Posted on: April 10th, 2007 Milbank on Christology (Atonement, Historicity) & Violence

I would have loved to be at the Calvin College conference on Radical Orthodoxy in 2003. To my mind it demonstrates the rigor and vitality of both Reformed theology and Radical Orthodoxy. I am reading through’s notes on the round table portion of the conference, and here are some (the first of many) highlights for me (w.r.t. Milbank):

·I love this quotation from Milbank: “To begin with, I want to emphasize my appreciation for this kind of conversation. This is real theology: engaging with real issues from the past as if they are important today. This is what is most important: seriously having to think in our situation and in the terms of tradition. This is good.”

·Milbank on atonement. "I see no penal substitution in Aquinas. Yes there is double predestination in Aquinas. (Aquinas is wrong on this; it’s horrific to believe in double predestination.) There is a difference between satisfaction and punishment in medieval usage. The father doesn’t punish the son or the son’s humanity, but Jesus offers satisfaction by suffering the consequences of sins, omits the punishment we deserve because of our sin, and satisfies the divine honor (this is different from the Reformation model). So, there is no divine affliction in violence or transaction in God. That would be the most ridiculous mythology. If that’s Christianity, I want nothing to do with it! I dislike it intensely."

·Milbank on Paul’s nomism (perhaps Milbank wd say “legalism” or “moralism”). “Yes, there is a big difference between me and the Reformed tradition. I want to push the antinomian tradition of Paul more than the Reformed (there is something about the Muggletonians and Blake I want to appreciate)–something about an insistence in going on beyond the law. Calvin is completely inadequate in terms of the radicalism of Paul on the law.”

·Milbank on fiction versus “the real.”  “The meaning of the Incarnation is that it surpasses our usual distinctions between fiction and reality. Like a true fairy story, it is the arrival of a realm beyond our distinction of real and imagined. A recreation of the world, a restoration of a pre fallen order, bound to seem like an entry to the magical– like in Shakespeare’s late romances.”

Some questions I have for Milbank:

– How does Milbank’s "ontology of peace" deal with the violence of the cross?

– Does Milbank overidenitfy Christ and the church? Does he inappropriately  subsume Christology under ecclesiology (the doctrine of totus christus notwithstanding)?

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