December 8, 2009

Orthodoxy and the Juridical Position: The Significance of the “Antilytron”

When Catholicism distanced itself from the Orthodox faith of the Church, its understanding of important issues pertaining to salvation was lost. Totally ignorant of how these issues can be misleading, Protestantism in its turn “inherited” the fallacious Papal positions and in fact, it quite often made them even hazier.

One such issue, which has been misconstrued to the point of blasphemy by the Westerners, is the issue of the “Antilytron” (anti = in place of, lytron = an offer for someone’s release/freedom).

In their pursuit of Thomas Aquinus’ erroneous theories, Westerners developed their own juridical system by which they explain the ‘function’ of our Lord Jesus Christ’s sacrifice for the salvation of mankind.

Although there may be small differences between the various Western faiths, they make the following, general assertions:

“Adam sinned, therefore in his person, all of mankind after him partook of sin. Everyone consequently had to undergo death, as they too were deemed guilty of the original sin. However, no sinner was as worthy as the relatively sin-free Adam to pay for the sins of all mankind. Thus, in order to satisfy His sense of justice, God sent the sinless Jesus Christ to suffer death in the place of mankind. This was the way that He 'paid for the release' of mankind – as Adam’s equal - and whomsoever believes in His sacrifice, is released from death.”

But if we observe these assertions more carefully, we will realize that they are also irrational, and have nothing to do with the Christian faith, and especially with God’s justice and the incarnation of the Lord.

The Problems With the Juridical Position

First of all, let’s take a look at some of the initial problems that the above position creates:

a. If Adam was the one who sinned, why did God consider all of mankind guilty? Isn’t that unfair?

b. If, however, God didn’t consider all of mankind guilty, then what kind of justice was that which had to be satisfied, by demanding the death of someone who is not guilty?

c. Was Jesus Christ truly an equal to Adam, who was a mere creation?

d. What kind of judge is so unfair, as to consciously condemn someone innocent to death, in order to save someone guilty? This act would have been the pinnacle of injustice! It would have been far easier and more generous, to grant absolution to the guilty party, rather than allow someone innocent to die unjustly.

e. If the ‘offer for release’ (the Lord’s self-sacrifice) was in fact the offering demanded for the freeing of mankind from death (as in cases of abduction and the ransom demanded), then to whom was this ‘offering’ made?

f. If this ‘offering’ was made to God, then God must be identified as the ‘abductor’ who demands an offer for the release, and who would also be satisfied by one’s condemnation to death.

g. If the ‘offering’ was made to the Devil, then it must have occurred, despite the will of the just Lord. So, how did the Devil compel God to deliver His innocent Son to death, as an ‘offer for the release’ of mankind? That would mean the Devil has power over God!

The Significance of the Word “Lytron” (an offer for one’s release/freedom)

The various misinterpreters of this topic say that “Lytron” implies the compulsory payment of a certain sum of money for the release of a captive. But let’s see what the word really means, in the Holy Bible:

When these things begin, you must rise up, and lift up your heads, for your final release is imminent” (Luke 21: 28).

“…we sigh, in anticipation of the adoption, of the release of our bodies” (Romans 8:23).

Given that the above words are used in reference to the Second Coming of the Lord, they cannot possibly imply a payment of any kind. It is therefore obvious, that the expression “final release” signifies a setting free, without any payment demanded.

Blessed is the Lord God of Israel, for He visited and implemented the release of His people...” (Luke 1: 68).

In this excerpt also, it indicates that the “release” has already taken place (text is expressed in the past tense), before the time of the Lord’s sacrifice. We see therefore that nothing was actually “paid”, and that the word “lytron” is used in the sense of “releasing” or “liberating”.

Similarly, the word “lytron” when used in reference to the Lord’s sacrifice, doesn’t necessarily imply the payment of a certain amount; it bears the meaning that this sacrifice released/liberated us, WITHOUT A PAYMENT being involved, to anyone.

Was Jesus Adam’s Equal?

Heresies that do not admit the divinity of Jesus Christ are somewhat justified in making this mistake, hence, they are not able to comprehend the true meaning behind Jesus Christ’s sacrifice as analyzed below. Those however who are entirely inexcusable are the ones who – although admitting Christ’s divinity - maintain that Adam was the Lord Jesus’ equal.

Let’s take a look at a few Scriptural excerpts on this topic, where the superiority of Jesus’ sacrifice as compared to Adam’s disobedience is made very evident.

Romans 5: 15 - 20 (Greek original)

Αλλ' ουχ ως το παράπτωμα, ούτω και το χάρισμα. Ει γαρ τω τού ενός παραπτώματι οι πολλοί απέθανον, πολλώ μάλλον η χάρις του Θεού, και η δωρεά εν χάριτι τή τού ενός ανθρώπου Ιησού Χριστού, εις πολλούς επερίσσευσε.

Και ουχ ως δι ενός αμαρτήσαντος το δώρημα. Tο μεν γαρ κρίμα εξ ενός εις κατάκριμα, το δε χάρισμα εκ πολλών παραπτωμάτων εις δικαίωμα. Ει γαρ τω τού ενός παραπτώματι ο θάνατος εβασίλευσε δια τού ενός, πολλώ μάλλον οι την περίσειαν τής χάριτος, και την δωρεάν τής δικαιοσύνης λαμβάνοντες, εν ζωή βασιλεύσουσι δια τού ενός Ιησού Χριστού.

Άρα ουν, ως δι ενός παραπτώματος εις πάντας ανθρώπους εις κατάκριμα, ούτω και δι' ενός δικαιώματος εις πάντας ανθρώπους εις δικαίωσιν ζωής. Ώσπερ γαρ για τής παρακοής τού ενός ανθρώπου αμαρτωλοί κατεστάθησαν οι πολλοί, ούτω και δια τής υπακοής τού ενός, δίκαιοι καταστάθησαν οι πολλοί.

...ού δε επλεόνασεν η αμαρτία, υπερεπερίσσευσεν η χάρις...

Romans 5: 15 - 20 (Translation)

But, misbehaving is not the same as giving. Because, if through one’s [Adam’s] misbehavior the majority suffered death, by comparison the Grace of God and the gift in Grace of the one person, Jesus Christ, was made abundant to many.

And the gift was not as though from one who had sinned. While the judgment that befitted the one [Adam] resulted in condemnation, the gift [Christ’s sacrifice] that sprang from the misbehavior of many, resulted in vindication. For, if with the misbehavior of one [Adam], death came to reign on his account, on the contrary, those who received the surplus of Grace and the gift of justice shall reign in life, through the one: Jesus Christ.

So therefore, just as through one misbehavior [Adam’s] all people were condemned, thus through one justice [Christ’s], all people were vindicated for life. Because, just as through the disobedience of one [Adam], many became sinners, thus through the obedience of one [Christ], many became just.

Therefore, wherever sin was abundant, there Grace was excessively abundant.

What more can one say? It is clear here, that while Adam’s sin became the cause of sin for many, the Lord’s sacrifice was obviously far superior, in that it not only erased Adam’s sin, it erased all the accumulated sins of billions of sinners!

Woe may it be, if the Lord’s sacrifice had only the same worth as the imperfect Adam! Because the Lord, apart from being God, was also a perfect person. Adam on the other hand had not been created perfect, only “very good”. And the expression “very good” is a far cry from “perfect”, just as the expression “in his image” is lacking by comparison to the expression “in his likeness” (Genesis 1:31).

The Recipient of the Lytron

If the Lord’s sacrifice was the “price” paid for the release of mankind from the bonds of death, it could not have been paid to God, because the one who reigns over death is the devil, and not God:

" that through death, He [Christ] may abolish the one who held the power over death - that is, the devil – and release those who, through fear of death, were forever subject to bondage...” (Hebrews 2:14-15).

But then, if God had to pay something to the devil, it would mean that God didn’t have the power to impose His will “for free”. That would have made the devil a victor. However, the devil and all of his “crew” were in actual fact defeated, when Jesus died on the Cross (Colossians 2:13-15). If Satan were to receive a ‘release payment’ in order to set mankind free from the bonds of death, then Satan would have been victorious, and not Christ.

At any rate, the Holy Bible says that “God is Love”, not “justice”, so there is no chance that God would have wanted to sacrifice Love for the sake of a supposedly offended case of justice that required reciprocation. Not to mention that the death of an innocent person in the place of guilty persons would have signified injustice, and not justice.

God didn’t harbor any hatred for mankind on account of their sins! It was mankind that perceived God as a judge, on account of their own, unclean conscience: "...for, although we were enemies, we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son...” (Romans 5: 10).

God always loved us as a Father, and never demanded satisfaction for any supposedly “offended justice” of His. We see this, in John 4:9-10:

“In this was God’s love for us made evident: that He sent forth His only Son into the world, so that we might live through Him. In this is Love: it is not because we loved God, but because He loved us and sent forth His Son for the atonement of our sins.”

The Significance of the Lord’s Sacrifice

For Christians however, the significance of the Lord’s sacrifice is already known. Christians do not equate the worthiness of the Lord with Adam; they do not equate God with an unjust and insane assassin; they do not become the devil’s advocates.

The Church teaches that the Lord Jesus Christ became a perfect human so that - being one of our kind - He would defeat all those things that defeated and brought about sickness to human nature.

In His (Christ’s) person, human nature overcame sin, the devil and death. Because whoever allows himself to be defeated by someone, becomes that person’s slave. (2 Peter 2:19).

Therefore, in order for the Lord to rise from the dead and thus defeat death, He first had to die. But now, through faith in Jesus Christ, and in communion with His Body – the Church - every person can partake of this victory!


See also: The Juridical Mentality of the West Annuls Christ’s Sacrifice