Author Topic: Violence in the OT  (Read 772 times)

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Offline Volnutt

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Re: Violence in the OT
« Reply #45 on: Yesterday at 08:40:02 PM »
How to forget a belief?
So how can the Church hold this doctrine whereas no Christian I know of can say such a thing.

So it is more like Mormonism?  So the Mormon guy got this right?  Believers are to be exalted and given their universes where they can be Gods themselves?

This is outlandish to me.

A good primer.

It's a doctrine that was never lost in the Eastern Churches (Russian, Greek, etc) outside of the Arab world, where its forgetting can mostly be blamed on Muslim influence. It's just been historically uncommon in Western Christianity (though there are traces of it in the 19th Century Methodist doctrine of "entire sanctification" as John Wesley was a big fan of the Eastern Fathers, and even in Thomas Aquinas IIRC).

It's only deification in a relative sense. The believer becomes so full of the grace of God that He permeates their entire being. But just as the thing warmed by the sun is separate from and completely dependent on that sun, there is never a sense in which theosis puts one on the same level as God or makes one a separate source of life. The deified believer never has any sort of independent divinity separate from God.

Mormonism, on the other hand, is basically a form of polytheism in which each deified believer is a discrete god on their own who might continue to exist and operate even if every other God went poof.

It seems have been lost a little bit in Russia and Greece during a time when scholastic methods of teaching lead to forgetting about deification as well, or at least redefining deification as nothing more than being more moral.

Either way, whether Islam or Protestantism, both have lead the Orthodox Churches to struggle and to rediscover the Church fathers.  What the neo-patristic Renaissance is to Russia and Greece in the late 19th early 20th century is what the Coptic Church is going through now.

Oh, ok. Thanks.
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Offline Volnutt

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Re: Violence in the OT
« Reply #46 on: Yesterday at 08:43:23 PM »
Humans tend to explain items they cannot reconcile by deciding that it never happened.  Maricon solved it by deciding that the Old Testament God was a different God.  It appears that Origen solved it by deciding to spiritualize it and say that it never happened.  Some archaeologists decide that the Exodus never happened.  Some even think that early Israel did not exist.  Their solution:  it never happened.  How about Samson being strong enough to wrestle lions or defeat many?  It never happened.  How about David defeating Goliath with a slingshot?  It never happened.  Got problems with Daniel predicting the Maccabees?  Simple, it never happened.  Got problems with the virgin birth?  It never happened.  How about this problem of darkness covering the face of the earth for three hours when the Lord was crucified?  It never happened.  Let us not even go to the Resurrection.  It never happened.  How about the Apostle Paul getting blinded by a light by Jesus after he saw Jesus?  Simple.  It never happened.

I'm not sure that having problems with the miraculous is quite the same thing as having problems with God ordering slaughter.

Your point about the archaeological record is a little better.
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Offline Volnutt

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Re: Violence in the OT
« Reply #47 on: Yesterday at 08:45:49 PM »
The following is a personal reflection, not necessarily a theological treatise / homily / etc.  Let me start with two caveats.

1. I don't pretend to know the whole story.  There are parts where it seems to hint that God has attempted a relationship with the other tribes and peoples only to be rejected.  I'm not assuming that the Scripture is written from God's POV - if it were, it would include His other interactions with non-Jews (like Balaam, who clearly knew Him from before he entered the story).  We don't know what He did in all His interactions with others, we only know (post- Isaac's death) what happened to Israel and his descendants.

2. There are multiple interpretations for most OT incidents present in the Fathers, and I defer to them in their wisdom when it comes to authoritative interpretation.  I'm just a lost soul trying to gain perspective on my God.

In the course of going through the whole OT 3-4 times in the past 15 months, I've begun to sympathize with God's wrath in the OT a bit more.  Some salient points:

- We saw Him do all those wonders in Egypt, take us through the sea, and provide food for us out of nothing, and then promised to follow His law... and couldn't do it for a month and a half.  He made a promise to us and delivered His parts of the bargain up front, and we violated our part repeatedly.

- Aaron was an agent assisting in the aforementioned wonders and couldn't do it for a month and a half.  Waffling leadership is a recurring theme.

- Others couldn't offer basic hospitality to Abraham / Lot / the Children of Israel, which would have gotten them into huge trouble in most ancient cultures (especially if they knew there was kinship, as there were between the descendants of Lot & Esau and the Israelites).

- Formula: Have major trouble, repent, cry out to God, He delivers us, we get complacent, worship other gods / abandon His precepts... lather, rinse, repeat. (the wisdom of the shampoo bottle)

- Child sacrifice ('nuff said).

- We really were barbarians, especially if you follow the principle of "rules are made because they were broken."  It becomes obvious from the narrative that we were routinely doing the things that the commandments prohibited, and continued doing them later.

- It's really hard to find someone in the OT with an extended story who doesn't sin in one way or another.  The prophets come close (really Elijah and Elisha), but the ones with the most fervent desire (Moses, David, Solomon) all had major issues crop up.

- We're not even just talking about behavioral commandments and ritual purity (basic tenets of the law) - we're talking about violating the spirit of the law (love God and your neighbor).  The Lord's calls via the prophets to "circumcise the foreskin of your heart" and restore justice to the fatherless, widow, stranger, and poor cut right to the heart of the true injustice of His people (and are a great prologue for Jesus's Gospel).  Clearly both the former set and the latter are being violated.

- The heard-heartedness of His people necessitated drastic action.  As they became more faithful to parts of the law, His approach clearly softened (up to Jesus's time, where much of the law was now being followed, but the spirit of the law was not). 

Yes, the OT isn't made to be read like a novel cover-to-cover, but when one does it repeatedly it's clear that we're the problem, not Him.  We are awful people.

Another thing that has changed in my thinking is reading these accounts with Jesus's words in mind (from Matthew's gospel) to beware the one who has the power to destroy body and soul.  He says not to fear the one who can only kill the body;  God can kill both, but didn't.  When joined to the tradition that those who died before Christ heard the Gospel from the Forerunner between his beheading and the Resurrection (and were given an opportunity to believe when He arrived), I find myself less distressed about the plight they faced in their earthly life.

Thank you for that, Father. Good reflections.
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The breath of Thine Holy Spirit inspires artists, poets and scientists. The power of Thy supreme knowledge makes them prophets and interpreters of Thy laws, who reveal the depths of Thy creative wisdom. Their works speak unwittingly of Thee. How great art Thou in Thy creation! How great art Thou in man!
Akathist Hymn- Glory to God for All Things

Offline Volnutt

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Re: Violence in the OT
« Reply #48 on: Today at 05:45:45 AM »
Regarding theosis and the "forgetting" of doctrines, this old post I found might be helpful http://www.orthodoxchristianity.net/forum/index.php/topic,63181.msg1289287.html#msg1289287
« Last Edit: Today at 05:46:41 AM by Volnutt »
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The breath of Thine Holy Spirit inspires artists, poets and scientists. The power of Thy supreme knowledge makes them prophets and interpreters of Thy laws, who reveal the depths of Thy creative wisdom. Their works speak unwittingly of Thee. How great art Thou in Thy creation! How great art Thou in man!
Akathist Hymn- Glory to God for All Things