Understanding Atonement and Redemption

It occurred to me after buying so many books on apologetics and philosophy that I only have a broad understanding of the Faith. I could look at a crucifix and “just know,” you know? But now, I look at a crucifix, and I am baffled. Why was the Christ crucified?

I have fundamental issues which prevent me from even understanding Atonement and Redemption. For example, I do not understand how Jesus’ death is a sacrifice - he was not presented before a sacrificial altar (thank goodness for that, too), he was arrested and put to death for crimes he did not commit. How is that a sacrifice? And what does it mean for a man to be a sacrifice, anyway? Does this not imply the human sacrifice of pagans that we abhor as servants of the one true God? Is the shedding of blood necessary for the remission of sin?

You must understand, even the notion of animal sacrifice is strange to me, so I am quite far from having the conceptual framework that is probably necessary to make sense of the theories you have outlined. This is why I think an understanding of Jewish beliefs and practices might be helpful. It also might be helpful to take a look at the typology which foreshadow Jesus - the Sacrifice of Isaac and the slaughtered lambs of Passover. I would take a look at these myself, but I am terrible without a guide.

So you see, I am really out of the loop on this one. Can anyone recommend a Catholic book on this topic?

I thought there were a number of good answers in the other thread of same topic.

As to a book, one that comes to mind is Robert Sungenis’ Not By Bread Alone that goes into the OT sacrifices, their nature and power, and their fulfillment in the NT.

The reason I dropped that thread is because my issues are much more fundamental that I cannot begin to understand the answers given. Do you know what I mean? I go into this in my original post, here.

I hear you.

Ahh Windfish, I feel the same way. I always thought of it as the ultimate form of the animal sacrifice - the cross is the altar, and God’s own suffering, blood, and death was the sacrifice. So he removes sin from all humanity, and his spirit frees the souls in hell and opens heaven before returning - perhaps the atonement is a brave last stand against all sin and the devil himself. The resurrection is to show, then, that even in the face of death itself, which the Jews believed was the ultimate end, the Son of God triumphed - he won! Ha ha!

I think that the shedding of blood was necessary in the old covenant. In the new coveanent, it’s not, and Jesus’ sacrifice - the ultimate one - was the last, because it forgave all sins, or at least made it possible. Maybe it’s human sacrifice, but I think of it as an exception due to his being God’s Son. Those who do it not for forgivingness, or to false Gods, as the now-deceased Myans did, were the ones who did it immorally. The Jews didn’t practice it unless they were directly told by God, and the only real case I can think of is Isaac who was protected anyway.

I think I rambled a lot, but maybe at least some of this can answer your questions.

It is my understanding that what you have written resembles the Protestant view, not the Catholic one. The Protestant view is “Penal Substitution” where Jesus took on our punishment in the face of God’s wrath - this is, apparently, not the Catholic view.

The crucifixion of Christ has, at times, been presented as a form of sacrificial substitution an in past liturgy. This is an artefact of the Jewish and tribal customs of offering animal sacrifices. The blood of the animal was deemed sacred and its burning was permitted divine acceptance of the sacrifice as it becomes smoke and dissipates. In Judaism, the sacrifice was accepted in place of the persons the lack of obedience to God’s laws so that they can continue to receive His grace within the promised covenant.

The requirement of Jesus having to die on the cross is solely a result of our rejection of his teachings. In order to complete his mission to us, Jesus would have to brave our refutation of him. Had we accepted Jesus and his teachings, Jesus would not have had to suffer crucifixion. Unfortunately, Jesus was rejected and was put do death for his work. The obedience Christ, his acceptance of this death on behalf of those who rejected God’s word (in essence disobeying God) is the act of redemption (atonement). God permitted Jesus to die, showing both God’s love and Jesus’ love of us.

To sum up, Christ’s death was not about “penal substitution” but about his enduring the pains of our rejection of him. Jesus was so faithful to God, he was willing to go so far as to die for us in the pursuit of his teachings. In order words, Jesus would continue to teach us, even if it meant torture and execution for doing so. What greater gift can one give that to knowingly lay your life for someone else’s salvation?

From google search -



Hope that helps!

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