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Author Topic: Jesus, Salvation, Punishment  (Read 3068 times) Average Rating: 0
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Ntinos
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« on: April 17, 2005, 04:03:27 PM »

I was having a conversation with a friend of mine today. This friend of mine was not really a christian, he was a deist, who just accepted that Jesus was a great philosopher.
He liked Jesus' attitude towards life, His teachings, etc etc but did not accept he was God.

What we were discussing is the issue of punishment by God. Throughout the Old Testament, God was known to punish those who did not obey Him, those who blasphemed Him and those who hated Him. An example of this: the punishment of the Pharaoh in the time of Moses. I was actually suggesting that Jesus teaches us to love each other, and while God does love man, He will not hesitate to punish him if he is not a Believer.
We were also discussing the issue of salvation: based on the words of Jesus in the Gospels, He is the way to the Father, and there is no salvation if one does not commune Jesus's body.

Here's my problem. Jesus does love the fellow believer, but does Jesus love the unbeliever? The atheist? The enemy of the Church? I was pretty fast to answer this in myself that Jesus is greatly saddened by the unbeliever, and when he becomes an enemy of the Church, Jesus stops loving him, because he becomes like the demons, who hate Jesus.

What is your views on this subject? And what are the views of the Church on this?

When I asked my theology teacher back while I was back at school about the seven scourges of God on Egypt. He replied to me, that God has a different view on the idololatric people...

Without my wanting to doubt Jesus' love of the world, what is true and what is not?
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« Reply #1 on: April 17, 2005, 04:30:29 PM »

Nitinos,

God is Love. And he is also the Source of all Being and Existance. Nothing is on it's own accord without God to sustain it. If God were to completely reject and turn his back on anything it would cease to exist, for God alone has being. So by the very fact that idolatrous peoples, atheists, heretics, schismatics, demons, and even satan himself exist is evidence that God loves them, infact he Loves them enough to allow them to partake of His Being, and thus have their Existance Sustained. The attitude of God towards his Creation is portrayed in the parable of the Prodigal Son, God's love is not dependent on whether or not others love Him, His Love transcends that, He is always Loving and always waiting for the wayward and impious to return to Him. God does not punish men because he hates them (or at least not out of hate how we humans negatively understand the term), but rather as a Father punishes his errant Children, out of Love and a desire to see them return to the path of Righteousness and to Him. Though I sympathize with your theology teacher who had a difficult question posed to him, I fear his answer was not consonant with the traditional Orthodox understanding of God.
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« Reply #2 on: April 17, 2005, 04:40:25 PM »

Since our Orthodoxy has Jewish origins, and the Jews portrayed a Judge God, who punished those who hated Him, shouldn't we keep the same image of Him as well? Jesus certainly did spread the word of Love, but he did say some things that portrayed that view: For example, after cursing the tree with no fruit, he said that every tree that does not bear fruit will be unrooted (metaphorically).
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« Reply #3 on: April 17, 2005, 04:48:48 PM »

Since our Orthodoxy has Jewish origins, and the Jews portrayed a Judge God, who punished those who hated Him, shouldn't we keep the same image of Him as well? Jesus certainly did spread the word of Love, but he did say some things that portrayed that view: For example, after cursing the tree with no fruit, he said that every tree that does not bear fruit will be unrooted (metaphorically).

Though certain parts of our tradition may have their roots in Judaism, the fullness of the Truth was revealed to the Christians, and it was not always consonant with the mindset of the Jews. As to the parable about the tree that does not bear fruit, the point is that this tree is of no more use than a tree that is dead and will share in the same fate. It's just a parable to explain this principle to the Jews who were listening to Christ, don't take it too far the point of the parable was not to speak about the nature of God but of Good Works.
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« Reply #4 on: April 17, 2005, 06:15:45 PM »



Here's my problem. Jesus does love the fellow believer, but does Jesus love the unbeliever? The atheist? The enemy of the Church? I was pretty fast to answer this in myself that Jesus is greatly saddened by the unbeliever, and when he becomes an enemy of the Church, Jesus stops loving him, because he becomes like the demons, who hate Jesus.

What is your views on this subject? And what are the views of the Church on this?



I think that no living person is beyond the redemptive power of God. However wicked a persons deeds maybe they are not wicked by nature and may at any time choose to turn to the Lord and be saved. That part of every human person that longs to be with God was described like this by St Augustine . "You have made us and directed us toward yourself and our heart is restless until we rest in you." Jesus loves our restless hearts and never ceases to desire to heal us. It is for us to accept his gentle love.
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« Reply #5 on: April 17, 2005, 07:43:41 PM »

Brother Ntinos,

Please define the word "punishment" and the question will get the right answer.

Because by "punishment" you may mean many things. So what was the meaning that your friend gave to it?
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« Reply #6 on: April 17, 2005, 08:04:26 PM »

God does not punish.
God chastises us in this world- that is, He corrects us.
He does not punish in the next world.
Both the Saints and the souls in Hell are experiencing the same thing- just in different ways.
Here is something I wrote on the subject on another forum:

I think we should be careful how we say this. According to Orthodox understanding, even Heaven and Hell are not "very different things". The Divine Energy which the Saints experience as theosis is the same Divine Energy which those in Gehenna experience as torment. "in" Heaven and "in" Hell does not mean that they are different places, because there is no space or time in Eternity. They indicate different experiences of the same thing.
Hades is the state where everyone who dies is in. In the parable of Lazarus and the Rich Man, they both end up in Hades- Lazarus experiences it as the "bosom of Abraham" while the Rich Man experiences it as torment. The "gulf" between them is a spiritual one- since they are not in a "place".
The English word "Hell" comes from the Old English word "helan" which means "to hide" or "to cover". The impure souls in Hades were understood to be attempting "hide themselves" or "take cover" from the Divine Presence because they experience It as torment. In the same way that Moses, Abraham and the Prophets hid their faces when they percieved the Divine Energy or "Shechinah glory" of God, and the way that people will attempt to hide from God on the Day of Judgement (Apocalypse 6:16 ) and the way Adam and Eve attempted to hide from God's Presence after their sin (Genesis 3: 9 ). It was only later that the erroroneous belief that Hell was a place where souls are "cut off" or "hidden" from the Presence of God was adopted by the West.
Similarly, the English word "brimstone" or "sulfur" is a translation of the Greek word "theion" which means both "sulfur" and "divine being". When we burn sulfur, it gives off a bright light and intense heat which is difficult to look at. The lake of fire and brimstone can equally be translated as the lake of Divine Energy and the Presence of God. Both the Saints and the damned experience the Divine Light and Heat of the Energy of God. However they experience this differently- the flames which left the Three Hebrew Children in the firey furnace unharmed were the same flames which consumed those who looked into the furnace.
2 Thess 1:7-9 translates literally from the Greek as the faithful will, "get relief at the revelation of the Lord Jesus coming out from heaven with His powerful angels in flames of fire". However, this same presence of Jesus causes the ones persecuting the faithful to "GǪbe punished with everlasting destruction because of the presence of the Lord, and because of His mighty glory"
Hades and Hell are not different "places", because they are not places, and one can also say that Hell is an experience of Hades which we have allowed ourselves to be in.
Neither the Saints nor the damned experience the fullness of Paradise and Hell yet- these will come when "Death and Hades are thrown into the lake of fire" (Apocalypse 20 12-14 ) after the General Ressurection.

What would be the point of a "Divine Punishment" either in this world or the next? We certainly cannot "pay a debt" for sin the way that going to gaol for a civil crime "pays a debt to society". There is no way in which we can "merit" God's forgiveness by being "punished". God freely forgives us when we truly repent, and we are forgiven through the Death and Ressurection of Christ Who poured out His Blood "so that sins may be forgiven". 

The Orthodox view of sin is not judicial, it is seen as "sickness" which needs healing. God's "chastisement" is divine medicine sent for our healing in this life. For example, we become proud- God sends a chastisement to humble us. We build a "Tower of Babel"- God confounds us to correct our pride and worship of ourselves and our acheivements. We forget God, he sends a difficult situation so that we turn back to Him. This is not "punishment", it is correction, it is medicine for our illness.
« Last Edit: April 17, 2005, 08:19:53 PM by ozgeorge » Logged

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« Reply #7 on: April 17, 2005, 08:21:43 PM »



Though certain parts of our tradition may have their roots in Judaism...

What an understatement!!!
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« Reply #8 on: April 17, 2005, 09:14:48 PM »

What an understatement!!!

It's not quite the understatement you might at first think...Christian Theology and philosophy is as much Hellenic as Judaic, if not more so.
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« Reply #9 on: April 17, 2005, 11:15:28 PM »



It's not quite the understatement you might at first think...Christian Theology and philosophy is as much Hellenic as Judaic, if not more so.

LOL! The apostles didn't preach using plato's philosophy. They preached using what we now know as the Old Testament and the living testimony of Christ. Who was more Orthodox than the apostles? well? Greek lands were the mission grounds, not the source.
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« Reply #10 on: April 18, 2005, 01:27:15 AM »

CyberSponge,

Have you ever actually read Plato, Philo, Plotinus, or Proclus? Surely you dont think that the Philosophical basis for the Theology of Clement of Alexandria, Origen, Athanasios, Basil, Gregory of Nyssa, Gregory the Theologian, Cyril, et cetera was Old Testament Jewish Theology, or even the Theology of the New Testament for that matter...It is heavily platonic, with the philosophy adjusted to be inline with Christianity. Even the Philosophical Basis of the Trinity did not come from Scripture, but rather Neo-Platonism, when Plotinus speaks of the One, the Intellect, and the Soul. I would be quite interested, however, to see your case that Theology of the Councils was simply Jewish Ttheology without hellenic influences.
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« Reply #11 on: April 18, 2005, 01:36:43 AM »

CyberSponge,

Have you ever actually read Plato, Philo, Plotinus, or Proclus? Surely you dont think that the Philosophical basis for the Theology of Clement of Alexandria, Origen, Athanasios, Basil, Gregory of Nyssa, Gregory the Theologian, Cyril, et cetera was Old Testament Jewish Theology, or even the Theology of the New Testament for that matter...It is heavily platonic, with the philosophy adjusted to be inline with Christianity. Even the Philosophical Basis of the Trinity did not come from Scripture, but rather Neo-Platonism, when Plotinus speaks of the One, the Intellect, and the Soul. I would be quite interested, however, to see your case that Theology of the Councils was simply Jewish Ttheology without hellenic influences.

I never claimed that. I simply claimed:
Quote
[The Apostles] preached using what we now know as the Old Testament and the living testimony of Christ.

And then I asked "who's more Orthodox than the Apostles?" You never answered my question. And if, as you say, the BASIS for the TRINITY is Greek philosophy and not God's own revelation, then that weakens the case for the Trinity. Influence by pagan thought should be grieved, not praised.

P.S. I also thought that the councils weren't creating new theology, but defending what the Church believed "since the beginning."  So are you also saying that the Church really never did believe in the Trinity until later? (i.e., the time of the councils).
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« Reply #12 on: April 18, 2005, 01:48:24 AM »

And if, as you say, the BASIS for the TRINITY is Greek philosophy and not God's own revelation, then that weakens the case for the Trinity. Influence by pagan thought should be grieved, not praised.

The Church is established as the Pillar and Foundation of Truth, the fact that the Church has accepted the Theology of the Trinity is all the 'case' that is needed. The Church took Jewish Customs and the Church took Pagan Customs, and Christianized them, making the Customs Christian, regardless of their Origin. Assuming that you have read the Greek Philosophers, and especially the Middle and Neo-Platonists, I really dont see how you can deny their influence in the thought of the Church and the doctrinal decrees of the Councils; and their influence in no way diminishes the Christianity of this Theology, because the Theology is, by definition, Christian when the Church Accepts it.
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« Reply #13 on: April 18, 2005, 02:03:07 AM »



The Church is established as the Pillar and Foundation of Truth, the fact that the Church has accepted the Theology of the Trinity is all the 'case' that is needed.
See my P.S. above for my reply

Quote
The Church took Jewish Customs and the Church took Pagan Customs, and Christianized them, making the Customs Christian, regardless of their Origin.
Ok...you can't really Christianize a custom...you can Christianize people.  Anyway...

Quote
Assuming that you have read the Greek Philosophers, and especially the Middle and Neo-Platonists,
No, I don't have that much time to waste.

Quote
I really dont see how you can deny their influence in the thought of the Church and the doctrinal decrees of the Councils;
No, I don't doubt that there were influences upon Christian thought and decree by pagan beliefs.

Quote
and their influence in no way diminishes the Christianity of this Theology, because the Theology is, by definition, Christian when the Church Accepts it.

Yes, the Trinity was accepted but it wasn't something newly created by the Councils nor by Greek philosophers, so what's your point?  Certainly reasoning about it might be Greek, BUT most of the heresies that Christianity fought with involving the Trinity were based on Greek Philosophy systems.  If those systems were stopped before they even gained an inch, then the Church wouldn't have had those same problems, and could have actually tried harder to change the world rather than conform to it.
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« Reply #14 on: April 18, 2005, 06:15:05 AM »

What is the Old Testament precedent for the idea of Our Lord as the Logos, the Word found in Johns Gospel? I always believed that this idea was first found in Greek Philosophy not Jewish.
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« Reply #15 on: April 18, 2005, 06:43:38 AM »

I think there is a misunderstanding here.

The Trinity was worked out because of heresies. As each heresy arose, the Church got closer and closer to the fulness of the doctrine of the Trinity.

God as Father, Son, and Holy Spirit was experienced by the Church from the beginning. The Trinity doctrine used terms from philosophy because that was the way people argued these things. The Trinity did not derive from neo-platonism, etc, but the working out of the dogma used terms that were used on philosophy, but some of the terms were changed in meaning, to convey the Christian sense, rather than the philosophical sense.

Some of the philosphers were recognised as 'Christians before Christ' by the Fathers. eg Socrates, Plato, Zeno and some others. In a culture which was idolatrous, the Greek philosphers ridiculed idolatry and pointed the way to One God.

Someone may say that the Logos idea in John 1 is a Greek philosophical idea. Gnostics would do this. However, in Genesis 1 we have Elohim SPEAKING the world into being. God speaks and it is done. In Proverbs, we have Wisdom personified.

Just because terms are shared by Christianity and Philosophy, it does not mean that Christian doctrines were based in philosophy!

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« Reply #16 on: April 18, 2005, 07:27:40 AM »

What is the Old Testament precedent for the idea of Our Lord as the Logos, the Word found in Johns Gospel? I always believed that this idea was first found in Greek Philosophy not Jewish.
I am surprised at a Roman Catholic asking this question! The reason is, because I (a Greek Orthodox Christian) have in my possession a copy of an audience given by Pope John Paul II in 1987 given to me by a dear Catholic friend whom I asked to explain the Roman Catholic understanding of this very issue of the Word to compare it with the Orthodox understanding, and found them to be the same. The reason I asked was because of the different versions of the Old Testament used by Catholics and Orthodox (Masoretic and Septuagint repectively).

Here is an excerpt

" Like the Letter to the Hebrews in its own way, the prologue of the Gospel of John expresses through biblical allusions the accomplishment in Christ of everything that was said in the old covenant, beginning with the Book of Genesis, through the law of Moses (cf. Jn 1:17) and the prophets, up to the sapiential books. The expression "the Word" (which "was with God in the beginning") corresponds to the Hebrew word dabar. Even though we find the term logos in Greek, nevertheless the source of the thought is primarily the Old Testament. Two dimensions are borrowed from the Old Testament at one and the same time: that of hochma, (wisdom), understood as God's plan for creation, and that of dabar (logos), understood as the realization of this plan. The use of the word logos, which had been taken over from Greek philosophy, in turn made it easier for minds formed by this philosophy to approach these truths.

Remaining for the present in the realm of the Old Testament, we read in Isaiah: "The word that goes forth from my mouth shall not return to me empty, without having done what I desire and without having carried out that for which I sent it" (Is 55:11). It is clear from this text that the biblical dabar (word) is not merely a word but is also a realization (act). One can say that there already appears in the books of the old covenant a certain personification of the word (dabar, logos), and likewise of wisdom (sophia).

Wisdom "is initiated into the knowledge of God, and chooses his works" (Wis 8:4), and in another passage: "With you is wisdom, who knows your works, and was present when you created the world; she knows what is pleasing to your eyes and what is fitting.... Send her from the holy heavens, for your glorious throne, so that she may assist me and stand by me in my work, so that I may know what is pleasing to you" (Wis 9:9-10).

Thus, we are very close to the first words of the prologue of John. The following words of the Book of Wisdom are even closer: "While a deep silence enveloped all things, and night was halfway through its course, your almighty word leaped down from your royal throne...into the midst of this land doomed to destruction, bearing your inexorable command like a naked sword" (Wis 18:14-15). Nevertheless, this word to which the sapiential books refer, this wisdom which is with God from the beginning, is considered in relationship to the created world which it orders and directs (cf. Prov 8:22-27). "The Word" in the Gospel of John, on the other hand, not only exists "in the beginning," but is revealed as turned wholly toward God (pros ton theon) and as being himself God. "The Word was God." He is the only-begotten Son, who "is in the bosom of the Father"—God the Son. He is in Person the pure expression of God, the "reflection of his glory" (cf. Heb 1:3), consubstantial with the Father."
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« Reply #17 on: April 18, 2005, 08:43:21 AM »

Firstly, on brother Ntinos' questions:

"Jesus does love the fellow believer, but does Jesus love the unbeliever? The atheist? The enemy of the Church?"
I belive that God, to Him Glory Always and may He be among us now and ever, loves every man, woman and child, just as He loves all other creation. It is a question of returning love. The atheist, the enemy of the Church* is the one who does not love God. Therefore, this unity of Love, of the Creator towards creation and creation towards the Creator, is not complete. It is only through the full circle of love that love of God is visible (felt) to creation.
* Stricly speaking, the enemy of the Church is satan therefore he is not an atheist.

"When I asked my theology teacher back while I was back at school about the seven scourges of God on Egypt. He replied to me, that God has a different view on the idololatric people..."
I belive that God, may He be worshiped forever and ever, does not change. What does change is the CONTRACT between Him and us. As far as Egypt was concerned (and indeed the whole Old Testament's) the system of punishment is to be found in the "fine print" (if you permit),



Given that this post, just like about every other on this and indeed all other forums, is turning toward some other questions, I would like to ask couple of questions to brothers (who are much more versed in Theology than I am) CyberSponge and greekischristian. They are as follows:

Which one of the following (if any) are more correct to state:

a) Is it that Fathers have used philosophical methodology (metodologiae filosofica) in order to explain Judeo-Christian idea to the Roman world,

b) Is it that fathers have developed Judeo-Christian idea from ideas given in canonic verses into ideas of the Holy Councils using philosofical methodology (methodologiae filosofica),

c) Is it that Judeo-Christian thought (idea) has always been concieved as philosophical, and or

d)Is it just possible that this "philosophication" of the Judeo-Christian thought (idea) was a necessary product of development of the Christian Theology as a consenquence of anti-heretical combat that fathers fought against heretics who were using philosophical methodology (methodologiae filosofica), which was recognised system of argument?



Thank you.

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« Reply #18 on: April 18, 2005, 09:07:04 AM »

The Book of Wisdom was I think written originally in Greek, as of course was the New Testament. The words Sophia and Logos are also, are they not, Greek. The Jewish Diaspora came into contact with Greek Philosophy in many ways. Philo of Alexandria described the Law of Moses as the Word.

It seems clear to me that the ways we formulate Christian belief (the words we use) are at any rate influenced by the language of Philosophy. The truths we formulate have their origin only in God.
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« Reply #19 on: April 18, 2005, 01:32:06 PM »

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Brother Ntinos,

Please define the word "punishment" and the question will get the right answer.

Because by "punishment" you may mean many things. So what was the meaning that your friend gave to it?

My friend did not give a meaning to it, he just believed Jesus was a philosopher that fooled us he was God. What I was discussing is that Jesus did not just say that we should good, caring, loving etc, but that we should also worship him like a God. In other words, we were discussing the issue of whether a church should exist or not: I was supporting the idea that without Jesus, and belief in Jesus, one cannot be saved (based on the words of the Lord), and supporting my opinion that God is a person and not just a system.

The problem with Christianity is that people stick to the fact that Jesus told us to be good in our lives, and completely ignore the fact that Jesus is a God that should be worshiped as God: the follower should go to Church, pray, fasten, commune, get baptized, confess etc etc.
In other words, Christianity tends to be mistaken for a philosophical movement led by Jesus, and not religion...

While reading the Old Testament I got the feeling that God punishes sinners, and sometimes even not sinners. For example, when King David wanted to calculate how many people his Kingdom accounted, got punished him by killing 70,000 Jews...
And there are other things, like the anathema from God Himself to a grave sinner, when God ordered King Saoul to exterminate the man, kill his cattle and burn his possessions completely. And the story goes on.

Which is why I am suggesting God punishes sinners and tries his faithful.

And then again, in the New Testament we have Jesus who suggests He did not come to abolish the law, but complete it. And whereas the law says "An eye for an eye", Jesus says "Turn the other cheek as well". But in other places he curses trees not to grow, and states that he who is scandalised by his eye should remove it, because it is better to enter the Kingdom of Heavens without an eye, rather than rot in the Gehenna of fire...
And then we have the Revalations of St. John... God appears more than a punisher than ever in that book, yet He never punishes the righteous. Just a look on what God will do against the people who have renounced Him and sided up with Antichrist and bear his stamp on their forehead or hand is cruel enough to get me persuaded God punishes his enemies, and bears no love for them.

I do not feel God has changed his attitude when He came down to earth as Jesus of Nazareth, but He rather suggested what our approach should be.

I also do not believe God punishes because he is evil, or wants to punish. I believe God punishes in order to root out sin.

This is yet a mystery I would like you to explain to me.



There is also the issue of Egypt. God punished the Pharaoh not because He wanted the Pharaoh to repent for his sins and turn to God, but rather in order to get the people of Israel out of Egypt. And the last scourge was awful: instead of punishing only the Pharaoh, who was the guilty of the case, he punished every Egyptian with a first child in Egypt...
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« Reply #20 on: April 18, 2005, 09:18:13 PM »

Whether we are to say that the Councils established, or defined, or revieled, or affirmed, or whatevered doctrine, it is they who ultimately mace the declarations that some dogma was Orthodox and other dogma was heterodox, whether or not the source of this theology was judism or hellenism is not really the point. With that said, the Jews did not have the fullness of the Faith, if they did we could just all become Jews and forget about the Christian elements of our Theology, rather I submit that the Jews had (and still have) part of the truth, but so did the pagans (not necessarily the same part). So that which was truth and accepted by the Jews we adopted and that which was truth and accepted by the pagans we also adopted.

Moreover, going from a personification of wisdom in the Book of Wisdom to the Theology of the Logos in John is a huge step, and going from the Theology of the Logos in John to the Doctrine of the Trinity or the Christology of Chalcedon is an even bigger step. And arguing that this step was made without the strong influence of the Philosophers (especially Philo, Plotinus, Proclus and the other Middle and Neo-Platonists) is simply ignoring history for reasons of convenience. Now whether you want to say that these Philosophers created these doctrines, or revealed them, or that these truths were revealed through them, or that these philosophers created methods that aided the fathers in the understanding or explanation of already revealed truths it is just a matter of semantics, the point is that the Philosophies of the Pagans heavily influential and were essential to our understanding and explaining of many of the essential Dogmas of Christianity.
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« Reply #21 on: April 18, 2005, 10:11:01 PM »

Brother Ntinos,

God has never punished anybody.

I asked you about the meaning of "punishment" because if you accept that God punishes humans then you start to express His "personality" according to human conditions. In that frame, how do they relate the Persons of Trinity between Themselves? The Father may punish the Son in case He disobeys Him? Or does He only punish the subordinate beings and not His Son and His Spirit. One may argue that the Son and the Spirit are not disobeying the Father under no circumstances, but is this the reason that prevents Him from punishing Them?

If someone is going to use punishment as an accepted way to relate to others he makes no exceptions. He either uses punishment or he does not. Or else he has double personality. Of course Father has One will, One personality. He is not a divided Person having psychological problems. That’s human’s privilege.

Also consider this: Father, Son and Spirit were for ever, even “before” the creation of time itself. Trinity is (and ever was) Three Divine Persons related to each other. If “to punish” is a characteristic of theirs then they should have big problem in Their relationship. Imagine an eternal relationship with such “avenging” persons.

Now let me come to my original question: “what is punishment?” Punishment as is perceived by humans is always related to two things: a cause and an intention. There is no punishment without an undesirable cause and there is no punishment without an intention. The intention is always to prevent the results of the undesirable cause. For instance, my mother punished me as a child for not doing my homework, in order to prevent me from becoming uneducated. In that case, cause was my laziness, and my mother’s intention was my education. If there is not a cause or an intention then punishment is just a sadistic behavior that looks to satisfy a pervert avenger. In this context what is the cause and what is the intention of God’s punishment? We believe that Christ accepted to be crucified for us. What would have our punishment by Him to add to His sacrifice? I think that the answer is : nothing at all.
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« Reply #22 on: April 19, 2005, 03:39:49 AM »

God has never punished anybody. 

Hmmm - let's not deny historical reality.  God has punished people.  We may see it as wrathful or avenging or whatever, but that's our limitation - we do not know the reasons of God, and when we try to impose reasons we get into trouble.  I know that "punishment" gets connotations of anger/rage/etc., but we also have to accept that the scripture refers to God's punishment of the wicked many times.  And the mere fact that he will allow any of His creatures to endure eternal torment (i.e. Hell) is proof positive that He punishes - I know we state that being in Hell is the choice of the person, which is true, but God ultimately has to allow the condition of Hell to exist; otherwise all would experience the bliss of His presence.

I asked you about the meaning of "punishment" because if you accept that God punishes humans then you start to express His "personality" according to human conditions. In that frame, how do they relate the Persons of Trinity between Themselves?  The Father may punish the Son in case He disobeys Him? Or does He only punish the subordinate beings and not His Son and His Spirit. One may argue that the Son and the Spirit are not disobeying the Father under no circumstances, but is this the reason that prevents Him from punishing Them?   

The idea of the Father punishing the Son or Spirit should never come into the conversation - for it is existentially impossible for this to happen.  The Son and Spirit do not go against the Will of the Father, and could not go agaisnt it - the Trinity is a perfect model of Love, where rebellion and disobedience would not be possible.  If a member of the Trinity would be disobedient, it would be open rebellion against the Father, which is not possible.  Bringing up the possibility is spiritually damaging to us as humans, for it disregards the essential nature of the relationship within the Trinity as being loving. 


I would respond to more, but I'm tired - I just got up for a glass of water, and here I am posting.  Goodnight.
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« Reply #23 on: April 19, 2005, 06:24:41 AM »


If someone is going to use punishment as an accepted way to relate to others he makes no exceptions. He either uses punishment or he does not. Or else he has double personality. Of course Father has One will, One personality. He is not a divided Person having psychological problems. That’s human’s privilege.

Also consider this: Father, Son and Spirit were for ever, even “before” the creation of time itself. Trinity is (and ever was) Three Divine Persons related to each other. If “to punish” is a characteristic of theirs then they should have big problem in Their relationship. Imagine an eternal relationship with such “avenging” persons.

Now let me come to my original question: “what is punishment?” Punishment as is perceived by humans is always related to two things: a cause and an intention. There is no punishment without an undesirable cause and there is no punishment without an intention. The intention is always to prevent the results of the undesirable cause. For instance, my mother punished me as a child for not doing my homework, in order to prevent me from becoming uneducated. In that case, cause was my laziness, and my mother’s intention was my education. If there is not a cause or an intention then punishment is just a sadistic behavior that looks to satisfy a pervert avenger. In this context what is the cause and what is the intention of God’s punishment? We believe that Christ accepted to be crucified for us. What would have our punishment by Him to add to His sacrifice? I think that the answer is : nothing at all.


I'm not suggesting that the Father punishes and Jesus loves. What I'm suggesting is that God is not all that loving all the time, and sometimes sets His Love aside in order to restore order the way it is intended by the Divine.
Also, I'm not suggesting that Jesus teached love whereas God in the Old Testament did not. What I'm suggesting is that the "Love" part of God's existence was snubbed by the Jews, undermined by the Jewish attitude. And the Jews toned up the avenger part of God. Whereas, we do the opposite right now, because Jesus taught us this, but this does not mean God does not have an avenger part, which is manifested especially in the Old Testament against the idololatric people.

My view is this:
God, although loving, bears no love for Sin, and does whatever possible to root out sin. For example, in Sodomma & Gomorra, where there was not even a single righteous person inside and everybody was completely absorbed by idoltry & carnal passions, the only thing that could root out sin was the complete destruction of the city. God is just driven mad when He sees idoltry & demon worship, however, when He came to earth as Jesus of Nazareth, the world was ready for a manifestation of a proper religion (Christianism), and what He did was preach in Jewish territory, which was not ridden with idoltry & carnal passions during that time period.
The world was also pacified by the Hellenic ideals, which deteriorated idoltry (not just worship of the gods-demons, but also mass fornication, perversions, etc) to a certain extent, which is why He wasn't so quick to chastise the idol-worshippers of the era...

I do not believe however that God punishes because He is evil, but rather because He wants to correct people.
I know I might be wrong in this, so please correct me, but do so in relation to events like the Pharaoh's scourges, Sodomma & Gomorra, the time of Noah, etc etc...

Also, I have another question: Does the fact that Jews wrote the Old Testament automatically mean they adapted the texts to their own view of God?
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« Reply #24 on: April 19, 2005, 12:35:18 PM »


Hmmm - let's not deny historical reality. God has punished people. We may see it as wrathful or avenging or whatever, but that's our limitation - we do not know the reasons of God, and when we try to impose reasons we get into trouble. I know that "punishment" gets connotations of anger/rage/etc., but we also have to accept that the scripture refers to God's punishment of the wicked many times. And the mere fact that he will allow any of His creatures to endure eternal torment (i.e. Hell) is proof positive that He punishes - I know we state that being in Hell is the choice of the person, which is true, but God ultimately has to allow the condition of Hell to exist; otherwise all would experience the bliss of His presence.


Brother cleveland,

You are referring to our reality. And in this context I may aggree with you.

But I don’t reffer to our reality. I am referring to “the Reality” of the way that the Three Persons of Trinity are living Their Lives. This uncreated reality as you know is beyond punishment and restoration. This Reality is even beyond perfection because “perfection” to exist must had been at least some time ago ‘imperfection”. And in Godhead there are no relative quantities/characteristics. So I repeat again that God has never punished anyone. For if He in his Divine Life there was a time that he did not punished at all and after the creation of humans he started to punish for the first time, then we introduce a change in His character that makes Him the same as His creatures: to include in Himself a variable substantial “quantity”. But Godhead is an unchanged substantial life of Three Persons. There is a fundamental axiom in Orthodox Church there was never a time that God was not what He is today regarding His Devine Life. Each Person of the Trinity is unchanged for ever and ever and has been unchanged even “before” creation of time itself, because Their Life is uncreated.

You are trying to avoid the situation of Son being punished by the Father because you say: they live their life according to “a perfect model of Love, where rebellion and disobedience would not be possible”. Church says that They live Their Life as They like to. They are free to do whatever they like. They are free to disobey and to punish but They are not. And They never will. Because They are what They are, loving Persons, not by the force of Their nature but by Their One unified Devine will.
 
Let me repeat once more the position of the Church that the Persons of Holy Trinity are revealed to us in our human history as They were, as They are and as They shall always be in Their Own Holy Life. Father, Christ (both in Devine and in human nature), and Spirit are honestly and personally meet man in his created reality. The Uncreated meet the creation, this is what salvation is all about.

Our reality is a created reality. Our notion of punishment is regarding according to what we live in our created lives. We are circumscribed by limited characteristics and variable substantial “quantities”. So when we meet with Uncreated Godhead we express our experience in regards to our comprehension. After St Antonio was tortured by the daemons, he then complained to Christ and he said “why Lord, you have not came to my rescue?” And Christ told him “I was by your side Antonio all the time”. That is a perfect example of the kind of the authentic understanding of Lords actions we realize through our lifetime.

Please let me point that St. Antonio is the greatest ascetic monk of all times. He should have known that Christ has never abandoned him. But he didn’t. Likewise all Saints of Church are feeling the Devine abandonment in their lives. It is a common experience in Saints of the Church to feel that blessed void of God’s absence. The tradition of the Fathers with the most ascetic life (the neptic tradition) of the Church states emphatically that “you have to give blood in order to receive spirit”. By that it is not to meant that God is blood thirsty avenging Person, but that by stretching over to meet Him, we certainly first of all feel His absence in our created reality. It’s a blessing state from which we start to seek for Him as a transcendental Person.

The so called “punishments of God” are exactly that outcome of our own experience of our reality that: in creation we are alone. God is not here by our side as another created being. He surely exists as a Trinity that is uncreated and we may meet with Trinity Persons in a personal way. This conflict of our will to meet Him and our inability to accomplish our intention is the absolute feeling of a supreme punishment. It’s the tragic reality that we all live, by seeking our beloved that is not to be found (in created world manner).

Finaly, I repeat once more that “God has never punished anybody”.
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« Reply #25 on: April 19, 2005, 11:24:26 PM »

There is so much I would like to say with regards to certain comments made in this thread, but so very little time, so I will only respond to one for now.

Greekischristian,

Quote
Moreover, going from a personification of wisdom in the Book of Wisdom to the Theology of the Logos in John is a huge step.

I couldn’t disagree with you more. Taking into account the fact that St John constantly quoted from or alludes to the Old Testament to make and substantiate many of his points; in addition to that fact that his Gospel is replete with parallels between Christ and the personified Wisdom of the Wisdom books available during the second temple period, it would be difficult not to acknowledge the fact that St John relied upon Jewish literature/tradition to convey his Christology/Logology. When considering such context, as well as the fact St John did come from a Jewish background, and probably had a Jewish audience in mind when formulating his Gospel, this becomes quite clear.

The Jews, although not having any form of a Trinitarian concept, did understand that there were certain “aspects” of God (“periphrasis” of God if you will), which were both a distinct reality from Him, yet intrinsic to His being and hence incapable of being disconnected from Him as if a separate or inferior entity; such as His Wisdom, His Word, His Law, His divine presence or Glory.

Proffessor Richard Bacukham in his book God Crucified explains the nature of Jewish monotheism during the second temple period as a "strict" one, stating that the Jews of this day were “self-consciously monotheistic and had certain very familiar and well-defined ideas as to how the uniqueness of the one God should be understood." The two principle themes which he then goes on to discuss which are the citerion separating God from "all other reality" - is a) His being The Creator and b) His sovereignty and hence c) His exclusive right to be worshipped (which is the corollary from b) )

He then goes on to state: “The Second Temple Jewish understanding of the divine uniqueness does not define it as unitariness and does not make distinctions within the divine identity inconceivable. Its perfectly clear that distinction between God and all other reality is made in other terms, which in this case places God's Wisdom unequivocally within the unique divine identity.” - This he states after further disucssing how in fact these exclusive attributes of God which defined their strict monotheism (i.e. Creator and Sovereign) were attributed to the divine Wisdom in Jewish literature of the second temple period.

The main point he is trying to make is; the New Testament authors, coming from a strict Jewish monotheistic background, did not need to abandon or comrpomise such a strict monotheism in order to attest to a "high Christology"; but rather they simply employed Jewish preceden to identify Christ with certain divine aspects of God, especially the divine Wisdom, in order to identify Him directly with the Godhead.

St John hence best communicated that Christ was both distinct from God yet identifiable with Him such that He may be included within His unique identity, by identifying Christ with these very aspects, and in particular Wisdom.

Here are just a few of the parallels in question:

GÇó   In the beginning was The Word (John 1:1) ---> Wisdom was in the beginning (Prov. 8:22-23, Sir. 1:4, Wis. 9:9)
GÇó   The Word was involved in the creation (John 1:3) ----> Wisdom was involved in the creation (Proverbs. 3:19, 8:25; Isaiah. 7:21, 9:1-2)
GÇó   The Word is light in contrast to darkness (John 1:5) -----> Wisdom is light in contrast to darkness (Wis. 7:29-30)
GÇó   The Word was rejected by His own (John 1:11) yet received by the faithful (John 1:12)---> Wisdom was rejected by its own (Sir. 15:7) yet received by the faithful (Wis. 7:27)
GÇó   Christ claimed to be the light of the world (John 8:12) ---> Wisdom is the light (Wis. 7:26-30, 18:3-4)

GÇó   Christ claimed to be the door of the sheep and the good shepherd (John 10:7, 11, 14) ---> Wisdom is the door and the good shepherd (Prov. 8:34-5, Wis. 7:25-7, 8:2-16; Sir. 24:19-22)
 
GÇó   Christ claimed to be the bread of life (John 6:35) ---> Wisdom is the bread or substance of life (Prov. 9:5, Sir. 15:3, 24:21, 29:21; Wis. 11:4)

GÇó   Christ claimed to be the way and the life (John 14:6) ---> Wisdom is the way (Prov. 3:17, 8:32-34) and the life (Prov. 3:16, 8:35)

GÇó   Christ says that he who loves Him obeys His commands (John 14:15) -----> Wisdom of Solomon 16:18 says that he who loves wisdom obeys its commands.

These parallels are not restricted to St John’s Gospel, but are particularly stressed in this one Gospel; probably due to St John’s Christological emphasis.

Peace.
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