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Defense against those who would call God a weakling and a dimwit.


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#1 Bryan J. Maloney

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Posted 01 May 2011 - 06:55 PM

From time to time, when I am dragged to my mother-in-law to be's Southern Baptist "church" (I agree to be physically present for the sake of domestic harmony), I get told that God "cannot to look upon sin". However, if we are "covered in the precious blood of Jesus", then God has the ability to look upon us, because said blood "hides our sin from God". This has been explained to me from time to time, and I think it means thus:

God lacks the ability to see any sinner. God does not have the power to see a sinner.
God can essentially be tricked into noticing a sinner by the sinner being appropriately "covered in the blood of Jesus".
This is truly tricking God, because God does not see us sinners but instead sees "His precious Son" in the place of the sinner!
In other words, the "god" of these people is a weakling and an idiot.

This was not the opinion of a lone member of that congregation, but was echoed by others. Indeed, it has been preached from the stage (they don't have anything I could in good conscience call an altar) and "amened" by the crowd.

I must say that I have been fortunate enough to have been granted sufficient charity that I have neither laughed in the faces of people who make such claims or accused them of demonic blasphemy (although that is how such claims strike me). However, I would hope that there is some sort of confirmation from the Fathers that these doctrines are, indeed, false--and as pernicious and foul as they appear to me.

What I have been taught (if I remember it correctly) is that sin and sinners cannot abide the attention of God, not that God cannot see such things. Indeed, if God could not see sin, then God could never have seen need to punish the sinners described in Scripture. Furthermore, our acceptability in the sight of the Father is not because we have managed to work out some kind of nasty trickery scheme with the Son but because the Son, the God-man, acts as a Mediator, uniting the created and the Uncreated, bridging the unbridgeable gap.

Have such ideas as I have found down here in Texas been addressed and refuted by the Fathers, or are they really even more bizarre, out there, and freaky than the heresies they had to confront?

Thanks.

Bryan.

PS: It is teachings like this that have led me to wonder very seriously if the "god" of Baptists is, indeed, God.

#2 Herman Blaydoe

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Posted 01 May 2011 - 07:15 PM

This is not the place to disparage other faiths. Please review the Community Handbook before we get too deep into this thread.

Herman

#3 Christina M.

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Posted 01 May 2011 - 07:45 PM

Bryan, how about a simple rephrasing of the questions?

1) Can God see sinners? The more we sin, do we become more "invisible" to God?
2) When we sin, how is our relationship with God changed? Does He become distant from us? Is He angry at us? Does He ignore us?
3) Does Holy Communion in some way "cover up" or hide our sins in order to make us closer to God?

This way we don't "disparage" other faiths... whatever "disparage" means! :) I don't feel like looking it up.

#1 seems a little silly to me, but I think 2 and 3 could be interesting.

#4 Rdr Daniel (R.)

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Posted 01 May 2011 - 08:11 PM

Have such ideas as I have found down here in Texas been addressed and refuted by the Fathers, or are they really even more bizarre, out there, and freaky than the heresies they had to confront?

I don't think they would have been directly but by what the Fathers teach we can see what is the truth and reject theories like this. I think it comes from the atonement theories where Christ is in some way punished for our sins and the Father accepts this as a sacrifice for us either by seeing us there or my having mercy because of His Son.

We should not get into a debate on this to specifically but we can as Christina said look at

When we sin, how is our relationship with God changed? Does He become distant from us? Is He angry at us? Does He ignore us?



PS: It is teachings like this that have led me to wonder very seriously if the "god" of Baptists is, indeed, God.

I see your point, I'm not saying I agree but I can understand why you could think this after hearing of such things.

I think maybe a different title might be better.


Christina,
Disparage: Regard or represent as being of little worth. -Google Dictionary. It is an odd word I have not heard before it comes from French desparagier meaning to marry unequally and the dishonor of such a thing -a reduce in rank. It then took the more generally meaning of to degrade socially before ending up with this meaning from at least the early 1500s [see http://www.etymonline.com]

3) Does Holy Communion in some way "cover up" or hide our sins in order to make us closer to God?

I do not think so, I think it has more to do with the communion with God and having the life of God in us by partaking of the most Precious Body and most Pure Blood of the Lord.

Edited by Herman Blaydoe, 01 May 2011 - 09:19 PM.
Fixed quote tag


#5 Paul Cowan

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Posted 01 May 2011 - 09:07 PM

I must say that I have been fortunate enough to have been granted sufficient charity that I have neither laughed in the faces of people who make such claims or accused them of demonic blasphemy (although that is how such claims strike me).


You will never win any argument in a group setting. You are one mind and they will be multiple minds to play-off each other. Yes God said don't worry about what you will say as it will be given you in that hour, but I really don't think that meant for us to put ourselves in harms way.

If you can get people alone or even in pairs but don't go this alone. Best to use that God given chairty and smile and say "so you say".

There are so many levels of teaching to plow through before you could even have a basic conversation...Just go and enjoy the pecan pie and watch the ball game.

Paul

#6 Paul Cowan

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Posted 01 May 2011 - 09:51 PM

I just saw this on the Antiochian site. Perhaps it will give some assistance to your rebuttals.

#7 Sacha

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Posted 01 May 2011 - 10:54 PM

Bryan, what you describe is the calvinist doctrine of imputed righteousness which is treasured in baptist and other protestant denominations. It has its origins with John Calvin (that should be enough to make anyone shudder) and is based on a complete misunderstanding of St Paul's teaching on justification and the meaning of the idea of the 'justice' of God. Have mercy on them, because most of these baptists simply trust what they are told and many do not have the ability to dig deeper to question what they are taught.

#8 Christina M.

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Posted 01 May 2011 - 11:10 PM

I just saw this on the Antiochian site. Perhaps it will give some assistance to your rebuttals.


That looks like an awesome website, Paul! Thanks for sharing it.

*click* (That was the sound of me adding a new bookmark)

#9 Bryan J. Maloney

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Posted 02 May 2011 - 05:56 AM

You will never win any argument in a group setting. You are one mind and they will be multiple minds to play-off each other. Yes God said don't worry about what you will say as it will be given you in that hour, but I really don't think that meant for us to put ourselves in harms way.


That sounds reasonable.

#10 Fr Raphael Vereshack

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Posted 02 May 2011 - 12:32 PM

From time to time, when I am dragged to my mother-in-law to be's Southern Baptist "church" (I agree to be physically present for the sake of domestic harmony), I get told that God "cannot to look upon sin". However, if we are "covered in the precious blood of Jesus", then God has the ability to look upon us, because said blood "hides our sin from God".


I am very far from being of this background. But isn't "cannot to look upon sin" a manner of expression? Likely it is and I would suspect it means: 'that God does not look with mercy upon the sin of someone who has not willingly accepted to be covered by the sacrifice of Christ'.

If this is what these expressions mean then (and I suspect they are pretty close to the intended meaning) then the difference from Orthodoxy is one of emphasis rather than being black & white.

In Christ-
Fr Raphael

#11 Cyprian (Humphrey)

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Posted 02 May 2011 - 04:10 PM

Fr Raphael, I am of this background, and yes, there is a difference of emphasis. But, it's also something a touch deeper too. As it's been touched on before, this has it's origin's in Calvin's misunderstandings, but deeper yet, it's also based on Anselmian atonement theories.

Basically, the idea that God just had to punish Jesus because: a) some sort of justice required it; or, b) He had to do that to appease His anger. Either way, that kind of God isn't God. If there's a higher power (justice) that required God to punish Jesus, then He isn't the omnipotent cause of the universe. If God had to punish Jesus to appease (or vent) His anger, then God has anger-management issues and is likely more than a little sadistic.

If one follows up either of these ideas with that of Calvin's imputed righteousness, then you get a fairly weird idea of a visually impaired sadistic God that isn't really God.

That being said, I'm also pretty sure that isn't really the idea that the average person in the Evangelical Protestant pew has of God. Frankly, in my experience, most people in the pews, and preachers for that matter, don't delve too deeply into their theology and they definitely don't think about the implications thereof. It's not unusual for them to have a weird patchwork of contradictory ideas in their heads that they mentally keep separate, so that the contradictions are not so glaring.

So, for many of them, who haven't thought about their beliefs, they are very nice people who just might have a difference of emphasis from us. However, those who have thought about it deeply, have very weird ideas of God and can often do some amazing mental gymnastics to defend those beliefs.

#12 Bryan J. Maloney

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Posted 02 May 2011 - 07:29 PM

I am very far from being of this background. But isn't "cannot to look upon sin" a manner of expression? Likely it is and I would suspect it means: 'that God does not look with mercy upon the sin of someone who has not willingly accepted to be covered by the sacrifice of Christ'.


Unfortunately, Father Raphael, it is not that. It really means literally that, according to these Baptists, God is unable to look upon sin. He cannot see it and he cannot see sinners, according to them. It does not mean anything like what you are hoping it means. I really does mean that God cannot see sinners unless they are covered in the blood of Christ, and then God actually is seeing the blood of Christ. Also, it seems that, except when reminded or specifically questioned, Christ is a separate (and lesser) being than is God among the Baptists. It's a strange kind of "presumptive Arianism until reminded otherwise".

#13 Rdr Daniel (R.)

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Posted 02 May 2011 - 08:10 PM

It seems that, except when reminded or specifically questioned, Christ is a separate (and lesser) being than is God among the Baptists. It's a strange kind of "presumptive Arianism until reminded otherwise".

This is quite common amongst Protestants/Anglicans in general, to be honest I would say that many are Nestorian in there understanding there seems to be a belief in the Holy Trinity and then this man Jesus. This along with atonement and the results of the Filioque has lead quite a few agnostic people who think of this nice man Jesus who was some kind of Socialist and then God who gets angry with people.

#14 Fr Raphael Vereshack

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Posted 03 May 2011 - 12:40 PM

Thanks Fr Cyprian & Bryan for your response. It's impossible for me to understand what their position means in terms of God's omniscience then. But I guess that's what makes that position wrong.

In the Risen Christ-
Fr Raphael

#15 Aidan Kimel

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Posted 04 May 2011 - 01:44 PM

I cannot, of course, speak for the Baptists with whom Bryan has spoken, but I believe he has misunderstood what Baptists mean when they say that God cannot look upon sin. They certainly are not saying that God is blind, that he lacks power or ability. Rather, this language is a metaphorical way of speaking of God's wrath directed at all sinners unless they have covered themselves, by faith, with the propitiating blood of Christ, i.e., unless they have believed on Christ and been born again in the Spirit. As noted by Fr Cyprian, this view is grounded in the Reformation doctrine of the imputation of Christ's righteousness through faith. Baptists, especially of the revivalist kind, simply have a more expressive way of stating these matters. Think Billy Graham.

Orthodoxy does not, of course, accept a purely forensic construal of justification, but as Fr Raphael observes, the difference may be more of emphasis than starkly black and white. Consider, e.g., this passage from Fr Alexander Schmemann's book Great Lent, commenting on the priest's words "Holy Things for the Holy!":

With these words and also with the congregation's answer to them--"One is Holy, One is the Lord Jesus Christ ..."--all human reasoning indeed comes to an end. The Holy Things, the Body and Blood of Christ, are for those along who are holy. Yet no one is holy, save the One Holy Lord Jesus Christ. And thus on the level of miserable human "worthiness," the door is closed; there is nothing we can offer and which would make us "worthy" of this Holy Gift. Nothing indeed except precisely the Holiness of Christ Himself which He in His infinite love and mercy has imparted to us, making us a "chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation" (1 Pet. 2:9). It is His Holiness and not ours which makes us holy and thus "worthy" of approaching and receiving the Holy Gifts. For as Nicholas Cabasilas says in commenting on these words: "No one has holiness by himself and it is not the effect of human virtue, but all those who possess it have it from Him and by Him. It is as if several mirrors were placed beneath the sun: they are all bright and all issue rays, while in reality there is but one sun which brightens all of them ..." (p. 121)


We are not worthy in ourselves. We are made worthy by God's gift of himself, and thus of his holiness, in Jesus Christ. Those who are "in Christ" are truly holy, yet only by grace and mercy. Perhaps Fr Alexander's citation might be a good place to continue the conversation.

#16 Owen Jones

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Posted 08 May 2011 - 06:55 PM

Next time, just ask the person to look around, and ask, "where did all this come from." Did a weakling and a dimwit create this?

#17 Paul Cowan

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Posted 08 May 2011 - 10:04 PM

Defense against those who would call God a weakling and a dimwit


I was thinking about the title specifically the words "Defense against".

Why do we feel we need to defend God? Why do we feel we have to have an answer for every accusation or argument thrown at us by unbelievers? Isn't Psalms filled with versus telling us not to even attempt to dialogue with these type questions?

I heard a story from an unbeliever saying if God can do anything then he can create a square circle. This and this type of argument is not worth our time or energy to even respond to. Best to just say "as you believe" and turn and walk away.

Paul the nonapologist.

#18 Bryan J. Maloney

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Posted 13 May 2011 - 08:16 PM

I cannot, of course, speak for the Baptists with whom Bryan has spoken, but I believe he has misunderstood what Baptists mean when they say that God cannot look upon sin. They certainly are not saying that God is blind, that he lacks power or ability. Rather, this language is a metaphorical way of speaking of God's wrath directed at all sinners unless they have covered themselves, by faith, with the propitiating blood of Christ, i.e., unless they have believed on Christ and been born again in the Spirit. As noted by Fr Cyprian, this view is grounded in the Reformation doctrine of the imputation of Christ's righteousness through faith. Baptists, especially of the revivalist kind, simply have a more expressive way of stating these matters. Think Billy Graham.


I have asked for clarification, and these particular Baptists hold that their "god" is quite simply unable to see sin! Thus, since He cannot see the sinner, the sinner shall be passed over. Likewise, if a sinner is saved, their "god" still DOES NOT SEE THE SAVED PERSON! Instead, their "god" sees only the "Precious Blood of Jesus" INSTEAD OF the individual Christian. While this doctrine might have originated as some "expressive way of stating these matters", it is obvious that it is now being taken literally.

I agree that any holiness we might "have" is only imputed to us by Grace, but that is a very different thing from saying that God simply cannot see us until and unless we defraud Him by being "covered in blood".

#19 Bryan J. Maloney

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Posted 13 May 2011 - 08:17 PM

I was thinking about the title specifically the words "Defense against".

Why do we feel we need to defend God? Why do we feel we have to have an answer for every accusation or argument thrown at us by unbelievers? Isn't Psalms filled with versus telling us not to even attempt to dialogue with these type questions?


So, then, we should reject the writings of St. Justin Martyr and the other Apologists? Are we to consider them less Patristic because they engaged in Apologetics? Just wondering which direction one ought to run with your particular ball.

#20 Paul Cowan

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Posted 14 May 2011 - 12:04 AM

Well, you could start by including the last sentences of my post. I thought they pretty well wrapped up my thought.

I heard a story from an unbeliever saying if God can do anything then he can create a square circle. This and this type of argument is not worth our time or energy to even respond to. Best to just say "as you believe" and turn and walk away.


I am not saying we should not defend or explain our faith. I am saying it is pointless to do it with people who are only trying to argue for arguments sake.

Paul




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