Does God punish?


#1

There are some people or maybe religion saying that God doesn't punish, but instead, they say that only we punish ourselves. But I've read some of the bible and came across information that God punishes.

*
1. Didn't God punished Cain, Sodom and Gomorrah.

  1. Exodus 20:5
    You shall not bow down to them or worship them; for I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God, punishing the children for the sin of the parents to the third and fourth generation of those who hate me,

  2. Leviticus 18:25
    25 Even the land was defiled; so I punished it for its sin, and the land vomited out its inhabitants.

  3. Leviticus 20

  4. Leviticus 26:18
    18 “‘If after all this you will not listen to me, I will punish you for your sins seven times over.

  5. Leviticus 26:14-46

  6. 1Samuel 15:2
    This is what the Lord Almighty says: ‘I will punish the Amalekites for what they did to Israel when they waylaid them as they came up from Egypt.

8: 1 Chronicles 21:6-7
6 But Joab did not include Levi and Benjamin in the numbering, because the king’s command was repulsive to him. 7 This command was also evil in the sight of God; so he punished Israel.

  1. Isaiah 13:11 I will punish the world for its evil, the wicked for their sins. I will put an end to the arrogance of the haughty and will humble the pride of the ruthless*

There's alot of it in Prophetic bible books. It think it's different New Testament. There might only be one punishment which is Hell. I'd like some Catholic views on this.


#2

It's complicated. We must never forget the following about the New Covenant:

"The time is coming," declares the Lord, "when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah. It will not be like the covenant I made with their forefathers when I took them by the hand to lead them out of Egypt, because they broke my covenant, though I was a husband to them," declares the Lord.

"This is the covenant I will make with the house of Israel after that time," declares the Lord. "I will put my law in their minds and write it on their hearts. I will be their God, and they will be my people.

And they shall teach no more every man his neighbour, and every man his brother, saying: Know the Lord: for all shall know me from the least of them even to the greatest, says the Lord:

for I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more.

(Jeremiah 31)

"I, even I, am he who blots out your transgressions, for my own sake, and remembers your sins no more."

(Isaiah 43:25)

For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.

Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because he has not believed in the name of God's one and only Son.

This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but men loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil. Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light for fear that his deeds will be exposed.

(John 3)

So we see that they were not able to enter, because of their unbelief.

(Hebrews 3:19)

In short: there is a major difference in the way the Lord deals with sinners. One thing was the Old Covenant, another thing is the New and everlasting Covenant, which (unlike the old one) is rooted on mercy and on the forgiveness of sins, and united in the Holy Spirit, something unheard of before Christ.

The state of eternal separation from the beatific vision (which we call hell) is not God's punishment: it's our own rejection of God. While in this life, Christ gained for us all the possibility to always repent, and He will never refuse a contrite heart. But those who reject God in this life and die unrepentant, will reject God when their soul steps out of time into eternity. Our Lady, in some private revelation, once said that God would be willing to forgive them, but they simply will not and cannot repent - they are beyond salvation.

The state of purification known as purgatory is indeed the effect of divine justice: the holy souls are saved, but not yet admitted to the beatific vision; they are only delivered by the prayers and works of the Church Militant (that's us) and they are suffering the same identical pains of the state of hell, except for the greatest one, the knowledge of eternal separation (since they know their state is only temporary). In the private revelation to St. Faustina of the Blessed Sacrament, the Lord Jesus showed her the poor souls in Purgatory and said: "my mercy does not want this, but my justice requires it".


#3

Souldiver,you mentioned,
2. Exodus 20:5
You shall not bow down to them or worship them; for I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God, punishing the children for the sin of the parents to the third and fourth generation of those who hate me,

The Israelites were in the desert for 40 years before entering the promised land.
That would be 40 generations.

Some christians believe that parents who are great sinners, that the punishment is even transmitted to their children after they die for several generations.

I have never seen any offical teaching on this from the church.


#4

[quote="R_C, post:2, topic:309563"]
It's complicated. We must never forget the following about the New Covenant:

In short: there is a major difference in the way the Lord deals with sinners. One thing was the Old Covenant, another thing is the New and everlasting Covenant, which (unlike the old one) is rooted on mercy and on the forgiveness of sins, and united in the Holy Spirit, something unheard of before Christ.

The state of eternal separation from the beatific vision (which we call hell) is not God's punishment: it's our own rejection of God. While in this life, Christ gained for us all the possibility to always repent, and He will never refuse a contrite heart. But those who reject God in this life and die unrepentant, will reject God when their soul steps out of time into eternity. Our Lady, in some private revelation, once said that God would be willing to forgive them, but they simply will not and cannot repent - they are beyond salvation.

The state of purification known as purgatory is indeed the effect of divine justice: the holy souls are saved, but not yet admitted to the beatific vision; they are only delivered by the prayers and works of the Church Militant (that's us) and they are suffering the same identical pains of the state of hell, except for the greatest one, the knowledge of eternal separation (since they know their state is only temporary). In the private revelation to St. Faustina of the Blessed Sacrament, the Lord Jesus showed her the poor souls in Purgatory and said: "my mercy does not want this, but my justice requires it".

[/quote]

I must disagree. The so-called Old Covenant, which Jews call the everlasting Covenant, is replete with G-d's acts of mercy and the forgiveness of sins in many passages of the Hebrew Bible.


#5

[quote="fred_conty, post:3, topic:309563"]
The Israelites were in the desert for 40 years before entering the promised land.
That would be 40 generations.

[/quote]

???

Where did you get this?


#6

[quote="fred_conty, post:3, topic:309563"]
Souldiver,you mentioned,
2. Exodus 20:5
You shall not bow down to them or worship them; for I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God, punishing the children for the sin of the parents to the third and fourth generation of those who hate me,

The Israelites were in the desert for 40 years before entering the promised land.
That would be 40 generations.

Some christians believe that parents who are great sinners, that the punishment is even transmitted to their children after they die for several generations.

I have never seen any offical teaching on this from the church.

[/quote]

The Torah also states that fathers shall not be put to death for the sins of their children and neither shall children be put to death for the sins of their fathers. This may be interpreted as according to human law rather than divine punishment. However, there are other rabbinical interpretations which strongly indicate that Divine Law is contrary to punishing anyone for the sins of another. One such interpretation is that successive generations are more likely to learn the ways of their sinful parents and therefore likewise warrant punishment, whether human or divine.


#7

[quote="meltzerboy, post:6, topic:309563"]
The Torah also states that fathers shall not be put to death for the sins of their children and neither shall children be put to death for the sins of their fathers. This may be interpreted as according to human law rather than divine punishment. However, there are other rabbinical interpretations which strongly indicate that Divine Law is contrary to punishing anyone for the sins of another. One such interpretation is that successive generations are more likely to learn the ways of their sinful parents and therefore likewise warrant punishment, whether human or divine./QUOTE]

That has been my understanding as well, coupled with the idea that it typically takes 3-4 generations for people to realize that they've really been going downhill, and they need to change their practices.

[/quote]


#8

Of course God punishes.

How could anyone think otherwise? :)

Some people think all punishment is evil, but this is not Christian morality, but a sentimental morality where any pain must be evil. It is a great error. It causes a good deal of trouble. It denies justice.

The God of the Old Testament and New are the same God, and all His actions to be approved of and loved and fully embraced by Christians.

'Some there are who seem astonished when they fancy that our good God has, in a certain sense, changed His mode of governing the world since the ancient times: for, in the latter He was wont to be called the God of armies, and He used to speak to the people out of clouds with bolts of thunder in His hands; for indeed, He punished crime with all the rigor of His justice. For one single adultery He put five-and-twenty thousand of the tribe of Benjamin to the sword. For an act of vainglory committed by David in making a census of his kingdom, He sent a terrible plague, which in a very short time swept off seventy thousand of the population. For one irreverent and incautious glance He slew fifty thousand of the Betsamites. And in these our times He tolerates not only vanities and frivolities, but adulteries the most sordid, scandals the most barefaced, nay, and the most frightful blasphemies which many Christians cast on His most holy Name.

How then do we account for all this? Why this difference in His mode of governing? . . .

The holy sacrifice of the Mass is the true and sole reason for such stupendous clemency, for in it we offer to the eternal father the great victim, Jesus Christ.'

St. Leonard of Port Maurice


#9

[quote="Shin, post:8, topic:309563"]
The God of the Old Testament and New are the same God and all their actions to be approved of and loved and fully embraced by Christians

[/quote]

It all depends whether one discusses what is "definitive" and "eternal" in the Old Covenant, from what is in Christian eyes "imperfect and provisional" to quote the Vatican II document Dei Verbum.

True it is the same God, although it is true to say that even Jewish application and understanding of the Tanakh has developed with the ages. For example, Judaism has evolved to exist without the sacrificial rituals of the Sinai Covenant, which are an essential part of the Torah and Christianity as a religion is entirely prefixed on the notion that these sacrifices, and indeed the entire legal system of the Torah with its punishments, has been anulled and is in no way binding post-Jesus now that he is the sacrificial lamb offered up at every Mass. The essence of the Torah Jesus defined as the Ten Commandments (or "words") and the twin laws of loving neighbour and God.

The Catholic Church believes that God revealed Himself progressively in the Tanakh to his Chosen People, a progression that reached its revelatory culmination in the New Covenant. Thus in the Catechism the Catholic Church explains:

204 God revealed himself progressively and under different names to his people

Since then, although public revelation was completed with the death of the last Apostle, we have been progressing continuously in our understanding of divinely revealed truth - a process known as the "development of doctrine".

Here is what Vatican II said:

"...The plan of salvation foretold by the sacred authors, recounted and explained by them, is found as the true word of God in the books of the Old Testament: these books, therefore, written under divine inspiration, remain permanently valuable...Now the books of the Old Testament, in accordance with the state of mankind before the time of salvation established by Christ, reveal to all men the knowledge of God and of man and the ways in which God, just and merciful, deals with men. These books, though they also contain some things **which are incomplete and temporary, nevertheless show us true divine pedagogy. **These books [of the Old Testament] nevertheless show us authentic divine teaching. Christians should accept with veneration these writings which give expression to a lively sense of God, which are a storehouse of sublime teaching on God and of sound wisdom on human life, as well as a wonderful treasury of prayers; in them, too, the mystery of our salvation is present in a hidden way..."

**- Dei Verbum, Vatican II **

The letter of Hebrews goes so far as to declare as I said before:

*Hebrews 8:13 *

He [Jesus] is the mediator of a better covenant, which hath been enacted upon better promises. For if that first covenant had been faultless, then would no place have been sought for a second...By calling this covenant “new,” he has made the first one obsolete; and what is obsolete and outdated is ready to vanish away

Also Hebrews 10:9:

NRSV

He abolishes the first [covenant] in order to establish the second

Now "obsolete" is a strong phrase but it refers not to the perrenial elements of the Tanakh but specifically to its time-bound elements: namely the legal system and punishments outlined in the Torah and depictions of certain doctrines or depictions of the divine that are more fully developed in latter books of the Tanakh or in the New Testament. There is a very real progression in Catholic eyes in the understanding of God.

Commenting on this passage, Pope Pius:

"...By the death of our Redeemer, the New Testament took the place of the Old Law which had been abolished; then the Law of Christ together with its mysteries, enactments, institutions, and sacred rites was ratified for the whole world in the blood of Jesus Christ. For, while our Divine Savior was preaching in a restricted area - He was not sent but to the sheep that were lost of the House of Israel - the Law and the Gospel were together in force; but on the gibbet of His death Jesus made void the Law with its decrees [and] fastened the handwriting of the Old Testament to the Cross, establishing the New Testament in His blood shed for the whole human race. “To such an extent, then,” says St. Leo the Great, speaking of the Cross of our Lord, “was there effected a transfer from the Law to the Gospel, from the Synagogue to the Church, from the many sacrifices to one Victim, that, as Our Lord expired, that mystical veil which shut off the innermost part of the temple and its sacred secret was rent violently from top to bottom...”

**- Pope Pius XII, Mystici Corporis, (1943) para. 29 **

Also *Ephesians 2:15: *

New International Version (©1984)
by abolishing in his flesh the law [torah] with its commandments and regulations. His purpose was to create in himself one new man out of the two, thus making peace.

However the Sinai covenant is also when viewed from another perspective; ie the essence that is not provisional (ie which is perrenial, eternal, not time-bound), eternal and binding in nature for all time and all people:

"...In this Torah, which is Jesus himself, the abiding essence of what was inscribed on the stone tablets at Sinai **is now written in living flesh, **namely, the twofold commandment of love. . . . To imitate him, to follow him in discipleship, is therefore to keep Torah, which has been fulfilled in him once and for all. Thus the Sinai covenant is indeed superseded. But once what was provisional in it has been swept away, we see what is truly definitive in it..."

**—Pope Benedict XVI, Many Religions, One Covenant **


#10

I found in New Testament:

*
2 Thessalonians 1:8-9
8 He will punish those who do not know God and do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus. 9 They will be punished with everlasting destruction and shut out from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of his might*

Everlasting destruction must be hell.

This one's from Old but I'd see this as a compliment.

Jer 21:14
"I will punish you as your deeds deserve, declares the Lord."

This one show that God has wrath.

Rom 12:19 (NIV) Do not take revenge, my friends, but leave room for God's wrath.

*
Matthew 3:7
7 But when he saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducees coming to where he was baptizing, he said to them: “You brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the coming wrath?

1 Thessalonians 1:10
and to wait for his Son from heaven, whom he raised from the dead—Jesus, who rescues us from the coming wrath.
*

Maybe the "wrath" is hell.


#11

This one's pretty explicit.

Matthew 18:32-35
*32 “Then the master called the servant in. ‘You wicked servant,’ he said, ‘I canceled all that debt of yours because you begged me to. 33 Shouldn’t you have had mercy on your fellow servant just as I had on you?’ 34 In anger his master handed him over to the jailers to be tortured, until he should pay back all he owed.

35 “This is how my heavenly Father will treat each of you unless you forgive your brother or sister from your heart.”*


#12

In furtherance of what brother RC said earlier, I would like to pick up a few of his points and explain it a little more.

Christianity differs from Judaism and Islam, its two fellow Abrahamic faiths, in one key respect: It does not have an equivalent to Jewish Torah or Islamic Sharia:

"…**Unlike other great religions, Christianity has never proposed a revealed law to the State and to society, that is to say a juridical order derived from revelation. Instead, it has pointed to nature and reason as the true sources of law **– and to the harmony of objective and subjective reason, which naturally presupposes that both spheres are rooted in the creative reason of God. Christian theologians thereby aligned themselves with a philosophical and juridical movement that began to take shape in the second century B.C. In the first half of that century, the social natural law developed by the Stoic philosophers came into contact with leading teachers of Roman Law. Through this encounter, the juridical culture of the West was born, which was and is of key significance for the juridical culture of mankind. This pre-Christian marriage between law and philosophy opened up the path that led via the Christian Middle Ages and the juridical developments of the Age of Enlightenment all the way to the Declaration of Human Rights and to our German Basic Law of 1949, with which our nation committed itself to “inviolable and inalienable human rights as the foundation of every human community, and of peace and justice in the world…”

***- Pope Benedict XVI, Reichstag Building, Berlin
Thursday, 22 September 2011 ***

Christianity does not propose a law grounded in a particular revelation. Rather, it grounds Law in universal Natural Law discovered through reason. Judaism has Halakha and Islam has Sharia, divinely revealed laws taught by Moses and Muhammad for society. Jesus never taught a legal system. He left his diciples only one command. JOHN 13:34 NKJ 34 “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another”. This is Jesus’ only explicit “command” in the Gospels.

Christianity represented an “interior” faith, a law written on our heart rather than imposed from without. The Jewish prophets had predicted that the Messiah would do this:

Jeremiah 31:31-34

New International Version (NIV)

31 “The days are coming,” declares the Lord,
“when I will make a new covenant
with the people of Israel
and with the people of Judah.
32 It will not be like the covenant
I made with their ancestors

when I took them by the hand
to lead them out of Egypt,
because they broke my covenant,
though I was a husband to[a] them,**”
declares the Lord.
33 “**This is the covenant I will make ****with the people of Israel
after that time,” declares the Lord.
I will put my law in their minds
and write it on their hearts
.
I will be their God,
and they will be my people.
34 No longer will they teach their neighbor,
or say to one another, ‘Know the Lord,’
because they will all know me,
from the least of them to the greatest,”
declares the Lord.
“For I will forgive their wickedness
and will remember their sins no more

The New Covenant was perfectly described by Jeremish hundreds of years before Jesus was born. Jews would obviously contest this, as would secular scholars, however that is how Christians see it.

Our religion represented a new kind of religious revelation lacking an external law imposed from without. The prophets also taught that the Messiah and New Covenant would be a “light to the Gentiles” ie that it would spread beyond the confines of the Jewish nation and become a universal revelation, as it later did in the highly connected international world of the Roman Empire.

The only “law” in Christianity is the law of conscience, natural law. If we heed this law, informed by divinely revealed truths in scripture which are its clearest illustration and expression here below, then we adhere to the will of God.

Thus the Catechism of the Catholic Church, quoting the Second Vatican Council and Blessed John Henry Newman, tells us:

[quote]1776 "Deep within his conscience man discovers a law which he has not laid upon himself but which he must obey. Its voice, ever calling him to love and to do what is good and to avoid evil, sounds in his heart at the right moment. . . . For man has in his heart a law inscribed by God. . . . His conscience is man’s most secret core and his sanctuary. There he is alone with God whose voice echoes in his depths."47…“Conscience is a law of the mind; yet [Christians] would not grant that it is nothing more; I mean that it was not a dictate, nor conveyed the notion of responsibility, of duty, of a threat and a promise. . . . [Conscience] is a messenger of him, who, both in nature and in grace, speaks to us behind a veil, and teaches and rules us by his representatives. Conscience is the aboriginal Vicar of Christ”

[/quote]


#13

Wikipedia has a (remarkably) decent (and referenced) overview of the Catholic scholastic teaching vis-a-vis the Old Covenant laws:

Roman Catholic theologian Thomas Aquinas explained that there are three types of biblical precepts: moral, ceremonial, and judicial. He holds that moral precepts are permanent, having held even before the Law was given, since they are part of the law of nature;[9] ceremonial precepts, which deal with forms of worshipping God and ritual cleanness; and judicial precepts (such as those in Exodus 21[10]) came into existence only with the Law of Moses,[11] and were only temporary. The ceremonial commands were "ordained to the Divine worship for that particular time and to the foreshadowing of Christ".[12] Accordingly, upon the coming of Christ they ceased to bind,[13] and to observe them now would, Aquinas thought, be equivalent to declaring falsely that Christ has not yet come, for Christians a mortal sin.[14]...

Unlike the ceremonial and judicial precepts, moral commands continue to bind, and are summed up in the Ten Commandments. The Catechism of the Catholic Church states:

"2068 The Council of Trent teaches that the Ten Commandments are obligatory for Christians and that the justified man is still bound to keep them; the Second Vatican Council confirms: 'The bishops, successors of the apostles, receive from the Lord ... the mission of teaching all peoples, and of preaching the Gospel to every creature, so that all men may attain salvation through faith, Baptism and the observance of the Commandments.'"

  1. The Ten Commandments belong to God's revelation. At the same time they teach us the true humanity of man. They bring to light the essential duties, and therefore, indirectly, the fundamental rights inherent in the nature of the human person. The Decalogue contains a privileged expression of the natural law: "From the beginning, God had implanted in the heart of man the precepts of the natural law. Then he was content to remind him of them. This was the Decalogue" (St. Irenaeus, Adv. haeres. 4, 15, 1: PG 7/1, 1012).

  2. Since they express man's fundamental duties towards God and towards his neighbour, the Ten Commandments reveal, in their primordial content, grave obligations. They are fundamentally immutable, and they oblige always and everywhere. No one can dispense from them. The Ten Commandments are engraved by God in the human heart


#14

Dear Souldiver :)

Peace be with you!

An excellent question to ponder and thread.

I think that you are overlooking one key "aspect" of 'punishment' according to the Bible which Paul highlighted in Romans when he discussed homosexual acts:

"...For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth...Therefore God gave them up in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, to the dishonoring of their bodies among themselves...For this reason God gave them up to dishonorable passions...receiving in themselves the due penalty for their error..."

- Romans 1:8.24-27

Here the "wrath of God" and "punishment" for sin is from the very nature of it, that is it comes not from an exterior action of God but rather the "penalty" or "punishment" is a natural consequence of man's own evil with God simply "giving them up" that is permitting them, out of respect for free will, to choose their own self-destruction.

Jesus used many figures of speech when describing divine things to men. Jesus himself admits this when he says in John 16:25, "I have spoken of these matters in figures of speech, but soon I will stop speaking figuratively and will tell you plainly all about the Father".

In doing so he, like the prophets of the Tanakh, anthropomorphized God.

God cannot have "wrath", at least in an understandably human sense, because God is immutable (unchanging) and impassible (without human emotions). For him to experience wrath would bring him down to the human sphere and denote change within him, which as you know cannot be because God in his Essence is wholly transcendent and unknowable.

All language attributing emotion to God in the Bible is figurative, for the benefit of its human readers who would be incapable of comprehending an incomprehensible God.

On hell:

"...By the multitude of your iniquities, in the unrighteousness of your trade, you profaned your sanctuaries. So I brought out fire from within you; it consumed you...you have come to a dreadful end and shall be no more forever..."

**- Ezekiel 18:18 **

There is of course no clearly defined concept of "hell" in the Tanakh, however consider..

"I am a god…" said the wicked King of Tye, exalting himself above his fellow human beings and the Lord.

Significantly, it was fire from within the king of Tyre himself that devoured him. There is no judicial God condemning Him to a place called Hell; rather by his own sins he is damning himself into the state of hell, from which, now that he has died, he will never be realeased from. This is the way it is with the vast majority of sinful men; it is the fires of ambition, pride, and lust from within themselves which eventually issues forth in their destruction.


#15

[quote="meltzerboy, post:4, topic:309563"]
I must disagree. The so-called Old Covenant, which Jews call the everlasting Covenant, is replete with G-d's acts of mercy and the forgiveness of sins in many passages of the Hebrew Bible.

[/quote]

I agree with what you say brother Meltzer :) :thumbsup: Of course the Tanakh is filled with God's acts of mercy and forgiveness. He is, to us, after all the same God who revealed the New Covenant. The only thing I wanted to make clear to another poster was that, contrary to Jews, in Christian eyes the laws of the Torah are not binding, the Tanakh is true divine revelation but interpreted as a gradual progression towards fullness of truth, has elements that are provsional or time-bound and an essence that is immutable.

I don't disagree with you though!

BTW correction of a slight error:

The only "law" in Christianity is the law of conscience, natural law. If we heed this law, informed by divinely revealed truths in scripture which are its clearest illustration and expression here below, then we adhere to the will of God.

When I mentioned "divinely revealed truths" I did not mean only those in scripture but rather the totality of the deposit of faith - divine revelation - in both Sacred Scripture and Sacred Tradition. :D


#16

Correction of a slight error:

The only "law" in Christianity is the law of conscience, natural law. If we heed this law, informed by divinely revealed truths in scripture which are its clearest illustration and expression here below, then we adhere to the will of God.

When I mentioned "divinely revealed truths" I did not mean only those in scripture but rather the totality of the deposit of faith - divine revelation - in both Sacred Scripture and Sacred Tradition. :D


#17

Vouthon, surely you are familiar with Rabbi Hillel, who summarizes the essence of Torah teaching as not doing to one’s neighbor that which is hateful to oneself (and all the rest is commentary), and by whom Rabbi Jesus was influenced, rather than by Rabbi Shammai, who was more literal in his understanding of Torah. Further, some of the Torah commandments can only be properly understood in terms of Talmudic reason and logic: hence the importance of the Oral Law in Judaism. Still others, in both the Written Law (Torah) and Oral Law (Talmud), one might not necessarily infer through reason or natural law, such as bestowing kindness toward animals, who cannot delay gratification, by feeding them before oneself, as well as not hunting them for sport. Or paying attention to what we eat and how we prepare food as a means of transforming mundane tasks into something spiritual. We cannot always depend on reason to behave in a moral way. Yet there are Jewish scholars who maintain that Judaism is a religion of reason (as is Christianity) even more than one of faith.


#18

We had a homily recently about do we fear God or revere God?


#19

[quote="meltzerboy, post:17, topic:309563"]
Vouthon, surely you are familiar with Rabbi Hillel, who summarizes the essence of Torah teaching as not doing to one's neighbor that which is hateful to oneself (and all the rest is commentary), and by whom Rabbi Jesus was influenced, rather than by Rabbi Shammai, who was more literal in his understanding of Torah. Further, some of the commandments can only be properly understood in terms of Talmudic reason and logic: hence the importance of the Oral Law in Judaism. Still others, in both the Written Law (Torah) and Oral Law (Talmud), one might not necessarily infer through reason or natural law, such as bestowing kindness to animals by feeding them before oneself and not hunting them for sport. We cannot always depend on reason to behave in a moral way. Yet there are Jewish scholars who maintain that Judaism is a religion of reason (as is Christianity) even more than one of faith.

[/quote]

I am, yes familiar with the great Rabbi Hillel :) There is much concordance between the Rabbis who are remembered in the Talmud and Jesus, for example he weighed in on the debate on divorce and chose a side, so to speak. Since they emerged from the same religious milieu of Second Temple Judaism, this is not in itself suprising. A close read of the Pirke Avot and the Oral Torah in general does though brings up truly suprising - almost word for word - similarities between Jesus' teachings and the Rabbis. This shows the sheer degree of affinity.

Christianity proper did not arise until after Jesus' death. In fact there wasn't two clearly separate religions until the destruction of the Temple, rather the Jesus Movement existed as a radical, fringe sect within Judaism that was encompassing gentiles in a big way while still retaining a mother church in Jerusalem with Jewish members who were fully Torah observant (of the personal Torah laws that is). The church itself admits that the Law and the Gospel existed alongside one another during Jesus' life. However upon his death the New Covenant was inaugurated in his blood according to Christian theology, the salvific element of which is anchored around this pivotal event. Pauline theology in particular spoke of this as meaning the abrogation of the Torah, in its legal, ceremonial etc. aspects but not in its perrenial morals ones stemming from natural law.

That's not to say its immoral post-Jesus to follow personal laws of the Torah such as the dietary rules, or rules on clothing etc just as the first Jewish followers of Jesus did including Peter and James, who were outwardly Jewish in every way and certainly considered themselves to be faithful Jews. However the merely positive laws are not essentially binding on the followers of Jesus in the way the clearly ethical ones are and following them would still arise from personal or collective decision, since the only law a Christian is bound by is natural law as attested to by his conscience and revealed truth.

When we come to the judicial aspects of the Torah pertaining to society, these are clearly time-bound in Christian eyes and not applicable post-Jesus.

There is no divinely revealed positive law in Christianity, rather (in our eyes) the adherence to natural law of which divine revelation is its most perfect expression, with the Ten Commandments being a "priviliged expression" of the natural law and thus binding. The judicial, ceremonial and other laws of the Torah are not binding in our eyes because they are not an application of natural law but positive law designed specifically for the Jewish people to follow in societal terms (at that time) and in personal terms (ie dietary rules) for that time and (hypothetically) if they wished post-Jesus too.

The positive law of the Torah was intended only for Jews, in societal legislation which is time-bound and in laws of a personal nature which are perhaps not time-bound but certainly specific to the Jewish people as part of their unique divinely ordained mission in human history of being a people set apart for God and so in no way "natural".

I do think that Judaism is a religion of reason though, yes indeed. I certainly am implying no disrespect to the Torah, btw, which is divinely revealed! :)


#20

All of these replies I've read have been very educated and learned.
My contribution to this thread has to come from my own experience because I don't have the theological learning and experience these other posters have shown. So here it is.
I think that God doesn't punish so much as instructs. How you take that "instruction" is where you free will comes into play, other than how it influenced the need for the instruction in the first place.
God loves you as your Father. Think back to when you were a child and your parents punished you for a wrong doing. At the time, the punishment may have felt harsh, maybe even painful. But in hindsight, can you not now see the lesson in it?
I think this has to be considered in this question of Divine Punishment.


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