Help on AAA : Augustine, Aquinas, Anselm

Dear T.O

I'm reading quite a bit from Aquinas, Augustine and to a lesser degree, Anselm.

Just to be careful, is there anything in their writings that we, as OO, should be careful about??

They were good apologists, so in this respect, Im embarking on their material.

Thank you


  • They were good philosophers and provide useful insights. But their scholastic mindset (particularly as it relates to the atonement of Christ) contrasts with Orthodox teaching. Be sure to balance out your reading of them with our own Fathers.
  • Yes, I would say start with the best "A" there is:  Athanasius, and also with a C and S (Cyril and Severus).  These three I think forms the bulk of Alexandrian/Oriental Orthodox theology.  Later on, you can also supplement your reading with BGG (Basil, Gregory the Theologian, and Gregory of Nyssa).  Then, compare these six at least with the triple A. ;)
  • @Severian:

    Hello. Can you tell me briefly how their soteriological views differ from ours?? Its precisely this topic that I need to know.

    Just for everyone's information, I'm building a PPT presentation for Christian Apologetics to help not only defend our faith, but against Atheism, Protestantism and other heresies. 

    The atheist sections are very very strong. I have to admit, I give credit to science and some to Ravi Zacharias as well as Bishop Robert Barron. 

    Sounds good.. 

    Have you already done such a study? Comparing Orthodox soteriology with the Triple A medieval group?? Can you share the differences?? 

    Guys, I just want to say one small thing here- and this is friendly advice from a brother:
    In Acts of the Apostles, it clearly states that you should defend your faith and so I have no idea what methods you use, but I'm seriously building a strong information repository to solidify my current worldview as a Christian and respond to various questions. 

    The apologists I've used so far seem to quote a lot from the AAA team, so now I feel obliged to read their works and I desperately need to know what to avoid. I want to take the good and leave the bad.
  • edited December 2015

    I am by no means an expert on the issue. I am neither a philosopher nor a theologian, nor can I claim to have studied the writings of the "triple A" in any detail. However, from what I gather they seem to define Christ's sacrificial offering on the cross in rigidly legalistic and juridical terms. God the Father was enraged by Adam's sin, His honor was offended. In His sacrifice on the cross, the Lord Jesus becomes the object of God the Father's wrath and hatred.

    For Saints Severus, Athanasius and Cyril, whose writings I have studied (albeit not as meticulously as I should have), Christ's incarnation, life, crucifixion and resurrection accomplish the following:

    1. "Divinizing" human nature which was corrupted after the fall of Adam by uniting His humanity with His divinity. ("You have come and blessed my nature in Yourself..." Cf. Basilian liturgy; "He took what is ours and gave us what is His..." Cf. Thursday Theotokia)

    2. He condemns sin and death on the cross and satisfies the "divine consistency" of the Father, who told Adam that if he ate of the fruit he would surely die.

    3. He defeats the evil one by His life-giving resurrection, rendering death powerless (Cf. 1 Cor 15:55).

    4. He ascends into heaven and seats our nature on the right hand of the Father.

    5. Because of this, we too can have eternal life and become sons of God according to the divine grace and dispensation (Cf. St. John 1:12-13).

  • edited December 2015
    Some references from an old thread I made years ago on another forum:

    St Severus of Antioch:
    "So he became sin to remit the sins of others: so also he paid the debt that was incurred for us, and we ourselves became righteousness in him; for those who have been freed from debts are righteous, and |203 are not termed liable. And, because during the time of his Humanization he did no sin, therefore also iniquity was not found in him, but he showed himself righteous, that is, he is righteousness; and, when he became flesh, all our nature again was justified in him as in firstfruits; and this is what the wise Paul said to the Corinthians about the Father, «He made him sin for our sake, who knew no sin, that we might be the righteousness of God in him»" ~letter 65

    St Cyril of Alexandria:
    "The Divine Scripture says that Christ hath been made the High Priest and Apostle of our confession [Heb. 3:1] and He hath offered Himself for us for an odour of a sweet smell to God the Father. If any one therefore say that not the Very Word of God was made our High Priest and Apostle when He was made Flesh and man as we, but that man of a woman apart from himself as other than He, was [so made]: or if any one say that in His own behalf also He offered the Sacrifice and not rather for us alone (for He needed not offering Who knoweth not sin), be he anathema." ~10th anathema to Nestorius

  • edited December 2015
    St Athanasius:
    "For being over all, the Word of God naturally by offering His own temple and corporeal instrument for the life  of all satisfied the debt by His death" ~ "On the Incarnation"

    St John Chrysostom:
    “It is as if, at a session of a court of justice, the devil should be addressed as follows: ‘Granted that you destroyed all men because you found them guilty of sin; but why did you destroy Christ? Is it not very evident that you did so unjustly? Well then, through Him the whole world will be vindicated." ~Commentary on St. John the Apostle and Evangelist, Homilies 48-88

    Symeon the New Theologian:
    “God, Who is incomparably higher than the visible and invisible creation, accepted human nature, which is higher than the whole visible creation, and offered it as a sacrifice to His God and Father.... Honoring the sacrifice, the Father could not leave it in the hands of death. Therefore, He annihilated His sentence." ~The First-Created Man

    Testimony from Scripture:
    "Much more then, being now justified by his blood, we shall be saved from wrath through him." ~ Romans 5:9

    "And almost all things are by the law purged with blood; and without shedding of blood is no remission."
    ~Hebrews 9:22

    By no means is this comprehensive, but I hope I pointed you in the right direction. It's been years since I've read these works, but I highly recommend "Man and Redemption" by Fr. Tadros Malaty and "On the incarnation" by St. Athanasius the Apostolic.

    I second the recommendation of @minasoliman, read the writings of the Fathers whose names we mention in the absolution of the servants:

    1. St. Severus of Antioch
    2. Our teacher Dioscorus
    3. St. Athanasius the Apostolic
    4. St. Peter the holy martyr and high priest
    5. St. John Chrysostom
    6. St. Cyril of Alexandria
    7. St. Basil the Great
    8. St. Gregory the Theologian
  • There is a huge Eastern Orthodox/Western Protestant debate on how to describe soteriology.  Eastern Orthodox soteriology stresses our unity with God in Christ.  This unity is the source of our purification from our sins, our consecration, and our illumination and deification.  These might exist in the Triple A, but very little, if at all.  What is stressed in the Triple A is the idea that God is very angry at us, and requires that blood be spilled so that He ceases to be angry at us, that the dishonor against God be lifted.  This stress is not very good theology.  God is consistent, that is He does not go back on His word, yes, but He is not angry at us and does not require blood spilling to divert His wrath.  The death of His Only Begotten Son is a result of the love of the Father, not wrath.  Furthermore, the death of the Son, His blood being spilt, demonstrates eternal life.  As St. Athanasius says, if the matter was merely forgiveness of sins, repentance would be enough.  But death and corruption lay hold of man, so the Word had to take flesh and suffer and die on the Cross so that we may be given the divine life.

    Anselm and Aquinas believed in the infinite sin, or unlimited sin, the idea that all sin is made against God, and thus due to the dishonor made against God, it carries an infinite value that requires an infinite sacrifice.

    St. Athanasius and St. Cyril believed that Adam through sin brought death, and through death propagated more sin.  Sin is when you try to remove yourself further from communion with God, leading deeper and deeper into further corruption and death.  The Infinite Christ came to the depths of our wretchedness, born in a manger, grew up in a pauper family, lived homeless, hungered, suffered the most humiliating death, and went into the depths of Hades (really the depths of our wretchedness) to raise us up into the riches of His divinity.  Sin has the price of zero, nothingness, whereas Christ pays the infinite price for us, we who are worth nothing.  There is no infinite sin, no blood-thirsty desires for sin sacrifice, but all about Love, the act of the Love of God incarnate for us.

    So that's the gist of it.
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