I am finishing up St. John of Damascus’ work An Exposition on the Orthodox Faith. I have slowly been working through his three main treatises (Fountain of Knowledge, On Heresies, and An Exposition) and will soon be done, so my posting about St. John will probably slow down. Until then though, I wanted to share this extremely powerful quote:
Since our Lord Jesus Christ was without sin…He was not subject to death, even though death had by sin entered into the world. And so for our sake He submits to death and dies and offers Himself to the Father as a sacrifice for us. For we had offended Him and it was necessary for Him to take upon Himself our redemption that we might thus be loosed from the condemnation – for God forbid that the Lord’s blood should have been offered to the tyrant! Wherefore, then, death approaches, gulps down the bait of the body, and is pierced by the hook of divinity. Then, having tasted of the sinless and life-giving body, it is destroyed and gives up all those whom it had swallowed down of old. For, just as darkness entirely disappears when light is let in, so is destruction driven away at the onset of life, and life comes to all, while destruction comes to the destroyer.
A note to our Roman Catholics and Orthodox friends: St. John is recognized as a Doctor of the Church. The Roman Catholics to officially declare his book Nihil obstat and Imprimatur, meaning there are no doctrinal or moral errors. One point of contention between Roman Catholics/Orthodox and Evangelicals is the Evangelical insistence on substitutionary atonement. I am convinced that both sides have different meanings and applications for this term. But to hopefully bridge a theological gap between Evangelicals and Roman Catholics/Orthodox, let me point this out; the above quotation from St. John of Damascus is EXACTLY what most Evangelicals mean when they talk about substitutionary atonement. Evangelicals believe that humanity sinned against God and in so doing offended Him. Since He is just, we deserve the punishment due to us. However, Christ stood in the way and took the punishment for us (by dying) so that we might be redeemed. This teaching is in alignment with St. John of Damascus, who is a doctor of the Church and a revered Saint. May we now put this issue to rest?