Author Topic: God's blessings vs. health & wealth vs. the temptation of Christ  (Read 570 times)

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Offline Ainnir

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God's blessings vs. health & wealth vs. the temptation of Christ
« on: September 28, 2016, 08:16:41 AM »
I was musing on this yesterday afternoon after a visit from my Joseph Prince friend.  To be fair, she prays and reads the Bible more as a result of listening to this guy, so... ??? 

What I'm wondering about is how to square the idea of God's boundless material blessings as preached by health and wealth, the knowledge of God's provision and sovereignty, and how Satan tempted Christ in the desert by offering Him all the kingdoms of the world (ie: material wealth).  The latter two have always confused me; how are they reconcilable? 

Beyond that, whether we have or whether we lack (intentionally or unintentionally) materially, how is it possible to respond to or even just regard the insistent "God wants us to only have (lots of) good things" line?  Or variations of the name it & claim it doctrine?  We were apparently an avenue through which this happened; something small, but I honestly had a few conflicting reactions and had no idea which one to stick with.

I want to respond to my friend with grace but not endorsement, but also am at a loss as to what interior attitude would be both resolute and charitable.

ETA: I would put this in Faith Issues, but don't feel I have that privilege anymore.  Plus this is something many different flavors of belief will encounter, so it's worth including them in the discussion.  I'm personally most interested in the Orthodox perspective, however.
« Last Edit: September 28, 2016, 08:18:49 AM by Ainnir »
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Offline Arachne

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Re: God's blessings vs. health & wealth vs. the temptation of Christ
« Reply #1 on: September 28, 2016, 08:32:48 AM »
What I'm wondering about is how to square the idea of God's boundless material blessings as preached by health and wealth, the knowledge of God's provision and sovereignty, and how Satan tempted Christ in the desert by offering Him all the kingdoms of the world (ie: material wealth).  The latter two have always confused me; how are they reconcilable?

The only things that Christ promised to those who followed him was persecution and martyrdom.

Synchronicity alert: http://blogs.ancientfaith.com/roadsfromemmaus/2016/09/27/christianity-not-appealing/
'Evil isn't the real threat to the world. Stupid is just as destructive as evil, maybe more so, and it's a hell of a lot more common. What we really need is a crusade against stupid. That might actually make a difference.'~Harry Dresden

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Offline Ainnir

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Re: God's blessings vs. health & wealth vs. the temptation of Christ
« Reply #2 on: September 28, 2016, 02:48:49 PM »
Thanks for the link!  I like Fr. Andrew's material.  I guess the question is what would Christ living in me look like in this particular dynamic?

Another one is if we're promised suffering, should we even be thankful when we don't?  If someone receives a raise at work, how does that fit into the model of suffering materially for spiritual gain?  I don't even like looking at it like that, personally.  It's still trading up.  What about the obvious material connection to obedience found in the Old Testament?

I think she would meet the points Fr. Andrew makes with vehement resistance, and citations of all the miracles of Christ, plus various other bits of verses that are used for this particular doctrinal end.  I've already tried "In this world you will have trouble..." and was met with a double-take and dismissal both in under a second. 

I'm trying to understand how best to meet this topic of conversation, or if I should just keep silent when it comes up (certainly the most comfortable choice).  Or if an occasion arises where I ought to say something, how do I gently draw a distinction between God's sovereign provision and an ungodly focus on the material?  Can the temptation of Christ somehow be used as an example or pattern?  Or was that singular and we should look to other verses?  Whose kingdoms was the devil offering to Christ anyway?

Anyway, I'm sorry.  I may be looking for answers when I shouldn't.  I find I often can't answer my own questions, though.
"Is any of the above Orthodox?  I have no clue, so there's that."  ~me

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Offline Arachne

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Re: God's blessings vs. health & wealth vs. the temptation of Christ
« Reply #3 on: September 30, 2016, 07:19:05 AM »
It is arguably better to have questions than answers, because you can't find the right answers until you ask the right questions. ;)

It may not help discussion with your friend, but I tend to think that we come into the world with nothing and leave it with nothing, though in the meantime we tend to accumulate things and people, which brings on a need for periodic lessons in loss.

Then again, I've been reading Thomas Moore's Dark Nights of the Soul, and I'm quite influenced.
'Evil isn't the real threat to the world. Stupid is just as destructive as evil, maybe more so, and it's a hell of a lot more common. What we really need is a crusade against stupid. That might actually make a difference.'~Harry Dresden

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Offline Ainnir

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Re: God's blessings vs. health & wealth vs. the temptation of Christ
« Reply #4 on: September 30, 2016, 08:29:15 AM »
So I've noticed.  I've also noticed that often we don't have eyes and ears for the answers--even if they hit us in the face--until we begin asking the questions.  Or maybe that's just me.  :D 

Materially, I think you are right.  Here it is often said, "you can't take it with you."  Spiritually, I hope we leave having connected with God and others on a level that supersedes natural death.  I'll keep that book in mind, though I don't make as much time for reading as I used to.

This post may be incomplete but my options are post now or leave this page up for about 9 hours, ponder some more, write some more, delete everything, and go to bed.  It's really like that.  I just shouldn't own a computer.    ??? ::)
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Offline Ainnir

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Re: God's blessings vs. health & wealth vs. the temptation of Christ
« Reply #5 on: October 22, 2016, 12:32:33 PM »
So another spin on this came up yesterday.  "You just have to believe it enough." It = God will bless us with things we want, specifically things that are within His will/blessing anyway, and will fix the unfixable messes I've made.  With enough belief on my part, He'll fix it.  I absolutely couldn't have handled that line a year or so ago (i.e. resulting emotional breakdown), and I'll count it as God's mercy that this has only just come up recently.  Even now it's tempting to want to buy into it for the comfort, and I am sad today because I can't.  But I still have no response.  Even within myself: I think, "This is wrong; I can't embrace this."  But I can't say why. 

This isn't about material wealth.  This is about having sinned and disrupted God's order, so the assurance that "of course He'll restore His own order if we only have enough faith" is particularly insidious and potentially damaging.   :'(
"Is any of the above Orthodox?  I have no clue, so there's that."  ~me

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Offline Arachne

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Re: God's blessings vs. health & wealth vs. the temptation of Christ
« Reply #6 on: October 22, 2016, 12:35:25 PM »
"You just have to believe it enough." It = God will bless us with things we want, specifically things that are within His will/blessing anyway, and will fix the unfixable messes I've made.

God can be trusted to grant us the things we need, even if they are the last things we may want at the time. Or rather, especially then.
'Evil isn't the real threat to the world. Stupid is just as destructive as evil, maybe more so, and it's a hell of a lot more common. What we really need is a crusade against stupid. That might actually make a difference.'~Harry Dresden

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Offline Ainnir

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Re: God's blessings vs. health & wealth vs. the temptation of Christ
« Reply #7 on: October 22, 2016, 01:31:13 PM »
You're right!  I've learned that the hard way.  ;)  I used to revel in being pressed, actually.  It was novel.  I used to have more energy and fewer cares, though.  But I can still usually tell when I'm grasping beyond His provision.

This is a different twist to the same promise.  Maybe I'm still selfishness and maybe not.  But the way this week's conversation went, it'd be like someone promising a teen that God will uncripple their friend who was riding shotgun because a trusted person said that playing chicken was the right thing to do.  "Of course God wants to heal that!  You just have to have enough faith!"  Insidious.
"Is any of the above Orthodox?  I have no clue, so there's that."  ~me

Taking a hiatus.  Pray for me, a sinner.

Offline William T

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Re: God's blessings vs. health & wealth vs. the temptation of Christ
« Reply #8 on: October 22, 2016, 01:45:05 PM »
I don't think I have much to add to what's been said,

but just in case you want to get a bit more into your question these Fr. Hopko talks entered my mind:

http://www.ancientfaith.com/podcasts/hopko/pain_and_suffering

http://www.ancientfaith.com/podcasts/hopko/relax_god_is_in_control_final_thoughts    (this is the final of a three part reflection, you can link
to the other two from that page if you wish)
« Last Edit: October 22, 2016, 01:50:07 PM by William T »
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Offline Justin Kolodziej

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Re: God's blessings vs. health & wealth vs. the temptation of Christ
« Reply #9 on: October 22, 2016, 02:11:47 PM »
I only know a couple of things:
1. there are emperors and kings who are Saints, and desert Fathers and holy fools who even gave up their clothes and ran around Moscow naked in winter who are also Saints. Is one better than the other? Nope.
2. I think St. James had something to say about why people may not get what they pray for: "Ye ask, and receive not, because ye ask amiss, that ye may consume it upon your lusts." Of course, it sounds like this prosperity theology does a great job of convincing people to do exactly that.  ::)
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The dread Pantocrator...is also "Christouli mou", (my little Christ), who really listens when you run in to your neighborhood church on the way to work to cry and light a candle because your daughter is in trouble at school. The untouchable and all-holy Mother of God is also "Panayitsa mou", who really will take your part before the court of heaven because, just like your own mom, she’ll always stick up for her children, no matter how badly they’ve behaved.

Offline Arachne

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Re: God's blessings vs. health & wealth vs. the temptation of Christ
« Reply #10 on: October 22, 2016, 02:12:55 PM »
'Not my will, Lord, but Thine' is the hardest thing ever.
'Evil isn't the real threat to the world. Stupid is just as destructive as evil, maybe more so, and it's a hell of a lot more common. What we really need is a crusade against stupid. That might actually make a difference.'~Harry Dresden

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Offline hecma925

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Re: God's blessings vs. health & wealth vs. the temptation of Christ
« Reply #11 on: October 22, 2016, 02:21:51 PM »
And Jesus said unto him, Forbid him not: for he that is not against us is for us.
Happy shall he be, that shall take and dash thy little ones against the rock. Alleluia.

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Offline Ainnir

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Re: God's blessings vs. health & wealth vs. the temptation of Christ
« Reply #12 on: October 22, 2016, 10:01:44 PM »
I don't think I have much to add to what's been said,

but just in case you want to get a bit more into your question these Fr. Hopko talks entered my mind:

http://www.ancientfaith.com/podcasts/hopko/pain_and_suffering

http://www.ancientfaith.com/podcasts/hopko/relax_god_is_in_control_final_thoughts    (this is the final of a three part reflection, you can link
to the other two from that page if you wish)

Thank you.   :)
"Is any of the above Orthodox?  I have no clue, so there's that."  ~me

Taking a hiatus.  Pray for me, a sinner.

Offline Ainnir

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Re: God's blessings vs. health & wealth vs. the temptation of Christ
« Reply #13 on: October 25, 2016, 08:45:33 AM »
I gather the first podcast of that series probably sounded harsh to many, but it helped the most.  I am being selfish.  It is not material, and it is about bringing things back under God's will, but it's desiring "amiss," as Justin quoted.  Because my motives are not the same for all my past sins, and because I can't steward what I'd be asking for.    I probably really needed the strickening, anyway.  I don't foresee actually having that conversation with my friend, though.

As for refuting her in general...I can't see her without this topic coming up.  And nearly every topic somehow winds its way back to this gospel and this preacher.  Its...challenging, on a lot of levels.  But there was a time my mother couldn't see me without the same phenomenon happening, except with Baptist theology, and I was far more aggressive than my friend.  She is merely persistent; I was angry.  I also know just how deaf "deaf ears" can be.

Those are my conclusions for now, still subject to change.
"Is any of the above Orthodox?  I have no clue, so there's that."  ~me

Taking a hiatus.  Pray for me, a sinner.