Alpha & Omega Ministries Apologetics Blog
Another Mail-Bag Question
07/18/2005 - James WhiteIn support of Roman Catholicism, we read,
1 John 2: 2 And He Himself is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the whole world. - Propitiation connotes an ongoing event, and that event started and finished on the cross. The only way I can make sense of this apparent contradiction is through the Eternal Sacrifice, the sacrifice of the Lamb slain before the foundation of the world. Only outside of time can this make sense.A number of things immediately come to mind in reference to this assertion.
1) Propitiation, (i`lasmo,j / hilasmos) is a noun, not a verb in 1 John 2:2. Upon what basis is the assertion made, "Propitiation connotes an ongoing event"? We are not told. While it is true the elect of God experience this over time (of necessity, since the elect, joined to Christ in His death, experience this over the centuries as they are born, live, experience regeneration, forgiveness, justification, sanctification, etc., and then enter into His presence in death), this is not the point of the writer.
2) As this argument is meant to support the Roman Catholic dogma of the Mass as a propitiatory sacrifice, I truly wonder if the correspondent realizes that the citation of this text is actually counter his intentions? The Mass limits the effect of the allegedly propitiatory sacrifice based upon the intention and disposition of the person attending Mass. That is why one can come to Mass repeatedly without being perfected thereby. This presents both a limited concept of propitiation (counter, I believe, the biblical usage of the term) as well as one that is limited in scope to those who approach God through the Eucharistic sacrifice. The text in 1 John 2:2 refers to "the whole world," which does not mean every single human being, but has the same referrent as that given by the same author in Revelation 5:9, where there the Lamb's sacrifice purchases for God with His blood "men from every tribe and tongue and people and nation," i.e., the elect of God, Jew and Gentile (John 11:51-52, 1 Cor. 1:24). None of these considerations at all assist the Roman Catholic in the establishment of a non-perfecting, limited sacrifice of Christ mediated through the Mass.