Author Topic: Why did Jesus "have to" die?  (Read 5514 times)

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Offline Ryan2010

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Why did Jesus "have to" die?
« on: Sat Dec 26, 2009 - 11:59:54 »
Wow, an actual Eastern Orthodox forum that isn't exclusively Orthodox.  :D


I'm an inquirer at an Orthodox Church (OCA).  I've been reading through the threads, checking the place out.  


 ::juggle::


So, I came across a guy the other day who goes to a Reformed* Church and asked what the Orthodox perspective on the purpose/reason Jesus "had to" die.  If you're familiar with a lot of protestant theology - to many of the Reformed (the specific denomination) Tradition - the reason Jesus died was to take on man's punishment (an atonement for legal guilt).

In other words, God wanted to punish all the people that broke the law and were legally guilty.  So instead, he sent his son to take the punishment that is due all people.  Then, when you "believe" in/on Jesus, the same righteousness Jesus had is then transferred onto the one believing on him.  I believe they call it "imputed" righteousness (despite the fact that you'll find the word, "imputed" in modern translations of the bible, it's not actually in the Greek and simply an addition put there to sort of support a presupposed doctrinal position).  

Anyway, it's not unlike saying that you believe and suddenly you get a ticket stamped, "saved" on it and now all you have to do is wait until you die and then you'll be in heaven.  

So the question is:  what is the Orthodox perspective on why Jesus "had to die" and how that relates to the way in which we view atonement and salvation?

 ::smile::

Thanks!

Offline CDHealy

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Re: Why did Jesus "have to" die?
« Reply #1 on: Sat Dec 26, 2009 - 12:42:50 »
The Orthodox Church believes two basic things about the effects of Jesus' death, resurrection and ascension: it cleanses the person of the guilt of personal sin and cancels the power of mortality (death) in the person which power influences all of us to sin (cf. for this Romans 5-6).

The Orthodox Church also believes that even if sin had not entered this world, that God would still have become man because it was his intention from the beginning to unite man to himself, something accomplished in the Incarnation (cf John 17).  But because sin did in fact enter the world through human choice and action, such union of God and man in Jesus is ever more important for us.  It is through this union that we become truly righteous, not righteous only by declaration, or by imputation, but by transfiguration and union.

Offline Ryan2010

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Re: Why did Jesus "have to" die?
« Reply #2 on: Sat Dec 26, 2009 - 13:13:41 »
The Orthodox Church believes two basic things about the effects of Jesus' death, resurrection and ascension: it cleanses the person of the guilt of personal sin and cancels the power of mortality (death) in the person which power influences all of us to sin (cf. for this Romans 5-6).

The Orthodox Church also believes that even if sin had not entered this world, that God would still have become man because it was his intention from the beginning to unite man to himself, something accomplished in the Incarnation (cf John 17).  But because sin did in fact enter the world through human choice and action, such union of God and man in Jesus is ever more important for us.  It is through this union that we become truly righteous, not righteous only by declaration, or by imputation, but by transfiguration and union.

Yes, exactly.  However, this is quite difficult to explain to those that come from a different understanding of sin which I suspect comes from their view on Original Sin.  It's interesting though that Wesley dabbled with trying to put Theosis into a protestant package and C.S. Lewis actually seemed to be on a path that was moving toward, if not in some places already, Orthodox.

I think the disconnect also comes from the way in which the various traditions view, the purpose of Christian living. 

Been trying to come up with simple ways to explain the Orthodox position without having to deconstruct all these various protestant traditions that each individual protestant seems to hold. 

 ::headscratch::

Thanks for the reply, CD. 

God bless you.   ::smile::


Offline Joel, the Son of Pethuel

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Re: Why did Jesus "have to" die?
« Reply #3 on: Mon Jan 04, 2010 - 22:17:01 »
Hello, my friend!

I was once a staunch Calvinist, and I know exactly where you're coming from. It's difficult explaining Orthodox theology to someone of the Reformed tradition, as there are so many differing paradigms.

For example, to the Calvinist, God's reason for creating us is for us to worship Him. But that means that God has a felt need for created beings to tell Him how great He is on a continuing basis. Another one is that created beings can have an eternal effect on Him; that WE can make God infinitely angry; that the problem with sin is that it affects GOD!

So I feel your pain.

Depending on how you look at it, Jesus didn't have to die (and the Calvinist will affirm that as well). He could have left us in our sin.  But on the flip side, for an Orthodox christian to say "God could have left us in our sins" shows an ignorance of God's character. God is Love. He is Eternal Communion. When God created a universe that was "other" than Himself, He created it to be in union with Him. When He created man, He created man to be in union with Him. He created a race that can freely reciprocate His love.

God is Who He is. He is Love. He is Communion. It is His character to pour Himself out and fill things with Life. When we sinned, we didn't affect God. We didn't cause a change in Him. Rather, we caused a change in ourselves. We caused ourselves to move away from God, and to distance ourselves from the Source of Life.

Everything that Christ did in relation to us and to creation was salvific. His Incarnation saves us. His baptism saves us. His virgin birth saves us. His suffering saves us. His death saves us. His resurrection saves us. His ascension saves us. Him pouring out to us the Holy Spirit saves us. Christ did what was necessary to restore us to total communion with God. His death was part of that picture.

Our sin had many consequences for our race. One of them is death. And death has many facets. One of those facets is that death breeds more death. Another is that we are afraid of dying; we are afraid of not living forever. So we try as hard as we can to preserve what we have. We over eat for fear of famine. We are over-sexed for fear of our genes dying off. We become angry and kill for fear of someone getting in the way of our legacy being furthered the way that we see fit. And ultimately, death would result in us being eternally alienated from God, the source of life. So Christ entered death, so that by joining us in death and rising from the dead, we could join Him in His Resurrection. By Him dying, death, the chief enemy that resulted from sin, might be destroyed and we could have eternal union with God again.

Offline Ryan2010

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Re: Why did Jesus "have to" die?
« Reply #4 on: Tue Jan 05, 2010 - 20:48:54 »
Hello, my friend!

I was once a staunch Calvinist, and I know exactly where you're coming from. It's difficult explaining Orthodox theology to someone of the Reformed tradition, as there are so many differing paradigms.

For example, to the Calvinist, God's reason for creating us is for us to worship Him. But that means that God has a felt need for created beings to tell Him how great He is on a continuing basis. Another one is that created beings can have an eternal effect on Him; that WE can make God infinitely angry; that the problem with sin is that it affects GOD!

So I feel your pain.

Depending on how you look at it, Jesus didn't have to die (and the Calvinist will affirm that as well). He could have left us in our sin.  But on the flip side, for an Orthodox christian to say "God could have left us in our sins" shows an ignorance of God's character. God is Love. He is Eternal Communion. When God created a universe that was "other" than Himself, He created it to be in union with Him. When He created man, He created man to be in union with Him. He created a race that can freely reciprocate His love.

God is Who He is. He is Love. He is Communion. It is His character to pour Himself out and fill things with Life. When we sinned, we didn't affect God. We didn't cause a change in Him. Rather, we caused a change in ourselves. We caused ourselves to move away from God, and to distance ourselves from the Source of Life.

Everything that Christ did in relation to us and to creation was salvific. His Incarnation saves us. His baptism saves us. His virgin birth saves us. His suffering saves us. His death saves us. His resurrection saves us. His ascension saves us. Him pouring out to us the Holy Spirit saves us. Christ did what was necessary to restore us to total communion with God. His death was part of that picture.

Our sin had many consequences for our race. One of them is death. And death has many facets. One of those facets is that death breeds more death. Another is that we are afraid of dying; we are afraid of not living forever. So we try as hard as we can to preserve what we have. We over eat for fear of famine. We are over-sexed for fear of our genes dying off. We become angry and kill for fear of someone getting in the way of our legacy being furthered the way that we see fit. And ultimately, death would result in us being eternally alienated from God, the source of life. So Christ entered death, so that by joining us in death and rising from the dead, we could join Him in His Resurrection. By Him dying, death, the chief enemy that resulted from sin, might be destroyed and we could have eternal union with God again.

Thank you so much for the reply.  I am putting this to memory: When we sinned, we didn't affect God. We didn't cause a change in Him. Rather, we caused a change in ourselves.

That really puts it into perspective for me.   

Thanks again.  May God bless you over and over

 ::smile::

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Re: Why did Jesus "have to" die?
« Reply #4 on: Tue Jan 05, 2010 - 20:48:54 »



Offline desertknight

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Re: Why did Jesus "have to" die?
« Reply #5 on: Tue Jan 05, 2010 - 20:59:29 »
Hello, my friend!

I was once a staunch Calvinist, and I know exactly where you're coming from. It's difficult explaining Orthodox theology to someone of the Reformed tradition, as there are so many differing paradigms.

For example, to the Calvinist, God's reason for creating us is for us to worship Him. But that means that God has a felt need for created beings to tell Him how great He is on a continuing basis. Another one is that created beings can have an eternal effect on Him; that WE can make God infinitely angry; that the problem with sin is that it affects GOD!

So I feel your pain.

Depending on how you look at it, Jesus didn't have to die (and the Calvinist will affirm that as well). He could have left us in our sin.  But on the flip side, for an Orthodox christian to say "God could have left us in our sins" shows an ignorance of God's character. God is Love. He is Eternal Communion. When God created a universe that was "other" than Himself, He created it to be in union with Him. When He created man, He created man to be in union with Him. He created a race that can freely reciprocate His love.

God is Who He is. He is Love. He is Communion. It is His character to pour Himself out and fill things with Life. When we sinned, we didn't affect God. We didn't cause a change in Him. Rather, we caused a change in ourselves. We caused ourselves to move away from God, and to distance ourselves from the Source of Life.

Everything that Christ did in relation to us and to creation was salvific. His Incarnation saves us. His baptism saves us. His virgin birth saves us. His suffering saves us. His death saves us. His resurrection saves us. His ascension saves us. Him pouring out to us the Holy Spirit saves us. Christ did what was necessary to restore us to total communion with God. His death was part of that picture.

Our sin had many consequences for our race. One of them is death. And death has many facets. One of those facets is that death breeds more death. Another is that we are afraid of dying; we are afraid of not living forever. So we try as hard as we can to preserve what we have. We over eat for fear of famine. We are over-sexed for fear of our genes dying off. We become angry and kill for fear of someone getting in the way of our legacy being furthered the way that we see fit. And ultimately, death would result in us being eternally alienated from God, the source of life. So Christ entered death, so that by joining us in death and rising from the dead, we could join Him in His Resurrection. By Him dying, death, the chief enemy that resulted from sin, might be destroyed and we could have eternal union with God again.

Thank you so much for the reply.  I am putting this to memory: When we sinned, we didn't affect God. We didn't cause a change in Him. Rather, we caused a change in ourselves.

That really puts it into perspective for me.   

Thanks again.  May God bless you over and over

 ::smile::

I concur.  I was just following Ryan's posts when I found this.  Catholic here.  That is excellent!  I'm saving this as well.  God Bless, Joel.

Offline James Rondon

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Re: Why did Jesus "have to" die?
« Reply #6 on: Thu Jan 07, 2010 - 14:38:00 »
While discussing whether or not Jesus "had to die", we must remember that Jesus laid down His life of His own volition (see John 10:17-18).

Offline Ryan2010

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Re: Why did Jesus "have to" die?
« Reply #7 on: Thu Jan 07, 2010 - 14:47:37 »
While discussing whether or not Jesus "had to die", we must remember that Jesus laid down His life of His own volition (see John 10:17-18).

Good point.

 ::smile::

Thank you. 


God bless

Offline Macrina

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Re: Why did Jesus "have to" die?
« Reply #8 on: Thu Apr 22, 2010 - 12:46:12 »
I actually did an article on my blog on this subject. Protestants don't understand this because the answer is liturgical. And Orthodox use doxological theology which is contrary to their understanding.

Here is the link to the article on my blog titled, "why did Christ have to die".
http://aspectofeternity.blogspot.com/2008/01/why-did-christ-have-to-die.html

The easiest term I've used to explain to others is "transfiguration by grace".  In all reality we are grasping at straws trying to explain what is unexplainable.  ::smile::

Offline walker starr

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Re: Why did Jesus "have to" die?
« Reply #9 on: Thu Apr 22, 2010 - 12:52:28 »



   If JESUS had not died HEould not have been resurected. ::clappingoverhead::

Offline Macrina

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Re: Why did Jesus "have to" die?
« Reply #10 on: Thu Apr 22, 2010 - 14:37:01 »



   If JESUS had not died HEould not have been resurected. ::clappingoverhead::

Hi walker starr. You are correct, however that only proves that He was fully human as we are, and therefore must submit to that which was ordained for all flesh, death.
My previous post was in reference to Hebrews in holy scripture and His being our High Priest. Therefore, He is not merely a man which dies and is resurrected, there are many examples of resurrections in scripture. ie. recall Lazarus was resurrected before Christ's resurrection, which showed Jesus to also be the Son of God, the only begotten, and fully God as well. There are also OT examples.

So, to somewhat understand what Christ has done, we must turn to His work of a Priest (the liturgical aspect). 

Offline Ryan2010

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Re: Why did Jesus "have to" die?
« Reply #11 on: Thu Apr 22, 2010 - 17:45:38 »
I actually did an article on my blog on this subject. Protestants don't understand this because the answer is liturgical. And Orthodox use doxological theology which is contrary to their understanding.

Here is the link to the article on my blog titled, "why did Christ have to die".
http://aspectofeternity.blogspot.com/2008/01/why-did-christ-have-to-die.html

The easiest term I've used to explain to others is "transfiguration by grace".  In all reality we are grasping at straws trying to explain what is unexplainable.  ::smile::


Thank you much for this.  I enjoy your blog and will keep it in my bookmarks. 


Christ is risen
 ::smile::

Offline Macrina

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Re: Why did Jesus "have to" die?
« Reply #12 on: Fri Apr 23, 2010 - 12:39:41 »
Quote
Thank you much for this.  I enjoy your blog and will keep it in my bookmarks. 


Christ is risen
 ::smile::

Truly He is risen!  ::smile::

Glad to be of whatever assistance a sinner can be. I don't blog much, but unworthy as I am, sometimes the Spirit stirs me up to blog on a subject.