The doctrine of redemptive almsgiving states that giving money to the poor provides a ransom for sin. This idea, implicit in the writings of Luke and also Paul, were boldly advocated by the Apostolic Fathers.
2nd Clement 16.4 states: “Almsgiving is therefore good as repentance from sin. Fasting is better, but almsgiving is better than both. Love covers a multitude of sins but prayer from a good conscience rescues from death. Blessed is every man who is found full of these things for almsgiving lightens sin.
Didache 4.5-6 states: “Do not be one who stretches out his hands to receive, but shut them when it comes to giving. Of whatever you have gained by your hands, you shall give a ransom for your sins.
Barnabas 19.10 states: “You shall remember the day of judgment day and night and you shall seek the face of the saints either laboring by speech and going out to exhort, and striving to save souls by the word, or working with your hands for the ransom of your sins. You shall not hesitate to give and when you give you shall not grumble
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Origen, Cyprian and Chrysostom all cite Luke 11:41 as proof-text to support the doctrine that almsgiving redeems sin.
This doctrine is inconsistent with the belief structure of Christians that Jesus died for our sins. Why is it that the atonement provided by the death of Jesus was replaced in the writings of some Apostolic Fathers by redemptive almsgiving?
This is a work in progress.