Your Online Cup of Tea
There are a few ways to look at responsibility and consequences.
a) Groups of individuals simply facing the consequence of another’s action.
b) Groups of individuals being held culpable for the actions of another since they are somewhat responsible or involved.
c) Groups of individuals being treated as if they were culpable for the actions done by another for which they were neither responsible or involved.
Original sin, as held by many in the Reformed movement, teaches that we are treated as guilty for the actions of another. It runs off the notion of imputed guilt, which is used in the manner of (c). It could only be just if a satisfactory relation between the first individual and the group is established. Or one could posit that morality is ultimately voluntaristic [anything at all that God could decide it to be]. But I don’t see a satisfactory relation between Adam and humanity to allow for such an imputation. And this first imputation of guilt, is the template for the imputation of Christ’s righteousness to us on this view. Romans 5:19 is often used as a supporting verse ”For as by one man’s disobedience many were made sinners, so by the obedience of one shall many be made righteous.”
So Original Sin only works if one believes one of the following:
a) Me and Adam are the same person, since guilt is a personal property that cannot by swapped around “The one who sins is the one who will die. The child will not share the guilt of the parent, nor will the parent share the guilt of the child. The righteousness of the righteous will be credited to them, and the wickedness of the wicked will be charged against them.” (Ezekiel 8:20)
b) I inherit it at birth because evil is a substance. And I’m given Adam’s *evil* stuff at birth. Which I think is problematic. And confuses what is properly attributed to nature and what is attributed to persons.
c) God just says that these imputations happen, in order to allow for the substitution to occur, for his justice to be satisfied. Nominalism. In name only/Voluntarism.
This touches on the nature of the atonement and what it was Christ was trying to achieve. But essentially, the satisfaction of God’s justice on this schema depends on the validity of the doctrine of imputation. And really, the doctrine does not teach that Christ was guilty due to anything he did. And it says that not a single iota from us counts towards our justifying righteousness. Thus making peace with God, grounded in abstract relations, of which union with Christ by faith, is a means for you to get on the positive end of these relations. Not to mention that on this view, a Divine Person can be justly condemned for sin they did not commit. That for me is frightening.
Adam’s state of death was a consequence of his sin. Because it seperated him from the grace needed to keep him in that probationary state of immortality. From the moment he sinned, he began to die as an ontological consequence (“Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they realized they were naked” Genesis 3:7). God, upon finding Adam in this state (“Who told you that you were naked?” Genesis 3:11) essentially says, “I warned you, and now this is what you get.” It’s a natural consequence, but God’s response to it, turns it into a punishment. If indeed he began to die immediately, before God even shows up to sentence him, then it is indeed a natural consequence (unless one wants to say that he had this grace even when he sinned). Point being that just because it is natural, does not mean it is not also a punishment. Since God actively works to let it play out (Genesis 3:22). So for Adam it’s not either/or it’s both/and. The order however is, natural consequence –> punishment. Kind of like if I waste all my money and I’m left in a dire state. Then my dad says “See I warned you this would happen, but I’m not bailing you out this time. You’re going to learn your lesson.”
We then inherit this fallen state and corruption. But are not being punished for what Adam did per se. If by punishment we are implying personal culpability. That is both denied by Ezekiel 18:20 and is metaphysically unfounded. However, when we sin, we do merit the consequences. And are deserving of them. That is why scripture says “For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord (Romans 6:23).” Wages are merited. And we are merited only what we do. So unless one wants to advocate that we are merited the foreign guilt of Adam, it then it could be argued we are merited the foreign righteousness of Christ. And Luther was right.
The first thing I would say is that the premise of Anselm’s theory of satisfaction, or at least how he arrived to it, is that he was trying to reach the conclusions of the Christian faith without Divine Revelation. As such, he formed certain premises and by their logic is trying to show how it must be that one sacrificed had to be both God and man in order to satisfy God, to allow us to be forgiven. If it is a necessity, then God’s character seems less than ours in that he needs something outside of himself in order to be forgive. If is a necessity of his justice, then his justice and mercy are pulling at two different directions, an internal struggle as it were, in which only an an external event, the Cross, could save God from his personal dilemma. If it is neither a necessity of his character in order to forgive, or not a requirement of his justice, then God is choosing to use a mechanism for forgiveness that doesn’t reflect who He is and is rather superfluous from my perspective. That’s why I say that while I’m willing to be persuaded of Satisfaction theory (since I don’t have all the kinks as it were worked out in CV) I find it unnecessary.
“This is properly the effect of a sacrifice, that through it God is appeased, as even man is ready to forgive an injury done unto him by accepting a gift which is offered to him..And so in the same way, what Christ suffered was so great a good that, on account of that good found in human nature, God ha been appeased over all the offenses of mankind” (ST III, Q. 49, Article 4).
Here Aquinas seems to have the propitiation as that which makes God ready to forgive humanity. Though in reality, God is the one who initiates the redemption and is essentially offering the gift to himself. Which means it is not really about making God ready to forgive, but then it must be an issue necessary for his justice, which brings us back to the inner turmoil issue. Or the superfluous one.
As opposed to our view, where the end of God’s justice and love is not opposed, but simply to rid his creation of evil and to restore it. If in the process, one chooses to remain on the part that is destroyed, they are receiving justice. If one repents, they are receiving mercy. But God does not need or require anything in order to forgive.
Then this is just a train of thought, if we are to go with the Orthodox view of the energies, certain of God’s energies are always in play no matter what God does. But none of the energies can be in opposition to each other. Thus the end of God’s love, forgiveness and justice are the same. And if one were to take Absolute Divine Simplicity, what is created is not the essence, what is divine is. If love, mercy and justice are created graces then it may be possible for one to infer that their ends are different. But if they are but different aspects from our point of view, of the one divine essence, their movement cannot be in opposite directions, for they are indeed one and the same. Meaning that God justice and mercy and love are one, with the same goal of creatiurely restoration. But given freedom, the creature will either fall on the side that is being destroyed, experiencing the divine power as justice or repent and experience it as mercy. But in both cases as with the energies and ADS, satisfaction and appeasement again seem superfluous.
I think it is very possible to say that God is against someone. But we ought not to take it as referring to a feeling in God of reresentment. Rather God being against someone is to show that God is moving in action to remove that person from furthering their cause of harming creation. But it must be noted that this person turned against God first, and since they are part of the problem, God will deal with them justly. If I turn against a current that was once carry me, it is correct to say that the current is against me. But really, who changed? The current is flowing in the same direction. I am the one who is moving contrary. And I am facing the consequences.
The issue here as it is with Bible verses in general, is not sacrifice, justice, Romans 5, the words “justified by faith apart from works”, punishment etc etc. The issue is what does one mean by these things and what role do they play in God’s plan of salvation. What I’m trying to see then, is how satisfaction, which is not synonymous with any of the above, plays a role, and what that says about God’s character and intentions. Not whether they are necessary or not. For you don’t believe that, so to argue against would be a strawman. But if it isn’t necessary, then I see it as superfluous and a poor reflection of character.
Where I feel many Orthodox would part ways with Rome would be in saying that the issue of the atonement was not that God required satisfaction in regards to strict justice. But that if man were to be right with God, the salvation brought about with the atonement was necessary, and that is what it means to be justified/righteous. On the other hand, satisfaction is neither a requirement of his justice and is at the same time a poor reflection of his character, whilst bringing no ontological change to us or God. Purely a forensic matter and is the framework for the theories of the protestant reformation. Is it any wonder that things ended up as they did? I just see no need for it. And no good reason to believe it. I don’t think Anselm’s theory is dogma for Rome? But like Aquinas, it seems deeply weaved in Catholic theology.
Salvation is a process of becoming more like Jesus. It occurs by being united to Christ in a relationship of grace. Remember John 17:3, eternal life is *knowing* God, which is to have an intimate relationship with him. You can know you have it. But you can sever the relationship too. If you want to be with the Lord then per John 6:37 he won’t cast you out. If you walk away then you changed, not God.
Assurance/eternal security is facilitated by the Protestant notion of sola fide. Here the emphasis is on salvation in the past. Due to the fact that the key aspect of salvation is depicted as instant and personal. This being an immediate transaction that takes place at the moment of faith. The believer is credited all of Christ’s righteousness and thus able to stand free from condemnation before God. Because Christ had already been credited with their guilt and condemned in their place. Salvation is seen as something to “get” at some point. Thus a greater emphasis on it having taken place in the past. A one time, forensic event, with the rest of the Christian life being but an outworking of this moment. A moment involving nothing or no one other than the individual and Christ.
Contrast this to the Orthodox Church. Salvation is not seen primarily as instantaneous. Christ is not one considered guilty and condemned by being made liable for the crimes of others. Rather Christ is the remedy to the corruptions of sin in the soul, and it’s result of death in the body. Salvation then is for one’s entire human nature to be glorified like Christ’s (both material and immaterial). By partaking of the divine life. Bodily resurrection will happen in an instant. But the soul must be conformed to mirror Christ over time. This only comes by one’s willing co-operation with God’s grace, the inner working of God. The normal means of receiving grace will then be in the Church. Especially via the sacraments. Thus salvation is *process* intrinsically tied up with the Church, as the locus and normative setting of God’s saving power. Initial faith in Jesus followed by baptism is but the beginning of a life long process. A beginning which means little if one quits before the end. Much like someone who gives up making a cake halfway, is not better off simply because they started. This emphasis then, on salvation being future **and** conditional, repudiates the doctrine of Sola Fide. Not to mention that since you can’t baptize yourself, and baptism is the sacrament of initiation, the very beginning of your salvation process is not simply “You and Jesus.” Rather Christ is working, through the active participation of members his body, to birth individuals into His family.
You can have assurance that you are saved, in that you are in the process of being saved. But that is no guarantee that you will remain in that process. But if you don’t, God didn’t leave, it was you who left. And given salvation is future oriented in both the New Testament and Orthodoxy, technically, no one is really “saved” until they have arrived to the resurrection.
As per Titus 3:5,God does not bring us into his family due to anything we do. But that does not mean that once in, we don’t work at being transformed into the image of the ideal Son, Jesus. It’s a synergistic relationship of both Man and God “So then, my beloved, just as you have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your salvation with fear and trembling; for it is God who is at work in you, both to will and to work for His good pleasure (Philiphians 2:12-13).”
In regards to a bad day, think of it like a relationship. You could be having a bad day with your parents, doesn’t change that you guys are still close. Bad days and completing severing the relationship are different.
People leave this earth at various stages in that process, you don’t have to be perfect before you die. You just have to be in Christ. It is true that you are *saved* once you enter that relationship. But you are also *being saved* once it begins. And will be *saved* when it ends. So salvation has a start middle and end. It involves a single moment in time, but is not reducible to it. Basically, Salvation is to be in a relationship with God, ever being transformed into the likeness of His Son. And both transformation and relationships are not static.