Friday, October 30, 2009

And Vicarious Punishment is Not Forgiveness

To forgive, according to Merriam-Webster Online, is: to give up resentment of or claim to or requital for, to grant relief from payment of [something].

Forgiveness is synonymous with pardon.  The definition of pardon is: the excusing of an offense without exacting a penalty, a release from the legal penalties of an offense, an official warrant of remission of penalty, excuse or forgiveness for a fault, offense, or discourtesy .

Forgiveness is also synonymous with mercy.  Mercy is compassion or forbearance shown especially to an offender or to one subject to one's power; and it specifically “implies compassion that forbears punishing even when justice demands it."

“But even though God punishes Christ, it is still for the sake of being merciful toward US,” someone may say. Not so. In a penal theory of Atonement, it is specifically US God is punishing in Christ, not the Innocent One Himself. God is not lifting our penalty; He is explicitly inflicting yours and mine upon the only One Who doesn’t deserve it. He is not granting any relief from our debt; but collecting it from the only One who could pay it.

Not only that, but even the infinite debt He is said to have collected (or punishment He is said to have inflicted) upon the Cross is still not enough if you do not believe. He will continue to collect His due from you or inflict punishment upon you for all eternity if you do not believe. There is no mercy.

(No, I do not believe this is overstatement or caricature. But if it is, somebody tell me why it is and how to correct it – but sparing me all the euphemisms in the process.)

“But if you do believe, then what God did to Christ upon the Cross results in your being let off the hook!” someone may try to tell me.

No. It keeps me everlastingly on the hook. It saddles me forever with the guilt of thinking of all the punishment  my Christ endured which ought to have been mine, which I have gratefully but unfairly and unjustly escaped.

"But God wanted you to escape it."

But He didn't want Jesus Christ to escape it, even when He had prayed to be spared?  Sorry.  Forgiveness I can handle, but punishing my Lord instead of me, no.  I know what I deserve.   

Proponents of penal and satisfaction theories of atonement believe it would be immoral for God simply to forgive. For them, that feels tantamount to winking at sin, colluding in evil. Sin, they invariably tell us, must be “dealt with.”

Yes, sin must be dealt with. That's fine, provided it does not mean gratifying what Fr. Stephen Freeman has called our “lust for revenge”,  for getting even is not what justice is all about.  "Dealing with sin" must also not mean indulging that certain, neurotic form of guilt that craves punishment for ourselves.  Either of these ideas of dealing with sin would only be feeding our sickness instead of curing it.

The object of Justice is to make everything as if sin had never happened, to wipe it out and all its damage and all its consequences. Perhaps an analogy is the virus my computer picked up a few days ago. I not only had to delete the malicious files, I then had also to undo all the damage the bug had done, wiping out my security systems and blocking my access to Google (and thereby, my blog and yours). With a computer virus, that takes hours of searching, deleting, and working with a tech support person. With sin, getting rid of it and all its effects and all its consequences involves the one thing so many people consider immoral, and that’s forgiveness. Forgiveness, far from being a way of approving evil, is essential to accomplish the goal of Divine Justice: to make things as if the sin had never happened. That’s what true Justice does. In fact, by transforming deficits into positive good, God makes things even far better than they would have been, had sin never happened. That’s what true forgiveness does. That’s what true Love does.

A penal theory of Atonement, while it is meant to be all about Divine Love and Divine Justice, is at the very least a serious underestimation of them both.  It quite simply has no room for genuine forgiveness, and in fact prohibits it. 

May He, Who is far more wonderful than we can imagine, reveal to us all the heights and breadth and depths of His unfathomable Love, and give us to be able to come to terms with it.

26 comments:

Jon M. Ellingworth said...

Ok, I'll bite, though I'm sure I'll regret it later. And I'm not about to get into a round of micro-essay writing; I don't have the time and it really wouldn't matter anyway. But,...

God is holy, Adam and Eve were created holy. Everything was good.

Temptation, sin, Adam and Eve are no longer holy. Hence, no human born of man is holy. Problem: unholiness cannot stand in the presence of God's holiness.

What does this mean. Man dies the result of sin. Man is eternally separated from God's gracious presence -- this is hell. It's not punishment, it's simply the way things are. God is holy, we are not. Man has not the ability or will to make himself holy again. What are we to do? Nothing. There is nothing we can do.

Solution: Not only is God holy, but He is also LOVE. God is love. Greater love is not possible than one should lay down His life for His friends (what about His enemies?!). So, love is sacrifice, self-sacrifice. God the Father sends His Son to lay down His holy, sinless life so that we unholy sinful people might be restored to holiness. The Father sent His Son; the Son willingly went. The Father did not punish the Son, but He did send His Son to be the atoning sacrifice for our sin to make us holy. Why would He do this? BECAUSE HE IS LOVE! Why would the Son do this? BECAUSE HE IS LOVE! HE LOVES HIS FATHER AND HE LOVES US! This is not punishment but sacrifice, selfless sacrifice = LOVE.

It's not that God's wrath was appeased, but it's that the Son, in His death, willingly drank up the cup of God's wrath against sin. It was the Father's will to crush the Son -- not because He wanted to punish Him, but because it was necessary to make us holy. God so loved the world that He gave His Son.

Am I using euphemism? I don't think so. It's so very, very simple and beautiful: It's all about LOVE -- SELFLESS, SACRFICIAL LOVE.

You are putting the worst possible construction on Christians who use biblical language such as "paid" or "redeemed" to suggest that they are saying that the Father is some heavy-handed ogre seeking vengeance who takes it out on His Son all the while grating His teeth in fury at us. Shame on you. You are very slippery in your argumentation. I wonder who you are trying to convince.

We must all wrestle with WHO GOD IS -- both his HOLINESS and His LOVE.

Forgiveness is sacrficial too -- sacrifice and forgiveness are LOVE. God forgives us because He loves us so much that He sacrficed Himself to make us holy.

Orthodox bloggers often say things like their "salvation is likeness to Christ" and that they treat all people with kindness and charity and love. There is little that is charitable in your trumped up exagerations and poor constructions of what you think other Christians believe. Yes, you could say the same about me, but I don't wear my charity as a badge of honor and the hope of my salvation. I strive to be charitable, kind, etc. but confess that I fail. The Christian life is one of daily repentance and humilty and forgiveness.

scott m said...

Thanks. It was obvious to me that a God who had to be paid or satisfied is a God who has a problem with forgiveness. And that wasn't the God I had encountered or the God I saw in Jesus when I read the Gospels. I kept thinking I was missing something somewhere and kept searching because everyone I encountered in the faith seemed to take it as self-evident that "payment" or "satisfaction" had to be made by someone.

Anastasia Theodoridis said...

Fr. Ellingworth, thank you for taking the time to leave your comment.

Forgive me; I did write too harshly and I've gone back and deleted what I take to have been the most inflammatory words. I hope you will find the result more objective and less objectinable, even though I know you will still disagree.

I'm so glad you don't beieve God sends people to hell for punishment. Unfortunately, many people do, though. I expect some of them are Orthodox and some are in the LC-MS, too.

Of course you haven't time for any micro-essays and I wouldn't expect them, but I hope you'll have time to clarify just this for me. I genuinely do not know what distinctions you are making when you say, "The Father did not punish the Son, but He did send His Son to be the atoning sacrifice for our sin to make us holy." Or again, when you say, "It's not that God's wrath was appeased, but it's that the Son, in His death, willingly drank up the cup of God's wrath against sin." I don't get the difference.

Or, perhaps we could cut to the chase and by-pass those two questions and just go with one: do you believe there IS, after all, such a thing as God simply forgiving, as in not requiring anything in return, any payment or whatever? As in bare amnesty, as in lifting the penalty or cancelling (rather than collecting) the debt?

I'm glad you stopped by. You are always welcome here.

Anastasia Theodoridis said...

You're very welcome, Scott.

(Wow, it's amazing what different responses one gets to a post like this.)

michael said...

Your critique hits exactly what I believed as a Protestant and what *some* (not all) of my evangelical friends believe. I was just talking about this with my priest today: most Americans have such an abstract concept of "holy"-it's some moral perfection that stands aloof of others. It's this unyielding justness that cannot stand anything unlike itself. And that's not the holy that God is. Holiness is self-emptying love for all. In the lives of the saints we don't see rigid moralists who cannot bear the sight of sinners. We see loving and gentle men and women who pray for the world and who give ear to those who seek their aid. And this is the holiness I saw in Protestants as well (to a certain extent). I never saw a Protestant strive for the holiness that they seem to believe God has.

michael said...

Also I think this is telling in Mr (Fr.?) Ellingworth's post that God is holy AND God is love, as if they were not identical.

Jon M. Ellingworth said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Anastasia Theodoridis said...

Michael, I see your point, but in all fairness, one does sometimes have to specify both in order to be correctly understood as meaning both.

Jon M. Ellingworth said...

Anastasia, when I say “The Father did not punish the son, but He did send His Son to be the atoning sacrifice for our sin to make us holy,” this is in connection with what it means for God to be Holy and what it means for us creatures, after the Fall, to be unholy --- Only God is holy in Himself. Holiness is only ever in relation to God. Man of himself is not holy, cannot make himself holy. The only way for man to be holy again is for God to make man holy. Holiness is an essential quality or attribute of God, and so there is an ontological problem: Man’s unholiness cannot simply be forgiven in the sense that you are arguing for; man must be made to be holy once again; something must be done, not just said or thought, by God.

What God has done to make man holy once again was to “send His Son to be the atoning sacrifice for our sin to make us holy”. God did not send His Son to punish Him, or even to be punished for us, but to make things right once again ontologically. Orthodox claim to have such a high Trinitarian theology, but it seems to me that you cannot see that the Son and the Father are both God --- The Father sent the Son to be the atoning sacrifice. The Son willingly laid down His life as a sacrifice. God died on the cross. No person is punishing another, but the Holy Trinity has done what was necessary accordin to His own essential attributes to make man holy once again.

You also ask: “Do you believe there IS, after all, such a thing as God simply forgiving, as in not requiring anything in return, any payment or whatever? As in bare amnesty, as in lifting the penalty or cancelling (rather than collecting) the debt?” --- Yes, of course I do! But I suspect that I understand forgiveness differently than you. There is a reason for God’s forgiveness – Yes, Love – but Love in Christ sacrificed. When I forgive a person it is not without a reason; the reason I forgive others is because I am forgiven by God. It is only with God’s forgiveness that I am able to forgive others. This does not cheapen or compromise forgiveness, it makes it all the richer! Forgiveness always involves self-sacrifice.

Nora said...

It makes little sense to me to think that an entity which is both "love" or "holy" would require his only son suffer and die for mankind. As for God not being able to stand "unholiness" in his holy presence, perhaps he should have considered that before he made to human race so fragile and apt to fault. It is my opinion that a loving God would only expect that his people strive to be the very best human beings they can be, not banish his beloved children to eternal damnation after placing the burden of original sin upon them.

Jon M. Ellingworth said...

Nora, do you really expect that God should conform to your expectations of Him? "You shall have no other gods before me." Not even your self!

My premise from the beginning has been that LOVE IS SACRIFICE. Love is giving to another life, forgiveness, grace, mercy, charity, kindness, peace, etc. These are all selfless, sacrificial attributes.

1. God is Love. 1 John 4:8

2. There is no greater love than sacrifice. John 15:13

3. The Law of God is fulfilled in Love. John 13:34

God loved man and would have him restored to holiness, so He sacrificed Himself to make it so. What's so hard to understand about that?

Jon M. Ellingworth said...

Nevertheless, God does have righteous wrath against sin (altogether unlike our wrath as we commonly experience it). I don't have a problem with the vicarious atonement language -- I see it as another way of speaking about the same ontological issue. The mystery of God only brings you further up and further into more mystery.

Nora said...

" God loved man and would have him restored to holiness, so He sacrificed Himself to make it so. What's so hard to understand about that?"

What is so hard to understand about "that" is the notion that an entity as complete in its evolution of love and forgiveness as God,would set up his children for such failure in the first place!

"Temptation, sin, Adam and Eve are no longer holy. Hence, no human born of man is holy. Problem: unholiness cannot stand in the presence of God's holiness"

If the God portrayed in these posts was so concerned with his children being holy, he would not have punished all of mankind for the errors of two!
And no, Fr. Ellington, I do not expect God to conform to my expectations of him. God is far too beyond true comprehension by humans for me or anyone else to presume that!You quote scripture and pick apart the bible into pieces that you feel will validate your arguement. This is commonly done by members of all of the sects
of Christianity. One theme I feel most Christians would agree upon would be that God is the epitome of all of the most beautiful human attributes;love, hope, joy, and forgiveness. The God depicted in many of these posts conatins the worst of human frailty; wrath, conditional forgiveness and intolerance. That is not the God which fills my soul with love and hope. But, of course, that is only my humble opinion!

Anastasia Theodoridis said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anastasia Theodoridis said...

As for God not being able to stand "unholiness" in his holy presence, perhaps he should have considered that before he made to human race so fragile and apt to fault.

Nora, I agree it isn't true God can't stand unholiness in his presence. If this were so, then every sinner Jesus ever met should have dropped dead on the spot.

Moreover, God is of course present everywhere. We should all drop dead with the first sin we ever commit.

I once wrote a whole little essay on this very subject; in case it is of any interest to you, you can find it here:

http://anastasias-corner.blogspot.com/2008/01/doctrine-of-celestial-prig.html


Pr. Ellingworth,

When you say Jesus died to make us holy, perhaps you mean to purify us, and if that is the case, we appear to have some common ground. If you'd like to check it out, I've have written about that aspect of atonement here:

http://anastasias-corner.blogspot.com/2008/07/why-did-jesus-die-part-04.html

(That particular post actually bears the William Weedon Seal of Approval.)

But if your definition of forgiveness means it has to have a basis, or a reason (beyond just love), or if you mean it's free to us but not really free, since Christ bought or earned it for us, then that's the very point my post is making. I'm saying this ought properly to be called penal substitution or vicarious satisfaction or something other than forgiveness.

Forgiveness lifts the penalty instead of shifting it, cancels the debt instead of collecting it, releases from the obligation instead of enforcing it, gives up the wrath instead of making the other swallow or absorb it.

Jon M. Ellingworth said...

Nora, you wrote "...an entity as complete in its evolution of love and forgiveness as God..."

God IS love, he has not "evolved" in any way. In fact, it is precisely the LOVE that God IS that moves Him to do what is necessary to make things right once again.

You also wrote: "What is so hard to understand about "that" is the notion that an entity as complete in its evolution of love and forgiveness as God,would set up his children for such failure in the first place!" and "If the God portrayed in these posts was so concerned with his children being holy, he would not have punished all of mankind for the errors of two!"

These two comments betray that you do in fact expect God to conform to your expectations of Him. God Himself has said, "I the LORD your God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children to the third and fourth generation of those who hate me, but showing steadfast love to thousands of those who love me and keep my commandments (Deut. 5:9-10)".

You accuse me of picking apart Scriptures to support my arguments. I welcome your rebuttal drawing upon Scripture.

Jon M. Ellingworth said...

Anastasia wrote: “Nora, I agree it isn't true God can't stand unholiness in his presence. If this were so, then every sinner Jesus ever met should have dropped dead on the spot.”

One necessitating reason for the incarnation was precisely so that God could walk amongst sinful men without bringing about their demise. Further, in the union of Christ’s divine and human natures Jesus humbled Himself, setting aside His glory.

Regarding the forgiveness issue, perhaps what I’m trying to communicate is too subtle. Forgiveness is always sacrifice. It is impossible that forgiveness can be given without sacrifice. In the case with God’s forgiveness of sinful man, God bore man’s sin Himself, “For our sake He made Him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in Him we might become the righteousness of God” (2 Cor. 5:21). God is ontologically holy and ontologically love (and yes, these two concepts are really one). Only God can restore fallen man. God’s forgiveness – absolutely free to man – is not free to God. God IS love, and love IS selfless and sacrificial.

I understand that you do not agree with what I’m arguing, but there is no penal quality to the sacrifice that God the Father makes in sending His Son to die or that God the Son makes in willingly laying down His life. The problem is one of ontological necessity. The solution is one of loving sacrifice.

Anastasia Theodoridis said...

Let's please all refrain from any accusations here and keep warm hearts and cool heads.

Anastasia Theodoridis said...

I'm so delighted, Pr. Ellingworth, that you agree "there is no penal quality to the sacrifice that God the Father makes in sending His Son to die or that God the Son makes in willingly laying down His life."

And I believe Lutherans in general hold more to a "satisfaction" than to a "penal" theory; am I right? God's ontological holiness must be satisfied. And Christ's suffering an death are believed to satisfy it. Is that what you're saying?

Norq45 said...

Well said Anastasia! If God were so intolerant in his attitude toward unholiness, the life span of the average human would be greatly diminished!
Fr. Ellingworth, you bring up a completely valid point in my use of the term evolution ( I am so often focused on the spiritual evolution of mankind, I use this term here incorrectly). What I meant to say is that God is the epitome of love! On that one point we seem to agree.

Clearly our major difference lies in our interpretation of the Bible. Somehow I can already hear you responding that the Bible is not open to interpretation, though, of course, the many and varied sects of Christianity would dispute this.

The God of the Old Testament is often portrayed differently than the God of the New Testament. I look at the Bible as a whole and accept it for exactly what it is, a book written by the hands of many different people ( all sinners by the way). Truly inspired by God in parts, but also simple symbolic stories designed to create rules and social conventions for an evolving ( and I do mean evolving here) humanity.

No doubt you are better versed in scripture than I. That no doubt spings from the differences I have mentioned above. You recited a famous quote from the Old Testament, "I the Lord your God am a jealous God". It baffles me that in one sentence you steadfastly state the belief that God is love and in another you quote a segment of scripture which potrays an emotion that is anything BUT love, jealousy!
" Thou shalt not covet thy neighbour’s house, thou shalt not covet thy neighbour’s wife, nor his manservant, nor his maidservant, nor his ox, nor his ass, nor any thing that is thy neighbour’s". Funny that God commands us not to covet things ( which to covet something entails a certain amount of jealousy), yet he tells his children that he is a jealous God himself.
" Be of good cheer, it is I, be not afraid" Mark 6:50. This is the God that I feel in my heart and soul, who is with me in my moments of deepest depair. There is no wrath or jealousy, nor need for retribution on his part. We all pick apart the Bible Fr. Ellingworth. For the sake of us all I hope I have "picked" out the correct ones.

Jon M. Ellingworth said...

Anastasia wrote: I'm so delighted, Pr. Ellingworth, that you agree "there is no penal quality to the sacrifice that God the Father makes in sending His Son to die or that God the Son makes in willingly laying down His life."

Ellingworth responds: I stand by this statement and am delighted that you are delighted by it.

Anastasia wrote: And I believe Lutherans in general hold more to a "satisfaction" than to a "penal" theory; am I right? God's ontological holiness must be satisfied. And Christ's suffering and death are believed to satisfy it. Is that what you're saying?

Ellingworth responds: Lutherans, as I believe you know, confess objective justification: That people are freely justified for Christ’s sake, through faith, when they believe that they are received into favor and that their sins are forgiven for Christ’s sake. By His death, Christ made satisfaction for our sins. God counts this faith for righteousness in His sight. (Augsburg Confession, Article IV, Concordia Edition).

The terms “satisfaction”, “reconciliation”, and “propitiation” are all connected with justification. But the Scriptures also speak plainly of God’s wrath against sin and substituionary sacrifice and atonement. I really do not have a problem with legal and penal language when it comes to atonement. Which brings me to address Nora’s concern:

Nora wrote: I look at the Bible as a whole and accept it for exactly what it is, a book written by the hands of many different people ( all sinners by the way). Truly inspired by God in parts, but also simple symbolic stories designed to create rules and social conventions for an evolving ( and I do mean evolving here) humanity.

Ellingworth responds: I believe that the Bible is the inspired and inerrant Word of God (yes, written by human beings with all their sins and peculiar traits, but nevertheless God’s Word, not the word of men), thus, we will never agree on the Bible. I suppose our dialog should end here because, though I am free to quote the Fathers and other sources of authority, they must all be normed by the Holy Scriptures. I value tradition and acknowledge that it has a degree of authority, but, again, it must be normed by the Holy Scriptures. By your own words you confess that you do not believe all the Bible to be inspired or even true, thus it is not the norm for your faith or confession.

I believe that Scripture never contradicts Scripture. There are clear passages and there are less clear passages. The less clear passages can be illuminated by those that are more clear. When I encounter passages that challenge me I submit myself that it is I who lack understanding, not God. When it comes to “theories” of the atonement, the Holy Scriptures use a wide range of images, allusions, metaphors, and language – this is for our benefit. If we don’t get it the first time, graciously, God gives it to us again and again in different ways. I will not, I can not, put God into a box. I do not expect Him to love in the simple way I understand love, or to be full of wrath in the simple way I understand wrath, or to forgive in the simple way that I understand forgiveness, etc.

Norq45 said...

" I believe that Scripture never contradicts Scripture. There are clear passages and there are less clear passages. The less clear passages can be illuminated by those that are more clear."

How can the "less" clear passages illuminate the "clear" passages without interpretation?

"I will not, I can not, put God into a box. I do not expect Him to love in the simple way I understand love, or to be full of wrath in the simple way I understand wrath, or to forgive in the simple way that I understand forgiveness, etc."

God, of course, could never be put into any box ( including the Bible)! We both agree the true extent of his love is beyond our comphrehension. Clearly where we disagree is whether or not God is pure love or a mixture of both love and the more negative human attributes. There is no place for wrath in true love! Were this the case than God would be no more than
a super-human! He is not human, he is pure love and joy. A state which he desires all his children aspire to. You did not respond to my quote from scripture, " be of good cheer, it is I, be not afraid". You wrote, "or to be full of wrath in the simple way I understand wrath". "Be not afraid"!
The God you depict is surely one to be afraid of.
As you have written, since we come from such different places, our dialogue from this point would simply go round in circles.

At least we have similiar taste in wine and movies. "The Godfather", "The Matrix", "The Lord
of the Rings", very good choices. Though I must admit I find that your choice of "V is for Vendetta" very telling in light of your arguement on this post. Do you recall what "V" discovers in the end?
Anyhow, I have thoroughly enjoyed our lively debate. So, in the words of Obi Wan ( from one of your favorite movies), "May the force be with you"!

Jon M. Ellingworth said...

Nora wrote: How can the "less" clear passages illuminate the "clear" passages without interpretation?

Ellingworth responds: I never denied interpretation. There most certainly is interpretation. Often Scripture interprets Scripture. There are many exegetical and hermeneutical rules / principles that shape how we interpret Scripture; many are nearly universal, but of course there are others that denominationally contrived.

Nora wrote: Clearly where we disagree is whether or not God is pure love or a mixture of both love and the more negative human attributes.

Ellingworth: I most certainly do agree that God is pure love, though I think that it is sufficient to say that God is love. I am certain that I have never attributed “the more negative human attributes” to God. I think that this is a conclusion that you come to because you do not accept my premise that love is always sacrificial.

Nora wrote: You did not respond to my quote from scripture, " be of good cheer, it is I, be not afraid". You wrote, "or to be full of wrath in the simple way I understand wrath". "Be not afraid"!
The God you depict is surely one to be afraid of.

Ellingworth responds: I didn’t respond because I didn’t really see the relevancy. The disciples were afraid because they thought they were seeing a ghost. They were comforted when they saw that it was their teacher Jesus. If you mean to suggest that the disciples were fully convinced prior to the resurrection that Jesus was God in the flesh and that they were not afraid of being in God’s presence, this is simply untenable. That’s why Mark follows this account by saying “And they were utterly astounded, for they did not understand about the loaves, but their hearts were hardened.” Other Gospel accounts show those brief moments in which a disciple began to grasp who Jesus really was, and then there was fear (see Luke 5:8). Isaiah feared for his life when he behold God’s glory in a vision (Isaiah 6:5). There are countless examples. Whenever the angels brought a message to people they had to quell their fear in the presence of holiness by saying “Do not fear.” “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom” (Psalms 111:10; Proverbs 1:7; 9:10; 15:33; Isaiah 11:2; 33:6; Micah 6:9). Now the “fear of the Lord” is primarily reverence and humility before the Lord and awe at His ‘pure’ love, grace, and mercy; but there is also a sense of fear (as in terror) before the holiness and righteousness of God – this was what Isaiah experienced, Peter, and even Mary. But you see, the “fear of the Lord” is all of these things at once.

Nora wrote: You recited a famous quote from the Old Testament, "I the Lord your God am a jealous God". It baffles me that in one sentence you steadfastly state the belief that God is love and in another you quote a segment of scripture which potrays an emotion that is anything BUT love, jealousy!

Ellingworth responds: For man, jealousy is sinful, flawed, wicked. For God, it is a pure and holy jealousy that flows from His ‘pure’ love. God is jealous for you Nora – He will not share you with any other god. That’s why we must love Him with “all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind”. God wants, desires, demands the WHOLE you. I know I fail to love God that way daily; how about you? I am thankful and I trust that Jesus has loved God in this perfect way and that this has set me free to love God in Him.

Jon M. Ellingworth said...

Nora wrote: At least we have similar taste in wine and movies. "The Godfather", "The Matrix", "The Lord of the Rings", very good choices. Though I must admit I find that your choice of "V is for Vendetta" very telling in light of your argument on this post. Do you recall what "V" discovers in the end?

Ellingworth responds: Are you talking about this exchange? Evey: “I don’t want you to die.” V: “That’s the most beautiful thing you could have ever given me.” Well, if we attribute Evey’s line to God and V’s line to us, that is a truly faithful and wonderful thing – and that IS very telling about what I’ve been trying to communicate. V For Vendetta is a provocative movie. It challenges me politically, philosophically, and spiritually --- and that is why I like it. Many of the movies I list as favorites do just that. I’ve always hoped that people wouldn’t judge me based on the movies and music that I enjoy, e.g., Thinking that I am a violent person because I enjoy mobster films and Tarantino films. Or, thinking that I have weak faith or am an atheist because I enjoy films that question the existence of God or absolutes in the realms of ethics, morality, and good vs. evil, etc. Again, I enjoy films that challenge me, so I often seek out genres and themes that offer a different perspective from my own, that sometimes are even antagonistic to my own.

I do hope that you will answer in regard to whether or not I got the bit of “V” that you were referring to correct. Also, please illuminate what you mean by “very telling” – that’s the second time in this response thread that someone has taken something I wrote (here, elsewhere) and stated that it was “telling”.

Nora said...

Hmm. Not sure what other post you are referring to where someone wrote that a comment you made was "telling". I merely found it interesting, soley within the context of today's post, that one of your favorite movies is about retribution. It seemed to fit with the themes from this post that God can be wrathful ( whatever the exact definition of that is) and demands retribution from his children.
At the end of the movie, "V" had a moment of clarity before his death. He realized that while his reasons for destruction were just, retribution means nothing in comparison to love. God gives us love without retribution.
I would find it quite unfortunate and small minded for anyone to make a judgement call about you based on the movies you watch. I hope you did not feel that is what I was doing in any way. On the contrary, I stated quite clearly that I thought you had good taste in film. And, of course, as the Bible says ,"Judge not lest ye be judged". One of the greatest truths I believe. I wish you well.

Jon M. Ellingworth said...

Nora, thanks for you illumination.