Wednesday, March 24, 2004

The New York Review of Books: God in the Hands of Angry Sinners

"Gibson gives us "God in the hands of angry sinners." Behind both these minatory visions stands a bloodthirsty Father, damning and punishing. It can be said in Gibson's defense that he was not narrowly anti-Semitic when he wanted to include the verse from Matthew 27.25. He sees vast hordes becoming subject to God's vengeance, to be carried off to hell. He offers equal opportunity damnation. Saint Augustine came to see that this view of a vengeful father was unworthy of God, and abandoned the "ransom" theory of Christ's death,[9] the notion that the death of Christ was a price paid to God in order to bring about the redemption of humanity."

"Not many thinkers have followed Augustine's lead in this, although the philosopher René Girard has done so brilliantly.[10] But without formal theological reasoning, most Christians have quietly realized that God the inflicter of eternal torture is not a concept they can live with. The recent and rapid fading of belief in hell is one of the things that conservatives deplore."

Actually, Augustine was one of the proposers of this theory. The place to look for its abolition is in Anselm. This is really egregious history.

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