25 June 2007

Catholic Principle and Lutheranism

The catholic principle - whether Fr. Hogg or Fr. Fenton coined the term, I'm not sure - in Lutheranism may be stated thus:

The Scriptures provide a negative critique on Tradition; whatever in Tradition is contrary to the witness of the Sacred Scriptures, must be rejected; whatever is not, is accepted.

The Scriptural principle - often called sola Scriptura (but that term is also used by those who reject the catholic priniple entirely) - is normatively stated for Lutheranism in the Smalcald Articles II, II, 15:

The true rule is this: God's Word shall establish articles of faith, and no one else, not even an angel can do so.

My good friend, Fr. Heath Curtis, published a critique of Fr. Hogg's paper in Lutheran Forum some years back in which he offers some thoughts on whether or not these two principles are in fact in tension. His paper is very worth reading, as also are Fr. Hogg's and Fr. Fenton's works on the topic.

I'd like to offer a further comment on the relation of these two principles and to what they properly apply. My argument is not how they *should* operate, but noting how they *did* operate in our Churches in the 16th and 17th century. Simply put:

Lutherans used the catholic principle in their critique and reformation of church practice; they used the Scriptural principle in regards to church dogma.

Obviously there is not a neat and tidy division between the two! But it is the conviction of the Lutheran Church that what the church practices should be built upon the foundation of what she teaches and be in complete harmony with the Sacred Scriptures; if anything conflicts with the teaching of Sacred Scripture in the practice of the church, it must go; if anything is not in conflict with the Sacred Scriptures in church practice, the Lutheran Church confesses that she rejoices to keep and follow such in Christian freedom. This is weight of AC XV.

[The matter of Christian freedom is a separate topic, but in sum we may note that the present Church in every place has the freedom to receive the ceremonies that have come down to her from antiquity, but that she does not receive them in the way of the law (as divinely mandated, for they are not), but in the way of the Gospel (as gifts from the Holy Spirit through the Church for her use) which she (the present church) has authority to regulate in whatever way best serves the Gospel itself in the present situation and with an eye toward the heritage of posterity; she has an obligation not just to the present generation of the Church, but to any future generations, should our Lord's glorious appearing not occur in this generation. ]

Now, my internet buddy and Roman Catholic correspondant, David Sch├╝tz has noted that the approach I suggest above leads to a breakdown of the equation "lex orandi, lex credendi." Perhaps so; but it appears to me that what I am proposing actually follows along the lines laid down by Pope Pius XII in his encyclical of 1947 on the sacred liturgy (Mediator Dei). There he insisted that lex orandi, lex credendi can and must also be inverted: "Lex credendi legem statuat supplicandi" - "let the rule of belief determine the rule of prayer." Obviously, as Lutheran, I think Pius XII was quite correct.

So, I'll throw it out for discussion: catholic principle in church practice (the application of the Scriptural faith); scriptural principle in church dogma (the content of the faith being explicitly grounded in the witness of Sacred Scripture).

20 comments:

Christopher said...

Sounds like Khomiakov was right: flip sides of the same coin. :)

I wasn't aware of this quote from Pope Pius XII, but it explains very well the position of both the RCC and Lutheranism. This conflicts pretty starkly with the traditional Orthodox view on the subject, though the proliferation of Theotokia following Ephesus, the introduction of the "Holy God" and other hymns to the Holy Trinity following Constantinople I are examples of liturgy following theology expanding on the apostolic deposit of Holy Tradition (written and unwritten, primary sources surviving and lost).

Anastasia Theodoridis said...

I suggest Lutherans don't follow Sola Scriptura, either, let alone the Catholic principle. You do not toss out whatever conflicts with Holy Scripture. You hold doctrines that conflict with it. For example, in another blog, I recently pointed out the many conflicts surrounding the idea that upon the Cross, Jesus was bearing the Father's judgment against the world. Such a notion blatantly conflicts with such Scriptural teachings (just for starters) as that the Son, not the Father, is the only Judge and that the judgment of the world will happen on Judgment Day. As we confess, "He shall come again to judge the living and the dead."

"For the Father judges no one, but has committed all judgment to the Son, that all should honor the Son just as they honor the Father. He who does not honor the Son does not honor the Father who sent Him ...For as the Father has life in Himself, so He has granted the Son to have life in Himself, and has given Him authority to execute judgment also, because He is the Son of Man." (John 5:22-23,26-27)

"...because He is the Son of Man." Jesus is the uniquely qualified Judge because as Man, He knows from the inside what it is to be human, while as God, He knows every human heart better than it knows itself. When He judges the whole world, His perfect Justice will be fully known to all men.

"Because He has appointed a day, in the which He will judge the world in righteousness by [that] Man whom He has ordained; [whereof] He has given assurance to all [men], in that He has raised Him from the dead." (Acts 17:31)

If Lutherans were Sola Scripturists, they would throw out without any further ado the idea that on the Cross, Christ was bearing the Father's judgement upon the world. But something else obviously comes into play and keeps Lutherans defending this notion. I'm not sure what that something else is, but so much for Sola Scriptura. Nobody has ever been able to make it work. That's why you have the Book of Concord.

"Scripture Plus", I think you said.

Anastasia

William Weedon said...

But He was wounded for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his stripes we are healed. All we like sheep have gone astray; and the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all... Yet it was the will of the Lord to crush him; he has put him to grief...He bore the sin of many, and makes intercession for the transgressors. Isaiah 53

You will all fall away because of me this night. For it is written: I will strike the Shepherd and the flock will be scattered. Matt 26:31

Shall I not drink the cup that the Father has given me? John 18:11

Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us. Gal 3:13

For our sake He made Him who had no sin to be sin for us. 2 Cor. 5:21

St. Augustine (Enchiridion):

And so the human race was lying under a just condemnation, and all men were the children of wrath. Of which wrath it is written: "All our days are passed away in Your wrath; we spend our years as a tale that is told." Of which wrath also Job says: "Man that is born of a woman is of few days, and full of trouble." Of which wrath also the Lord Jesus says: "He that believes in the Son has everlasting life: and he that believes not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abides on him." He does not say it will come, but it "abides on him." For every man is born with it; wherefore the apostle says: "We were by nature the children of wrath, even as others." Now, as men were lying under this wrath by reason of their original sin, and as this original sin was the more heavy and deadly in proportion to the number and magnitude of the actual sins which were added to it, there was need for a Mediator, that is, for a reconciler, who, by the offering of one sacrifice, of which all the sacrifices of the law and the prophets were types, should take away this wrath. Wherefore the apostle says: "For if, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of His Son, much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by His life." Now when God is said to be angry, we do not attribute to Him such a disturbed feeling as exists in the mind of an angry man; but we call His just displeasure against sin by the name "anger," a word transferred by analogy from human emotions. But our being reconciled to God through a Mediator, and receiving the Holy Spirit, so that we who were enemies are made sons ("For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God"): this is the grace of God through Jesus Christ our Lord. – Enchiridion 33

St. Gregory Palamas:

, Homily 16, 21, 24, 31 “A sacrifice was needed to reconcile the Father on high with us and to sanctify us, since we had been soiled by fellowship with the evil one. There had to be a sacrifice which both cleansed and was clean, and a purified, sinless priest…. God overturned the devil through suffering and His Flesh which He offered as a sacrifice to God the Father, as a pure and altogether holy victim – how great is His gift! – and reconciled God to the human race…Since He gave His Blood, which was sinless and therefore guiltless, as a ransom for us who were liable to punishment because of our sins, He redeemed us from our guilt. He forgave us our sins, tore up the record of them on the Cross and delivered us from the devil’s tyranny. The devil was caught by the bait. It was as if he opened his mouth and hastened to pour out for himself our ransom, the Master’s Blood, which was not only guiltless but full of divine power. Then instead of being enriched by it he was strongly bound and made an example in the Cross of Christ. So we were rescued from his slavery and transformed into the kingdom of the Son of God. Before we had been vessels of wrath, but we were made vessels of mercy by Him Who bound the one who was strong compared to us, and seized his goods.”

Anastasia Theodoridis said...

And not one of these passages is about the Father's judgment being born by Christ on the Cross. One should be tipped off to that fact by the passages I've cited (and there are many, many more).

Or if you make the passages you've cited to say that, you contradict the Scripture I have quoted.

How will you reconcile the contradiction you will then allege to exist within the Scripture? By what criterion? Clearly not by Sola Scriptura.

Or will you just swallow the contradiction whole?

If you swallow it, you won't be doing what you describe as Sola Scriptura, namely, throwing out any doctrine that contradicts Scripture.

Either way, Sola Scriptura just won't serve.

Anastasia

William Weedon said...

Dear Anastasia,

I'm just not sure I understand how you see a contradiction between Christ judging the living and the dead on the last day (which of course we all confess) and Christ, our blessed Savior, bearing the judgment that was against us. To believe in and rejoice in His interposing Himself between us and our just desserts is the saving faith that results in one being judged by Him as "living" on the Last Day. When in the Holy Eucharist, our Lord reaches us the cup He says of it that it is His blood of the new testament, which He shed for us and for the forgiveness of our sins.

Much love,

Bill

Anastasia Theodoridis said...

"...our blessed Savior, bearing the judgment that was against us."

What judgment? Against us? Cannot be; that doesn't happen until the appointed Day. Until then there is no sentence. Not even any verdict. We hav enot yet even come to trial.

Whose judgment? The Father's? Cannot be. The Father judges nobody.

Those are the ideas that flat-out contradict Holy Scripture: that the Father was the Judge and that the judgment against us has already occured (on the Cross).
What will you do with the contradiction, and how will you exercise Sola Scriptura in the process?

Or do you just deny the contradiction is there? If any contradiction can be denied (not by you or by me, of course, but by sufficiently clever sophists) then we end up having nothing we can toss out on the basis of Holy Scripture, nothing to which Sola Scriptura can be applied. Or if only some contradictions can be denied, who or what determines which ones? Again, one must resort to something other than Sola Scriptura.

(It's true of course that Christ did "interpose himself bewteen us and our just desserts" and it's also true that in Him we ARE alive and forever shall be. And it's true that His Blood, by conferring His Life upon us, lifts the power of sin over us.) But none of this has to do with the Father allegedly rendering judgment against the world and Christ allegedly bearing His sentence.

(It's also true that judgment did happen upon the Cross, but it was against satan: he was cast out. (John 12:31) In that scenario (Christ's own), the world is the victim, the devil is the defendant, and Christ the Judge comes to grant the world relief by casting out satan.

much love right back at ya,
Anastasia

William Weedon said...

Dear Anastasia,

The judgment that was against us is indicated by this:

Whoever keeps the whole law but fails in one point has become accountable for all of it. James 2:10

This Law, which is the perfect expression of God's will for the human race, i.e., love constant, total, and without measure, results in this:

every mouth may be stopped, and the whole world may be held accountable to God. Romans 3:19

The Law is what Paul referred to when He spoke of how "the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness supress the truth." (Rom 1:18)

What truth? The truth that "no one is righteous, no, not one." (Rom 3:10)

The truth that "all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God." (Rom 3:23)

The truth that we are all "children of wrath" (Eph 2:3)

But in His infinite mercy and love our heavenly Father freely chose to NOT give us what our sins deserve, but instead gave His Son to the cross where He "cancelled the record of debt that stood against us with its legal demands." (Col. 2:14)

God "put forward" His Son "as a propitiation by His blood. This was to show God's righteousness, because in His divine forbearance He had passed over former sins. It was to show his righteousness at the present time, so that he might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus." (Rom 3:26)

One man's trespass had led to condemnation for all men (Rom 5:18) and the one righteous life of Christ sets all men free. He came to give His life a ransom.

And St. Paul is clear that He took our curse - the curse for not continuing in all things that are written in the book of the law to do them - and made it His own, for cursed is everyone who hangs upon a tree.

Thus, as the Epistle to Diognetus summarizes the matter so powerfully:

How surpassing is the love and tenderness of God! In that hour, instead of hating us and rejecting us and remembering our wickedness against us, He showed how long-suffering He is. He bore with us, and in ptiy He took our sins upon Himself and gave His own Son as a ransom for us - the Holy for the wicked, the Sinless for the sinners, the Just for the unjust, the Incorrupt for the corrupt, the Immortal for the mortal. For was there, indeed, anything except His righteousness that could have availed to cover our sins? In whom could we, in our lawlessness and ungodliness, have been made holy but in the Son of God alone? O sweet exchange! O unsearchable working! O benefits unhoped for! - that the wickedness of the multitudes should thus be hidden in the One holy, and the holiness of One should sanctify the countless wicked!" par. 9 (circa 124 A.D.)

Rev. Eric J Brown said...

Having just read and taught on "Freedom of the Christian" I think this works very well, especially with Luther's thoughts on Freedom. Hence, that will be the direction I jump in. When it comes to justification, there is no room to accept anything less than complete and utter freedom from the Law. I think this would well apply to thoughts on doctrine - which, if you will excuse the idea - is abstract, is about statements of true which cannot be mixed with any law.

However, on the other side, Luther says that Christians are to be dutiful servants of all. I think this applies well to the Catholic principal as it relates to worship. Worship is not our own. In fact, nothing in the Church belongs to us as some sort of possession which we are the master of - we are to remember that we are stewards of what we receive and that we will pass it on. Therefore, out of love to others we will not brashly advance our freedom lest we step upon those who are elsewhere or those who are to come.

Enjoy the other conversations.

Anastasia Theodoridis said...

Dear William,

James 2:10 and Romans 3:19 say we are all accountable to God. Is it your contention that accounting has already taken place? If so, how do you reconcile such an idea with the Scriptural teaching that judgment is to take place on Judgment Day?

The "perfect expression of God's will for the human race" is Christ. He is the mesure of the perfect Man. The object of the Christian life, the Christian destiny, is to become conformed to the Son.

Col. 2:14 says Christ tore up the handwriting that was against us. Cancelled the charges. Not carried out the penalty, but cancelled the charges, taking them out of the way. He made them moot by shedding His immortal blood to give us immortality in advance of any trial.

St. Paul does not say Christ took our curse. He took a different curse, the curse of hanging on a tree, to liberate us from our curse.

But all that aside, the point, in a discussion of Sola Scriptura, is this: do you interpret these verses in a way that would make God the Father into the Judge? If you do, does that idea not conflict with Christ's plain assertion that the Father does NOT judge, only the Son does?

Do you interpret the things you've quoted as meaning our judgment took place on the Cross? If so, does that not conflict with the several Scriptures and the Creed, all saying our judgment is yet to come?

And if you do make the Scriptures to contradict each other, what do you do with the contradiction? Deny it? Resolve it somehow? (How?) Swallow it? NONE of those is what Sola Scriptura prescribes. Sola Scriptura, if it means anything, means at the very least we *throw out* any doctrine that contradicts Scripture. That includes any interpretation of Scripture that contradicts other Scripture. Because while Scripture indeed has certain historical discrepancies due to such things as normal inter-observer error, it does NOT contradict itself, ever, in the matter of Christian doctrine. Anything that would make it appear to do so is ipso facto error. There's a mistake somewhere! THAT is what Sola Scriptura means.

It seems to me extremely ironic that the Lutherans, who affirm the doctrine of Sola Scriptura, don't appear to follow it, so far as I can tell, while the Orthodox, who deny Sola Scriptura, nevertheless carefully practice it at least to this small extent. Is that weird or what?

???

Anastasia

William Weedon said...

Dear Anastasia,

Our blessed Lord also said, quite plainly, that HE judges no one (John 8:15), and that it is not he alone who judges but He and the Father who sent Him (John 8:16), and that there is one who seeks Christ's glory and HE is the judge (the Father) (John 8:50).

The Apostle wrote that we have come in Zion "to God the judge of all" AND "to Jesus, the mediator of the new covenant."

St. John the Divine also confesses that those who sit on the throne were those to whom authority to judge has been committed (Rev. 20:4).

The Scriptural witness on judgment is simpler than saying: "Christ alone judges at the last day, not the Father."

Further, you have to figure into the Scriptural witness the saying of our Lord also in John 5:

"Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life. He does not come into judgment, but has passed from death to life."!

So, if you've by no means done justice in your one saying to the rich tapestry of what Scripture (all by itself!) teaches us about judgment.

Anastasia Theodoridis said...

Dear William,

The verses in John 8 are of course referring to judging Christ Himself. The Pharisees are accusing Him of being a sinner and having a demon. Jesus is saying His Father is the one who bears witness to Him.

And of course it's true that He judges no man -- this time. John 3:17 says the same thing. God did not send His Son into the world to judge the world, but to save it. But when He comes again, that's when He will judge.

And to say He will judge also means the Church will judge, because the Church His Body and is His fulness.

But the big question is: by citing these passages, are you trying to contradict the ones I've cited? If not, then why ARE you quoting them?

If so, wouldn't Lutheranism regard that as a rather, well, isn't that exactly what Sola Scriptura intends to prevent?

Anastasia

William Weedon said...

Dear Anastasia,

I quoted the passages to show that the teaching of Scripture on judgment is bigger than just that our Lord will appear on the last day as judge of the living and the dead. When we seek to follow the Scriptural principle, we want to hear all of what the Holy Spirit teaches us about a given locus of doctrine in the Sacred Scriptures. We want to hear Him out.

I do not believe that the Sacred Scripture contradicts itself, but I do believe that one of the sad things that has happened to us as sinful and fallen beings is that we want to choose out of God's Word what we think He really means; and dismiss or at least diminish what we think He doesn't. In your zeal to defend God from the charge of being a monster (a commendable zeal - He is not a monster), I wonder if you give due weight to the genuine terror of His holiness to the fallen creature. "See now that I, even I, am He, and besides me there is no god beside me; I kill and I make alive; I wound and I heal; and there is none that can deliver out of my hand." Deut. 18:39

William Weedon said...

Pastor Brown,

Yes, I think there is a connection there with Luther's great opening in On the Freedom of the Christian.

Anastasia Theodoridis said...

Dear William,

But the passages you've cited *don't* show that "the teaching on judgment is bigger than just that our Lord will appear on the last day as judge of the living and the dead." The teaching specifically about the *judgment of the world* (we are not speaking of judging who Christ is, or judging one another or of other sorts of judgment, but the judgment of the world) IS really that simple: the Judgment takes place in the Last Day and Jesus Christ is the Judge. That is the clear and unambiguous teaching of the Bible and the Church. That's pretty much it, except for some pointers about the criteria by which He will judge us.

Or even if there were more to that teaching, it must not contradict this part. We mustn't pick and choose, as you say.

You wrote, "I do believe that one of the sad things that has happened to us as sinful and fallen beings is that we want to choose out of God's Word what we think He really means; and dismiss or at least diminish what we think He doesn't." Yes, that's sad. Sola Scriptura allows people to do just that. That's why it doesn't work. That's why it isn't to the Holy Bible Lutherans pledge quia subscription, as one might expect a Sola Scripturist to do.

But picking and choosing is exactly what people are doing who think Jesus on the Cross was bearing the Father's judgment upon the world. They are completely ignoring the passages I cited while using other passages to support their position (but which, upon closer examination, do not).

Holy Scripture must always be taken as a whole. The saddest thing of all is that people don't know how to do that. They don't know better than to pick and choose. They don't know how integrate all of Scripture into doctrine. They don't know how rightly to divide the Word. And the reason all this is the saddest thing of all is this: that the Scriptures become clear to us in direct proportion to how well acquainted we are with their Author.

Yes, I do give full weight to how terrifying God is to the unrepentant sinner. A large part of my life has been spent impenitent and in the forecourts of hell, so I ought to know.

It's just that the terror of God isn't because He Himself is terrible. It's the very opposite: precisely because He is Life to us, and health and joy and love to us and everything good and beautiful and loveable to us that being excluded from Him is such a terrifying prospect.

Put another way, the (hypothetical)people in hell aren't there because God doesn't love them, or loves them any less than He loves the saved. They are there because they are the ones who do not (and by then no longer can) love at all.

They are there because God's very salvation is hateful to them. They hate it when He takes away their opportunities to commit the sins they love. (The saints call that deliverance.) They hate it when He enlightens them with Truth, because the truth about them is so grotesque. (For the saints, knowing Truth is the fulfilment of their longings.) They hate it when they stand in His blessed Presence (which is the goal of the saints), because they do not want to have to account to Him for their lives. (And because they'd far rather be out getting drunk or getting laid.) They hate watching the wedding banquet of the Lamb, because they do not even know how to participate and are acutely jealous -- and would much prefer a casino or a brothel. And so on. Truly terrifying, how *satan* inflicts all these torments upon them, and many more.

God save us all from such a fate.

love,
Anastasia

Erich Heidenreich, DDS said...

Oh, how I wish you all (and especially my old friend Robb Hogg) could have been at the Concordia Catechetical Academy symposium in Sussex, Wisconsin, last week. The entire conference is available on CDs from the CCA. I highly recommend the investment.

William Weedon said...

Anastasia,

I think you have expressed well the reality of hell, and no Lutheran would deny that God loves every person who is in hell. That does not mean that they are not under His wrath. To use a very poor human analogy (and recognizing the statement I quoted above from St. Augustine about the nature of divine wrath), my love of my children does not preclude me delivering to them at times the exact consequences of their choices.

The people in hell are in hell because they refused God's love and His grace, and in consequence His wrath abides on them. Indeed, may God deliver us all from such a fate!

But it simply does not follow that recognizing the Sacred Scripture as the source of the Church's teaching because it is God's Word, both sufficient and clear in expressing that Word, results in the picking and the choosing. The picking and choosing results from theological "systems" that cannot accomodate the Words that God has spoken to us. All systems ultimately fail because it is God who is speaking and He is utterly unboxinable (isn't that a horrible word? But you know what I mean).

In Lutheran circles most of prefer to speak of dogmatics rather than systematics for that very reason. We can gather together the truths that God has revealed in the Sacred Scriptures and submit ourselves to them by His grace, but we cannot for the life of us fit them into any logically seemless whole. Nor do we feel the need to.

What I think you are ultimately struggling against, and struggling in vain, is the unbridgable chasm between Law and Gospel, judgment and grace, holiness and mercy. What we confess is that only in Christ is the seemingly unbridgable bridged. In Him, "justice and mercy kiss each other." In Him, and yes, at the point of His cross, which discloses the depths of human sin is the love of God the Father manifested. Your Lord answered for all your sins, Anastasia. Every last one. And He did so for you because HIS FATHER loved you that much.

Pax Christi tecum!

Anastasia Theodoridis said...

God's wrath is revealed against all sin. He destroys it. He takes away from the unrepentant in hell all their opportunities to indulge in it. On the far side of the grave, there is no more money, no more earthly prestige, no more earthly fame, no power over people to manipulate and abuse them. There is no more lying, cheating, stealing, killing, no more making war. There is no more carousing, no 72 available virgins. God's wrath has taken it all away from them and it's like the suffering of an alcoholic when his bottle is taken away from him. (That will happen, too.) That's God's Wrath.

The wrath against *human beings* is satan's, not God's. God, who is immutable, is not angry with us one moment and pleased with us the next. "For I [am] the LORD, I change not; therefore ye sons of Jacob are not consumed." (Malachi 3:6.) It's because He does NOT change that we are not consumed, and not, as some people would have it, because He has changed, or has been changed by the Cross.

Your analogy about your children doesn't apply to hell, because what you do with your children is for their correction. There is no possibility of correction in hell.

Yes, my Lord has dealt each and every one of my sins -- by tearing up the indictment against me, by giving me His own immortality in despite of what the Law might have to say about it. And by many other means.

Right, Sola Scripture doesn't CAUSE people to pick and choose, but what I said/say is Sola Scripture ALLOWS it.

So -- "Law and Gospel", that very Lutheran hermeneutic. Is THAT what prevents Lutherans from simply exercising Sola Scriptura to reject this idea of the Father judging the world before the appointed day?

Don't Lutherans even consider the possibility that there must be a mistake in here somewhere? If not, what's Sola Scriptura for? (Please don't say it's only to be used against other people.)

Whatever it is, Law and Gospel or something else so persistently trumping Sola Scriptura in this case, I think your responses have abundantly illustrated my point. I see no evidence Lutherans are any more Sola Scripturists than the Orthodox are, and apparently even less so. So with a bow to you all, I pack up my hatpins and conclude my part in this most interesting discussion. Thank you.

love,
Anastasia

Stoleman said...

Dear Anastasia and Pastor Weedon,

I have enjoyed reading the posts both of you have made concerning this subject and discussion. Both of you are learned individuals and argue logically and in understandable terms and fashion. You are definitely gifted!!

My question to both of you is a matter of potentially little importance to the overall discussion, but might help those who read this blog.

Would you both deal with the one concept of "time"? In essence, before, during and after the life of Christ on earth.

My understanding may be in error, but I would understand 'time' to be a concept for humans and not the divine? Would this be a correct assumption?

If so, then this would potentially be a mystery of Scripture and the Church and thus be a topic over a good pint in Heaven?

Your patience and care in discussing this topic are greatly appreciated!!!

Yours In Christ,
Darian L. Hybl

William Weedon said...

Dear Anastasia,

Your hatpins didn't work this time. At least for me, I am honestly, honestly not convinced at all. I'll leave you with the words of Psalm 85:

You forgave the iniquity of your people; you covered all their sin. You withdrew all your wrath; you turned from your hot anger. Restore us again, O God of our salvation, and put away your indignation toward us! Will you be angry with us forever? Will you prolong your anger to all generations? Will you not revive us again that your people may rejoice in you?

Thanks for the conversation, though. To wrestle through these matters with someone who truly loves and cares - well, it makes a difference.

Darian,

I agree that time is a factor. The Blessed Trinity lives in an eternal present with all times spread present - as well as "before" and "after" time exists. And there are times He speaks from this persepective: "Before Abraham was, I am!"

I think I know what you were getting at it in bringing that up - the divine immutability above and beyond time and God's "changing" being how we experience Him in time as WE move from His justice to the shelter of His compassion. Is that what you were suggesting or have I got it all wrong?

Anastasia Theodoridis said...

Hello, Darian,

Time, the measure of duration, is real, as is everything God has created. HOW we measure duration is a human convention; for example, we could have divided a day into 10 hours, or 8 or 20. We could have divided an hour into 100 minutes or any number of minutes -- but time itself is real because material things, which are real, do change.

God does not change. Time, His own creation, does not affect Him. That doesn't mean He stays outside of time; rather, He is, simultaneously, both outside of time and within every tense of time. But neither inside of time nor outside of it does He ever change. His mercy endureth forever, a phrase repeated 42 times in the Old Testament.

His Justice endures forever, too, and we do NOT want shelter from it, because it's what delivers us from satan. (It is UNjust for satan to hold, control, or influence any part of God's creation.)

God's Justice is not hostile to us, but is our champion against sin, death, and the devil.

Justice is God destroying our spiritual enemies and His (satan and his minions). Justice is doing away with death, which should have no part in the creation of the God of Life. GOd's justice is to correct our ignorance by bringing us knowledge and destroying our foolishness by giving us His Wisdom, destroying our lost condition by finding us. His Justice enlightens those who were walking in darkness, grants health to the sick, mends our sorrow with joy, displaces hatred by His love, looses our legal obligation by His forgiveness (and by fulfilling our end of the contract by offering God His perfect faith, love, and obedience on our behalf). God's justice cures our sin by imparting to us His righteousness and stills the guilty conscience by His gifts of repentance and faith. God's justice thwarts the plans of the oppressor, foils the plots of the unjust, cuts short the wickedness of the sinner. In short, Divine Justice is God's Might righting every wrong, correcting every evil by good. Justice is God making everything just again, including justifying us. He set out Christ as the new Mercy seat so that He would not be seen as unjust for having neglected to do so before, so that now it might be made manifest that He is both just and the justifier of those who put their faith in Him.

The only way we'd ever want shelter from Divine Justice is if we hate justice because it threatens our own injustice, which we cherish. Or threatens our sinful, hostile notion of justice, which we also cherish. Or if we confuse Divine Justice with human justice -- which contains hostility, and indeed is based upon and IS legal hostility -- and if in that confusion we think of Justice as God's "dark side". But Scripture says, "God is light, and in Him is no darkness at all."

Divine Justice is His Love and Mercy in action. They always go together, as in:

Psa 89:14 Justice and judgment [are] the habitation of thy throne: mercy and truth shall go before thy face.

We always rejoice in God's Justice and praise Him for it and seek to dwell in it forever and ever.

But if we DO speak of God's Justice as if it were like our own, sinful, human version of it (which we sometimes do, that comparison being a figure of speech), then in the end what we must say is that "mercy cries out in triumph over judgment." (James 2:13)

Anastasia