Saturday, April 11, 2020

Matt Fradd, Pints With Aquinas # 200 | Andrew Swafford

Well... No.

CWR Dispatch: “They Killed Him”: Deicide and Holy Saturday by Dr. Leroy Huizenga
Why Holy Saturday started to hit me differently a few years ago
Many Christians in modernity, I think, have a conception of the crucifixion restricted to a legal version of penal substitutionary atonement: Our problem is guilt, for which God must punish us, but loving us and desiring to forgive us, God punishes Christ in our place.

True enough as far as it goes, but when compared to classical soteriologies, whether Orthodox, Catholic, or Protestant, it doesn’t go very far. 

Penal substitutionary atonement is not true at all, and worst of the satisfaction explanations of atonement.
The cross isn’t just a component in the economy of our salvation, something God needed to do to Christ to acquit us. The cross also reveals the hatred of the human race towards God. They killed him: God comes into the World in Jesus Christ, and Jew and Gentile conspire to cooperate in killing God for reasons of convenience.

The World stands guilty of deicide.

And so on Holy Saturday I feel generally sick to my stomach. The one man who could have helped us, we hammered him to a cross. And that means two things: Deep down, I’m capable of murder and I’m liable to being murdered. We mustn’t deceive ourselves about our capacity for sin, and that of others.

Most people have a theologia gloriae, a theology of glory in which we bypass the cross as we affirm ourselves and affirm God for affirming us in a circle of moral therapeutic deist bilge. True theology, as Luther so rightly and so often stressed, is a theologia crucis, a theology of the cross in which God’s murderers are saved by God through the very instrument of His murder. Our salvation cannot consist in self-improvement; our salvation consists in our own crucifixion.

Forget the Theotokos, the beloved disciple, the remaining apostles who fled and were in hiding, St. Mary Magdalene, Pilate's wife, Joseph of Arimathea, the women of Jerusalem crying in the streets... and probably there were many others as well. The whole entire world at that point in time, afterwards, and before, stood guilty of deicide? That is a bit of an exaggeration which might comport with certain tendencies in Western Christianity to pile on shame and create unnecessary guilt, but it isn't healthy. Is there any collective guilt because all of humanity is guilty of the crucifixion of Christ? Maybe some were guilty of indifference, others of fear, and so on. But not everyone else is guilty of killing or murdering Christ.

Now, one can say that we caused Christ to die, but not as an efficient cause but as a sort of final cause, in so far as Christ died (and chose to die) for us and our salvation. That is true. But that is not the same as having agency in killing Him.

Who isn't guilty of the sin of pride or disordered love? Only our Lord and the Theotokos are probably exempt from that one, and maybe St. John the Forerunner. With those exceptions, all are guilty of some sin worthy of death as a consequence (or a penalty, if you prefer). But that sin isn't necessarily the murder of Christ.

Who is guilty of killing God? Strictly speaking, maybe no one, as (the Son of) God, as divine, cannot be killed. The communication of idioms in this instance may be a bit tricky. Did those guilty of killing Christ believe He was God? It seems noi. They may have been culpable in rejecting the gift of belief that Christ is God, or culpable in denying that He was the Messiah. Does that make their sin formally "deicide"? I don't think so, even if  it could be argued that their sin was materially "deicide." Were they guilty of murdering a man innocent of any crimes against Roman law? Yes.

I don't see any awareness of non-Latin soteriology and theories of atonement in this essay, and I don't think anyone with such an awareness would have written something like this. This seems like the product of a Western Christian, and reveals what is problematic in certain strands of popular Western Christianity.

A Long Essay for Holy Saturday

CWR: This Holy Saturday: Social Distancing, Solitude, Healing by Brad Bursa, Ph.D.
Msgr. Luigi Giussani claims that “the only condition for being truly and faithfully religious…is to live always the real intensely.”i This line stays with me in these solitary days, when “the real” has become surreal. [...]

The author uses "death as isolation" as the first explanatory key, basing it on the writings of Joseph Ratzinger.
Following the Judeo-Christian tradition, Ratzinger does not view death in a one-sided manner, as if it were only an experience of bodily corruption that marks the end of one’s physical life. Instead, “death is present as the nothingness of an empty existence which ends up in a mere semblance of living.”v Ratzinger says, “Death is absolute loneliness…the loneliness into which love can no longer advance is — hell.”

The second explanatory principle is the definition of Person within the Trinity as "relation":

In God, in the Trinity, person is pure relativity, of being turned toward the other. The concept of person does not refer to substance, but to relationality. God’s substance is one, and person, as the “pure relativity of being turned toward the other” does not lie on the level of substance, but on the “level of dialogical reality.” Thus, Ratzinger concludes that relation is recognized as a third fundamental category “between substance and accident.”xvii Therefore, in and through Christian faith, theology manifests “the Christian newness of the personalistic idea in all its sharpness and clarity,” for “it was faith that gave birth to this idea of pure act, of pure relativity…it was faith that thereby brought the personal phenomenon into view.”xviii
Ratzinger argues that the early developments in Trinitarian understanding offer profound insight in the area of anthropology as well. For the human being to be made in God’s “image and likeness,” must, in some way mean that the human being is a personal being. In other words, the human being is “not a substance that closes itself in itself, but the phenomenon of complete relativity, which is, of course, realized in its entirety only in the one who is God, but which indicates the direction of all personal being.”xix The human being exists as a personal being, precisely because the human being is a spiritual being. God takes the basic material of earth and forms the human being, but human being only enters into existence after God breathes into the formed earth the breath of life. Now, “the divine reality enters in,” for “in the human being heaven and earth touch one another….the human being is directly related to God.”xx Based upon what has been developed in the area of Trinitarian theology, to be in God’s image, according to Ratzinger, “implies relationality,” setting “the human being in motion toward the totally Other”….“it means the capacity for relationship…the human capacity for God.”xxi To be in God’s image means to be personal, it means the human being has the capacity for a personal relationship with God and to exist as a personal being, as a social being, in relation to others human beings.
Is sociability a participation in the Divine? Can we say that primates participate in the Divine? Yes, but it may be foreign to some of us. All of His creation participates in God in its own way.

Would Byzantine Christians have any difficulty with using the Divine relations to enhance theological anthropology? I don't know.