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  #1  
Old Mar 27, '12, 8:33 am
Ubenedictus Ubenedictus is offline
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Default What is the church version of atonement

The protestant version (very common) is penal substitution, christ the righteous one took the punishment (divine wrath) for sins. Now it is hard to work wit this version, it seem to describe an angry pegan god who need a virgin to vest his anger on so as to preserve a town. Can anyone please explain the catholic version of vicarious atonement? Thanks
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  #2  
Old Mar 27, '12, 8:45 am
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AmbroseSJ AmbroseSJ is offline
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Default Re: What is the church version of atonement

Why would the Catholic version need to be different?

Pope Benedict XVI addresses this very idea in his latest book Jesus of Nazareth, Part II, Holy Week.

In a nutshell, the question of evil is not one that can just be ignored, either by us, or by God. It is real, and it must be dealt with directly. The way God has dealt with this evil, (our own willful sins) is by the atonement offered by His beloved, only begotten Son. It is something the Incarnation, Jesus, did entirely of his own free will, not being forced, as He Himself says in the Gospel, out of Love for all of us, and especially out of Love for his Father in Heaven. So how this differs from the Protestant concept, I can't imagine.
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Old Mar 27, '12, 8:52 am
grannymh grannymh is offline
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Default Re: What is the church version of atonement

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Originally Posted by Ubenedictus View Post
The protestant version (very common) is penal substitution, christ the righteous one took the punishment (divine wrath) for sins. Now it is hard to work wit this version, it seem to describe an angry pegan god who need a virgin to vest his anger on so as to preserve a town. Can anyone please explain the catholic version of vicarious atonement? Thanks
Catholicism connects Christ's Salvific Mission with an actual first human being who scorned his Creator. This break in the relationship between Adam and God is real. Jesus Christ is True Man and True God; therefore, He could reconcile humanity with divinity. Thus, the atonement for Original Sin would not be considered vicarious.

Last edited by grannymh; Mar 27, '12 at 9:10 am.
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Old Mar 27, '12, 9:36 am
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Default Re: What is the church version of atonement

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Originally Posted by Ubenedictus View Post
The protestant version (very common) is penal substitution, christ the righteous one took the punishment (divine wrath) for sins. Now it is hard to work wit this version, it seem to describe an angry pegan god who need a virgin to vest his anger on so as to preserve a town. Can anyone please explain the catholic version of vicarious atonement? Thanks
The Protestant version, like you said, has God pouring out His wrath for our sins on Christ. The Catholic version is similar, insofar as there's a legal element, but the way it's carried out is different. In our understanding Christ freely offers Himself up to make up for it, but is not actually punished by God. It's the difference between a judge handing down a punishment against us and Christ taking it in our place, and Christ coming and giving the judge something to make up for it.

EDIT: I should probably explain that the Catholic view is that Christ's virtue paid the price. It wasn't so much that God needed someone to suffer and die as it was that the ultimate (and needed) virtue would come through it. And besides, Christ is God too. So ultimately God paid Himself back, which is part of what makes it so... loving.
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Old Mar 27, '12, 9:43 am
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Default Re: What is the church version of atonement

There are other aspects of it as well. I believe the whole atonement thing is defined dogma, but there are other elements that, for example, the Byzantine Catholics (and Eastern Orthodox) would point to like the "Christus Victor" view.

EDIT: Correction... the theological view I mention, while popular, is actually NOT defined dogma.

Last edited by WoundedIcon; Mar 27, '12 at 9:54 am.
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  #6  
Old Mar 27, '12, 9:50 am
sw85 sw85 is offline
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Default Re: What is the church version of atonement

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Originally Posted by Ubenedictus View Post
The protestant version (very common) is penal substitution, christ the righteous one took the punishment (divine wrath) for sins. Now it is hard to work wit this version, it seem to describe an angry pegan god who need a virgin to vest his anger on so as to preserve a town. Can anyone please explain the catholic version of vicarious atonement? Thanks
It does nothing of the sort. It acknowledges a God who is just, i.e., who assigns everything its proper reward and place. It also describes a God who is merciful and loving, i.e., who goes above and beyond the demands of justice for the good of all. Thus, man had to pay the price for sin (justice), but only God could pay the price, so God did, in the form of man (love).
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Old Mar 27, '12, 10:07 am
Nita Nita is offline
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Default Re: What is the church version of atonement

Quote:
Originally Posted by Ubenedictus View Post
The protestant version (very common) is penal substitution, christ the righteous one took the punishment (divine wrath) for sins. Now it is hard to work wit this version, it seem to describe an angry pegan god who need a virgin to vest his anger on so as to preserve a town. Can anyone please explain the catholic version of vicarious atonement? Thanks
I think it helps to start with a definition of atonement. The following is from Fr. John Hardon's "Modern Catholic Dictionary" (highlighting mine):
Quote:
ATONEMENT. The satisfaction of a legitimate demand. In a more restricted sense it is the reparation of an offense. This occurs through a voluntary performance that outweighs the injustice done. If the performance fully counterbalances the gravity of the guilt, the atonement is adequate. And if the atonement is done by someone other than the actual offender, but in his stead, it is vicarious.

Applied to Christ the Redeemer, through his suffering and death he rendered vicarious atonement to God for the sins of the whole human race. His atonement is fully adequate because it was performed by a divine person. In fact, it is superabundant because the positive value of Christ's expiation is actually greater than the negative value of human sin.
Unquote.
And from the Catechism of the Catholic Church: http://www.vatican.va/archive/ENG0015/__P1O.HTM
(If you haven't already read it, it would be good to read the whole section on the above link.)
616 It is love "to the end" that confers on Christ's sacrifice its value as redemption and reparation, as atonement and satisfaction. He knew and loved us all when he offered his life. Now "the love of Christ controls us, because we are convinced that one has died for all; therefore all have died." No man, not even the holiest, was ever able to take on himself the sins of all men and offer himself as a sacrifice for all. the existence in Christ of the divine person of the Son, who at once surpasses and embraces all human persons, and constitutes himself as the Head of all mankind, makes possible his redemptive sacrifice for all.

Last edited by Nita; Mar 27, '12 at 10:17 am.
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  #8  
Old Mar 27, '12, 10:46 am
jk89 jk89 is offline
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Default Re: What is the church version of atonement

God cannot be just and merciful at the same time. Because mercy implies the suspension of justice. Also in the parable in of the workers, he gives the same reward to all. I suspect it is however the presence of God will be the judgement, and the part of recieving according to one's work. For Revelation does not really say what the reward is, although we can understand it is to be in the presence of a Holy God.

Penal substitution is false because that testifies of an eye for an eye God, who is not the Father of Jesus Christ. He is however the false father of Jesus Christ and therefore I also think they who believe in penal substitution believe in the false Christ.

Quote:
Applied to Christ the Redeemer, through his suffering and death he rendered vicarious atonement to God for the sins of the whole human race. His atonement is fully adequate because it was performed by a divine person. In fact, it is superabundant because the positive value of Christ's expiation is actually greater than the negative value of human sin.
This made me think of how Abraham conversed with God, "If there is only ten righteous in the town, will you preserve it?"

The birth of Christ taken in this sense of atonement would be that we now have one who is forever righteous and always with us, which means mankind is always saved from perishing unlike the time before the flood.

But it is clear that the purpose of His whole ministry and therefore also the crucifixion is the have sinners turn to God. I think the true Atonement is in the symbol of the crucixion, although I cannot fully see what it means.

I think David Berkowitz is closer to the truth however,
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RFAuo9XVp8E

It is very very very important to understand that God is forgiving and holy, and that however we understand the atonement it must be on the behalf of a forgiving God. St. Anselem talked about restoring the honor due to the offence against God. Although I do not get the point yet this seems closer to the truth as well.

But if the Pope really is preaching penal substitution, I think it is clear not to set one's foot in the Catholic Chuch.
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  #9  
Old Mar 27, '12, 11:09 am
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AmbroseSJ AmbroseSJ is offline
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Default Re: What is the church version of atonement

Quote:
But if the Pope really is preaching penal substitution, I think it is clear not to set one's foot in the Catholic Chuch.
The DOCTRINE of the atonement is as old as the letters of St. Paul, and the Gospels. It is a core Christian Doctrine like the Incarnation.

Now if you want to refer to the Atonement as "penal substitution" in a derogatory way, like the OP described sacrificing a virgin to a vengeful volcano god, then you are just referring to a reality in words of abhorrence. That doesn't change the reality, but exposes your view of it.

Furthermore, no one in this thread has successfully shown how the Protestant view of the atonement is any different from ours although they may have IMPLIED that it is somehow harsher or less loving.

The only thing that would make a real difference from the Catholic/Christian view of the atonement, is to deny the need or even the existence of the atonement. Qualifying our version of the atonement as being more loving and just than the Protestant version is simply specious and bigoted.
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  #10  
Old Mar 27, '12, 11:25 am
jk89 jk89 is offline
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Default Re: What is the church version of atonement

But go and learn what this means: 'I desire mercy, not sacrifice.' For I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners."
Should God tell us to learn mercy, and not know it himself?

I am not very much in favor of Paul, nor much of the old testament, but if we say Christ was penally substituted we say that God has no mercy at all, because he has delivered punishment for all sin. Which is the testimony of the wrong God.

Christ was the expression of the true God, as much as He was the true God himself. Did He deliver any punishment? "Anyone who has seen Me has seen the Father". Should he then masochistically deliver himself up to be punished by a sadistic God? See where you have ended up?

That being said, I do not think it is even right to say Christ died to restore Gods honor. Because His glory is in the fact that he is Holy and forgiving. There is no reason for a repentant to suffer, and those who suffer do so at the hands of the world, and not of God.

I think the point of His crucifixion is closer to that he "emptied himself". He basically made himself a door mat for us that we should not be ashamed to repent. And this ties in with Him washing our feet, as you may have figured...

Last edited by jk89; Mar 27, '12 at 11:40 am.
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  #11  
Old Mar 27, '12, 11:50 am
jk89 jk89 is offline
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Default Re: What is the church version of atonement

Suffering at the hands of God however does occur but in the form of a bad conscience and this is more the meaning of the lake of fire, being tormented in the presence of the holy angels and of the Lamb.
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  #12  
Old Mar 27, '12, 11:59 am
Catholic Dude Catholic Dude is offline
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Default Re: What is the church version of atonement

Quote:
Originally Posted by Ubenedictus View Post
The protestant version (very common) is penal substitution, christ the righteous one took the punishment (divine wrath) for sins. Now it is hard to work wit this version, it seem to describe an angry pegan god who need a virgin to vest his anger on so as to preserve a town. Can anyone please explain the catholic version of vicarious atonement? Thanks
I've written a lot about the false doctrine of Penal Substitution, one article you should check out is Atonement according to Scripture and you'll see the distinction between Catholicism and Protestantism.
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Old Mar 27, '12, 12:19 pm
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AmbroseSJ AmbroseSJ is offline
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Default Re: What is the church version of atonement

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I've written a lot about the false doctrine of Penal Substitution, one article you should check out is Atonement according to Scripture and you'll see the distinction between Catholicism and Protestantism.
It's a good article, but I think he makes a straw man argument against the Protestant. It is impossible to define the "Protestant" understanding of atonement, as there are so many sects and denominations all with conflicting teachings and understandings. Even within ONE Protestant denomination, the faithful are ALWAYS allowed private judgement in matters of Biblical interpretation. Therefore, saying that Protestants have a fundamentally flawed or erroneous view of the atonement is specious or downright wrong.

The atonement, no matter what sort of high flying theological descriptive terms are used, will always be the act of making up, paying a ransom, paying a price, atoning for sins. That Jesus atoned for our sins by His life, death and resurrection is a common Christian doctrine. Catholics don't have a monopoly on what atonement means or that it was accomplished by our Lord Jesus.

I continue to maintain that the Protestant view (while perhaps lacking a certain Catholic dimension) is still fundamentally the same as ours. It's the atonement due to sin, that was taken on voluntarily by our Lord Jesus. Protestants don't miss the fact that Jesus did this out of Love for us. That is why Protestants ARE Christians!
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Old Mar 27, '12, 12:30 pm
clmowry clmowry is offline
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Default Re: What is the church version of atonement

Quote:
Originally Posted by Ubenedictus View Post
The protestant version (very common) is penal substitution, christ the righteous one took the punishment (divine wrath) for sins. Now it is hard to work wit this version, it seem to describe an angry pegan god who need a virgin to vest his anger on so as to preserve a town. Can anyone please explain the catholic version of vicarious atonement? Thanks
The atonement is the sacrafice of Christ whereby the world is reunited with God.

I don't "think" we have much difference with non-Catholic Christians on this point.

The differences start to show up when you move on to how this applies to an individuals Justification, Santification and Salvation.

Chuck
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Old Mar 27, '12, 4:42 pm
grannymh grannymh is offline
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Default Re: What is the church version of atonement

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The Protestant version, like you said, has God pouring out His wrath for our sins on Christ. The Catholic version is similar, insofar as there's a legal element, but the way it's carried out is different. In our understanding Christ freely offers Himself up to make up for it, but is not actually punished by God. It's the difference between a judge handing down a punishment against us and Christ taking it in our place, and Christ coming and giving the judge something to make up for it.

EDIT: I should probably explain that the Catholic view is that Christ's virtue paid the price. It wasn't so much that God needed someone to suffer and die as it was that the ultimate (and needed) virtue would come through it. And besides, Christ is God too. So ultimately God paid Himself back, which is part of what makes it so... loving.
Pardon me. But it sounds as if you are omitting Original Sin as taught by the Catholic Church in addition to omitting the relationship of the first real human to God the Creator. Perhaps you should expand the general word virtue to the necessity of obedience as expiation for disobedience.
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