new series: source documents

This is kind of a recurring hope I had: highlighting portions of original,primary documents from time to time to see how we got here and learn from it. Really it's just a quote of the day, largely by religious dead people., and I would like to be better versed in what the church fathers said to better understand where we are now. Today, one of my favorites, Irenaeus:

"..therefore the Word of God (Christ), mighty in all things, and not lacking in his own justice, acted justly even in the encounter with the Apostasy (Satan) itself, ransoming from it that which was his own, not by force, in the way in which it secured the sway over us at the beginning, snatching insatiably what was not its own; but by persuasion, as it became God to receive what he wished; by persuasion, not by the use of force, that the principles of justice might not be infringed, and, at the same time, that God's original creation might not perish. Irenaeus, Adv. haer. v.i.1."

Writing about the ransom theory of atonement, Irenaeus explains how Christ redeemed humanity, snaring the devil in a kind of ego trap ("kill me, let the rest go, and you become the #1 guy since I will assuredly stay dead, right...") What grabbed my attention though are two values that underwrite his argumentation: 1) that justice is upheld peacefully and 2) that creation does not perish. These are striking constraints to place on how the atonement took place. He expects the justice of God demands nonviolence, a viewpoint which does not seem consonant with how we pursue justice frequently. This value for peace, for a non-usurping or presuming justice seems seems consonant with the second value, that creation live. It's a different view of atonement rooted in a kind of beatific vision and life that I miss sometimes in other discussions.


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