Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Why Did Jesus Die? (02) To Crucify Death and Sin

Inasmuch then as the children have partaken of flesh and blood, He Himself likewise shared in the same, that through death He might destroy him who had the power of death, that is, the devil, and release those who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage. (Hebrews 2:14-15)


In the previous post, we saw how Moses fashioned a bronze serpent and raised it on a pole; how those who had been bitten by live serpents were healed when they looked at that bronze serpent and lived; and how Christ compared His coming crucifixion to that healing, life-giving event.

But a serpent, of all things, to typify Christ? Why? Isn’t that more of an anti-type? Hasn’t the serpent always, since Eden, typified the devil?

Yes, and that is exactly why God told Moses to fashion that particular symbol: on purpose to foreshadow the fact that Christ, in dying, crucified sin. Or as St. Paul puts it, “[God] made Him to be sin for us, Who knew no sin.” (Corinthians 5:21. See my earlier post on the interpretation of this verse.)

This does not mean any such simplistic thing as that God the Father was blaming the Blameless One for everybody else’s sin! Even if we do sometimes say so metaphorically, at the literal level we would never consider that any form of justice, much less Divine Justice.

Instead, “[God] made Him to be sin for us, Who knew no sin” means that when Christ dies, so does sin. In His death, sin is crucified. How does His dying destroy sin? By destroying death. Think of death as a scorpion, whose tail, lashing out, stings us. The stings it inflicts are sins. (cf. I Cor. 15:56)

Yes, it works both ways. Originally, sin (not God) made us mortal. Now mortality, death, residing in our very genes, erupts in us as sin, making a disastrous downward spiral. The more we sin, the more we die (move further and further from God-our-Life) and the more we die, the more we sin. The sicker we become, the more symptoms we show; and the more symptoms appear, the sicker we feel. To be free from the symptom (sin) we must be free of the disease (death). If we are not to keep on being stung by sin, the scorpion, death, must be killed.

How does death cause us to sin? It does it in two ways, for death means two things.

First, death is the separation of body and soul from God, a condition we inherit, in which we are born. (It is not a reciprocal separation, for if He were to abandon us, we could not live a moment! But it is separation in that we have abandoned Him.) In this separation, we are largely blind to God and to all the things concerning Him. We are more oriented toward ourselves than to our Creator, meaning we are warped. From this blindness come sins. From this self-serving come more sins.

Secondly, we are all aware that one day, inescapably, our bodies, too, shall die. This awareness spurs more sins. Pause for a while (preferably a long while!) to reflect how differently we would live if there were no fear of death; how different would be our behavior if we knew nothing could ever harm us, nothing could ever end our lives, if we weren’t always thinking, “Life is short,” as in, “too short to put up with you,” or, “too short not to enjoy as fully as possible, even at the expense of others.” There would be no point in so much of our sinning if it just weren’t true that “tomorrow we die.” As it is, though, death is the devil’s whip, keeping us slavishly, even feverishly, pursuing his agenda. Quick, amass your fortune now, he whispers, so you can live high in whatever time remains. Be ruthless if necessary. Or, You’re getting older now; you are going to have to get tough if you are to become famous enough for your name to live on after you. Or, Since you will die unless you ____ (fill in the blank with steal, kill, lie, or any other sin), do it.

The more we ponder it, the more we realize how free we would be, free as Adam and Eve were, free from compulsion to sin, free to choose goodness, but for the death we carry around inside us.

Fr. John Romanides explains in detail how the fear of death causes us to sin.

In the first place, the deprivation of divine grace impairs the mental powers of the newborn infant; thus, the mind of man has a tendency toward evil from the beginning. This tendency grows strong when the ruling force of corruption becomes perceptible in the body. Through the power of death and the devil, sin that reigns in man gives rise to fear and anxiety and to the general instinct of self-preservation or survival. Thus, Satan manipulates man’s fear and his desire for self-satisfaction, raising up sin in him, in other words, transgression against the divine will regarding unselfish love, and provoking man to stray from his original destiny. Since weakness is caused in the flesh by death, satan moves man to countless passions and leads him to devious thoughts, actions, and selfish relations with God as well as with his fellow man. ..

Because of death, man must first attend to the necessities of life in order to stay alive. In this struggle, self-interests are unavoidable. Thus, man is unable to live in accordance with his original destiny of unselfish love. This state of subjection under the reign of death is the root of man’s weaknesses in which he becomes entangled in sin at the urging of the demons and by his own consent. Resting in the hands of the devil, the power of the fear of death is the root from which self-aggrandizement, egotism, hatred, envy, and other similar passions spring up. In addition to the fact that man “subjects himself to anything in order to avoid dying,” he constantly fears that his life is without meaning. Thus, he strives to demonstrate to himself and to others that it has worth. He loves flatterers and hates his detractors. He seeks his own and envies the success of others. He loves those who love him and hates those who hate him. He seeks security and happiness in wealth, glory, bodily pleasures… (The Ancestral Sin, pp. 162-163)


So the very condition of death and corruptibility (being liable to harm), itself, plus the fear of death, together keep us in subjection to sin.

But Jesus, dying, transforms death. Exactly how He does this is a mystery beyond human comprehension, which is why we have so many models of what goes on in the atonement. But we sometimes compare it with what happens when a strong light is turned on in a dark place: the light “wins” out and ends the darkness - because darkness is nothing but lack of light particles. Similarly, when death and Life Himself meet, His inifinite Life more than cancels out death - because death is nothing but the absence of life. Jesus destroys death the way you destroy ignorance when you give someone knowledge: by bringing to it what was lacking, by filling up the void. Jesus dies as Man, and as God fills up death with His own, immortal, infinite, eternal Life. And in destroying death as The End, in making of it a portal to new Life instead, Jesus destroys our slavery to sin. That’s why we say that in dying on the Cross, Jesus crucified sin. Hence, the bronze serpent fashioned by Prophet Moses. It was to signify this beforehand.

It is not a case of God the Father judging the whole world guilty and then transferring that guilt to the only innocent Man who ever lived. Besides being the grossest injustice imaginable, such a notion ignores the revealed fact that God the Father is not our Judge; only Christ Himself is. (John 5:22) Moreover, the judging of the world is reserved for when Christ comes again; it did not happen on the Cross, except in the sense that the world there supremely demonstrated its guilt. “And He shall come again,” we say in the Creed, “to judge the living and the dead…” Christ shall judge the world when He returns and shall pass sentence. But not yet, not this time, “For God did not send His Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world through Him might be saved.”

Meanwhile, on the cross, the world indeed gets its day in court, but notice: not yet as the defendant! “Now is the judgment of this world,” says the Lord, “now shall the prince of this world be cast out.” (John 12:31) The “prince of this world” means the devil. The world, here, is in court as the victim who is to be awarded the verdict it seeks against its tyrant. God’s Justice here is freeing His people and reclaiming us from the tyrant, for we are rightfully His own. Now the ancient serpent is about to be defanged, on the Cross. (See Genesis 3:15) Now, by dying, Christ is about to trample down death by death.

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30 comments:

William Weedon said...

Very well stated, and I agree with *almost* all of what you have presented here.

Anastasia Theodoridis said...

But you aren't going to say where you disagree? Aw, come on, now!

William Weedon said...

I believe that our blessed Lord really did take all of our sins and all that they deserve into His own body to destroy them, to blot out with the shedding of His blood the handwriting that was against us (the Law's condemnation), and that He did this in loving obedience to His Father and in burning love for us.

Anastasia Theodoridis said...

Well, let's try to clarify what you are saying to see how much agreement or disagreement there may be.

What exactly does He do that you describe as taking all our sins into His own body? What is it that His body, being a physical thing, can absorb? How can His holy body ever be compatible with evil?

And what do you mean by taking "all that they deserve" into His body as well? What do all our sins deserve? In what sense did He take that into His body?

William Weedon said...

I think the answer to the "how" is impossible. We don't know that. We know what His apostle has told us He did. "He bore our sins in His body on the tree." Our blessed Lord also said to us, of course, as His hands reached the chalice: "This cup is the new testament in my blood, *which is shed for you, for the forgiveness of sins.*" So our sins were in some sense beyond our understanding truly taken into Him so that their power over us would be forever destroyed. For the how, I'll stick with Krauth's wise words: "The theory of the atonement which pretends to explain it is rotten at the core. The atonement, in its whole conception, belongs to a world which man cannot now enter. The blessings and adptations of it we can comprehend in some measure. We can approach them with tender hearts full of gratitude; but the *essence* of the atonement we can understand as little as we can understand the essence of God."

Oh, and the "all that they deserve" meaning that which was their due: death (in both the little d and the big D sense). "It was a strange and dreadful strife When Life and death contended. The victory remained with Life; The reign of death was ended. Holy Scripture plainly saith That death is swallowed up by death; its sting is lost forever. Alleluia!"

Anastasia Theodoridis said...

I think the answer to the "how" is impossible…

Okay, but I'm more interested in the what. What did Jesus do that is described as taking our sins into His body?

Because of course we also accept and believe what the Apostle said, "He bore our sins in His body on the tree." So how do you know we disagree? Are you saying you take this verse in a different sense from the Orthodox one? If so, please explain.

Oh, and the "all that they deserve" meaning that which was their due: death (in both the little d and the big D sense).

Not sure I understand the little d and big D.

But who could disagree that He died?

I guess I’m just still trying to find out where you are finding disagreement.

William Weedon said...

The "what" is that He bore our sins in His body on the tree. You seemed to be saying: "Not really." I'm saying: "Yes, really." My sins, the world's sins, your sins, all of them, upon the Lamb of God who takes them away. What the scapegoat foreshadowed, he fulfilled!

Little "d" death - the death of the body. Big "D" death - what Metropolitan Anthony wrote about here:

St Maximus the Confessor, in the sixth century, reflecting on the Incarnation, the passion and the death of Christ says: 'If it is true, as Scripture teaches, and as God proclaims through his prophets and apostles, that death is the fruit of sin, that man dies from the loss of God, that man dies from being no longer grafted on the source of life, then Christ, from the moment of his conception is alive and immortal. He cannot be at the same time the Living God and mortal man; even his humanity, penetrated with divinity, is beyond death, because it is united with God forever. How then does he come to die? By this act, willed and freely accepted, of solidarity with sinful man, he immerses himself in our death, he clothes himself with it, he is going to die of it. And to that end he shares all that belongs to our human destiny, not only hunger and thirst and weariness and anguish, but something more besides: have you ever given the attention of your whole heart, your whole power of feeling, to the cry which he utters from the height of the cross: 'My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?' If it is true that one dies from the absence of God, from the loss of God, then it is there that he accepts a solidarity — ultimate, agonising, appalling — with us: he undertakes to share with us the only tragedy that is final and ultimate, the loss of God which is our death. And in his death, he is torn apart. His soul, dazzling with the light of the divinity, and his body, united forever with his divinity, are separated, torn from each other; the body of Christ rests incorruptible in the tomb because it is penetrated by the presence of God, and the soul of Christ; like the soul of every man, descends into hell as we proclaim in the Apostles' Creed.

Anastasia Theodoridis said...

I DISAGREE with what I think you think this means!

:-)

Seriously, though...

I wrote, "In His death, sin is crucified." But I could as willingly say, "In His body, He crucifies sin," since obviously His death is accomplished in His body.

I don't necessarily see anything with which to disagree in the quote you've provided. (Is the entire passage from St. Maximos, or is any of it Met. Anthony's commentary?)

I say not necessarily because I find it a bit confusing to speak in one sentence of separation from God and in the very next, to say, "His soul, dazzling with the light of the divinity, and his body, united forever with his divinity..." What do you make of that? They are united with divinity but separated from God???

Anastasia Theodoridis said...

P.S.) "He bore our sins in His body on the tree."

Yes, really, really!

He had to bear the consequences of our sin in order to free us of it.

Where we may disagree, though, is that we don't think those consequences included His being punished by God for our sins.

I'll be discussing more about how Christ deals with our guilt later in the week, along about Friday, I think. For now, and for the next couple of posts, I'm still working on how Christ deals with death.

William Weedon said...

The whole of Metropolitan Anthony's words are here:

http://www.mitras.ru/eng/eng_10.htm

A beautiful article, truly. And I've never been able to figure out where the closed quote should be. I'm not familiar with that saying of St. Maximos at all. What the good Metropolitan (or St. Maximos) said there I took rather like the Lutheran pastor O. P. Kretzmann once put it (also meditating upon the cry of dereliction): "You see, this is sin... It is not merely a matter of murder and adultery and gossip... Something to do or not to do!...It is always loneliness... It is cutting yourself off from God... It is deliberate turning away from truth, from goodness, from heaven... You see, this is redemption... All this He took into Himself, alone there in the dark... He became sin for us... A mystery?... Yes, but only part of the great mystery which began in a stable and was no ending on the cross... Above His 'Eli, Eli' was the sound of tearing veils, falling walls, of the glad crying of those who now had a home again after the long loneliness of sin..."

Lucian, the Insider said...

God doesn't punish us, we mindlessly punish ourselves, that's the sad part. Life doesn't kill; electricity doesn't turn off. It is we that disrupt ourselves from the Source of Life and from the Source of everything else which is good. It is our sins that unfortunately build a wall between God and us ... it is not God or His righteousness that are responsible for that in any case. (Trust me: I'm a sinner ... so I know what I'm talking about here).

William Weedon said...

Isaiah 26:21? Jeremiah 8:12? Jeremiah 21:14? Ezekiel 7:8? Amos 3:2? The flood? Sodom?

Lucian, the big, bad bully said...

William W. Weedon, >:)

First of all, the dirty little Church Fathers have their dastardly little saying, THAT GOD IS NOT THE SOURCE OF EVIL. (I'm treacherously bringing this dark, hidden, burried thing up to the surface because You thundered high and mighty upon me from on high how much Lutherans cherish the Fathers [and I mentioned to You that they don't even cherish their own Luther, that lived only 500 yrs ago; less so people such as St. John Chrysostom, that lived 1,500 yrs ago]). --> It was on Schuetz's blog, ... remember? :D

:-)

So, ... let's pervertly reinterpret and shamelessly distort the "plain meaning" of [some of] these "clear" Scriptural verses, shall we? And let's do it together, OK? (so that this way I'll be aber to smear Your hands [and mind and heart] in the process also, ... OK?).

Flood, as with Noah? Sodom, as with Abraham? Or just plain old WEEDS, as with Adam? Now, ... why do You think THESE things happened? Did God all of a sudden change the code of the Matrix? :-\ Or was it more that man became more and more distant from God, THE KING OF CREATION, from Whom and through Whom he also was set as a Crown of creation and as a king over nature? And when man loss this touch or connection with the Master, what do You think intrinsically happens? Why do You think that it's "natural" for the earth NOT to shake? Why do You deem it "natural" for the water NOT to inundate? Why do You think it's "natural" for the sky NOT to rain down fire upon us? Why do You deem it "natural" for man NOT to die? (what comes from nothingness "naturally" returns back to the nothingness from which it was taken in the first place: that's what the Fathers teach).

Jeremiah 21:14
 But I will punish you according to the fruit of your doings, saith the LORD: and I will kindle a fire in the forest thereof, and it shall devour all things round about it.

Our God is a consuming fire ... haven't You heard that? The Seraphims are flames of burning fire ... yet they don't seem to complain about it ... don't You find this to be rather odd? :-\

As to the other verses, I have not come accross a despicable way to twist them, so I think I'm just gonna back off now ... but we shall meet again, Falsh Gordon! >:)

Anastasia,

Sorry for bullying Father Weedon around here like that, but it was just one of these irresistably sinful pleasures that I have in this very short life, so I thought I'll just succumb to the overwhelming temptation (brought on by my own mortality) and "seize the day". :p

William Weedon said...

Lucian,

I remember the conversation, though I don't understand the tone of your present reply. If I offended you in writing before, I ask forgiveness.

God is NOT the author of evil; but as St. John of Damascus pointed out, we use the word evil for two different things: for things that are morally, intrinsically evil; and for things we just plain don't like. God is not the source of the first, but may indeed be the source of the second.

The language of the Church IS the language of Sacred Scripture, the language God Himself uses in revealing Himself. He says He punishes. You say He doesn't. I hope you'll pardon me for sticking with Him! :)

We need have no compulsion to protect Him from His own declaration about Himself. His punishment is just when it comes, but it is fearful. "It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God." Yet this God who is just and who punishes, has revealed His deepest heart of hearts upon a tree where He took our sin upon Himself and became a curse for us to free us from our curse. Truly He is not bent on our destruction, but on our salvation. But if we persistently reject this salvation, we have but the "fearful expectation of judgement, and a fury of fire that will consume the adversaries." That is, punishment.

William Weedon said...

Oh, and it's William C.!

Anastasia Theodoridis said...

Well, Lucian, I wish you'd take note of two points. The first is that Pr. Weedon is dear to me, and the second is that because this is my blog, there's alreay enough sin in it without anybody else contributing more.

So please be careful, okay?

Thanks.

Anastasia Theodoridis said...

Ultimately, every single thing that ever happens is God's responsibility, because He's God. He hCreated us, He is all-powerful, and He as the final say in everything. Even when a human being or the devil is violating God's will, in a broader sense he is within it, for God could have taken away the offender's ability to offend, could have made him into a robot.

But the things that happen to us that we perceive as "bad" because we don't like them, He allows for benevolent reasons, usually to bring us to repentance (chastisement, which is a form of punishment) or to catalyze our spiritual growth and maturation. Also, to overthrow our evil plans and protect those we were about to harm.

So it's not exactly that He doesn't punish. It's that by "punishment" we never, ever mean retaliation or getting even. And it is always loving, always for our ultimate benefit.

Lucian said...

Sorry to have upset You, Father. :-( That was truly the last thing I wanted. I meant what I wrote to be taken with a grain of salt. :-) In any case, all humour aside, I wasn't kidding when I said that the patristical way of interpreting these verses clearly differs from Yours (and the rest of Prot.), and I've also pointed out how. The reason for this variation lies in the fact that the Fathers do not set foot to interpret the Bible obligatorily literally (such as Prot. do in order to introduce as little variation as possible among themselves while interpreting the >nude< text of "Sola" Scripture, mandatorily by eXegesis, God-forbid by any eIsegesis, and so on) ... it's more like they get their creedal vision about the divine-human Person of Jesus the Christ straight; and then only set foot to search the Scriptures and see how they all point to Him, or to the Gospel-message of love, peace and forgiveness. That's why they have no trouble labeling these passages as antropomorphical whereas You and Prot. in general have problems doing just this, as it is clearly manifested. That's why they also have no problem, say, to interpret the first chapters of Genesis in a more allegorical manner, because we don't need a literally-true type to point us to a literally as can be anty-tipe. (As for the Jews, I'm pretty sure that when they've written their Scriptures, some 3,500 yrs ago, they couldn't care less about the constipatedly-scientifical hardneckedness of some enlightened Europeans living some 3,000 yrs after them; so if they would've wanted to get m more poetical or more metaphorical about certain things, I can honestly think of no reason why they wouldn't have).

P.S.: Does the C. by any chance come from Cardinal? :p William Cardinal Weedon? ;-)

Lucian said...

On a more sobber note, I was deeply sadened when I've recently come accross two Calvinists (both young people) that defended the capital punishment on their blogs using ... some [unChristologically interpreted] portions of the Old Testament, plus a vocabulary word-with-word resembling that of Penal Substitution. If this literalism and this legalism produce such monsters, then I think that something should be done about it. If we as Chr. forget the clear words of Christ about the law of the Talion, then it's pretty bad.

William Weedon said...

Anastasia,

Certainly not retaliation or getting even. How could it mean that? The essence of the very worst punishment seems to be what St. Paul is driving at when he can speak of "so God gave them up." Three times in Romans 1: "in the lusts of their hearts" "to dishonorable passions" "to a debased mind to do what ought not be done." Lewis once said that in the end there were but two kinds of folk: those who said to God, "Thy will be done" and those to whom God said with reluctance and sorrow, "Thy will be done."

Lucian,

As a Lutheran Christian, and this will sound odd, I know: I don't seek to interpret the Scripture so much as to listen to the God who speaks in the Sacred Scripture to interpret me (my life, this world, and all things). And the One who speaks as the author of Sacred Scriptures is the Holy Spirit whose delight is to constantly point me to the Crucified and Risen Lord as my very life - for that Lord is the content of the Sacred Scriptures.

The C stands for Chancellor - almost, but not quite, as good as Cardinal. ;)

Lucian said...

And this Spirit, in the few and short moments that we feel it ... what kind of Spirit is it? How would You describe His interaction with You in Your heart? What sentiments and thoughts does in steer in the depth of Your innermost being when it hoveres over You? How might You describe His action? Is it the Spirit of an accountant, mathematically seeking retribution? Or something else? Something like the Spiriut of "a God that does not remember evil" (as so many Orth. prayers so beautifully put it) ?

P.S.: I thought it came from Christopher. (But Cnahcellor is definitelly much better ... very aristocratic :-) ).

William Weedon said...

Who has better described our experience of the Holy Spirit than the apostle? "But the Lord has given us a spirit of timidity and fear, but of power, and love, and of a sound mind." Do you really think that we teach an accounting God or a God bent on petty paybacks? "God said to His beloved Son, "It's time to have compassion, Then go, Bright Jewel of my Crown, And bring to them salvation. From sin and sorrow set them free! Slay bitter death for them that they May live with You forever."

JTKlopcic said...

Wonderful post, as usual.

I'd like to interrupt the dialogue to fulfill some of my latent homiletical tendencies by tossing in a couple of my own insights, if I may:

Now mortality, death, residing in our very genes, erupts in us as sin, making a disastrous downward spiral. The more we sin, the more we die (move further and further from God-our-Life) and the more we die, the more we sin. The sicker we become, the more symptoms we show; and the more symptoms appear, the sicker we feel. To be free from the symptom (sin) we must be free of the disease (death). If we are not to keep on being stung by sin, the scorpion, death, must be killed.

We have a perfect example of this dwelling in our very midst in the tragic lives of addicts. Think about the stories you have heard countless times -- an otherwise healthy person decides of his own free will to experiment with an addictive substance of some type, be it cocaine, heroin, painkillers, whatever. The initial experience is gratifying. But then, some ugly consequences set in: a troubled relationship, brush with the law, maybe loss of a job. To cope, the person turns back to the drugs. However, this only makes matters worse. Thus begins a downward spiral from which most are powerless to recover.

Now consider those unfortunate infants who are born already addicted, as the chemical dependency can be passed in utero. Certainly they do not inherit the guilt of their mother's actions, but by their own volition they will seek the same false remedy, thus placing themselves on the same downward spiral. And the cycle continues in many neighborhoods around the country today.

As it is, though, death is the devil’s whip, keeping us slavishly, even feverishly, pursuing his agenda. Quick, amass your fortune now, he whispers, so you can live high in whatever time remains.

This is only one of Old Scratch's many tricks. Many are led to believe somehow that if they amass enough money, power, or fame, they can somehow cheat death and achieve a self-made immortality. But I think the most prevalent lie is that one can just buy more stuff / sleep around / drink / party / watch TV enough to thus distract oneself from his own impending death so that it will be painless in the end. That's our Western society in a nutshell -- always driven to distraction so that we can sanitize and ignore our own mortality.

Lord, have mercy.

Lucian said...

What I mean is, in the few and short-lived, yet definitelly sweet, memorable and ineffable moments that even we, poor little sinners, experience -to the best of our fairly limited posibilities- the Most Holy Spirit of the Life-giving God in our hearts, and contemplate on Christ's self-giving, self-emptying, and self-offering Sacrifice for us, ... what do we experinece? Do we see Jesus up there, hanging on the Cross crucified, looking very mean at us, with a very angry face and saying to us: "Ohh, Luci, you sinner; ooh, how much I hate you; ooh, if my hands weren't pierced and fixed to the Cross I would love to see them round your neck, squizing as hard as I can" ... or is it more like: we see Christ up there, hanging on the Cross crucified, His serene yet brutally disfigured face filled with such utter peace, His holy and forgiving heart filled with such peace and ease, pure from any anger or revenge, His soul untouched by evil, and filled with nothing but love even for his detractors, blasphemers, and crucificators, calmly and in a sweet and serene voice praying to His God and Father : "please forgive them for they do not know what they do" -- even though we DO know very well what we're doing; but love covers all (1 Corinthians 13:4-8). And while we think at this, we say to ourselves: >Lord.. I've done nothing but waste my entire life; I want a piece of that joy and peace too; I want a share in that life too; I want to enter this Kingdom that is not of this world also; I want to be dressed in the garment of Your cleansiness also. My life is meaningless as it stands without these things; I want to be able to forgive as You forgive and to love even as You love; and to offer myself so humbly even as You do<.

"so God gave them up."

Did God just wake up one morning and carelessly decided to "move on" and "live and let live" ... or is it more like those people of whom the Apostle with tender-loving mercy speaks as being forsaken by God, are actually the ones that actively forsook God, fighting against every glimpse of light that He tried to sneak in and illuminate their souls with, the onse letting the thorns of wordlly worries asfixiate the seed of life that the Word has thrown in their hearts, the ones that by their hart-hardened and stiff-necked pursuing of their evil, wicked ways suffocated the Spirit and aborted the Christ-child that was being conceived in their inner man of the heart? (I believ this to be true because I speak from experience: at no point in human experience did God leave us; we fought Him off, we were the ones to get rid of Him; and I can't serioudly sit here and in all good conscience let Him take the fault for that; God knows He sufered and endured anough already; and from the hands of the ones that He loves and cherishes the most, of all people!).

Lucian said...

Sorry, Father, I've began to write my (fore-)last comment before Your last response was published.

Lucian said...

But I think the most prevalent lie is that one can just buy more stuff / sleep around / drink / party / watch TV enough to thus distract oneself from his own impending death so that it will be painless in the end

Ouch! (That hurt!) Amen to that!

William Weedon said...

Lucian,

Does it clear up things at all if I observed that Lutherans believe that the sins of every last human being in hell have been forgiven and that God's heart yearns for them to share in His life even as those who end up in heaven do? Hell is what it is because it is the place of Gift refused, of Life rejected. That doesn't make the sufferings any less real or horrific; it simply means that God's deepest heart and will is that NO child of Adam ever experience it.

Lucian said...

No, it won't. Because I don't know what You mean by them. God doesn't want to. OK. But, will He enact externally [extra nos] imposed [imputed] punishment on those that fail to satisfy or appease Him, His anger, His wrath, His justice and His righteousness, (making God thus the source of evil)? Or is it more like "our God is a consumming fire", "who makes His angels spirits and His servants pears of flaming fire", and Who "baptized with tongues of fire", and will send the sinners into "the lake of unquenching fire", this unquenched fire being Himself (John 19:28), Who in His unbound Love thirsts eternally for our love, and Who one day "will be all in all", making the Seraphims [and righteous] delight in the same eternal unquenchable Fire that the devils [and sinners] hate & abhor? i.e., does the source of torment and delight lie with God and His relationship to us, or with ourselves and our relationship to Him? (the punishment or delight being thus internal and achieved, as oposed to external and imposed ?). Does God and His righteousness build a wall between us and God, or do we and our sins build that wall?

OK, I know that that's not really a question, but a speach, and it's also leading the witness, but ... I'm not the legalist here ... :-)

William Weedon said...

What do you mean by "imputed" punishment? When the Lutherans speak of the guilt of original sin, we are not speaking about being charged with something of which we are not involved. Rather, "whatever, therefore, may be the relation of imputation to original sin, our Church holds it to be an impious opinion, that our misery and liability are merely the results of imputation. The primary point is, that we do actually participate, in our nature, in the corruption wrought by the fall." (Krauth, Conservative Reformation, p. 378)

Pardon another quote, but I think it does clear up some common misunderstandings:

"God's work in grace in the one case, if unarrested, is ample for the salvation of every human creature, as sin's work, in the other case, if unarrested, is ample for the loss of every human creature. Thus, the all-embracing work of love on the one hand, freely giving life, and the all-pervading power of sin on the other, meriting death, rest in the same genetic mode of Divine dealing. Take away Christ, and every human creature dies in Adam; take away Adam, and every human creature lives in Christ. But though the range of Adam's work and Christ's work be the same, the power of Christ's work transcends that of Adam's. God's love in Christ outweighs all.... It is not the doctrine of our Confession that any human creature has ever been, or ever will be, lost purely on account of original sin. For while it supposes that original sin, if UNARRESTED, would bring death, it supposes it to be arrested, certainly and ordinarily, by the Holy Spirit, through the divine means rightly received, and throws no obstacle in the way of our hearty faith that, in the case of infants dying without means, the Holy Ghost, in His own blessed way, directly and extraordinarily, may make the change that delivers the child from the power of indwelling sin."

William Weedon said...

Which is a long way of saying: don't confuse Lutherans with Calvinists... ;)