Thank you very much, Antoine, for the link to Servais’ interview with Benedict XVI. It was certainly eye-opening for me, because Benedict seemed to support my position that God presented ‘Adam’ with the gift of Mind/conscience that gave humankind the potential to work and sacrifice with Him to create a better Universe. Or, maybe I just misunderstood some of the mystical lingo that theologians often use. Correct me if I have been grossly misled by my interpretation.
"When Anselm says that Christ had to die on the cross in order to remedy the infinite offense that had been committed against God, and in this way to restore the shattered order, he uses a language that is difficult for modern man to accept (cf. gs iv 215.ss). Expressing oneself in this way, one risks projecting onto God an image of a God of wrath, relentless toward the sin of man, with feelings of violence and aggression comparable to what we can experience ourselves. How is it possible to speak of God’s justice without potentially undermining the certainty, firmly established among the faithful, that the Christian God is a God “rich in mercy” (Eph 2:4)?
The conceptuality of St Anselm has now become for us incomprehensible.
IF this is actually the (former) Pope’s belief, I am greatly heartened. But, even if it is, it has not filtered down to Catholic PIP (people in the Pews), and it is far rom the position taken by the followers of Luther and Calvin–as far as I can tell, anyway. Personally, I believe we ought to be grateful for the Darwinian theory of evolution that enables us to logically discard the belief that god created Adam suddenly–just Poof, a finished product and sinless–and replace it with the view that we are in the process of becoming the creatures God wants us to be. Thus:
“Today, compared to the time of Luther and to the classical perspective of the Christian faith, things are in a certain sense inverted, or rather, man no longer believes he needs justification before God, but rather he is of the opinion that it is God who must justify himself because of all the horrible things in the world and the misery of human beings, all of which ultimately depends on Him. In this regard, I find it significant that a Catholic theologian could profess even in a direct and formal way this inverted position: that Christ did not suffer for the sins of men, but rather, as it were, to “cancel out the faults of God”. Even if most Christians today would not share such a drastic reversal of our faith, we could say that all of this reveals an underlying trend of our times.”
WOW, am I wrong or would such a statement in the year 1490 spur the Inquisition to start gathering firewood! I would prefer a different wording from ‘an inverted position’. I would say rather say that God, in giving humankind the immensely powerful gift of mind, and the free will to use it for good or for evil, has trusted us to help him create a veritable Heaven here of the planet Earth; or else, in using it selfishly, to become Satans ruling over a veritable Hell. In other words, attaining Salvation, may be nothing more than joining with our fellows in love to create and maintain a society that works, even slowly and hesitantly, in that direction.
In the Middle Ages it was easy for European Christians to imagine that humankind existed essentially in two camps: Christians and Heathens–and the Church was the society that would bring all heathens into the team that would be God’s co-creators. Discovery of the the populous civilizations of the East and of the New World changed that, but it seems to me that only recently has Benedict clearly enunciated what that change actually portends:
“In the second half of the last century it was fully affirmed: the realization that God cannot abandon all the unbaptized to damnation and that mere natural happiness cannot represent a real answer to the question of human existence. If it is true that the great missionaries of the 16th century were still convinced that those who are not baptized are forever lost — and this explains their missionary commitment — in the Catholic Church after the Second Vatican Council that conviction was definitively abandoned…. So in a grand and pure way, one perceives there what God’s mercy means, what God’s participation in human suffering means. It is not a matter of a cruel justice, nor of the Father’s fanaticism, but rather of the truth and the reality of creation: the true intimate overcoming of evil that ultimately can be realized only in the suffering of love.”
I hope I have not misinterpreted this interview, Antoine. I had no idea that anyone in the Vatican had this progressive a view of what being a Christian really means. Is there anything in Islam, Buddhism, or Hinduism that teaches that we have a God who suffers along with us?