Girard on contemporary John Piper-esque Calvinism

Medieval and modern theories of redemption all look in the direction of God for the causes of the Crucifixion: God’s honor, God’s justice, even God’s anger, must be satisfied. These theories don’t succeed because they don’t seriously looking the direction where the answer must lie: sinful humanity, human relations, mimetic contagion, which is the same thing as Satan. They speak much of original sin, but they fail to make the idea concrete. That is why they give an impression of being arbitrary and unjust to human beings, even if they are theologically sound.

-Rene Girard, I See Satan Fall Like Lighting, p.150

I, like many other folks, have been troubled by the seemingly “unjust” God that seems to show up sometimes when the sovereignty of God is explained in some quarters. I think Girard is on to something here in explaining why that is. It’s in line with Robert Webber’s focus on the Christus Victor theory to also soften up Calvinism a bit through selective emphasis. If your theology talks about God a lot and rarely mentions Satan or man, then you don’t sound much like the Bible, which brings these other characters up quite regularly.

On the strange allergy of modern research to all the forms of the sacred

This phrases comes from the footnotes of one of Rene Girard’s works. I think “Allergy” is the right word.

He discusses it earlier on:

The modern social sciences are essentially antireligious. If religion is not a kind of tough weed, irritating but unimportant, what can we make of it?

Throughout history religion is the constant element in diverse and changing institutions. Therefore we cannot discount it in favor of the pseudo-solution that takes it as a mere nothing, the fifth wheel of all the coaches, without coming to grips with the opposite possibility, disagreeable as it is for modern antirelgiion.

Later, while taking shots at postmodernism, he continues:

The old anti-Christian anthropologists knew better. Like the Christians themselves, they believed in truth. To demonstrate the Gospels were meaningless, they tried to show that they resembled myths too closely not to be mythical as well. They did, therefore, just what I have done; they sought to define what the myths and the Gospels have in common. They hoped that the two had so much in common that no room would be left for any significant difference between them. In this way they tried to demonstrate the mythic character of the latter.

These industrious researchers never discovered what thy were looking for, but in my view they were right to persist in their search. Paradoxically, their anti-Christian perspective prevented the old anthropologists from discovering ALL the similarities between the Gospels and the myths. Fearing, no doubt, that they might fall again into the orbit of the Gospels, they kept their distance from them.

-Rene Girard, I See Satan Fall Like Lighting, p.89, 103

A primary point in Girard’s theory is that Jesus’ death and resurrection where the turning point in human history, precisely because they were exactly the same as all the myths before it from the dawn of man. The one critical difference is that in this case, the victim is innocent, the crowd is guilty. There’s no going back.