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Author Topic: Is There Such A Thing As "Righteous Anger" And If So, Can We Claim to Have It?  (Read 3929 times) Average Rating: 0
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« on: April 13, 2009, 07:07:10 AM »

This is a spin-off from a discussion in another thread:
http://www.orthodoxchristianity.net/forum/index.php/topic,20140.msg310416.html#msg310416

The questions before us are: Is There Such A Thing As "Righteous Anger" And If So Can We Claim to Have It?

The first question raises others. Is there such a thing as righteous anger, or is anger always a passion? What conditions must be met for anger to be righteous? Against whom can righteous anger be directed? Demons? Humans? Animals? Inanimate objects?
The second question is: can we ever claim that our anger is righteous? Or is this Pride?
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« Reply #1 on: April 13, 2009, 07:38:17 AM »

I would like to say that is best to stop anger , to pay evil with good , turn the other cheek , who judges for our clouth give him our shirt too , who makes us go with him a mile , let us go two . Love our enemies , bless those who curse us , pray for them . Be perfect cause our Father in heavens is perfect ! And so be it our behaviour that people seeing our deeds to praise our Father from heavens . I would still say that there is "righteouss anger" as long as we can control it and it doesn`t rule us , but we rule her , without affecting our judgement as David says. This is what Paul says in one of the Epistles , don`t let the sunset on your anger . Everything that rules over us is not good and it is a sin . But the bigest righteous of all is Love and Mercy . Don`t judge so that we won`t be judged , with the measurement we judge with that we will be judged . We do much more without responding evil with evil , but with good and our reward will be even bigger , cause in the Law we are all in guilt , but in grace we are all cleaned . In Galatians 5:20-24 Paul speaks about the fruits of the Spirit and fruits of the flesh . Anger is counted as fruit of the flesh . Also in verse 24 it says : Those who are Jesus Christ`s have crucified their flesh with Him . The biggest virtue of all is Love and he who loved has known God cause God is Love , and as 1 Corinthians chapter 13 says "love is greater than all" . We have the model Jesus Christ our Passover wich died for our sins , the perfect man . Peace . God is Love .
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« Reply #2 on: April 13, 2009, 07:52:56 AM »

I would still say that there is "righteouss anger" as long as we can control it and it doesn`t rule us , but we rule her , without affecting our judgement as David says.

That's a good point. One cannot possibly be carried away by a "righteous anger", since it would then clearly be a passion. So what then should we do with "righteous anger"? Should it be directed at people?
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« Reply #3 on: April 13, 2009, 07:59:02 AM »

The only "righteous anger" I can think of would be what seems to us to be that of the Lord. Beyond that, for us, none.
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« Reply #4 on: April 13, 2009, 08:16:50 AM »

The only "righteous anger" I can think of would be what seems to us to be that of the Lord. Beyond that, for us, none.

That's what I've always been taught, together with the fact that God's "wrath" is Passionless (unlike ours). And what seems to us like "wrath", is in fact not wrath, but Love.
But we are incapable of such, and to think we are is nothing but pride.
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« Reply #5 on: April 13, 2009, 08:22:16 AM »

St. Paul wrote in his letter to Ephesians (4:26), "in your anger, do not sin" (that's actually a line from Psalms 4). In my Ukrainian translation, this sounds like "гнівайтeся, та нe грішіть" - which can be conveyed in English as "you may be angry, but you must not sin." So, anger per se is not a sin. However, in the patristic literature anger is always, invariably defined as a passion, and we are admonished to avoid it in all situations.

So, I guess I agree completely with Aristokles. What we "anthropomorphically" call the Lord's "anger," is legitimate; any other anger must be avoided and never called righteous.
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« Reply #6 on: April 13, 2009, 08:27:52 AM »

The only "righteous anger" I can think of would be what seems to us to be that of the Lord. Beyond that, for us, none.

Open the Gospels to Matthew 5:22 where the Saviour strongly disapproves of anger against a brother if it is without a cause.

I don't think that anybody wants to recommend anger but it cannot be gainsayed that it can have a legitimate place, if only rarely.
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« Reply #7 on: April 13, 2009, 08:28:30 AM »

But if one of the Passions can be called "Righteous", then why not the others? Why not "Righteous Sexual Urge" or "Righteous Acquisitiveness"?
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« Reply #8 on: April 13, 2009, 09:22:02 AM »

Quote
But if one of the Passions can be called "Righteous", then why not the others? Why not "Righteous Sexual Urge" or "Righteous Acquisitiveness"?

Is it a passion to feel desire for one's wife, or to desire those things which are necessary for life (sufficient food, water, air, shelter, etc.)?
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« Reply #9 on: April 13, 2009, 09:32:52 AM »

Quote
But if one of the Passions can be called "Righteous", then why not the others? Why not "Righteous Sexual Urge" or "Righteous Acquisitiveness"?

Is it a passion to feel desire for one's wife, or to desire those things which are necessary for life (sufficient food, water, air, shelter, etc.)?

Sexual urge to have sex with one's wife or husband is still a Passion, yes.
The Passions themselves are not intrinsicly "evil", they are morally neutral- which is why I don't think we can call them "Righteous".
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« Reply #10 on: April 13, 2009, 09:36:41 AM »

But if one of the Passions can be called "Righteous", then why not the others? Why not "Righteous Sexual Urge" or "Righteous Acquisitiveness"?
Clearly there is righteous sexual urge and righteous acquisitiveness.  One increases loving union between two people and even sometimes leads to the blessing of children, the other, supports all the fruits of righteous sexual urge through the proper and moderate use of the material world, a gift of God the creator.  In other words, "be fruitful and multiply", and "bring forth abundantly in the earth".  We haven't even begun to realize the multiplicative abundance we have before us in creation.  Greed is actually just a form of laziness when the reality of God's abundant gifts are taken in to account.  There's no end to God's gifts.  Along this line, that which we label as the "passion" of anger, when not acting our passion, has a role, a virtue, in the balancing of freedom (justice) between created beings.  It provides a means to boundaries by which reasonable demands and denials can be made.
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« Reply #11 on: April 13, 2009, 09:41:48 AM »

A good example of righteous anger is what took place at the Council of Nicea in 325 AD.  St Nicholas of Myra seems to have lost his patience with  the heretical words of Arius of Alexandria.  He struck him physically.  Thereupon the Council Fathers stripped Saint Nicholas of his omophorion (the sign of his episcopal authority.)

But in dreams Saint Nicholas and the other bishops saw Christ and the Mother of God.  In her hands the Mother of God held Saint Nicholas's omophorion which she gave to him. In His own hands the Saviour held a book of the Gospels whch he entrusted to St Nicholas.   This was seen as a divine intervention to show that St Nicholas was not wrong in his anger.  He had acted in defence of true teaching of the Holy Trinity.  Of course he was reinstated at the Council.

Thousands of icons depict Christ and the Mother of God in medallions to the right and left of the Saint, restoring his omphorion to him and giving him the Gospel book.  His act of righteous anger in defending the faith was acceptable to the Saviour.
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« Reply #12 on: April 13, 2009, 09:52:36 AM »

This was seen as a divine intervention to show that St Nicholas was not wrong in his anger.
Actually no. St. Nicholas' act was not passion but love for Christ.

"Christ and the Virgin Mary appeared to them at night to defend St. Nicholas' action not as passion but extreme love and piety.  " (Source)
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« Reply #13 on: April 13, 2009, 09:55:03 AM »

Clearly there is righteous sexual urge and righteous acquisitiveness.
I don't think so.
It's how we act which is either righteous or unrighteous, but the Passions themselves are neither righteous nor unrighteous.
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« Reply #14 on: April 13, 2009, 10:11:57 AM »

See St.Isaias' On Guarding the Intellect——Twenty Seven Texts(the first one).(we can find it in the very beginning of Philokalia.)
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« Reply #15 on: April 13, 2009, 10:19:01 AM »

A good example of righteous anger is what took place at the Council of Nicea in 325 AD.  St Nicholas of Myra seems to have lost his patience with  the heretical words of Arius of Alexandria.  He struck him physically.  Thereupon the Council Fathers stripped Saint Nicholas of his omophorion (the sign of his episcopal authority.)

But in dreams Saint Nicholas and the other bishops saw Christ and the Mother of God.  In her hands the Mother of God held Saint Nicholas's omophorion which she gave to him. In His own hands the Saviour held a book of the Gospels whch he entrusted to St Nicholas.   This was seen as a divine intervention to show that St Nicholas was not wrong in his anger.  He had acted in defence of true teaching of the Holy Trinity.  Of course he was reinstated at the Council.

Thousands of icons depict Christ and the Mother of God in medallions to the right and left of the Saint, restoring his omphorion to him and giving him the Gospel book.  His act of righteous anger in defending the faith was acceptable to the Saviour.


I disliked this icon, as it looked like "NikolaiBokh," until the story was explained to me.

Someone posted a icon depicting St. Nicholas giving it to Arius. Anyone have it?

Btw, the epitomy of Coptic letters, St. Shenoodi, broke his staff over Nestorius head.
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« Reply #16 on: April 13, 2009, 10:31:59 AM »

How about righteous Pride? If there can be righteous passions, how about this one?
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« Reply #17 on: April 13, 2009, 10:51:41 AM »

See St.Isaias' On Guarding the Intellect——Twenty Seven Texts(the first one).(we can find it in the very beginning of Philokalia.)
Excellent idea, lets look at what the Fathers actually say.
Here is the first of the 27 texts:
"There is among the passions an anger of the intellect, and this anger is in accordance with nature. Without anger a man cannot attain purity: he has to feel angry with all that is sown in him by the enemy. When Job felt this anger he reviled his enemies, calling them "dishonourable men of no repute, lacking everything good, whom I would not consider fit to live with the dogs that guard my flocks" (c.f. Job 30:1,4 LXX) He who wishes to acquire anger that is in accordance with nature must uproot all self-will, until he establishes within himself the natural state of the intellect."

1) It seems to me, that there is no denying that anger is a passion:
"There is among the passions an anger of the intellect, and this anger is in accordance with nature. "

2) That this anger has to be directed towards what is sown in us by the demons:
"Without anger a man cannot attain purity: he has to feel angry with all that is sown in him by the enemy."

3) Job's rebuking of his enemies who were suggesting false things to him is our example:
"When Job felt this anger he reviled his enemies"

4) That in order to have this anger which is in accordance with nature, we have to be free from self-will:
"He who wishes to acquire anger that is in accordance with nature must uproot all self-will, until he establishes within himself the natural state of the intellect."

This criterion (2) above for anger which is not reprehensible or culpable is what I'm talking about when I say where anger should be directed. And criterion (4) above is what I mean by pride- who can honestly claim to have uprooted all their self-will?

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« Reply #18 on: April 13, 2009, 11:04:15 AM »

I read once of a holy father asked a similar question and he called for two coins each of gold and of lead, and asked the questioner to place each over his eyes in turn, first the gold, then the lead. At each turn the elder asked how well the other one could see, and the answer was that in neither case could he see. The father then told him that whether one's anger were righteous or unrighteous, anger still blinded a man.
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« Reply #19 on: April 13, 2009, 11:24:05 AM »

I live in Virginia and if it wasn't for righteous anger, we'd still have serperate schools, hospitals etc for "whites" and "coloreds".

For that matter if it weren't for righteous anger we'd still be British subjetcs.
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« Reply #20 on: April 13, 2009, 11:29:56 AM »

I live in Virginia and if it wasn't for righteous anger, we'd still have serperate schools, hospitals etc for "whites" and "coloreds".

For that matter if it weren't for righteous anger we'd still be British subjetcs.

Smile Tallitot! your'e on Candid Camera in another thread. See post 66:
http://www.orthodoxchristianity.net/forum/index.php/topic,20573.msg310545.html#msg310545

We are talking about the Orthodox Christian approach to so-called "righteous anger" here, not the American one.


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« Reply #21 on: April 13, 2009, 11:34:11 AM »

I guess the water fountains would've been marked "coloured" in the latter case. Didn't the GOA metropolitan march with ML King?
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« Reply #22 on: April 13, 2009, 11:37:28 AM »

I guess the water fountains would've been marked "coloured" in the latter case. Didn't the GOA metropolitan march with ML King?

Are you sure "righteous anger" is to be thanked for this?
Especially in the light of what the Philokalia says about anger (quoted above)?
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« Reply #23 on: April 13, 2009, 01:31:32 PM »

I guess the water fountains would've been marked "coloured" in the latter case. Didn't the GOA metropolitan march with ML King?

Archbishop Iakovos did do so, but I don't remember any anger.
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« Reply #24 on: April 13, 2009, 01:39:23 PM »

righteous anger played a part in fueling the civil rights movement. my point is that there is a such thing as righteous anger and it can be used for good.
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« Reply #25 on: April 13, 2009, 01:49:20 PM »

A british earl possessed an english land grant in Ireland. His passion was breeding horses and dogs for the hunt  when visiting.

He had a lovely variation on the fox however, seizing young girls from the village,usually between 13 and 15 years, stripping them naked and sent running away under a servant's supervision.

And talley-ho, great sport what? and whoever ran  her to ground enjoyed 'prima nocta' and raped her. His comments, RECORDED in his BREEDING BOOKS were 'like breeds like' and he observed the improvement of 'his stock' in the 'get' by introducing superior bloodlines.

This programme in animal husbandry ended abruptly when a fenien put a bullet in his head and burned the manor to the ground.

I guess that was 'righteous anger'

I imagine similar cultural insults against greeks using old ottoman phrases, or Leninist speeches against God quoted to ukrainians might give cause to similar rightous anger. What do YOU think?
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« Reply #26 on: April 13, 2009, 01:51:38 PM »

^ I really don't see what is "Righteous" about an anger which ends with a bullet in someone's head.
Lord have mercy!
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« Reply #27 on: April 13, 2009, 02:03:48 PM »

I see my trusty dictionary has 'rage' and 'fury' as synonyms of 'anger'.

"Indignation" as 'righteous anger".

I don't equate these two exactly; maybe some do?
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« Reply #28 on: April 13, 2009, 02:09:23 PM »

Despite the English dictionary, I still don't see how any Orthodox Christian can claim their anger to be "righteous" without falling into pride.
This would have to be plani/prelest.
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« Reply #29 on: April 13, 2009, 02:11:55 PM »

So, obviously every greek who took up arms to free his country from the Ottoman Empire was
subject to excommunication? And your use of a british cultural phrase that is patently racist in a thread exchange between two obviously irish members is used in the spirit of a good orthodox christian?
You just made  lutheran casserole much more appealing. Your Metropolitan will no doubt present you with a church service medal on his next visit.
Stands up and presents a military salute.
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« Reply #30 on: April 13, 2009, 02:20:57 PM »

So, obviously every greek who took up arms to free his country from the Ottoman Empire was
subject to excommunication?
Actually, yes. Anyone who killed in war was indeed made to abstain from Communion for a time. This is the teaching of the Orthodox Church according to the 13th Canon of St. Basil the Great.
St. Basil the Great says:
Quote
Our fathers did not reckon as murders the murders in war, it seems to me, giving a pardon to those who defend themselves in behalf of moderation and piety. But perhaps it is well to advise that they abstain from communion only for three years, since their hands are not clean.
(Source)

And why is it that I am quoting the Fathers, and you are quoting examples from politics?
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« Reply #31 on: April 13, 2009, 02:36:40 PM »

Despite the English dictionary, I still don't see how any Orthodox Christian can claim their anger to be "righteous" without falling into pride.
This would have to be plani/prelest.

Hey, I'm on your side...for a change.  Wink
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« Reply #32 on: April 13, 2009, 02:47:12 PM »

Interesting thread.

Righteous anger (I think it exists) begins when we follow the commandment to pray for those who despitefully use and/or abuse us.

A righteous man prays for God to guide his every step, even those which others might deem less than righteous.   

According to St. John Chrysostom, the drought was an act of Elijah's righteous anger against Israel.  The righteous anger of Elijah's prayers prolonged the time of the drought.   
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« Reply #33 on: April 13, 2009, 02:51:23 PM »

"Actually, yes. Anyone who killed in war was indeed made to abstain from Communion for a time." ozgeorge


Hmmm, do you mean "everyone"... what about officers who ordered troops into battle?  

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« Reply #34 on: April 13, 2009, 03:08:26 PM »

Hmmm, do you mean "everyone"... what about officers who ordered troops into battle?  
Read the 13th Canon of St. Basil quoted above. He advises 3 years excommunication for those who kill in war and says "their hands are not clean". How can anyone therefore possibly suggest that killing in war is "righteous anger"? How does something "righteous" leave someone's hand unclean? And in any case, St. Basil mentions nothing about "anger" or any other passion in his Canon, but says that he speaks only of those "who defend themselves in behalf of moderation and piety".
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« Reply #35 on: April 13, 2009, 06:25:32 PM »

So, obviously every greek who took up arms to free his country from the Ottoman Empire was
subject to excommunication?
Actually, yes. Anyone who killed in war was indeed made to abstain from Communion for a time. This is the teaching of the Orthodox Church according to the 13th Canon of St. Basil the Great.
St. Basil the Great says:

Our fathers did not reckon as murders the murders in war, it seems to me, giving a pardon to those who defend themselves in behalf of moderation and piety. But perhaps it is well to advise that they abstain from communion only for three years, since their hands are not clean.
(Source)

People often fail to pay sufficient attention to two things.

Sainy Basil did not issue a ruling.  He offered advice.

Saint Basil admits that his opinion is contrary to the previous church fathers.  And in fact Saint Athanasios wrote to the monk Ammon with high praise for those who have fought in warfare.

Hierarchs bless the weapons of death with their prayers and agiasmo.  We have seen photos of these services recently in both Serbia and Russia.  The Russian bishops have consecrated Russia's missiles to Saint Seraphim.   The late Patriatrch called upon Russians to fight in the war against the Chechens.  When men are enlisted, the bishops insist that they must go to war.  They will excommuniate men who refuse to go to war.   And then, when a man has done his duty as his bishops insist he must,  he returns home and and is inflicted with withdrawal of communion!   The man has been wounded in his soul but he has obeyed the Church and yet the Church withdraws from him the one great medicine which will bring him spiritual healing?

I recall with horror the opinion of a certain bishop who used to write on the Internet that there must be no marriage for soldiers returning from Iraq because they are excluded from all the Mysteries.   Can we imagine the stress that must put on a young man and a young woman when he returns from war with the desire to marry his beloved and create a family and instead his bishop tells him he is forbidden to marry for several years?

However, the advice of Saint Basil would appear to be observed in the breach.  The Church sends military chaplains to accompany soldiers in a war situation and these priests serve Liturgy and commune the soldiers.
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« Reply #36 on: April 13, 2009, 06:41:11 PM »

Actually, St Basil the Great wrote an entire piece entitled "On Anger And Wrath".
Here it is in the original: http://orthodoxoslogos.net/70.htm
The opening paragraph (Tο πάθος του θυμού, από τη στιγμή που θα αποβάλει την λογική και εξουσιάσει την ψυχή, αποθηριώνει εξ ολοκλήρου τον άνθρωπο, και δεν του επιτρέπει ούτε άνθρωπος να είναι, αφού δεν έχει πλέον την βοήθεια της λογικής.)
Translates as:
"The passion of anger, from the moment it removes reason and dominates the soul, completely reduces the person to the level of a beast and does not allow them even to be a human since they no longer have the help of reason".

I don't see any support for the notions of "righteous anger" in any of this text of the Great St. Basil.
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« Reply #37 on: April 13, 2009, 06:54:31 PM »

I read once of a holy father asked a similar question and he called for two coins each of gold and of lead, and asked the questioner to place each over his eyes in turn, first the gold, then the lead. At each turn the elder asked how well the other one could see, and the answer was that in neither case could he see. The father then told him that whether one's anger were righteous or unrighteous, anger still blinded a man.

Excellent! I really like this image!
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« Reply #38 on: April 15, 2009, 03:07:09 PM »

Clearly there is righteous sexual urge and righteous acquisitiveness.
I don't think so.
It's how we act which is either righteous or unrighteous, but the Passions themselves are neither righteous nor unrighteous.

It is not only our acts which vindicate or condemn us before God, but also our thoughts. I'm not sure if it is said in the Orthodox DL, but in the Catholic Mass, there is a prayer that is said that includes these words: "I confess to almighty God,
and to you,
my brothers and sisters,
that I have sinned through my own fault,
in my thoughts and in my words,
(indentation mine)

Personally, I think there is a difference in having anger towards wrongdoing, and having rage about it. Although both are of the Passions, the former might lead one to pray for the sinner and give spiritual guidance, whether oneself or another, and the latter might lead one to go against the Will of God in regards to forgiveness, patience and education, and inflict unnecessary harm. Rage has no intention of leading the sinner to repentance, but is instead concerned on dominance of a will that is not of God. However, pride might cause anger to be lead into rage for human beings. Any thoughts on this?
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« Reply #39 on: April 15, 2009, 03:09:30 PM »

Clearly there is righteous sexual urge and righteous acquisitiveness.
I don't think so.
It's how we act which is either righteous or unrighteous, but the Passions themselves are neither righteous nor unrighteous.

It is not only our acts which vindicate or condemn us before God, but also our thoughts.

Thinking is an act.
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« Reply #40 on: April 15, 2009, 03:11:35 PM »

Or is it the prerequisite to an act?

What are your thoughts on my other words, OzG? Smiley
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« Reply #41 on: April 15, 2009, 03:13:26 PM »

Or is it the prerequisite to an act?

What are your thoughts on my other words, OzG? Smiley
Thinking is an act since it requires volition.
Once we accept and entertain an evil thought, we have sinned.
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« Reply #42 on: April 15, 2009, 03:14:42 PM »

Or is it the prerequisite to an act?

What are your thoughts on my other words, OzG? Smiley
Thinking is an act since it requires volition.
Once we accept and entertain an evil thought, we have sinned.

I see. Smiley

In regards to your explanation, Catholics have a ritual where they cross their foreheads, along with their mouths and hearts, with these words: "May God be on my mind, my lips, and in my heart". Grin

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« Reply #43 on: January 25, 2011, 06:06:27 PM »

It seems this question remains unresolved for many. I still stand by everything I have said in this thread.
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