Church Father views of atonement, Application to all men?


#1

Early Church Father quotes on related to the atonement, anyone have a web article, or preferably like some works by one/some of the following men, that give insight to their view of the extent of the atonement?
**
St. Ambrose of Milan

St. Athanasius

St. Augustine of Hippo**

I’m not looking for “universal salvation” obviously, not. That’s not what’s implied by “universal atonement”, I’m interested in things that would be contrary to the Calvinist view of Limited Atonement, where Christ only died ultimately for the elect.

Maybe not a big topic in that era, I know there were different views on the Atonement, mainly centered around a “mystical” view of the Incarnation. But surely there’s something… thanks

Rob


#2

Maybe a quote from John Paul 2 will help give you a better idea of what I mean by Christ being united to all men in the Incarnation and that having a universal effect in the Atonement…

From “Redemptor Hominis” sect. 13

the Church of our time must follow, in accordance with the wisdom of Pope Paul VI86, one single way: it is the way that has stood the test of centuries and it is also the way of the future. Christ the Lord indicated this way especially, when, as the Council teaches, "by his Incarnation, he, the Son of God, in a certain way*** united himself with each man**"

*We are not dealing with the “abstract” man, but the real, “concrete”, “historical” man. We are dealing with “each” man, for each one is included in the mystery of the Redemption and with each one Christ has united himself for ever through this mystery.

-this is “each” man, “the most concrete” man, “the most real”; this is man in all the fullness of the mystery in which he has become a sharer in Jesus Christ, the mystery in which** each one of the four thousand million human beings living on our planet has become a sharer from the moment he is conceived beneath the heart of his mother.**

Please note, I’m not disputing anything!! I’m just asking for Church Father quotes, especially from those 3 men, or others at or before them, that are against any “Calvinist Limited Atonement” idea.


#3

[quote=Reformed Rob]Early Church Father quotes on related to the atonement, anyone have a web article, or preferably like some works by one/some of the following men, that give insight to their view of the extent of the atonement?
**
St. Ambrose of Milan

St. Athanasius

St. Augustine of Hippo**

I’m not looking for “universal salvation” obviously, not. That’s not what’s implied by “universal atonement”, I’m interested in things that would be contrary to the Calvinist view of Limited Atonement, where Christ only died ultimately for the elect.

Maybe not a big topic in that era, I know there were different views on the Atonement, mainly centered around a “mystical” view of the Incarnation. But surely there’s something… thanks

Rob
[/quote]

Actually, if memory serves, the Early Church Father who covered this most thorougly was St. Ireneaus (sp?) of Lyon, who was martyred in AD 202 (and who was a disciple of St. Polycarp). He taught what would now be known as the “Christus Victor” model of the Atonement (which, again, if memory serves, Karl Barth would not have rejected out of hand).

St. Anslem developed his “satisfaction” model, which was taken by Protestants, esp. by Calvininsts and developed (into directions St. Anselm may well have trembeled at) the “Substitutionary” model, which has further degenerated into the “Penal Substitutionary” model prevelant amongst “Word Faith” televangelists (like Kenneth Copeland, etc.)

But as far as I know, St. Ireneaus, with his “Christus Victor” model was the first major Church Father to address the issue.

Blessings,


#4

[quote=David Zampino]Actually, if memory serves, the Early Church Father who covered this most thorougly was St. Ireneaus (sp?) of Lyon, who was martyred in AD 202 (and who was a disciple of St. Polycarp). He taught what would now be known as the “Christus Victor” model of the Atonement (which, again, if memory serves, Karl Barth would not have rejected out of hand).

St. Anslem developed his “satisfaction” model, which was taken by Protestants, esp. by Calvininsts and developed (into directions St. Anselm may well have trembeled at) the “Substitutionary” model, which has further degenerated into the “Penal Substitutionary” model prevelant amongst “Word Faith” televangelists (like Kenneth Copeland, etc.)

But as far as I know, St. Ireneaus, with his “Christus Victor” model was the first major Church Father to address the issue.

Blessings,
[/quote]

Ok, thanks Mr. Zampino. Are you related to the “Great Zampino?”

Or is that another Zampino entirely??

Yeah, I seem to remember something about what you’re saying about Irenaus from the “Early Christian Doctrines” book by JND Kelly. That’s worth following up on, St. Irenaus. Yep, it’s got citations where he talks about it. And Ambrose and Athanasius too!

Thanks,

Rob


#5

Ok, what’s this about supposedly St. Augustine teaching something like a “Limited” view of the atonement?

I know from Trent, the fruits of the atonement are ultimately limited to those (salvifically) “to whom the merit of His passion is communicated.” That’s session 6, ch.3.

** But, though He died for all, yet do not all receive the benefit of His ** death, but those only unto whom the merit of His passion is communicated.

But, generally speaking, we can’t understand them to be limited in scope, like, because He died for all that all may be saved.

Anyways, what’s this about Augustine?? I know whatever “Limited Atonement” view he may or may not have held, then it would by no means fit a modern Calvinist system. I’m not falling for that, even if, like, Scott Hahn told me. Like he would ever say that, and to me, but you know!! I’d be like, “yeah, and sit down on this whoopee cushion.”

Oh my, it’s late, gotta go! :sleep:


#6

[quote=Reformed Rob]Early Church Father quotes on related to the atonement, anyone have a web article, or preferably like some works by one/some of the following men, that give insight to their view of the extent of the atonement?

St. Ambrose of Milan

St. Athanasius

St. Augustine of Hippo

I’m not looking for “universal salvation” obviously, not. That’s not what’s implied by “universal atonement”, I’m interested in things that would be contrary to the Calvinist view of Limited Atonement, where Christ only died ultimately for the elect.

Maybe not a big topic in that era, I know there were different views on the Atonement, mainly centered around a “mystical” view of the Incarnation. But surely there’s something… thanks

Rob
[/quote]

You can see that in the bible. I was just in a discussion with a calvinist that was professing the limited atonement. There are several verses that explicitly say that Christ died for ALL men, not just a select few. It can not be denied that He died for all. But to answer your question, here are some quotes from Chrysostom.

Ver. 6. “Who gave Himself a ransom for all to be testified in due time.”

Was Christ then a ransom for the Heathen? Undoubtedly Christ died even for Heathen; and you cannot bear to pray for them. Why then, you ask, did they not believe? Because they would not: but His part was done. His suffering was a “Testimony,” he says; for He came, it is meant, “to bear witness to the truth” of the Father, and was slain. Thus not only the Father bore witness to Him, but He to the Father. “For I came,” He saith, “in my Father’s name.” (John v.

newadvent.org/fathers/230607.htm

“That by the grace of God He should taste death for every man,” not for the faithful only, but even for the whole world: for He indeed died for all; But what if all have not believed? He hath fulfilled His own [part].

Moreover he said rightly “taste death for every man,” he did not say “die.” For as if He really was tasting it, when He had spent a little time therein, He immediately arose.

newadvent.org/fathers/240204.htm


#7

[quote=Reformed Rob]Ok, thanks Mr. Zampino. Are you related to the “Great Zampino?”

Or is that another Zampino entirely??

[/quote]

I’m not quite sure who the “Great Zampino” is! :slight_smile:

But there aren’t that many Zampinos out there! :slight_smile:


#8

[quote=jimmy]You can see that in the bible. I was just in a discussion with a calvinist that was professing the limited atonement. There are several verses that explicitly say that Christ died for ALL men, not just a select few. It can not be denied that He died for all. But to answer your question, here are some quotes from Chrysostom.Ver. 6. “Who gave Himself a ransom for all to be testified in due time.”

Was Christ then a ransom for the Heathen? Undoubtedly Christ died even for Heathen; and you cannot bear to pray for them. Why then, you ask, did they not believe? Because they would not: but His part was done. His suffering was a “Testimony,” he says; for He came, it is meant, “to bear witness to the truth” of the Father, and was slain. Thus not only the Father bore witness to Him, but He to the Father. “For I came,” He saith, “in my Father’s name.” (John v.

[/quote]

Hey, thanks a million Jimmy.

Do you think that the Calvinist system is perhaps very consistent, in a self-referential way?

Like, it’s very well thought through I think, and they (I was one of “them” for a few years) have thought through all the difficulties we bring up.

However, 2 passages that I was never able to reconcile with the Calvinist system, without incredible leaps of doubt, I mean, I could perhaps “dummy” down and reconcile it, but I would have a hard time seriously believing it. The texts are

Colossians 1:21-23

And you, that were sometime alienated and enemies in your mind by wicked works, yet now hath he reconciled in the body of his flesh through death, to present you holy and unblameable and unreproveable in his sight: if ye continue in the faith grounded and settled, and be not moved away from the hope of the gospel, which ye have heard, and which was preached to every creature which is under heaven; whereof I Paul am made a minister;

And** Hebrews 10:29-36

** Of how much sorer punishment, suppose ye, shall he be thought worthy, who hath trodden under foot the Son of God, and hath counted the blood of the covenant, wherewith he was sanctified, an unholy thing, and hath done despite unto the Spirit of grace? For we know him that hath said, Vengeance belongeth unto me, I will recompense, saith the Lord. For ye have need of patience, that, after ye have done the will of God, ye might receive the promise. For yet a little while, and he that shall come will come, and will not tarry. Now the just shall live by faith: but if any man draw back, my soul shall have no pleasure in him. But we are not of them who draw back unto perdition; but of them that believe to the saving of the soul.


#9

[quote=Reformed Rob]Hey, thanks a million Jimmy.

Do you think that the Calvinist system is perhaps very consistent, in a self-referential way?

Like, it’s very well thought through I think, and they (I was one of “them” for a few years) have thought through all the difficulties we bring up.

However, 2 passages that I was never able to reconcile with the Calvinist system, without incredible leaps of doubt, I mean, I could perhaps “dummy” down and reconcile it, but I would have a hard time seriously believing it. The texts are

Colossians 1:21-23

And you, that were sometime alienated and enemies in your mind by wicked works, yet now hath he reconciled in the body of his flesh through death, to present you holy and unblameable and unreproveable in his sight: if ye continue in the faith grounded and settled, and be not moved away from the hope of the gospel, which ye have heard, and which was preached to every creature which is under heaven; whereof I Paul am made a minister;

And** Hebrews 10:29-36**

Of how much sorer punishment, suppose ye, shall he be thought worthy, who hath trodden under foot the Son of God, and hath counted the blood of the covenant, wherewith he was sanctified, an unholy thing, and hath done despite unto the Spirit of grace? For we know him that hath said, Vengeance belongeth unto me, I will recompense, saith the Lord. **For ye have need of patience, that, after ye have done the will of God, ye might receive the promise. **For yet a little while, and he that shall come will come, and will not tarry. Now the just shall live by faith: but if any man draw back, my soul shall have no pleasure in him. But we are not of them who draw back unto perdition; but of them that believe to the saving of the soul.
[/quote]

I think some of it is thought out well but some is not. In the discussion I have been in the guy has said that God does not love everyone and He hates some. He only died for those He loved. That is blasphemy against God. The idea that God could hate makes Him less perfect and consequently invalidates the arguement.

I think they have to ignore a lot to believe what they do. The verses that Chrysostom is commenting on in those two homilies are just two examples.


#10

Hello, a lone Orthodox voice here…

As I often recommend when this topic comes along, I would recommend a reading of Carmen Fragapane’s article
[font=Times New Roman][size=6]SALVATION BY CHRIST: [font=Times New Roman] Orthodoxy’s Teaching of Theosis and the Doctrine of Salvation." [/font][/size][/font]
[font=Book Antiqua][size=3][/size][/font]
For all its brevity it is a good and thorough article which lays out the much broader patristic concept of salvation than simply ‘atonement.’

[size=4][size=2]orthodoxinfo.com/inquirers/frag_salv.htm[/size][/size]

Excerpts:

Secondly, the notion that redemption should be rigidly interpreted in one particular way is itself foreign to early Christian thought:

“The seven ecumenical councils avoided defining salvation through any [one model] alone. No universal Christian consensus demands that one view of salvation includes or excludes all others” [41].

J.N.D. Kelly further explains: “Scholars have often despaired of discovering any single unifying thought in the Patristic teaching about the redemption. These various theories, however, despite appearances, should not be regarded as in fact mutually incompatible. They were all of them attempts to elucidate the same great truth from different angles; their superficial divergences are often due to the different Biblical images from which they started, and there is no logical reason why, carefully stated, they should not be regarded as complimentary” [42].

And this is precisely what we find in Orthodoxy: “While insisting in this way upon the unity of Christ’s saving economy, the Orthodox Church has never formally endorsed any particular theory of atonement. The Greek Fathers, following the New Testament, employ a rich variety of images to describe what the Savior has done for us. These models are not mutually exclusive; on the contrary, each needs to be balanced by the others. Five models stand out in particular: teacher, sacrifice, ransom, victory and participation” [43].

“…In EH Jones writes that in Orthodoxy “discussions of substitutionary atonement and propitiation are virtually absent from their published explanations of salvation.” Of course, the reader is meant to interpret this statement as a virtual denial of these themes, but a more informed understanding would instead reveal that Orthodoxy possesses a much broader conception of salvation than that found in traditional Western Christian thought.”
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#11

Also there is this short essay:

[font=Times New Roman][size=5]Why Eastern Christianity has rejected Atonement[/size][/font]

[font=Times New Roman][size=3]"Western Christians would do well to consult the writings of their fellow Christians from the Eastern tradition. The Eastern Church never really liked the notion of atonement, and has in fact rejected it. Many early Greek fathers, taught that the whole purpose of Christ coming to earth was to launch the process of deification for the whole universe. They taught that ‘Adam’ had nothing to do with it, and even if Adam hadn’t sinned, Christ would had come anyway, since the meaning of life is the deification of all things. No need for atonement therefore. The greatest Greek fathers repudiated notions like “wrath of God”.

"This is what the great Eastern Orthodox teacher Nicholas A. Berdyaev wrote:

“The Christian world doesn’t know Orthodoxy too well. It only knows the external and for the most part, the negative features of the Orthodox Church and not the inner spiritual treasure… At its apex, Orthodoxy understands the purpose of life as the seeking and the attainment of the grace of the Holy Spirit, as a means of the spiritual transfiguration of creation. This understanding is essentially opposite of the legalistic understanding in which the Divine world and the supernatural world is the law and the norm for the created and natural world. Christ’s appearance has a cosmic, cosmogonic significance; it signifies somehow a new creation, a new day of the world’s creation. The juridical understanding of redemption as a carrying out of a judicial process between God and man, is somewhat foreign to Orthodoxy…”

He adds: “It is closer to an ontological and a cosmic understanding of the appearance of a new creation and a renewed mankind. The idea of Theosis was the central and correct idea, the Deification of man and of the whole created world. Salvation is that Deification. And the whole created world, the whole cosmos is subject to Deification. Salvation is the enlightenment and transfiguration of creation and not a juridical justification. Orthodoxy turns to the mystery of the RESURRECTION as the summit and the final aim of Christianity Thus the central feast in the life of the Orthodox Church is the feast of Pascha, Christ’s Glorious Resurrection. The shining rays of the Resurrection permeates the Orthodox world. The feast of the Resurrection has an immeasurably greater significance in the Orthodox liturgy than in Catholicism where the apex is the feast of the Birth of Christ. In Catholicism we primarily meet the crucified Christ and in Orthodoxy - the Resurrected Christ. The way of the Cross is man’s path but it leads man, along with the rest of the world, towards the Resurrection. The mystery of the Crucifixion may be hidden behind the mystery of the Resurrection. But the mystery of the Resurrection is the utmost mystery of Orthodoxy. The Resurrection mystery is not only for man, it is cosmic. The East is always more cosmic than the West…”

And the punchline: **“The spiritual basis of Orthodoxy engenders a desire for universal salvation. Salvation is understood not only as an individual one but a collective one, along with the whole world. Such words of Thomas Aquinas could not have emanated from Orthodoxy’s bosom, who said that the righteous person in paradise will delight himself with the suffering of sinners in hell. Nor could Orthodoxy proclaim the teaching about predestination, not only in the extreme Calvinist form but in the form imagined by the Blessed Augustine. The greater part of Eastern teachers of the Church, from Clement of Alexandria to Maximus the Confessor, were supporters of Apokatastasis, of universal salvation and resurrection. And this is characteristic of (contemporary) Russian religious thought. Orthodox thought has never been suppressed by the idea of Divine justice and it never forgot the idea of Divine love. Chiefly - it did not define man from the point of view of Divine justice but from the idea of transfiguration and Deification of man and cosmos…” **

( THE TRUTH OF ORTHODOXY, by Nicholas A. Berdyaev, In " Vestnik of the Russian West European Patriarchal Exarchate "- Paris 1952: stphilaret.ru/orthodoxy.htm )

And now I should move back to my normal home in the Eastern Christianity Forum, and hope that these two messages will at least intrigue you and let you see that there is in the Eastern Churches a way of thinking about salvation which is radically different to Western thought, whether Catholic or Protestant.

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#12

[quote=Reformed Rob]Anyways, what’s this about Augustine?? I know whatever “Limited Atonement” view he may or may not have held, then it would by no means fit a modern Calvinist system. I’m not falling for that, even if, like, Scott Hahn told me. Like he would ever say that, and to me, but you know!! I’d be like, “yeah, and sit down on this whoopee cushion.”
[/quote]

Saint Augustine has a myriad of theological errors and unfortunaly this is one of them and the least attractive of them. He taught that mankind is a massa damnata and damnabilis. Calvin’s teachings on this point, limited atonement, divine election in an almost capricious way, pretty much line up with Augustine’s.

Here is an extract from

ST. AUGUSTINE ON GRACE AND PREDESTINATION
by Fr. William Most

"…The Eastern Fathers, absolutely all of them, and Westerners before Augustine, and even after him, saw that there is no reprobation, not even negative, except in consideration of demerits. Augustine did not see that, and the unfortunate massa damnata theory, which said the whole human race by original sin became a massa damnata et damnabilis: God could throw the whole damned race into hell for original sin alone, without waiting for any personal sin.

"God wanted to display mercy and justice. To display mercy, He chose a small percent to rescue; the rest He deserted and so they would go to hell.

"He thought God picked those to rescue blindly, without any consideration of how they lived. He picked them not that He had any love for them, but merely to make a point. Augustine did not see it, but that was a denial of God’s love. For to love is to will good to another for the other’s sake. If I will good to another not for that other’s sake, but for some outside purpose of mine, I am not loving that person, but using him.

"So in that theory, God does not really love anyone, He merely uses the few for His own purposes, not for their sake. Hence, as we shall son see, he explicitly denied several times that "God wills all to be saved: (1 Tim 2:4) . He even said, as we shall soon see below, that it means nothing to God that most persons are damned, without a chance.

“Of course Augustine did not see this fact, or he would surely have stayed away from his theory. Actually, as we shall see later on, in about six places he implies the opposite of that theory, when his sense of God’s goodness took over his thinking…”

For the full essay see

ewtn.com/library/THEOLOGY/AUGUSTIN.htm


#13

Yeah, Fr. Ambrose,

Thanks for hopping over here for a while!!

I’d searched for this topic, and saw that you had cameo’d in a few related threads on atonement issues.

Hmmmm, yeah, I’ve been reading about it some recently. From what I read in J.N.D. Kelly’s book “Early Christian Doctrines” (Christ’s Saving Work) and some Fathers like Augustine, Ambrose, Athanasius (especially Athanasius) I’ve seen that it’s linked pretty tightly, in their eyes, to the Incarnation. Well, I may have known that already, from being Presbyterian at a church that taught the Reformed faith. But, it’s pretty cool seeing early church views on it. Taken by itself, it could be like “universal salvation” which, well, some people are led there, but probably not by reading the Early Church Fathers and studying the Incarnation. I certainly don’t see it being a leading current view in either East or West… who knows though, 300 years from now???

The New Advent article “Atonement” was decent, for an intro. I’ll try to check out some of those articles you linked. I’ll understand better if I do that.

Thanks


#14

Sorry Fr. Ambose,

The link to Augustine and Predestination worked, but the other 2 didn’t work. Well, one totally didn’t work, and the other came up to a small page in another language.

Sorry!! I tried


#15

How does this contradict atonement? Atonement merely means to make one. In this case, with God.


#16

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