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Unread 03-01-2017, 09:46 PM   #1
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propitiation

Can someone explain this term to me simply?

1Jn 2:1 My little children, I am writing these things to you so that you may not sin. And if anyone sins, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous;
1Jn 2:2 and He Himself is the propitiation for our sins; and not for ours only, but also for those of the whole world.

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Unread 03-02-2017, 12:25 PM   #2
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To propitiate is basically to appease; often people translate or give another phrase like Christs "substitutionary atonement". The basic idea is that God requires a sacrifice of appeasement. Christ offered himself as that sacrifice.

Now, of course, that sounds a little weird, because we often don't think of God requiring sacrifice like other pagan gods. Like, God is angry, burn more goats!

This is where traditional theology clarifies that God required sacrifice insofar as it was connected to Christ's obedient life, substitutionary death, and victorious resurrection on our behalf. This is God's act of mercy, but it is also the very means by which he's appeased. God the just is satisfied to look on Christ and pardon me.
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Unread 03-02-2017, 01:43 PM   #3
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So basically God required a sacrifice for our sin. Jesus said "hold on I'll do it" and sacrificed himself as our propitiation?
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Unread 03-02-2017, 04:36 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dogfood View Post
So basically God required a sacrifice for our sin. Jesus said "hold on I'll do it" and sacrificed himself as our propitiation?
Sorta.

God the Father says, "I require appeasement, I love them and they cannot appease me, so I will send my Son." The Son says, "I love them, and they cannot appease, so I will go and make a way." The Spirit says, "I love them, and they cannot appease, so I will go and l ensure."

Kinda taking some license there with that one, but I think it preserves how they are not pitted against each other (the Son getting between the Father and us), nor is the Father lacking love (rather, it is out of love that he sent his Son).

Some people want to flatten all of our salvation in terms of appeasement. But Christ's work includes and is wider than just that notion. Those who reject the idea of appeasement are probably just over-correcting (and thereby throwing the baby out with the bathwater) an over emphasis in evangelical theology.
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Unread 03-02-2017, 04:38 PM   #5
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But yes, Christ our great high priest sacrificed himself as our propitiation.
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Unread 03-02-2017, 05:47 PM   #6
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So this is a tricky one.

The Church is indeed uncomfortable with the emphasis on penal substitution on the part of many of the Protestant sects. Certain sects (like the Calvinists) emphasize it more than others. But one must be careful - many Orthodox people pooh-pooh penal substitution without realizing that a kind of substitution is in fact taught in the Tradition - by many of the Fathers and indeed in the Holy Scriptures.

Where the Church would probably differ is the idea of the Father venting His wrath on the Son, and indeed turning away from Him on the Cross (as that hymn goes, 'how deep the pain of searing loss, the Father turns His face away...'). This doctrine is problematic because it divides the Trinity. If, for a period in time - if only a short one - the Son, eternally begotten of the Father before all ages and Who upholds the whole of Creation in the palm of His hand, was separated from the Father, the creation would wink out of existence. The implications for this doctrine are hugely problematic.

Christ did indeed die as a substitute for us (though this is not and should not be the dominant view of the Atonement). But his was not a substitution on which the wrath of God was vented, but rather, one which bore the consequences of sin for us (by dying) and whose blood became a sin-offering for us, expiating our sin - washing it away.

Indeed, expiation, depending on your translation, is one of the ways that the Greek word 'hilasterion' [ιλαστηριον] is translated. Some translations influenced by the theology of the Reformed sects use 'propitiation'. The differences between propitiation and expiation are pretty stark. Indeed, a propitiatory reading turns the sacrifice of Christ into an essentially pagan notion of appeasing an angry deity so that he does not kill us. Reading 'hilasterion' as 'expiation', conversely, means that Christ's blood became a sin offering for us - the same sin offering that in the Old Testament reminded the person offering the sacrifice that they deserved to die for their sin, but that blood - indeed, the Blood of Christ! - was being shed for them, washing away their sin and making them whiter than snow.

I'm sorry, athanatos, but your saying that God the Father requires appeasement - indeed, putting those words in His mouth - seems to me somewhat of a blasphemy, as though God were some cranky pagan deity requiring appeasement lest He kill us all. But He is not: God is He who changes not, who is slow to anger and quick to forgive, and our death comes about as a result of our lack of communion with Him because of our sin. Christ takes upon himself the consequences of that stepping out of communion and His blood washes us clean of our offenses.
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Unread 03-02-2017, 05:53 PM   #7
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(by the way, I cannot remember your name - can you remind me? It seems disrespectful to call somebody by their forum moniker when you've been introduced! )
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Unread 03-03-2017, 09:21 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by IsaactheSyrian View Post
I'm sorry, athanatos, but your saying that God the Father requires appeasement - indeed, putting those words in His mouth - seems to me somewhat of a blasphemy, as though God were some cranky pagan deity requiring appeasement lest He kill us all. But He is not: God is He who changes not, who is slow to anger and quick to forgive, and our death comes about as a result of our lack of communion with Him because of our sin. Christ takes upon himself the consequences of that stepping out of communion and His blood washes us clean of our offenses.
Please do me the favor of reading what I posted in toto, especially when you're leaning toward a charge of blasphemy. I think what you've said is a pretty unfair reading of what I have said thus far.
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Unread 03-03-2017, 02:59 PM   #9
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I still don't actually see how what you've said isn't basically paganism in a Christian dress. You're claiming that God the Father is so angry because of the demands of His 'justice' - whatever that means - that He is absolutely bound by necessity to vent His wrath on something.

While substitution - Christ's dying in our place - is clearly taught in the Holy Scriptures and expounded upon by the Fathers - I defy anyone to find me a place where that substitution is referred to as the Father venting His wrath on the Son. It's a subtle distinction, but a critical one.

Penal
substitution - the idea that God requires a sacrifice to appease His sense of honour or justice, which is basically what you're arguing, didn't show up until Anselm of Canterbury used the analogy to try to explain the Gospel to the (pagan) Anglo-Saxons, and in doing so, paganized the Gospel. Unfortunately, the entire Western Christian tradition, which had arrogantly separated itself from the Church because it wanted its Pope to be able to govern the whole Church, then seized upon an idea which had been absent from the teaching of the Church in the East or the West for a thousand years. The Roman Catholic church seized upon it, the Reformers took it up, and now it's become a mainstay of Protestantism. Only the Orthodox have maintained the proper emphasis.
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Unread 03-03-2017, 04:41 PM   #10
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I'm not a PSA guy, but here are some thoughts:

I'm not sure much justice is being done to penal substitution, especially as the accounts being given don't even spell it out fully. Any excision of the priority of grace is just a misreading of Calvin. He explicitly works out the logic of PSA such that grace is prior, and the emphasis is laid there, not solely, or merely, on God's wrath.

Furthermore: Poor Anselm! It is too bad he takes all the blame here, especially when his reckoning of the atonement is quite a few degrees different that Calvin's! His has, actually, very little to do with punishment of sins, and everything to do with the analogy of a vassal to his lord (a gifting action), and also of a lord to order, beauty, and justice (judicial and restorative).

As a last aside: I don't think it is anywhere near fair to characterise the PSA account of God as merely some 'cranky pagan deity.' That is, again, missing the priority of grace that Calvin emphasises and also ignores the centrality of the Trinitarian understanding of God in this atonement theory (also, it should be remembered that Calvin used several atonement images; he doesn't rely merely on PSA as some ultimate metaphor. It is one metaphor to be used among others, allowing for a fuller image of a sui generis event).

Further, it isn't as if Calvin or Anselm are drawing a picture of God that even presents him as 'angry' or 'cranky' in a pagan manner. The anger is directed toward sin, that which mars creation. A proper analogy would be the anger of a mother at seeing something abuse her child, or the anger of an artist at seeing his creation being destroyed by a drunken boob. This is a simultaneity of 'love' and 'anger', or at least a showing of how they are connected in an important way.
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Unread 03-03-2017, 05:56 PM   #11
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It seems to me that the whole purpose in sacrifice is missing in much of the discussion. I don't believe that the sacrifice is simply required as payment or something. Sacrifice is required in that it demonstrates a contrite heart. In the sacrifice, a person acknowledges that they have wronged and asks forgiveness. It is teaching by the Father.

I think that Christ's sacrifice should be seen in that light. Christ is a propitiation for our sins but necessarily as a fine that must be paid. Instead, it is faith in the blood of Christ that is a propitiation. It is acknowledgement of Christ's righteousness. It is understanding that we are the sinners. Christ is our perfect example. And his example is what we use to repent of our sins and ask forgiveness with a true and contrite heart.

Romans 3[24] Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus:
[25] Whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith in his blood, to declare his righteousness for the remission of sins that are past, through the forbearance of God;
[26] To declare, I say, at this time his righteousness: that he might be just, and the justifier of him which believeth in Jesus.
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Unread 03-07-2017, 03:25 AM   #12
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tlj009 (is there another moniker I can use?) - did you mean to say 'not necessarily as a fine that must be paid'?
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Unread 03-07-2017, 08:36 PM   #13
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Yeah sorry. It is tough on a phone sometimes.
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