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Schultz
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« on: November 16, 2009, 09:45:28 PM »

Recently, a friend of a friend wrote this in relation to a discussion on human trafficking:

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I pray everyday for those people and GOD will punish them for sinful ways.

When asked about this, the person was adamant that she does not pray for "evil people" and that she prays that God will wipe such people off the face of the earth.  She then refuses to discuss the topic any further because she doesn't question "other people's interpretatations" and that she knows the relationship that her "lord has the the LORD".

This attitude strikes me as very antithetical not only to Matthew 5:44 but to Christ's dying words on the Cross.

Can someone please explain this attitude to me and where it comes from Biblically?  This person is, I believe,  a non-denominational Protestant.  And please don't let this degenerate into a "Those Prots are so stupid" argument, either.

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« Reply #1 on: November 16, 2009, 10:27:15 PM »

Recently, a friend of a friend wrote this in relation to a discussion on human trafficking:

Quote
I pray everyday for those people and GOD will punish them for sinful ways.

When asked about this, the person was adamant that she does not pray for "evil people" and that she prays that God will wipe such people off the face of the earth.  She then refuses to discuss the topic any further because she doesn't question "other people's interpretatations" and that she knows the relationship that her "lord has the the LORD".

This attitude strikes me as very antithetical not only to Matthew 5:44 but to Christ's dying words on the Cross.

Can someone please explain this attitude to me and where it comes from Biblically?  This person is, I believe,  a non-denominational Protestant.  And please don't let this degenerate into a "Those Prots are so stupid" argument, either.

I'm not sure where these folks are coming from either, except that maybe "punishment" would include some form of showing the wrong doer the evil of thier ways? As far as "wipe such people off the face of the earth", that strikes as just plain smug self righteousness. (This person probaly thinks Katrina was sent to punish the people of New Orleans, that AIDS is G-d's punishment on gay men etc..)
Having personal experience with the issue of modern slavery, I'm glad to see someone else is concerned with it also.
« Last Edit: November 16, 2009, 10:31:09 PM by Tallitot » Logged

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« Reply #2 on: November 16, 2009, 10:59:44 PM »

To me this seems to be outrage gone beyond what is righteously acceptable. Of course, we should be outraged that people are suffering in bondage. It is despicable and it should make us very, very angry. But I think where your friend has failed is in looking at the perpetrator as a human being who is also in bondage, too; bondage to terrible sin. I believe the correct way of praying for such people is that the Lord will have mercy on them and in that mercy they will come to see the error of their ways and come to Him in repentance. This is our hope for everyone, including ourselves. We aren't somehow separate from human sin because we are Christians; we are all sinners. We pray for sinners, not against them like some kind of voodoo practitioners.
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« Reply #3 on: November 16, 2009, 11:11:16 PM »

It does makes sense if (a) you believe that sinners will be punished and that the only way not to be punished is to be saved--that is after you have repented and become a Christian; (b) the Old Testament is still applicable in its totality (well, most of it anyway); and (c) you are so frustrated and disgusted that you fall to using such extreme language..
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« Reply #4 on: November 16, 2009, 11:49:13 PM »

For the first time in my life several weeks ago I prayed that God would silence a godless man that I know who brings spiritual harm everywhere he goes.  I prayed for Him to rise up and crush His enemies, so evil is this man's intent in life.  I think the prayer was inspired by a lot of recent reading of the psalms.  They are full of prayers like that.
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« Reply #5 on: November 17, 2009, 12:14:24 AM »

^^ They are, too!  laugh
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« Reply #6 on: November 17, 2009, 01:01:04 AM »

For the first time in my life several weeks ago I prayed that God would silence a godless man that I know who brings spiritual harm everywhere he goes.  I prayed for Him to rise up and crush His enemies, so evil is this man's intent in life.  I think the prayer was inspired by a lot of recent reading of the psalms.  They are full of prayers like that.

Exactly. Sometimes it is difficult to balance imprecatory prayers with prayers for God's mercy for sinners. I distinguish between sinful, erring human beings and wicked oppressors. But certainly all are in need of divine mercy and grace.

Do we dare to condemn the prayers of the Psalmists and the Prophets who prayed "Let God arise, and let His enemies be scattered; and let those who hate Him flee before His face. As smoke vanishes, so let them vanish; as wax melts before the fire, so let the wicked perish from the face of the earth." [Psalm 68:10]? Are we more holy than them? Yet, on the other hand, do we dare to take it upon ourselves to separate the wheat from the tares? Only God can do that.

Personally, an issue like this is why I love the Lord's Prayer. In it's profound simplicity it covers all the bases. So when I pray, "Thy Kingdom come, thy will be done, on earth as it is in Heaven..." I pray for peace on earth, for an end to wickedness, for the innocent to thrive, for all men to be saved, and for the wicked to receive their just judgment.

And let us remember that both of the following Scriptures come from the same Holy Bible:

"The Lord is not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance." [II Peter 3:9]

"The righteous shall rejoice when they are avenged, when they bathe their feet in the blood of the wicked." [Psalm 58:10]

Selam
« Last Edit: November 17, 2009, 01:09:15 AM by Gebre Menfes Kidus » Logged

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« Reply #7 on: November 17, 2009, 01:12:48 AM »

^^ I don't know, that in disagreeing with their attitudes in prayer, we are condemning anyone who, not knowing the words that would be spoken by Christ, prayed for vengeance rather than mercy and enlightenment for their enemies. But I am of the opinion that He has made all the difference to the manner in which we pray for our enemies. 
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« Reply #8 on: November 18, 2009, 11:42:49 AM »

Certainly the Psalms are full of examples of asking God to remove evil people from the earth.  However, Christ came and gave us a new way, a better way, of looking at such prayer:

You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’  But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you,  that you may be sons of your Father in heaven; for He makes His sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust.  For if you love those who love you, what reward have you? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? And if you greet your brethren only, what do you do more than others? Do not even the tax collectors do so?  Therefore you shall be perfect, just as your Father in heaven is perfect.  (Matthew 5:43-48)

Paul continues this theme in Romans 12:19-21:

Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave itto the wrath of God, for it is written, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.”  To the contrary, “if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink; for by so doing you will heap burning coals on his head.”  Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good. (emphasis mine)

Given these two pieces of Scripture (and the example of the Saints!), how can we call ourselves Christian and pray for the destruction of anyone, even the most heinous among us?  Yes, we can pray that the oppression or danger caused by such people will end and come to pass, but that is markedly different than praying that God will damn someone or consign them to their just punishment (or at least "just" in our own mundane and sinful eyes)!  Remember, the same Psalmist who wrote Ps. 68 (which I confess is among my favorites!) also wrote Ps. 129:3 :"If You, Lord, should mark iniquities, O Lord, who could stand?". 

I guess what I'm getting at is the old adage "Hate the sin, love the sinner".  Yes, we should see that someone who pimps out her daughter should not have the ability to do so ever again, but who are we to pray to God to damn such a person?  We should be praying for her repentance and for God to have mercy on her immortal soul because her own actions will judge her before Christ Jesus, not our pithy prayers.
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« Reply #9 on: November 18, 2009, 11:58:19 AM »

Of course we should Schultz, but the orthodox understanding of prayer is way more advanced, nuanced and full of different kinds of spiriual history from the desert fathers to St. symeon the new theologian to St. John maximovic.  So their understanding of prayer I would say is almost "magical" where you wish for something and it happens.  it is not seen even as a conversation with God. 

The other element is that in most non-denomenational churches they preach the OT a lot more than they preach the NT.  So you get a lot of "retribution" theology and a lot of "vindication" theology.  This is especially powerful for a demographic of people who already live a life where they lead themselves to believe that they will always be stuck in the gutter, or should have a chip on their shoulder (mainly african americans).

From a basic purview of televangelists you can see that a major focus for them is this idea that righteousness is something you can pray into people, or put into them etc.  (kind of hard to explain without it being live...lol).  Anyway, its a trend that i've seen.  And since they're cherry picking the scriptures anyway, you get a very warped sense of what it means to be righteous. 

This is my theory, take it or leave it...lol.

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« Reply #10 on: November 18, 2009, 07:00:31 PM »

Certainly the Psalms are full of examples of asking God to remove evil people from the earth.  However, Christ came and gave us a new way, a better way, of looking at such prayer:

You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’  But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you,  that you may be sons of your Father in heaven; for He makes His sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust.  For if you love those who love you, what reward have you? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? And if you greet your brethren only, what do you do more than others? Do not even the tax collectors do so?  Therefore you shall be perfect, just as your Father in heaven is perfect.  (Matthew 5:43-48)

Paul continues this theme in Romans 12:19-21:

Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave itto the wrath of God, for it is written, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.”  To the contrary, “if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink; for by so doing you will heap burning coals on his head.”  Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good. (emphasis mine)

Given these two pieces of Scripture (and the example of the Saints!), how can we call ourselves Christian and pray for the destruction of anyone, even the most heinous among us?  Yes, we can pray that the oppression or danger caused by such people will end and come to pass, but that is markedly different than praying that God will damn someone or consign them to their just punishment (or at least "just" in our own mundane and sinful eyes)!  Remember, the same Psalmist who wrote Ps. 68 (which I confess is among my favorites!) also wrote Ps. 129:3 :"If You, Lord, should mark iniquities, O Lord, who could stand?". 

I guess what I'm getting at is the old adage "Hate the sin, love the sinner".  Yes, we should see that someone who pimps out her daughter should not have the ability to do so ever again, but who are we to pray to God to damn such a person?  We should be praying for her repentance and for God to have mercy on her immortal soul because her own actions will judge her before Christ Jesus, not our pithy prayers.

You make the same arguments that I make as a pacifist. I don't know whether or not you are a pacifist, but I would argue that if it is unChristian to pray for God to destroy the wicked, then most certainly it is unChristian to violently destroy the wicked ourselves. I think it would be better to offer our prayers and let God answer according to His will rather than take up the sword of violence ourselves and kill our fellow man.

That's why I stated previously that I rely on the Lord's Prayer, and simply pray for God's will to be done. I think we stray from the path of Christ when we start praying for God to slay the wicked or when we ourselves engage in acts of violence against our fellow man.

Selam
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« Reply #11 on: November 27, 2009, 04:50:41 PM »

Certainly the Psalms are full of examples of asking God to remove evil people from the earth.  However, Christ came and gave us a new way, a better way, of looking at such prayer:

You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’  But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you,  that you may be sons of your Father in heaven; for He makes His sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust.  For if you love those who love you, what reward have you? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? And if you greet your brethren only, what do you do more than others? Do not even the tax collectors do so?  Therefore you shall be perfect, just as your Father in heaven is perfect.  (Matthew 5:43-48)

Paul continues this theme in Romans 12:19-21:

Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave itto the wrath of God, for it is written, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.”  To the contrary, “if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink; for by so doing you will heap burning coals on his head.”  Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good. (emphasis mine)

Given these two pieces of Scripture (and the example of the Saints!), how can we call ourselves Christian and pray for the destruction of anyone, even the most heinous among us?  Yes, we can pray that the oppression or danger caused by such people will end and come to pass, but that is markedly different than praying that God will damn someone or consign them to their just punishment (or at least "just" in our own mundane and sinful eyes)!  Remember, the same Psalmist who wrote Ps. 68 (which I confess is among my favorites!) also wrote Ps. 129:3 :"If You, Lord, should mark iniquities, O Lord, who could stand?". 

I guess what I'm getting at is the old adage "Hate the sin, love the sinner".  Yes, we should see that someone who pimps out her daughter should not have the ability to do so ever again, but who are we to pray to God to damn such a person?  We should be praying for her repentance and for God to have mercy on her immortal soul because her own actions will judge her before Christ Jesus, not our pithy prayers.

You make the same arguments that I make as a pacifist. I don't know whether or not you are a pacifist, but I would argue that if it is unChristian to pray for God to destroy the wicked, then most certainly it is unChristian to violently destroy the wicked ourselves. I think it would be better to offer our prayers and let God answer according to His will rather than take up the sword of violence ourselves and kill our fellow man.

That's why I stated previously that I rely on the Lord's Prayer, and simply pray for God's will to be done. I think we stray from the path of Christ when we start praying for God to slay the wicked or when we ourselves engage in acts of violence against our fellow man.

Selam

I agree with both of you.  It is very hard to pray for someone who has committed sin (especially when it is a sin against yourself).  My priest has suggested that when someone sins against me to pray: "Lord, have mercy on him (or her), and Lord, have mercy on me".  I think that is a wonderful thing for all of us to do, especially since our first reactions to being sinned against aren't very Christ-like, and we need His mercy too!
I don't think an Orthodox Christian can pray that God will punish someone--I believe that goes totally against what Christ taught.  I wonder if God didn't allow war and some of the vengefulness found in the OT because, like with divorce (which was allowed in the OT), He had to allow it due to hardness of heart. 
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