Fr. Thomas Joseph White on Substitutionary Atonement

I’ve finished the first book on my list of intended reading for 2018! The honor goes to Fr. Thomas Joseph White, O.P.’s The Light of Christ: An Introduction to Catholicism. I’ve also made a start on Middlemarch, but I’m reading it with friends, and we’re not scheduled to finish till May. The next one I finish will probably be Thy Will Be Done: Letters to Persons in the World by St. Francis de Sales (I’ve organized a book club for March).

One of the particularly lovely passages in White’s book came in his discussion of atonement and the Passion:

The passion is not a mystery of divine wrath and vengeance but of divine justice, mercy, and reparation. There is no problem with the use of the language of “substitutionary atonement,” but there is a question of what this language connotes. Jesus’s substitutionary atonement for our sins is above all something positive, not something negative. He substitutes his love, his justice, and his obedience there where the human race has lacked love, justice, and obedience.

I met Fr. White through the Dominican House of Studies, and for anyone in D.C., I’d definitely recommend praying with the friars (and getting to meet them) by joining them for Evening Prayer. For those outside D.C., you can check to see if the Thomistic Institute is planning any events near you!