Thursday, April 19, 2012

Bryan Cross on Sin-Bearing: Put ‘em in a bubble, and let ‘em float away

Bryan Cross says,
The Catholic paradigm is so foreign to you, that you have not yet grasped it. But you don’t realize this, so you keep misconstruing it in a Reformed way. I’ll try once again to explain it. In the Catholic doctrine of satisfaction, it is not the case that “the just penalty for sin is directed towards Christ.” Instead the arrow of sacrifice is upwardly directed from Christ in His human nature, not downwardly in the sense of wrath from the Father being poured out on His Son.

The statements in the Catholic Catechism about Christ “bearing our sins” are not talking about bearing them in the sense of being the object of God’s wrath. Christ bears them in His heart as priest, second Adam, and mediator, in love offering Himself to God on our behalf to make reparation for our sins, bearing them in the sense of sorrowing in His human nature over each sin in its offense against God and detraction from His glory. Likewise, the statement, “Jesus atoned for our faults and made satisfaction for our sins to the Father” is talking about atonement and satisfaction in the Catholic sense, not in the sense of Christ being the object of divine wrath.
Then for emphasis (i.e., not only do you “really not understand”, but you “really really really don’t understand”), he says,
In Catholic theology, that Christ was numbered among the transgressors does not mean that God saw Christ as a transgressor, or conceived of Christ as guilty in any way. God ordained the events, but men numbered Him among the transgressors: “we esteemed him not,” “we esteemed him stricken, struck down by God, and afflicted,” “they made his grave with the wicked and with a rich man in his death.”

The problem, however, is that you don’t yet understand the Catholic doctrine, and don’t know that you don’t understand it. So you keep misinterpreting it through your Reformed lenses, and then calling it “what all faithful Catholics believe.” In order for us to make progress, you have to let Catholics tell you what Catholics believe, rather than attempting to tell Catholics what Catholics believe while they keep telling you that that’s not what the Catholic Church believes and teaches. Otherwise, you could never come to see when you have misunderstood it.
In Bryan’s world, here’s what “atonement” means: Christ is like a bubble for sin. He “bears it” away, as shown in the video:

Jesus is your bubble. Cast your sins upon him, and it’s like you put them in a bubble, and let them float away!


  1. Most Catholics (including myself) have a conventional "western" understanding of the atonement. At least, that's my experience. Sure, there are other dimensions -- reconciliation, ransom, moral exemplar, Christus Victor -- but these are subjected to Christ's loving submission, on behalf of sinful man, to the just wrath of the Father.

  2. So, Roman Catholics are at variance with each other on the atonement due to private judgment? Very edifying.

  3. Bryan Cross knows what he's talking about here. There has been a shortage of catechesis on the Atonement within the Catholic Church, resulting in much confusion.

  4. People actually watched that sit-com? Par for the course.

    "you have to let Catholics tell you what Catholics believe, rather than attempting to tell Catholics what Catholics believe"

    There are a lot of different Catholics out there, let me tell you. But mostly it's God is nice, and as long as you lived a half-way decent life, he will most likely let you in, but maybe have to do some purgatory.

    The truth is that Christ became "sin" for us. He cried "My God, My God, why have you forsaken Me?" The Father left His Son, so that we can embrace the promise: "I will Never leave you, nor forsake you."
    What an awesome God! What a wretch I am, and yet He was pierced for my filthy transgressions and sins. Thank You Father; and thank You Jesus, my Lord and Friend forever! Amen.

  5. Don -- I promise you, I only caught it out of the corner of my eye!

    Really, though, why have an "infallible Magisterium" that's going to waste its only two infallibly ex cathedra papal pronouncements on Mary? Why not really bring the infallibility to bear on a central issue like this one?

    Seems like such a waste of bombast on their part.