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Saturday, June 10

I Bind Unto Myself Today


At heart in so many of the 'Jesus fad' discussion is if Jesus ever claimed to be God or the Son of God. John 8:58 seems obvious enough for me.

The early Christians not only believed that the New Testament taught the divinity of Christ and hence, the doctrine of the Trinity, they also experienced God in a Trinitarian way. God the Father was 'above' them, God the Son was 'with' them in the person of Jesus, and God the Holy Spirit was 'within' them, making them a new creation.

What puts us at odds with Judaism and Islam (Mohammed in the Koran says, 'if Allah had a Son, I would be the first to worship him'), is our insistance that God is one yet three, and that indeed God's greatest act was to become one of us.

So much of Protestant reflection on salvation has wrongly put Jesus at odds with his Father. In other words, God anger with us was taken out on Jesus. However, the Trinity and the Incarnation of the Son of God show us a God who is not angry, but who is reaching out to us, even before we reach for him.

A Blessed Trinity Sunday+

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13 Comments:

  1. Anonymous Morpheus said...

    Jesus at odds with God is Janus faced, isn't it? What is the atonement, then? Atone to whom for what? As I understand it, God himself was the only sacrifice sufficient to atone for all the sins of the world. Therefore, He sent Himself to the cross for us. Where am I off here?

    10:44 AM, June 12, 2006  
  2. Anonymous Scott Eaton said...

    Hey Neo,

    It almost sounds like you have a "New Perspective" on the atonement. Are you saying that the wrath of God was not laid upon Jesus? Are you saying that God was not pouring out his anger upon his Son?

    It seems to me to hold to the position that God did indeed pour out his anger and wrath upon his Son does not place Jesus and the Father at odds. This was a plan that was mutually agreed upon within the Triune Godhead.

    God was not ever angry with his Son. Remember the words of the Father at Jesus baptism, "This is my beloved Son with whom I am well pleased." Also Paul speaks highly of the sacrifice of Christ in Philippians 2. God did pour out his wrath and anger upon Jesus, but not because he was angry with Jesus. But because he desired to redeem us. This was God's greatest act of love and mercy. As John the Apostle says, "How great is the love the Father has lavished upon us that we should be called the children of God!"

    God poured his wrath out upon Jesus so he wouldn't pour it upon us. Why? Love.

    SE

    3:03 PM, June 13, 2006  
  3. Anonymous Anonymous said...

    God I can't believe does anything out of anger. If I have a car accident do I blame God for not protecting me from the accident, or question is HE trying to teach me something. NOt my will but your's Father. Trying to figure out why God does anything is kind of like the ant asking why I am spraying him with poison because he enter my house for food which is what he is destined to do.

    4:03 PM, June 13, 2006  
  4. Anonymous Morpheus said...

    Just talking here. I'm no theologian. I can see lots of indications in the bible that there is a Dies Irae aspect to God, which we may not understand but can't deny. Start with Adam's fall, then Cain's sin, then the flood and Noah, Lot and Soddom & Gemorrah (sp), etc. It just goes on and on. The anger seems to come from righteousness, not pique. Don't touch the ark, for example. The result is fatal. If that is insufficient, go to Kings and Judges and see the carnage. One angel, 135,000 enemy soldiers dead. Pharoah can tell you some stories, too, though God seems to have both hardened his heart and given him the consequences of his actions from the hardened heart?? Go to Jesus' anger and explain how you empty the temple of animals and merchants and money changers without a little fierce insistence, which certainly looks like His wrath. I think we are stuck with a very real, occasionally very insistent God of Wrath, jealous and righteous. Creation and destruction go hand in hand all the way, and God is over all. If we are grossed out, we can get over it. We can't substitute a more likable God, one with our sensibilities. We need to "fear" the one we have. Why? ... because "fear of God" is the beginning of wisdom.

    10:26 PM, June 14, 2006  
  5. Anonymous Anonymous said...

    I don't know, fear of our Father as a path to wisdom. Peter denied Christ out of fear, Peter condemned to death two of the new follower because of their disobedience or lack of faith in their Messiah. Maybe as the new awareness of their God in the old testment grew and was cultivated fear was a necessary control instrument to help along the path of their wisdom and insight into their creator.
    I don't think that our Father is asking the same path for this generation. My faith and knowledge of our Father has grown from as Father Neo mentioned though the graces of our Holy Spirit and I find that to be a gentle journey with some serious bumps every now and then.

    2:58 PM, June 15, 2006  
  6. Anonymous Morpheus said...

    I think Peter denied Christ out of fear for Him, not of Him. Peter didn't kill the couple holding out and lying to the body in Acts, though. As I remember, they were pole-axed by the Almighty. Maybe God can get angry?

    11:38 AM, June 16, 2006  
  7. Blogger fatherneo said...

    OK guys--here it is. Yes, God is holy. Yes God can be wrathful. Yes we need to fear him. Yes Jesus in some way 'died in our place.'

    The point I was making is that the Incarnation was not motivated out of wrath but salvation. The cross, while providing atonement for our sins, was not to assuage the Father, but to reveal his love. Not a sissified love, but a sacrificial and bloody love. Evil had its day against the Son, not the Father.

    As for 'theories' of the atonement, I think we make a mistake when we focus only on substitition or blood sacrifice, though those are surely biblical themes. Christus Victor is where I hang my hat. Christ is victorious over evil in evil's finest hours. The 'principalities' are conquered at Calvary.

    10:41 PM, June 16, 2006  
  8. Anonymous Morpheus said...

    Psalm 34 was good this morning. Thank you, Neo.

    6:53 AM, June 18, 2006  
  9. Anonymous Scott Eaton said...

    Neo,

    Do you think it is possible that there are many aspects to Christ's atoning work and that we tend to only focus upon one of those aspects? I think this is what you are getting at in your posts.

    This last year I was introduced to the idea of Christus Victor (through Robert Webber) and felt like I had an "Aha!" moment! This was an aspect of the work and ministry of Christ on the cross that I had never really considered.

    But is it not also true that God's wrath did need to be appeased? I would agree that this was a demonstration of God's love toward us (Romans 5:8). But does it not also say in Romans 5:9 that we have been saved by Jesus from "the wrath of God"? But then it goes on in the next verse to say, "For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, now that we are reconciled, shall we be saved by his life."

    It seems to me that in Romans 5:8-10 alone there are many aspects to the atoning work of Christ including the appeasement of God's wrath as well as the necessity of Christ's victory.

    What think ye?

    3:00 PM, June 20, 2006  
  10. Blogger Seraph said...

    Neo,
    Rome is burning and you are playing your theological fiddle. What the hell? Your denomination, once a proud, stately church, now looks like Unitarians in drag, what's up? You are an ECUSA priest right?

    8:34 PM, June 22, 2006  
  11. Blogger peggy said...

    May be a little late to comment but nice post Father! Simple, short and best of all full of the truth.

    I think I should also tell you that I am dropping in here from Stand Firm. I thought you might like to know that putting your link up is bringing in the visitors.

    BTW, understanding the Christus Victor aspect of the cross was a turning point in my faith too. Yes there are many orthodox theories of atonement. At my church we are taught that none of them is the only explaination and that all of them are ways of understanding a truth larger than all of them put together.

    I have my personal take on what Father is talking about. If we see that sin has its lawful consequences in the same way deciding to shoot a gun at ones own foot results inevitably in harm to the foot of the shooter, then we can see the hurricane of painful and awful consequences of all of our sins hurling at us in time from the barrel of our own guns. Christ Jesus, The Son of God, willingly stepped in front of those otherwise inevitable consequences and paid the price we should have paid for aiming our guns at ourselves and pulling the trigger over and over again. In this way he did pay the price for us not because of anger but out of love. All sin came down on him, hastened by the hatred and evil works of the devil and Christ suffered death and separation from the father and rose again in victory over evil and the devil for once and for all.

    He won the battle (Christus Victor) by taking the inevitable and just consequences of our sins upon himself.

    I dont see where an angry or vengeful God demanding that a price be paid is essential to the understanding of the sacrificial atonement being made by Christ on our behalf.

    If this is at all confusing I'm sorry. I'm just trying to help. If the good father's explaination isnt quite doing it for you I would recommend one of Frederica Matthews Green's essays. This one helped me out enormously and its nothing that a good Anglican pastor would disagree with. As far as i know Anglicanism is neither fixed or committed to just one theory of the atonement.

    http://www.frederica.com/writings/christs-death-a-rescue-mission-not-a-payment-for-sins.html

    9:07 PM, June 26, 2006  
  12. Blogger peggy said...

    I should add that God does hate sin and that is why he definitively defeated it for us with his own self.

    If anger payed a part it most likely was secondary to his Love and desire to rescue us. If we can hate something that is evil and desire to see the end of the suffering it causes without becoming ourselves full of anger, then how much more would God be controlled more by Love than anger as he undertook the necessary action to save us from self-destruction?

    I think that exclusive focus on the juridicial theory of the atonement without the balance of the other equally valid views on the subject does result in a picture of an angry, vengeful and unjust God taking it out on an innocent man. We lose a lot of people that way simply by omitting the whole of the story. We owe it to those we try to reach with the Gospel to tell them the whole story not just one part. We might find ourselves a bit more successful with thoughtful but unchurched people who only have a distorted off center view of the Cross.

    9:18 PM, June 26, 2006  
  13. Blogger jholder said...

    Peggy, You'd probably find it cool that Father Neo had Frederica come and give a four-lecture series about Lent at his parish last year...

    2:19 PM, July 07, 2006  

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