We are pleased to offer another guest post by blogger Mark Citadel.
In Gustav Aulén’s 1931 book Christ the Victor, he writes, “the work of Christ is first and foremost a victory over the powers which hold mankind in bondage: sin, death, and the devil.”
Such a concept is unsurprisingly alien to most Western readers who have for so long been believers in a very different theory of atonement, that is, what exactly occurred at the metaphysical level during our Savior’s crucifixion. While Aulén’s theory would not have been at all controversial before the turn of the first millennium after Christ, when the east and west were divided, the western portion of the Occident was heavily influenced by the works of St. Anselm of Canterbury and his book Cur Deus Homo?, which was published in 1097. It’s important we understand what this model puts forth.
According to the invaluable Online Etymology Dictionary, the English word “map” is derived from:
… Medieval Latin mappa mundi “map of the world;” first element from Latin mappa “napkin, cloth” (on which maps were drawn), “tablecloth, signal-cloth, flag,” said by Quintilian to be of Punic [i.e., Tyrian] origin (compare Talmudic Hebrew mappa, contraction of Mishnaic menaphah “a fluttering banner, streaming cloth”) + Latin mundi “of the world,” from mundus “universe, world” (see mundane).
Now this is interesting, because while the Old Testament refers to the firmament of the cosmos with the word raqiaà, meaning literally “extent” – apparently a merely abstract geometrical idea – it is described variously in scripture as like a crystalline tent or canopy (Isaiah 40:22, Ezekiel 1:22), or a scroll (Isaiah 34:4; Revelation 6:14). I.e., an expanse of fabric such as are used as a substrate for maps.
Jesus refers to himself often as the Son of Man (using the definite article). This title had always confused me. I thought that what distinguishes him from me and you – each of us likewise a child of men (note the indefinite article) – is that he is the son of God, and that this unique status formed the basis on which his ministry, his crucifixion, his Atonement for our sins, and so our redemption and salvation, all rested.
When Christ says in John 14:6 that he is the Way, the Truth, and the Light, he does not only mean that he is the Way to the Father. He means also that he – and the Father, and the Holy Spirit – are the way we are each doing whatever it is we are doing at any given moment. This is also, likewise, an aspect of what Paul means in Acts 17:28, when he says that in God we live, move and have our being. The being and power I am and have right this moment came just now from God, not per accidens, but per se (this origination per se being the forecondition for any causal origination per accidens). I certainly didn’t arrange for the existence and potentiality of this moment of my life to happen. I just find myself right here, right now. Which, when you think about it, is totally inexplicable, on creaturely terms. Thus all the power I exert right now, all the ways that I can act, are provided to me by God.
Everything that I am and have is derived from God’s creative act.
What will I do with this little bit of his being and power that, in making it out of nothing, Christ has given to me?
What is it like to live the life everlasting that is promised to Christians? The question has arisen in the last few days both over at View from the Right, where Lawrence Auster is contemplating his own incipient death with awesome magnanimity and serenity, and at Charlton’s Miscellany. Both Charlton and Auster make important points. I had reactions to both posts, so I figure it makes most sense to consolidate them here.
Consider Colossians 1:24, where Paul says,
[I w]ho now rejoice in my sufferings for you, and fill up that which is behind of the afflictions of Christ in my flesh for his body’s sake, which is the church.
That’s the KJV. The Greek translated as “that which is behind” or “that which is lacking” is τὰ ὑστερήματα (ta hysteremata), literally, “that which is lacking or empty.” The problem is, how can anything be lacking in Christ’s atonement – which is, after all, the perfect act of an omnipotent God?