On the Mystery of Redemption

Vladimir Lossky 1903-1958

The immensity of this work of Christ, a work incomprehensible to the angels, as St. Paul tells us, cannot be enclosed in a single explanation nor in a single metaphor. The very idea of redemption assumes a plainly legal aspect: it is the atonement of the slave, the debt paid for those who remained in prison because they could not discharge it. Legal also is the theme of the mediator who reunited man to God through the cross. But these two Pauline images, stressed again by the Fathers, must not be allowed to harden, for this would be to build an indefensible relationship of rights between God and humanity. Rather must we relocate them among the almost infinite number of other images, each like a facet of an event ineffable in itself. (Lossky, “Christological Dogma”, in Orthodox Theology, Crestwood, N.Y.: St. Vladimir’s Seminary Press, 1989, p. 111).