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coptic orthodox boy
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« on: February 18, 2006, 11:52:00 AM »

IC XC NIKA

To All

As a few of you know, I've sent this e-mail to you with my questions.  I thank you for answering me, but I have decided to post my questions here, to receive more replys.  My intentions are not to make anyone doubt; I'm really stuggling with my questions, and I'm hoping they may be answered.  To be honest I would consider myself at best, an agnostic.  I'm really stuggling to keep my faith in God (as you'll see in the questions below), and my frustrations have led to times to dispair.  Please don't allow this thread to become a place of arguments, because if it does and dies, I'm sure that what is left of my faith will die with it.  With that said, I'm hoping my question doesn't led to any harsh feelings towards me.




IC XC NIKA
 
Jeremiah,
 
First, to answer your question, I "found" you at OC.net.  I used to post there, under the name "copticorthodoxboy."  I could never really type my deepest feelings and thoughts about Orthodoxy there (or any forum), due to the great amount of disrespect that can be shown towards persons.  I did, however, befriend many people there.  To name them: S_N_Bulkagov, Xaira, Minasoliman, etc.  Weather you see me as apart of the Orthodox church, we'll leave for another discussion.  I've done some reading in Christolgy (but in no way am I a Christolgist), and have come to a conclusion while reading the Fathers who mainly wrote about Christolgy; they are times were the biggest jerks towards their theological opponents (in particular, St. Cyril of Alexandria).  Regardless, whatever your opinion is of me and my church, I'll just state a few things:
 
1)I'm a convert to Orthodoxy, so my pursuit is for truth, and not to hold to cultural expressions (as happens amoung many Orthodox, who see church as a ethnic center).
2)Through my readings of Cyril, Severus, John of Damascus, I personally believe with an honest heart that both the EO community and the OO community DO proclaim the same Faith.  Thus, I'm a "moderate" on this topic, and consider you and all Chalcedonian Orthodox to be completly Orthodox.
3)I, with my light Christological readings, have come to the conclusion that I enjoy reading books written by Fathers who are Fathers in both our churches, and who aren't such strong Christlogists.  Isaac of Syria, Gregory of Nyssa and his brother Basil, Gregory of Nazianzus, John Chrystotom, etc. 
4)I'm a huge fan, also, of EO monasticism.  To be honest, I find the monasticism practiced within the Coptic church (as of, at this moment) to be very dry and legalistic.  I am much more fond of the Russian mystics (espcially Serephim of Sarov), as well as the monastic traditions praciticed by the Athonite monks.
5)I attend both a Coptic parish and a Carpatho-Russian parish; I receive communion within both parishes (and yes, both priests know I'm non-Chalcedonian), and I'm happy to see that at a grassroots level the agreed statments of the 20th century are being acted upon.
 
Okay, enough said on that topic, now onto my questions.
 
Question 1:
"An elder was once asked, 'What is a compassionate heart?'  He replied: 'It is a heart of fire for the whole of creation, for humanity, for the birds, for the animals, for demons and for all that exists.  At the recollection and at the sight of them such a person's eyes overflow with tears owing to the vehemence of the compassion which grips his heart; as a result of his deep mercy his heart shrikns and cannot bear to hear of look on any injury or the slightest suffering of anything in creation.  This is why he constantly offers up prayer full of tears, even for the irration animals and for the enemies of truth, even for those who harm him, so that they may be protected and find mercy.  He even prays for the reptiles as a result of the great compassion which is poured out beyond measure - after the likeness of God -  in his heart.'" - St. Isaac of Syria (pg. 29 "Daily Readings with St. Isaac of Syria).
 
Jeremiah, I love this quote from our holy Father Isaac.  At the same time, I'm in a bit of a pickle.  Truly, Christ taught mercy and compassion towards all, espically sinners (as He came to led the sinner to repentance with mercy and compassion).  And yet, when I sit and look through the OT, I wonder if God is really a God of love and mercy.  When the Israelites escaped from Egypt, they are commanded by Almighty God to kill, indeed slaughter, all living in Canaan (including, of course, the elderly men, women and children; all innocent).  Now, of course, Christ being the Second Person of the blessed Trinity, would have been the one to command the slaughter of these innocent persons; and then turns around in the NT, and teaches us to love our enemy unconditionally.  So my conclusions are these (all seperate from each other):
 
1)God is a sadistic schizophrenic-psychopath; who commands "Thou shalt not murder" then turns around around anc commands slaughter of innocence every once and a while.  What's stopping Him from commanding me to kill a non-Orthodox Christian?
2)Though the Scriptures are inspired, they are in no way infallible.  In other words, perhaps the writter of the slaugther of the Cannanites (as well as Joshua and the army) felt inspired by God to slaughter, and God allowed the slaughter (as he did divorce and remarriage); however, God didn't command the slaughter.
3)This story perhaps never happened, and was a bit of a parable (a long parable), to describe God in story form.
 
What are your thoughs on this Jeremiah?
 
Question 2:
 
"Similarly, Abraham, ordered by the Lord to leave his country and family and the home of his father, at once, so to speak, stripped himself of everything -  fatherland, property, relatives, parents -  and obeyed the Word of teh Lord.  Then he underwent many trials and temptations as when his wife was taken from him or when he, living in an alien land, was subjected to injustices.  Yet through all he proved that God alone was his sole love over all things.  Then when, through a promise and after many years, he had his only son whom he so very much wanted, he was ordered to sacrifice him with his own hands.  Abraham stripped himself and truly went against himself.  He showed how by the sacrifice of his only son he loved nothign more than God.  If indeed he so generously gave up his own son, how much more, if he had been ordered to surrender all other possessions, or to give them all up in one moment, he would have willingly done it." -Pseudo-Macrarius (pg. 70 "The Fifty Spiritual Homilies and the Great Letter)
 
I'm sure you are familiar with the story of God asking for the sacrafice (killing) of Isaac by his father Abraham (which, as we both know, never came to completion).  I wonder, however, why God would ask such a thing.  In the Torah, He is said to be greatly displeased with other nations that offer their sons and daughters as sacrifices; and yet we are told that He commands Abraham to kill his son.  In a time where we hear of a few cases where people have killed their children, because God told them to, I wonder how we are to combat these claims.  God, we are told, asked for it once; what's stopping Him from asking again?  I mean, Jeremiah, let's say you were married.  And your wife says "Jeremiah, to prove your love to me, I ask you to kill our little kitten."  I mean, I'm sure Jeremiah, you'd think your wife was nuts, and would most likly decline from doing such an action.  Yet, in my little example above, God is the "wife."  He commands slaughter and scrafice to prove our love and devotoin towards God.  My conclusions are very similar to number 1:
 
1)God is a sadistic schizophrenic-psychopath; who commands "Thou shalt not be like other nations, that offer their sons and daughters on altars" then turns around around and commands slaughter of Isaac.  What's stopping Him from commanding me to kill a my friends, a family member, etc.?
 
Question 3:
 
"One must behave affectionately toward one�s neighbors, not showing even a hint of offense. When we turn away from a person or offend him, it is as if a rock settles on our heart. One must try to cheer the spirit of an embarrassed or dejected person with words of love." - Sepephim of Sarov
 
Now, we may come to conclusion that what God commanded in the OT to no longer be binding (if He did command. After reading Christ's response to the Pharisees in the NT in Matt. Ch. 19, I believe that God allowed misintrerpetations of His words and intent to happen), I wonder why Orthodoxy canonizes persons who clearly break Christ's commands in the NT.  In particular, I wonder why Justinian of all persons is canonized.  His hands are drenched in the blood of Orthodox Christians in Egypt and Syria.  He died defending Julianism.  It frustrates me so much, that I'm often quite bitter towards the Orthodox Church.  Don't get me wrong, I know that the Christians and Egypt have their hands also in the blood of EO Christians, but I wonder:
 
1)Are there canons in the Orthodox church that protect the killing of non-Orthodox Christians?
2)If "yes", how are these canons protected in the light of the Fathers and the Gospels?
3)If "no", then why do we canonize those that slaughter innocent life?
 
Question 4:
 
"Do not think that I came to destroy the Law or the Propehts.  I did not come to destory but to fulfill.  For assuredly, I say to you, till heaven and earth pass away, one jot or one tittle will by no means pass from the law till all is fulfilled.  Whoever therefore breaks one of these commandments, and teaches men so, shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but whoever does and teaches them, he shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven.  For I say to you, that unless your righeousness exceeds the righteousness of the scribes and pharisees, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven." - Jesus (Matthew's Gospel, Ch. 5: 17-20).
 
Jeremiah, how is the Law to be interpreted by an Orthodox Chrisitan?  If Christ commanded these things in the past, and then "fulfills" them in the future; how are we to ever know what God truly commands?  For example, Christ commands certain things in the OT, and yet clearly breaks them in the NT (or "fulfills" them).  Some examples, the true understanding of the Sabbath, in which work is allowed (yet, Christ commands a man to be stoned in the OT for picking up sticks); Treatment of Gentils is of love and compassion (yet it is endless slaughter in the OT); the fulfilled understanding of fasting and prayer, done for God (and yet God strikes one dead in the OT for eatting a little honey); etc.  Why does God seem to endlessly contradict himself over and over again.  He has such harsh words towards the Pharisees, for their legalism; but the way God is revealed in the OT, one can't but agree that the Pharisees were living by the letter of the Law, which at times it seems God only cares about.  Your thoughts?
 
Question 5:
 
Are you really only 17 years old?
 
Oh, I didn't proof read, so I'm sorry for any typos.
 
in XC
 
shawn
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coptic orthodox boy
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« Reply #1 on: February 18, 2006, 11:52:48 AM »

HERE IS ONE REPLY

Well, for the record, I would probably consider EO and OO the same faith as well. I am still trying to figure out "miathelitism," but besides that, I am completely in agreement. Now, to the questions:

1) In Israel's conquering of Canaan, the history should be noted first. In Genesis 9, when Noah gets drunk, Ham, the father of Canaan, sees him. Verses 24- 27 (KJV)

"And Noah awoke from his wine, and knew what his younger son had done unto him. And he said, Cursed be Canaan; a servant of servants shall he be unto his brethren. And he said, Blessed be the LORD God of Shem; and Canaan shall be his servant. God shall enlarge Japheth, and he shall dwell in the tents of Shem; and Canaan shall be his servant."

Lather, in chapter 10, we see some of the sons of Ham. You'll recognize many of them because they later became the names of evil cities. Some include: Canaan, Ninevah, Babel, Sidon, etc. Now, in chapter 13, we see Abram (later Abraham), living peacefully with all of the Canaanites. They were curses, but they were not exactly enemies. In 15, a covenant was made that gave Abram the land. Yet even here there is no bloodshed. Going down to chapter 31, Jacob makes a covevant with Laban, not to attack his land.

Things only begin to change in chapter 34. This is when Simeon and Levi go out an destroy a whole city. To this, Jacob, their father, says in Genesis 34:30 (KJV),

"And Jacob said to Simeon and Levi, Ye have troubled me to make me to stink among the inhabitants of the land, among the Canaanites and the Perizzites: and I being few in number, they shall gather themselves together against me, and slay me; and I shall be destroyed, I and my house."

I believe this is the turning point. The original plan was for the sons of Ham to serve Israel (back in Genesis 9). It seems, though, that these nations not only decided to break this covenant, but to try and destroy Israel (this is quite evident in later chapters, where Israel is many times on the defensive).

So, why destroy everyone? Everyone made an oath of loyalty to their nation, and everyone, even children, were expected to fulfil it. All of them were hostile. In Joshua 9, one of the nations makes a peace treaty with Israel, and their nation is called to serve Israel, as the orignal promise was. So, I don't think that this is something that Israel did wrong, but that they did because all of Canaan was trying to kill them, and God knew this! As we see in Joshua 9, they were fine with letting the other nation fulfill the original prmose (though skeptical that this nation really was going to be peaceful, no doubt.)

2) To address those who did sacrifice their children, we read in 1 Corinthians 13:3 (NIV),

"If I give all I possess to the poor and surrender my body to the flames, but have not love, I gain nothing."

This is only one of the reasons why they were wrong, but an important one. Now, in regards to what Abraham did, the point was not that he kill his son, but that he somehow prove that he loved God more. This was a foreshadowing of Jesus' sacrifice. Of course, God, knowing that killing Isaac would do nothing, for the love Abraham had was already made manifest, let him live. Again, the plan was never to bring death to Isaac, but to see if Abraham had the love of God to. In your scenario about the kitten, I don't know if it is valid, because I would be forsaking God to prove my "love" to my wife. The point in the story, again, was the exact opposite, to prove our love for the most important: God. And again, I stress that the killing is not what is important, but the total submission behind it. God knows that it goes against everything to kill someone, and so it is a good judge of whether we will go against everything for Him.

3) This is a very good question as well. As far as I am aware, there are no canons for or against such activity, however, it very rarely happens, as the scriptures speak against it. I must point out something with regards to killing, though. We know it is wrong to end a life, but what is one can die and save ten? What if ten can die and save a thousand? It's certainly a tough question, but I think this is the principle in many of the wars that have been fought (most of the wars Orthodox Christians have been greatly involved in were defensive, too). I do not know much about Justinian, so I cannot comment much about him specifically.

4) Each one of these is different, and so has to be addressed seperately. To start off, I think this verse has a lot to say about some of the apparent contradictions. 1 Corintians 13:11 (NIV),

"When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put childish ways behind me."

The people of Israel were basically "children." As such, they were given simple rules, such as "don't touch this, don't do that." However, as Christians, we are now able to see the greater truth revealed, such as "don't touch this because it is dangerous, don't do that because you'll hurt someone else."

To address the Sabbath, people were not killed because they "picked up sticks," but because the condition of their hearts, they alienated themselves from God. This may have manifested itself in the form of picking up sticks, but this is hardly a reason for killing someone.

In regards to the OT killing, I already addressed that to a large degree. Israel was fighting for its survival against nations who were trying to destroy it. One cannot forget the many nations and regions with which Israel actually made peace with.

I cannot recal the ncdent of the honey,but if you give me the verse, I will gladly look at it.

Going back the the verse I first gave, a lot of what we have in the OT is very simply recorded. It is from a nation that was a child, who understood the basics, but not the reasons behind the laws. As such, if we dig deeper, I think every "contradiction" can be resolved. What they heard was what they, in their limited knowledge, needed to hear, both for survival, and for worship of God.

5) Indeed I am only 17!

Please do let me know if you have any other questions, and do send me that verse on on the honey. Thanks for you time!

(PS: Sorry for the delay in sending this. I had to do a bit of research on some of the questions, especially the first one, where I covered most of Genesis!)
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« Reply #2 on: February 18, 2006, 11:53:36 AM »

AND ANOTHER (I HOPE TO HEAR MORE HOWEVER):

Dear Shawn,

I am so sorry for not having responded and I am glad you reminded me because in the midst of certain problems im having with a relationship and university at the moment, it genuinly slipped my mind. To be honest with you, the questions you ask are not very difficult to answer, and have been answered by many who are more wiser and prudent than I, long ago. Having done much research and invested much time in the field of apologetic Christianity, I have come to really wonder in amazement at just how intelligent and wise many of our apologists are. That's why, after all these years, it's almost impossible for me to ever be disturbed by the skeptical claim of a polemecist, because in the back of my mind, even if I do not know the immediate answer, I do know that just a little bit of research will uncover the perfect, and dare I say divinely inspired, answer.

When I first read your email, I had planned to summarise the answers I had read from a few internet links I had read long ago; but in light of the situation im currently in at the moment, i realise that time may not allow that; so here is what I will do. I will provide you with three links that directly deal with the questions you raise, in the most detailed, logical, reasonable, and scholarly fashion. If these issues are as close to your heart as you make them out to be, surely you will take the time to consider and read through these articles carefully. If you have any questions about the arguments made in the articles themselves, then please feel free to ask, hopefully I will have the time to answer them.

Link 1: Re: Abraham being ordered to sacrafice his son: http://christian-thinktank.com/qkilisak.html

Link 2: Re: The annhilation of the Canaanites: http://christian-thinktank.com/qamorite.html

Link 3: Re: The slaughter of the Amelkite children: http://christian-thinktank.com/rbutcher1.html

Keep praying Shawn, even in your disbelief. God Bless buddy.

In Christ
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« Reply #3 on: February 19, 2006, 12:51:41 AM »

I've done some reading in Christolgy (but in no way am I a Christolgist), and have come to a conclusion while reading the Fathers who mainly wrote about Christolgy; they are times were the biggest jerks towards their theological opponents (in particular, St. Cyril of Alexandria).  Regardless, whatever your opinion is of me and my church, I'll just state a few things:

As to your "in particular" - Have you ever read Nestorius' first letter to Cyril?  If you havn't you really should.  Also, did you read Cyril's first letter to Nestorius (which came before the response I just mentioned)?  Becuase if you havn't you really should.  Please let me know, maybe I can find them for you if you havn't already.  If you've already read them let me know so that we can discuss. 

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« Reply #4 on: February 19, 2006, 12:56:47 AM »

I can't remember if they're online, too (the letters in question).... maybe it would be helpful if they were linked to the discussion (or any other discussion that seems to come up as EO-OO or EO-OO-Assyrian/Nestorian;
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« Reply #5 on: February 19, 2006, 01:10:16 AM »

 Now, of course, Christ being the Second Person of the blessed Trinity, would have been the one to command the slaughter of these innocent persons; and then turns around in the NT, and teaches us to love our enemy unconditionally.  So my conclusions are these (all seperate from each other):

My trinitarian theology is a little rusty, but my understanding was that God the Father is the Will of the Trinity, and Jesus Christ in the OT (looking back through the lens of the NT) was the WORD of God.  So God the Father would have ordered the killing and Jesus Christ would have spoken the command.  Even if that doesn't suit you, who's to say that God the Father didn't send the Holy Spirit down to move the people in charge to kill the Cannanites as was God the Father's will (God's will).  

I don't want anyone to think i'm trying to break out a new form of Gnosticism...please.  I'm just trying to look at the question in a new way.  If i'm starting a heresy someone let me know!   Wink

p.s.  does anyone know how to take several different quotes?  I'm gona keep trying, but if someone could enlighten me that would be great.  

Quote
1)God is a sadistic schizophrenic-psychopath; who commands "Thou shalt not be like other nations, that offer their sons and daughters on altars" then turns around around and commands slaughter of Isaac.  What's stopping Him from commanding me to kill a my friends, a family member, etc.?

What about Christ saying "I have no mother, no brothers or sisters...these are my brothers and sisters" (obviously i'm paraphrasing).  Even Christ denied his family, and he was the "loving" God you keep portraying.  I'm not saying Christ would have thrown them on the spit, i'm just saying that God in the OT isn't that different than God in the NT, when speaking about this topic.  God wanted to see if Abraham was willing to let go of his family.  Christ made SURE that he let go of his family.  

Quote
Some examples, the true understanding of the Sabbath, in which work is allowed (yet, Christ commands a man to be stoned in the OT for picking up sticks)
First of all, I go back to my first point.  Its not Christ its God the Father's will.  Of course they're the same, but that's why Christ came down to the earth, to fullfill EVERY IOTA of the law.  In the OT humanity was living on the elipses "..." and none of those dots were being fulfilled by any one of us, so God pushed us into understanding, and we still didn't.  So He came down, in order for us to TRULY understand.  

Quote
Why does God seem to endlessly contradict himself over and over again.
Please forgive me if i'm rude...but how do you know that He is contradicting Himself?  Maybe in your logical and reasoning mind, which is and only can be linear, He would seem to you to be contradicting Himself.  But the sheer meaning of the words is contradicting.  God cannot contradict Himself, otherwise...he wouldn't be God.  He makes perfect sense.  And dispite what we think his actions are in OUR minds, God is still GOOD.  We are the ones who put values to things.
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« Reply #6 on: February 19, 2006, 10:54:28 AM »

The Old Testament should have been rejected by the Christian Church. The god of the Old testament was Israel - it was not the God of Christianity.

Unfortunately, this god also is the god of Islam. Need I say more?
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« Reply #7 on: February 19, 2006, 12:03:44 PM »

Quote from: TomS
Unfortunately, this god also is the god of Islam.

In the words of my bishop, Metropolitan MAXIMOS:
"If anyone says that the God of Christianity is the same as the god of Islam they preach heresy.  Ours is a God of Love; their god has no love."

That said, I'd have to ask you to elaborate more on why you say the OT needs to be rejected; why the God of Israel is not the God of Christianty.  I mean, Christ was Jewish, and he did clearly state that he "came not to reject the law," but rather to fulfill it.  It seems clear that the words and background of the NT imply and require a thorough knowledge of the OT.
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« Reply #8 on: February 19, 2006, 12:48:11 PM »

Shawn,

Quote
To be honest, I find the monasticism practiced within the Coptic church (as of, at this moment) to be very dry and legalistic.


Do you really have the sort of solid experience with Coptic monasticism required to make such an open blanket statement? Or do you make this judgment after visiting one recently established Coptic monastery in the US of A, for no more than say a few days? Go to Egypt; spend a week at the monastery of Abba Paul on the Red Sea, another week at the monastery of Archangel Gabriel at Naqlun, another week at St. George's monastery in Sidmant al-Gabal, a few days at St Pachomios' monastery at Idfu etc. etc. then come back and make an open blanket statement on the nature of the monasticism practised by the Church that virtuality initiated monasticism in the Orthodox world in the first place.

Quote
Through my readings of Cyril, Severus, John of Damascus, I personally believe with an honest heart that both the EO community and the OO community DO proclaim the same Faith.


I would agree that the essence of John of Damascene’s Christology is more or less the same of St Cyril and Severus. You will find however that John indirectly condemns St Cyril on occasions as the result of his polemical stance against the Oriental Orthodox Church.

Quote
they are times were the biggest jerks towards their theological opponents (in particular, St. Cyril of Alexandria)

St Cyril of Alexandria states:

“I love peace; there is nothing that I detest more than quarrels and disputes. I love everybody, and if I could heal one of the brethren by losing all my possessions and goods, I am willing to do so joyfully; because it is concord that I value most…But there is question of the faith and of a scandal which concerns all churches…The sacred doctrine is entrusted to us…How can we remedy these evils?...I am ready to endure with tranquility all blame, all humiliations, all injuries provided that the faith is not endangered. I am filled with love for Nestorius; nobody loves him more than I do…If, in accordance with Christ’s commandment, we must love our enemies, is it not natural that we should be united in special affection to those who are our friends and brethren in the priesthood? But when the faith is attacked, we must not hesitate to sacrifice our lives. And if we fear to preach the truth because that causes us some inconvenience, how, in our gatherings, can we chant the combats and triumphs of our holy martyrs?”

Does that sound like a “jerk” to you Shawn? Be careful with how you address such Holy Saints…there is a reason your Church (the Coptic Church) is more or less defined by its insistence to remain faithful to St Cyril. I realise that St Cyril employed satire on many occasions; but you have to understand him in context. Christ Himself used satire in certian open and public disputes with the Pharisees; I don’t think you would like to attribute such a derogative title to our Lord Christ would you? Nor do I think you would like to undermine the love Christ had for the Pharisees.

Quote
When the Israelites escaped from Egypt, they are commanded by Almighty God to kill, indeed slaughter, all living in Canaan (including, of course, the elderly men, women and children; all innocent).  Now, of course, Christ being the Second Person of the blessed Trinity, would have been the one to command the slaughter of these innocent persons; and then turns around in the NT, and teaches us to love our enemy unconditionally.  So my conclusions are these (all seperate from each other):

We must remember that even though our Lord is a God of love, He is at the same time a God of judgment. Forget heretical articles like the “River of Fire”; the author of this article (or the “speaker” I should say, since the article itself seems to be a transcript of a given speech) needs to focus more on reading his Bible and the Fathers non-selectively; he seems too distracted by his pedantic and paranoid agenda against “Western Christianity”. The fact of the matter is that God does enact punishment in a sense of vengeance to the satisfaction of human justice; this is the punishment God imposes when His loving chastisement fails to bring the sinner to repentance.

With respect to the particular event surrounding the destruction of the Canaanites, it must be empahsised that God did indeed show these people His mercy and love, for we read that He witnessed to them via direct supernatural revelation when He delivered the Israelites (see Exodus 15:1-18, Deut. 2:25, Joshua 2:8-11, 9:9-11, 24). We find however, that instead of taking heed to these great signs, the Canaanites consistently refused to repent of their atrocious sins (see Leviticus 18:1-30 for an example of the sort of acts the Canaanites were involved in); they persistently remained obstinate in their disbelief of the One True God who had revealed His power and mercy to them. Furthermore, they defied the Lord of Israel by consistently opposing, harassing, and attacking His covenant people. As His covenant people therefore, God employed the Israelites as His instrument of judgment and punishment to the Canaanites, for they had reached a point of blasphemy (just like the Pharisees who rejected the signs of the Incarnate Word, and to whom Christ responded with the very teaching of blasphemy as an unforgivable sin) and were a constant threat to the nation of Israel’s existence.

Quote
I'm sure you are familiar with the story of God asking for the sacrafice (killing) of Isaac by his father Abraham (which, as we both know, never came to completion).  I wonder, however, why God would ask such a thing. In the Torah, He is said to be greatly displeased with other nations that offer their sons and daughters as sacrifices; and yet we are told that He commands Abraham to kill his son.

This is a rather ridiculous objection; no offense. Yes, child sacrifice is displeasing to God. However, God had always intended to stop Abraham from fulfilling this act at the last moment. He never actually allows Abraham to perform the sacrifice; so where is the contradiction here? He commands Abraham to kill his son, in order to test his faith and love — in order to test if He really loves God more than His own flesh and blood (see Matthew 10:37-38) - and not because he wants a child sacrifice, since He obviously neither intends nor allows for such a sacrifice to eventuate.

Quote
In the Torah, He is said to be greatly displeased with other nations that offer their sons and daughters as sacrifices; and yet we are told that He commands Abraham to kill his son....I mean, Jeremiah, let's say you were married.  And your wife says "Jeremiah, to prove your love to me, I ask you to kill our little kitten."  I mean, I'm sure Jeremiah, you'd think your wife was nuts, and would most likly decline from doing such an action.

You cannot make an analogy between your wife and God…for obvious reasons. If Abraham truly trusted God as the all-wise and all-merciful being, he would have had absolute trust in His commandment; he would not have questioned the morality, prudence, or sanity of the Lord's commandment, which was intended to be shocking, for how else would Abraham’s faith be tested? It wouldn’t have been much of a test, had He for example commanded Abraham to poke Isaac with a stick. Come on Shawn, this is so simple, how can you possibly be disturbed by this?

Forgive me if I have come across harshly or bluntly at times, but satan is really messing with your head man; don't let him.

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« Reply #9 on: February 19, 2006, 02:09:09 PM »

Tom,

There is no basis for drawing a parallel between the God of the Old Testament and the God of the Qu'ran. This is a typical apologetic that Islamics appeal to whenever the violent acts in the Qu'ran and Hadith literature are referred to in valid polemical attacks against the authenticity of their so-called and self-proclaimed prophet, and his baseless claim to being the servant of the all-compassionate God of the Holy Scriptures. The facts that destroy any kind of a meaningful parallel however, as I have extensively argued elsewhere on this forum nearly two years ago when the same issue was raised, are as follows:

1) The verses in the Bible are descriptive verses i.e. they merely describe particular past actions that were commanded by God towards a specific people, at a specific time, and for a specific purpose. The verses in the Qu'ran are prescriptive verses i.e. they are open blanket commands that are applicable to the faithful Muslim of today.

2) The violent acts recounted in the descriptive verses of the Bible, were enacted for justified purposes: self-defense and divine judgment. The violent acts commanded in the prescriptive verses of the Qu'ran and Hadith literature on the other hand, were so commanded for the achievement of unholy ends: political power and the forced conversion of non-believers.

3) Much of the violent acts of the Qu'ran and Hadith literature, are performed, or at the very least consciously condoned by the paradigm of Islam, Muhammed, who is regarded by Muslims to be the perfect (to the point of sinlessness according to many Muslims) moral example that all of mankind must perfectly follow. In Christianity, the paradigm is Christ - the gentle and peaceful lamb of God - who is in turn our perfect moral example. Surely, perfect submission to the example of Christ, produces a morally perfect, peaceful person. Perfect submission to the example of Muhammed on the other hand, produces nothing short of a terrorist.
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« Reply #10 on: February 19, 2006, 03:12:04 PM »

As an aside: EA, there is no shame in accepting that Coptic monasticism at this time is not at its highest peak because of many surroundign social factors. Compare modern Coptic monasticism with modern Russian and athonite monasticism- really the difference is huge. Again, in Athos and Russia, there is freedom and encouragement, and monetary support by the government and by contributors. In Egypt, the government is not so favourable to Christianity esp. Eastern Christianity.

Look @ Constantinople right now. Some of the most popular Orthodox monasteries came from the surrounding region such as Chora, Zodohos Pigi, and now these monasteries are abandoned, have become mosques, have been razed to the ground, or have become museums. The Ecumenical Patriarchate is suffering immensly under the Islamic state. I doubt that copticorthodoxboy meant that Coptic monasticism is invalid, rather that it is just suffering right now (even despite it's current growth).
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« Reply #11 on: February 19, 2006, 03:14:58 PM »

The Old Testament should have been rejected by the Christian Church. The god of the Old testament was Israel - it was not the God of Christianity.

Unfortunately, this god also is the god of Islam. Need I say more?

Where to begin? If the Old Testament had been rejected by the Christian Church, it wouldn't be the Christian Church. There is no God of Christianity that is not also the God of Israel, and Christianity is nothing, if it is not a synthesis that includes OT thinking.

On one hand, I think you may be confusing the God of the Old Testament with the God of Judaism, which are two different things (and I think something of a case could be made that in Judaism God is the nation, or at least in some forms of Judaism the nation is so supreme as to become God). Christianity and Rabbinic Judaism both inherited for the most part the same Scriptures and the same traditions but applied them in radically different ways. But I hardly think the answer is to surrender the OT to Judaism, when the NT is so extensively based on it.

On the other hand, your reference to Islam is ironic. Although Islam claims to be the true form of Israelite religion and of Christianity, it rejects the Bible as a corrupted source. It is therefore a fundamental difference between the approaches taken by Christianity and Islam that, where Islam rejects earlier revelation as corrupt, Christianity embraces the earlier revelation given to Israel and incorporates it into a larger, more complete message. What you seem to be arguing for is actually that we abandon the historic response of Christianity for one more akin to that of Islam.

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« Reply #12 on: February 19, 2006, 03:41:46 PM »

Quote from: Timos
Look @ Constantinople right now. Some of the most popular Orthodox monasteries came from the surrounding region such as Chora, Zodohos Pigi, and now these monasteries are abandoned, have become mosques, have been razed to the ground, or have become museums. The Ecumenical Patriarchate is suffering immensly under the Islamic state. I doubt that copticorthodoxboy meant that Coptic monasticism is invalid, rather that it is just suffering right now (even despite it's current growth).

I don't know about Chora, but Zoodochos Pighi is an open and quite beautiful monastery; it may not be the size it once was, but the Patriarchate makes sure that all things that are open are well cared-for.  The hospital they run is clean and well-running (and ministers to the local community of poor turks), and Zoodochos Pighi is in good condition; this is all according to the eyewitness views of said institutions by classmates of mine who have been to Constantinople over the summer, and one who went for the return of the relics in 2004.
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« Reply #13 on: February 19, 2006, 03:49:51 PM »

Timos,

This isn't about shame or pride; it's about reality. I am not twisting Shawn's words, I am simply questioning the basis of his making such an open-blanket statement on the issue. He cannot make a general open-blanket statement on Coptic monastacism unless he has truly spent some quality time in a variety of Coptic monasteries, in particular the ancient and well-established monasteries of Coptic Egypt. Shawn lives in the West, and I am assuming that his experience of Coptic monastacism is based on a short stay in a recently established Coptic monastery there. We have a Coptic monastery here in Sydney, and I remember my initial experience there being rather dull; things however changed dramatically over a short few years, so maybe Shawn's monastery needs time to establish herself and develop. I have also spent much time in the monasteries of Egypt, and my experience there was profoundly different and better than the best that i've experienced in the diaspora. The fact Egypt is dominated and governed by Islamics has not challenged the quality of monasticism in Egypt; if you believe it has, maybe you would like to be more specific as to how exactly. You might also wish to explain the basis for your conclusions, maybe with specific reference to a specific monastery as an example.

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« Reply #14 on: February 19, 2006, 07:54:49 PM »

Umm, lets see, monasteries and churches need permission to fix things like leaking roofs, toilets, cracked walls, which the government is not so willing to give. Same applies to Orthodox in "Turkey". As for Zodohos Pigi, I was under the impression that it was razed to the ground by the Turks and that its healing water fountain was also destroyed and that all that is left is a small chapel, I guess not.
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« Reply #15 on: February 19, 2006, 08:26:42 PM »

With respect to the particular event surrounding the destruction of the Canaanites, it must be empahsised that God did indeed show these people His mercy and love, for we read that He witnessed to them via direct supernatural revelation when He delivered the Israelites (see Exodus 15:1-18, Deut. 2:25, Joshua 2:8-11, 9:9-11, 24). We find however, that instead of taking heed to these great signs, the Canaanites consistently refused to repent of their atrocious sins (see Leviticus 18:1-30 for an example of the sort of acts the Canaanites were involved in); they persistently remained obstinate in their disbelief of the One True God who had revealed His power and mercy to them. Furthermore, they defied the Lord of Israel by consistently opposing, harassing, and attacking His covenant people. As His covenant people therefore, God employed the Israelites as His instrument of judgment and punishment to the Canaanites, for they had reached a point of blasphemy (just like the Pharisees who rejected the signs of the Incarnate Word, and to whom Christ responded with the very teaching of blasphemy as an unforgivable sin) and were a constant threat to the nation of Israel’s existence.

Why did God not destroy the Canaanites as He did those of Sodom and Gomorrah, i.e., with fire and brimstone from heaven; or as He did some of Israel's enemies, i.e., with giant hailstones? Since He was able to destroy His enemies that way, why did He choose in the instance of the Canaanites to make His chosen people murderers to accomplish His desire? Since Jesus Himself and His angels are going to destroy His enemies in the judgments depicted in Revelation, why did God/Jesus order murder to be committed in His/Their name and by His/Their orders when it came to the Canaanites?
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« Reply #16 on: February 19, 2006, 08:43:34 PM »

IC XC NIKA

EA and all,

I'll read your posts in there entirity soon.  I wanted, however, to direct my response to you and my comments of Coptic monasticism.  As I said, it was an e-mail sent to someone on this site, and I didn't proof read it.  After reading it over again, I see that it came out not exactly as I wanted it to, and was a bit dispresectful. 
Personally, I love the freedom I've read about in Russian and Athonite monasticism.  It seems that the monks prayer is a bit more internal, reflecting on the Jesus prayer.  With Coptic monasticism, it seems that the monks days revolves around the Hours.
I'm not saying one is better than another.  It just appears that the farther you go east, the less "liturgical" the prayers are.  Of course, I might be over generalizing. 
However, with that said, I do apoligize if I offended.  It wasn't my intention.  I will, soon enough, read all your responses. 

shawn
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« Reply #17 on: February 19, 2006, 09:47:48 PM »

Why did God not destroy the Canaanites as He did those of Sodom and Gomorrah, i.e., with fire and brimstone from heaven; or as He did some of Israel's enemies, i.e., with giant hailstones? Since He was able to destroy His enemies that way, why did He choose in the instance of the Canaanites to make His chosen people murderers to accomplish His desire? Since Jesus Himself and His angels are going to destroy His enemies in the judgments depicted in Revelation, why did God/Jesus order murder to be committed in His/Their name and by His/Their orders when it came to the Canaanites?

I'm not sure that anyone can say for sure, but clearly God often does prefer to involve humans in what he's doing. He established all the way back at the flood that mankind is responsible for executing murderers. There were certainly some valuable lessons for the Israelites to learn throughout the process. This was not about them choosing a land and what to do with its inhabitants. God not only told them who to kill, but who to let live, what to keep and what to destroy, etc. They were to learn just how critical it is when life and death are at stake, to follow exactly what God says--no more, no less. And sadly, we see several instances where they failed to do this. They also got a chance to see how God exercises mercy and justice at the same time. They were to completely destroy Jericho, but Rahab's faith produced deliverance for her and those in her house. She even went on to join the line of Christ. Could they have learned these lessons by other means? Perhaps. But God chooses his own means and knows the best way to handle things. Remember as well that he also used Assyria and Babylon (and several other nations during the period of the judges) to kill and exile his own people--and went on to judge those same nations for their actions. We learn from this as well.

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« Reply #18 on: February 19, 2006, 10:02:49 PM »

I'm not sure that anyone can say for sure, but clearly God often does prefer to involve humans in what he's doing. He established all the way back at the flood that mankind is responsible for executing murderers. There were certainly some valuable lessons for the Israelites to learn throughout the process. This was not about them choosing a land and what to do with its inhabitants. God not only told them who to kill, but who to let live, what to keep and what to destroy, etc. They were to learn just how critical it is when life and death are at stake, to follow exactly what God says--no more, no less. And sadly, we see several instances where they failed to do this. They also got a chance to see how God exercises mercy and justice at the same time. They were to completely destroy Jericho, but Rahab's faith produced deliverance for her and those in her house. She even went on to join the line of Christ. Could they have learned these lessons by other means? Perhaps. But God chooses his own means and knows the best way to handle things. Remember as well that he also used Assyria and Babylon (and several other nations during the period of the judges) to kill and exile his own people--and went on to judge those same nations for their actions. We learn from this as well.

Trevor

Considering that the Biblical commandment against "murder" came from Moses, and Moses and his divinely-chosen successor, Joshua, on God's orders did in fact order the "murder" of people(s), I find essays like the following from the Orthodox Peace Fellowship to be confusing. How can the OPF say that soldiers who kill are morally accountable for the lives they take when the very one who gave the church the commandment against murder had no problem ordering soldiers to kill on occasion, and gave no suggestion that they would then be in a "catch-22" situation of being morally accountable for every life they took on his orders?

http://www.incommunion.org/articles/issue-32/the-troublesome-word-murder

The reality of taking life

At first I was made uncomfortable, too, by the use of the word “murder” in the OPF statement. After all, these soldiers are good guys, they’re operating from pure, patriotic motives, and this is what soldiers do.

But that’s not the way the Church thinks. The Church always thinks in terms of individuals, and in terms of the individual immortal soul, and the eternal life and salvation of that soul. If a soldier kills in battle, he has this on his conscience. He will bring it home with him, and it will stay with him for the rest of his life. In the darkest hours of the night it will haunt him. After all the patriotic parades and speeches and fanfare are over, the individual soldier will be stuck with this fact forever. And the Church doesn’t care about patriotic feelings. The Church cares about what that soldier did and how to heal his soul. The Church cannot obfuscate here. It cannot say, it’s not murder, it’s not killing, what you did was something else, you did it for your country. Because the soldier, in his heart, has a prior fear. And he needs the Church to name the sin and heal him. This is hard, and it sounds harsh. But you cannot heal a disease if you dare not name it.

The same is true, by the way, of the executioner. Or of the woman who has an abortion. All these people are involved in some very personal way in the taking of life, and all of them carry this truth with them. They need something like the Church, something that is beyond all earthly allegiances, which come and go. They need the healing of Christ.

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A loaded word

Even secular international law recognizes individual responsibility. The defense “I was just following orders” has been consistently rejected, most notably at the Nuernberg Trials following the Second World War. It hurts just to write those three words….

Soldiers — along with everyone else — who kill people, whether non-combatants or “enemy” soldiers (no one is truly “innocent”) are indeed morally accountable for the lives they take. The sin of murder may be explainable, but not excusable, and the only remedy for it is repentance — which can’t happen unless the sin is acknowledged.

I’d be the first to admit that “murder,” as used in our Plea for Peace in Iraq is a harsh, loaded, troublesome word; I should know: I wrote it. I pray that God’s Holy Spirit was working through me then, and that it wasn’t merely my own poor attempts to serve Him which generated that sentence.

Given the great discomfort, even confusion, which people have expressed concerning the word “murder” in that context, I’ve wondered if it might have been better to express the concept more tactfully, but the conversations ensuing the “Plea” have been helpful and productive, clarifying ideas and causing people to take some moral inventory of themselves, their consciences and attitudes. It’s probably better, on balance, that murder was called murder; the civil law’s concepts of inculpable “manslaughter” or “justifiable homicide” don’t exist in the Gospel or in the larger Christian Tradition.

This has repercussions even in (mostly) non-religious areas such as medicine, particularly psychology/psychiatry, and sociology. People who kill other people, even at the behest of legitimate civil authorities, are personally responsible for their actions. Despite efforts of civil authorities to dull, if not eliminate, the consciences of military men, many soldiers who have had to kill people are haunted for years by nightmares, not always while asleep, about the atrocities they felt forced to commit. Priests and psychiatrists attempt to help them, but healing depends, to a very large extent, on each individual’s acknowledgment of his sin/guilt.

This sort of healing isn’t available to a nation or state. Only individuals are moral agents, and states are composed of individuals who must make moral judgements. It isn’t possible for us to make moral judgements and then expect that “the government,” rather than ourselves as individuals, will be held accountable at the awesome tribunal of Christ.

In the specific matter of an executioner’s acting for the state, there was a discussion not long ago among a group of priests, one of whom had (apparently seriously) asked advice: what can he tell his conflicted parishioner who is employed as an executioner in his state?

Naturally, there were a certain number of responses suggesting that, since that state has a legal structure which allows capital punishment under certain conditions, there is no personal moral issue at stake. Those who thought this way were mistaken, and were corrected by others who pointed out that there are canonical penalties imposed for even the unintentional taking of human life; a fortiori, intentional killing is to be more severely punished and more profoundly repented.

So, for instance, a priest who even accidentally kills someone is ipso facto deprived of his priesthood. A layman who even accidentally kills someone may not be ordained. Anyone who takes a human life is excommunicated for various stated periods, depending on the circumstances — but always excommunicated.

An executioner would be excommunicated by the very act of doing his job. He could be reinstated in the Church and restored to communion after ten years or so, as St. Basil seems to suggest. But if he killed someone else during the period of his excommunication, that would require additional canonical discipline, not to mention that the executioner’s repentance would seem at least a little insincere. Given the parameters, an executioner could never be restored to communion; his occupation is completely at odds with the Gospel.

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« Reply #19 on: February 19, 2006, 10:04:54 PM »

IC XC NIKA

EA,

I'm afraid, dear brother, that if what you state is the Orthodox Faith, then I quite simply deny it.  You know, replace "Israelites" with "Muslims" and "Cannonites" with "Copts" and all of a sudden it becomes a hate crime; something condemned by God.
I don't know...I know for a fact that if God asked me to kill some old Buddhist monk walking down the street (as divine justice), I would quite simply say "Sorry, but no."  I honestly don't trust God anymore.  He, from my readings, doesn't appear to be the God the Fathers taught about (espcially with my quote from Isaac of Syria).
I thank you, and all who gave their opinions on the matter.  I'm afraid that I've lost faith in the Triune God, Christianity, and Orthodoxy in particular.  Thank you all for your time.

shawn
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« Reply #20 on: February 19, 2006, 10:25:02 PM »

IC XC NIKA

EA,

I'm afraid, dear brother, that if what you state is the Orthodox Faith, then I quite simply deny it. � You know, replace "Israelites" with "Muslims" and "Cannonites" with "Copts" and all of a sudden it becomes a hate crime; something condemned by God.
I don't know...I know for a fact that if God asked me to kill some old Buddhist monk walking down the street (as divine justice), I would quite simply say "Sorry, but no." � I honestly don't trust God anymore. � He, from my readings, doesn't appear to be the God the Fathers taught about (espcially with my quote from Isaac of Syria).
I thank you, and all who gave their opinions on the matter. � I'm afraid that I've lost faith in the Triune God, Christianity, and Orthodoxy in particular. � Thank you all for your time.

shawn

So, are you now a Marcionite ... or an agnostic or atheist?
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« Reply #21 on: February 19, 2006, 11:00:02 PM »

IC XC NIKA

EA,

I'm afraid, dear brother, that if what you state is the Orthodox Faith, then I quite simply deny it. � You know, replace "Israelites" with "Muslims" and "Cannonites" with "Copts" and all of a sudden it becomes a hate crime; something condemned by God.
I don't know...I know for a fact that if God asked me to kill some old Buddhist monk walking down the street (as divine justice), I would quite simply say "Sorry, but no." � I honestly don't trust God anymore. � He, from my readings, doesn't appear to be the God the Fathers taught about (espcially with my quote from Isaac of Syria).
I thank you, and all who gave their opinions on the matter. � I'm afraid that I've lost faith in the Triune God, Christianity, and Orthodoxy in particular. � Thank you all for your time.

shawn

Remember to take what you read here with a grain of salt. These people don't all speak for God, thank goodness! Just remember that God is Life, and that He desires Life for all. All that He does is ultimately out of Love. Let no one convince you otherwise.
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« Reply #22 on: February 19, 2006, 11:06:26 PM »

Remember to take what you read here with a grain of salt. These people don't all speak for God, thank goodness! Just remember that God is Life, and that He desires Life for all. All that He does is ultimately out of Love. Let no one convince you otherwise.

Unless of course, you happen to be a people who might be living on land that the ancient Israelis wanted, or you happen to offend Him -- then you deserve to be slaughtered. You, your innocent women and your innocent babies. Yeah - true love. You know all that "The sins of the father ...." Such Love, Such Compassion!! WHAT A GOD!!!
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« Reply #23 on: February 19, 2006, 11:08:18 PM »

Unless of course, you happen to be a people who might be living on land that the ancient Israelis wanted, or you happen to offend Him -- then you deserve to be slaughtered. You, your innocent women and your innocent babies. Yeah - true love.

You didn't read all of the original responses, did you lol? That was covered quite well.
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« Reply #24 on: February 19, 2006, 11:12:42 PM »

You didn't read all of the original responses, did you lol? That was covered quite well.

Oh no, I read it. It's just a bunch of BS. The REAL answer is "Gosh, I really can't explain it". But that would just pull the curtain down. If the Christian God is the same on as in the Old Testament, then he has evil in him.
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« Reply #25 on: February 19, 2006, 11:19:43 PM »

Oh no, I read it. It's just a bunch of BS. The REAL answer is "Gosh, I really can't explain it". But that would just pull the curtain down. If the Christian God is the same on as in the Old Testament, then he has evil in him.

Written like a true Marcionite. Grin
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« Reply #26 on: February 19, 2006, 11:21:44 PM »

Tom,

Quote from: TomS
Oh no, I read it. It's just a bunch of BS. The REAL answer is "Gosh, I really can't explain it". But that would just pull the curtain down. If the Christian God is the same on as in the Old Testament, then he has evil in him.

You've stated that you think the God of the OT can't be the same as the God of the NT - so prove it.  References, scripture verses, fathers; whatever.  Convince me, I'm all ears.
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« Reply #27 on: February 19, 2006, 11:22:38 PM »

Shawn,

Quote
I honestly don't trust God anymore. ¦nbsp;He, from my readings, doesn't appear to be the God the Fathers taught about (espcially with my quote from Isaac of Syria).
I thank you, and all who gave their opinions on the matter. ¦nbsp;I'm afraid that I've lost faith in the Triune God, Christianity, and Orthodoxy in particular.

Not that it means anything, but I just wanted to say that I understand where you are coming from. And even where TomS is coming from.
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« Reply #28 on: February 19, 2006, 11:23:43 PM »

Oh no, I read it. It's just a bunch of BS. The REAL answer is "Gosh, I really can't explain it". But that would just pull the curtain down. If the Christian God is the same on as in the Old Testament, then he has evil in him.

If you can't explain it, then ask. Some people may be able to understand it at a level you or I do not. Copticorthodoxboy asked, and he has gotten some very good answers. If you find fault with some of the answers, please feel free to share specifics and not make blanket statements about how we're covering for ignorance. It really does no one any good.

(lol, you beat me to it, cleveland!)
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« Reply #29 on: February 19, 2006, 11:23:51 PM »

Written like a true Marcionite. Grin

Not exactly. I believe that Marcione went further - he actually said that the world was created by a separate evil god. I am saying that if there is one God - that He encompasses both good and evil.

Tom,

You've stated that you think the God of the OT can't be the same as the God of the NT - so prove it.  References, scripture verses, fathers; whatever.  Convince me, I'm all ears.

Alas, I cannot convince anyone. For if I believe it to be true - then any of the references I would use (since the only ones you would place YOUR faith in would be of the Church), I would feel are suspect - both for and against my position.

I have no need to argue. I am just stating my position.

Besides, I will probably get moderated anyway for stating my opinion.
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« Reply #30 on: February 19, 2006, 11:26:11 PM »

Quote from: TomS
I am saying that if there is one God - that He encompasses both good and evil.

Keep going on this train of thought, because honestly I want to hear more of what you have to say about it.  God obviously allows evil to exist, for nothing cannot exist if He wills that it not; but to say that He "encompasses" evil or that He "has evil in Him" is a big step.... I would just like some elaboration, that's all.
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« Reply #31 on: February 19, 2006, 11:31:00 PM »

You know I also know where you guys are comming from.  But even with all of the sheer devastating moments of loss of faith in my life, I still knew that there was a God and that He was GOOD, and that ultimately, he loved me unlike any person could ever love me. 

What you guys are saying is just outright blasphemy.  You guys are getting your CHRISTIANITY bent out of shape because of discrepancies in the OT.  If we went into a midlife crisis every time we read a discrepancy in the OT, we'd never had a full time job. 

Tom, if you had actually read then you would have seen that I put that God is beyond our truest comprehension and understanding.  His reasons cannot possibly be our reasons, or within our reasonability.  Now i've been known to be wrong...but that's not BS. 
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« Reply #32 on: February 19, 2006, 11:33:29 PM »

Tom, if you had actually read then you would have seen that I put that God is beyond our truest comprehension and understanding.  His reasons cannot possibly be our reasons, or within our reasonability. 

Well, there it is. This argument is always the last one pulled off the shelf.
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« Reply #33 on: February 19, 2006, 11:35:28 PM »

I'm sorry...i didn't understand.  If you don't feel like you can post something more, feel free to PM me anytime. 
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« Reply #34 on: February 19, 2006, 11:59:36 PM »

Gen. 34:1-31 - Seems a bit much, what with all the deception, causing people to endure immense physical suffering, murder, etc.

Gen. 6:1-9:29 - So God killed everyone, even those who would have been too young to have actually had personal sin (even the unborn babies were not spared; cf Exodus 12, among other places, where God again kills innocent children). And then, the only ones deemed worthy enough to survive the flood start to mess things shortly after they reach land. And it went back downhill from there very quickly. So, the flood didn't really solve anything, did it...?

Num. 31:1-54 - Killing entire nations and peoples is supported and even commanded by God. This is one example where God even involves Himself in deciding how the booty (you know, slaves, women, etc.) will be divided up. See also Deut. 20.

Deut. 21:10-14 - If you see a good looking chick among the captives (ie. if you see a woman who just lost her husband and children to your genocidal attack), you can take her and "humble" her. If she doesn't strike your fancy after that, you can just get rid of her.

Joshua... the whole book. For example, Jos. 10:40: "So Joshua conquered all the land: the mountain country and the South and the lowland and the wilderness slopes, and all their kings; he left none remaining, but utterly destroyed all that breathed, as the LORD God of Israel had commanded." Was that really necessary? If they were really all that bad (which I admit they were, if what I've read is correct), couldn't God have at least had some other group conquer them and exile them?

Judg. 19-20 - Such a pleasant story. And there God was, saying “Go up, for tomorrow I will deliver them into your hand.”

Anyway, that's probably enough examples of things that I personally deal with. I've read many explanations of this, the one I used to think the best among many unpersuasive answers was: "God can do what He wants, we have to trust that He will do what is best". Today, I couldn't agree. I am not going to go so far as Tom and posit a God who deals out both good and evil... not yet, anyway. Though now that I think about it, the only reasons I wouldn't are rooted in a priori beliefs I got from the Judeo-Christian tradition. I suppose the idea that a God being of necessity good could be made reasonably, though. Maybe.  Cool Guess I have some thinking to do.
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« Reply #35 on: February 20, 2006, 12:06:01 AM »

Not to totally dodge the issue, because it think it is important, especially as long as even one person is struggling with it, but I think there is much to be said by the example of Eve, who gets tripped up while trying to defend God to the serpent.  I don't think anyone here is a serpent, but I also think that some people will open themselves up to problems if they try to be too eager in defense of the Lord...
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« Reply #36 on: February 20, 2006, 12:11:51 AM »

No one has to defend God as long as no one is offending God. 
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« Reply #37 on: February 20, 2006, 12:27:05 AM »

No, true.  I just think that Asteriktos and Tom brought out legitimate issues (although one elaborated and the other didn't), and that those who wish to respond should do so without trying to go too far; if they don't have an answer, then don't make up theology or try your reason to make up for the shortcoming.  Just state that you don't know - it doesn't mean your position is wrong.
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« Reply #38 on: February 20, 2006, 12:31:18 AM »

Yah I totally agree.  Sorry if I came off like a jerk, I was actually trying to be funny.  Next time i'll put up a rediculous smiley face  Grin like that one...just to makes sure...haha Wink
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« Reply #39 on: February 20, 2006, 12:32:42 AM »

You didn't come off as a jerk, you were just direct, and your point, while partially in jest, actually makes sense...
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« Reply #40 on: February 20, 2006, 12:51:21 AM »

Well i'm glad someone got it. 

The thing about it, for me, is that the real issue is how we see God in our own lives.  If we've found a way to deal with God who puts all of this stuff in our lives, then we can deal with Him putting stuff in the lives of the OT figures and peoples.  I really and truly pray that if anyone is having this problem with the issues we've talked about here...that God gives them a resolution.
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« Reply #41 on: February 20, 2006, 01:18:23 AM »

The difficulities with scripture can easily be overcome by realizing that much of what is written is the opinions of men and not the literal hand of God. God did not change, but men's interpretations and understandings of Him have evolved...at times in the OT perhaps we could just say that they misunderstood God and simply got it wrong.

However, while this literary dispute is easy to overcome, there is a greater conundrum of logic...how can God not be the source of evil? Marcion's answer of there being two principles in the world, one of good and another of evil, and God being the resulting person inbetween these two principles seems to be as good a definition as many...though as a neo-platonist I reject the notion of two ultimate principles.

But the problem with denying that God is the source of evil is that it generally serves to restrict God. Thus, you seem to have a few possibilities; first there can be two Gods, or two principles, one good and one evil, but this is unacceptable because of our understanding of God as one; furthermore, a dichotomy of principles, if God is viewed as one of the principles and not a merger of the two (as Marcion did), implies that there is a place where God is not (namely the principle that is other than God). Some say that evil is a creation of humanity and is not of God, but this is equally problematic for one thing, God created humanity, he created the means by which evil can be brought into existance, thus essentially making Him the Author of Evil; furthermore you would have to set up created men as the Equals of God, if not the superiors, for they can create something that is outside of God, and hence is beyond God. And finally there is the argument that evil is the absence of good, the absence of God, but this leads to no more palatable conclusions; for to accept that evil is the absence of good, the absence of God, then we must likewise accept that God is limited, that he is not 'everywhere present and filling all things' as we proclaim in our divine services; furthermore, the fact that there exists something that is outside of God implies the existance of a second fundamental principle, again negating God as the One and Source of everything.

So, I have presented this conundrum that try as I might I cannot solve, perhaps someone can offer some insight? And, please, save me the pietistic responses about mystery and faith, I'm looking for serious theology not yiayiaology. If you believe it is a limitation of our system of logic, then please, by all means, point out the problems in logic, and please be specific: address specific axioms. Just in case, to refresh your memory here is a link to all the axioms of logic:

http://www.ltn.lv/~podnieks/mlog/ml1.htm#axioms
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« Reply #42 on: February 20, 2006, 01:51:46 AM »

Quote
at times in the OT perhaps we could just say that they misunderstood God and simply got it wrong.

Indeed! But why stop at the OT? Did men suddenly become infallible after Jesus came? Regarding restricting God... I think the NT does that explicitly when it says that God can do everything except lie. Unless perhaps that passage was wrong, and God truly is immutable, omnipotent, etc.?

I can agree with your answer given in the first paragraph, GIC. But I'm afraid that I think it logically leads much further than just shrugging off some terrible things done in the History of Israel.
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« Reply #43 on: February 20, 2006, 02:02:21 AM »

Indeed! But why stop at the OT? Did men suddenly become infallible after Jesus came? Regarding restricting God... I think the NT does that explicitly when it says that God can do everything except lie. Unless perhaps that passage was wrong, and God truly is immutable, omnipotent, etc.?

I can agree with your answer given in the first paragraph, GIC. But I'm afraid that I think it logically leads much further than just shrugging off some terrible things done in the History of Israel.

I didn't intend for it to stop with the Old Testament, but rather to have implications on every source in human history. While the New Testament is probably a 'more complete' revelation of God than the Old (they did have the experience of actually walking and talking with God incarnate), I could not in good conscience say that it is a 'fully complete' or 'perfect' revelation.
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« Reply #44 on: February 20, 2006, 02:11:27 AM »

Out of curiosity, would you extend this imperfection to Ecumenical Councils? Btw, I'm glad we agree  Grin
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