Thursday, May 16, 2013

Hymns, Propitiation, and Terror of God's Wrath

Perhaps some of you may be able to help in responding to the concerns of this reader, who writes:
"I have read in several places comments from Catholic commentators/theologicals vehemently opposing the Propitionary View of Atonement that shaped me decisively as a Protestant. The idea of the "Wrath of God" seems like a concept people are sort of embarrassed by, one they consider an anachronism. Interestingly I recall a comment in the prolix and disturbingly clinical Commentary on the Documents of Vatican II (Herbert Vorgrimler) where Ratzinger sort of warily but obligatorily acknowledges the "mystery of the wrath of God." The Puritan in me was pleased to read that. As was the fan of so much moving Protestant hymnody.

"But speaking of the latter, is anyone other than Evangelicals, and even among them a select few, going to retain a memory of this concept [of propitiation], despite its obviously forthright place in Paul's teaching (NT Wright notwithstanding)? Check this out [Mary Louise Bringle, "Debating hymns" (Christian Century, May 1, 2013)]

"[And I would love to know what readers recommend as a good accessibly theological book on the Atonement {emphasis added}.Evangelicals have John Stott's The Cross of Christ. I think I mentioned a few years ago that I was pleasantly surprised that NOR ran a review of Catholic basher but pretty sharp apologist R.C. Sproul's book, The Cross, which was halfway complimentary. Is there a Catholic equivalent? Possibly Stephen Clark's Redeemer? Don't know, but would like to hear recommendations.]"
My own immediate thoughts are that WRATH is important, missing, and needed in contemporary RC teaching. One of my hobby horses has been "fear." We need more "FEAR of God" -- as in "the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom."

There's little if any AWE in contemporary Catholic sensibilities, and I think that is in large part due to liturgical and catechetical changes since V-II. When do alter servers and priests prostrate themselves before the almighty during the Mass? Where is there FEAR of God, when he's a stand-in for Barney the Dinosaur? -- Or, as the reader put it, God becomes an all-loving, all-understanding, ever-rooting for everyone figure in the sky who is On Our Side. His sole business is our coddled happiness. What do you do with that?

[Hat tip to J.M.]


Anonymous said...

I have not read this book but it looks to be something that may match your interest: Poena Satisfactoria by John P. Joy (check

This book is excellent: Predestination Grace and Free Will by Dom M. John Farrelly

This web site has much to offer:

Lynne said...

There was a well-respected priest, Father Mueller, who wrote a book in 1881 which goes into this. It can be found here,

The Holy Mass: the sacrifice for the living and the dead

This sense of propitiation is in the TLM, SEE THIS LINK
but this prayer was not kept in the N.O. Mass. (why am I not surprised?)