Hello, fellow forum-visitors:
Okay, did the “v.” grab you? This thread is not for those who prefer one-liners, for things meaningful sometimes involves more explanation.
The “v.” is a challenge, not to determine what view is the “right” one, but instead to investigate with this in mind:
“True love does not eliminate legitimate differences, but harmonizes them in a superior unity, which is not imposed from the outside, but gives shape to the whole from inside,”
First, from an article in a Catholic Encyclopedia (bolds mine):
We cannot stay to examine these new systems in detail. But it may be observed that the truth which they contain is really found in the Catholic theology of the Atonement. That great doctrine has been faintly set forth in figures taken from mans laws and customs. It is represented as the payment of a price, or a ransom; or as the offering of satisfaction for a debt. But we can never rest in these material figures as though they were literal and adequate. As both Abelard and Bernard remind us, the Atonement is the work of love. It is essentially a sacrifice, the one supreme sacrifice of which the rest were but types and figures. And, as St. Augustine teaches us, the outward rite of sacrifice is the sacrament, or sacred sign, of the invisible sacrifice of the heart. It was by this inward sacrifice of obedience unto death, by this perfect love with which He laid down His life for His friends, that Christ ** paid the debt to justice**, and taught us by His example, and drew all things to Himself; it was by this that he wrought our Atonement and Reconciliation with God, “making peace through the blood of His Cross.”.
Next, from Cardinal Ratzinger’s Introduction to Christianity (bolds mine):
To many Christians, and especially to those who only know the faith from a fair distance, it looks as if the cross is to be understood as part of a mechanism of injured and restored right. It is the form, so it seems, in which the infinitely offended righteousness of God was propitiated again by means of an infinite expiation. It thus appears to people as the expression of an attitude which insists on a precise balance between debit and credit; at the same time one gets the feeling that this balance is based on a fiction. One gives first secretly with the left hand what one takes back again ceremonially with the right. The `infinite expiation’ on which God seems to insist thus moves into a doubly sinister light. Many devotional texts actually force one to think that Christian faith in the cross visualizes a God whose unrelenting righteousness demanded a human sacrifice, the sacrifice of his own Son, sinister wrath makes the message of love incredible.
This picture is as false as it is widespread.”
So, here is a question central to our faith. Why did Jesus come? Was there an “injured and restored right”? Did Jesus pay a “debt to justice”? There are obviously a variety of opinions, and the theology has evolved over the centuries. As much as Cardinal Ratzinger described the error in Anselm’s view, Anselm’s was (IMO) a huge step in the right direction.
Once we get into the discussion, for awhile, I am going to offer something from an unusual source that may shed some light on the topic. I am sure that it will surprise you, it did me!
Thanks, up front, for your replies!