Making Reparation for our (insert sin) vs. Penal Substitution

My understanding of the Catholic approach to Christ’s atoning sacrifice is that it was through His love for and obedience to God, even to the point of death on the cross, that we are restored in our relationship with Him. Because this was more pleasing to God than our sins are displeasing to God, we members of the Body of Christ are no longer condemned so long as we remain in Him.

Many Protestants, on the other hand, view the atoning sacrifice as Christ taking the wrath of God that we deserved upon Himself. This is often called the Penal Substitution theory of atonement.

I am not interested in arguing which of these interpretations is correct (not in this thread, at least). As a Catholic, my opinion on the matter should be obvious.

However, I am having some difficulty understanding how we Catholics are to make sense of the Catholic belief that:
“Christ suffered the scourging at the pillar to make reparation for our sins of the flesh,”

or that

“Christ suffered the humiliation of the crowning with thorns to make reparation for our pride”…

without taking some sort of the penal substitution approach.

I was trying to meditate on the Sorrowful Mysteries earlier and had a hard time doing so without wondering how this couldn’t be interpreted as “Christ taking on the punishment that we deserved.”

Or is such a statement not antithetical to Catholic theology to begin with?

Please help me understand this.

WinnerWolf:

However, I am having some difficulty understanding how we Catholics are to make sense of the Catholic belief that:
“Christ suffered the scourging at the pillar to make reparation for our sins of the flesh,”

or that

“Christ suffered the humiliation of the crowning with thorns to make reparation for our pride”…

without taking some sort of the penal substitution approach.

Because the Catholic view affirms this, but goes BEYOND IT as well.

Christ took upon Himself our nature in order to accomplish our salvation in it. But how?

The best way to think of this is to ask yourself WHY DID Christ take upon Himself our human nature?

Hopefully your knee-jerk answer to yourself will be . . .“To die for our sins”.

And that would be true.

But if you STOP there your answer would be incomplete.

To die for our sins to be sure. But also so we might know God’s love.

**But wait! There’s MORE! **

Jesus came to be an EXAMPLE for us.

And even more . . . .

Jesus came to “Divinize” mankind. Divinize us in the sense that we are gy grace, partakers of His very nature. In one sense, we are not Gods, but in another sense we are partakers of the very nature of God (by grace).

Here is how St. Peter sums up that last point . . . .

2nd PETER 1:3-4 3 His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us to his own glory and excellence, 4 by which he has granted to us his precious and very great promises, that through these you may escape from the corruption that is in the world because of passion, and become partakers of the divine nature.

The CCC unpacks these 4 aspects this way (italics original) . . . .

**I. WHY DID THE WORD BECOME FLESH? **

CCC 456 With the Nicene Creed, we answer by confessing: “For us men and for our salvation he came down from heaven; by the power of the Holy Spirit, he became incarnate of the Virgin Mary, and was made man.”

CCC 457 The Word became flesh for us in order to save us by reconciling us with God, who “loved us and sent his Son to be the expiation for our sins”: “the Father has sent his Son as the Savior of the world”, and “he was revealed to take away sins”:70

[INDENT]Sick, our nature demanded to be healed; fallen, to be raised up; dead, to rise again. We had lost the possession of the good; it was necessary for it to be given back to us. Closed in the darkness, it was necessary to bring us the light; captives, we awaited a Savior; prisoners, help; slaves, a liberator. Are these things minor or insignificant? Did they not move God to descend to human nature and visit it, since humanity was in so miserable and unhappy a state?71

CCC 458 The Word became flesh so that thus we might know God’s love: "In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent his only Son into the world, so that we might live through him."72 "For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life."73

CCC 459 The Word became flesh to be our model of holiness: “Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me.” "I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father, but by me."74 On the mountain of the Transfiguration, the Father commands: "Listen to him!"75 Jesus is the model for the Beatitudes and the norm of the new law: "Love one another as I have loved you."76 This love implies an effective offering of oneself, after his example.77

CCC 460 The Word became flesh to make us “partakers of the divine nature”:78 "For this is why the Word became man, and the Son of God became the Son of man: so that man, by entering into communion with the Word and thus receiving divine sonship, might become a son of God."79 "For the Son of God became man so that we might become God."80 "The only-begotten Son of God, wanting to make us sharers in his divinity, assumed our nature, so that he, made man, might make men gods."81 [/INDENT]

(For the appropriate Bible verses lookup the footnotes within the CCC and go to the corresponding verses.)

*[LIST]
]Jesus. Our expiation for our sins, reconciling us with God.
[/LIST]

*[LIST]
]Jesus. So that we might know God’s love.
[/LIST]

*[LIST]
]Jesus our model of holiness.
[/LIST]

*[LIST]
]Jesus makes us, partakers of the divine nature.
[/LIST]

Hope this all helps.

God bless.

Cathoholic

Do you believe that God the Father is fair and just? Do you believe that God the Father would require double payment for my sins?

If Christ took on the punishment for all men’s sins, the punishment for sin if eternal damnation, then Christ would not be in heaven.
If that would be true, then of Christ taking on our punishment, and God the Father not requiring a double payment for sin, all men would be in heaven.

But since all do not go to heaven, then Christ did not take on punishment for our sin. as, Christ is in heaven.
He appeased the Father so the Father is able to forgive us, because of Christ death and suffering. Christ continue’s to appease the Father thru the Marriage supper of the Lamb, He presents Him self to the Father as the slain Lamb of God. The perfect sacrifice.

My thoughts on this.

The reformation jettisoned the concept of temporal punishment due to sin.

St. Anselm’s theory is that sin causes the imbalance on “the scales of justice.” As God foretold in Genesis to Adam and Eve, what balances the imbalance on the scales is our death, for the wages of sin is death.

But, God provides a different kind of weight to balance the scales: the sacrifice of Jesus Christ.

Christ isn’t suffering our death for us, in this view, rather, he is replacing our death with something else: his.

Think of this like how, in our institutions of justice, many crimes may be paid for through money, or through jail time. Our sins are crimes that can be paid for by jail time (our death), or through money (the Cross). Christ is paying to get us out of needing to go to jail, he isn’t getting into jail for us!

Or, to use the analogy of the scales, the scale can be balanced out by either a rock (our death) or a piece of gold (the Cross). Christ isn’t putting another kind of rock to balance the scales! Both weights balance the scales, but the kind of thing each weight is, the nature of each weight, is very different, just like how rocks and gold are very different.

How different? Very! What is then the difference between these two weights? You already know: one is destruction through the hatred of and disobedience to God, putting oneself before God, so as to reject communion with God and neighbor, while the other is through His love for and obedience to God, even to the point of death on the cross, that we are restored in our relationship with Him.

Christi pax.

Hello,

Can you explain what you mean by “. Christ is paying to get us out of needing to go to jail, he isn’t getting into jail for us!”

This make me remember what some of my protestant friends told me.:

Once you are a believer, you do not need to worry about anything, as Christ is keeping me out of jail. When I go before God at my judgement, just plead the Blood of Christ, no matter what, you are in Heaven.

Then they proceeded to explain, that is why Purgatory is a non-biblical doctrine, as Christ is not going to let me go to jail.

I will get into heaven, but if my life style is not as good as it should be, I stop going to Church, drinking, etc: I will just loose rewards after I get into Heaven.

If this is not what you me, can you explain it further.

Thanks
Bill

The point of the analogy is to give an example of an injustice being able to be balanced out in more than one way. In our justice system, some crimes can be balanced out by paying a fine or serving jail time. Christ’s Cross is another way to balance out the imbalance of scales of justice from the whole us dying thing :wink:

Purgatory is about completing the work of purifying our souls from sin after death. Your friend is correct that all we need is the blood of the Lamb, but forgets the part about us washing our robes in it. Some stains take more time to come out than others.

Salvation is salvation from sin and our inclination towards it. A view of Christ’s Sacrifice that saves us without cleansing us from our sins and the desires of the flesh is thus incoherent.

Christi pax.

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