I’ve lived most of my life in the church of the Brethren.
Never heard of the Brethren?
UNBELIEVABLE. PICK UP YOUR GAME.
But, in the meantime, let me fill you in: The Brethren shirk titles and classifications. There is a dislike for terms like ‘dogma’ and ‘creed.’
In my brethren church, it was said that the Holy Spirit instructed the congregation without need of an ordained priesthood. There are men who are kind of pastors, but they aren’t “priests.”
Because of all of this simplicity (and my laziness) it’s been difficult for me to track the origins of the Brethren church. However, like the well known Plymouth Brethren (and I think I was the same as them) my simple Christian pietists, held to
a commitment to…Christ in simple obedience, to be faithful disciples in the modern world. As do most other Christians, the Brethren believe in God as Creator and loving Sustainer. We confess the Lordship of Christ, and we seek to be guided by the Holy Spirit in every aspect of life, thought, and mission.
There’s absolutely nothing in that statement that any Christian would object to. Be “led by the Holy Spirt,” “every aspect of life, thought and mission,” “God as loving sustainer.”
Tick, tick, tick.
AND YET. YET. OH, here’s the problem, It’s coming out, I can’t stop it!
It just wasn’t enough.
You see, when a church insists that it has no need of a creed, no need of saintly intercession, no need of the Virgin Mary, one is left with the vague impression that any desire for more, was, well, needy.
But I was hungry.
I was told that God loved me, but teachings like penal substitution, had me rejecting his ‘love.’ It sounded more and more like the needy cruelty of a tyrant, giving you shit, demanding his pay back and then expecting you to thank him for not destroying you. In my heart, I hated him.
Penal Substitution is a theological viewpoint within Christianity that maintains Jesus was legally punished in place of the sinners. That is, he took the place of the sinner. It is “penal” in that Christ suffered the penalty of the Law, taking the “penalty” of the Law. It was substitutionary in that Christ took our place on the cross when he bore our sins (1 Pet. 2:24) and became sin on our behalf (2 Cor. 5:21).
It’s a harsh and heretical teaching because it posits awful notions that “God’s justice must be satisfied” and that he could not excuse sin without reparation in blood.
But enough of this, for that impoverished view of the atonement and love of God disgusts me.
Here’s a breath of fresh air for you!
The Catholic conception of Christ’s Passion and Atonement is that Christ offered Himself up in self-sacrificial love to the Father, obedient even unto death, for the sins of all men. In His human will He offered to God a sacrifice of love that was more pleasing to the Father than the combined sins of all men of all time are displeasing to Him, and thus made satisfaction for our sins. The Father was never angry with Christ. Nor did the Father pour out His wrath on the Son. The Passion is Christ’s greatest act of love, the greatest revelation of the heart of God, and the glory of Christ.
The diagram below, from the team at Called to Communion, illustrates the difference between the Protestant view of “penal substitution” and the Catholic view of “satisfaction”
The devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus, and the Immaculate Heart of Mary, are healing me of the idea that God MUST have his share, that God needs, that God has been denied his justice. No, that God is Zeus ladies and gentleman, a needy child. Not Yaweh. Not my God, no thank you.
Heart of Jesus, of infinite majesty,
Heart of Jesus, holy temple of God,
Heart of Jesus, tabernacle of the Most High,
Heart of Jesus, house of God and gate of heaven,
Heart of Jesus, glowing furnace of charity,
Heart of Jesus, vessel of justice and love,
Heart of Jesus, full of goodness and love,
I’m not an expert, and my assessments mightn’t have been as precise and exacting as they should, but I do know this: God’s love is more passionate, more ecstatic, more reckless than I believe.
I don’t have to pretend to appreciate his ‘love’ in the Catholic Church, because the God they talk about is the real deal.
I’m not completely there yet, but with good explanations like this, I’m liking him more and more every day.