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 Post subject: For TheJack - God is good
PostPosted: Sun Jul 14, 2019 11:18 am 
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Jack - I wanted to continue the conversation we are having here to isolate and work on the idea of God's goodness.

Correct me if I get off track.

God is good. That is, God is lacking nothing, needing nothing, perfectly God. No necessity can be put upon Him. This makes Him good, as in the analogy given me of the eye that sees. The eye sees because it is an eye. If it did not see, it would not be good because it would not be fully eye. Something would be lacking in it. The color, structure, and pieces might all be there and be good in themselves, but something would be missing.

God is missing nothing. He is wholly what He is without lack or deprivation of an sort. Am I good in my description so far?

Okay, if God is good, then anything He does needs nothing added to it to complete it, is lacking nothing in His purpose, which means that all that happens, happens from His good will and is, by extension, good, right?

This means that God can destroy as well as bring to life, and it is good because that action comes from His wholeness, from Him as being good. It is, whatever action it is, a good action, regardless of how we see or understand it? God's goodness was not missing when Sodom and Gomorrah were destroyed in fire. God's goodness was not missing when Korah was swallowed up, along with his family, for opposing Moses. God's goodness was not lacking in the 10 plagues which decimated Egypt and made the Egyptian people suffer.

Agree or disagree?

I'm going somewhere with this (as you probably have figured out) but let's keep it short and start here.


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 Post subject: Re: For TheJack - God is good
PostPosted: Sun Jul 14, 2019 2:56 pm 
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You might find it helpful to substitute "God is goodness" for "God is good;" or, if you want to stick with the traditional phrasing, you could use "God is Good." The idea here is to move away from the idea that "good" is an adjective describing God (though God is also good in that sense) and toward the idea that God's essence is goodness.

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 Post subject: Re: For TheJack - God is good
PostPosted: Sun Jul 14, 2019 3:19 pm 
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Clarity. *Like*

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 Post subject: Re: For TheJack - God is good
PostPosted: Sun Jul 14, 2019 4:35 pm 
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Obi-Wan Kenobi wrote:
You might find it helpful to substitute "God is goodness" for "God is good;" or, if you want to stick with the traditional phrasing, you could use "God is Good." The idea here is to move away from the idea that "good" is an adjective describing God (though God is also good in that sense) and toward the idea that God's essence is goodness.


Yes. That is the premise I want to establish for this discussion. God IS good.

But to clarify for me, Father, God is good not because He meets some emotional or subjective standard which we call "good," but because, as you stated, He is complete, lacking nothing, and under no obligation (necessity).

Can you validate that definition?


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 Post subject: Re: For TheJack - God is good
PostPosted: Sun Jul 14, 2019 5:28 pm 
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Which premise? You didn't restate either of the ones I offered. You went back to an ambiguous formulation.

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 Post subject: Re: For TheJack - God is good
PostPosted: Sun Jul 14, 2019 5:41 pm 
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Quote:
f you want to stick with the traditional phrasing, you could use "God is Good."


I said that in my post. Let's go with that.


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 Post subject: Re: For TheJack - God is good
PostPosted: Sun Jul 14, 2019 5:49 pm 
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For the direction you're going, that's a workable definition of the goodness of God.

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 Post subject: Re: For TheJack - God is good
PostPosted: Mon Jul 15, 2019 9:53 am 
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So....thinking about this again this morning (I actually am processing these thoughts pretty frequently)

God is good. God is under no necessity. God is complete. This is what I have been given so far.

Now let's say that I am a pagan and I hear this definition of God. This tells me nothing about His actions, i.e.. are they going to be beneficial to me or not. The only thing that it tells me is that when God acts, His actions come from a position of being perfect, that is, lacking nothing. So, in essence, God could wipe out a whole village of people just because it is His will and that action, while not good for the village or the people killed, is still an action from the completeness of God.

I hope you see where I am going with this: we have a definition of the existential reality of God - i.e., God is good, but we have no definition yet of the relational aspect of God, that is, how does His goodness (i.e., His perfection, completeness, lack of necessity) relate to me and the created world? If all we had from the Sacred Scriptures is that God is good, that could mean anything. Muslims describe their "God" as "good," but in terms of how their "God" states to act towards all those who will not bow the knee to Allah, that is a very harsh goodness!!

The only way to understand that goodness in relationship to us is by the statement of John where he says: "God is love." Love is relational. It has to do with self-sacrificial giving to another on the basis of what is proper and beneficial for that other one. Love is not emotion. It is a decision to will the best for the other and then act upon that decision to make it happen.

Therefore, in terms of relation, God is good in that His goodness is expressed as love.

Now....go ahead and tear into that post! :D


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 Post subject: Re: For TheJack - God is good
PostPosted: Mon Jul 15, 2019 10:47 am 
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You cannot say that's God's love for us compels Him to act or not act in any given way. I get your concern, and I'll address it directly below. But you simply have to commit fully to the fact that God is not under compulsion or moral law. Ironically, to put Him under such a law to preserve His goodness would actually deny Him of Perfect Goodness, because then He would not be identical with His Being.

Let me offer why I think your particular concern doesn't have to follow from God's absolute freedom. You are essentially raising the specter of what's called a Divine Command Theory of morality (which, by the way, takes us right back to the Euthyphro Dilemma -- that's one of the two horns!). On such a view, something is good simply because God does it. On such a view, God could command murder or lying or rape and it would suddenly be good. But something seems wrong about that. Yet we can't put God under compulsion and say that He can't command those things. So what gives?

The answer goes back to what I've already said: what is good is with respect to a thing's nature. Indeed, "Goodness" in general is just the word we use to refer to that reality to which we are ordered. It is "good" for an eye to see. But an eye needs light, so light is "good" for the eye. But not too much, because too much light and the eye is blinded; so the right amount of light is good. But if you look at something too long, your eyes can dry out, so rest is "good" for the eye. And so on. It isn't that light or rest are good in and of themselves. They are good with respect to the eye, and then in certain proportions. As already said, the eye has a nature (to see), so seeing just is good(ness) for the eye; and that which helps the eye see is good(ness) to that eye. And eye that fully sees literally exists more fully than one that cannot, because such an eye has been "perfected", or its telos has been found.

That doesn't just apply to eyes. It applies to anything and everything, because anything and everything has a nature. Therefore, anything and everything has that which is good for it. For some things, those goods may prove relatively minor if not boring. For others, those goods (and the associated deprivations, or evils, by the way) are very intense. Here I refer you back to Obi's discussion on the ladder of being. We exist much more intensively than cows, which exist much more intensely than rocks. Relatively few things are "good" for rocks; more things are "good" for cows; still more things are "good" for us; still more for angels, and most of all for God.

If, then, we start with this idea of good, then we ask ourselves, what is the source of the nature that determines what is good? And the answer, of course, is God. God created us with this particular nature, so that He created what is "good" for us. A good man is, rather literally, one that has fulfilled his nature and exists as he ought. Man is a rational animal, and so a good man is a rational man. He acts in accordance with his rational nature. He knows that he is a social being, and so such a man loves his neighbor. He knows that he is subject to God, and so such a man follows the Divine Law. It's not merely sin to murder God said so (although He did); it's a sin because so acting is contrary to my rational nature. It is good to love, not just because God said so (though He did); it is good because it fulfills our rational nature.

But what does all of this say about God? Remember when I said that God just is His actions. In creating us with this nature, He is revealing to us something of Himself. He is under no obligation, of course, to create us with this nature. He could have created a world with no love at all. He is free to create a dog-eat-dog world, much like you see "in the wild." And yet in creating creatures who love (and not just on a physiological level, but on the deeper level of the meaningful connection)--creating creatures with that nature--reveals something of Himself. In this, the grace of God is shown to be profound. But not in such a way that it places Him under compulsion. This is what makes the Cross of Christ so outstanding. Nothing else so exemplifies this Divine Love, the act of complete self-giving (something we see a hint of in our own nature and, thanks to sin, can never fulfill). And yet the moment you place the Cross under compulsion, it perversely loses some of that beauty; but when you see the Cross as the absolutely free act that it is, rooted in God's nature as revealed in our own, it truly becomes a thing to behold!

In short, Divine Command Theory is just so . . . shallow. And, taken far enough, it's ultimately a nominalist position because it doesn't recognize that natures are real. Look, God can do anything He wants. It's just meaningless garble to put words together in such a way as to try to pretend to imagine that He couldn't do something He set out to do. But to jump from there to fantasy worlds of God just destroying His creation willy-nilly is wrong, not because He can't, per se, but because such is completely contrary to the way both nature and Scripture teach us to think about Him. He doesn't bless us because He is Love and therefore can't help but to do good and therefore must refrain by His own nature from hurting us. He blesses us so that we might see what His Goodness, what His very Being, is, and all this so that we might better fulfill our own nature--and so do what is good for us--by His grace and power, so that we might be fulfilled and happy.

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 Post subject: Re: For TheJack - God is good
PostPosted: Mon Jul 15, 2019 12:42 pm 
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You cannot say that's God's love for us compels Him to act or not act in any given way. I get your concern, and I'll address it directly below. But you simply have to commit fully to the fact that God is not under compulsion or moral law. Ironically, to put Him under such a law to preserve His goodness would actually deny Him of Perfect Goodness, because then He would not be identical with His Being.

Now it shall start to get interesting.

I agree that God is not under compulsion. But can God act in any way that is outside of His being? In other words, what God IS God also will DO. He cannot do something that is outside of the bounds of what He IS.


Let me offer why I think your particular concern doesn't have to follow from God's absolute freedom. You are essentially raising the specter of what's called a Divine Command Theory of morality (which, by the way, takes us right back to the Euthyphro Dilemma -- that's one of the two horns!). On such a view, something is good simply because God does it. On such a view, God could command murder or lying or rape and it would suddenly be good. But something seems wrong about that. Yet we can't put God under compulsion and say that He can't command those things. So what gives?

The answer goes back to what I've already said: what is good is with respect to a thing's nature.

This is exactly the point I have been trying to make over the last couple of days. What IS the nature of God? Do we have any idea, or do we simply speculate what His nature is? Well, in respect that you have insisted that I must stick to Scripture (divine revelation) in trying to prove Apokatastasis, we do indeed know exactly what God's nature is. God IS love. Therefore, what is good about God must be in respect to the divine nature - i.e., love. This is precisely why we don't say that God could order rape or murder and suddenly these acts would be "good." It is because of the nature, the very essence of God. Good, as the perfection of God, must be defined in respect to nature.

And this is where I have a problem with certain theologies which try to identify God as "justice." There is nothing in the Sacred Scriptures which says "God is justice." Yet the way I see certain theologies, especially in respect to the eschaton and the Judgment of God, one would think that is precisely what God is in His essence and perfection. This is where we disagree.


Indeed, "Goodness" in general is just the word we use to refer to that reality to which we are ordered.

This is a profound statement!!! It is the heart of Eastern theology and anthropology. Jack, to what are we ordered? Are we ordered, as St. Augustine said (sorry, Father, but Augustine started this) as a massa damnata to God's wrath and that wrath to last eternally? Important question: to what were we ordered in the beginning, when mankind was created? Were we ordered to condemnation, or something greater? Did the Fall change this so that man is now by his being ordered to damnation? To read many of the Roman Catholic and Fundamentalist thoughts I see on the Internet and elsewhere, one would think that this is the answer - we are ordered to nothing but condemnation, and God is good to do this.

If, then, we start with this idea of good, then we ask ourselves, what is the source of the nature that determines what is good? And the answer, of course, is God. God created us with this particular nature, so that He created what is "good" for us. A good man is, rather literally, one that has fulfilled his nature and exists as he ought. Man is a rational animal, and so a good man is a rational man. He acts in accordance with his rational nature. He knows that he is a social being, and so such a man loves his neighbor. He knows that he is subject to God, and so such a man follows the Divine Law. It's not merely sin to murder God said so (although He did); it's a sin because so acting is contrary to my rational nature. It is good to love, not just because God said so (though He did); it is good because it fulfills our rational nature.

But what does all of this say about God? Remember when I said that God just is His actions.

And if you take away the divine nature, the essence of God, what do you have left? The "God" of the Aztecs, who demanded living human hearts. That is why it is so vitally important that "God is love" be at the center of any conversation regarding any action of His taken towards us. Without this understanding, you not only can come up with any conclusion regarding the action itself, but you can imprint upon God the character of any number of violent, vile, and false "gods" that the pagans hold to. Do you see how important this is?

And since God IS love, then that must become part of the equation in regards not only to all that He does or allows down here, but in the eschatological realm as well.


In creating us with this nature, He is revealing to us something of Himself. He is under no obligation, of course, to create us with this nature. He could have created a world with no love at all. He is free to create a dog-eat-dog world, much like you see "in the wild." And yet in creating creatures who love (and not just on a physiological level, but on the deeper level of the meaningful connection)--creating creatures with that nature--reveals something of Himself. In this, the grace of God is shown to be profound. But not in such a way that it places Him under compulsion. This is what makes the Cross of Christ so outstanding. Nothing else so exemplifies this Divine Love, the act of complete self-giving (something we see a hint of in our own nature and, thanks to sin, can never fulfill). And yet the moment you place the Cross under compulsion, it perversely loses some of that beauty; but when you see the Cross as the absolutely free act that it is, rooted in God's nature as revealed in our own, it truly becomes a thing to behold!

In short, Divine Command Theory is just so . . . shallow. And, taken far enough, it's ultimately a nominalist position because it doesn't recognize that natures are real. Look, God can do anything He wants. It's just meaningless garble to put words together in such a way as to try to pretend to imagine that He couldn't do something He set out to do. But to jump from there to fantasy worlds of God just destroying His creation willy-nilly is wrong, not because He can't, per se, but because such is completely contrary to the way both nature and Scripture teach us to think about Him. He doesn't bless us because He is Love and therefore can't help but to do good and therefore must refrain by His own nature from hurting us. He blesses us so that we might see what His Goodness, what His very Being, is, and all this so that we might better fulfill our own nature--and so do what is good for us--by His grace and power, so that we might be fulfilled and happy.[/quote]

Agreed. So why then does everyone get their knickers in a twist when we, in our hope of that reality - God IS love - put forth the idea that this nature of God does not cease in the next life. To read certain things I have read, one would come to think that the minute a sinner dies, God no longer is love, but instead, the equation becomes God IS Wrath. As I said, this is the kind of preaching I was subject to for 25 years, some of it quite colorful and intense (I guess to scare sinners into "accepting Jesus"). I do not wish to serve God simply as either fire insurance or because I am terrified of Him and of pissing Him off. I want to be able to enter into a loving relationship I which my heart is moved by love. Therefore, I am starting to reject any description of Him which is inconsistent with the foundational scripture regarding our Father - God is love.


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 Post subject: Re: For TheJack - God is good
PostPosted: Tue Jul 16, 2019 2:50 pm 
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Light of the East wrote:
To read certain things I have read, one would come to think that the minute a sinner dies, God no longer is love, but instead, the equation becomes God IS Wrath.
But isn't that just a restatement of the Eastern view of damnation that you have cited many times - that God's nature comes across precisely as wrath for those who are damned?

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 Post subject: Re: For TheJack - God is good
PostPosted: Tue Jul 16, 2019 3:42 pm 
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Closet Catholic wrote:
Light of the East wrote:
To read certain things I have read, one would come to think that the minute a sinner dies, God no longer is love, but instead, the equation becomes God IS Wrath.
But isn't that just a restatement of the Eastern view of damnation that you have cited many times - that God's nature comes across precisely as wrath for those who are damned?


No. Not at all. Go back and read what I said. I said that the sinner experiences it as wrath, even though it is love. There is a big difference between that and the way that some people describe God in regards to the sinner once the sinner has died.

Think of the dwarves in C.S. Lewis's THE LAST BATTLE. Aslan is begged by Lucy to help them and do some good for them, which Aslan, being all-merciful, doe. He sets before them a glorious banquet with goblets of the finest wine. Yet when the dwarves taste it, to them it is stale vegetables and sour water from a horse trough. Lewis was more Eastern in his thinking than he realized.

The question then becomes this, and we have batted this around infinitum here on the forum. Is the sinner able to be changed in the next life? I say yes, and I say that precisely because we are commanded by the Church, both East and West, to pray for the departed. If change were not possible, then such activity would be a fairly foolish waste of good time.

Here is a little piece from The Infernus Files which perhaps better describes this event. Master Imp Trainer Infernus is speaking to Wormtrot, who has attempted to blackmail certain information out of him regarding the final destiny of human souls:

Quote:
The soul of a human being could be compared to a seed, similar to an acorn of one of those oak trees that infest the planet. In the beginning, from the moment of its conception in a human body, it is pure and shining. We are sustained by evil, therefore, our work is to provide ourselves with food by bringing that soul to wrap itself in sins. Those unborn who are aborted, as well as the young up to a certain age at which they come to understand right from wrong, we cannot get. Sin is a willing and knowledgeable participation in an evil act. Only after the soul has reached what is termed “the age of accountability,” which differs in each soul, not by age but by the use of reason, are we able to begin to cultivate that soul to become our ultimate sustenance.

The best illustration I can give you is an onion. It is a plant which has layers of of edible fiber laying one on top of the other. Peel them away, one by one, and you get to a central core of the vegetable. This is a very good description of how the human soul exists. Every sin adds a layer to the soul, a nice layer of evil upon which we desire to feast. There are men like Adolph Hitler, Pol Pot, Mao Zedong, and other especially evil ones who are so deeply layered that we will probably feast on them for all eternity. Every murder that happened in Hitler’s Germany, every soul that went into the gas chambers or was killed by one of his depraved SS guards, added a layer of evil to his soul. You can’t even begin to imagine how deep the layers run on men like him. I personally own the soul of a warrior by the name of Genghis Khan. It is deeply depraved, being filled with layers of bloodlust and fornication, murder and treachery that I have been feasting on for over a thousand years of the human’s earth time and still have hardly made a dent. Every time I peel off a layer, he is made to experience the reality of just how heinous that particular act was, and his torment is a most a delightful garnish. A bottle of Old Clovenhoof or Hellfire Brew makes for a truly enjoyable night.

Every layer we peel off causes a soul exquisite pain. For instance, every time a layer is consumed from an abortionist, that soul feels the exact pain and terror that one of his aborted victims suffered. The evil energy of those acts is what keeps our own evil going. Screams add to the delight as we strengthen our ourselves. Imagine how long you could delight yourself with a politician who has repeatedly voted for “abortion rights” in America? Every human baby killed adds one more layer to that politician’s soul, and we are up to sixty million aborted now. You should have seen the fight over the fattened soul of Margaret Sanger when she died. It was finally decided that she was so overloaded with layer after layer of evil that all the master trainers could have at her and we would not in a million years begin to make even a dent in her. I tell you now, she is one of the most delectable morsels you will ever ingest, but right now she is a special prize for master trainers and exceptional students in our training. Being that she promoted abortion, contraception, sterility, and death, you will be amazed at the flavor one of her layers exudes – that is, if you study diligently and produce outstanding results. Ask Slimeous IV, who is in the class above you, regarding the delicacy of malevolence within her. He brought a hundred new souls to us in one week, and thus was invited to the Master’s table. An exemplary and outstanding student.

But now let us get to your rumor, and again I warn you, unless you want to join that choir of screaming torment which is the constant noise of hell (music to our ears) you best keep to yourself what I am about to tell you. I know I repeat myself, but that is just how serious this thing is.

There comes a point in time for every soul upon which we feast in which every layer of wickedness is consumed. When the last layer of reprobation is stripped away, there is a sudden and unexpected burst of painful light from the seed. I know – I once experienced it and it is most distasteful. All that is left is the seed, the bright and shining kernel that was the newly formed soul at the beginning of its existence.

Such seeds are immediately sent to the Great Outer Waste where their shining existence will not bother us. The light they put off causes us great torment because within it is the light of the Enemy Himself. Remember, every soul, no matter how depraved it has become, or how heavily layered it is with evil, has this seed at the center of it. There is no such thing as a soul that is 100% purely evil, that Calvinist fantasy we started called “Total Depravity.

This is “The Image of God,” and it is the locus of every soul. The rumor you heard is that the Enemy, from time to time, according to His own mysterious plans, enters the Great Outer Waste, picks up the discarded seeds, and takes them to Himself. According to the pronouncements of our Enemy’s Church, sins must be punished. Our devouring of every layer of those sins, along with the accompanying pain and torments, appears to be the punishment. Once that is over, the sins are gone and the seed exposed, the Enemy is free to come and take them to Himself.

And yes, it is true.


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 Post subject: Re: For TheJack - God is good
PostPosted: Wed Jul 17, 2019 11:21 am 
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Light of the East wrote:
But can God act in any way that is outside of His being? In other words, what God IS God also will DO. He cannot do something that is outside of the bounds of what He IS.

I don't know if this is just poor language or if there is still something not quite clicking yet, but I'm very uncomfortable with this phrasing. The first question is nonsensical. I mean that sincerely. It would be like asking of a triangle could be a four-sided figure. There are lots of problems. To list a few . ..

"any way" -- This presupposes a range of possibilities in which at least one is limited. But this presupposes some limiting principle on God, which is meaningless.
"outside" -- the idea of something being "outside" of God, much less the of idea of God acting in some way "outside" of Himself presupposes some limitations on God, either conceptual or even spacial, which is meaningless. God isn't limited, so "outside" doesn't really apply to Him in any meaningful way.
"His being" -- and if we're being technical, we should be careful with talking about "His" being as if it were something He possessed. God does not have a nature. He just is His nature. You have a human nature, so you are distinct from your nature. That's incredibly important to Eastern theology, btw (and to all Christian theology); it forms part of the basis of the Nicene Creed. Jesus is one Person with two natures. If you were identical to your human nature, then so would Jesus be, and so He would be two persons!

Now if God does not have a nature, but just is a nature, then "His nature" is just what He is. And what is He? The Latin answer is ipsum esse subsistens -- Existence Existing in Itself. That's the reason that He is His actions. He is not a being that does this or that. Rather, He is identical with "the doing of that." That's just His essence -- the act of being. And he "be's" in whatever way He chooses to be. And that choice just is His essence, necessarily, and absolutely freely. Anyway, to continue . . .

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This is exactly the point I have been trying to make over the last couple of days. What IS the nature of God? Do we have any idea, or do we simply speculate what His nature is? Well, in respect that you have insisted that I must stick to Scripture (divine revelation) in trying to prove Apokatastasis, we do indeed know exactly what God's nature is. God IS love. Therefore, what is good about God must be in respect to the divine nature - i.e., love. This is precisely why we don't say that God could order rape or murder and suddenly these acts would be "good." It is because of the nature, the very essence of God. Good, as the perfection of God, must be defined in respect to nature.

And this is where I have a problem with certain theologies which try to identify God as "justice." There is nothing in the Sacred Scriptures which says "God is justice." Yet the way I see certain theologies, especially in respect to the eschaton and the Judgment of God, one would think that is precisely what God is in His essence and perfection. This is where we disagree.

As stated above, God's nature is Being Itself. To use I think still a little better language, His nature is the Act of Acts. That relies on a pretty good understanding of the potentiality/actuality distinction, but the idea is that there must be some Act that is not a reduction of potentiality to actuality but just is Act Itself. Thus, by the very nature of that conception (pun intended), there can be no potentiality prior to this Act. God just "is" God. He just "is" that principle by which all actuality is actualized.

So this is where you go off the rails. You say, "God IS love. Therefore, what is good about God must be in respect to the divine nature - i.e., love. This is precisely why we don't say that God could order rape or murder and suddenly these acts would be "good." Notice the "therefore." You have created an argument, which is to say, you are attempting to deduce something from something else. You are deducing from the fact that God is love that God cannot do something, i.e., call rape or murder good. But try to schematize that--try to put it into a syllogism. Something like:

1. God is love
2. ?
3. Therefore, God cannot call rape "good"

You can certainly insert a premise that will render the argument valid. But I think you'll find that such a premise will of itself presuppose that goodness or love are concepts outside of God to which He submits or confines Himself or conforms to. To be as clear as possible, we cannot say that God cannot do something because it isn't up to a standard; it's that we cannot say something meets up to some standard becausse that is not what God is (and that by His free choice).

To get a bit technical, I'm not advocating a position called Volunteerism here (volunteerism with respect to God's acts). If that comes up for you or any other readers, I'd refer you back to my previous comments on nominalism, because volunteerism as understood by Luther and Calvin was, I contend, fundamentally or at least presuppose nominalism.

Finally, Scriptures most certain do say that God is justice. Every time the Bible says that God is just or righteous, that's exactly the claim. The fact that an adjective is being used rather than a noun is irrelevant. For something to be just (adjective) means that is has the quality of being just. But to have the quality of being just is to participate in the form of justice. But God neither participates in forms nor has qualities. He simply is His essence, such that for God to be Just is just for God to be Justice. Moreover, as God is love and God is good, just so, for God to be Justice means that justice is not a standard compare God against; rather, we say that something is just insofar as participates in the Divine Nature. Thus, God is Justice exactly as, and no less than, God is Love or God is Being or God is Good or anything else like that.

When I say you need to make an argument from Scripture, I mean that you cannot appeal to God's nature to limit His actions. You can't make an argument of absolute necessity. You must make an argument of necessity by supposition. For example, there's nothing necessary about Christ having been born of a virgin. We can't make an argument from reason alone or from absolute necessity that such is true. But we can argue that Scripture says that God, in fact, did incarnate in a virgin woman, and as God chose to do so (as revealed in Scripture), we believe it to be true.

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This is a profound statement!!! It is the heart of Eastern theology and anthropology. Jack, to what are we ordered? Are we ordered, as St. Augustine said (sorry, Father, but Augustine started this) as a massa damnata to God's wrath and that wrath to last eternally? Important question: to what were we ordered in the beginning, when mankind was created? Were we ordered to condemnation, or something greater? Did the Fall change this so that man is now by his being ordered to damnation? To read many of the Roman Catholic and Fundamentalist thoughts I see on the Internet and elsewhere, one would think that this is the answer - we are ordered to nothing but condemnation, and God is good to do this.

I think Fr Obi addressed this already. We aren't "ordered to" heaven or damnation. We are ordered to God, generally. Whether or not the quality of that ordering in our eternal state is one of bliss or torment isn't particularly relevant to us actually being ordered. In fact, it is precisely because we are ordered to God that eternal torment is, in fact, torturous. I'm not particularly opposed to what you are calling the Eastern view of damnation. I do think it is too concerned with "getting God off the hook", but the basic idea of the torture being rooted in our own inability to attain to our ultimate good and so the complete and total disordering of our passions is, I think, defensible enough. I don't think that has any relevance to the question of universal salvation.

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And if you take away the divine nature, the essence of God, what do you have left?

Again, this is, at best, sloppy thinking. It is meaningless to talk of taking away the divine nature. Love isn't a quality of the divine nature. God isn't "loving" in that sense. It just means that He has chosen to be such that He wills the good of the other; and in His case, that means willing the good of the other persons in the Trinity. Yet this good is nothing more than His own essence, which is, again, the willing of the good, the self-perfection or fullness of His being. It is fitting (not necessary) for Him to make creatures that will the good of others and so participate in this nature and call that willing "love." But none of that limits God or speaks to what He must or must not do with His creationss

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The "God" of the Aztecs, who demanded living human hearts. That is why it is so vitally important that "God is love" be at the center of any conversation regarding any action of His taken towards us. Without this understanding, you not only can come up with any conclusion regarding the action itself, but you can imprint upon God the character of any number of violent, vile, and false "gods" that the pagans hold to. Do you see how important this is?

And since God IS love, then that must become part of the equation in regards not only to all that He does or allows down here, but in the eschatological realm as well.

The problem with the gods of the Aztecs isn't that they demanded immoral sacrifices. It is that they were mere creatures. Powerful ones, for sure. But mere creatures all the same. They were not Being In Itself.

As far as being able to come up with any conclusion regarding God's actions, you are actually correct. And that's important. We absolutely cannot reason from God's nature as to what He must do or have done. We can only reason the other way. We can look at what God has done, is doing, has promised to do, completely freely, and see what that says about His nature. I don't trust that God is better than the God of the Aztecs because He conforms to a standard of "love" that I think they did not. I trust Him because He Is. And He has revealed that nature to be a loving nature, but that after the fact of His existence and power and freedom being made known.

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Agreed. So why then does everyone get their knickers in a twist when we, in our hope of that reality - God IS love - put forth the idea that this nature of God does not cease in the next life. To read certain things I have read, one would come to think that the minute a sinner dies, God no longer is love, but instead, the equation becomes God IS Wrath. As I said, this is the kind of preaching I was subject to for 25 years, some of it quite colorful and intense (I guess to scare sinners into "accepting Jesus"). I do not wish to serve God simply as either fire insurance or because I am terrified of Him and of pissing Him off. I want to be able to enter into a loving relationship I which my heart is moved by love. Therefore, I am starting to reject any description of Him which is inconsistent with the foundational scripture regarding our Father - God is love.

People get frustrated because 1) you keep making an argument from necessity binding God's actions and thereby placing Him under compulsion and there by denying His divinity; and 2) while not proffering an argument from Scripture itself (other than you deduction from "God is Love" that He could not damn people for eternity), there are many arguments from both Scripture and tradition that God does, in fact, damn people. That doesn't mean you can't present a counter argument from Scripture and tradition. I just keep saying that is what you need to do -- present a positive case from Scripture that God will save all; not merely argue from Scripture that "Because of XXX God cannot damn/must save."

Sorry for the length! :(

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 Post subject: Re: For TheJack - God is good
PostPosted: Wed Jul 17, 2019 2:07 pm 
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Thank you.

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Now if God does not have a nature, but just is a nature, then "His nature" is just what He is. And what is He? The Latin answer is ipsum esse subsistens -- Existence Existing in Itself. That's the reason that He is His actions. He is not a being that does this or that. Rather, He is identical with "the doing of that." That's just His essence -- the act of being. And he "be's" in whatever way He chooses to be. And that choice just is His essence, necessarily, and absolutely freely. Anyway, to continue . . .


I'll read the rest later. When I read this, my first immediate thought was "and this is where the problem is."

Jack, you mentioned that I had to stick within the bounds of Scripture in trying to defend certain propositions.

God is much more than just ipsum esse subsistens.

We have Scripture that states that God is love. We have Scripture that appears to define that love in certain terms, such as in Matthew 5, 1 Corinthians 13, and Jesus telling us that the unseen God is "Father." i don't deny your definition, but in regards to what started this rather interesting conversation, i.e., the idea that God's love finds a way to save all eventually (Apokatastasis) it is really very bare bones.

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He is identical with "the doing of that."


I hope you realize that despite my mangling of the English language, that is exactly what I have tried to say. God is. All that He does is simply a part of "IS." But what IS God.

Love.

Anything therefore that describes an action which is outside the parameters of love, as God has Himself defined it in Sacred Scripture, is not God.

Shall we take it from here?

PS -- Okay, I read down to the bottom.

Quote:
People get frustrated because 1) you keep making an argument from necessity binding God's actions and thereby placing Him under compulsion and there by denying His divinity; and 2) while not proffering an argument from Scripture itself (other than you deduction from "God is Love" that He could not damn people for eternity), there are many arguments from both Scripture and tradition that God does, in fact, damn people. That doesn't mean you can't present a counter argument from Scripture and tradition. I just keep saying that is what you need to do -- present a positive case from Scripture that God will save all; not merely argue from Scripture that "Because of XXX God cannot damn/must save."


1. That is NOT what I am doing. You just told me in your post exactly why God will eventually save everyone. Because He IS -- and what HE IS is love. Therefore, He cannot act outside of what He is. This is not compulsion. Read the passages in Matthew and 1 Corinthians. I find nowhere that love, as expressed in these passages, is consistent with the ideas that Dante popularized in the Divine Comedy. And as said in regards to what love means, "God speaks in our language." That is, God created language for our communication and understanding, therefore, when He speaks, it is as we understand. The words mean things.

2. The arguments from Scripture for eternal damnation are based on atrocious misinterpretation of certain words, phrases, and in at least one case, an entire parable that the Lord taught. "Aionion" does not mean eternal. Dr. Ilaria Ramelli, a Greek scholar, has written a rather large tome on Apokatastasis in which she makes this quite clear. If I was a Greek speaking person reading papyri fragments of the New Testament in the third century and came across verses with the word "aionion" in them, I would in no way think that it meant "eternal." And I don't have to be a man who knows and has been taught Greek so that I am fluent in it to open up Blue Letter Bible with its Greek interlinear and read what is there. I am smart enough and have the ability to read the works of scholars and see that someone has been playing fast and loose with the translations. For instance, the old Douay-Rheims translation of the Scriptures reads thusly:

Luke 16: 30 "But he said: No, father Abraham: but if one went to them from the dead, they will do penance."

Utter and complete mistranslation of the Greek word "Metanoia," which means "to change one's mind." It has NOTHING to do with acts of self-flagellation or other deeds which are designed to "pay off the guilt one holds"

I'm sorry .... this is getting longer than I want it to go

AND

I'm getting my knickers in a knot emotionally, so I want to back off.

Back to my first posting. What is love, Jack? How does love act? I think this a worthy discussion because since God IS love, then if we understand love, we understand a little bit about our loving heavenly Father.


Last edited by Light of the East on Wed Jul 17, 2019 2:25 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject: Re: For TheJack - God is good
PostPosted: Wed Jul 17, 2019 2:15 pm 
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There's no where else to go. If you deny that God is ispum esse subsistens, then there is no way forward whatsoever. You are in direct contradiction to Church teaching, both of the East and the West (not in the verbiage necessarily, but certainly in the idea it conveys), and in so rejecting it you necessarily entail composition in God. Any such composition denies God's divinity, sovereignty, deity, etc. Either God is ispum esse subsistens, or God does not exist.

edit:

As an aside, when I said that you have to defend your position from Scripture, I was speaking only of any claim as to what God has done. You do not need to limit yourself to Scripture when discussing what must be true regarding God's nature. In fact, I have limited myself entirely to what we know to be true regarding God's nature my general reason. I have said that you cannot prove by reason alone that God damns anyone or that He saves everyone. All such arguments must be rooted in Scripture and/or Tradition. You cannot, cannot, cannot make arguments as to what God does based on His nature, i.e., from reason alone, because that requires God to act some way for a reason; but if God acts for a reason, God is subject to those conditions. So that sort of reasoning is entirely backwards. We reason from God's creation to His nature, and we acknowledge what He says about what He will do. The former is based primarily on reason; the latter on Scripture and Tradition. The question of God's nature is of the former kind; the question of who God saves is of the latter.

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Indeed, the Lord Jesus, when He prayed to the Father, "that all may be one. . . as we are one" (John 17:21-22) opened up vistas closed to human reason, for He implied a certain likeness between the union of the divine Persons, and the unity of God's sons in truth and charity. This likeness reveals that man, who is the only creature on earth which God willed for itself, cannot fully find himself except through a sincere gift of himself. ~ Pope Paul VI, Gaudium et Spes 24.3


Last edited by theJack on Wed Jul 17, 2019 2:20 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject: Re: For TheJack - God is good
PostPosted: Wed Jul 17, 2019 2:16 pm 
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God is not more than existence. This is a heresy, though you don't mean it to be. God does not have properties apart from His essence.

By forcing everything into "God is love," and then insisting (as I've point out before) that you (or any human being) has an adequately comprehensive knowledge of what that means, you break God. It's the ultimate proof-texting: one verse has to carry the whole of theology.

What you're doing is called "theistic personalism." That holds that God is just like us, only without a body and a lot more powerful. And it's wrong. In the apt phrase of the Anglican theologian J. B. Phillips, your God is too small. (I don't endorse everything he said, but the concept is sound; we all try to cut God down into something we can understand.)

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 Post subject: Re: For TheJack - God is good
PostPosted: Wed Jul 17, 2019 2:47 pm 
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God is not more than existence. This is a heresy, though you don't mean it to be. God does not have properties apart from His essence.

By forcing everything into "God is love," and then insisting (as I've point out before) that you (or any human being) has an adequately comprehensive knowledge of what that means, you break God. It's the ultimate proof-texting: one verse has to carry the whole of theology.

What you're doing is called "theistic personalism." That holds that God is just like us, only without a body and a lot more powerful. And it's wrong. In the apt phrase of the Anglican theologian J. B. Phillips, your God is too small. (I don't endorse everything he said, but the concept is sound; we all try to cut God down into something we can understand.)


Father, I didn't say that God has properties. I said that God IS love. This is His existence. Now I'm quoting Scripture and I am still being told I am wrong. This is .......bizarre.

Divine Revelation tells us that God is love. What weight does divine revelation carry? And if it is being revealed to us, then is it really "theistic personalism" to insist that when God speaks to us using language, analogies, and metaphors that we can readily understand, we are to understand them in exactly that manner. When God is revealed in Christ as "Father," we know that the analogy is not complete, but that there are certain things we can take from this based on a proper understanding of what it means to be a father:

Protection, love, generation of life, family.

What a father does not do is to take his children and hold their hands over an open flame forever for disobedience. A father does not beat a sick child forever, and our state is one of sickness which makes us do all the wrong things in regards to the good to which we are ordered.

It seems to me that the idea of God being above and beyond us so that we cannot fully understand Him in all His glory is more of an escape hatch that is being used to deny the force of the language which was used in the Scriptures. All of a sudden, love no longer means what we understand it to mean, but because God is unknowable, love can be burning souls forever in dreadful torments, and that is perfectly okay and consistent with love.

And then back to the OP (I don't wish to get derailed here) -- Yes, under your understanding, God could do that and He would be "good" because He IS, lacking nothing and therefore perfect, complete, and under no compulsion to do otherwise.

EXCEPT

That according to Matthew 5 & 1 Corinthians 13,which define "love" for us, He would not be acting within the bound of what He is. As Jack and you have said, and I'm sorry if my language is not precise as it could be, God is what He does, He does what He is. If He is love, then He acts as love acts. That is all He can do

And if love tortures people forever, rather than attempting to heal them through scourging and restoration, then that is a very distorted picture of love to me, not based on my feelings, but again based on the scriptural revelation of what love is.

God is not just like man (divine personalism). God forbid! He is better than us, for we are filled with a serious desire to hurt out enemies, to punish them in dreadful ways, to act more like the devil than love. That is us. Don't you see that I am making God so much more transcendent than we are precisely because He acts completely unlike us in forgiving even His enemies and bringing them to Himself to heal them. We would just throw our enemies in the fire and walk away laughing. And personally, knowing that the Scriptures do not teach such a thing as an eternal hell in the original Greek, I think that's exactly what happened - we, beginning seriously with the half-pagan Emperor Justinian, imprinted our desire for revenge onto our Father, for whatever reason seemed good to us (in Justinian's case, it was to keep the rabble from pursuing sin because they feared punishment).


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 Post subject: Re: For TheJack - God is good
PostPosted: Wed Jul 17, 2019 2:49 pm 
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How about this question --

If I was a pagan, walking down the road, minding my own business, and I found a fragment from the Bible, a single verse which said "God is love."

What would I picture God to be in my mind?


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 Post subject: Re: For TheJack - God is good
PostPosted: Wed Jul 17, 2019 4:08 pm 
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When Moses asked God what His Name is, God did not reply, "My Name is love." He could have, but He didn't. He said, "I AM." God names Himself as subsistent being.

The reason St. John can write that God is love (and, for that matter, the reason that Jesus can name Himself the Way, the Truth, and the Life) is that we can only deal with God in pieces, even though we don't always see how the pieces fit together. God is love, but He is also (as tJ has pointed out) justice and a whole host of other things. None of those things provides an adequate comprehensive description of Him. Each names what appears to us to be a facet of the whole, but that is a limitation on our part, not something intrinsic to God Himself.

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 Post subject: Re: For TheJack - God is good
PostPosted: Wed Jul 17, 2019 4:19 pm 
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theJack is right, by the way. It's really not possible to proceed on any basis other than that God's essence is being. Otherwise, we're just not talking about the same thing at all.

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