Monday, March 08, 2010

Satisfaction Theory and Christus Victor

In this post i will reveal how big of a heretic i am, but before i do i would like to focus on a little picture i found at CollegeHumor.com as a preface.

The Satisfaction Theory along with Christus Victor are considered the prime view of the atonement. The Satisfaction Theory is called the "classic view" by Aulen and it was best articulated by Anselm of Canterbury in the 1100s. It is the one i have the most trouble with and I've always pushed against it. Even in Catholic school where I pretty much accepted everything the teacher said, when it came to this view of atonement and even the doctrine of original sin, i questioned pushed and just couldn't accept it. One or two times a letter went home with my mom, but I always got A's in religion. so i kinda feel like the kid who the teacher is writing about who is bucking authority. so this post seeks showcase the "classic view" briefly and put in my two cents on where i have trouble with it. the purpose of this post is to seek understanding of this view and have someone address the plot holes within this theory. i'm open, but skeptical.

Aulen states that the subject of the atonement is absolutely central in Christian theology and it is directly related to the nature of God (page 12). Indeed, i think this is correct because every religion sets up a problem for the world and then provides the solution. in the 'classic view' the problem is that humankind is sinful and sin affects the order of the universe. God needs satisfaction for this but humans can't provide it, because God and sin are supposedly infinite and humans are finite. So God in Christ reconciles the world by becoming human and satisfying the justice needed.

Christus Victor however, states that humanity is in bondage to sin/death/devil and the solution is for God/Jesus or God in Jesus to come down and destroy sin/death and free captive humanity from sin/death/devil. I do the slashes as this is the whole package facing mankind and has some important nuances within it. that being said, i'll lay out where Aulen gets this idea.

Irenaeus is the first dude to really tackle this problem. granted the images of atonement are indeed found within the gospels (specifically John) and the epistles (specifically Paul, Hebrews, and Peter) and the early hymns and liturgies of the church. why? well, it is my prof Lee Barrett's idea that theology is parasitic on religious life. the life, hymns and songs, happen first, the emotional/subjective experience; and then along comes theology to figure out what it all means. kinda like science (WARNING WARNING: science analogy about to be used! ;-)) where events occur naturally and the scientist comes along later to establish the how's and why's; the purpose of the subjective action.

Irenaeus was the first to articulate that the early church looked at Christ's death and resurrection and said "hey, i kinda feel forgiven. let's sing about it!" Irenaeus picks up on the Pauline and Johannine writings and sees there's some direct connection with the thought of Christ as victor over sin and death. The devil has some objective existence, lord of sin and death, and having deceived mankind in the garden has gained dominion over them. God being perfectly just, somehow honors this pact and seeks to free humanity from it. Since God finds mankind under the condemnation of the Law, God delivers mankind from the powers of evil and reconciled the world to Himself [sic] and God becomes both the reconciler and the reconciled.

Aulen traces the thoughts of Irenaeus through the patristic traditions and through Protestant thought as well. adding to this idea through fancy nuances like God attains his purpose by internal, not external means, he overcomes evil not by an almighty fiat but by putting something of his own through a divine self-oblation (Great Catechism ch. 26). all of these thoughts rest on the doctrine of the fall and a dualistic understanding of the world where "darkness cannot endure when the light shines nor can death remain in being where Life is active."

there is the start of my problems.

1. if the fall is not in the Jewish understanding of the story of Genesis, then how can this stand? if Genesis is just a story, then how can it have any genetic binding on the souls of people?

2. how did this concept of the devil come into being? where in scripture is the fall of Satan? where can i find this story in rabbinic thought? Islam has a cool story of Ibis and how in parts Ibis/Satan is a jinn or jealous of God's love for humanity or even working on behalf of God to tempt the faithful and test them (like in some strains of Judaism). is the devil co-equal with God? is this some Zoroastrian version of Christianity?

3. I don't agree with the dualistic idea that darkness can't be around light. aren't they not connected? isn't it the shadows that define light? aren't life and death two aspects of a spectrum and while we live we are yet actively dying, subjecting to the natural law of entropy?

so those are just the start of my questions. i have other concerns too, like the idea of how we were ransomed by God yet many weren't aware of the fact we were in bondage in the first place! shouldn't a memo have been sent to all the other religions?

Dear Pagans, Buddhists, Hindus, Shitos, Taoists, and Gentile-masses,
Hi, this is God. Not god or gods, but the great beyond that all of your avatars point to. I hate to be the bearer of bad news but y'all are in bondage. But don't worry! I'm coming down there and atoning for your sins and freeing you from Satan, who got a little too attached to his work. This will both be really cool, cause I'll give you things like the beattitudes and some parables, as well as get to fire Satan (which will be great cause now it'll give another angel a chance to win the office's March Maddness Bracket, Gabriel is really excited at this). Oh, one caveat, you have to believe both that you're in bondage and that this guy Yeshua of Nazareth is me (which he'll never come out and say directly, cause you know, I'm freaky mysterious like that).
Eternal Love,
-G.
In class we're going to discuss this and hopefully i can get some clarity and some help connecting the dots. Aulen didn't help here. in fact, he made it worse. too many assumptions going into this theory for it to hold up in light of science and what we know about the world today. it is too reliant on tradition and an outdated metaphysic of angels, demons, and heavenly hosty sorta stuff.

i can affirm the basic concept of a Divine Love which cannot be imprisoned in categories of merit and of justice and thus breaks them into pieces. THAT i get! that is what i feel these images and metaphors point to but fear that they are hopelessly outdated and bear really bad fruit. Just read the Proverbs of Ashes to see what the model of self-sacrificial love can do... esp. in terms of sexism! but that subject is a whole other post. i think that's enough ranting for now.

38 comments:

Sabio Lantz said...

If the UCC has room for a heretic like you, I commend them.
Well said (and very creative)

societyvs said...

I have pretty ruled the atonement idea has to be bogus (at least in this Christus Victor way).

I see your willing to accept Judaism about 'original sain'...you might want to go one step further and admit God would not sacrifice a human being (also a Jewish belief)...as in the case of atonement (ie: Hebrews).

The thing is Jesus probably sacrificed (willingly gave it) his own life for his friends. The idea shoud be about wanting to be-friend someone like that.

dreadpiratescetis said...

Yar! Ye be drifting into the realm of scallywaggery! I will be scrawling on Christus Victor in the next few days. I get yer concerns, it be a hard model to deal with and maybe yer right the language is outdated. Yet it has served the Church since before a doctrine of atonement was ever written.

Societyvs: Judaism is not monolythic and some Jewish writers have adopted the Christian notion of the 'original stain' as ye put it. Also thar be plenty of God sacrificing humans in the Bible especially in Joshua. Doesn't God sacrifice all the Canaanites as to give the Israelites the Promised Land? Deutoronomistic Historian is all about human sacrifice at the hands of God, that's what the whole temple system was about.

Anglican Boy said...

I have serious concerns if you can't accept this view of atonement. It is Biblical and the oldest of the church teachings. I know that you like Origen so much and even he used this imagery to talk about what Jesus has done for us on the cross. Aulen, I hope, covers Anselm of Canterbury and the satisfaction theory. Check out his writings on atonement for a good Anglican view. In short, it is like this:

God is infinite and desires His universe to be perfect. Sin is a step away from this perfection and since the universe is infinite, any sin, even the smallest is multiplied to infinity and has ever lasting repercussions. God's sense of justice must be satisfied yet He is loath to destroy humanity, which is our just punishment and we deserve it. But since humans are finite the debt would never be paid and in fact must be paid by something that is infinite as well. Anselm then states that God is both the reconciled and the reconciler in the form of Jesus as God is reconciled to humanity and His own sense of justice for an eternity. No Satan needed, no angry God either.

I hope that clears things up. It is the Anglican view of the atonement.I look forward to see what Dread Pirate Scetis writes as well.

Anglican Gurl said...

I am with my husband on this one. I like the picture you used to illustrate this post! I hope that it makes sense soon, after all you are graduating and people need clear and correct teachings, especially on Easter.

Luke said...

Sabio: They have room, as there are other atonement models ;-)

Jason: I'm with the pirate here at least up until the Holocaust it was around in Rabbinic literature. Even the Bible with all those "offerings with a pleasing and fragrant aroma's" in the prophets and pslams.

DPS: Looking forward to it.

AB and AG: Humans are finite yet sins are infinite? What about our souls, that's an Anglican belief right? I never understand all the double-thinking that goes on to uphold this view. It is indeed ONE of the many images given to explain Christ's sacrifice, but to who and for what is up in the air. It's when doctrines are based on these images that give me the heebie-jeevies. I did read Anselm and can't take the role of Bozo ;-). I can't just agree, I have some problems here. That doesn't mean i don't have a view of atonement, Good Friday and Easter, it's just not this one.

Anonymous said...

For me the symbol of the cross elevates too highly the actions of Jesus’ tormentors. I think the cross gives tormentors too much consideration. If Christ had come in our own time, would he have died from water-boarding? I do, however, hear and understand the assurance some find in the image of the empty cross. What resonates more with me are the accounts of Jesus’ solidarity with the vulnerable, illegitimate, oppressed, exiled, devalued, hungry, taunted, dismissed, itinerant, betrayed, lonely, misjudged, ridiculed, persecuted, imprisoned, tortured, killed, lost, and disappearing of every age. For me, these are the more enduring lessons than the fearsome images of a violent or sacrificial death.

Yael said...

I disagree with the pirate's comments and so I guess I also disagree with Luke, since he agrees with the pirate!

Quote - Societyvs: Judaism is not monolythic and some Jewish writers have adopted the Christian notion of the 'original stain' as ye put it.

Me: Could you please name a few of these 'some Jewish writers'? I am curious as to who they are. Of course there are Jews who write from many POVs, but for anyone who claims to follow Judaism and then hold to the idea of original sin is something I have never heard of before not from liberal Jews nor from the most Orthodox. Each morning traditional Jews recite a prayer, "My God, the soul you have placed within me is pure...", the exact opposite of 'original sin'. Are these writers you refer to some of the so called Jews for Jesus?

Quote: Deutoronomistic Historian is all about human sacrifice at the hands of God, that's what the whole temple system was about.

Me: That's what the WHOLE Temple system was about? Since Torah contains quite a number of opposite teachings, I find it amazing anyone could make the claim that ONE idea explains the WHOLE of anything included within Torah. And for that one idea to be human sacrifice? Just this weekend I was studying the various sacrifices in Torah and although I read through many rules for offering various animals and birds, not once did I read any rules for offering human beings as sacrifices.

Quote: Also thar be plenty of God sacrificing humans in the Bible especially in Joshua. Doesn't God sacrifice all the Canaanites as to give the Israelites the Promised Land?

Me: There are a number of ways to view the stories of God killing people.

The first that comes to mind is that humans are always eager to kill off each other in the name of God. What better justification for anihilating another people than to claim it was "God's will" that they all die? Manifest destiny or in more modern times, the war in Iraq. God is on our side; all those Iraqis died because God likes us best. In my mind I imagine GW or Palin living back in those days and writing a book on the conquest. I have no doubt it would sound like Joshua!

Of course this is assuming that the stories in Joshua are actually true...Judges paints quite a different picture of us and them living side by side and pretty much absorbing each other and each other's customs, in between fights of course; archeology favors Judges from what I understand.

Judges isn't a very nice book (it DOES include a story of human sacrifice). We don't look so high and mighty in that book, so hey, get someone to write a Joshua, paint it all in glorious terms of conquest. Man, did we kick butt. Cool.

I remember the first days of the first Gulf War. The news was filled with pictures of all those smart bombs blowing everything in Iraq to hell. It looked like we destroyed the whole place in just a few bombing runs. Rah, rah for us. Of course the truth was somewhat different, it seems we didn't hit all that much at all, but of course those facts didn't come out until years later. The Joshua version went over better.

Yael said...

Continuing on from my previous comment...

Another view of the God killing people stories is that they are totally accurate and God really did kill off Canaanites so we could have the land. They did abominible things like marry sisters, have sex with their aunts and have sex with their sisters, so they deserved what they got. Jacob, Moses' parents and Abraham doing these same things was OK becasue God didn't consider them doing these same things vile. Only at a later date when we needed some space did these things, done by others of course, come to piss off God so much that God killed off a whole people.

Makes sense to me...NOT.

If this is what God was like back then, I hope God learned from it and changed God's ways, big time. Otherwise I must argue against God as did Abraham, that God is unjust, and walk away. Why would I have anything to do with such a psychotic god? And how could I complain about our treatment through the ages at the hands of those Christians who claimed they were doing God's work in slaughtering and persecuting us? If these stories are real, that's just the way God is, insane and evil, turning on whomever God chooses to turn on, letting some people slide while wiping out others.

How anyone can think God is some great being while claiming these stories are 100% accurate, I'll never understand. I suppose it's OK with them because God isn't killing them?

I read these stories differently and I fight against them. These stories teach me much about human nature and the excuses we use for our behavior, they don't teach me much about God, or at least I sincerely hope not. I do leave open the possibility that they do, however, which is why I will never claim God is good.

Yael said...

Just to be clear, I'm not angry, I'm merely disagreeing, and women who disagree online seem to get tagged as being angry quite often. I was just been thinking about too many things as I commented. Sorry for the length.

Yael said...

Just to be clear, I'm not angry, I'm merely disagreeing, and women who disagree online seem to get tagged as being angry quite often. I was just been thinking about too many things as I commented. Sorry for the length.

Sabio Lantz said...

@ All,

Luke exposes his heretical mind.
Pirate jumps in and says he should be careful. The Anglican couple chime in with prayers that Luke not slide further into heresy.

You all have inspired me. I crafted a picture and wrote a post specifically to comment on you heresy cops.

Thank you for the inspiration !

dreadpiratescetis said...

Yael,

Ye be right about the vastness of Jewish thought, and that be what me scrawlings were meant to portray. Many Jewish scholars, dare I say the majority, hold no original sin due to this passage:

The word of the Lord came to me: "What do you people mean by quoting this proverb about the land of Israel: 'The parents eat sour grapes, and the children's teeth are set on edge'? As surely as I live, declares the Sovereign Lord, you will no longer quote this proverb in Israel. For everyone belongs to me, the parent as well as the child—both alike belong to me. The one who sins is the one who will die.
—Ezek. 18:1-4

Yet others have adopted it. This worldview of sin that is inherited from earlier generations, either from the mythic progenitors, Adam and Eve, or from the devolution of the generations prior to the Flood, is not entirely de novo to the early church. They are drawing upon and elaborating on a thread of thought found in Jewish apocalyptic literature (see Jubilees I:12-13; 2 Esdras 7). One such scholar would be Ephraim of Luntshits. However, it is good to note that he is way in the minority, but I am saying that there are those out there. In fact, psychologist Theodor Reik (1888-1969) made an amazing observation: “Not before Sirach (200-175 B.C.E.) is there any allusion found to a primeval sin and not before the Apocalypse of Baruch (80-150 C.E.) is there any hint of the story of the Fall that brought upon man the liability of future punishment. Jesus refers neither to the Garden of Eden nor to the Fall.”

You: That's what the WHOLE Temple system was about?

Me: I overstated me case. Thank you for the catch.

You: These stories teach me much about human nature and the excuses we use for our behavior, they don't teach me much about God, or at least I sincerely hope not.

Me: I be thinking yer onto something. Many would tend to just throw out these stories instead of struggling with them. That is why I be bringing them up! Called to struggle and see how complex the Bible be. Scallywags want to reduce things to either/or, black and white, but things not be so simple. Just like Christ's triumph over sin by being a sacrifice is in the canon, Hebrews has the highest concentration. I am challenging Luke to read and consider it, not throw it out because he does not agree with it.

dreadpiratescetis said...

And here be my two pence from a man o' the sea, Luke the Toothface.

Luke said...

Yael,

Good considerations. Don't be sorry for the length, thanks for taking the risk. I get bored if people just agree with me all the time.

"Just to be clear, I'm not angry, I'm merely disagreeing, and women who disagree online seem to get tagged as being angry quite often."

I know that, but good to be clear about it.

RAWK!

Yael said...

Pirate,
I appreciate the info you provided and will have to pick up a Catholic Bible so I can read the passages you referenced. These texts of course pre-date Rabbinic Judaism so I would be curious to read if the Talmudic sages made any reference to these texts and if so, what they had to say about them. It is no surprise to me to find hints of various Christian teachings within ancient Jewish texts, I have no time for those who would try to deny this. I was actually thinking in terms of Rabbinic Jewish scholars, however. If you know of any such scholars who hold/held to a belief in original sin, not belief in a fall mind you, this is quite common within Judaism, but belief in original sin, I would want to learn more about them and how they reconcile such a belief within Judaism.

Since I don't pay much attention to the NT these days but have noted on a number of occasions the lack of mention of Adam, Eve, the garden, outside of the initial recounting of the story, I find it interesting that it isn't just Tanakh that is silent on the topic of a fall and original sin.

As far as overstating your case? I've been called on doing this same thing a few times myself.

I feely admit, I never found a black and white world all that appealing.

Yael said...

Luke,
Thanks. I agree with the boring part. :D

Anglican Boy said...

Sabio,

I am not trying to be heresy police. I am trying to figure out how Luke is a Christian and how he understands the atonement and makes sense of Hebrews, John 1:29, Mark 10:45, Romans 3:25, and many other parts of the New Testament. I guess I haven't been exposed to other views so in one sense I am curious and in the other sense I am shocked and a little angry.

Luke,

So what do you make of the scriptures I listed above? What is your view of atonement? I like what the anon. person had to say, that makes sense, but I do not see scripture taking that stance as a whole. Can you support yourself Biblically?

Anglican Boy said...

Yael,

It has always boggled my mind that Judaism does not have the concept of the Fall or Original Sin. I mean, they are right there in the text! Genesis chapter 2! If there is no fall or original sin, then why all the rules and Law? Why all the stuff about how to give offerings to God when you sin? What are you atoning for on Yom Kippur?

Christ's teachings cannot be completely incompatible in my limited point of view to that of first century Judaism as he was a first century Jew. I hesitate to bring up this conversation as I am rather ignorant of Jewish doctrines and teachings and I still to this day do not understand why all Jews are not Christian. I know I am heavily prejudiced, that is why I hesitate to write this. But Luke says to risk, so I am risking.

Yael said...

Anglican Boy,
Not to worry; I see you as merely asking honest questions. Honest questions don't bother me, only questions asked with an agenda bother me and even then I try not to be rude in my refusals to answer such questions.

It makes sense to me that a person who has not had much exposure to Judaism might indeed wonder why we are still here.

I will give you my best shot at answering your questions, just not at this moment. I am once more late for my work at shul. You might have noticed I often comment in the middle of the night so look for a response from me tomorrow morning. Thanks in advance for your patience.

societyvs said...

“It has always boggled my mind that Judaism does not have the concept of the Fall or Original Sin. I mean, they are right there in the text! Genesis chapter 2!” (Anglican Boy)

I would suggest reading rabbi’s on this issue – you can find many of this stuff online or at a local library for example.

However, one word will answer your question – perspective/interpretation (okay 2 words).

I can see how Adam and Eve could be seen as not looking at original sin but at sin in general –if one notices the story is just that – a story about humanity (a myth). Points can be learned from it regarding marriage, choice, sin, leadership, etc.

“If there is no fall or original sin, then why all the rules and Law?” (Anglican Boy)

Every nation has a law correct?
“Why all the stuff about how to give offerings to God when you sin? What are you atoning for on Yom Kippur?” (Anglican Boy)

Don’t need original sin to be able to sin.

“Christ's teachings cannot be completely incompatible in my limited point of view to that of first century Judaism as he was a first century Jew” (Anglican Boy)

That’s the thing – where did Jesus teach on original sin? The atonement? On his own virgin birth (also Paul is silent on this one)? Where does Jesus actually say he is God (Outside of the last gospel John)? Where does Jesus teach against the law?

What seems to be clear in Christian studies of the texts from the synoptic to John to the various letters is there are a various views – and they originate from Gentile and Jewish sources mixed together. But Judaism isn’t that clear in the texts because the teachings after the original community was gone (the disciples) – the Jewish influence was also pretty much gone with them (traces remained and those traces seem to be interpreted differently).

So we are left with a Christianity without it’s original influences upon it – unless we count Greco-Roman philosophy as original?

“I still to this day do not understand why all Jews are not Christian” (Anglican Boy)

Here’s the easy answer – the Shema based on Deut 6:4 and Exodus 20:3. The bigger answer is more complex but that was likely the beginning of the break between Christianity and Judaism.

Yael said...

AG,
Society brings up a good point, to use sources already available online. Rabbi Singer gives a thorough explanation on why the doctrine of original sin is not found within Judaism. Rather than me re-inventing the wheel, I will provide a link to his site and to one other site that answers Christian questions about Judaism. Both of these sites are Orthodox, which means the authors hold to the Torah being given to Moses by God, which is not my belief but which I think is yours. I do not think either of these sites consider Christianity to be a legitimate path to God, this also is not my belief but I think is a counter to your own belief that Judaism is not a legitimate path to God.

I still intend to pull together my own answers but these sites can keep you occupied while I do so. :D

Sabio Lantz said...

"Path to God"
-- Pack well, you all !

Yael said...

Ah Sabio,
Sometimes you are too amusing.

Yael said...

AB,
Here's a link to a post I wrote on Original Sin back in the fall of 2007.

Here's another on sacrifices

Please note that there is no sacrifice for intentional sin. Also please note that the story in Genesis has Adam and Eve intentionally eating the fruit they were told not to eat. Even if what the did was the greatest sin ever, there is no connection between that sin and the sacrificial system presented in Torah since that there was no sacrifice they could have offered for out and out choosing to do wrong.

Yael said...

Continuing on with my response to AB:

You mention Yom Kippur, my favorite of all Jewish holidays. I have a post I wrote on it a few years ago, I just need to do a bit of editing and I'll link it for you to read if you choose. Unfortunately it is now time for me to start the next part of my crazy day so I need to get going here.

A few things I wrote on expiation some years ago.

And a paragraph I wrote in response to a Christian woman's interaction with me:

Sin is a huge concern in Christianity; your whole religion revolves around the topic of sin. But, the rest of us do not have this same preoccupation. It’s sort of like conversing with sports fans. They don’t understand how I can go through every fall and winter without noticing all the football going on around me. I was once a football fan, but as life went on I developed new interests and that one has faded down to nothing. Now you could retort that I’d better pay attention to sin because it is of much greater importance than football, but I would reply that you are again speaking from your own religious perspective that teaches that sin must be my ultimate concern. It’s not. I know it exists, but I do not define my relationship with God by it, nor do I define myself by it. That you do is your choice, but please do not expect all the rest of us to jump on board with you, anymore than the guys should think I will concerned about football just because they don’t get how anyone could not share their obsession.

Likely you already regret asking me anything! Over the past few years I have written more than 2000 posts relating to Judaism. I guess you could say I like to write. :D

Luke said...

"So what do you make of the scriptures I listed above? What is your view of atonement?" -AB

nonviolent atonement theories by James Allison and Jurgen Moltmonn and even Rene Girard are what I subscribe to. I posted about it way back when...

scripturally is another matter. what you're asking is a proof texting exercise which i find pretty low. even in Hebrews, which i find really outdated but a great way of explaining Jesus' actions on the cross as atoning to a crowd who would understand that language of temple sacrifice. love is the key thing for me and not just love but WONDROUS love like in John 3:16, 1 John 3:16-17, and John 17 where the ever flowing love goes from God to the son from the son to the disciples and from the disciples to the world. that is a vision of mutual redemption, not only of humanity but of God as well. as Carl Jung put it, the cross changed God as well.

there is Eph 1 and 2, and Phili. 2"6-11 which provide vivid images of God's love. Romans 5:8 states "but God shows his love for us in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us." so yes, i can support myself biblically because there are a variety of images used to paint what the cross means. however, these are images, not doctrine and do nothing to tell us why God needed to show love in the first place and how exactly the cross does this. the creeds come into tell us that "he descended into hell..." and no where in the bible. That's hard too cause the Fall is not in my rubric as well. i don't believe little babies go to hell because of original sin nor that they are inherently sinful. like Reinhold Neibhur, i think that people are pretty good but are born into society where evil pre-exists them. plus the assumption is that Jesus took away sin and death, well, those are still around in our modern day life.

like a buddhist once stated, before enlightenment you chop wood and carry water. after enlightenment, you chop wood and carry water. same with being saved.

as "a for path to God" (which Sabio pointed out quite humorously) for me there is NO path to God. God is already here. being a Trinitarian, when Jesus says "I am the way the truth and the life, no one gets to the father but through me.." that's really funny to me for many reasons. first, Philip was asking for a theophany, an appearance of God ala Moses. Jesus states "if you have seen me then you have seen the father." pretty much saying "Dude you're asking the wrong question. The only way to God is through God." big paradigm shift in your theology when you realize that God has never left you!

all the ritual, all that church stuff, is to help you see and discern God's work in your life that is already happening. happening now, whether you realize it or not. hope that clarifies where i am coming from.

Yael said...

Luke,
Rather than give a long response to your claim that Jesus came to set the Jews straight... :D I'll ask you a few questions. What do you mean when you say God is with you? What specifically is God doing there? Why do you need God to be there? What is your role in all of this?

Yael said...

Oops. See one link I posted didn't work. Trying again: Original Sin

Anglican Boy said...

Yael,

Thank you for all those links, I am reading with great interest and learning.

Luke,

I hear your incarnational side coming out in your comments and I take comfort in that. Although I am not where you are in where I place my faith stances (or emphasis) I am beginning to understand a little.

Luke said...

Set the Jews straight? no, he didn't come for the righteous, he came for the sick remember? he lamented the exclusion of the temple part and questioned standards of purity. from my readings on the history at that time, he wasn't alone in this as Hillel and the rabbinic movement were also doing this at the time as well.

What do you mean when you say God is with you?
-i don't believe in a purely transcendent God, one that's up in the sky and commands us from afar. don't buy it. instead i believe in an intensely personal God that is in us and through us and for that matter, everything here on earth.

What specifically is God doing there?
-now that's the question isn't it!

Why do you need God to be there?
-a completely transcendent God that has nothing to do with it's creation is not really one worth having. i like knowing that God knows what i'm going through.. praise be to the Lord God our savior who daily bears our burdens, right? (Ps. 68).

What is your role in all of this?
-to love my neighbor as myself and to love God with all my heart mind and soul. just as God loves all of God's creation and takes joy in it, so must i.

The world is a fun place. It's also a grim place. Partly because we made it that way and partly because God made it that way. The reason there are earthquakes is not because of sin. It's because God put a ball of hot slop in the middle of frigid space. It cools down, and when it cools enough, the crust begins to crack. If you happen to live on one of the cracks, you've got problems. There's a lot of tough stuff in the world and it's simply there by God's design. As for example, death is there by God's design. It's not just a punishment for sin. It's the way the creation works. The world is an ecology of life and death, of good and evil, and God made it that way. i think spiritual people get that are feel called to live into the mystery of life with one another and in response the the abundant life placed before us.

Yael said...

Thanks AG, thanks Luke. Shabbat is almost here so I will comment again on the flip side.

Sabio Lantz said...

Luke,

Don't some religious folks think that God created the world good and then the fall happened and then all the bad happened.

I remember being taught that God was all good. That evil entered the world because God gave both angels and men some measure of free will and many choose against him. You believe God created good and evil intentionally?

You wrote: "Spiritual people ... feel called to live into the mystery of life with one another and in response [to] the abundant life placed before us."

You know about all those born into lousy lives -- what about them? What about all us enchanted naturalists who love the mystery of life and aren't called to Sunday church and bible studies? What, we aren't "called"?

Just a few questions for your theological answer bag.

-- Sabio

Luke said...

i have written a lot about the fall and even had an existential crisis about questions of theodicy and the nature of humanity. theodicy is asking the question of how evil came into the world... many assert that God is all good and couldn't have made evil, yet Job and many of the psalms state otherwise that both good and evil come from God.

now i don't know about all of that. i know that humans aren't as good or as bad as we make them out to be. context is everything. understanding is key.

as for your question of "You know about all those born into lousy lives -- what about them?... aren't we 'called'?"

well, read very closely. spiritual people FEEL CALLED. do you feel called? i know many people born into lousy lives feel called. called to do better, not to repeat the mistakes of their fathe.. oops! giving too much away here! their parents or context or even faith! it's not all buttercups and roses, i know that. but thanks for giving me a hip check.

Yael said...

Luke,
Something I took note of the other night during my studies: The first word God says to Avraham is "Go", whereas in the NT the first word Jesus says to people is "Come", only later on are they told to go. The Exodus has God telling us to go up out of Egypt in order to come to Sinai. So, each tradition contains both going and coming, yet it would seem our emphases remain with the first word spoken to us. Thus it seems quite natural that I see myself as being on a path to God while you do not.

My reading of Jewish tradition is that God could be near, God could be far, it is up to us to take care of the world around us no matter what God is up to at any given moment. Tanakh begins with God's active involvement yet by the end God is written out, not even a mention of God is to be found in Esther. And certainly there are mentions of a hidden God, a concept with which I take great interest. There is also the story in Talmud where the rabbis basically tell God to stay in heaven.

Sometimes I sense that God just might be close at hand, but other times I would have a hard time believing such a thing. While you don't see the value of having a far off God, I see no point in having a nearby God who merely watches as evil goes on. I mentioned some months ago about those who say God wept over the Shoah and my response of why should this make me feel any better. I don't need a god for that, my friends can weep with me over the misfortunes in my life. Of course this all assumes God as a certain type of separate entity, a view to which I do not often hold, whether out of convenience or because it is not accurate, I do not yet know and perhaps never will.

You quoted Psalm 68: praise be to the Lord God our savior who daily bears our burdens, right? (Ps. 68).

This is quite a fascinating verse. I'll include the Hebrew since you have studied it so you can check out my claims:
בָּרוּךְ אֲדנָי יוֹם יוֹם: יַעֲמָס-לָנוּ הָאֵל יְשׁוּעָתֵנוּ סֶלָה

Barukh Adonai, Praised be Adonai, yom yom, day to day, the last part is haEl yishuataynu selah, the God of our salvation [salvation used in Tanakh speaks of physical salvation of course], which leaves the middle part, ya'amas lanu. The translation you use says 'bears our burdens' but the one I'm reading says 'burdens us'. Lanu means 'us' but ya'amas can be either 'he loads' or 'he carries a load'.

I wonder if it is translated 'bears our burdens' because this image is more acceptable for most than the image of God placing loads on us (and then getting to be the hero coming to our rescue)? Perhaps it isn't such a heretical thing for Jews to see God as loading us down given our experiences through history? One of the things I like about reading in Hebrew is that these questions are left there for me to ponder, whereas in English they are totally lost either one way or the other.

For myself, what God is, what God does, what God feels are questions worthy of much speculation, but in the end I am left refusing to give dogmatic answers.

Thanks for the conversation. Really enjoyed looking at the verse from Psalms.

Yael said...

One last link for Anglican Boy: Yom Kippur. You asked what I am atoning for on Yom Kippur so rather than link to a post that explains Yom Kippur, I am instead linking to a post about my personal 2006 High Holy Day experience.

Luke said...

"My reading of Jewish tradition is that God could be near, God could be far..."

exactly! i didn't mean to set up a dualism, what i wanted to say is that a God that is JUST transcendent or a God that is JUST immanent seems too simple. i can never say SEE! GOD IS HERE! i can only say, wow, God was in this place and I didn't know it like Jacob.

"bears our burdens' but the one I'm reading says 'burdens us'"

oooh coool!!!!!!!!!!! this is why i need to get BIBLEWORKS so i can get into the translation issues like this. how cool is this?! some days i feel as though a burden has been lifted from my shoulders, others like one has been placed there. how apt!

this is why i like talking about God and also what makes me a Trinitarian and believe that Jesus is God: i can never categorize either into a neat and clean dogmatic place. both are notoriously ambiguious. like a peaceful, doe-eyed Jesus that wouldn't hurt a fly, well what about driving the money-changers from the temple? or whithering the fig tree? or driving pigs into the sea? or if you're Jewish, what about all that jealous God stuff, or having no gods before this one... does that mean that this isn't monotheism but monolatry? how about Joshua and Duet? Or even all the stuff about the prophets? God isn't our cosmic bell-hop nor a spiritual kevlar vest. but yet, sometimes, God is.

glad to have you about, informing me and keeping the tensions alive. great stuff!

dreadpiratescetis said...

I scrawled this on Sabio's site and wanted to make sure you saw it:

"Me questioning Luke is not intended to be “policing for the faith” but a challenge for him to hang in there when a parishioner comes to him with the Christus Victor understanding. How will he talk to them? Can he understand their need for such imagery?

Thar be where me concerns be docked. Not to label him a heretic."

Now not believing in the Fall or original sin makes the whole picture a little clearer.