Regarding your above statement, I would refer you to Genesis 3:21 which is immediately after the fall of man:
One of the consequences of the fall is God clothing us with 'tunics of skin', This is better than a sudden and complete death which could have been the consequence for Adam and Eve and is the first biblical evidence of God's mercy. But why did God fashion us this way due to the fall? The answer lies in the next sentence of Scripture (Genesis 3:22):
Now, we see the second early evidence of God's divine mercy. How? Because had Adam and Eve stayed in the Garden of Eden and also tasted of the Tree of Life (which is not the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil), then our separation from God, that is, our death, would be eternal. God saved us from eternal estrangement by allowing the introduction of decay and physical death to these 'tunics of skin'.
With all due respect to the fathers of the church ...
only a few of them knew how to read the cosmogony of Moses (the narrations of Genesis) .. these narrations are certainly not a historical record as we today would expect them to be. And as the knowledge of biblical antiquities ebbed away ... the Greek fathers lent to the narrations of Genesis a Greek tendency to read them literally as a historical record.
I say again ... these narrations are a cosmogony... the 'cosmogony of Moses' is exactly what the very early Council called these narrations. The book of Genesis is the epic of the nation of Israel just as the stories of Homer are the epic of Greece and the Ennead of Virgil is the epic of Rome and the story of Gilgamesh is the epic of the Chaldeans. A cosmogony. A cosmogony.
"One of the consequences of the fall is God clothing us with 'tunics of skin',"
think about this my friend. What you are saying .. is that Adam had no skin before the fall. He had no flesh. How then did he walk in the garden? how then did he eat the fruit? Perhaps he was just bones at the time? but bones are part of the flesh body .. so then what do you imagine Adam to be without flesh and bones??
There has always been two ways to interpret the narrations of Genesis .. one way is literally (as a historical record) and the other way is metaphorically (which is how a cosmogony is read). The allegorical reading of Genesis when done by the fathers - is called the spiritual meaning.
One should read a book of history (chronicles) as history, a book of psalms as poetry and songs for worship, a book of prophecy as allegorical, an epistle as a letter, and a cosmogony as a cosmogony.
Think about it .. God (who can do all things) needed six days to make the world?? What he can do in one instant - he needed six days to accomplish? And the sun (that by which we measure a day as the earth rotates) was not created till the fourth day. How then were there three days (measured by the sun) before the sun even existed?
Adam is not even a name ... it is a description which is roughly equivalent to the word 'human' or 'man-kind' ... it can mean one single human, a group of humans, or all humanity in total. Eve is not a name either .. it too is a description and the woman received it only after the fall. No one else in the history of all Israel up to the time of Christ had a 'name' of Adam or a name of Eve .. why?? because these are not Jewish names. What father would name his son 'Mankind' ?? when he knows the word designates the entire species.
The tunics of flesh you speak of is a misunderstanding of the words ... the Hebrew means something similar to 'a covering over the flesh' and has often been portrayed in art as a fig leaf (a symbol of the laws of Israel) placed over the genitals. A clear symbol that our powers of generation are to be restrined by the social laws.
Eden means something similar to 'paradise' and our Lord refers to it while on the cross "Today you will be with me in paradise." it is not a physical place with a geographical location - it is rather and orientation of the mind. The garden represents all-Providence ... a condition (of the mind and heart) where we are aware that God's is providing for us all we need. A man who lives by Providence - lives in the this 'garden'. A man who does his own self-providence lives outside the garden.
The Old Testament (a lessor understanding of God) believed in a God who chastises (punishes) the sins of Israel ... but the New Testament did away with that older and lessor understanding of God. The chastisement of Jesus (punished for our sins) was the *end* of chastisement. This is one of the major themes of the gospels ... any Jew reading the gospels would immediatly see that the chastisements so enumerated in the Old Testement ... culminated in the crucifixtion ... takem off of humanity and put upon Jesus.
We are to understand that God loves us unconditionally - yet through our feedom we can chose to live by Providence or not. We can follow conscience or we can follow our lower animal nature (which has no capacity to know God). WE can be filled with knowing God or we can select to be without God.
Let me appeal to your reason. If you punish your own son ... the reason you punish him is that you know that your son is more capable in some matter but has willingly chosen not to live up to his capability.
A visitor to you house lays a pack of ciggetes on your kitchen table. If your son (a baby of 2 years old) reaches out his little hand and takes a ciggerette - do you punish him? Do you punish someone who does not have the capability of knowing what a ciggerette is and how harmful they can be?? Do you punish the bay for 'sealing' when the 2 year old has no concept of property ownership??
Yet if your son at 17 takes a ciggerete out of the visitors pack - you KNOW he knows better than to do that. You know he has willfully disregarded what you taught him. While you can not change his heart through punishment - you can modify his social behavior through chastisement.
Punishment and chastisements has never ever once in all recorded time and history .. changed a man's heart. It may change his physical behavior ... but it can not change his heart. The person punished may just as well hate you for causing him pain. He may just as well (as any other choice) resent you from then on.
This is why Isaahs has God say about Israel ...
4 Ah sinful nation, a people laden with iniquity, a seed of evildoers, children that are corrupters: they have forsaken the LORD, they have provoked the Holy One of Israel unto anger, they are gone away backward.
5 Why should ye be stricken any more? ye will revolt more and more: the whole head is sick, and the whole heart faint.
6 From the sole of the foot even unto the head there is no soundness in it; but wounds, and bruises, and putrifying sores: they have not been closed, neither bound up, neither mollified with ointment.
With the New Testament gospels we are to understand that any idea that God punishes or chastises - is gone. Ended. We are not to think of God as a king anymore - but now we are to think of him as as a father.Jesus (who understand the unchanging God so much better than Moses did) raises our understanding with his own intimate knowledge of God - his father and our father.
You must undestand the bible as a progression in understanding the nature of God. God never 'wanted' blood scrafices of anmials (as if that pleased him in some way) but - Israel as a people need that step in understanding God. There was no need (on God's part) to sacrifice his son - it was WE who needed that in the progression of humanity in understanding the nature of God.
God has built into us humans a 'homeing' devise .. it is .. happiness. We have no rest untill we rest in God. This is not because God punishes us for not resting in him - but rather it is simply the condition of the lack of God. WE rise to God by way of glory to glory ... innner peace and happiness ... this is the compass which guides us to God.
We are Chritians of the New witness (testament) and the gospels. Jesus showed us our father .. there is no need to return to the erlier uderstanding (Old Testament) of God as some type of emotional Greek god with human emotions and gets angry or jelous etc...
Shall we say that fear of pujishment and pain - is equal to - love??
God does not want conscripts - he wants volunteers.
Peace to you and to your holy church.
Edited by Herman Blaydoe, 31 August 2008 - 05:25 PM.
Fixed some typos and corrected quote formatting