Theology of Redemption and the Christian Liberty
Every religion operates a deity that advocates the principle of love and peace. Yet, there are very few religions that teach from the same doctrine or operate in the same process. Christianity, for example, may be diluted to several different religions: Baptist, Protestant, Catholics, among others (McHugh 90). All of these are grounded on the supposition that Jesus Christ is the son of God that was sent to save humanity.
Yet, there are many fundamental differences between these churches that cause social and personal conflicts such as the concept of redemption and the Christian Liberty.
This paper will examine those two topics comprehensively. First, this paper will examine how Christianity defines theology and how it is supposed to be achieved. Second it will examine the contextual meaning of Christian Liberty and how its concept affects contemporary social issues.
Introduction to Theology of Redemption
Literally, redemption means to buy back or repurchase (Wrigth 80). This is clear from the words of the Old Testament, in which the word redemption is used to refer to the ransom of slaves (Green 69).
Redemption isn’t a new concept to theology. Several religions have some form of redemption practice or belief. Other religions have a broader meaning for redemption. More often, it is related with a person overcoming their shortcomings as a being in order to attain an exemplary position.
In Buddhism, for example, giving up attachments to material desires is known as redemption while the Judaic belief system regards redemption as the act of bringing back of Israelites from their exile. Modern Christian theology regards redemption as a form of deliverance from sin which is an important element of salvation.
However, the arrival of Jesus Christ provided a whole new meaning to the concept by providing a new context. The supposed betrayal of Adam and Eve became the all-encompassing sin and Jesus Christ was the way out of it (Hladky 108).
He presented a greater and more perfect tabernacle that is not made with human hands, that is to say, is not a part of this creation. He did not enter by means of the blood of goats and calves, thus obtaining eternal redemption. (Hebrews 9:12; Colossians 1:14). Upon Jesus Christ’s death, redemption went beyond slaves but it is also about salvation from sin.
Origen’s Theory of Redemption
When we consider the theory of redemption, it isn’t possible to have a discussion without considering the concepts of Origen Adamantius. He is often attributed to controversial notions like universal reconciliation, universal salvation and other heteroclite views but the author Fredrick W. Norris wrote a book The Westminster handbook to Origen in the year 2004 and wrote that such an attribution would be entirely erroneous (Das 157).
Origen proclaimed the diversity and radical nature of views about the soul (Deeway 79). He claimed that the soul is infinite with no beginning or end. It can, however, vary in strength depending on the decisions made from the previous life. The previous life will determine one’s current life.
This concept was widely accepted until Emperor Constantine took over the church in the year 325AD. Much later, the Emperor Justinian condemned this philosophy in 553 AD and the Church has since criticized the basis of Origen’s theory. There is a great debate on whether his parents were actually pagans or Christians because his theories and completed works have always been grounded on debatable claims and concepts (Drane 84). This resulted to a lot of controversies. He became popular but he also had to face some terrible animosity from the Bishop of Alexandria named Demetrius at the time.
The story of his dispute with the Valentinian doctrine follower is a well known anecdote and it took place when Origen was preaching at Caesarea Palestinae but he went to Greece to meet the follower of Valentinus Candidus. The doctrine basically indicates that salvation and damnation are independent of volition (will) and predestinate and that Satan is beyond repentance (Lenski 139). Origen argued that if Satan’s fall was an action of will, then his repentance is also possible by applying the same will.
Demetrius, Bishop of Alexandria, was so infuriated at Origen’s proclamation that he even called for a condemnation by the assembly of bishops in the Roman Catholic Church. But nothing could change the acceptance of Origen in Palestine and Greece. Origen’s theology reflects on the virtues of God and the freedom man has. Origen’s theory of redemption has also been an extension of his views on free will and the freedom of God’s creature.
He truly believed that no one is beyond redemption. According to him, redemption is a magnificent edification by divine intervention that has the power to restore all souls to their original blessedness. He also states that not even Satan can ever be so depraved and at a loss of freedom and rationality that he becomes beyond redemption. That God only helps with reformative intention – never compels, and even punishment is a mode of reform and remedy and should not be regarded as retribution (Goudney).
One of the most debated doctrines of Christian theology happens to be the Ransom View of Atonement. Origen was among the pioneers of this theory which essentially explains the ancient belief that Adam and Eve sold humanity over to the Devil at the time of the Fall. Of course since humanity has been sold to the Devil, redemption was possible only by paying the Devil. God, apparently, negotiated with the Devil that the sacrifice of Christ would be the redemption price.
What the Devil didn’t know is that Christ could not be held in the bonds of death. The minute the Devil accepted the sacrifice of Christ, humanity was freed and people were salvaged. In this way, the theory states that the death of Christ was a ransom, paid to Satan (Timothy 2:5).
Many saints and theologians have regarded the ‘ransom’ as something metaphorical and symbolic rather than literal. Other philosophers and theologians like Gustaf Aulen, think the ransom theory actually speaks about freedom of humanity from the bondage of death and sin. Many Catholic and Protestant denominations and evangelical theologians reject Origen and these concepts entirely.
Introduction to Christian Liberty
Christian Liberty is a very debatable concept in Christian theology and while some swear to its truth, others argue that there is no such liberty allowed. Some believe the notion of Christian Liberty has nothing to do with the bible, while others are keen to put forward (Galatians 5:13).
So what is Christian Liberty exactly? The Bible lays down teachings that are based on the Ten Commandments, later trickled down to two commandments. However, there are some claims that some contemporary issues are not covered by the Bible and as such, no official position is taken. These issues become a prime reason of the confusion.
Christian Liberty advocates that when there is an inclusion, there is an exclusion. As such, every issue not prohibited by the bible is, therefore, allowed. In other words, Christian Liberty maintains that humans have the freedom to do whatever they wish in any matter the Bible does not address (Jaeggli 78). In doing so, there should be no fear of persecution by the saints or church. Christian Liberty states that if it isn’t mentioned in the Bible, it just wasn’t important enough. (Romans 14:14, Romans 14:22)
The preachers who believe in Christian Liberty also specify that the Christian Liberty is a blessing and should not be used to break Bible principles, raise arguments in Church, destroy a Saint and their reputation, compromise your conscience, harm the reputation of the gospel and to put yourself in bondage.
They also hold that a person should never change what the bible states such as allowing an action that are prohibited. The idea is to use this freedom to be more open minded rather then use it for causing trouble (I Corinthians 8:9).
It also allows you to be open to accepting those who are weak of faith and to not pass judgment against people for any reason. Such act of discrimination or judgment is regarded by God as shameful (Romans 14:1).
Christians are also ordered to do everything that God commands and they shouldn’t question the laws and obligations or compromise them for anything. God’s words are the be all and end all of everything human.