no-greater-love

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În prima seară a conferinţei de la Cluj, profesorul N.T. Wright a vorbit despre semnificaţia răstignirii lui Isus, preluând atât titlul cât şi argumentele prezentate dintr-un volum apărut recent — The Day the Revolution Began (în limba română Ziua în care a început revoluţia, editura Deisis, 2017). Voi puncta mai jos ideile principale din discursul domniei sale, cu intenţia de a arunca un pic de lumină asupra firului argumentaţiei şi de a-i motiva astfel pe cei curioşi, critici sau suporteri, la o lectură atentă a cărţii sau măcar la vizionarea înregistrării conferinţei. Dar mai înainte, câteva întrebări care mi-au venit în minte urmărind prezentarea.

În primul rând, în ce măsură e primită o idee teologică nouă (proaspătă, în jargonul wrightian) de către comunitatea credincioşilor? Adică să nu rămână doar la nivel de speculaţie academică, ci să îşi găsească un loc, să fie incorporată, ‘adoptată’, în crezul şi închinarea curentă a bisericii. Dat fiind faptul că, de-a lungul vremii, inovaţiile nu şi-au prea găsit locul în biserică, fiind privite cu suspiciune, dacă nu chiar sinonime cu erezia. Cu precădere dacă puneau în discuţie învăţături considerate de o importanţă fundamentală. Subtitlul cărţii lui Wright este „regândind sensul Crucii lui Iisus” şi bănuiesc că ar putea declanşa un semnal de alarmă în mintea credinciosului evlavios, care să-l determine să închidă repede cartea, înainte de a-i cântări argumentele.

Apoi, îmi face impresia că concluziile la care ajunge Wright nu îşi găsesc uşor sprijinul în lipsa unui anumit mod integrativ de a citi Biblia, ca poveste a poporului evreu. La nivel popular — cel puţin aşa cum am înţeles eu — modelul a fost mai degrabă ‘mărgele înşirate pe o sfoară’, istorisiri importante, dar nu neaparat legate între ele. Ceea ce reflecta, poate, o carenţă în cunoştinţele de teologie biblică ale vorbitorilor. Da, există riscul să vedem forme şi structuri acolo unde nu există niciuna. Sau să forţăm un text într-un şablon narativ de dinainte stabilit. Dar cred că sunt argumente solide în favoarea integrării naraţiunilor biblice, cel puţin ca fir roşu, într-o poveste cât-de-cât unitară, iar accentul pe care-l pune Wright pe contextul ebraic nu poate fi trecut uşor cu vederea. Deci, din nou la nivelul enoriaşului, în ce măsură acceptăm o anumită schemă biblică integratoare?

În fine, doar ca o observaţie, cred că miezul prelegerii l-a constituit ideea substituţiei reprezentative ca model premergător, integrant şi fundamentat în Scriptură al diferitelor metafore ale ispăşirii, şi nu atât critica tăioasă, dar pertinentă a situaţiei prezente — am platonizat escatologia, am moralizat antropologia, am păgânizat soteriologia.

 

1. Introducere

1.1 O sarcină comună — să cunoaştem mai bine Biblia

„[…] engage together in the constant effort to get to know the Bible better in order to better worship God and serve him in tomorrow’s world. That has been my lifelong aim.” [min. 12:45]

1.2 Puterea revoluţionară a crucii

„This event was after all the horrible, brutal, obscene denial of all that is good and lovely and beautiful in the world. It represented the victory of raw power, political and military power, over the rumor of a different kind of power, […] the power of humble love.”

There is the Revolution in a nutshell: The crucifixion, a typical act of imperial brutality, was quickly seen as the greatest possible act of divine love.” [17:30, s.n.]

The cross of Jesus, despite of its horror, and in fact perhaps because of its horror, speaks powerfully across the centuries and across cultural barriers. It speaks in a pre-articulate way, it is deep like the depths of art and music, deep with the depths of God.” [23:00, s.n.]

1.3 Trebuie să studiem semnificaţia crucii

„But, down the years, it has become clear that unless the Church is constantly exploring the means of Jesus death, unless we are constantly wrestling with the early biblical texts which refer to it, then it is all too easy to get sidetracked, to settle down with the half-truths, or even to follow paths that lead down blind alleys.”

„Every generation has to think afresh about Jesus’ crucifixion.” [25:38]

2. Cuprins

2.1 Teologia ispăşirii a neglijat Evangheliile

„Most people who have written about the meaning of the cross in the last hundred years or so have concentrated not on the four Gospels but on Paul and Hebrews.”

„But when the Reformers tried to correct some medieval errors, they began to produce dogmatic statements about atonement. But they didn’t try to use the four Gospels.”

2.2 Crucea ca victorie asupra răului

„But all four Gospels bring the story of Jesus to its climax at his crucifixion. Not simply to tell us how it happened but what it means.” [26:30]

„The four Gospels claim that Jesus was launching God’s kingdom on earth as in heaven.”

All four Gospel see Jesus’ crucifixion as the moment when and the means by which the creator God wins the victory over all the forces of evil.” [s.n.]

„Herod and Pilate symbolize the way in which all the evil in the world has come together to do its worst on Jesus. And God has responded by exalting Jesus, exactly as in Psalm 2, and declaring that Jesus is the Son of God in power, thereby calling the nations to account.”

„The whole New Testament speaks of Jesus winning the victory over death and hence over sin, and hence over all the powers of the world that have tried to resist the power of his rescuing love.”

2.3 Victoria obţinută prin iertarea păcatelor. De ce în timpul sărbătorii Paştelor?

„But what is this victory and how is it achieved?” [s.n.]

„If the first thing that Gospels insist on is that the cross is the climax of Jesus’ victorious kingdom work, the second thing is that the Gospels insist that Jesus chose Passover to confront the powers of the world with his kingdom message, knowing where it would lead. Jesus didn’t choose [other festivals, or] perhaps to our surprise, the Day of Atonement.”

„Passover speaks powerfully of God rescuing Israel from slavery in Egypt. The symbolism runs right through the story. The blood of the Passover lamb, the crossing of the Red Sea, the giving of the Law, and the tabernacle, so that God could dwell among his people. All this is a forward-looking signpost to God’s intention to overthrow the power of evil and to become king over all the world.”

„Notice that originally Passover had nothing to do with the forgiveness of sins. But by Jesus’ day the Jewish people had been living under foreign rule for about half of millennium in a kind of extended exile. The Prophets had insisted that this was the results of Israel’s idolatry and sin.” [35:30]

„The new Passover that was now needed, the second Exodus, would not only liberate God’s people from this new slavery but would do so by dealing with sins, by accomplishing forgiveness.”

Here we have, I believe, the answer to the puzzles of atonement theology. The new Exodus, the victory over the dark powers, is to be accomplished through God’s dealing with the sins of the people. It can’t be either victory or dealing with sin because the former depends on the latter.” [36:30, s.n.]

„[Gal 1:4] The Messiah gave himself for our sins in order to deliver us from the present evil age. Victory over the powers through dealing with sin.”

2.4 Substituţia reprezentativă

„So how does this come together? The shorthand summary that captures the meaning is representative substitution.” [39:00, s.n.]

„He [Jesus] was bringing to its paradoxical climax the long and sometimes disjointed and often puzzling story of creation and covenant, the story of Adam and Abraham, of Moses and the tabernacle, of David and Solomon and the prophets, and the exile and promises of renewal and restoration. And yes, even the promise that one day the Yahweh himself, Israel’s God, will come back in power and glory and make everything new.”

That is the story that the early Christians believed had come true in Jesus. Now, within this narrative of kingdom bringing victory and sin forgiving Passover, the four Gospels enfold several strands which show what representative substitution then means. The Gospels do this usually by telling stories rather than by expounding doctrines.” [43:30, s.n.]

What generations of philosophers and theologians have struggled to hold together, the New Testament does effortlessly using central Jewish categories.” [s.n.]

„The Messiah represents his people. And so, like David fighting Goliath on Israel’s behalf, he can go by himself to battle with the ultimate enemy and win the victory for those he represents. Now, once we grasp this, we can see the normal theories of atonement in a different light.” [48:00]

All of these [models of atonement: Christus Victor, representation, substitution, or words that cluster around them like redemption or reconciliation] function in the New Testament in relation to the single great story which the Gospels claim to be bringing to its climax. The story, namely, of Israel’s failure and the Messiah’s victory, of human failure and God’s victory.” [50:00, s.n.]

2.5 Victorie şi substituţie. Idolatria ca rădăcină a păcatului

„Theologians have long struggled to get this right [putting together victory and substitution]. It all depends on understanding how idolatry works.” [51:19, s.n.]

„Idolatry is the root of all human sin. Idolatry means worshiping something other than the creator God. We humans are designed to worship the true God, and so reflect his image into the world. But when we worship idols, our humanness, our God-reflecting image-bearing vocation starts to fracture, and the name for that is sin. We then miss the mark of genuine human life.”

„When we worship idols we hand over to those idols some of our God-given power and authority. They then use that power to enslave us. What is the result? Our sin becomes the chain with which the idols we have worshiped hold us in their grip.”

„But here is the point. If the idols are going to be defeated and overthrown, the chains must be cut, in other words, sin must be dealt with.” [s.n.]

„So the idea of penal substitution as we find it in Scripture is not a ‘different model of atonement’ to be played off against the idea of Jesus’ victory over the powers or as him as our representative.” [s.n.]

2.6 Reprezentare — substituţie  victorie

„It is because Jesus is our representative that he can appropriately be our substitute. And it is because he was and is our substitute that his dealing with sin has won the victory, thereby robbing the powers by their enslaving dominion. This is what the four Gospels are telling us.” [54:30, s.n.]

„Then Paul picks this up in Galatians, Romans, and elsewhere. The Letter to the Hebrews reflects the same train of thought in the second chapter.” [55:30]

Substitution through representation results in the victory over the powers” [1:29:00, s.n.]

2.7 Cum recuperăm imaginea de ansamblu a ispăşirii? Trei greşeli

„So how do we get the picture back into focus? I hope I have said enough to show you the rich, many-sided but deeply integrated picture in the New Testament of what Jesus’ death achieved.”

We need to soak ourselves in the larger story of the Gospels, praying for fresh insight into the biblical story as opposed to the story that we have usually told ourselves.” [s.n.]

„[…] I believe that our theology, certainly in the West and possibly in the East as well, has told itself a distorted and shrunken view of the great biblical story. This has made it difficult to see the cross in the way that the first Christians all did.” [s.n.]

„Let me tell you what I think has happened. There are three mistakes which go together and reinforce one another.” [57:20, s.n.]

2.7.1 Am platonizat escatologia

We have thought of the goal of the Christian life as being to go to heaven when we die, rather than in terms of new heavens and new earth.” [s.n.]

„We have exchanged the biblical vision of new creation, of heaven and earth coming together as one, for a philosophical, platonic vision of disembodied souls escaping this world and heading for a non-spatio-temporal place called heaven.” [58:30]

2.7.2 Am moralizat antropologia

If the point is my soul needs to go to heaven, and if I know that my soul is sinful, then the problem is moral failure. Then we read Genesis chapters 1 and 2 as though God is setting humans a kind of moral examination.” [1:01:30, s.n.]

„Genesis, of course, says nothing of the kind. Genesis envisages humans as God’s image-bearing creatures who were designed to stand at the threshold between heaven and earth and to reflect God’s loving care into creation even as they reflect the praises of creation back to the Creator.” [1:02:20, s.n.]

„Sin matters desperately because it is the failure of that vocation. So instead of reflecting God’s wise care and order into the world, humans have reflected into the world the dark power of whichever idols they were worshiping at the time. That is the problem, and it is a problem because God’s purposes are not just for humans […] but through humans for the world. The world which is […] the house where God longs to dwell.” [1:04:00, s.n.]

„Once we realize that the ultimate goal […] is for heaven and earth to be renewed for God to come and live there, then we can no longer reduce the human plight to questions of a moral examination which we’ve all failed. The biblical doctrine of penal substitution does not belong in that unbiblical story.” [s.n.]

„We have made morality, and our moral failure and culpability, and our deserving the punishment, and our need to escape that punishment, the only story worth telling about being human.”

2.7.3 Am păgânizat soteriologia

„Many people […] really do believe that, according to the Christian gospel, the creator God was very angry and wanted and intended to kill us all because we had offended him by our sin, but that someone else just happened to stand in the way. And it happened to be his own innocent Son, so that somehow makes it all right and the angry Creator exhausted his wrath on his Son so that everyone else could go free.”

The pagan world is full of stories of an angry deity who needs to be placated, who wants an innocent victim to be killed so that the expedition can go ahead, the winds would blow in the right way, whatever it may be. This is a thoroughly pagan soteriology, is not what is taught in the New Testament.” [s.n.]

„Part of the problem here includes our traditional misreading of the biblical language of sacrifice and its reapplication to Jesus.” [1:12:45, s.n.]

„In pagan worship animals were killed on an altar, and sometimes the animal was seen as a substitute for the worshiper. But in Leviticus […] animals are not killed on the altar, and indeed the killing was not the point.” [s.n.]

„The point is that animals are killed because the living God intends to dwell on earth among his people and God’s sanctuary must regularly be cleansed from the stain of death. And that stain, arriving from the people’s sins, would otherwise pollute the sanctuary and call the divine presence to withdraw. And the cleansing agent is the life-blood, the God-given gift of animal life. It is wrong then to interpret biblical sacrifices as substitutionary punishment.” [s.n.]

If the ultimate goal is not getting disembodied souls into heaven but rather joining the heaven and earth together in the new creation, and God coming to dwelling the midst, then the sacrifice of Jesus, as the Letter to the Hebrews explains, will enable heaven and earth to come together at last as result of the covenant renewal brought about in the events of Jesus death and resurrection and ascension.” [s.n.]

„This is the context in which the biblical truth of penal substitution shines out over  the unbiblical distortions of penal substitution.” [1:16:30]

„[In Romans 8] Paul does not say God condemned Jesus the Messiah. He says God condemned sin in the flesh of the Messiah.” [s.n.]

„Romans 7 explains that God gave the Law to draw sin onto one place. So the sin would do its worst precisely in the people of the Law, namely Israel, in order that the accumulated sin may be handed on to Israel’s representative, the Messiah, and thus might be condemned once for all in his crucifixion. That is both penal, and substitutionary, and biblical.” [1:21:00, s.n.]

3. Concluzie. Două implicaţii

3.1 Crucea şi misiunea între neamuri

„[…] to show how the New Testament picture of Jesus’ crucifixion stands at the heart of the gentile mission, of gentile inclusion in the people of God.” [1:22:00]

„So in the last generation people have played off Paul’s doctrine of justification, in terms of sinners getting saved, against an interpretation of it which concerns Jews and gentiles belonging at the same table. […] then people again said that ‘this forces us to choose between theology and sociology’. But Paul’s theology of the cross holds the two together.”

„[…] any gentiles who become Messiah people by faith and baptism are no longer sinners. They are no longer under the powers of the idols that they used to worship.” [1:25:00, s.n.]

„It was gentile idolatry that was the reason that Jews weren’t allowed to mix with them in the first place, but if they’re released from their slavery to the idols there is no reason why [they] cannot share the same table. The Messiah’s death, precisely by saving his people from their sins, constitutes them as the single family which God promised to Abraham.” [1:25:30, s.n.]

„John explains how it works as he tells the story of the cross. Because Jesus will do all by himself what Israel and the world can not do for themselves.” [1:28:00]

Substitution, through representation, results in victory over the powers. And this victory sets the pagan nations, and also the Jewish nation themselves, free to belong to God’s relaunched and enlarged people.” [s.n.]

„In John, as in the whole NT, that victory means new creation, which is the inauguration of the new heavens and new earth in which God wants to dwell. Now, in the form of Jesus himself and of the Spirit, who is poured out to enable the disciples to be agents of God’s mission, which is the mission of new creation.” [1:30:00, s.n.]

3.2 Crucea ca misiune a iubirii

3.2.1 Dragostea — credincioşia lui Dumnezeu faţă de legământ

„And at the center of it all […] the cross is about God’s powerful love sweeping through the creation and at last doing the new thing that he had always promised.” [1:30:45, s.n.]

„The theme of divine love, which is revealed most gloriously on the cross, is obviously central to John.”

Love here is the covenant commitment, the ultimate divine faithfulness. The New Testament’s doctrine of powerful divine love embodied in Jesus, and particularly in his death, is the direct and decisive outworking of the covenant promises in the Old Testament. And the covenant commitment itself is the outworking […] of the Creator’s faithfulness to the creation itself.” [1:35:00, s.n.]

And that ultimately is why atonement theology matters. Get this right and the entire picture, from the first creation to the new heavens and new earth, is held in place.” [s.n.]

„[…] when we get it right we see that the cross itself is a sign, as St. Athanasius already glimpsed, of the joining together of heaven and earth.” [s.n.]

„One of the reasons why the symbol of the cross is so powerful […] is because it says visually, in a radical new way, what the Temple had always been about. This is where heaven and earth come together, where God chooses to dwell, only now in the self-giving love of heaven for an undeserving earth.” [1:36:45, s.n.]

3.2.2 Misiunea noastră — să studiem Scripturile

„The power of this divine love is the most powerful force in all creation and the other powers of the world are still eager to distort or misrepresent it.”

„Our task, if we are to be faithful and careful students of the whole Bible, is continually to search the Scriptures to see what it really meant that the Messiah died and rose again in accordance with those same Scriptures. And so to explain that 1st century vision of God’s gospel that we can thereby correct all other theological schemes.” [s.n.]

„This is, my friends, and exciting time to be working on Scripture.” [1:39:00]

3.2.3 Crucea ca teologie politică a iubirii

„[…] this message of God’s victory on the evil, through the representative substitution of Jesus the Messiah, remains the single power through which the warring nations of the world can be held to account, and the hard bitterness of human hearts can be softened.” [s.n.]

„Paul said ‘He loved me and gave himself for me’. If we hold onto that then victory is ours. So what does that mean in practice?” [1:40:45]

„When Jesus had washed the feet of the disciples he said ‘this is my command that you love one another as I have loved you’. That is how the world, saved once for all by his revolutionary victory on the cross, will, as he promised, be flooded with his glory and knowledge as the waters cover the see.”  [s.n.]

We are therefore to be, in the power of the Spirit, people of that love.” [s.n.]

„This is the royal revolution and this is the fresh perspective on the cross which we urgently need in our trouble times.” [1:41:45]

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