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Austin Cline

Appeasing an Angry God

By March 22, 2004

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In order to better understand why Mel Gibson made the choices he did when creating his movie "The Passion" and why it has resonated so much with some Christians, it is necessary to better understand what some think about Jesus' sacrifice and death. Many have commented on how brutal and graphic that suffering and death and been portrayed, but in fact some theological positions require such gore and barbarism in order to make their basic points.

Robert A. Sungenis writes in The Remnant about how angry his God is - and how his God's sense of "honor" can only be restored by the most brutal and gory sacrifice possible:

When we consider the severity of the sin of Adam and Eve Ė the magnitude of which can be measured by realizing that its punishment was nothing less than the plunging of the whole human race into death and damnation Ė we can better understand the necessity of Christís brutal suffering to appease the Fatherís wrath. The reason Adam and Eveís sin was so horrible was that it essentially accused God of being the devil, and made out the devil as if he were God. By eating the forbidden fruit, they were saying that God was not who He claimed to be, but was an imposter who was lying to them about His plans. Instead, Adam and Eve chose the devil as the bearer of truth. In other words, they had completely reversed the roles of God and the devil. It was not unlike the sin of Pharisees who accused Jesus of performing miracles under the power of the devil rather than the Holy Spirit, which prompted Jesus to issue the curse of the ďUnforgivable SinĒ for blasphemy against the Holy Spirit (cf., Mark 3:29-30). This was a supreme offense against God, an insult far beyond merely eating a piece of fruit. Only an equally supreme sacrifice could ever appease Godís wrath and restore His honor among angels and men.
Suffice it to say, the Latin Mass is saturated, from beginning to end, with the theme of sacrifice, propitiation and appeasement which is offered to God the Father so that His wrath against our sins will be abated and that His tender mercies will flow to us. I dare say that, without the daily offering of the Catholic Mass throughout the world, God would have no choice but to destroy it immediately for its sins. It is only through the propitiatory offering of the Mass that God is appeased enough to allow the world to go on existing one more day. This also means, of course, that if the Mass is ever taken away, time on earth will be over.
In the end, we must realize that Gibsonís brutal portrayal of Christís crucifixion is not exaggerated or superfluous in the least. Every ounce of blood spilt, every blow to the head, every spit in the face, every thorn in the forehead, every nail and spear in the body, were all calculated, expected and necessary to serve as a propitiatory sacrifice to God the Father, to avert His wrath and preserve His honor. If anything, Christís gruesome sufferings show us how supremely and majestically high God is above us (Is 6:1-6; 55:9). ... In the end, the problem is not the graphic portrayal of Christís suffering in Gibsonís film. The problem is that men have lost sight of the seriousness of sin and how much it offends a holy and almighty God. They donít understand Gibsonís graphic film because they have little notion of what it takes to appease an angry God. Unfortunately, those who refuse to understand it now, will be forced to discover it when they meet Him at Judgment Day.

That's quite an, er, "interesting" perspective. God needed to "restore" his "honor among angels and men"? This sounds an awful lot like how some Muslim men can only "restore" honor lost by female relatives if they brutally murder those relatives. Of course, in this case Sungenis' god is so much more kind than such men because this god only brutalizes his son, not the rest of us.

To be perfectly frank, this god of his sounds so awful that I don't think it could ever have had any "honor" that could be restored in the first place. There is no "honor" in any being so bloodthirsty and so vicious. Sungenis doesn't worship a god, he worships the worst impulses and most evil inclinations that lie at the heart of humankind. Out of fear of himself or of others, I don't know which (maybe it's both?), he idolizes the worst in humanity in the hopes of appeasing that evil and thus, perhaps, avoiding a bad end for himself and others. How pathetic.

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March 28, 2011 at 1:51 pm
(1) Bill says:

Austin I argree that the article by Sengenis is ‘interesting’ and in my opinion misses the point of the cross entirely. The word appeasement should never be used as it is not only theologically incorrect, but truly makes God out to be abusive (bad god) and Jesus to be good (nice god). The wrath of God is the full weight of his being brought against that which destroys (sin) the object of his affection (us). The is why 1 Corinthians says ‘God made Him who who had no sin (himself) become sin for us. God isnt po’ed at all of us, but tather that which hurts, kills, etc…us. btw no where in the Bible does it say that daily mass is what keeps the world from going up in flames.

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