What is paradosis? | bloghome | paradosis website | contact

Subscribe to
Posts [Atom]

[The Creation of the Chicken]

An unworthy Deacon, named for the brother of God: James, striving to "work out his salvation with fear and trembling" within the Tradition (paradosis) of the Eastern Orthodox Faith. It is a strange and marvelous journey, and I am accompanied by the fourfold fruit of my fecundity. My wife, the Matushka or Diaconissa Sophia, is my beloved partner in the pursuit of Theosis, and she ranks me in every way.
<
[Consider Supporting]
[Our Farm]
[The Past]
05/01/2002 - 06/01/2002
06/01/2002 - 07/01/2002
07/01/2002 - 08/01/2002
08/01/2002 - 09/01/2002
09/01/2002 - 10/01/2002
10/01/2002 - 11/01/2002
11/01/2002 - 12/01/2002
12/01/2002 - 01/01/2003
01/01/2003 - 02/01/2003
02/01/2003 - 03/01/2003
03/01/2003 - 04/01/2003
04/01/2003 - 05/01/2003
05/01/2003 - 06/01/2003
06/01/2003 - 07/01/2003
07/01/2003 - 08/01/2003
08/01/2003 - 09/01/2003
09/01/2003 - 10/01/2003
10/01/2003 - 11/01/2003
11/01/2003 - 12/01/2003
12/01/2003 - 01/01/2004
01/01/2004 - 02/01/2004
02/01/2004 - 03/01/2004
03/01/2004 - 04/01/2004
04/01/2004 - 05/01/2004
05/01/2004 - 06/01/2004
06/01/2004 - 07/01/2004
07/01/2004 - 08/01/2004
08/01/2004 - 09/01/2004
09/01/2004 - 10/01/2004
10/01/2004 - 11/01/2004
11/01/2004 - 12/01/2004
12/01/2004 - 01/01/2005
01/01/2005 - 02/01/2005
02/01/2005 - 03/01/2005
03/01/2005 - 04/01/2005
04/01/2005 - 05/01/2005
05/01/2005 - 06/01/2005
06/01/2005 - 07/01/2005
07/01/2005 - 08/01/2005
08/01/2005 - 09/01/2005
09/01/2005 - 10/01/2005
10/01/2005 - 11/01/2005
11/01/2005 - 12/01/2005
12/01/2005 - 01/01/2006
01/01/2006 - 02/01/2006
02/01/2006 - 03/01/2006
03/01/2006 - 04/01/2006
04/01/2006 - 05/01/2006
05/01/2006 - 06/01/2006
06/01/2006 - 07/01/2006
07/01/2006 - 08/01/2006
08/01/2006 - 09/01/2006
09/01/2006 - 10/01/2006
10/01/2006 - 11/01/2006
11/01/2006 - 12/01/2006
12/01/2006 - 01/01/2007
01/01/2007 - 02/01/2007
02/01/2007 - 03/01/2007
03/01/2007 - 04/01/2007
04/01/2007 - 05/01/2007
05/01/2007 - 06/01/2007
06/01/2007 - 07/01/2007
07/01/2007 - 08/01/2007
08/01/2007 - 09/01/2007
09/01/2007 - 10/01/2007
10/01/2007 - 11/01/2007
11/01/2007 - 12/01/2007
12/01/2007 - 01/01/2008
01/01/2008 - 02/01/2008
02/01/2008 - 03/01/2008
03/01/2008 - 04/01/2008
04/01/2008 - 05/01/2008
05/01/2008 - 06/01/2008
06/01/2008 - 07/01/2008
07/01/2008 - 08/01/2008
08/01/2008 - 09/01/2008
09/01/2008 - 10/01/2008
10/01/2008 - 11/01/2008
11/01/2008 - 12/01/2008
12/01/2008 - 01/01/2009
01/01/2009 - 02/01/2009
02/01/2009 - 03/01/2009
03/01/2009 - 04/01/2009
04/01/2009 - 05/01/2009
05/01/2009 - 06/01/2009
06/01/2009 - 07/01/2009
07/01/2009 - 08/01/2009
08/01/2009 - 09/01/2009
09/01/2009 - 10/01/2009
10/01/2009 - 11/01/2009
11/01/2009 - 12/01/2009
12/01/2009 - 01/01/2010
01/01/2010 - 02/01/2010
02/01/2010 - 03/01/2010
03/01/2010 - 04/01/2010
04/01/2010 - 05/01/2010
05/01/2010 - 06/01/2010
08/01/2010 - 09/01/2010
09/01/2010 - 10/01/2010
10/01/2010 - 11/01/2010
03/01/2011 - 04/01/2011
04/01/2011 - 05/01/2011
05/01/2011 - 06/01/2011
06/01/2011 - 07/01/2011
10/01/2011 - 11/01/2011
11/01/2011 - 12/01/2011
12/01/2011 - 01/01/2012
02/01/2012 - 03/01/2012
03/01/2012 - 04/01/2012
04/01/2012 - 05/01/2012
05/01/2012 - 06/01/2012
06/01/2012 - 07/01/2012
08/01/2012 - 09/01/2012
02/01/2013 - 03/01/2013
04/01/2013 - 05/01/2013
07/01/2013 - 08/01/2013
11/01/2013 - 12/01/2013
02/01/2014 - 03/01/2014
03/01/2014 - 04/01/2014
07/01/2014 - 08/01/2014
[Orthodox America]
Antiochian Archdiocese
Greek Orthodox Archdiocese
Orthodox Church in America
Serbian Orthodox Church in America
Carpatho-Russian Orthodox Church in America
[monasteries]
Valaam
Holy Myrrhbearers
Saint John
Saint Theodore
New Skete
Saint Herman
Saint Anthony, AZ
Balamand Monastery
[mercy]
Zoe for Life
In Communion
IOCC
Missions
[orthodox bloggers]
Notes from a Hillside Farm
Bishop Seraphim
This is Life
Fly in the Holy Oil
The Violent Munkee
The Blue Canopy
Sophia Says
Notes from a common place book
Pithless Thoughts
Photios
[I am a Rusyn]
[Slovakia]
[Kosovo]
[Mmmmmm]
[Where in the World?]
Locations of visitors to this page

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

The Theologian Clint Eastwood

An article regarding /interview with (in part) Clint Eastwood who's newest movie apparently will be a theological treatise of sorts. Here's the trailer:



Anytime Hollywood puts out something that addresses in any capacity the numinous, I tend to cringe. Of course, not having seen the film I cannot say anything about it, but a couple of things Eastwood says (directly or otherwise from the article) caught my attention.

"Eastwood was attracted to "Hereafter" because it deals with the afterlife in a spiritual manner without turning religious."

Blech! Give me a break. Am I the only person sick of the "spiritual but not religious" mantra? I'm sorry but it's a steaming pile of BS. Let me spell it out to all "spiritual" people: YOU ARE RELIGIOUS! And odds are you also have all manner of doctrines and dogmas you cling to, the only difference is that YOU made them up. You reject (much like a fundamentalist) aspects of what you call religion with no less vehemence (even if more calmly) than a Bible-Thumper might employ in their rejection of something. And, I might add, perhaps with no less arrogance.

Ok, rant on that point over.

And then this:
"I couldn't believe that God would be a great sadist in the sky, getting pleasure out of, 'If you screw up, I'm going to bust you, boy,'" Eastwood said. "That's a way of keeping people in line, I guess."

He does find Buddhism attractive, "because they don't seem to be as mean-spirited, and their idea of God is sort of a heavyset guy who's got a smile on his face, and I thought, hey, that's nice," Eastwood said.


Some of you have likely read "The River of Fire" and how it lays the blame for attitudes such as expressed by Eastwood here squarely at the feet of "western theology." I do not doubt there is truth to that. Would that I could invite Eastwood to consider the Eastern Christian approach, perhaps he might see God as less a sadist. But then again, if Eastwood is looking for a jolly obese man he may well stick with Santa or Buddha (actually the Buddha rather demands some pretty strict asceticism so maybe Santa is the better choice) rather than any conception of a Holy and Loving God.

Western theology may indeed play a role, but I also do not want to erase people's need to "make religion in their own image." They will often take the title of "spiritual."

Amidst such criticism I will bring this home to ME and consider all the ways I try and make Orthodoxy in my own image. But I'll still not take too seriously the theologian Clint Eastwood of that God-protected city Hollywood.

...offered by Dn. James Ferrenberg, a sinner at 10:36 AM [+]
+++
40 comments


40 Comments:

I like Clint's work, almost all of it, beginning with Rawhide, both as actor and director. At least one glaring exception is Bridges of Madison County: Good grief, what a bunch of maudlin nonsense that was. And to pair two of the preeminent actors of our generation in it! What, did Eastwood and Streep need extra pocket change or something? I like his work so much, in fact, that I try to avoid learning too much about his personal life.

Hollywood deals well with religious material rarely and seemingly almost accidentally or in spite of itself. Delicacy prevents me from saying why this is so; suffice it to point at the Hollywood demographic and virtually default political stance. The "History" and "Discovery" Channels are similar on this: They'll just make you mad, unless you happen to regard Nostradamus as an able exegete, are into LaHaye-style sci-fi masquerading as responsible eschatology, or have no problem designating earthquakes, hurricanes, tornados, tsunamis, thunderstorms, and volcanos as manifestations of God's wrath.

And as James points out, that's a big part of the problem: It simply can't be denied that heterodoxy has made its bed here, and unfortunately, we all have to lie in it to some extent even if we personally reject it. So Western culture splits more or less evenly between (1) believers in the holy, loving God Who is mad as hell, (2) believers in some kind of nondescript spirituality, and (3) those who are so angered and sickened by the whole tawdry mess that they become destructive and/or self-destructive. The first group spends its life going through all kinds of contortions trying to appease their God. The second group spends its life merging with whatever they take to be the One, like drops of water disappearing into an ocean. The third group just gives the world the finger and does whatever. I sympathize most with them. If God is out to get me, who the hell can stop Him/Her/It? So screw it. If my destiny is to become a Nothing in a sea of Nothingness, there is neither true identity nor true responsibility, so again, screw it. These people have given up all hope in this world, which is a more correct and appropriate attitude than we might think.

Everyone's reachable, but this third group is the field white unto harvest, in my opinion. But we won't reach them by being syncretists---or rather, may God forbid that we reach them with that gutless "message." We won't (or at least shouldn't) reach them by pretending that Independent Evangelicalism, Protestantism, Anglicanism, Romanism, and Orthodoxy are just slight, mutually compatible variations of something called Christianity. Nor will we reach them by regarding the Church as the religious accessory of the State, regardless of whether we accessorize liberally or conservatively---whatever in blazes that means. (I can remember when Episcopalians regarded themselves, and were widely known as, the Republican Party at prayer. I'm pretty sure no one thinks THAT anymore.)

And so I religiously avoid listening to TV or Hollywood when they try to wax eloquent on religion in general and Christianity in particular. It just makes me mad and sad, and I don't like being either. Give us Lord of the Rings, rip-roarin' Westerns, war movies, action heroes, good sci-fi (none of which, paradoxically, is on the Sci-Fi Channel), live sports and good movies/documentaries about sports, and quality (meaning accurate) dramatizations of classic literature. Stick with what you're good at. You know: Comparatively harmless, diverting, but ultimately pointless Entertainment. It's like whipped cream: We can live without it, probably even live better without it, but it's nice once in a while. But please: Keep your damned spirituality and "expert" deliverances on Christianity to yourselves.

Gary Patrick

By Anonymous Anonymous, at 3:08 PM  

________________________________________________________________

I like Clint's work, almost all of it, beginning with Rawhide, both as actor and director. At least one glaring exception is Bridges of Madison County: Good grief, what a bunch of maudlin nonsense that was. And to pair two of the preeminent actors of our generation in it! What, did Eastwood and Streep need extra pocket change or something? I like his work so much, in fact, that I try to avoid learning too much about his personal life.

Hollywood deals well with religious material rarely and seemingly almost accidentally or in spite of itself. Delicacy prevents me from saying why this is so; suffice it to point at the Hollywood demographic and virtually default political stance. The "History" and "Discovery" Channels are similar on this: They'll just make you mad, unless you happen to regard Nostradamus as an able exegete, are into LaHaye-style sci-fi masquerading as responsible eschatology, or have no problem designating earthquakes, hurricanes, tornados, tsunamis, thunderstorms, and volcanos as manifestations of God's wrath.

And as James points out, that's a big part of the problem: It simply can't be denied that heterodoxy has made its bed here, and unfortunately, we all have to lie in it to some extent even if we personally reject it. So Western culture splits more or less evenly between (1) believers in the holy, loving God Who is mad as hell, (2) believers in some kind of nondescript spirituality, and (3) those who are so angered and sickened by the whole tawdry mess that they become destructive and/or self-destructive. The first group spends its life going through all kinds of contortions trying to appease their God. The second group spends its life merging with whatever they take to be the One, like drops of water disappearing into an ocean. The third group just gives the world the finger and does whatever. I sympathize most with them. If God is out to get me, who the hell can stop Him/Her/It? So screw it. If my destiny is to become a Nothing in a sea of Nothingness, there is neither true identity nor true responsibility, so again, screw it. These people have given up all hope in this world, which is a more correct and appropriate attitude than we might think.

Everyone's reachable, but this third group is the field white unto harvest, in my opinion. But we won't reach them by being syncretists---or rather, may God forbid that we reach them with that gutless "message." We won't (or at least shouldn't) reach them by pretending that Independent Evangelicalism, Protestantism, Anglicanism, Romanism, and Orthodoxy are just slight, mutually compatible variations of something called Christianity. Nor will we reach them by regarding the Church as the religious accessory of the State, regardless of whether we accessorize liberally or conservatively---whatever in blazes that means. (I can remember when Episcopalians regarded themselves, and were widely known as, the Republican Party at prayer. I'm pretty sure no one thinks THAT anymore.)

And so I religiously avoid listening to TV or Hollywood when they try to wax eloquent on religion in general and Christianity in particular. It just makes me mad and sad, and I don't like being either. Give us Lord of the Rings, rip-roarin' Westerns, war movies, action heroes, good sci-fi (none of which, paradoxically, is on the Sci-Fi Channel), live sports and good movies/documentaries about sports, and quality (meaning accurate) dramatizations of classic literature. Stick with what you're good at. You know: Comparatively harmless, diverting, but ultimately pointless Entertainment. It's like whipped cream: We can live without it, probably even live better without it, but it's nice once in a while. But please: Keep your damned spirituality and "expert" deliverances on Christianity to yourselves.

Gary Patrick

By Anonymous Anonymous, at 3:09 PM  

________________________________________________________________

I really liked "Gran Torino" and "Unforgiven" was also great.

I agree that group #3 is a real mission field. Sappy as it may sound to some, I *DO* believe that the Orthodox faith has a whole new IMAGE of Christianity to offer.

By Blogger JamesoftheNorthwest, at 3:20 PM  

________________________________________________________________

I agree. It's so much fun actually trying to argue someone into believing that God is NOT angry with them, and demonstrating that this assertion is the original gospel. Now, about arguing them into feeling bad about themselves because God is pissed---well, that's no fun for anyone, and if God does have righteous wrath, I have no problem believing that part of it is aimed at that "gospel." It amounts to the slander of God.

GP

By Anonymous Anonymous, at 3:33 PM  

________________________________________________________________

I know a priest, father of six, grandfather of a lot more and great grandfather to yet another bunch (his family calls him head of a tribe which is just barely an exaggeration). His way of conveying the greatest possible bang for the scold was to tell his child he was *disappointed* in them. Not mad, like me. He said that's how he understands God's anger. God know what we are supposed to be, His image and likeness and sees clearly what we aren't. He loves us and disappointment might be the best thing to convey. It makes one squirm more than anger. You can't really be angry "back" at it.

By Blogger bob, at 11:49 AM  

________________________________________________________________

No. God is not angry, period. We experience His love AS anger because we reject it, and it burns instead of warming and enlivening. EVERYTHING depends on the difference. I know what I'm talking about. I have 5 sons. I have never seen a single inch of progress by telling them what my emotional response to their failures is, as if their goal in life should be to please/agree with me. If your priest is Orthodox, he needs to reconnect with authentic Orthodoxy. If he's not, he's just talking the party line, and more's the pity.

There aren't many things I'd fight to the death over any more: Certainly not any nationalistic bullshit. But I would fight to the death over this, if it would do any good.

Gary Patrick

By Anonymous Anonymous, at 1:14 PM  

________________________________________________________________

James, Bob,

I'm just curious what y'all do with the texts in the services, many of which point to God's wrath. The Litiya (fixed portion) prays for deliverance from the "wrath stirred up against us."

The service of the Exaltation of the Cross says "the curse of just condemnation is undone when the Just One is condemned by an unjust judgment."

Another verse on the third sunday of Lent, Lord I Call:

"Wishing to restore all men to life, You accepted crucifixion, O Christ our God, burning with boundless love for Man, You took the quill of the Cross in Your Hand, dipping it ink of royal crimson, you signed our release with bloodstained fingers."

Both of these verses seem stronger than "disappointment." In fact they seem pretty Anselmian to me, although perhaps not. Perhaps you would say that it is the Devil that does the condemning, but then the verse says "just condemnation" which seems diagnostic. Granted, this legal imagery is not as common as it was in my Reformed upbringing, but I've always struggled with the Kalomiros article. I don't think it's the last word on the subject, and I'd be reluctant to tell anyone that God wasn't angry with us. To agree with Kalomiros, you basically have to warp the plain meaning of far too many biblical passages.

By Blogger Steve Knowlton, at 1:32 PM  

________________________________________________________________

Hey Steve...

Also don't forget Sunday of the Last Judgment - some doozies in there.

What do I do with them? Well for my part I balance them "against" two things: 1) the heresy that God judges no one and 2) the bulk of the rest of the Church's Tradition: her understanding of the Fall, Salvation, and the Last Judgment.

Disappointment is probably as inadequate a word as anger in that both are ultimately an anthropomorphism. But, on the other hand, they do both speak to some facet of truth.

Facet is a great word that can also be applied to the economy of salvation of which there are many facets and likely all fail at some point as being mere analogies of how we are saved. In my experience with Protestantism they tend to hinge upon one and then lay upon it the literal and full meaning of salvation. Of course we know it's not that simple. And this is precisely how we end up with the hardcore judicial understanding of salvation. There is a place for it, but it ain't the full meal deal.

I also keep in mind that the hymnography of the Church is not afraid of poetic license to drive home a point. Plus it's not really my place to say what is or isn't the plain meaning of Scripture unless I'm well grounded in the Tradition to begin with.

So, I'm not terribly concerned about missing the plain meaning by interpreting texts noting God's Wrath poured out upon us as being experienced as such not because God is wrathful, but because of my own state of being.

By Blogger JamesoftheNorthwest, at 2:36 PM  

________________________________________________________________

ONe thing that is apparent from history is that most pre-modern people had the perception that the Gods were, in a word, "pissed." And needed to be appeased. This is a fundamental human intuition. It may be an anthropomorphism, but we now live in a culture that says the opposite. This seems like a challenge for Christianity: we need to convince people that there really is a serious "problem" (call it divine wrath, or if you want to be more accurate, describe our fallen state, etc.) and THEN we need to show how the Cross is the answer to THAT problem. It's a peculiar situation to be in.

My perception is that much of modern evangelicalism is re-crafting christianity to answer *other* questions, like "how can I be more happy and content," or "how can we build a more just society," etc.

By Blogger Steve Knowlton, at 3:42 PM  

________________________________________________________________

Gee, Gary I think we agree. I can't recall what western figure said the fires of hell are the light of God seen by those who have rejected it? Awfully similar to St. Isaac of Syria (paraphrasing) saying that those tormented in hell are scourged with the scourge of love. hating God is a real problem since you will be *with* God forever whether you like or not, whether you want it or not. Liking it, wanting it more than anything gets you crucified but it's better than hell. When my friend speaks of disappointing God I think there's room for saying some things "grieve" God isn't there? God is said to "repent" that he made men in Genesis and I think that's figurative language too.

You're only the second person I ever heard of who actually read Whitehead. I got exactly 5 lines into "Adventures of Ideas" and threw in the towel. if there were a yahoo group of you guys you might be 75% of the members.

By Blogger bob, at 9:45 PM  

________________________________________________________________

Thanks for the posting, James, and the comments, as well. I take this movie and just lump it in with all the pseudo spiritual entertainment that seems to be the rage nowadays. I'd include the Harry Potter books and flicks, the Star Wars saga, all the interest in vampires and werewolves, as well as the LeHaye rapture porn. For most folks this is about as deep as it gets, and since there's a huge market for it, Hollywood isn't going to ignore it. It may be mush, but there's money to be had, fortunes to be made, mining that mush.

Entertainment is entertainment, so I don't expect it to be serious about issues like theology. But it does touch a broader issues, which is the inclination of most folks to shy away from thinking seriously about anything more important than which Mickey D's they're going to visit for dinner. Everything has become trivialized and raising questions that scratch even a bit before the surface will often elicit blank stares. I think there are a lot of reasons for this. If you have ever read the Screwtape Letters, you might think this is all part of some grand Satanic plot. Why get people to reject God, when it is much easier to simply turn that concept into jello?

Best,
Mike

By Blogger MikeW, at 11:26 AM  

________________________________________________________________

Yes, all, I think we're on the same page as long as we understand the Orthodox tradition on Hell as being what Fr. James as accurately described in his recent writings: It is not that God changes back and forth from wrath to grace, but our experience of His eternal, unchanging love is dynamic, that is, dependent upon our cooperation. If God actually changes His nature in conjunction with my instability, weakness, changeability, and so on, there's no hope.

And yes, there is "wrath talk" in liturgy just like there is in Bible. It is anthropomorphic, like everything else. No surprise there. But I depend on the Orthodox fathers to tell me how to understand such language. I don't simply superimpose the deeply flawed Western connotation upon it merely because I was raised in it. I am a convert, in the fullest sense of the word. I've left all that stuff behind.

Gary Patrick

By Anonymous Anonymous, at 5:06 PM  

________________________________________________________________

OK, so aside from St. Isaac, what Fathers make this crystal clear, i.e. the idea that God's wrath is actually just the way we experience his love? Please name names.

By Blogger Steve Knowlton, at 9:58 PM  

________________________________________________________________

As it so happens I am studying doctrine right now for the DVP:

St. Symeon the New Theologian

St. Basil the Great, St. Athanasius, St. Gregory Palamas, St. Irenaios and many others all speak very specifically and often about how God is NOT the cause of death and hell/suffering, but that the culpability of these things belong to men.

"It is not God who is hostile, but we; for God is never hostile." St. John Chrysostom

St. John Maximovitch has a great article on the matter: "The Last Judgment"

It is my understanding that it is an Orthodox dogma that hell and heaven are not different geographies, but different experiences of the same place.

By Blogger JamesoftheNorthwest, at 2:42 PM  

________________________________________________________________

I'm not asking about the culpability. I'm saying that once we perceive we're "culpable" (an peculariarly legal term by the way, in the light of this discussion), it's natural to think that God is "angry" with us. Or that we're "guilty," or "culpable." Most people, in most times, have thought so. But what you seem to be saying is that the clear unassailable position of the Church is that God does not truly get angry, that even clear scriptural and liturgical passages should be interpreted figuratively: the anger is "pegagogic", not really anger, but in fact Love. This subtly changes the meaning of many such passages. I'm just asking where in the Fathers do they lay this out clearly?

Bob's offering above relates to this: whether an earthly father gets angry, is "disappointed," or some other option, it is still "Love," but in a different mode.

If anthropomorphic characterizations are appropriate for our worship, why are they not appropriate for our day-to-day understanding?

How would you interpret the casting out of the money-changers?

By Blogger Steve Knowlton, at 4:35 PM  

________________________________________________________________

What about this:

Question: Does outward prayer alone suffice to obtain grace?

Answer: So far is it from sufficing to obtain grace, that contrariwise it provokes God to anger.

or this:

Question:What duties are there which refer to the inward worship of God?

1. To believe in God.

2. To walk before God...

3. To fear God, or stand in awe of him; that is, to think the ***anger*** of our heavenly Father the greatest ill that can befall us, and therefore ***strive not to offend him.***

Do the above passages, written by St. Philaret of Moscow, offend our sensibilities?? I would point out that St. Philaret was the pre-eminent teacher of the Church. Was he confused?

By Blogger Steve Knowlton, at 4:45 PM  

________________________________________________________________

Or here are some passages from St. John, Archbishop of Constantinople. I'd hate to argue with an Archbishop:

"I say this, and I do not cease saying it, both to the poor and to the rich, consider how great God's Anger is, how easy and simple everything is to Him, and let us abstain from evil!"

or:

"So I was not afraid because of the [recent] earthquake, but because of the cause of the earthquake, for the cause of the earthquake was teh Anger of God, and the cause of His anger was our sins. Never fear punishment, but fear sin, the mother of punishment."

By Blogger Steve Knowlton, at 4:50 PM  

________________________________________________________________

If John Chrysostom is a bit too old-school for us, what of that mystical theologian the Palamite:

"If the Pharisee is condemned by
his speech, it is because, as a Pharisee, he thinks himself somebody, although he is not
really righteous, and utters many arrogant words which provoke God' anger with their every syllable."

I don't see any footnotes where these people say, "O, by the way, let's remember, that God's anger is in fact the same as his Love." In fact he says precisely the opposite:

"Let us be chastened NOT BY the Lord's wrath and anger BUT by His mercy..."

At the end of the day the idea that the River of Fire, the River of Wrath is the self-same Love, flowing from God's throne, is an extremely mystical perception, no doubt true, but truly beyond our minds. It's not to be lightly tossed about when we "talk theology" with enquirers or people like Clint Eastwood. It's actually a prelest to do so, brothers, a spiritual deception. The West has perhaps overemphasized God's wrath, but let's not toss it out altogether.

By Blogger Steve Knowlton, at 5:01 PM  

________________________________________________________________

This comment has been removed by the author.

By Blogger JamesoftheNorthwest, at 8:46 AM  

________________________________________________________________

"But what you seem to be saying is that the clear unassailable position of the Church is that God does not truly get angry, that even clear scriptural and liturgical passages should be interpreted figuratively: the anger is "pegagogic", not really anger, but in fact Love."

I think that when we try and ascribe human emotions to God that we are automatically treading on dangerous ground. Sure we do it, but I would suggest that prelest may be very quickly found there as well and I'll be the first to say I HAVE NO IDEA to what extent God experiences human emotions. Anger is a human emotion and I think we can all agree that ascribing such an emotion to God is absolutely an anthropomorhism that cannot possibly speak to the reality of God and certainly not His essence. The trouble is, anger carries with it a great deal of sin baggage in the human context and yet we are indeed told to "be angry and not sin." What to do with that? I'm also intrigued and wonder: does God love, or IS God love and what is the difference?

These words we use (e.g. anger) are simply the best we can do with issues regarding God, they will inevitably miss the mark and we quickly slip back into a more safe apophatic approach. There is no doubt, anger is a term used and ascribed to God. Alas I cannot directly ask Chrysostom for details. But I don't think the larger issues between west and east isn't trying to discern what it means for God to be angry, but rather what is salvation and what is hell. Put simply the west and the east differ on these topic and explaining THAT to inquirers is absolutely necessary.

So, here's the dogma as I understand it, and it regards: Hell. And here I will stand by my point I'm trying to make. I think we all know the debate between east and west with regard to material hellfire...that plays into this. Yes, culpability is a legal term....fine...but there is a difference between an external judge proclaiming culpability and the ontological reality of someone willfully tossing themselves into a fire. I expect we can all see the difference here. From what I've read, God does not create a terrible burning fire into which he tosses sinners, but rather the BEING of the person makes of God's energies a burning fire.

So, hell is NOT the result of God being pissed off and casting us out of His presence into a PLACE of eternal torment. Hell is in fact the experience sinners have of God's divine Light, which to the Saints will be eternal bliss. Here, because I'm pressed for time, I will cut and paste directly from my notes taken from Lossky and Florovsky...sometimes direct quotes, other times my notes taken directly from the readings:

By Blogger JamesoftheNorthwest, at 8:47 AM  

________________________________________________________________

“The Light Divine will shine to all, but those who have deliberately spent their lives here on earth in fleshly desires, 'against nature,' will be unable to apprehend or enjoy this eternal bliss. The Light is the Word which illuminates the natural minds of the faithful; but to others it is a burning fire of the judgment...in the resurrection the whole of creation will be restored. But sin and evil are rooted in the will...[and] there is some strange inertia and obstinacy of the will, and this obstinacy may remain uncured even in the universal restoration.”


“Hell” in the context of His descent into Hell is really a reference to the general realm of death and NOT the place of sinners being tormented. Indeed there is no such place since that hell is a state of being and not a mutually recognized geography. No, the Hell Christ descended into is more simply a “synonym of death itself.”

God “thinks up” from eternity the image of creation. This image is of God's good pleasure, will, and power. It is unchangeable (immutable). In conformity with the image, creation is brought into being out of nothing, but must in its “temporal becoming”and of its own accord and freewill advance toward the pre-temporal image of and predestination for it. However, creation can rebel against its own image and because the divine image of creation is also the will and power of God (by which creation is made and sustained), such resistance will manifest the context of wrath and judgment. The contrast between the image and the reality of creation becomes hellfire.

By Blogger JamesoftheNorthwest, at 8:48 AM  

________________________________________________________________

Hell itself is a great mystery, of which none of us are worthy to speak. The images we have, of worms and an eternal brimstone and so forth, are no more adequate to the reality than images of clouds and cherubs are to Heaven.

I think we also understand that the Anger of God is temporal, directed at us, motivated by Love for us (or perhaps the people we hurt), and that in His Eternal Essence, God is "unmoved." We don't "ruin his day", as it were. I think the language in the services is crystal clear about that.

I am a great fan of Florovsky, but I would still not hang my hat on him. He is not a Father of the Church. His historical circumstances, his massive erudition and exposure to the West, his founding of the ecumenical movement, all make him very interesting, but he is nonetheless, at this point, a commentator, an ingenious one, yes. His observations about the stubbornness of our wills and so on, are very interesting, they *seem* very faithful, but at the end of the day, the Fathers simply were not squeamish about referring God's Anger.

I did my Master's thesis on "Orthodox Modernism", and the pattern here is familiar: a challenge arises to an Orthodox position. The critics caricaturize the Christian position, and the Orthodox, in response, examine their tradition and find ways of undermining the criticism. But then this polemical response gets unwittingly prioritized, and the actual position with its nuances and difficulties, is simplified away.

To take the River of Fire by Kalamiros as the Last Word, means that all the straightforward images of anger and punishment need to be read in the light of a single prioritized idea, which is "God isn't really angry, that's just the way Love seems to a degenerate sinner." This is in fact the elevating of one idea or one dogmatic element over all others, and it arises as a response to a challenge from Modern Culture which (as you pointed out originally) absolutely hates the idea of a God who punishes, or allows punishment for Sin.

I do agree that ascribing intentions, plans, emotions, etc. to God is a dangerous thing. One thing that bothers me about the spiritual life is the temptation of people to consider God a giant manipulator who so orders coincidences in our lives to train us, teach us lessons, have a joke at our expense. I also notice the anthropomorphizing that takes place at funerals, when well-wishing people say, "O, I just know Uncle John is up there in Heaven fishing with Jesus." That kind of thing is actually blasphemous.

But when the services themselves speak clearly of punishment, anger, divine retribution, the "wrath stirred up against us," I don't think it's necessary to have a mini-Kalomiros in our heads reminding us "now, James, that doesn't really mean 'anger'".

By Blogger Steve Knowlton, at 10:05 AM  

________________________________________________________________

"I don't think it's necessary to have a mini-Kalomiros in our heads reminding us "now, James, that doesn't really mean 'anger'".

Well, perhaps not necessarily...but I think it depends. Without question God's anger is much different than ours and some people definitely need to hear that.

May I suggest reading the commentary of St. John Chrysostom with regard to 2 Thess. 1:9 a verse much mistranslated amongst protestants. St. John makes no bones about how horrible the judgment will be...but he affirms:

"His coming only to some indeed will be Light, but to others vengeance."

St. Ignatios of Antioch states that God is like a consuming fire that will purify a pure metal/sword, and yet the same fire will melt away an impure metal/sword.

Indeed this is the symbolism from Let God Arise: "So the sinners will perish before the face of God...but let the righteous rejoice!"

And also the Three Youths in the furnace: St. Basil identifies this with the last judgment.

St. Gregory the Theologian: "light for those whose mind is purified... in proportion to their degree of purity" and darkness "to those who have blinded their ruling organ...in proportion to their blindness..."

Here's some more than shed light...some of which may show where common ground lies in that God does not get angry withe people, but is angry with sin and evil. God is good and lover of mankind desiring that all should come to repentence and salvation.

By Blogger JamesoftheNorthwest, at 10:49 AM  

________________________________________________________________

St Isaac of Syria
I also maintain that those who are punished in Gehenna, are scourged by the scourge of love. Nay, what is so bitter and vehement as the torment of love? …It would be improper for a man to think that sinners in Gehenna are deprived of the love of God… The power of love works in two ways: it torments sinners… Thus I say that this is the torment of Gehenna: bitter regret. But love inebriates the souls of the sons of Heaven by its delectability. (Ascetical Homilies 28, Page 141)
St Basil the Great
‘The voice of the Lord divides the flame of fire.’ [David] says that this miracle happened to the Three Children in the fiery furnace. The fire in this case was divided into two, so that while it was burning those outside it, it was cooling the Children, as if they were under the shadow of a tree. In what follows he observes that the fire which had been prepared by God for the devil and his angels ‘is cut by the voice of the Lord.’ Fire has two properties, the caustic and illuminating energies, and that is why it burns and sheds light. Thus those worthy of the fire will feel its caustic quality and those worthy of the lighting will feel the illuminating property of the fire. Therefore he finishes very expressively: ‘the voice of the Lord divides the flames of fire’ and in the dividing, the fire of hell is without light, and the light of peace remains unburnt. (On Psalm 28, PG 29:297A)
St Gregory Nazianzen
Receive besides this the Resurrection, the Judgment and the Reward according to the righteous scales of God; and believe that this will be Light to those whose mind is purified (that is, God — seen and known) proportionate to their degree of purity, which we call the Kingdom of heaven; but to those who suffer from blindness of their ruling faculty, darkness, that is estrangement from God, proportionate to their blindness here. (Oration (40) on Holy Baptism 45, NPNF II 7:377)

By Blogger JamesoftheNorthwest, at 10:54 AM  

________________________________________________________________

St Gregory Nazianzen
Wherefore we must purify ourselves first, and then approach this converse with the Pure; unless we would have the same experience as Israel, who could not endure the glory of the face of Moses, and therefore asked for a veil; or else would feel and say with Manoah “We are undone O wife, we have seen God,” although it was God only in his fancy; or like Peter would send Jesus out of the boat, as being ourselves unworthy of such a visit; and when I say Peter, I am speaking of the man who walked upon the waves; or like Paul would be stricken in eyes, as he was before he was cleansed from the guilt of his persecution, when he conversed with Him Whom he was persecuting–or rather with a short flash of That great Light; or like the Centurion would seek for healing, but would not, through a praiseworthy fear, receive the Healer into his house. Let each one of us also speak so, as long as he is still uncleansed, and is a Centurion still, commanding many in wickedness, and serving in the army of Caesar, the World-ruler of those who are being dragged down; “I am not worthy that thou shouldest come under my roof.” But when he shall have looked upon Jesus, though he be little of stature like Zaccheus of old, and climb up on the top of the sycamore tree by mortifying his members which are upon the earth, and having risen above the body of humiliation, then he shall receive the Word, and it shall be said to him, This day is salvation come to this house. Then let him lay hold on the salvation, and bring forth fruit more perfectly, scattering and pouring forth rightly that which as a publican he wrongly gathered. For the same Word is on the one hand terrible through its nature to those who are unworthy, and on the other through its loving kindness can be received by those who are thus prepared, who have driven out the unclean and worldly spirit from their souls, and have swept and adorned their own souls by self-examination, and have not left them idle or without employment, so as again to be occupied with greater armament by the seven spirits of wickedness…” (Oration (39) on the Holy Lights 9-10, NPNF II 354-355)

By Blogger JamesoftheNorthwest, at 10:54 AM  

________________________________________________________________

St Gregory Nazianzen
O Trinity, Whom I have been granted to worship and proclaim, Who will someday be known to all, to some through illumination, to others through punishment!” (On Peace 3, PG 35:1165B)
St Gregory Palamas
He says: ‘He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and with fire’, that is to say, with illumination and punishment, according to the disposition of each. (Homily 59, EPE 11, Page 498)
St John Climacus
It is one thing frequently to keep watch over the heart, and another to supervise the heart by means of the mind, that ruler and high-priest that offers spiritual sacrifices to Christ. When the holy and super-celestial fire comes to dwell in the souls of the former, as says one of those who have received the title of Theologian, it burns them because they still lack purification, whereas it enlightens the latter according to the degree of their perfection. For one and the same fire is called both the fire which consumes and the light which illuminates.” (The Ladder of Divine Ascent, Step 28:51)
St Theophan the Recluse
The righteous will go into eternal life, but the satanized sinners into eternal torments, in communion with demons. Will these torments end? If satanism and becoming like satan should end, then the torments also can end…there is no hope either for men who become satanized by his influence [to change]. (quoted in Father Michael Pomazansky, Orthodox Dogmatic Theology, page 351)
St. Makarios of Egypt
The heavenly fire of the divine nature, which Christians receive in this world, where it works within their hearts, this fire will work from outside, when the body is destroyed; it will restore again the disjointed limbs, and will bring to life the bodies which have decayed… (Spiritual Homilies 11:1, PG 34:544)
St Isaac of Syria
Sin, Gehenna, and Death do not exist at all with God, for they are effects, not substances. Sin is the fruit of free will. There was a time when sin did not exist, and there will be a time when it will not exist. Gehenna is the fruit of sin… (Ascetical Homilies 27, Page 133)

By Blogger JamesoftheNorthwest, at 10:54 AM  

________________________________________________________________

St Isaac of Syria
This is the aim of Love. Love’s chastisement is for correction, but it does not aim at retribution…But the man who considers God an avenger, presuming that he bears witness to His justice, the same accuses Him of being bereft of goodness. Far be it, that vengeance could ever be found in that Fountain of love and Ocean brimming with goodness! The aim of His design is the correction of men.” (Ascetical Homilies 48, Page 230)
St Isaac of Syria
Do not call God just, for His justice is not manifest in the things concerning you. And if David calls Him just and upright, His Son revealed to us that He is good and kind. ‘He is good’, He says ‘to the evil and to the impious.’ How can you call God just when you come across the Scriptural passage on the wage given to the workers?…How can a man call God just when he comes across the passage on the prodigal son who wasted his wealth with riotous living, how for the compunction alone which he showed, the father ran and fell upon his neck and gave him authority over all his wealth?…Where, then, is God’s justice, for while we are sinners Christ died for us!” (Ascetical Homilies 51, Page 251)
Vladimir Lossky on St Symeon the new Theologian
For according to St. Symeon, there are two judgments: one, in this life, the judgment to salvation; the other, after the end of the world, the judgment to condemnation ‘In this present life, when by repentance, we enter freely and of our own will into the divine light, we find ourselves accused and under judgment; but, owing to the divine love and compassion the accusation and judgment is made in secret, in the depths of our soul, to purify us, that we may receive the pardon of our sins. It is only God and ourselves who at that time will see the hidden depths of our hearts. Those who in this life undergo such a judgment will have nothing to fear from another tribunal. But for those who will not, in this life, enter into the light, that they may be accused and judged, for those who hate the light, the second coming of Christ will disclose the light which at present remains hidden, and will make manifest everything which has been concealed. Everything which today we hide, not wishing to reveal the depths of our hearts in repentance, will then be made open in the light, before the face of God; and the whole world, and what we really are will be made plain.’ At the second coming of Christ, all will be made fully conscious, in the power of the divine light. But this consciousness will not be one which opens up freely in grace, according to the divine will; it will be a consciousness coming, so to speak, from outside, and developing in persons against their will, a light being united to beings extraneously, that is to say, ‘outside grace,’ as St. Maximus has it. The love of God will be an intolerable torment for those who have not acquired it within themselves…The resurrection itself will reveal the inner condition of beings, as bodies will allow the secrets of the soul to shine through.” (Vladimir Lossky, The Mystical Theology of the Eastern Church, Pages 233-234)

By Blogger JamesoftheNorthwest, at 10:54 AM  

________________________________________________________________

St Maximos the Confessor
‘God , it is said, is the Sun of righteousness (cf. Mal. 4:2), and the rays of His supernal goodness shine down on all men alike. The soul is wax if it cleaves to God, but clay if it cleaves to matter. Which it does depends upon its own will and purpose. Clay hardens in the sun, while wax grows soft. Similarly, every soul that, despite God’s admonitions, deliberately cleaves to the material world, hardens like clay and drives itself to destruction, just as Pharaoh did (cf. Exod. 7:13). But every soul that cleaves to God is softened like wax and, receiving the impress and stamp of divine realities, it becomes “in spirit the dwelling-place of God” (Eph. 2:22)’. [First Century on Theology]

‘9. The wrath of God is the painful sensation we experience when we are being trained by Him.’ [Philokalia, Vol. II, p. 211]
St Theognostos
‘Only through repentance shall we receive God’s mercy, and not its opposite, His passionate anger. Not that God is angry with us: He is angry with evil. Indeed, the divine is beyond passion and vengefulness, though we speak of it as reflecting, like a mirror, our actions and dispositions, giving to each of us whatever we deserve.’ [Philokalia, Vol. II, p. 370]

By Blogger JamesoftheNorthwest, at 10:55 AM  

________________________________________________________________

Clearly, the fire/heat imagery lends itself to this approach. The Apostle Paul also talks of how each man's work will be tried by fire, with the purifying effects.

Thank you for the quotes, the ones from the Philokalia are particularly supportive of your position.

And I agree with you that some people can form a very wrong impression, ascribing to God's essence "vengence" and the like.

Granted that we have a rich perspective on this, do you think Clint Eastwood would be impressed? I don't think so. I still say, especially for the culture at large, it's important for us to appear to give into their sentimentality of a "spiritual" which has no concept of sin/repentance/redemption.

By Blogger Steve Knowlton, at 11:46 AM  

________________________________________________________________

I absolutely agree that while some can benefit from hearing the different perspective from the East...many more will still see sin/judgment/death and turn their nose. As Eastwood said, too many are looking for Santa Claus and any serious notion of commitment, effort, and self-restraint are dismissed. We must not candy coat Orthodoxy for certain.

Ironically, the Buddha was an ascetic and real Buddhists know they are called to a life of escaping their own desires. This doesn't lend itself to a Santa Claus god either.

By Blogger JamesoftheNorthwest, at 11:52 AM  

________________________________________________________________

Yes, Buddhism is a blank slate that our intellectuals can project onto.

By the way, in my previous post, I meant that we should NOT appear to give in to a sentimentality.

And I really agree with another point you made in your original post, the preference people have for "spirituality" over "religion." It's so irritating, not unlike people who claim to not appreciate "organized religion," as though there is such a thing as unorganized religion. But it's part and parcel of a civil worldview that is content to let science and politics solve our deepest problems.

By Blogger Steve Knowlton, at 12:26 PM  

________________________________________________________________

Whether Clint would or wouldn't be impressed is irrelevant. What's important is to get the Tradition right. I would think that anyone with a Master's in ANYTHING Orthodox would know about Palamas.

GP

By Anonymous Anonymous, at 8:36 PM  

________________________________________________________________

dear GP, I agree exactly, we should not let Clint's complaints about a sadistic God concern us in the least.

Not sure what you mean about Palamas. The quote I offered from him shows that he had no scruples about referring to God's anger. Neither do I.

By Blogger Steve Knowlton, at 9:00 PM  

________________________________________________________________

Right: God's "anger" is His uncreated energy (love) experienced AS wrath because rejected. It is our experience of God that changes, not God.

GP

By Anonymous Anonymous, at 9:06 PM  

________________________________________________________________

I'm not entirely certain that this is correct.

I was trying to think what exactly is at stake for me in this issue, and I came up with an analogy.

Consider the mother grizzly bear. The standard, "popular" advice is that they are fierce animals and that they get very angry when we appear to threaten their cubs. In a class on biology, it would be more correct to point out that the bear has nothing against humans at all, and is actually motivated only by love of its offspring. But if you're talking to people who are going to be in the woods, we emphasize the fear aspect, because when the mother grizzly is mauling you it is of scant comfort. It may be motivated out of love for the cub, but it is no less dangerous for being so.

So there are two perspectives here. It seems like the "biologist" in the above example has the higher. more complete truth, but one cannot overemphasize the true danger of interfering with a grizzly's cub.

Really, to be "saved", all you need to know is to stay away from the cub. If I wanted to tell my kid how to behave on the camping trip, I would leave out hte part about a grizzly bear actually being just concerned about her kid.

I think this is how the church has treated this issue. The higher mystical understanding of God is necessary to avoid a perverted understanding of God (particularly in hellenistic society with all their gods' antics and scandals), but the more limited truth is often more useful. What concerns me is that our society probably needs to hear more of the practical: there is in fact no fear of God at all. The fear of God is basically a "laugh" to most people, including our own flock. So, as I said before, it seems a bit glib to take material from the mystical tradition and put it in the church newsletter.

Our Lord Himself, in describing the Kingdom of Heaven, on several occasions uses the anger of a master. The Church enshrines these parables as some of the most intimate experiences of God, most crucial for us to hear. He does not, as far as I'm aware, follow up with an explanation saying, "of course, the Master of the Wedding feast wasn't really eternally angry, it's just the way it seemed to you because you didn't want to come to the feast."

I don't mean to go overboard on "fear of God," but I am struck by how often one encounters that in the Scriptures and the Tradition, and how little one hears it nowadays.

By Blogger Steve Knowlton, at 7:51 AM  

________________________________________________________________

"I don't simply superimpose the deeply flawed Western connotation upon it merely because I was raised in it. I am a convert, in the fullest sense of the word. I've left all that stuff behind."

How do you know you have? Does someone else raised and educated in that same bad old Western system say you did? That's one of those things I think I should be careful to try to do but not necessarily assume I have "accomplished".
Years ago(pre-bishop) Kallistos Ware wrote a nice piece for Eastern Churches Review "Scholasticism and Orthodoxy: Theological Method as a Factor in the Schism".
In this article he discusses how Orthodox and Anglican (this was a very old article, you don't find that species of Anglican on the earth anymore) or Catholic thinkers might approach theological and other issues. He recalls "... a conversation I once overheard between two Anglicans, both ardently pro-Orthodox, the one a Patistic specialist and the other a philosopher. Replying to a point made by the philosopher, the Patristic specialist exclaimed: 'We don't want that kind of Latin logic.' 'There's no such thing as Latin logic', the philospher retorted. 'There's good logic and bad logic.' "
Ware thought this was right. Clear thinking is OK since God gives us minds. His article concludes (skipping over a lot that's good to read) "The Byzantine authors that we have quoted felt that, in Latin Scholasticism, no sufficient *metanoia* had occurred, and that as a result theology had been assimilated too closely to earthly science and to human philosophy. They considered that Latin Scholasticism had neglected the transforming presence of the things of the Age to Come. How far were these Byzantines right?"

Check thou it out!

By Blogger bob, at 10:47 AM  

________________________________________________________________

Well Bob, I think I've accomplished it because of my changed experience of God. I cannot, nor do I need to, prove it to anyone else. That experience will deepen, no doubt. If that's what you're arguing about, fine, and who cares. Ware is right, but only if we correctly distinguish between "good" and "bad" logic, which in turn is a matter of worldview.
Your question as to "how I know" reminds me of the fundamental Protestant predicament. There, everything is "by faith," which all too often means conforming one's intellect precisely enough to a doctrinal system. However, how can one ever know that said conformity is precise enough? Or if faith be portrayed primarily as a matter of will, how can one ever know that one has believed hard enough? And BOTH of these tendencies are the result of Latin Scholasticism, which is why Protestantism was/is such a tragi-comic affair.

There's something else going on here that I must point out. In the Sola Scriptura tradition, the words of the Bible are given absolute divine origin, quality, and authority. No matter how much B. B. Warfield and others pay lip-service to the human element, the human attributes of Scripture are pretty much bypassed. So, in this discussion of the wrath of God, this is the case, especially in O.T. interpretation. For example, the patriarchs or Israel experience God's love in the form of the Angel of YHWH, various forms of deliverance, the promises, and so on. They turn away from Him, and experience His love as fire, anger, whatever, but He's the same God, and His uncreated energy is the same uncreated energy as it's always been and always will be. However, the Mosaic tradition reports it anthropomorphically as God "changing" or "moving" from love to wrath, and then we, even though we supposedly don't hold to Sola Scriptura, especially in its "divine dictation" form, end up defending it unawares!

I mean, look: No one is dumb enough to deny that there are words such as "wrath" and "anger" ascribed to God in the Tradition (only a part of which is Scripture). The question is not whether such terminology exists. The question is about the terminology's meaning, and the Tradition as a whole answers the question. If you want to evaluate the worth and meaning of the whole Tradition by appealing to Scripture "alone," you're in the wrong Church.

Gary Patrick

By Anonymous Anonymous, at 1:18 PM  

________________________________________________________________

Well Bob, I think I've accomplished it because of my changed experience of God. I cannot, nor do I need to, prove it to anyone else. That experience will deepen, no doubt. If that's what you're arguing about, fine, and who cares. Ware is right, but only if we correctly distinguish between "good" and "bad" logic, which in turn is a matter of worldview.
Your question as to "how I know" reminds me of the fundamental Protestant predicament. There, everything is "by faith," which all too often means conforming one's intellect precisely enough to a doctrinal system. However, how can one ever know that said conformity is precise enough? Or if faith be portrayed primarily as a matter of will, how can one ever know that one has believed hard enough? And BOTH of these tendencies are the result of Latin Scholasticism, which is why Protestantism was/is such a tragi-comic affair.

There's something else going on here that I must point out. In the Sola Scriptura tradition, the words of the Bible are given absolute divine origin, quality, and authority. No matter how much B. B. Warfield and others pay lip-service to the human element, the human attributes of Scripture are pretty much bypassed. So, in this discussion of the wrath of God, this is the case, especially in O.T. interpretation. For example, the patriarchs or Israel experience God's love in the form of the Angel of YHWH, various forms of deliverance, the promises, and so on. They turn away from Him, and experience His love as fire, anger, whatever, but He's the same God, and His uncreated energy is the same uncreated energy as it's always been and always will be. However, the Mosaic tradition reports it anthropomorphically as God "changing" or "moving" from love to wrath, and then we, even though we supposedly don't hold to Sola Scriptura, especially in its "divine dictation" form, end up defending it unawares!

I mean, look: No one is dumb enough to deny that there are words such as "wrath" and "anger" ascribed to God in the Tradition (only a part of which is Scripture). The question is not whether such terminology exists. The question is about the terminology's meaning, and the Tradition as a whole answers the question. If you want to evaluate the worth and meaning of the whole Tradition by appealing to Scripture "alone," you're in the wrong Church.

Gary Patrick

By Anonymous Anonymous, at 1:19 PM  

________________________________________________________________

Hello James,

Congrats on the new job.

Okay, my wife and I saw the movie yesterday. Can't say I "loved it", but I liked it well enough. It was almost 'a' religious in its tone and subject matter. The central question of the movie, it seemed to me, was one posed by a main character: is there something after physical death? She believes there is after surviving a near death experience herself. And that is certainly a key aspect of the Christian story -- that we don't just die and then there is nothing, but we are all immortal beings. So, I'm giving Clint a break on this movie, despite his interview comments. From my perspective, it was fairly benign cinema and if it gets a few people who haven't given their own mortality a second thought a moment of pause, and that pause leads to more questions, so much the better, particularly if the trail of questions leads them to Christ.

Best,
Mike

By Blogger MikeW, at 5:01 PM  

________________________________________________________________

Congratulations on the new job, James!

Just wanted to jump in late on this posting and add that my wife and I saw his latest film and I thought it was actually decent. How often nowadays to you find a major motion picture that is actually devoid of violence, sex, profanity (for the most part), and stupid potty humor? If anything, I was struck by how little "religion" there was in the movie, particularly given the topic. For the most part, he ignored religion entirely, and that's hard to do given the central question of the movie: What happens after we die? Eastwood does suggest in the movie (and the title)that we're eternal beings, and that certainly lines up with the Christian story. So, I was prepared for worse, and was pleasantly surprised when that didn't happen.

Best,
Mike

By Blogger MikeW, at 3:07 PM  

________________________________________________________________

Post a Comment




This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?