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Does death come from God?

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#21 Anna Stickles

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Posted 09 November 2011 - 01:02 PM

Rob, No wonder we were misunderstanding each other. I understood Sacha's original question when he asked "Does death come from God?" to be saying: Does our current state of corrupting - ie sickeness, suffering, violence and disorder (or to use a good Hebrew word - lawlessness) both as manifested in the material creation and man's soul come from God.

As for questions about eternal damnation. I think we have to recognize that we truly are capable of choosing a state of permanent darkness and separation from God. We cannot fool ourselves - and we should fear this about ourselves - not in a way that makes us panic and hide, but in a way that turns us continuously towards God recognizing our need for His saving mercy. This recognition about ourselves is effective and good in the context of having faith in how God is providing every possible means of salvation for us.

Also, the universal Patristic witness as far as I understand it is that we cannot unilaterally send ourselves to hell. Our synergy with God is such that God is always cooperating with our own freedom. So while we have to reject formulations that see God as unilaterally sending people to a permanent state of hell as a punishment, and also reject formulations that see God holding men in hell against their own will, we also have to reject formulations that see God's love in sentimental terms such that He has no active part in sending us to hell.

As for the rest - some quotes from the thread I linked above that bear keeping in mind.

One of the most beautiful things of life, and especially of the Christian life, is that decisions even though they are of importance and they have their effects on the rest of life, can be transformed and transfigured over time. Therefore I'm not sure what 'the final acceptance and rejection of human decisions' means in a more final sense, since it will be with the transformation of these decisions and the intent behind them, that we ultimately appear before Christ.

In Christ- Fr Raphael

Thank you for the thoughtful and thought-provoking post. I think your comments, and your questions, give evidence of your struggling with the very tension that abides in the mystery of true freedom, which itself has given rise to the mystery of evil and suffering. We all too often forget, in contemporary discussions on such matters (which generally strive to be as analytically consistent and rationally concrete as possible) that human freedom, as fundamentally part of man's bearing the image of God, is a mystery. Freedom is not a purely rationalistic enterprise of unrestrained choices; nor are its dimensions or consequences susceptible to the almost mathematical analysis by which we often try to comprehend them. Human freedom is something that has its origin in the nature of God, and included in that mystery of God's nature are the intermingling of eternity and time, change and consistency, which apart from abiding in God's nature would be otherwise distinct and even opposing categories.

The interweaving of such things is what makes definitive 'proclamations' on these matters dangerous -- which is why several of the Fathers warn so strongly against them, why others approach cautiously; and why some in the history of the Church, in attempting to approach them too forcefully and definitively, have found themselves in error that has required correction.

What do we know of the mystery of freedom as it relates to evil and repentance? We know that the time of the this life is the principal venue which the Lord has provided for freedom to embrace repentance. We know that beyond this life, much of the exercise of that freedom is hampered or lost. Yet we also know that the limit of this life (death) is not the absolute or full limit of the ability of God's mercy to care for the salvation of the person -- hence our practice of prayer for the dead, our proclamation of Christ minsitering to those in Hades, etc.

We know that all repentance is and must be an act of freedom; it cannot be forced. Yet we also know that our ability to discern the heart, and its enslaved or unbound freedom, is quite limited.

We know that chastisement awaits sin and rebellion; we also know that chastisement always aims at correction -- that only at the eschaton, at the dread and final judgement, does chastisement become punishment through the abiding free determination of the person, judged and responded to by Christ.

These are not analytical 'data sets' that can be fed neatly into an equation that will provide a neat, tidy result. These are dimensions of a great mystery in which the person finds himself in this life. And it is these dimensions which shape how we live an act within this life: they demand the work of repentance now, 'while it is still day'; but they demand similarly the prayer of intercession for the forgiveness of thsoe who have reposed. They demand our understanding of sin and its consequences; but they demand similarly the petitions of mercy and the usage of chastisement to convert the heart.

INXC, Fr Irenei

This question has often bothered me - how can anyone in heaven be happy if all are not saved? How can God's love be satisfied if all are not saved? (Maybe this is a better question then asking how God's justice can be satisfied.)

But we know that Jesus at the cross took upon Himself the whole burden of suffering humanity - the suffering of all men for all time and eternity - for the cross was an eternal event, and this reality is not erased, I think, by the resurrection. We partake of the suffering and risen Lord, not just the risen Lord, when we partake of His Body and Blood. And I suppose that even for the incorrigible sinner that cannot be saved, Christ's sacrifice at the cross and descent into hell teaches us that He does not ask anyone to suffer what He Himself has not already suffered and to a greater degree. Such is His love.

#22 Rob Bergen

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Posted 09 November 2011 - 11:14 PM


Sorry for the misunderstandings, I could not agree more with you!


#23 John Mitchell

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Posted 10 November 2011 - 02:43 AM

and the good angel explained as follows: do you remember thinking there's no divine justice? and you left your desert cell? know then that the Merciful Lord sent me that you may see His Justice in practice. listen to me:
a. that rich man, because of his many sins was going to hell. at one time in his life he performed a good act and had to be rewarded for it. so at Gods command i honored him with that golden chalice.
b. the mother of that child was God fearing, she really cared about the salvation of her child she kept asking God with tears in her eyes: God if my child is going to grow up into a good christian, and his soul's going to be saved, let him live.if not, take him now, so that he'll go to paradise. The merciful Lord herd her prayer.
c. that little old man had a good heart. he'd done many good deeds. he was fit for paradise. But when he was a young man, he committed a murder. and the Lord judged that he ought to pay for that on earth, rather than the next life, so by drowning in the river he washed away his sin and saved his soul.

#24 Ernest E. W. Herman

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Posted 18 October 2012 - 07:22 PM

On an extended paragraph, viewed from the Orthodox Bible perspective, here is my personal view on the matter of death:
Death, in Bible’s terms means separation from God. Here is the demonstration.
The Orthodox Bible makes known to us the following things as a note at the bottom page 1325 (Mathews 27:46): “Jesus’ cry ‘Why have You forsaken Me?’ could be misinterpreted as a cry of despair. Since He took on our nature, Jesus experiences our alienation from God in His humanity, knowing our suffering and distress, yet He does not despair. He speaks these words in the name of humanity, completely indentifying with us in our condition…” (for those that love O.T. this is fulfilling the picture of Leviticus 16:8-10).
Thus, our condition as humanity guilty of sin is to pay the wages of sin being forsaken by God. Even Jesus that was God of true God and man of true man (but without sin) had to die and be separated from God when He took you and me upon Him on the Cross. Yes, He came back from the tomb because, according to the above notes from the Orthodox Bible, He experienced our alienation from God in His humanity. He speaks these words (why forsaken Me) in the name of humanity, completely indentifying with us in our condition. But as far as He was concerned He was still Jesus, the Son of God and He had to come back after fulfilling that substitutionary death for us, again, by completely indentifying with us in our condition.
Now, He paid the wages of sin by dying on our behalf being identified with us up to the point of being made sin for us by God (2 Corinthians 5:21). He has done that in the name of humanity, that means for the entire human race. However, because man is made with a free will each member of the human race must accept Jesus’ substitutionary death willingly and consciously for himself/herself. We read in the Orthodox Bible in the note on page 1531 that “In Christ, we too can voluntarily die to sin through baptism”. This truth is perfectly aligned with Romans 6:8 where we read, “If we died with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with Him”.
This is a summary to what has been said so far.
1. The wages of sin is death, namely eternal separation from God.
2. Praise God, He showed mercy to us and sent His only begotten Son to take on a human body like ours (but without sin), then He was made by God to be sin for us (2 Cor. 5:21) by completely indentifying with us in our condition and thus paying our separation from God there on the Cross (Mathews 27:46).
3. Now, because we have free will only “IF we died with Christ we shall also live with Him” (Romans 6:8). Since death in Scripture means separation, the only way of dying with Christ is, as He did, to go into separation from ourselves, EVERYTHING and ANYTHING that comes from ourselves. That means that we will voluntarily forget forever everything and anything that springs from ourselves pertaining to Christianity, like in 2 Corinthians 5:17: “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new”. I said that we have to do that voluntarily according to the bottom notes of the Orthodox Bible’s page 1531 “In Christ, we too can voluntarily die to sin through baptism” (and talking on the matter of baptism only a conscious man can be baptized because only a conscious man can volunteer in order to fulfill the required voluntarily).

#25 Father David Moser

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Posted 18 October 2012 - 07:37 PM

On an extended paragraph, viewed from the Orthodox Bible perspective,...
The Orthodox Bible makes known to us the following things as a note at the bottom page 1325 (Mathews 27:46):

I would caution against the uncritical use of OSB "notes" since they were written by persons who had not been Orthodox very long at all at the time. The notes have a lot of "hold overs" from the former protestant beliefs of the editors. While the OSB notes may provide a starting point for study, they should be tested by comparison with more thoroughly Orthodox sources.

Fr David Moser

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