Penal Substitution, Sola Fide and the New Docetism

Isaac Gutiérrez Pascual ©2010

Earlier this month I spoke about the cosmic importance of the Incarnation.  Today I’d like to build upon this reflection.  As I noted before, many Christians fail to see the Incarnation as the cosmic destiny or telos of Creation and, likewise, fail to see the work of Christ as including the sanctification, redemption, and renewal of the body and the physical/material world in general.  For many, the work of Christ is narrowly construed.  It was merely to satiate the wrath of God the Father so as to take away the punishment necessitated by sin (i.e., Penal Substitutionary Atonement).  This popular view of the atonement is accompanied by another important doctrine classically referred to as Sola Fide or “salvation by faith alone.”  It is this doctrine which teaches that belief—often understood as a sort of mental assent—in Jesus’ work on the cross is the sole means of our salvation.

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Divine Simplicity and Divine Energies

Credo ut Intelligam

The standard Catholic (Roman or Orthodox) understanding of the Divine Nature is that it is a simplicity. The standard complaint of the Orthodox against the Romans is that they make too much of this simplicity and forget entirely the Energies of God. That is, God is both Essence and Energies. This is highly technical and, as is often the case, confusing. I would like to offer some thoughts on perhaps understanding both positions in terms of each other, and perhaps thereby begin to show a synthesis.

What the Orthodox view seems to leave out, at least in the discussions I have had, is the act of God’s existence. Aquinas distinguishes real being as existence and essence. That is, the activity of existence and the whatness of essence. Real beings are “acting what-nots” to put it quasi-technically. This, it seems to me, is a wonderful insight. It is also, however, the…

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