510rufbnvdl._ux250_.jpgIn no other way could we have learned, wrote Irenaeus, of God’s way of redeeming humanity from sin and evil than by the death of the mediator on the cross. In a single packed sentence (among the most influential in early Christian teaching of salvation), Irenaeus distinguished between the violence of the Deceiver and the nonviolence of the Redeemer: “Since the apostasy tyrannized over us unjustly, and though we were by nature the property of the omnipotent God, alienated us contrary to nature, rendering us its own disciples, the Word of God, powerful in all things, and not defective with regard to His own justice, did righteously turn against the apostasy, and redeem from it His own property, not by violent means (as the Deceiver had obtained dominion over us at the beginning, when he insatiably snatched away what was not his own), but by means of persuasion, as befits a God of counsel, who does not use violent means to obtain what He desires; so that neither should justice be infringed upon, nor the ancient handiwork of God go to destruction” (Against Heresies. 5.1.1).

Thomas Oden, Classic Christianity, page 426