by Young Oon Kim
Catholic Theology Of Reparation
The Roman Catholic theology of reparation somewhat parallels the Unification theology interpretation of restitution through indemnity. For Catholics reparation conveys two meanings:
1) the act of repairing damage to the original relationship between man and God and restoring men to friendship with their Maker, and
2) compensation for an injury done to another human or God. Therefore in theology reparation refers to making amends for insults given to God because of men's sins.
Anselm of Canterbury defined sin as an affront to God's honor for which He demands an apology and satisfaction. Consequently Anselm interpreted redemption as man's satisfaction for the insult Adam leveled at God's rightful authority. By sinning, Adam and Eve betrayed their oath of loyalty to their Creator.
The Catholic theology of reparation treats sin as a personal injury or insult to God. By sinning, the first couple denied their Creator the absolute loyalty and obedience He deserves. So they personally insulted God's majesty. Moreover, since Adam and Eve represented all mankind, their disobedience alienated all future men from God. As a descendant of Adam and Eve, every human is involved in this traitorous and rebellious act against the divine sovereignty. In Adam's sin we all sinned, the medieval theologians declared.
Because of sin mankind is subject to both guilt and a penalty for injury done to God. Guilt separates man from God. In order to remove God's enmity and placate His wrath, man must pay recompense. Sin is followed by a penalty. To obtain forgiveness reparation must be made. In the Old Testament one finds that a close connection exists between sin and retribution (Num. 16:25-35, Ps. 78, Jer. 15:1-9). As sin is a personal offense against God, it makes man His enemy. Sin can kill the soul and deliver the sinner into satanic slavery. In addition, say Roman Catholic theologians, the sinner incurs indebtedness to God which must be paid off.
How does man cancel his debt to God? How does he change from being God's enemy to His friend? Judaism in the Old Testament period pointed out several kinds of expiatory acts as means of reconciliation, such as sacrificial offerings, fasting, almsgiving and forms of penance. During the Hellenistic period, martyrdom was also considered of especially great merit as an atoning act.
Christians took over these Jewish ideas as ways to explain how Jesus' death removes the barriers between men and God. Christ suffered the wrath of God in place of and on behalf of sinners, it was said. Or to put it in a less objectionable form, Christ was supposed to atone for the Fall as a result of his love, obedience and humility in submitting to the sufferings of crucifixion.
How did Christ take away the sins of the world? By reversing the course taken by Adam. Whereas Adam was filled with pride, Christ became the embodiment of humility. Whereas Adam was disobedient to God's commandments, Christ remained obedient even to death on the cross. Thus Christ reconciled men to God by reversing Adam's course and exemplifying the virtues of the Suffering Servant, Catholics tell us.
The New Testament teaches that all Christians should follow the path of reparation taken by Jesus. He is an example to be imitated. He points out the way to life eternal. This implies that we, like him, are called upon to remove the burden of guilt caused by sin and to restore all things to their original goodness. Reparation on our part, Catholic theologians insist, can be achieved through obedience to the commandments of the Church as well as special religious acts of self abnegation and fervent piety. The Divine Principle's interpretation of restoration through indemnity becomes somewhat clarified when seen in the context of ancient Christian faith and practice even though there exist some important differences. 1
1 Based on articles "Reparation, duty of" and "Reparation, theology of" in New Catholic Encyclopedia.
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