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Does death come from God?


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#1 Sacha

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Posted 07 November 2011 - 04:19 PM

"12 The word of the LORD came again to me, saying: 13 “Son of man, when a land sins against Me by persistent unfaithfulness, I will stretch out My hand against it; I will cut off its supply of bread, send famine on it, and cut off man and beast from it. 14 Even if these three men, Noah, Daniel, and Job, were in it, they would deliver only themselves by their righteousness,” says the Lord GOD."

Passage above is Ezekiel 14:12-14

To use a phrase from Fr John Romanides: Does death come from God? If not, how does the OC understand the words of the prophet Ezekiel above?

#2 Anna Stickles

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Posted 07 November 2011 - 04:44 PM

Continue reading in this passage to the end of the chapter.

"21 “For this is what the Sovereign LORD says: How much worse will it be when I send against Jerusalem my four dreadful judgments—sword and famine and wild beasts and plague—to kill its men and their animals! 22 Yet there will be some survivors—sons and daughters who will be brought out of it. They will come to you, and when you see their conduct and their actions, you will be consoled regarding the disaster I have brought on Jerusalem—every disaster I have brought on it. 23 You will be consoled when you see their conduct and their actions, for you will know that I have done nothing in it without cause, declares the Sovereign LORD.”

Life comes from God and when God withdraws His grace death ensues. It is by His will, guidance and grace that the animals, the plants, our bodies, and he hearts of men are kept in an ordered and "gentle" condition - and when God withdraws things start to fall into the conditions described in these passages. But God has brought death into the world as an act of His mercy, to lead us to repentance so that our sin would not be forever. He does nothing without a cause.

#3 Sacha

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Posted 07 November 2011 - 04:53 PM

Anna, so you are saying that death does come from God then. Whether he withdraws His grace or directly causes death, it seems like we cannot escape that conclusion. I would agree that it is an act of mercy and for a cause. But then it seems like Fr Romanides may have gone too far in saying that death does not come from God? To be fair, he wasn't the first to argue that God does not get wrathful or 'change' His heart towards men.

#4 Rob Bergen

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Posted 07 November 2011 - 05:42 PM

Sacha, It is wise not to read the words of the prophet as literal, but perhaps understand that the prophet is telling us something along the lines of "the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life." For us, death came when Adam sinned; a covenant with God was broken and we were "cast out of the garden" or separated from God. Absence from union with Christ is death. Of course, God is loving and most compassionate, he destroyed "death by death," his own death. We, as created beings, have a natural life cycle, our bodies will die, our souls, however, if they are in Christ, will live in unity with Him and all the saints for eternity.

Anna, I don't think God ever withdraws from us, or withdraws his grace from us. After all, he did become incarnate, and raised up humanity, and then defeated death itself. That is everlasting grace, something which we can refuse time and time again, but God will never refuse grace for humanity (he can't take back his incarnation and death!) The theme of love is prevalent throughout the Gospel, and with Christ, we are all given grace, unconditionally.

I don't think the prophet Ezekiel was literally saying that God was literally destroying mankind in their sin, he was saying that nothing happens without reason. The people that turned from God reject God's grace and love, and therefore adopt a lifestyle of death; outside of God there is only death. Ezekiel is telling the story of the Israelite nation, in a constant cycle of falling from grace and then the journey back to redemption. The cycle is much like our own lives, where we turn from God and sin, but we can sincerely ask for forgiveness. One is reminded of the Icon "the ladder of divine ascent," where we are always trying to reach God, but we make mistakes, we sin, but we persevere, since the grace of God is endless.

When you ask if death comes from God, are you speaking of death of our carnal bodies, or the "death" of our souls? We know that we cannot life forever biologically; we were never created to do so. We are, however, created in image of God, and we have the potential for eternal life via our souls. When we reject the grace of God at the final judgement, then perhaps we are damning ourselves to eternal death (life outside of Christ).

To answer your question: Humanity, as a creation, was designed to live and die like any other creation; but we have souls which, until the sin of Adam, lived in unity with God. God did not create "death," we did by turing from God towards sin. God became incarnate to redeem us from the grave and from the cycle of death we created (He loves us so much!) God became the "first Adam" to reorient humanity towards its original goal, unity with Him.

In peace,

Rob

#5 Anna Stickles

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Posted 07 November 2011 - 06:39 PM

Sacha,

But then it seems like Fr Romanides may have gone too far in saying that death does not come from God? To be fair, he wasn't the first to argue that God does not get wrathful or 'change' His heart towards men.


What specific quote and in what context are you talking about here? I would completely agree that God does not get "wrathful" in the sense that we would understand this as a passionate emotion, but saying this does not entail that death does not come from God. I would need more context in order to understand what Fr Romanides is actually trying to say when he says that death does not come from God. Context is everything. :-)

#6 Jan Sunqvist

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Posted 07 November 2011 - 07:40 PM

Continue reading in this passage to the end of the chapter.

But God has brought death into the world as an act of His mercy, to lead us to repentance so that our sin would not be forever. He does nothing without a cause.


Anna,

this is obviously not something that I read for the first time, but I think you put if very simply and beautifully here. And this is what brings me to view Christianity as the only answer to human suffering.

My stumbling block here, however, is that this is so for those that do come to repentance and are transformed. But what of those, that according to the doctrines of eternal Hell, don't? Perhaps a silly question, but, would not God allow them to keep living longer in hope that they come to repentance at some point? (this negates the original intent of death, I realise it's silly) Or, if dying and being in Hades has the potential to transform, if one misses that chance through death, what of the doctrine of Hell for eternity? Does God's Mercy have a limit if He allows some to come to a place of not being able to repent despite going through a process of dying?

#7 Anna Stickles

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Posted 07 November 2011 - 07:41 PM

I just found some quotes that might throw some light on this subject

St Gregory Palamas.

"We should inquire and learn about the origin of physical death. God Who is Life-itself, fullness of life, and the Cause of all life in time and eternity, and indeed of the pre-eternal Godlike life, neither gave us bodily death, nor created, nor commanded it, nor commanded it to exist. He is also not responsible for physical diseases, so where do our bodily illnesses and maladies, as well as the death of our bodies come from? Listen and understand what the source of death is. The spiritual serpent...deserted to evil in the beginning and so was deprived of true good life. He was justly driven away from the life from which he had already fled, and became a dead spirit, not dead in essence, for deadness has not existential existence, but dead through casting off true life. He was not satisfied, though with hurtling towards evil, but also made himself a death-dealing spirit, deceitfully, alas, and persuading mankind to share in his own death.

Because our ancestor's agreed with Satan against the Creator's will and stripped off the garments of life and heavenly radiance, they became, sad to say, spiritually dead like Satan. ....

Once their spirits had died and become sources of death they passed on their deadness to their bodies, which would have disintegrated immediately had they not been preserved by a higher providence and power to await the decision of Him Who upholds all things by His Word alone. He ...help back the sentence of physical death and postponed it. ... Notice that like the death of the soul, physical death does not come from God but from transgression, as a result of a soul committing sin,and of the serpent deceitfully dragging man down with him into iniquity. ...


St Basil

"God did not create death, but we brought it upon ourselves by a wicked intention. To be sure... He did not prevent our dissolution, so that our weakness might not remain immortal..."


St Ireneaus

" God also drove Adam out of paradise, and placed him far from the tree of life, not because he envied him the tree of life, as some dare to claim, but because He pitied him and did not desire that he should persevere forever as a sinner, not that the sin which surrounded him should be immortal... He set a bound to man's sin by interposing death, thus causing sin to cease"


Also St Athanasius in On the Incarnation, says that God created man mortal by nature and that Adam persevered in incorruption by grace, but then because of the disobedience started to turn back to the nothingness from which God had created Him. When Adam turned away from God, he suffered the consequences intrinsic in his creation as a mortal creature, because he was now being separated from the source of life, that which had been holding him in a state of incorruption.

What we notice then is a complex interrelation going on between God, man and Satan. But certainly the only for man to start to die is to be separated from God who is the giver of life. Notice who it does say that God did not prevent our dissolution. So I think in my other post, I was technically wrong in saying God brought death into the world, but rather I should have said that He allows death, and the Bringer of Death (ie Satan) to have a place in the scheme of things, but that even this He works to His own will and plan.

PS Quotes are from Genesis, Creation, and Early Man by Fr Seraphim Rose

#8 Sacha

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Posted 07 November 2011 - 08:21 PM

In the Ancestral Sin, pg 156:

"Moreover, absent from the writings of the first Christian is the cosmology of Augustine and the West in general, according to which the justice of God is a prevailing presence and reality. For Augustine, mankind's fall into the hands of the devil and death is by the will and justice of God because the entire human race shares Adam's guilt. On the other hand, the writers of the first two centuries understood that justice is eschatological. God does not will the present unjust activity of Satan and man but only tolerates it so that those who would be saved can be tried and perfected through temptations. Because above all, He desires the freedom of His rational creatures. Thus not even as a punisher is God the cause of parasitic evil that prevails in the world. On the contrary, the causes of corruptibility and death are, first of all, the devil, and second, man's ongoing cooperation with him..."

Coming back to Ezekiel 14, the only way to hold that Romanides is correct is to understand the words of the prophet non literally, as Rob as suggested (thank you Rob for your thoughts). Is this Orthodox?

#9 Rob Bergen

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Posted 07 November 2011 - 08:53 PM

Also St Athanasius in On the Incarnation, says that God created man mortal by nature and that Adam persevered in incorruption by grace, but then because of the disobedience started to turn back to the nothingness from which God had created Him. When Adam turned away from God, he suffered the consequences intrinsic in his creation as a mortal creature, because he was now being separated from the source of life, that which had been holding him in a state of incorruption.

What we notice then is a complex interrelation going on between God, man and Satan. But certainly the only for man to start to die is to be separated from God who is the giver of life. Notice who it does say that God did not prevent our dissolution. So I think in my other post, I was technically wrong in saying God brought death into the world, but rather I should have said that He allows death, and the Bringer of Death (ie Satan) to have a place in the scheme of things, but that even this He works to His own will and plan.


Yes, it is that separation which brings death. I really appreciate the quotes from the Father's!

#10 Anna Stickles

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Posted 07 November 2011 - 10:48 PM

Sacha, Thanks for the quote from Ancestral Sin.

Thus not even as a punisher is God the cause of parasitic evil that prevails in the world. On the contrary, the causes of corruptibility and death are, first of all, the devil, and second, man's ongoing cooperation with him..."

I think it is easy to see how this statement agrees with the quotes I gave above. We always must avoid the mistake of making God the cause of evil.

For the beginning of the quote you give, I have noticed with some of the modern Orthodox teachers there has been a tendency to de-emphasize the justice of God to the point that I start to question whether they have not gone too far toward a "nice God", making God a "tame Lion" to borrow a phrase from the Chronicles of Narnia. The above is not really enough context to tell where Fr Romanides really is in this spectrum.

But as I listen again to the quotes I gave above I really like the balance I see in St Gregory. He was justly driven away from the life from which he had already fled. This is said of Satan, but God shows the same relationship with man. Man, by first listening to the Serpent, and then hiding and finally by refusing to repent when God questions him has already fled from the life that God had set before him, and so at that point God drives him out of the Garden, barring man's ability to partake of the tree of life.

Notice too how above St. Gregory says that if justice was done in full, man's physical death would have been immediate, but that there was a stay of sentence. St Paul says something similar in Rom ch 3 saying that in His forbearance God had left the sins committed beforehand unpunished.

I think we can take God's words in Ezekial more strongly then simply an allegory meaning that man is moving away from God. God too is acting. When God says. 13 “Son of man, when a land sins against Me by persistent unfaithfulness, I will stretch out My hand against it; This cannot be understood as God being the cause of death or evil, but we can understand that God has withdrawn his protecting "stay of execution" of the consequences built into man's nature when God created him.

We cannot just see man's punishment in terms only of man turning away from God, but need to remember that God also is withdrawing his life-giving grace and mercy that He had been allowing man, undeserved to live in; and as He does this the consequences are the kind of chaos, violence and natural disasters that are pointed to in this passage.

#11 Anna Stickles

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Posted 07 November 2011 - 11:04 PM

Jan I don't have much time now, but last night at Vespers I was listening to a verse that said that Christ entered into Hades to bring the prisoners out of eternal death.

Whatever eternal means, I think that we cannot interpret it as always meaning "lasting forever" or "going on forever in an unchanging state" beyond this, you might try reading through this thread. It is rather long but maybe well worth skimming through.

#12 Sacha

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Posted 08 November 2011 - 01:39 AM

Thank you Anna for your kind contribution. I really appreciate and enjoy the tone and content of your posts.

I actually agree with the heart of your post, which is this:

I think we can take God's words in Ezekial more strongly then simply an allegory meaning that man is moving away from God. God too is acting. When God says. 13 “Son of man, when a land sins against Me by persistent unfaithfulness, I will stretch out My hand against it; This cannot be understood as God being the cause of death or evil, but we can understand that God has withdrawn his protecting "stay of execution" of the consequences built into man's nature when God created him.


But I still struggle from time to time with this understanding. One of my fears is that this view is more influenced by Plato's idea of an unmovable mover than by the Jewish understanding of YHWH, which is markedly different from that of the greeks. The Jews saw God as one who was very much involved in their day to day lives, and who would sometimes express His wrath in no uncertain terms. Then we have the difficulty of Jesus saying to his disciples coming back from Samaria that He did not come to destroy but to save man, causing some like Marcion and his current day descendents, the dispensationalists from Dallas, TX (for the most part) to try and divide the Father from the Son...

#13 Anna Stickles

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Posted 08 November 2011 - 02:15 AM

It doesn't really change what I said about the meaning of eternal above, but just for accuracy's sake here is the Resurrection apostica from Vespers I was referring to. (tone 4) "By ascending the cross of Lord, you have annulled our ancestral curse. By descending to Hades, you have freed the eternal prisoners, granting incorruption to the human race."

I have read enough of the Fathers that I can definately say that we need not fear Plato's influence, if what you mean by this is that the Fathers are reading Plato and then speculating about what God is like or a relationship with God is like based on what they read. All of the Fathers who borrow ideas from Plato are starting with a Christian vision, built out of their relationship with God formed by the Liturgical, Eucharistic and ascetical context of living within the Church, grounded in their own experience of salvation and the Spirit's working in their life. From this firm foundation then, in order to articulate this vision in a way more understandable to their culture, they may borrow some concepts from Plato that fit, but also they are very specific about detailing which things of Plato are contrary to Christian doctrine and need to be rejected.

Part of the difference is cultural though. The Jewish culture was very comfortable with parable to communicate Truth. The Greek culture was more philosophical. Thus you see various Fathers like St John Chrysostom and also St Basil, when exigeting OT scriptures make comments about the need to understand the descriptions of God's actions in a "God befitting manner" not anthropomorphizing God. The Jews were not so concerned about this. An interesting thing about the modern Orthodox spirit filled elders is there is a wide gamut of styles used to communicate these same spiritual truths among them. Some are very philosophical like the Greek Fathers, and others like Elder Aimilianos are much more anthropomorphic in their analogies.

#14 Anna Stickles

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Posted 08 November 2011 - 03:46 AM

Just thought of one more quick thing, which is maybe why the Greek Christians were so much more sensitive to making sure that their articulation of God avoided all anthropomorphism. Consider the background the Greeks were coming from -- think of their previous gods - how these gods were full of human passion.

For the Jews God's holiness and righteousness is simply never a question. The reality of how God's wrath and mercy interacted, and how this was not in a manner congruent with human passion was already part and parcel of the Jews worship, their prayers, and their long history of experience with God and how He worked with them. (To read some of the OT prayers and appreciate the beauty of them, the depth of understanding of how God's mercy and justice intertwine. If we compare say Nehemiah's prayer before approaching the king, and St Basil's prayer before communion we see the congruence in the understanding of how God deals with men.) Thus the Jewish prophets could speak of God in anthropomorphic terms without so much potential for confusion.

But the Christians who were reaching out to Greek culture had to be intentional in teaching what it meant that God was spiritual and holy, and they had to be intentional in correcting passionate understandings of divinity that were part of the popular Greek conceptions of their gods.

#15 Rob Bergen

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Posted 08 November 2011 - 07:15 AM

We cannot just see man's punishment in terms only of man turning away from God, but need to remember that God also is withdrawing his life-giving grace and mercy that He had been allowing man, undeserved to live in; and as He does this the consequences are the kind of chaos, violence and natural disasters that are pointed to in this passage.


Anna,

I suppose I have a hard time thinking that God "withdrawals" anything from humankind. Just because a text may be an allegory does not mean it cannot have powerful significance. I would suggest that God is ever graceful, and that when we refuse that grace, we are ultimately falling into the same line of sin that Adam did. I do not for a minute think that humankind is undeserved of the grace of God. After all, were we not created in His own image and likeness, and are we not made to become god? I think the problem is when that grace is expected of God. The message is clear, wether an allegory or not, that it is by human sin that we fall into the cycle of death, not by God. God's justice grants us what we deserve, surely, even though we deserve death, He has instead given us eternal life. I think this is more powerful than any other message that could come from the prophet Ezekiel.

It may be a little bit presumptuous to say what God is or is not doing. This problem is traced back to the very beginnings of our faith, and is especially pronounced in Protestant circles (i.e. Calvinistic faith which confines God to predetermined numbers of souls). We only know and indeed can say what God does or does not do through his life on Earth, in Jesus Christ. It seems many main-stream Christians seem to marginalize Jesus as the incarnate miracle-worker and radical, and fail to understand the reality that He is also fully God. If we indeed profess this to be true, we must look at the life of Christ as a model for what God does and does not do, then we can begin to form an idea of the nature of God, and what we know fully is that God is love, show through His ultimate sacrifice and defeat of death itself, and through is descent to hell, where he broke open the gates and took Adam and Eve by the hand to paradise.

I may be misunderstanding you, as is often the nature of the internet experience, and I would appreciate clarification if this is the case. While we may struggle with our passions and our understanding of God and the Holy Scriptures, we can know and rest in the fact that God truly loves us, enough to die for us, and that is why I see hope written in the scriptures. Hope for all humanity, and for the fallen, and hope that the righteous saints are praying for us even as they are united with God.

From the Divine Liturgy:

You brought us into being out of nothing, and when we fell, You raised us up again. You did not cease doing everything until You led us to heaven and granted us Your kingdom to come. For all these things we thank You and Your only begotten Son and Your Holy Spirit; for all things that we know and do not know, for blessings seen and unseen that have been bestowed upon us.

In the Love of Christ,

Rob

Edited by Rob Bergen, 08 November 2011 - 07:18 AM.
quotation issue


#16 Anna Stickles

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Posted 08 November 2011 - 07:35 PM

Rob, I think we are having a misunderstanding as I am having somewhat of a hard time understanding exactly what you are trying to say.

I do not for a minute think that humankind is undeserved of the grace of God. ... God's justice grants us what we deserve, surely, even though we deserve death, He has instead given us eternal life.


If we are deserving of death, then how can we be deserving of the grace of God, which is synonymous with life? Do we deserve life/grace or has God granted this to us out of the His own nature as Goodness and Love? Certainly we must say the latter. It is not that we deserve it, but that out of the overabundance of His Love God gives us life. And this is true whether we speak of the gift of life intrinsic in our creation, or the gift of life intrinsic in our re-creation after the Fall.

Much of this discussion revolves around trying to escape skewed notions of God's justice that have deeply taken hold in the west, and which many, as they grow in Christ, start to recognize as harsh and unloving. When this happens we start searching for a Truth that does justice to God's character as we intuit it ought to be. It is a journey I too am on.

My favorite statement summing up a proper idea of God's justice is by Elder Paisios of Mt. Athos.

"Divine justice is against is against human law. Human law is inflexibly equal to all, for it never deviates, but attributes justice to everyone, by putting more emphasis on its regulations than on each individual person. However, divine justice at times deviates and is sympathetically granted to all; it doesn't mistreat people who deserve punishment, while it plentifully rewards the praiseworthy ones. So divine justice and charity is an expression of God's sympathy towards humanity, whereas human justice and fair judgment tend to be an expression of ill-will."


But once we get beyond this basic statement and start asking questions about exactly how this justice works, things become much more complex.

we must look at the life of Christ as a model for what God does and does not do, then we can begin to form an idea of the nature of God,

This is very true, and it is the first place we look. But as Orthodox we also look to the lives of the saints as a model for what God does and does not do. Hagiography is a very important part of Orthodox tradition because it is the place whee we become familiar with the experience of the saints who have traveled the path of deification, who have traveled the road to becoming like Christ. These writings teach us more about the inner workings of how God works with man. If all you have read so far about Orthodoxy are things basically dealing with expository doctrine, then you are missing a lot.

Please don't read this as a criticism. I realize you are just starting. :-) As my parish priest told me when I first starting checking into Orthodoxy, "How do you eat and elephant? One bite at a time!" But do please realize that in order to really explore these things beyond a surface knowledge there needs to be experience with the spiritual life as Orthodoxy presents and teaches this in the lives and writings of the saints. It is in these writings that we see testimony of how God's grace (which in Orthodoxy is not merely God's favor as an abstract concept, but His active presence and deifying energy) is at work in man's life. And it is these writings that we see testimony involving the withdraw of God's grace. We see testimony of how this energy of grace is at work in the lives of those who are being saved, how it is lost, how regained. We see how God may withdraw it either in response to sin, or as a spur to greater striving. Lots of things like this.

Although certainly you are very right in your last paragraph. Amen and amen.

And I do appologize. Part of the misunderstanding is my fault since I am familiar with the fact that the Orthodox understanding of what grace is and how it works is not the same as the PC understanding you are coming out of. But I am still not so good at translating. I feel like I know two languages, "Orthodox speak" and "Protestant speak" but am not yet fluent enough to accurately translate between them.

#17 Rob Bergen

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Posted 08 November 2011 - 09:24 PM

Anna, I think you are right, we certainly misunderstand one another. I have been attending Orthodox parishes since fall of 2006, when I have my first experience in Oregon. Now, I attend an Antiochian Orthodox Church in PA, though I have not undergone the process of becoming a catechumen yet. When I lived in Maine, my favorite thing was singing the Divine Liturgy with the choir in Greek and English, and that small church was exemplary of the universality of the Orthodox Church. I have not been a Protestant, theologically, for many years, as my instructors and mentors are Orthodox. I felt compelled, however, to identify myself with the Church that I was married in, the Episcopal Church.

I still find it hard, however, to say that God would ever prescribe death. And I say that we deserve death because of our sin, and the fact that we certainly choose to sin, time and time again. But grace is found through the sacraments of the Church, and through the teachings of the fathers, and through the act of God's incarnation. I realize that I cannot speak fully of the Orthodox life, as I have not been able to partake of the Divine Body and Blood of Christ, and have not been initiated into the Orthodox faith, as it were. I do, however, understand the need for the praxis of the faith, in order to fully receive the benefits of divine grace.

I completely understand your argument through the quote from Elder Paisios you posted:

"Divine justice is against is against human law. Human law is inflexibly equal to all, for it never deviates, but attributes justice to everyone, by putting more emphasis on its regulations than on each individual person. However, divine justice at times deviates and is sympathetically granted to all; it doesn't mistreat people who deserve punishment, while it plentifully rewards the praiseworthy ones. So divine justice and charity is an expression of God's sympathy towards humanity, whereas human justice and fair judgment tend to be an expression of ill-will."


I understand what you are talking about now, when you mentioned God withdrawing his protection. Though I still struggle with the concept of God withdrawing, I understand how you have framed it and it makes sense. I suppose that my pre-conceived notions of God need to be dismantled, (though I would like to think that I am right!) and the journey must continue. The fathers always said at one time or another that all human knowledge and language is wholly inadequate to fit who God truly is.

Lord have mercy!

Rob

#18 Anna Stickles

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Posted 09 November 2011 - 01:07 AM

I still find it hard, however, to say that God would ever prescribe death.


Now I am really confused. God the Father prescribes death as a doorway into life. Isn't this precisely why Jesus had to die, in order that the resurrection life might become available to humanity?

And this is not something that suddenly appeared in the Incarnation, this was inbuilt into human nature from the beginning. God made man mortal as a prescription against being led into immortal sin as Satan was. He gave us mortal and corruptible bodies, and a nature subject to suffering precisely in order to save us from an eternal suffering. This liability to suffering and death are indeed the prescribed medicine to heal us from the two root sins God foresaw man would be tempted with at the Fall. (see quotes below)

From St Gregory the Theologian "Yet here too he (Adam) makes a gain, namely death, and the cutting off of sin, in order that evil may not be immortal. Thus his punishment is changed into mercy; for it is in mercy, I am persuaded, that God inflicts punishment."

On why God gave man a corruptible body and the potential for death in the first place.
From St Gregory the Theologian

"He placed on earth, a new angel, a mingled worshipper, fully initiated into the visible creation, but only partially into the intellectual; king of all the earth, but subject to the King above; earthly and heavenly...halfway between greatness and lowliness; in one person combining spirit and flesh; spirit because of the favor bestowed on him, flesh on account of the height to which he had been raised; the one that he might continue to live and glorify his benefactor, the other that he might suffer, and by suffering be put in rememberance and be corrected if he became proud in his greatness; a living creature, trained here and then moved elsewhere; to complete the mystery, deified by its inclination to God."



Heiromonk Damascene in the article Created in Incorruption says,


"Adam and Eve indeed succumbed to pride in partaking of the forbidden fruit, but that was not the only source of their fall. As will be recalled, in the primordial transgression they also turned their desire away from God and toward created things, seeking pleasure in them as an end in itself. This too is expressed in the Genesis narrative: "And the woman saw that the tree was good for food and pleasant to the eyes, and a tree beautiful to contemplate."

Thus the temptation that brought about man's fall was two fold. In the words of St Mark the Ascetic, "All vice in the world is caused by self-esteem (pride) and sensual pleasure." Because of this God employed the physical consequences of the fall as a twofold remedy: not only to quell man's pride, but also to dampen his desire for created things and his pursuit of sensual pleasure for it's own sake. As St Maximos explains. "Being, In His Providence, concerned for our salvation, God therefore affixed pain alongside this sensual pleasure as a kind of punitive faculty, whereby the law of death was wisely implanted in our corporeal nature to curb the foolish mind in its desire to incline unnaturally toward sensible things... Through the many sufferings in which and from which death occurs, pain uproots unnatural pleasure, but does not completely destroy it."


As St Peter says in his letter, " He who has suffered in the flesh has ceased from sin." I Peter 4:1

Also death prevents bodily pain from going on forever, which is another act of mercy on God's part.

From St Theodoret of Cyrys "Death dissolves this living thing and on the one hand ceases the actionof wickedness; on the other hand, it saves man from further anguish, liberates him from sweat, drives away pain and sorrow, and brings the body's sufferings to an end. The Judge mixed the punishment with such philanthropy!"

#19 Rob Bergen

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Posted 09 November 2011 - 02:29 AM

Sorry! a misunderstanding again! I am not speaking of death in the sense that we will someday die, but in the sense of eternal damnation, i.e. I like Origen way to much:)

#20 Jan Sunqvist

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Posted 09 November 2011 - 04:31 AM

Jan I don't have much time now, but last night at Vespers I was listening to a verse that said that Christ entered into Hades to bring the prisoners out of eternal death.

Whatever eternal means, I think that we cannot interpret it as always meaning "lasting forever" or "going on forever in an unchanging state" beyond this, you might try reading through this thread. It is rather long but maybe well worth skimming through.


Can it be acceptable to say, that Hell for eternity (whatever eternity really means) is a possibility and not a certainty?




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