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Genesis: truth and metaphor


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#161 Owen Jones

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Posted 22 January 2008 - 09:41 PM

Because when we enter paradise our bodily existence will be to us as a twinkling of an eye, and we will now see clearly the why of it all. Life on this earth can only be measured by life beyond. When we try to measure our lives in the here and now with standards deriving only from the here and now, obviously it is a miserable existence.

#162 Rdr Andreas

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Posted 22 January 2008 - 10:08 PM

You, Owen, will be so happy in Paradise that you won't think about me in the Other Place! But I did say many will not attain to Paradise. And if the life beyond is really all that matters, why didn't God just make us like angels to start with? Why this absurd life?

#163 Herman Blaydoe

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Posted 22 January 2008 - 10:49 PM

You, Owen, will be so happy in Paradise that you won't think about me in the Other Place! But I did say many will not attain to Paradise. And if the life beyond is really all that matters, why didn't God just make us like angels to start with? Why this absurd life?


Because He has something better in mind for us. We'll find out after this absurd life. And it is really only absurd because we choose to make it so.

Or so it seems to this bear of little brain.

Herman the Pooh

#164 Theophrastus

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Posted 22 January 2008 - 11:40 PM

"Seeker: God speaks and things come into existence, but things move. Plants and animals evolve. Is it God who makes evolution?

Sage: It is the Spirit of God who gives life to the world. Spirit in Greek is pneuma; it is the word used in the New Testament to designate the Holy Spirit. The Bible says: "The Spirit of God was moving over the face of the waters." Another book of the Bible, Deuteronomy, explains: "Like an eagle that stirs up its nest, that flutters over its young" (32:11) which she has hatched and helped to grow, so the Spirit of God hatches life and evolves living beings."

....

"Seeker: You tell us that man was created by God in His image. But I am told that we are descended from apes.

Sage: That which God created "in the beginning," as we said earlier, He created from nothing. But God did not create man from nothing; He created him "out of the earth" and everything which it contains. That is to say that in order to create man, God made use of nature as a whole, including its evolution. The ape and the fish are also of the earth, for man is the culmination of all creation, and in him all creation is summed up and recapitulated. But, in addition, He has given mankind life through His own breath, His own Spirit. It is this presence of God Himself illuminating humanity, making the light of His face shine upon us, which distinguishes human beings from apes and all other creatures. This presence of God, this breath of God, projects the image of God upon us and gives us a beauty and "crown of glory." It makes us the ruler of all creation and responsible for it (see Gen 1:28-29; 2:19-20)."

The Living God: A Catechism for the Christian Faith, Volume 1, chapter 1. Translated from the French by Olga Dunlop. St. Vladimir's Seminary Press, 2004.

#165 Nina

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Posted 22 January 2008 - 11:50 PM

And if the life beyond is really all that matters, why didn't God just make us like angels to start with? Why this absurd life?


Because humans fell and we need to have good works to show during the Last Judgment.

If you ask why man was prone to Fall: Because we have freedom, and God respects it. But even if we were angels: as we know Eosphoros was an angel before he fell. And we could have fallen also even if we were angels in Paradise. We should thank God that we fall here and we have the possibility to get up again.

#166 Rdr Andreas

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Posted 23 January 2008 - 12:28 AM

Because He has something better in mind for us.


What God has in mind for us and what actually happens aren't the same thing. God doesn't have it in mind that anyone (save Satan and his demons) should go to Hell but we have to accept that very many will.

And it is really only absurd because we choose to make it so.


Not individually, we don't. Most suffering in the world is caused by leaders.

Because humans fell


As I said, God foreknew that and all the consequences that flowed from it.

If you ask why man was prone to Fall


I don't ask that - I ask why the omniscient God Who is Love set out on Creation knowing the consequences for countless innocents whose suffering has been grotesquely out of proportion to whatever the Fall was. What explanation is good enough for them, not for ourselves?

We should thank God that we fall here and we have the possibility to get up again.


This is not an answer to my question but it makes good sense to me as a sinner.

#167 Paul Cowan

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Posted 23 January 2008 - 12:33 AM

Because humans fell and we need to have good works to show during the Last Judgment.

If you ask why man was prone to Fall: Because we have freedom, and God respects it. But even if we were angels: as we know Eosphoros was an angel before he fell. And we could have fallen also even if we were angels in Paradise. We should thank God that we fall here and we have the possibility to get up again.


I have not heard of this angel before. How do you know of him?

#168 Nina

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Posted 23 January 2008 - 01:08 AM

I have not heard of this angel before. How do you know of him?


:D You are not teasing me are you?

Because he is the guy that tempts people daily. He is called Eosphoros in Greek, or Lucifer in Latin.

Eos=light/dawn; phoros=bringer

Luci=lights/dawn; fer comes from phoros (above) in Greek.

He was the brightest and the most beautiful angel - pre-fall that is. See what pride/ego can achieve? And I have plenty of that!

#169 Paul Cowan

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Posted 23 January 2008 - 01:34 AM

:D You are not teasing me are you?

Because he is the guy that tempts people daily. He is called Eosphoros in Greek, or Lucifer in Latin.

Eos=light/dawn; phoros=bringer

Luci=lights/dawn; fer comes from phoros (above) in Greek.

He was the brightest and the most beautiful angel - pre-fall that is. See what pride/ego can achieve? And I have plenty of that!


I still can't say "where is the bathroom" in Greek, even though that is the FIRST thing you are supposed to learn when you go traveling. ;), But yes, Now the name does ring a bell or two.

#170 Nina

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Posted 23 January 2008 - 01:47 AM

Ok. I thought you really were joking with me. But it is true that here he is known by his Latin name pre-fall.

#171 Byron Jack Gaist

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Posted 23 January 2008 - 08:36 AM

Quotation:
If you ask why man was prone to Fall

I don't ask that - I ask why the omniscient God Who is Love set out on Creation knowing the consequences for countless innocents whose suffering has been grotesquely out of proportion to whatever the Fall was. What explanation is good enough for them, not for ourselves?

Dear Andreas,

Well put. I think this is a big philosophical problem. Why did God, the sum of all perfection Himself, create a being that He foreknew would fall from His grace? In other words, why did a Perfect Being create an imperfect being? If our freedom is part of His Image in us, then why didn't God also give us the wisdom to know how to resist temptation, and the emotional strength to do so on every occasion? Indeed, Lucifer was also His most splendid angel - why did God create him in such a way, that Lucifer would abuse his freedom through a susceptibility to pride? Why didn't God create a cosmos that was perfect and never went wrong in any way?

C.S. Lewis suggests that God didn't want to create beings which run like robots or clockwork. Elsewhere I have heard that, God's nature being Love, it was therefore impossible for Him not to permit us the option of falling. If freedom is free, then the option of sin is necessary (though not recommended, obviously).

Nevertheless, I feel there is something almost casuistic about the above arguments; they don't satisfy the (proud?) need to understand completely, and personally they send me into spiralling cycles of ambivalence and doubt. Another way of accepting the sorry state of affairs we seem to have been placed in, seems to me to be the 'argument from authority' as it were: God is the big Parent and CEO, and he doesn't have to share all his business secrets with us, his children and employees! This doesn't satisfy our need for explanations either of course, and it seems to encourage a certain attitude of dependence on our behalf - is that what God wants, or does he want us to stand on our own two feet, while loving Him in an adult way? However old we get, of course, we are still His children and therefore in a sense never 'equal' with Him: so a 'mature dependence' - to use a psychoanalytical term - would seem an appropriate response to the Almighty. But does this mean 'ask no questions'?

Could God possibly be 'working on it'? Did he create an imperfect creation ('very good', but not perfect), because it was His first time round? Does He need our assistance in order to now perfect the work He started? (this is a genuine question to the theologians out there) Also, did God give us trials, so that we can love Him back truly, not automatically? But is He then so insecure, that He needed to make sure we wouldn't just worship Him because He had created us that way? Or is it only 'for our own good', so that we freely love Him in return for His love, rather than being compelled by 'nature' to do so? I must say, I often feel I would gladly have been spared this particular lesson in love!

In Christ
Byron

#172 Rdr Andreas

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Posted 23 January 2008 - 01:23 PM

Thank you, Byron, for this thoughtful post. You seem to appreciate my difficulty.

[QUOTE]C.S. Lewis suggests that God didn't want to create beings which run like robots or clockwork. Elsewhere I have heard that, God's nature being Love, it was therefore impossible for Him not to permit us the option of falling. If freedom is free, then the option of sin is necessary (though not recommended, obviously). [/QUOTE]

The freedom argument must be central to this and my own reaction to that is, what an appalling price to pay for this freedom, especially when we cannot be sure that having paid the price we get the goods. Was there no other way? (I think Einstein once said, 'what interests me is whether God had any choices about how to craft Creation'.) Did God take a risk? No, because He foreknew the outcome. The Orthodox view of the Fall is said to be more sympathetic to Adam and Eve because they were spiritually immature: made in the image of God but not having developed into His likeness. But that, to my mind, makes my point the more acute. How were Adam and Eve to react to Satan? They were confused; they hadn't been lied to before, and didn't know what a lie was, I suppose.

[QUOTE]If our freedom is part of His Image in us, then why didn't God also give us the wisdom to know how to resist temptation, and the emotional strength to do so on every occasion?[/QUOTE]

As was the case with Christ, the Second Adam. It is not said that Christ was in any sense less human than us because He did not sin.

[QUOTE]the (proud?) need to understand completely[/QUOTE]

I don't ask that - only enough understanding to be able to accept.

[QUOTE]'mature dependence' [/QUOTE]

I'm sure we do need this.

[QUOTE]But does this mean 'ask no questions'?[/QUOTE]

I'm sure it doesn't.

[QUOTE]His first time round? [/QUOTE]

I don't suppose the omnipotent and omniscient Almighty needed a dry run.

[QUOTE]But is He then so insecure, that He needed to make sure we wouldn't just worship Him because He had created us that way?[/QUOTE]

He doesn't need anything.

[QUOTE]so that we freely love Him in return for His love, rather than being compelled by 'nature' [/QUOTE]

This is getting closer.

[QUOTE]did God give us trials, so that we can love Him back truly, not automatically? [/QUOTE]

What makes the sort of questions I pose matter is that they are, in my experience, the most common reasons given by good and kind folk for being agnostic. Take Sir David Attenborough, the acclaimed naturalist. He's an agnostic because despite a lifetime of observing the incredible beauty, complexity and diversity of Creation, he can't reconcile the suffering that exists in it (he gives an example of some small worm which only exists by gnawing away at childrens' brains and causing the vicitms great agony) with the Almighty God Who is Love. I don't suppose explaining it by way of the Fall would convince him otherwise. So, the trials (not a good word - of what are we accused?) do not result in people (on the whole) loving God - rather the opposite. Is it not vital for us (not all of us!) or the Church to be able to furnish convincing answers to these questions if they are the reason so many do not believe? To say, 'you must have faith' is not an answer to one lacking it because faith is a gift and you can't compel its being bestowed. I have faith but it was given to me - you can't wake up one morning and say, 'right, I'll start believing from today'.

#173 Owen Jones

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Posted 23 January 2008 - 02:54 PM

two things:

The agnostic and many who are immature in their faith view all suffering as evil and therefore something that must be eliminated by human action.

This leads to the view that God somehow failed in the manner in which He created and therefore it is up to us to fix things.

Both things are obviously untrue.

Life cannot be measured by this world. It can only be measured by the next. Our perspective on this world will change dramatically from our new perspective in the next world. In the meantime, there are two many examples of people who, through suffering, are deified.

The best book on this recently is An Interrupted Life: The Diaries of Etty Hillesum. See also the chapter in Gulag II on Solzhenitsyn's conversion.

#174 Fr Raphael Vereshack

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Posted 23 January 2008 - 03:37 PM

Could God possibly be 'working on it'? Did he create an imperfect creation ('very good', but not perfect), because it was His first time round? Does He need our assistance in order to now perfect the work He started? (this is a genuine question to the theologians out there) Also, did God give us trials, so that we can love Him back truly, not automatically? But is He then so insecure, that He needed to make sure we wouldn't just worship Him because He had created us that way? Or is it only 'for our own good', so that we freely love Him in return for His love, rather than being compelled by 'nature' to do so? I must say, I often feel I would gladly have been spared this particular lesson in love!


Although not conveyed from within a Patristic context I would still say this has something in it which points in the right direction.

As has often been pointed out on the Forum, God's creation must be seen in terms of how it has been created for completion and fulfillment. It is true that the Fall affects this but still it does not alter the manner in which this completion is achieved; ie through free will and a desire for the good. To say it another way: the Fall has not essentially changed God's providential purpose for mankind except (yes - a big except but still something which does not change the essence of the purpose) that now it must be worked out through sin and death. If anything sin & death actually increase our responsibility for participation in this Divine purpose.

This latter I think is what most often causes the stumbling block for us in how we think of God's purpose in terms of death and sin. Seeing this sin and death only in terms of itself we lose track precisely of how these things are overcome through our engagement in God's overall providential purpose for creation.

In other words the problem is caused mainly by our tendency to disengage ourselves from God's purpose. This perspective however is a symptom of the very problem which must be engaged with in order for us to see how the healing of creation is achieved.

What chiefly is needed is humility- not stupid or mindless resignation to death which is not at all humility- but rather active engagement in the healing of creation through a recognition of our own role in its distortion. In a word, humility is the calling of all. For in its face no sin or death or suffering is of ultimate destructive consequence no matter what we go through. Indeed through Christ all such humility becomes ultimately constructive, creative and restorative. But this must be lived through to be understood.

Until then we all face a struggle within ourselves between life & death which tugs on us one way and the other. This too certainly has its purpose in the greater story. But the only way in which such suffering becomes redemptive- the only way in which it becomes a sympathetic & Christ-like sharing in the suffering of creation- is through humility; ie personal engagement in creation's suffering the effects of death, throwing in your stake with this.

Turning away from this is exactly I would say where agnostic accusation of God's plan comes from. Really, it is an engagement in death for its own sake, the result of turning away from personal responsibility in the deeper ascetic sense. The only end point here if the holders of such views held to the courage of their convictions would be complete annihilation. Only moral fear allows them some sort of 'agnostic morality' while not letting them to see the actual end point to their view of the universe and mankind.

The only way out of the impasse of death is to resolve it through life. But life for us has the revealed meaning of Christ. We know that only through Him and the way of life He seeks to give us can the frustrating absurdity of death be overcome.

In Christ- Fr Raphael

#175 Nina

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Posted 23 January 2008 - 07:07 PM

I ask why the omniscient God Who is Love set out on Creation knowing the consequences for countless innocents whose suffering has been grotesquely out of proportion to whatever the Fall was. What explanation is good enough for them, not for ourselves?


Because as you say He is Love. We were nothing, St. Tikhon says, and behold we are and move. He created us in His image and likeness. This gift was bestowed only on man. And we fell (and continue to fall) and perished. We cannot mourn sufficiently over this. Because we distort creation and His image with our sin. We turn away from God. Without God, blessings are curses, life is death, and joy is bitterness.

Edited by Nina, 23 January 2008 - 08:03 PM.


#176 Peter S.

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Posted 23 January 2008 - 10:08 PM

Because humans fell and we need to have good works to show during the Last Judgment.

If you ask why man was prone to Fall: Because we have freedom, and God respects it. But even if we were angels: as we know Eosphoros was an angel before he fell. And we could have fallen also even if we were angels in Paradise. We should thank God that we fall here and we have the possibility to get up again.


Yes we should thank God that he created angels as angels, and humans as humans, and that He wants to drag us up from death...

God's Allmightyness is showed for us in that He in His love gave us free will. This is real power... The power of love. And Jesus solved the problem that death and evil gave us, by His ressurection. He wanted to bring us back to Him. We should ask the question: Who is Jesus? And hopefully a part of the answear of that question is that he is (still) Alive. He is a living person. And we should work on our lives that we will be like Jesus. (We are created in Gods likeness. But it is God that make us into gods.)

I dont agree that it is only the leaders of this world that make this world absurd. It is the sin, and we are all sinners. But Satan is the father of sin... Satan is the explanation to the "countless innocents who suffers..." But Satan is defeated. Jesus waits for us so that the children that still will be born in this world, will be saved. This is His will, I suppose.

Peter

Edited by Peter S., 23 January 2008 - 10:40 PM.
last point


#177 Nina

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Posted 23 January 2008 - 10:33 PM

I dont agree that it is only the leaders of this world that make this world absurd. It is the sin, and we are all sinners. But Satan is the father of sin... Satan is the explanation to the "countless innocents who suffers..." But Satan is defeated. Jesus waits for us so that the children that still will be born in this world, will be saved. This is His will, I suppose.

Peter


Dear Peter,

I did not say anything about the leaders of this world. Well... if you did not mean Eosphoros (the Luci guy).

#178 Peter S.

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Posted 23 January 2008 - 10:47 PM

Dear Peter,

I did not say anything about the leaders of this world. Well... if you did not mean Eosphoros (the Luci guy).


Dear Nina

I am very sorry. I should have quoted Andreas Morans sentence about it when he asked about what we should answear to the innocents who suffer and about the leaders of this world who is the explanation to the absurdity of the world, but were not able to...

Peter

Edited by Peter S., 23 January 2008 - 11:22 PM.


#179 Byron Jack Gaist

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Posted 24 January 2008 - 08:27 AM

Dear all,

Fr Raphael writes:

God's creation must be seen in terms of how it has been created for completion and fulfillment. It is true that the Fall affects this but still it does not alter the manner in which this completion is achieved; ie through free will and a desire for the good.

and also

In other words the problem is caused mainly by our tendency to disengage ourselves from God's purpose.

Fr Raphael clearly suggests that God has a providential plan both for creation and for mankind; perhaps even each of us specifically, as well as all of us collectively. Yet the successful operation of this plan relies on our willing cooperation with God. I feel I agree with the comment regarding agnostic thinking that

The only end point here if the holders of such views held to the courage of their convictions would be complete annihilation.

This has been my personal experience with the frustration brought about by secular ideologies - they point to a dead end, and pretend they have the solution. It's the easiest thing to point the finger at the apparent misery in creation (I know because I do it a lot), but it's so hard to make a single slight improvement among the ruins. Personally, I understand those who despair, especially if they are honest and congruent enough to acknowledge it; nevertheless, our faith is a religion of hope and light - not Polyanna optimism, but mature hope, the really difficult variety. Again, to me personally, this hope is more true when it is a mild, living flame like the modest beeswax candles in Church, rather than any great, flashing lighthouse on a pier. It really is better to light a candle than to curse the darkness!

In Christ
Byron

#180 RichardWorthington

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Posted 24 January 2008 - 04:47 PM

It's the easiest thing to point the finger at the apparent misery in creation (I know because I do it a lot), but it's so hard to make a single slight improvement among the ruins. Personally, I understand those who despair, especially if they are honest and congruent enough to acknowledge it; nevertheless, our faith is a religion of hope and light - not Polyanna optimism, but mature hope, the really difficult variety. Again, to me personally, this hope is more true when it is a mild, living flame like the modest beeswax candles in Church, rather than any great, flashing lighthouse on a pier. It really is better to light a candle than to curse the darkness!


I agree with Byron (if I can address you by your first name) here - "who by worrying can add one cubit to his height?", so who by despairing and adding further emotional and mental suffering by agonising over such questions actually helps anyone - either themselves or those in the world who do live in poverty? ("Has not God chosen those who are poor in the eyes of the world to be rich in faith and to inherit the kingdom he promised those who love him?" James 2:5)

However, God’s creation is not like us putting a person in a beautiful house near a cliff, and then saying that when they fall off the edge then it’s only their own fault! God is good and kind and more in touch with common human feelings than we are! If we see the unjustness in this, God does more so! God did not take a risk with creation, nor did He place either humanity or the devil in a risky situation. For example, if Adam and Eve had not been deceived (properly they were deceived rather than tempted) then they would have naturally waited for the correct time to partake of the tree of knowledge of good and evil. When we "cut off our own will", we are only trying to get it in line with how it was supposed to work in paradise! (I.e. always choosing the good, and if we do not know then asking God instinctively and instantly, with God replying instantly to their pure souls.)

And about the devil? Why and how did he fall by free will? I do not know. Suppose we were living a few centuries BC. We see the world as flat, then the Greeks perform an experiment by measuring the length of a shadow in Athens and in Alexandria at noon on the same longest day. They correctly deduce that the world is curved. How would you reconcile these? We too have imperfect knowledge: we know God is good and created nothing bad - including free will - but that this creation now indeed knows bad suffering. Let us not then, imagining a curved earth, think that things will fall off from the top of the earth downwards along the sides of the sphere. Similarly, let us not see the badness in creation now and think God should be blamed.

It is well to know about watchfulness (see Nina's thread also). I think the relationship between mind and heart is this: the mind feeds thoughts and ideas to the heart, which then erupts like a volcano and multiplying the thoughts many times and producing appropriate feelings to direct us further. In this way I think we would have been able to grow in virtue and blessedness in a way which the angels just can’t, to the glory of God the Father. (To link this in with the thread in general, I recall reading in the Philokalia somewhere - amongst all the other passages I should not be reading as they cause their own doubts to rise up in me! - that our mind is like Adam and our hearts like Eve, sort of as I can’t quite remember. Therefore the creation of Adam and significantly giving him an Eve is the best thing in creation - the angels are left standing as we grow towards our Creator. Except, er, that we started going off course …)

However, instead of guarding our mind to only let good thoughts in, we let bad thoughts in. These then get sent down to the heart where they multiply on end and chaos would be a polite way to describe the end result! Sometimes our heart can tell our minds that to think on a particular thought would be unwise (to put it mildly) and also if a feeling arises within (from an external source, naturally from our mixed environment or from the devil) then the mind can send thoughts down to try to produce feelings so our heart steers us away. Well, this is how things seem to me.

As such, even if we are suffering greatly (and I have been there, as I am sure almost everyone has), blaming God or looking at others’ suffering and asking ‘why?’ is just adding fuel to the fire. I think it is a delusion of the devil that when we enter a spiritual battle in which we are making good progress to our own improved well-being and purity, that when he realises that we are more than half-way there he changes tactic. Instead of us mightily swinging our spiritual sword and keeping our shield firm against his weapons, he whispers despairing thoughts to us. We then muse on these and slump down, sword limp, shield face down. On having achieved this the demons then have an orgy knowing that they don’t really have to do much to keep us down. If they happen to see us stiring they just shout the same despairing thoughts again and continue partying!

Been there, still am in certain areas of life, overcome in others, and in others deluded into thinking I have overcome, and then the despairing thoughts attack double: the thoughts themselves harm, and also my courage is struck because I thought I was making progress when all I was doing is dreaming about fighting. Downer, really!

But glory to God who watches over us, fights alongside us and from within us, is jealous of his temple (i.e. us), and can’t wait to hand us victory only then to disappear so that we take all the credit! (And we then ascribe all the credit to Him, and then He to us, and so on …)

Let us take courage and not listen to such thoughts. How we answer good natured agnostics I do not know, but the fact that they are good natured could well mean that God is not bothered about them passing a "belief-in-God test" and is merely active within their lives, nudging them as far as they they can cope with towards greater virtue and learning the benefit of watchfulness. (I.e. treating them like His children, as He treats us). God cares about people, not ‘certificates of belief’.

And Jesus solved the problem that death and evil gave us, by His resurrection. He wanted to bring us back to Him. We should ask the question: Who is Jesus? And hopefully a part of the answer of that question is that he is (still) Alive. He is a living person. And we should work on our lives that we will be like Jesus. (We are created in Gods likeness. But it is God that make us into gods.)


I have recently been reading about Islam: they believe in the final resurrection, so why have Christ? However, these particular Muslims call Muhammad the ‘resurrector’ (true!), but we have a greater: Christ is Himself the Resurrection and the Life. What they have merely heard about and logically accepted, we have within us now. In Christ, we already have the Resurrection unto eternal life deep within us - and the demons tremble!

This is a problem to me as I suppose it has been to many, and I don't know the answer. Creation suffers. Nature is 'red in tooth and claw', and throughout all of history, most people have lived wretchedly suffering poverty, disease, catastrophe, injustice, war, and all the rest. All because of the Fall, I know. How are we to understand the love that created, knowing what the result would be? And if we are told, but there's Paradise afterwards and every tear will be wiped away, we remember that there's also Hell which may end up being more populated than Paradise.


Eternal suffering will exist. In this post I tried to explain that all will be united with God, but some in a worthy way and others in an unworthy way: it being that it is better to be united with God even in an unworthy way than to continue in this life without God. Andreas, you then posted to say that I had not written clearly - quite possibly! However, please now give me the opportunity to simplify things:

We are like babies who have managed to roll away from our heavenly Mother, and we became very hungry with starvation. Some, looking for food, remembered their Creator and cried out; others looked around and try to grab various things instead. However, on the last Day when Christ will be "all in all" He will breastfeed all with His Eucharist. Those who were looking to Him will both delight in Him and have their starvation taken away. The others He also will breastfeed and will totally cast out their starvation with filling good things, and make them healthy. However, they are so concerned with looking around and thrashing about that they neither look at the beauty of Him who is feeding them, nor realise that their hunger is no more. However, their state with Christ is far better than without Him.

Would they repent? I remember reading in a life of a female saint how a demon appeared to her. She said that God is so compassionate that He would accept his repentance if he sincerely turned to God. Now we are told that neither the demons nor those after death repent. However, alongside this is her statement: it would be empty if God refused to enlighten them. I do not know.

Until then we all face a struggle within ourselves between life & death which tugs on us one way and the other. This too certainly has its purpose in the greater story. But the only way in which such suffering becomes redemptive- the only way in which it becomes a sympathetic & Christ-like sharing in the suffering of creation- is through humility; ie personal engagement in creation's suffering the effects of death, throwing in your stake with this.


"Christ-like sharing in the suffering of creation" - I like this, and perhaps there is no answer in word to the ‘question of suffering’, but only the answer in actions. The martyrs suffered, even though a simple renunciation of Christ would stop it. They feared neither suffering nor death. Why did St Symeon Stylites stand on his feet continuously with all the suffering it produced? Why did some suffer the heat of the desert, or the cold of the north? Why suffer the rejection of friends and family? They did it, and we honour them precisely for it!!

However, if writing so much makes me a scribe, then you had better "Beware of the scribes"! Sorry it is so long and off thread sort of - it does not really help answer where Cain got his wife!

Richard
PS. St John Chrysostom writes quite beautifully about Jesus saying that it would be better for Judas not to have been born - he makes Jesus very compassionate (http://www.ccel.org/...iii.LXXVII.html look for the word ‘born’.) St John of Damascus also briefly discusses the question of the creation of those who refuse to repent, but today’s world I think would find it lacking http://www.ccel.org/....iv.iv.xxi.html




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