Archive for the ‘Penal Substitutionary Atonement’ Tag

Feast of Gustaf Aulen and Anders Nygren (November 15)   1 comment

Above:  Flag of Sweden

Image in the Public Domain

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GUSTAF EMMANUEL HILDEBRAND AULÉN (MAY 15, 1879-1977)

teacher and colleague of

ANDERS THEODOR SAMUEL NYGREN (NOVEMBER 15, 1890-OCTOBER 20, 1978)

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SWEDISH LUTHERAN BISHOPS AND THEOLOGIANS

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After World War I, Neo-orthodoxy became a major theological movement in English-speaking Christianity.  A similar movement in Swedish-speaking Christianity at the same time was Lundensian theologyGustaf Aulén and Anders Nygren were architects of that theology.

Aulén, born in Sjungsby on May 15, 1879, became a minister, bishop, theologian, and liturgist.  He, an assistant professor at the University of Uppsala (1907-1913) then Professor of Systematic Theology at the University of Lund (1913-1933), founded the Swedish Theological Quarterly in 1925.  He remained on the editorial staff into his retirement.  While at Lund, he wrote influential works (later translated into English):  The Christian Conception of God (1927), Christus Victor (1930), and The Faith of the Christian Church (1932).  Aulén, a student of Nathan Söderblom (1866-1931) at Uppsala, favored the Classic Theory of the Atonement over Penal Substitutionary Atonement, which St. Anselm of Canterbury favored, and the Moral Exemplar Theory, which Peter Abelard favored.  Aulén also taught Nygren at Lund then served with him on the faculty.

Nygren, born in Gothenburg on November 15, 1890, had a lifelong fascination with philosophy that influenced his scholarly and theological work.  He, ordained in The Church of Sweden in 1912, left parish ministry nine years later.  In 1921 he received his doctorate from the University of Lund and became a lecturer there.  Three years later, he became Professor of Systematic Theology, serving until 1948.  Lundensian theology incorporated philosophical methods and perspectives for the purpose of seeking to engage in theology in a scientifically responsible manner.  Lundensian theology was also moderate, avoiding anti-intellectualism on the right and disregard for tradition on the left.  That philosophical background was evident in Nygren’s Agape and Eros (two volumes, 1930 and 1936), which argued that agape and eros are polar opposites.

Both Aulén and Nygren became bishops.  Aulén became the Bishop of Strängäs, serving from 1933 to 1952.  He, as a bishop, contributed tunes to the new hymnal (1927) and helped to shape the new service book (1942).  Aulén also helped to form the World Council of Churches (1948), as did Nygren, the first President of the Lutheran World Federation (1947-1952).  Nygren served as the Bishop of Lund from 1948 to 1958.

Both Aulén and Nygren also continued to write after they retired.  Aulén wrote, for example, Eucharist and Sacrifice (1956) and Reformation and Catholicity (1959).  Nygren, in retirement, wrote Meaning and Method:  Prolegomena to a Scientific Philosophy of Religion and a Scientific Theology (1972).

Above:  The Title Page to Commentary on Romans

Scan by Kenneth Randolph Taylor

Both men argued for continuity from Jesus to St. Paul the Apostle.  Nygren made that point in his influential Commentary on Romans (1944), a volume other exegetes of that epistle quote.  According to the Carl C. Rasmussen translation (1944),

Until quite recently it was customary for theology to draw a sharp line between Jesus and Paul.  Jesus preached the coming of the kingdom of God; but Paul, it was said, changed this to the doctrine of justification by faith.  Now there is room for no doubt that this view is false, and that the continuity between Jesus and Paul is essentially unbroken.  When, therefore, we seek to fix the basic thought in Paul’s view of the gospel, it is quite proper to point out how it has both its origin and its anchor in Jesus’ proclamation about the kingdom of God.

–9

Above:  The Spine of Commentary on Romans

Scan by Kenneth Randolph Taylor

The bishops died within a year of each other.  Aulén, aged 98 years, died on December 16, 1977.  Nygren, aged 87 years, died in Lund on October 20, 1978.

Their contributions to theology have never died, fortunately.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

FEBRUARY 28, 2019 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF THOMAS BINNEY, ENGLISH CONGREGATIONALIST MINISTER, LITURGIST, AND “ARCHBISHOP OF NONCONFORMITY”

THE FEAST OF ANDREW REED, ENGLISH CONGREGATIONALIST MINISTER, HUMANITARIAN, AND HYMN WRITER

THE FEAST OF ANNA JULIA HAYWOOD COOPER AND ELIZABETH EVELYN WRIGHT, AFRICAN-AMERICAN EDUCATORS

THE FEAST OF ELIZABETH C. CLEPHANE, SCOTTISH PRESBYTERIAN HYMN WRITER

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Almighty God, your Holy Spirit gives to one the word of knowledge,

and to another the insight of wisdom,

and to another the steadfastness of faith.

We praise you for the gifts of grace imparted to your servants Gustaf Aulén and Anders Nygren,

and we pray that by their teaching we may be led to a fuller understanding

of the truth we have seen in your Son Jesus, our Savior and Lord,

who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.  Amen.

Proverbs 3:1-7 or Wisdom 7:7-14

Psalm 119:89-104

1 Corinthians 2:6-10, 13-16 or 1 Corinthians 3:5-11

John 17:18-23 or Matthew 13:47-52

–Adapted from Evangelical Lutheran Worship (2006), 61

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Feast of Blessed John Duns Scotus (November 8)   Leave a comment

Above:  Blessed John Duns Scotus

Image in the Public Domain

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BLESSED JOHN DUNS SCOTUS (1266-NOVEMBER 8, 1308)

Scottish Roman Catholic Priest and Theologian 

Born John Duns

Also known as the Subtle Doctor

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In paying homage to Christ I would rather go too far than not far enough to give him the praise that is due him.

–John Duns Scotus, quoted in Robert Ellsberg, All Saints:  Daily Reflections on Saints, Prophets, and Witnesses for Our Time (1997), 487

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I am of the opinion that God wished to redeem us in the fashion [the Incarnation] primarily in order to draw us to his love.

–Blessed John Duns Scotus, quoted in Ellsberg, All Saints (1997), 487

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Blessed John Duns Scotus was a Scholastic theologian whose influence remains evident in Roman Catholic theology.  John Duns, born in Duns, Berwick, Scotland, in 1206, was a son of a wealthy farmer.  Our saint received his early education from the Franciscans at Dumfries, where his uncle, Elias Duns, was the superior.  Our saint, a Franciscan from the age of 15 years, studied theology in Oxford and Paris.  He, ordained to the priesthood at the age of 25 years, on March 17, 1291, in Northampton, was a lecturer at Oxford and Cambridge (1297-1301).  Duns Scotus, called “Scotus” because he was Scottish, began doctoral work in Paris in 1301.  He had to leave Paris in 1303, for he sided with Pope Benedict VIII against King Philip the Fair in a dispute over taxation of ecclesiastical property.  Duns Scotus, back in Paris in 1305, completed his doctorate and taught.  He transferred to a teaching post in Cologne in 1307.  There he, aged 42 years, died on November 8, 1308.

Duns Scotus, an Aristotelean, founded Scotism, a somewhat mystical version of Scholasticism.  He argued for a distinction between rational knowledge of proof for the existence of God and saving faith in God.  Duns Scotus thought that one could prove the existence of God rationally–a dubious proposition, although a pious one.

Duns Scotus also argued against the Anselmian understanding of the atonement–Penal Substitutionary Atonement.  (I am glad Duns Scotus argued against it.)  Duns Scotus defined God as infinite Love.  The Incarnation, he insisted, was an expression of divine love, and therefore an act of union with creation, not as the necessary antecedent of Penal Substitutionary Atonement.  The proper human response to the Incarnation, Duns Scotus argued, is love for God.

Duns Scotus also made a convincing case for the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary.  The case he made in 1307 won the day in the fourteenth century; the Sorbonne adopted his position.  Furthermore, Pope Pius IX quoted Duns Scotus in 1854, when the Holy Father defined the Immaculate Conception.

Pope John Paul II beatified Duns Scotus in 1991.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

FEBRUARY 2, 2019 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF THE PRESENTATION OF JESUS IN THE TEMPLE

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Almighty God, you gave to your servant Blessed John Duns Scotus

special gifts of grace to understand and teach the truth as it is in Christ Jesus:

Grant that by this teaching we may know you, the one true God,

and Jesus Christ whom you have sent;

who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,

one God, for ever and ever.  Amen.

Proverbs 3:1-7

Psalm 119:89-96

1 Corinthians 3:5-11

Matthew 13:47-52

–Adapted from Holy Women, Holy Men:  Celebrating the Saints (2010), 721

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Feast of C. H. Dodd (September 22)   Leave a comment

Above:  C. H. Dodd

Image Scanned from The Parables of the Kingdom, 2d. ed. (1961)

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CHARLES HAROLD DODD (APRIL 7, 1884-SEPTEMBER 21, 1973)

Welsh Congregationalist Minister, Theologian, and Biblical Scholar

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But the Gospels do not offer us in the first place tales to point a moral.  They interpret life to us, by initiating s into a situation in which, as Christians believe, the eternal was uniquely manifested in time, a situation which is both historical and contemporary in the deepest possible sense.

–C. H. Dodd, The Parables of the Kingdom, 2d. ed. (1961), x

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The Epistle to the Romans is the first great work of Christian theology.  From the time of Augustine it had immense influence on the thought of the West, not only in theology, but also in philosophy and even in politics, all through the Middle Ages.  At the Reformation its teaching provided the chief intellectual expression for the new spirit in religion.  For us men of Western Christendom there is probably no other single writing so deeply embedded in our heritage and thought.

–C. H. Dodd, in the beginning to the Introduction to The Epistle of Paul to the Romans (1932)

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C. H. Dodd, a proponent of Realized Eschatology, comes to this, my Ecumenical Calendar of Saints’ Days and Holy Days, via the Biblical Studies section of my library.

Charles Harold Dodd, born in Wrexham, Denbighshire, North Wales, on April 7, 1884, was a great and influential scholar.  He studied at University College, Oxford, from 1902 to 1906, graduating with his B. A. degree and first class honors.  In 1907-1911 our saint engaged in research about the Roman Empire and the Early Church at the University of Berlin then at Magdalen College, Oxford.  While at Magdalen College Dodd also engaged in theological studies at Mansfield College, Oxford.  Our saint, ordained a minister in the former Congregational Union in England and Wales (which merged into The United Reformed Church in 1972) in 1912, served as pastor of just one church, at Warwick, from 1912 to 1915.

Dodd had an impressive academic career.  He was the Yates Lecturer (later Professor) of New Testament Greek and Exegesis, Mansfield College, Oxford, from 1915 to 1930.  Next Dodd was the Rylands Professor of Biblical Criticism and Exegesis, the University of Manchester, for five years.  Then, from 1935 to 1949, when he retired, our saint was the Norris-Hulse Professor of Divinity, Cambridge.  He was the first non-Anglican to hold the theological chair at Cambridge University.  In addition, he was a lecturer at various elite seminaries and universities in the United States and the United Kingdom from 1927 until late in his life, with some gaps.  Dodd also became a Fellow of the British Academy in 1946.  In 1949-1950 he was the Visiting Professor in Biblical Theology, Union Theological Seminary, New York, New York.

Dodd remained active in retirement.  In 1950 he returned to the British Isles and became the Vice-Chairman and Director of The New English Bible (New Testament, 1961; complete Bible, 1970).  In the Preface to the finished translation, Donald Ebor, Chairman of the Joint Committee, wrote:

As Vice-Chairman and Director, Dr. C. H. Dodd has from start to finish given outstanding leadership and guidance to the project, bringing to the work scholarship, sensitivity, and an ever watchful eye.

–vii

Dodd, author of about 70 reviews, lectures, essays, and articles, as well as more than more than 20 books, was, depending on more than one’s perspective, too liberal, too conservative, or about right.  He was undoubtedly influential.

Perhaps Realized Eschatology was the major theme in Dodd’s ouevre.  As he wrote in The Founder of Christianity (1970):

God the eternal, the omnipotent, can hardly be said to be nearer or farther off at this time than at that.  If he is king at all, he is king always and everywhere.  In what sense his kingdom does not come; it is.  But human experience takes place within a framework of time and space.  It has varying degrees of intensity.  There are particular moments in the lives of men and in the history of mankind when what is permanently true (if largely unrecognized) becomes manifestly and effectively true.  Such a moment is reflected in the gospels.  The presence of God with man, a truth for all times and places, became an effective truth.

–56-57

Dodd, while recognizing the achievements of German Liberal theology and its students in filling in the details of the Hellenistic background of early Christianity, criticized them for their flight from dogma.  They were mistaken, he argued, in their assumption that they could discover the Historical Jesus via secular historical methods.  Furthermore, Rudolf Bultmann was mistaken when he rejected the possibility of any reliable historical understanding of Jesus, Dodd wrote.  Furthermore, according to Dodd, Karl Barth was mistaken when he wrote in his commentary (1918) on the Epistle to the Romans that the Historical Jesus was irrelevant to the Christ of faith.  Dodd, writing in The Meaning of Paul for Today (1920), argued that the Historical Jesus was germane to and essential for the Christ of faith.  Our saint’s attitude toward the Bible was evident in The Founder of Christianity (1970), in which most of the source citations were simply scriptural citations.

…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, though the forbearance of God,….

–Romans 3:25, Authorized Version

…whom God put forward as an expiation by his blood, to be received by faith.  This was to show God’s righteousness, because in his divine forbearance he had passed over former sins;….

–Romans 3:25, Revised Standard Version

For God designed him to be the means of expiating sin by his sacrificial death, effective through faith.  God meant by this to demonstrate his justice, because in his forbearance he had overlooked the sins of the past….

–Romans 3:25, The New English Bible and The Revised English Bible

…whom God put forward as a sacrifice of atonement by his blood, effective through faith.  He did this to show his righteousness, because in his divine forbearance he had passed over the sins previously committed;….

–Romans 3:25, The New Revised Standard Version 

Dodd rejected Penal Substitutionary Atonement, one of three theories of the atonement dating to the Patristic Era.  In The Epistle of Paul to the Romans (1932) Dodd, referring to the Greek word hilasterion in Romans 3:25, rejected the traditional “propitiation” in favor of “expiation.”

“Expiation” indicates the cancellation of a debt.  So does “propitiation,” but the suffix “pro-” indicates Penal Substitutionary Atonement.  In Dodd’s words:

In accordance with biblical usage, therefore, the substantive (hilasterion) would mean, not propitiation, but ‘a means by which guilt is annulled’; if a man is the agent, the meaning would be ‘a means of expiation’; if God, ‘a means by which sin is forgiven.’  Biblical usage is determinative for Paul.  The rendering propitiation is therefore misleading, for it suggests the placating of an angry God, and although this would be in accord with pagan usage, it is foreign to biblical usage.  In the present passage it is God who puts forward the means whereby the guilt of sin is removed, by sending Christ.  The sending of Christ, therefore, is the divine method of forgiveness.

The Epistle of Paul to the Romans (1932); reprint, 1959; 78-79

I could not have said it better.  I have been making a similar, albeit less scholarly, case based on what I have called the “gangster God” of Penal Substitutionary Atonement, since a time before I read Dodd’s case.  I grew up learning Penal Substitutionary Atonement yet have come to prefer the Classic Theory of the Atonement, or Christus Victor, among the three theories of the atonement dating to the Patristic Era.

Dodd’s description of the God of Penal Substitutionary Atonement is that such a deity is, in Dodd’s words, one who requires placation.  That is not the God of my faith.  That is not a God worthy of love, adoration, and loyalty.  No, that is a God in the presence of whom one should stand in stark terror.  That is a God with much in common with the frequently dangerous ancient Mesopotamian deities.  One of the main ideas in the rewritten creation mythology in Genesis 1:1-2:4a is that YHWH is different from those gods.

Many still hold Dodd’s rejection of Penal Substitutionary Atonement against him, of course.

Dodd died in Goring-on-Thames, England, on September 21, 1973.  He was 89 years old.

I am a Biblical and theological nerd.  I belong to a reading group that gathers monthly to discuss works in the fields of the Historical Jesus and the early Church.  As I ponder Dodd’s theology, I recognize his influences in the works of subsequent, major scholars, whom I have read.  I can also name certain contemporary scholars with whom Dodd would argue respectfully.

Dodd was correct more often than he was incorrect.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

AUGUST 26, 2018 COMMON ERA

PROPER 16:  THE FOURTEENTH SUNDAY AFTER PENTECOST, YEAR B

THE FEAST OF FREDERICK WILLIAM HERZBERGER, U.S. LUTHERAN MINISTER, HUMANITARIAN, AND HYMN TRANSLATOR

THE FEAST OF SAINT LEVKADIA HARASYMIV, UKRAINIAN GREEK CATHOLIC NUN, AND MARTYR, 1952

THE FEAST OF SAINTS LUIGI BELTRAME QUATTROCCHI AND MARIA CORSINI BELTRAME QUATTROCCHI, ITALIAN ROMAN CATHOLIC HUMANITARIANS

THE FEAST OF SAINT TERESA OF JESUS, JORNEY Y IBARS, CATALAN ROMAN CATHOLIC NUN AND CONFOUNDRESS OF THE LITTLE SISTERS OF THE ABANDONED ELDERLY

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O God, you have endowed us with memory, reason, and skill.

We thank you for the faithful legacy of [C. H. Dodd and all others]

who have dedicated their lives to you and to the intellectual pursuits.

May we, like them, respect your gift of intelligence fully and to your glory.

In the Name of God:  Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.  Amen.

Deuteronomy 6:4-9

Psalm 103

Philippians 4:8-9

Mark 12:28-34

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

MARCH 6, 2013 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINT CHRODEGANG OF METZ, ROMAN CATHOLIC BISHOP

THE FEAST OF EDMUND KING, ANGLICAN BISHOP OF LINCOLN

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