Monday, April 10, 2006

What was accomplished at the Cross?


(1) Considered from a Teleological Perspective: Christ the second Adam is the fountainhead of a new humanity and the true manifestation and realization of the Imago Dei.

The event of the Incarnation -- considered comprehensively as the paschal mystery of Christ’s assumption of human nature, his perfect life of obedience, his death by crucifixion, his resurrection and ascension -- constitutes both the reparation and the realization in Christ of the intended purpose of humankind. At the Cross and Resurrection, Christ defeats our mortality (manifested in sin and death) by putting to death the “old Adam,” and by raising it anew on the third day, and then ascending as the second Adam to the Right Hand of the Father. Humanity now reigns in heaven with God in Christ.

(2) Considered from a Legal Perspective: Christ our representative removes the liability of the flesh by fulfilling the creation covenant, thus restoring rectitude (i.e., righteousness) to our nature in his Person.

Just as through rebellion and disobedience our Adamic nature is implicated in and made liable to sin and mortality, so through Christ's obedience the liability of our mortal nature is removed and humanity is restored to a right standing and given the gift of life. This righteousness, however, is no mere declaration of a legal standing rooted in the fiction of imputation. Rather it is a righteousness truly effected in humanity in the Person of Christ. Those who are in Christ are made participants in his new humanity.

(3) Considered from a Juridical Perspective: Christ our vicar assumes our place in judgment, and thus exacts the propitiation and expiation of our sins.

All sinners merit wrath, judgment, and rejection (eternal separation from God), but Jesus the Lamb of God is chosen from the foundation of the world to bear this judgment in his Divine Person. However, this propitiation is not to be considered in terms of “third-party substitution,” where it is supposed that God (the first party) is victim, Humankind (the second party) is the guilty criminal, and Christ (the innocent third party) is the recipient of the judgment justly due to the criminal. Rather, the legal basis upon which this substitution takes place is that the Divine Victim (God in Christ) assumes all costs of reparation for the crime, rendering the atonement an act of pure mercy and grace rather than the exacting of a “just” punishment.

(4) Considered from a Moral-Influence Perspective: Christ our exemplar demonstates God's disposition towards humankind.

The Cross of Christ demonstates the depths of human sin and the judgment due to sin while at the same time demonstrating to humankind the depths of God’s mercy by forming a radical contrast between judgment and God’s disposition to humankind realized in the forgiveness of sinners. This demonstration is rooted in the love of God for humankind, and is thus a potent force to move our hearts, touch our consciences, and reform our lives.

8 comments:

Mark said...

Hope I'll be forgiven for posting questions instead of comments.

If the second Adam is "the fountainhead of a new humanity and the true manifestation and realization of the Imago Dei", doesn't it follow that the atonement is of universal scope? The "event of the incarnation", after all, "constitutes both the reparation and the realization in Christ of the intended purpose of mankind". ( I'm also thinking in terms of the Chalcedonian definition stating that Christ is "consubstantial with us as regards his humanity, like us in all respects, except for sin" ). In addition, the cross of Christ is demonstrative of "the love of God for humankind".

-Mark

lexorandi2 said...

Yes, indeed. The atonement is of universal scope and extent. In view of the incarnation, what is REAL about humankind is Christ crucified, risen, and reigning. What is UNREAL about humankind and is destined to pass away is human sin and death.

Dan

Mark said...

Another question, if you please:

Since the incarnation was necessary for both the reparation of our fallenness, and the realization of "the intended purpose of human kind"-said purpose presuming the beatific vision-doesn't this posit a sheer necessity for the incarnation- even if man had never fallen?

-Mark

lexorandi2 said...

In a word, yes. Ironically, such a view of the atonement is more "supralapsarian" than hyper-Calvinism.

Dan

Mark said...

One final question and then I'll shut up.
( note: what follows is somewhat tangential as regards the original post )

Christ, the second, or "last" Adam, is "the fountainhead of a new humanity and the true manifestation and realization of the Imago Dei". Those "who are in Christ" constitute the body of this humanity by a real participation by grace in the new and REAL humanity that Christ assumed, redeemed and raised anew in "the event of the incarnation".

Christ's assumption of our human nature thus implies a universal scope and extent to the atonement, partly because he was made "consubstantial" with us men as regards his humanity. The Christology of the Athanasian Creed, however, is even more specific:
" The Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of God, is God and Man"...and Man of the substance of his Mother". Taking the Chalcedonian and Athanasian formulae together, one could say that Christ became consubstantial with all men( hence, he is indeed the "second Adam" in the most comprehensive sense ) but only through the particularized humanity he recieved from His Jewish, virgin Mother.

The Athanasian Christology implies as much, it would seem, since it posits a definite consubstantiality between the humanity of Christ and that of Mary: " Of the substance of His Mother, born in the world".

The ramifications of this for the Church- seen as "the Israel of God"-might suggest that Mary is, in some sense, her mother, both collectively and individually; for she conceived and gave birth to Christ, the Vine; Christ the true Israel, into whose humanity ( a Jewish humanity he recieved from His Mother ) all Christians are incorporated by grace, thus making them His brothers.

But since it is true that Christ's humanity is consubstantial with all men, does this imply some extra-ecclesial importance for Mary as well?

I fear that my speculations/questions about Mary's ecclesial and non-ecclesial roles are convoluted, without historical precedence and suffer from an amatuerish handling of biblical typology- I am not well-versed in the historical Marian doctrines. That said, is there anything Iv'e written here of relevance, or am I completely out in left field?

-Mark

lexorandi2 said...

For precedence, "Our Lady of All Nations," and "Mary, the Mother of All People," come to mind. But these titles are usually associated with some versions of extreme Roman Marian piety, e.g., the kind usually involving apparitions of the Blessed Mother.

Dan

CSPellot said...

Dr D,

Found your blog through my daily stops at Faith and Theology. When I started reading Ben Myers' blog some time back, his down-to-earthness reminded me of you (believe it not).
Good to know you have your own official spot in the blogosphere. Assuming this is your first blog, it was long time due.

Already enjoying the read,

Carlos

lexorandi2 said...

Good to hear from you, Carlos. Thanks for stopping by!

Dan