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Fr Greg, please excuse the long delay in a response to your comment/query, which I welcome heartily.

The delay is due largely to a certain recent holiday.

I agree with you in locating the root of the anselmian/calvinist myth in our wounded humanity. I also agree that it is a particularly western problem -- maybe rising up out of certain degeneracies/rescensions of the Abrahamic monotheistic legacy? Could the appeasement myth have been produced as "leftover radiation" from the clash of incomplete theories of divine nature clashing with inchoate awarenesses of God as Person?

I don't know if this is at all satisfactory as a response (the pun was utterly irresistible) -- but is it possible that the whole genealogy of violent propitiation (ie., Augustine, Anselm, Calvin, et al) is due mostly to a non-Cappadocian (and deficient) triadology?

Father Jonathan, here is a question that I've been thinking about for some time, but I'm not quite ready to write or speak about yet. But maybe, you are.

Why is it that we, at least as Westerners (and I'm not sure that this qualification actually applies: this may be universal), want to default to this Anselmian/Calvinist understanding of what Christ does in laying down His life?

I suspect it has something to do with our wounded humanness and our desire, on some level, to be able to justify ourselves when we seek "satisfaction".

Nathan, thank you for your notice of underwhelm-ment. I'm sure in your reading of Augustine you've come across this quote: "Men were held captive under the devil and served the demons, but they were redeemed from captivity. For they could sell themselves. The Redeemer came, and gave the price; He poured forth his blood and bought the whole world. Do you ask what He bought? See what He gave, and find what He bought. The blood of Christ is the price. How much is it worth? What but the whole world? What but all nations?" (Enarration on Psalm 95, no. 5).

Perhaps not to you, but certainly to me, this predicates a substitutionary doctrine.

I think I know what you mean by Ambrose's comment. Thank you for that.

Some brief thoughts...

I too think the case against "teh West" is overstated. In some limited places it may be as bad as you suggest, by my (fairly broad) experience in Western Christianity before my conversion to Orthodoxy is not recognizable in your description of it.

And, in this same vein, I was extremely underwhelmed by this statement: "Instead of the commercial doctrine of substitutionary atonement -- that one can lay at the feet of Augustine just as readily as that of Anselm..." Really? I'm fairly well read on this topic (though admittedly not a scholar), and I've never seen any passage in Augustine which might suggest this nor any scholar so much as hint at this. I'm not claiming you're wrong, but I'd really like to see some documentation backing up this claim.

On a more positive note, perhaps the most astute response to the Cry of Dereliction ("My God, My God...") is found in St Ambrose: "Finally, He cried: My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me? As being man, therefore, He speaks, bearing with Him my terrors, for when we are in the midst of dangers we think ourself abandoned by God. As man, therefore, He is distressed, as man He weeps, as man He is crucified." - Exposition of the Christian Faith II.7.56

Where Athanasius plainly rejects the incorrect teaching, Ambrose provides us the theological meat to understand the passion: Christ has assumed the very human weakness by which we fail to perceive God when we suffer and through it redeemed even the darkest of human suffering -- suffering alone.

No. There is no hyperbole here. If you want to try to make the protestant position express the "ensuring that Christ's giving himself up to ensure that God's justice is equal to his mercy," fine then. But that is long after the patristic insistence that the Cross is kenosis that overwhelmed the embrace of nonbeing with Trinitarian theosis.

I find that nowhere in Luther or the unfortunate Anglicans. The Orthodox fathers confidently say that God's mercy outweighs His justice, which is a very good thing for us.

Justification is a juridical and secondary term. It is essentially a metaphor for deification, and therein lies the poignant difficulty of the Reformation.

Hello Fr.

With all do respect I think your over exaggerating our understanding of this a bit. I am somewhere in between a confessional Lutheran and a Classical Anglican. I agree with you that many times we over emphasize the substitutionary atonement and make it more about Christ dying in our place and forget that Jesus died to overcome sin, death, and the power of the devil. Many of the early fathers held that the price was paid to satan and not God the Father. Fair enough! But this sort of violence you mention is foreign to the teaching that Anglicanism and Lutheranism embraces. Scripture teaches that Christ gave Himself up not to appease the Father’s irrational anger but to ensure that God’s justice is equal to His mercy. For whatever else His purposes might be, many of which remain veiled to us, a god who built a world in which evil need not be met with justice would be a cruel god indeed. God’s wrath is not a quality that needs to be balanced against His mercy; His justice is His mercy, all of which is part of the deep mystery of the Cross.

In any event, the Scriptures are clear that justification is necessary for us, that it comes to us only through Christ, and that our own works contribute nothing to the process. Orthodoxy is at best vague about this.

Very nice, Father.

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