not so that we can be liberated from our bodies, but so that all of us--including our bodies--can be liberated from sin and death.

St. Irenaus' view of sin is only called "organic" because the infection of sin and death is precisely to be found in the body. Yet the body is not to be done away with; rather, the body is to be purified of these unnatural desires, while still remaining the very same, corporeal entity that it was before, in order to glorify God therein.

Peace.

David B said...

Would be interested also in what you would posit as an alternative to communicatio idiomatum via the hypostatic union as a means of our true salvation.

maximus said...

Thanks Jnorm! You goin'?

Drake Shelton said...

Dave,
Thank you for actually trying to answer this one. Perry, Dave P and Jnorm won't touch it. Respectfully, I must reject that you have shown a distinction in corruption and body. Saying that the corruption/sin/death is found in the body but not the body is a pretty poor answer. Then what is it? If its found in the body, then it's "material." Sin is therefore material ontological corruption; the cure is a raising of one and from the lower state to the upper spiritual world: Gnostic.

My alternative to the hypo union is a union of promise. Many emblems in the OT such as the Cloud, the Pillar of fire, the ark of the covenant are used in such a way that actions done by the emblem are attributed to God. God led Israel through the wilderness, well actually it was a cloud and a pillar of fire, but God was connected to the emblem by promise, not by ontology. God was not in a hypostatic union with the ark of the covenant but his presence was promised in connection with it. This is a sacramental union. There is one eternal sonship of the Logos with two aspects human and divine. Human Jesus is born the eternal Son of God by covenant not by ontology. The union is therefore sacramental-covenantal by promise.

This language is all over the Bible (Its simply a calvinist view of the sacraments) and is far superior to the undefined paradox of the East.

Drake Shelton said...

VIVA CLARK!

Jnorm said...

Maximus,

I don't know. I really would love to go. But I'm in a bit of a pickle at the moment.

I know of someone who may be going and so I will ask him if it would be ok to tape it or record it or something.

Jnorm said...

Drake Shelton,

Perry, David, and myself answered you time and time again, but you keep denying what we say.

So what's the point?

You keep talking about the gnostic world as if we agree with it. We obviously don't.

The gnostics didn't want to save their bodies. They wanted to escape it. To be free from them. This isn't what we say. Nor is this what we believe.

Plus, you are the one who keeps calling oneself a christian Platonist! You need to stop complaining about the little speck in out eye and start worrying about the log in your own.

Drake Shelton said...

Jnorm,
Every time I have brought the issue up to you or David (David's best attempt at the Gregory quote is to admit the error of his statement and then say he moved away fromt this later), you side step the issue and then accuse me of gnosticism because I have called myself a platonist (Augustine did the same as many fathers did).

Perry said, "I reject the second as accurate. It is a straw man. It shows that you don't understand either Gnosticism very well or the Orthodox view of matter, not to mention Orthodox use of terms drawn from philosophial sources."

So no, Jnorm I reject that you, "answered you time and time again, but you keep denying what we say."

In reference to the body thing, Gregory of Nyssa, On Virginity, Chapter 10 is pretty clear he does want to escape the body to the upper intellectual and spirutal world. The solution may be different on your view than the gnostic but the problem is the same. But I reject it is radically different. Raising the ontology (Which can be used to refer to the physical)of the body is near identical to escaping it altogether.

Now to me being a Platonist ergo gnostic: First, every consistent religious or secular theory is either aristotelian or platonist in some large sense. All this means to me is that "physical" things are not the objects of knowledge but the propositions in the mind of God are. The "physical" world is outside of God's mind and my understanding of it is that the physical world is the eternal propositions taking form in time. This is not idealist, this isn't even semi idealist. I wish you guys would spend even a tenth of the time trying to understand me that I have spent trying to understand you. Therefore, I claim, you guys have not even scored one point against my Clarkian/Puritan construction. Not one!

David B said...

"In reference to the body thing, Gregory of Nyssa, On Virginity, Chapter 10 is pretty clear he does want to escape the body to the upper intellectual and spirutal world."

Having just read the chapter in question (a reread after many months) along with a bit of the surrounding chapters for context (time constraints prohibiting a fuller reading), allow me to bring up a further critical point against your reading, not only of σαρξ in the Scriptures, but also of νους and νοητικος in St. Gregory.

The body in Orthodox thought is not the enemy as much as it is part of the battleground--along with the mind--wherein the enemy is fought for the salvation of the whole person. Thus, we are not escaping from our cage like a trapped bird, but, like St. Athanasius related regarding St. Anthony's asceticism, we are fighting the demonic suggestions (λογισμοι) tooth and nail, in the body, so that we might thus gain back a purified, holy body in which we should glorify God (Rom. 12.1-2; 1 Cor. 6.20).

The greatest examples of the faith, for us, are those who subjected their mind (νους) and their body (σωμα) to rigorous discipline (which is not at all the same as punishment or loathing) so as to break them of the tyranny of service to the body as an end in itself, so that they might use the body and the mind according to that for which it was originally created. This is recapitulative, Irenaean thinking from A to Zed, and it is what St. Gregory is doing in chapter 10 of "On Virginity." When he says that David "quitted his fleshly envelopments and entered, by the mere power of thought, upon the contemplation of the spiritual and intellectual world," he's not placing a dichotomy between corporeal and incorporeal. We know this because 1) he also admits the "weakness of the thinking faculty" as well as that of the body, so mere contemplation or existence-as-mind will be insufficient for the human, and 2) the way through which the "thinking faculty" will begin to approach "the Unseen" is 2a) by stages, and, most importantly, 2b) through the cognizances of the senses" (emph. mine)!

How could it be that one would need to transcend the body when it is by that very body and its senses that the thinking faculty is to progressively encounter God? Here we get into a much lengthier topic of the energies of God permeating the whole of the human person in a recapitulation of Thaboric transfiguration, and I will leave that aside for now. Suffice it to say that your charge that St. Gregory sought to cast off the corporeal for an immaterial flight to the ether is misguided and incorrect, as is your portrayal of the Orthodox.

David B said...
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David B said...
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Drake Shelton said...

Dave,
1. You keep side stepping the issue. What then is the enemy?

2. "wherein the enemy is fought for the salvation of the whole person."
So I take it you posit body in the defintion of person. If so the Trinity has three bodies.

3. "will begin to approach "the Unseen"
What is this; "The Unseen" ? I smell Dionysius the Areopagite who was slain by Job 19:26.

4. "2b) through the cognizances of the senses" (emph. mine)!"
God is made known through the senses? 1 Cor 2:9 already settled that is impossible.

Which is why I reject your statement here:

"How could it be that one would need to transcend the body when it is by that very body and its senses that the thinking faculty is to progressively encounter God?"

I suppose on your view you think you can do this, but I reject it. If you want to argue on that point I will, but I don't want to get to far off the trail.

5. "Suffice it to say that your charge that St. Gregory sought to cast off the corporeal for an immaterial flight to the ether is misguided and incorrect"

David P just admitted to me a couple weeks ago that Gregory moved away from this statement because of how gnostic it was. Now you are telling me he didn't. Sometimes I think you guys just make s*#t up.

6. I fully reject the essence and energies because I don't believe in Aristotelianism, per Clark's dissertation on Aristotle. It seems to me you can't have one without the other, per Bradshaw, Aristotle East and West.

7. "body (σωμα) to rigorous discipline"

But I thought Gregory said you had to quit the fleshly envelopments. Disciplining your body and quitting it are not synonomous. You are trying to make it that but I don't think you are succeeding.

pseudolvka said...

There is no need to "[score] one point" against your "Clarkian/Puritan construction." This is evident because it is a construction and therefore consequently not divine revelation.

David B said...

Sorry to leave this for so long...busy week.

"Dave,"

I'd actually prefer it if you called me "David," if you don't mind.

"1. You keep side stepping the issue. What then is the enemy?"

I actually did address that when I said explicitly that "we are fighting the demonic suggestions (λογισμοι)" that the enemy of our soul constantly hurls at us...fiery darts and all that.

"So I take it you posit body in the defintion of person. If so the Trinity has three bodies."

Are we speaking about a human υπóστασις? Then I would say, yes, that has a body. But a divine υπóστασις does not have a body, as such is not proper (ιδιος) to its nature.

"3. "will begin to approach "the Unseen" What is this; "The Unseen" ? I smell Dionysius the Areopagite who was slain by Job 19:26."

Well, w/out a reference to St. Dionysius, I don't know how to respond to the bald assertion you give here.

The phrase "The Unseen" is from the chapter from St. Gregory in "On Virginity" which you yourself quoted. As for how we are to approach him, I refer you back to what I said, which dovetails nicely with that beautiful verse you quoted from Job: "We, owing to this weakness of the thinking faculty, [move] towards the Unseen by stages through the cognizances of the senses" (source, emph. mine).

When we fight against the demonic powers in our body and the death that reigns in (but is not the same as) our bodily members, we fight in the body, but not against the body, and thus win back our body from the demonic powers that seek to bring it to dissolution.

"God is made known through the senses? 1 Cor 2:9 already settled that is impossible."

Context, friend. This means that no one had ever dreamed up, before Christ's death and resurrection, how the economy of God's salvation would be wrought in the world. We, like St. Peter, have received illumination that Jesus is the Christ, and that by the Spirit, but we weren't disembodied to realize this.

As to whether we can see God in the body, if it were so clearly impossible, St. Paul would have not emphasized so much that he wasn't sure whether "the one" who'd had the vision and heard things not lawful to utter had been in or out of the body...if it were impossible, he'd clearly be out of the body, no? We would say the possibility is there, and as did Peter, James and John on Mt. Tabor, the light of God can be seen by those God blesses to do so, and that in the body.

David B said...

(cont.)

"David P just admitted to me a couple weeks ago that Gregory moved away from this statement because of how gnostic it was. Now you are telling me he didn't. Sometimes I think you guys just make s*#t up."

No need for the language. I can understand the frustration, since this statement can very much be easily misunderstood. Was David P.'s statement here on this blog? Where could I see it in context? It seems that, were he to distance himself from the statement, it might be because of its high likelihood of being misinterpreted or taken out of context. But I'd have to see the context to be sure.

"6. I fully reject the essence and energies because I don't believe in Aristotelianism, per Clark's dissertation on Aristotle."

Aristotle wasn't the last word in the essence/energies distinction, though. True, his "unmoved Mover" is indeed one aspect of God, but as He is predicated through temporal acts, it is obvious that there is some dynamism to Him. This may not be the specific part of the issue from which your allegation stems, but I just wanted to through out the nuance at the start.

"But I thought Gregory said you had to quit the fleshly envelopments."

Those are indeed the words used. Does it mean that a permanent putting off of the body is in order? Or merely that this fallen, corrupted body cannot find the means to sufficiently experience or express the divine life without the grace-filled presence of God granting him the ability to do so? I would say that it is the latter.

Drake Shelton said...

"demonic powers in our body (!!!) and the death that reigns in (but is not the same as) our bodily members,(????!!!!) we fight in the body, but not against the body, and thus win back our body from the demonic powers that seek to bring it to dissolution."

This is your gnosticism plain and simple. When Paul refers to the body of sin (Rom 6:6 ) he is not refering to the physical body but to the sin nature as it is sceen from Rom 8:13 For if ye live after the flesh, ye shall die: but if ye through the Spirit do mortify the deeds of the body, ye shall live. The body and sin nature are synonymns here.

"Context, friend. This means that no one had ever dreamed up, before Christ's death and resurrection, how the economy of God's salvation would be wrought in the world. We, like St. Peter, have received illumination that Jesus is the Christ, and that by the Spirit, but we weren't disembodied to realize this."

I am not seeing how you contradict me here. Either way the knowledge comes through revelation of the Spirit not the senses. Not to mention the context of the rest of the chapter gives a general sense to this knowledge.

"No need for the language. I can understand the frustration, since this statement can very much be easily misunderstood. Was David P.'s statement here on this blog? Where could I see it in context? It seems that, were he to distance himself from the statement, it might be because of its high likelihood of being misinterpreted or taken out of context. But I'd have to see the context to be sure."

Actually you are the same guy, now that I read your profile. I think you erased it when you removed your comments from Christian history 5. I think, It's been a while.

Drake Shelton said...

I am coming around though on the Hypostatic union thing. I read Thomas Aquinas Part three of his Summa and he pretty much was aware of all my major frustrations and objections with the doctrine and pretty much owned me. He agrees that the union is not at the level of nature, which does vindicate my problems with calling the union "metaphysical or ontological." But the union is at the level of hypostasis and so the union is not metaphysical but hypostatic. The hypostasis is then not one new substance created by the union of divine and human but the singular MODE of a substance/being. I can believe that. So I have received correction on my christology thing.

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