God is mean?


#1

Ok, I know that God is an all powerful, all loving God. I believe that with my mind and my heart. My problem is in trying to explain to a person why God would punish all of humanity for Adam and Eve’s disobedience. Could you point me in the right direction?

Malia


#2

One way would be to think along different lines. For example, did God really punish the rest of humanity, or do we simply inherit the nature that Adam and Eve passed on? We are not personally held accountable for the sins of Adam and Eve, but their sin does have a personal effect on us, and traditionally this has been called “guilt”, which is misunderstood by modern minds; we share in the guilt of Original Sin not because we are ourselves guilty, but because Adam and Eve by being guilty of Original Sin deprived themselves of the Grace of God, a deprivation we share with them by virtue of our birth from them after their Sin.

What happened when Adam and Eve sinned is that they deprived themselves of the Grace that God had put into them, a Grace that was intended to be passed on to all their children. It’s not that God punished the rest of us, it’s that the Grace literally isn’t present in our natural births due to the fact that our First Parents lost it before they could pass it on. Grace is an inheritance of the spiritual kind, and it’s what was to keep us in God’s presence despite our created nature. God originally intended that this Grace would be passed on in the blood, and since Adam and Eve lost it we are inheriting a deprivation, not an actual burden per se (though there are certainly elements of Original Sin that are burdens, and can be described as such).

Now, God could have left it at that. He could have said that since people were born from the deprived Adam and Eve, they too would be deprived. The incredible thing is that God didn’t do that, but rather guided our history to the Messianic Salvation, when He would come Himself to Earth, take on our form, and institute a means of restoring this Grace to all humanity. Ever notice that Baptism is called being “born of water and Spirit”? That is not just poetic, flowery speech, it’s reality. We are literally born anew through Baptism, and in the Scriptures it is always compared and contrasted with how we are born of the blood. God gave us back the Grace through birth that Adam and Eve deprived us of, but did it through a new kind of birth.

Rather than simply wiping everything out and starting from scratch, God built good out of the evil of the Original Sin. In doing so God showed His infinite love for Adam and Eve, preserving them and their bloodline while at the same time correcting their mistake in a visable way that we are able to physically participate in, just as we physically participate in the natural procreation process, and in the birth of our offspring. He literally gave us back what our Parents had thrown away, and put it right back into our hands, all while honoring and loving Adam and Eve.

Now it’s true that people who do not have this Grace can not enjoy the presence of God, and will not experience Heaven, which is nothing less than that experience. God has the power to impart that Grace on anyone He sees fit, however, and is not constrained by the ritual of Baptism. That doesn’t mean that Baptism isn’t the norm; in fact it is likely the most effective way of maintaining that Grace, as we are physical beings that need physical reinforcement for our spirituality. What I mean is simply that God will not necessarily deprive an infant of the Grace simply because the parents did; after all, that’s not what He did for humanity in general, in spite of what Adam and Eve abandoned.

We must leave such people to the mercy of God, however, and do our best to ensure the continuation of the very real physical (water) and spiritual (Spirit) rebirth that was instituted by God on Earth. We are ultimately only responsible for our own actions, and neglecting teaching the Good News of the Church to all people is an offense to God, who gave us His Word as a gift to be shared, and His Baptism as well. This, incidently, is why Baptism can never be reduced to simply being “born again” through a “personal relationship with Christ”.

Hell, then, is not so much a punishment as it is the sad reality of the deprivation of Grace. Hell is not God’s design, but the design of His creatures, humans and Fallen Angels. It is for us, but it is also by us; it is our self-punishment caused by our rejection of that which we were made to have, namely the Grace of God. Just as a human can’t be healthy and comfortable without shelter, food, and clean water, we can’t be without the Grace of God, either. The difference is that Hell is an eternal deprivation, as our souls are eternal, and not a physical deprivation that food and water are related to.

Peace and God bless!


#3

Thanks for the reply Ghosty.

I read it to the person I am having the discussion with and we both found it a little “deep”, lol.

I know this is one of those subjects that cannot be answered/explained in a sentence or two but we need a little more simplicity.

Specifically, why didn’t God give Adam and Eve a second chance? Were they sorry/repentent? If they were (sorry, I am showing my lacking Scripture knowledge:o ) then shouldn’t God have showm more mercy? Why condemn all of humanity to suffer with painful childbirth and hard work etc?

I need a way to explain that this was more a matter of free will/consequences than an out of control “father” who went overboard with the punishment. I hope you or someone else can help me.

Malia


#4

Actually, God was extremely merciful. The disobedience of Adam and Eve is a sin by finite beings against an infinite God. The seriousness of their sin has to be given careful consideration before we weigh the punishment. Man deserved death for the sin, but the death penalty for Adam and Eve would have eliminated the human race. God “drove out the man; and at the east of the garden of Eden he placed the cherubim, and a flaming sword which turned every way, to guard the way to the tree of life.” This was a merciful act on God’s part because if Adam and Eve were to partake of the tree of life in their unredeemed state, they and their off spring would be eternally bound by sin.

The death penalty they deserved was not carried out because of the consequences. Man would be annihilated and because the death penalty if applied to Adam and Eve would not provide satisfaction, atonement, or expiation for their sin. Redemption, atonement, and expiation could only be accomplished by a sacrifice of “infinite” value. Jesus being both God and man is the only person that could provide that redemption. His sacrifice and death were sufficient to reconcile man to God.

This is true love and mercy and the punishments to Adam and Eve, and the passing on of their fallen nature were necessary and just. God so loved them and us that He sent His only son, Jesus, to do what man could not do.

I hope this helps.


#5

A simple way to understand this is that from their perspective, God was so merciful that He allowed their sin to be spread out among all their descendents so that we can help them atone for it.

I see you wish mercy to be shown to them. Surely you will pitch in and help show mercy by bearing our share of their burden?

Also, He leverages their disobedience to work for them by placing them in an unpleasant situation. Now their rebellion can be exercised against the desires of the flesh in order to come back to God.

God is so good and so fair! He takes our evil disposition and makes it work in our favor. If we persevere, He will deliver us forever.

hurst


#6

Given the life that we live now, given the connections we find in Scripture and Tradition–especially as it regards the Passion, the Crucifixion, and the Resurrection (not to mention all the stuff that comes after that)–I have a hard time considering that God was “too hard on Adam and Eve.”

Without going too deep into all that that implies, and recognizing the elegant point that Pax has made (the punishment should have been much greater), who am I to resist the rod that trains me?

I might also take this opportunity to point out that it is in hardship, hard times, discipline, dark times, etc. that we grow the best. A quote that resounds in my head lately is this: “Mountains are fun to climb, but valleys are where things grow the best.” This growth, this hardship, this “punishment” actually turns out to be a blessing.

Dare I resist that because my Heavenly Father stepped out of line as a disciplinarian? Dare I resist that because the Father did not extend enough grace to his creation?


#7

It’s interesting, I think, to note that, in Judaism,
there is no concept of Original Sin.

aish.com/spirituality/growth/Human_Nature_Inherently_Good_or_Evil$_Ethics_of_the_Fathers_17.asp

Though driven out of the garden, indirectly,
by the sin of the first parents, Judaism holds
that men and women are not “born in sin”, but
rather have an inclination toward good and an
inclination towards evil [the two “yetzers”].
Yetzer harah and yetzer hatov

torah.org/learning/ramchal/classes/class12.html

In short, a wholly different view of the nature
of men and women, vis a vis their relationship
with God, and of the consequences of the “fall”
[limited to the physical deprivations of not residing
in the Garden…work by the sweat of the brow, etc.]

reen12


#8

Actually, the Catholic concept of Original Sin is almost identical with yetzer hara. In Catholicism, yetzer hara is called “concupiscence”, and in Thomistic tradition it is an integral part to humanity, part of our very being, and was in Adam and Eve as well as everyone else.

In the Aish article, what is being described is the Lutheran conception of Original Sin and concupiscence, which is considered heretical by the Catholic Church. In Thomistic tradition, concupiscence/yetzer hara is not something that was added by the Sin of Adam and Eve, but a natural trait of all living things; Paul the Apostle calls it “the flesh”. In both Judaism and Catholicism it’s properly understood as the “animal drive”. This is the drive to eat, sleep, be comfortable, sexually procreate, ect. Again, in both Judaism and Catholicism, these things are not evil in and of themselves, but they become evil when they overcome yetzer tov, or in Thomistic terminology the “rational part of the soul”.

When the yetzer hara/concupiscence overcomes yetzer tov/rational mind, the natural drives become the foundation for sin. If you’re familiar with the “Seven Deadly Sins”, it becomes easy to see this. Gluttony is the drive to eat, Lust is the sexual drive, Sloth is the desire to sleep or be comfortable, ect. We need concupiscence in order to function, but in a rightly ordered soul, concupiscence is subject to the higher power of the soul, the rationality or yetzer tov.

The main difference between Catholics and Jews is that Catholics believe that God gifted Adam and Eve with Grace, or what St. Thomas Aquinas calls Original Justice, which perfectly balanced yetzer tov and yetzer hara, ensuring that the animal drive was always subject to the rational, or Divine, drive. Adam and Eve rejected Original Justice through their Sin (the Original Sin), however, and yetzer hara became “unchecked”. This too is actually a part of Jewish tradition, and was written about quite extensively around the time before and after Jesus, seperate from the growing Christian tradition. Catholics believe that this Original Justice is restored through the Sacraments, and that we are responsible for maintaining it ourselves. Basically, the only real difference is that Catholics believe in Sacramental reality, or the “kisses of God” that aid humanity in re-balancing yetzer hara and yetzer tov, whereas Jews tend to believe that no Divine aid is given aside from the guidance of the Torah.

As a convert to Catholicism through Orthodox Judaism, the yetzer hara/yetzer tov connection to concupiscence/rationality is one of my favorite similarities. It’s made for wonderful discussions with my Jewish friends, because they are too often only exposed to the heretical Protestant notion of Original Sin, and they’re quite suprised to learn that Catholicism holds to a completely different understanding than that put forth by Martin Luther, namely that people are inherently evil due to the sin of Adam and Eve. What divides us so greatly from Protestantism is actually one of the things that unites us so strongly with Judaism.

For some traditional Catholic expositions on concupiscence and Original Sin, I recommend St. Thomas Aquinas. His language can be difficult for us in modern times to understand, but it’s well worth it, IMO. He perfectly describes the proper relationship between concupiscence/yetzer hara, and rationality/yetzer tov. Also worth checking out is the article on concupiscence at the Old Catholic Encyclopedia.

Peace and God bless!


#9

I’ll try a very simple comparison, because my mind thinks in simple ways.

My ancestors were born in a different country, but they migrated to the United States. My ancestors Adam and Eve were born in Paradise, but they migrated to a state of sin.

I was born in the United States because of the choices my ancestors made to move here. I was also born in a state of original sin because of the choice my ancestors Adam and Eve.

If I want, I can move back to the original country of my ancestors. God sent Jesus so I might be able to return someday to a place where I can live with Him for all eternity.


#10

[quote=gardenswithkids]I’ll try a very simple comparison, because my mind thinks in simple ways.

My ancestors were born in a different country, but they migrated to the United States. My ancestors Adam and Eve were born in Paradise, but they migrated to a state of sin.

I was born in the United States because of the choices my ancestors made to move here. I was also born in a state of original sin because of the choice my ancestors Adam and Eve.

If I want, I can move back to the original country of my ancestors. God sent Jesus so I might be able to return someday to a place where I can live with Him for all eternity.
[/quote]

Thank you for the simplicity:)

I understand what you are saying, but why couldn’t Adam and Eve “migrate” back to paradise? Is it because they were never repentent?

In my tiny human brain I would see Adam and Eve living outside of Eden until they repented and then being allowed back in for a second chance…why didn’t it happen that way?

Malia


#11

We need to come to an understanding of terms before we wade too far deep into this. Key terms to agree on: repentance, forgiveness…anything else?

I’ll get to work on some simplistic “definitions” of those terms, but those individuals terms each deserve a dissertation in, and of, themselves. :stuck_out_tongue:

Should anyone else have a clear and accurate, yet “simplistic”, definition for either of those, feel free to lead the way. :thumbsup:


#12

One thing that strikes me (opinion here) is that the idea that God should have been “more merciful” to Adam and Eve, or that it is “unfair” that humanity is “punished” for their sins, seems to place GOD and HUMANITY on terms of EQUALITY; even more, it tends to make HUMANITY seem to be ABOVE God in being more theoretically “benevolent”.

God is our CREATOR. If He were to allow by His divine will nothing but misery for any given individual, is He culpable or wrong? No, no, NO! God does not make mistakes. What seems “unfair” to us with our limited viewpoints can never be unfair, even if we don’t see it.

And for us to even think that we somehow “deserve” or “earn” favors simply because we do a specific good action, and that God is “unfair” if He doesn’t give us what we “earned”. . .well, really, isn’t that what people THINK with this attitude?

Did Adam and Eve deserve paradise? Did they earn forgiveness when they sinned?

The answer, of course, is no.

And likewise WE don’t deserve heaven, and WE do not earn forgiveness for our sins. GOD in His mercy wishes us all to be in heaven, and JESUS earned forgiveness for our sins, and the Holy Spirit intercedes for us and leads us in the Way (Jesus) to the Father.

THAT isn’t fair, either, but since it’s in our favor we aren’t complaining, are we?


#13

Ghosty,

Your post was dynamite :thumbsup:


#14

Very good points Tantum ergo. There are many excellent and profound thoughts on this thread.

Back to the simplistic “migration” theme. First, I think God did give Adam and Eve (and all their descendents) a second chance to return to paradise when He sent Jesus. It’s entirely possible that Adam and Eve are in heaven now, (I don’t know if the Church has a position on that or not.) Furthermore, we are promised a new creation in Christ–a new heaven and new earth in which righteousness dwells (2 Peter 3:13). That promise has not yet been fullfilled, and we await it as we await the return of Christ. As God is outside of time, and to Him a thousand years is like a day (2 Peter 3:8) He really didn’t take long compared to eternity to accomplish that.

I think it is for our benefit that God allows us to live in a fallen world for the present time. Some may consider that a punishment, (it certainly feels that way some days), but I think we will appreciate heaven and understand God’s mercy all the more for having experienced this fallen world. If Adam and Eve were given another chance right away to live in Eden, without experiencing the consequence of sin, what would have kept them from sinning again? Sometimes allowing children to experience the consequence of their action is the most loving and merciful thing a parent can do.


#15

quote: Ghosty

The main difference between Catholics and Jews is that Catholics believe that God gifted Adam and Eve with Grace, or what St. Thomas Aquinas calls Original Justice, which perfectly balanced yetzer tov and yetzer hara, ensuring that the animal drive was always subject to the rational, or Divine, drive. Adam and Eve rejected Original Justice through their Sin (the Original Sin), however, and yetzer hara became “unchecked”.

My point, exactly.

quote: Ghosty

This too is actually a part of Jewish tradition, and was written about quite extensively around the time before and after Jesus, seperate from the growing Christian tradition

Need you to cite sources for this, Ghosty. Thanks.

quote: Ghosty

Catholics believe that this Original Justice is restored through the Sacraments, and that we are responsible for maintaining it ourselves. Basically, the only real difference is that Catholics believe in Sacramental reality, or the “kisses of God” that aid humanity in re-balancing yetzer hara and yetzer tov, whereas Jews tend to believe that no Divine aid is given aside from the guidance of the Torah.

Again, exactly. As I said above, I would need to see
sources cited, in terms of any equation to be had, in terms of
Orthodox Judaism’s view of the yetzers and the
concept of Original Justice being “restored.”

Is not the Judaic position that no Original Justice
was lost, to begin with? “Original Sin” involves
forfeiting "Original Justice?]
Are you saying that the Judaic view is that the
yetzers became unbalanced, due to the sin
of Adam and Eve?

[/font]

No, Ghosty, I can’t buy into this, without having sources cited.

[You’re point is well taken, however, on the vast difference
between Luther’s concept of man being totally depraved,
and the RC concept of being “wounded” in nature.]
Yes, I am somewhat familiar with Aquinas. :slight_smile:

In any case, I’m always interested in having my views
corrected, when in error, so I’d appreciate it, if you
would cite the sources on:

quote: Ghosty

This too is actually a part of Jewish tradition, and was written about quite extensively around the time before and after Jesus…

Many thanks, for your welcome observations,

reen12:tiphat:

PS: When shown that I am in error, you wouldn’t
believe how fast I back off a position.:slight_smile:


#16

[contd.]

I’ve given additional thought to the subject of
Original Sin and the yetzers.

What got by me, at first, was the attempt to hold
that there was much similarity, in the positions
held by Judaism and Roman Catholicism, with
regards to the yetzer hatov [evil inclination,
inherent in the creation of man, in Judaic thought.]

It was said that the article I referenced understood
human nature, in the Lutheran sense. OK. No
problem with that.

What is not emphasized, is that Catholicism holds that
human beings are:

-born in Original Sin
-that “Original Justice” is forfeit [a wholly Christian concept]
-human beings are “wounded” in their natures

And, that is the key to the *real *difference, between
Judaism and all Christian positions [totally depraved,
*a la Luther, or “wounded” as in Catholicism].

Judaism does not hold that man is “wounded” in
his/her nature, as a result of the sin of Adam and Eve.
That men and woman are capable, with free will, to choose
the good, unaided by what Christianity calls grace.

“I put before you, today, a blessing or a curse. Choose.”

And the heart of the matter is:

If no Original Sin -if no inherent woundedness- due to
the sin of Adam and Eve, then

No need for a Savior, in the Christian sense, for there is no woundedness to be saved from.

And the Messiah [the Anointed] can then be, what he
is looked for to be, in Judaism:

A human being, who will build the Third Temple and
lead all human beings to the acknowledgment of
the One God, establishing, thereby, the Kingdom of
God.

“Hear, O Israel, the Lord our G-d, the Lord is One.”

Not three Persons in One. One.

There is a very good reason why Judaism and
Christianity are far different entities, regardless
of whether or no there are similarities- in
terms of the yetzer hatov, which is viewed as
"inherent" at creation, in Judaism - and which inclination
is termed “concupisence” in Christianity.

As I said, above:
quote: reen12

[font=Arial]In short, a wholly different view of the nature
of men and women, vis a vis their relationship
with God, and of the consequences of the “fall”
[limited to the physical deprivations

of not residing
in the Garden…work by the sweat of the brow, etc.]
[/font]

Still, I would enjoy searching out any sources that
would wish to cite, Ghosty.

Best

reen12


#17

reen12:

Need you to cite sources for this, Ghosty. Thanks.

You betcha! The best example to be found online is the Jewish apocalyptic work called by Catholics as 2 Esdras, which was written after the destruction of the Temple. You can find it online here. It’s not considered Scripture by Catholics or Jews, but it regarded as a good example of the kind of poetical work that Jews produced as they were reeling from the desctruction of the sacred Temple, and trying to make sense of the disaster. Most notably, 2 Esdras 3: 20-22 states:

20 "Yet you did not take away their evil heart from them, so that your law might produce fruit in them. 21For the first Adam, burdened with an evil heart, transgressed and was overcome, as were also all who were descended from him. 22Thus the disease became permanent; the law was in the hearts of the people along with the evil root; but what was good departed, and the evil remained.

reen12:

Is not the Judaic position that no Original Justice
was lost, to begin with? “Original Sin” involves
forfeiting "Original Justice?]
Are you saying that the Judaic view is that the
yetzers became unbalanced, due to the sin
of Adam and Eve?

You are correct, I wasn’t trying to imply that Jews believe in Original Justice. There is a concept of the yetzer hara of Adam changing after the Fall, but it does not involve the Sacramental reality, which is largely absent in traditional Jewish theology. Rather, they focus on the guidance given by the Law, or Torah, as the best means for people bettering themselves. Sorry for any misunderstanding!

As for the idea that Adam’s yetzer hara changed after the fall, aside from the 2 Esdras I showed above, here is a Jewish Q&A website that deals with the question as posed by two Rabbis. I’ll see if I can find anything else, though you could do a search for writings by those Rabbis.

Just a correction, however, is that the “wounded” nature is actually Augustinian, not Thomistic. Thomas was the one to say that concupiscence is actually a perfectly natural part of humanity, and that only the removal of Original Justice, or Grace, causes the imbalance. Augustine said that the human nature was changed through the Original Sin, though he didn’t teach the Lutheran concept of this change resulting in automatic damnation and personal guilt. The Thomistic view is generally the more prevalent one in the theology of the Latin Church, though both are acceptable.

Interestingly enough, this diversity of opinion actually exists within Judaism as well, as can be seen by the Q&A above, which deals with the question of whether or not the yetzer hara came from eating from the Tree of Knowledge or if it was merely changed.

Peace and God bless!


#18

Dear Ghosty,

I searched further, for insight into the yetzer hara[h.]

[inclination toward evil, in Judaic thought.]

According to a rabbi, reponding to the question:

Is man intrinsically evil?

ohr.edu/ask/ask027.htm

the rabbi quotes Rabbi Moshe Chaim Luzzatto (the Ramchal),

as saying that, after the sin, man was more inclined toward

heeding the yetzer hara…which supports your contention.

You hold that there was similarity, in the positions

held by Judaism and Roman Catholicism, with

regards to the yetzer hara[h]…[concupiscience in RC theology.]

And, given the link, supplied above, I find that

what you stated is absolutely correct.

It was said that the Aish article I referenced understood

Original sin and concupiscience, in the Lutheran sense.

OK. No problem with that.

aish.com/spirituality/gr…_Fathers_17.asp


What I feel obliged to emphasize, is that Catholicism holds that

human beings are:

-born in Original Sin…an ontological condition, rendering

man in need of “redemption.”

And, that is the key to the real difference, between

Judaism and all Christian positions.


Judaism holds that men and woman are capable, with free will,

to choose the good.

That men and women are born good, and will be challenged to

repond to the inclination toward good, rather than the yetzer

hara[h].

“I put before you, today, a blessing or a curse. Choose.”

And the heart of the matter is, Judaism sees a

newborn, untouched by sin. - ie. no Original Sin

ontologically…in the realm of “being”]

See the definition of Original Sin at:

scborromeo.org/ccc/para/818.htm

contrasted to the Judaic view, at:

jewishvirtuallibrary.org/jsource/Judaism/Original_Sin.html

[again, this seems to be based on a Luthern view of the nature

of man and grace, still, the material dealing with the Judaic view

of Original Sin is what is of interest, here. Note the reference to

the “dominant view”, as opposed to some rabbinic views, in

Talmudic times.]

What follows from this view of human beings being born,

untouched by sin, is:

No need for a Savior, in the Christian sense, to save us

from the ontological condition of Original Sin, or to win

for us the grace to fight the yetzer hara[h].

This view undercuts the entire rationale of the need for

a divine Savior.

And the Church knows, full well, that that is the case:

scborromeo.org/ccc/para/389.htm

Judaism does not hold that men and women are

born with a sin that we are in need of redemption from.

And so, the Messiah [the Anointed] can then be, what he

is looked for to be, in Judaism:

A human being, who will build the Third Temple and

lead all human beings to the acknowledgment of

the One God, establishing, thereby, the Kingdom of

God.

“Hear, O Israel, the Lord our G-d, the Lord is One.”

Not three Persons in one God. One.


There is a very good reason why Judaism and

Christianity are far different entities, regardless

of whether or no there are similarities- in

terms of the yetzer hara[h] and concupiscience.

Men and women relate differently to God, based

on the concept of Original Sin, I think.

I would enjoy searching out any sources that

would wish to cite, Ghosty.

[Note: just saw your post, above this one. Thanks!]

Best, :tiphat:

reen12


#19

Hi, Ghosty,

Many thanks, for the references! I was working on another
post to you, and failed to notice your reply, above.

quote: Ghosty

Just a correction, however, is that the “wounded” nature is actually Augustinian, not Thomistic. Thomas was the one to say that concupiscence is actually a perfectly natural part of humanity, and that only the removal of Original Justice, or Grace, causes the imbalance. Augustine said that the human nature was changed through the Original Sin, though he didn’t teach the Lutheran concept of this change resulting in automatic damnation and personal guilt. The Thomistic view is generally the more prevalent one in the theology of the Latin Church, though both are acceptable.

Most interesting, and thanks for pointing out that it was
Augustine, not St. Thomas.

Did you note the material I referrenced, in my last post,
by the Ramchal?

And, what I don’t get, Ghosty, is how either St. Paul
[and later Augustine] got this concept, to begin with!
*

The Judaic view of God, and our lives, in relation to
Him, as human beings, has always struck me as
far more human than Christianity.

And while I sure have trouble, picturing a human
being appearing, who will suddenly be able to
establish the Kingdom of God on earth, still,
I can recall asking, many years ago, “saved us
from what?” I guess, often, I continue to ask the
same thing.

In any case, I certainly have enjoyed and learned
something, in this exchange of posts, Ghosty,
and I thank you for same.

Every best wish,

reen12 :tiphat:*


#20

Thank you for the post about the Ramchal! I knew I had heard something like that before, but I couldn’t remember the name of the Rabbi, or where to find any references online. Very much appreciated!

The Sacramental concept of God is really the key seperation, and it is a development from Christianity and the Christian Era (including the time of John the Baptist). It wasn’t Paul who developed the idea at all, but rather it was present in the community long before the death of Jesus, in fact before the ministry of Jesus began.

The best example of this is the mikveh, which is the Jewish ritual bath to clean one of their impurities. It’s still used in Orthodox Judaism, and is the basis for Christian Baptism. John the Baptist was a huge proponent of the *mikveh, *hence his title, and before Jesus began His ministry, John stated that a new kind of mikveh would be coming. From Matthew 3:

11"I baptize you with water for repentance. But after me will come one who is more powerful than I, whose sandals I am not fit to carry. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and with fire.

This meaning was later explained by Jesus in John 3:

3In reply Jesus declared, “I tell you the truth, no one can see the kingdom of God unless he is born again.” 4"How can a man be born when he is old?" Nicodemus asked. "Surely he cannot enter a second time into his mother’s womb to be born!"
5Jesus answered, “I tell you the truth, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless he is born of water and the Spirit. 6Flesh gives birth to flesh, but the Spirit gives birth to spirit. 7You should not be surprised at my saying, ‘You must be born again.’ 8The wind blows wherever it pleases. You hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone born of the Spirit.”

This, IMO, is the introduction of the Sacramental view, or the “kisses of God”. The principle is that God actually touches humans with His Power, rather than simply speaking with them through Prophets. The new Baptism isn’t just a new version of the mikveh ritual, but a way for the Breath of God (“spirit” means breath) to enter into people and fortify them. Remember that Adam was “born” by God breathing into his nostrils, and Baptism is called being “born again”. It’s essentially stating that through Baptism we are being put back at square one, as I stated in my first post on this thread.

So what we are being saved from is seperation from God in a personal, very real sense. Hell is seperation from God for eternity, complete removal from the presence of God, and this concept exists in both Judaism and Christianity. The Christian response to this is the Sacramental reality, an intimate “touch” between humanity and God. This isn’t to say that Judaism forces an impersonal relationship with God, just that it isn’t the same as the Sacramental relationship emphasized by Apostalic Christianity, with God’s breath literally entering us, and His Body and Blood nourishing us physically.

Just my views on the subject. Thank you for the exchange, and may God’s Grace be with you always!


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