Legalism vs The Personal God - and personal problems

Hello, I’m writing this because I’m finding myself more willing to love the legalist idea of God (where if you do X you get Hell, if you do Y you get Heaven; along with some means to absolve yourself)

Anytime I think about the idea of “Oh God loves you, he has a special relation and thinks your an amazing blah blah blah” I just feel its heretic and protestant junk; It’s just people making their own God into what they want him to be (“Oh God wants me to tolerate gays” “God is fine with me using artificial contraception” “God would understand me doing this so-called sin because the world isn’t black and white” ect.

Right now I’m juggling the idea that God doesn’t even exist. Maybe I’m just drawn to the moral absolutism that the Catholic Church’s doctrine has, it certainly isn’t the idea of a personal connection with God - I feel none of that and think those who do are hypocrites who are making up their own gods based on meeting their own desires.

At the moment Atheism seems like a better option for me to take, while I hate atheist people for their arrogance and smarter-than-thou attitude I do admit that my anger at the world would probably channel nicely if it went against organized religion since religious groups expect their followers to act in certain ways without any proof of God existing. In fact right now I’ll admit I’ve extremely angry with God (if he’s not around the idea of God), His followers, and the heretics who have a “Personal God” that tells them “Don’t judge” and all the stuff I mentioned above. I’m really fuming over this, so I guess talking about it is why I made this thread.

The impression that you convey is that you may not have carefully read the gospels and the letters of the New Testament with much attention and understanding, and you may not know the Catechism and what it actually teaches.
It might appear that your feelings including anger are the framework through which you see a distorted and incomplete view of the gospels and teaching;

veritasbible.com/newjerusalem1989
vatican.va/archive/ENG0015/_INDEX.HTM

I hope and pray that you will find truth and peace.

Well, I can say there are elements of the two that are valuable. People often use the idea of a personal relationship with God as code for “religion and rules are evil” but I prefer to take the middle path. Think of morals less as rules and more as life-giving principles (or less as a penal code and more like a law of nature) and think of the personal relationship aspect as the Holy Spirit transforming you into something whole through love. Because ultimately the legalism (or moralism, there’s overlap) just results in an outward appearance of godliness. We’re promised much more than some basic rule following and niceness. We’re promised to become like God is. If you see the idea of a personal relationship as the slang it’s become for nonsense then of course it’d tick you off. It ticks me off too. But let’s not throw the baby out with the bathwater. God does love you as an individual. It’s just that in the Church that oneness comes about, at its greatest heights, through mysticism. Contemplation and such is our version of a personal relationship. And that is something more radically personal than any “Jesus is my homeboy”-ism can ever reach.

You’re right. We haven’t moved past the part where Jesus came because this method doesn’t work. If we can’t see it work out on paper, then it isn’t real and/or it is to be very much feared. And we make decisions by fear and ignorance.

Anytime I think about the idea of “Oh God loves you, he has a special relation and thinks your an amazing blah blah blah” I just feel its heretic and protestant junk; It’s just people making their own God into what they want him to be (“Oh God wants me to tolerate gays” “God is fine with me using artificial contraception” “God would understand me doing this so-called sin because the world isn’t black and white” ect.

I want to break this into two points. First, I agree about the placating sap so many serve up to someone who clearly aren’t receptive to such blather. When a person has serious problems with God, those words can do more harm than good because they emphasize that the person in trouble is different and less faithful than the rest of us.

I don’t think the part starting with “Of God wants …” is a little iffy. Words like “tolerate” have become surprisingly loaded with meanings other than “put up with” like it should mean. Some thing that “tolerating,” or “putting up with,” is a code word for “agree with” or “accept.” That’s not true; please don’t fall into that trap or you risk becoming like those who have caused you to be in this unhappy state. In general, you’re talking about relativism I think, which I think is a) not what it’s made out to be, and 2) not necessarily a bad thing. “Relativism” is actually an extremely valuable word that’s been corrupted to mean things as strange as “I don’t agree with you.”

Right now I’m juggling the idea that God doesn’t even exist. Maybe I’m just drawn to the moral absolutism that the Catholic Church’s doctrine has, it certainly isn’t the idea of a personal connection with God - I feel none of that and think those who do are hypocrites who are making up their own gods based on meeting their own desires.

Here’s where I can help. There are basically two parts to the Church, as I see it. There is the hard crust that is the real estate, the money, the bishops and the parish priests, and there is the soft and chewy center which is the monastics and the cloisters and those who don’t deal with both God and mammon like the others, and are focused on mystical theology and prayer life.

To think the legalistic view is like taking the blockaded entrance into heaven. It can’t be done. Those who have made a personal connection with God vary from just plain made-up fantasy, to actually having gone through some of the experiences Jesus described and is trying to share them – I am in the latter category, as I have been gifted to have been revealed mysteries of the kingdoms that generations of theologians worked their whole life for and didn’t get so lucky.

But I won’t go off too far on that lest your mind is tempted to put me in the “wacko” category. Just know that “true communion with Jesus” is in fact, a teaching of the Church, and is accessible to those whose prayer life has gone from verbal to eventually contemplative. (ccc 2700-2724) Let me tell you something. If you can get out of the BS that you’re rightfully charging “popular behavior of Catholics” of falling into, and get your prayer life really where it can be, you will experience things beyond any of the teaching. Like you can tell a person all day how beautiful a garden is, but until they go in there with you they can only experience it through empathy, or its neutered cousin “hearsay.”

At the moment Atheism seems like a better option for me to take, while I hate atheist people for their arrogance and smarter-than-thou attitude I do admit that my anger at the world would probably channel nicely if it went against organized religion since religious groups expect their followers to act in certain ways without any proof of God existing. In fact right now I’ll admit I’ve extremely angry with God (if he’s not around the idea of God), His followers, and the heretics who have a “Personal God” that tells them “Don’t judge” and all the stuff I mentioned above. I’m really fuming over this, so I guess talking about it is why I made this thread.

Maybe I can help you. Pretend I’m one of those heretics who say I have a “personal God” and “don’t judge.” Tell me some of the things you don’t like about me, and let’s see what I have to say for myself. :wink:

But note, of course, that Jesus said He was personal with God the Father, and He also told us “don’t judge.” It is the legalists and the theologians who screwed that up and gave us 95 forms of judging that some are licit and some aren’t, when in fact they miss the whole point. Judging, in the sense of whether someone else is a sinner or not, is to be left to the Father alone. Other kinds of judging are much more intricate and delicate, as far as how to do it without keeping yourself out of the kingdom – someone called to the kingdom finds this natural.

Just be careful that you aren’t becoming what you despise. That the very legalistic garbage you’re rightfully challenging hasn’t become such a part of you that your instincts are to uphold and endorse it. If you go atheist, the same things will follow you there.

Alan

Well I can’t say this is a bad place to start from. In fact most DO start here. Just don’t get too comfortable in it because God will call you closer to him through this.
(One note though…there is no "absolve yourself, only God absolves)
The disciplines contained in the “legalist idea” of God can be good and healthy and nourishing so long as they do not become the object - and thus replace God and the Love of God as the object of our faith.

Anytime I think about the idea of “Oh God loves you, he has a special relation and thinks your an amazing blah blah blah” I just feel its heretic and protestant junk; It’s just people making their own God into what they want him to be (“Oh God wants me to tolerate gays” “God is fine with me using artificial contraception” “God would understand me doing this so-called sin because the world isn’t black and white” ect.

This is indeed a danger. The danger here is moving too far away from the disciplines that the rules provide and into the wishy-washy realm of, “just me and Jesus”.

What is necessary is the proper understanding that, since God IS Love (1 John 4:8) and that Love is the root of all the Law and Prophets (Mt 22:36-40), the rules must be understood within the root principle of Love.
It’s not “either/or” but “both/and”

Right now I’m juggling the idea that God doesn’t even exist. Maybe I’m just drawn to the moral absolutism that the Catholic Church’s doctrine has, it certainly isn’t the idea of a personal connection with God - I feel none of that and think those who do are hypocrites who are making up their own gods based on meeting their own desires.

At the moment Atheism seems like a better option for me to take, while I hate atheist people for their arrogance and smarter-than-thou attitude I do admit that my anger at the world would probably channel nicely if it went against organized religion since religious groups expect their followers to act in certain ways without any proof of God existing. In fact right now I’ll admit I’ve extremely angry with God (if he’s not around the idea of God), His followers, and the heretics who have a “Personal God” that tells them “Don’t judge” and all the stuff I mentioned above. I’m really fuming over this, so I guess talking about it is why I made this thread.

If I may be so bold…I suggest you acquire and read the book in my signature. I think it will answer most of the questions and concerns you express here.

Peace
James

Love is the goal of Christianity-and that’s why the greatest commandments are what they are. Love is what constitutes the* justice *of man, IOW. But the term is often abused and/or overused-in any case it’s little understood IMO. St Teresa of Avila made a profound observation, one she didn’t learn overnight: "It’s love alone that gives worth to all things."

Think about it, if that’s not the case, what else could make anything worthwhile, in the long run-what else could make eternal life worth living? Love is the highest good, love is situated at the foundation of the universe, ‘God is love’. Nothing but our own pride would seek to compete with and minimize or dismiss it. And human pride does that very thing, quite successfully in this world, with sin as the result. Anyway, I think St Basils’ analysis is appropriate here, too:

**“If we turn away from evil out of fear of punishment, we are in the position of slaves. If we pursue the enticement of wages, . . . we resemble mercenaries. Finally if we obey for the sake of the good itself and out of love for him who commands . . . we are in the position of children.”
**

:thumbsup::thumbsup:

Judaism believes there is no contradiction between legalism and the love of a personal G-d. In fact, one cannot have one without the other. G-d gave us the Law out of love and our obedience to G-d represents the highest form of love, provided the legalism of our religion, whether it be Judaism or Catholicism, is practiced with joy and conscious mindfulness rather than in a rote, mindless manner. This can be challenging, especially when we lose sight of the purpose of the commandments (Torah or Canon Law), and instead simply go through the mechanical motions or adopt a holier-than-thou attitude toward others when they fall short. We all fall short but G-d so loves us that He provides for our shortcomings in the form of prayer, restitution, and Confession. This does not mean we should disregard morality and rationalize sin by thinking that G-d will forgive us anyhow. We are still required to make a sincere effort to do better the next time.

We believe Jesus was a sinless Jew, although He and His friends were accused more than once of going against the literal letter of the law. And when others called Him on it, He chided them for being picky about what is on the outside rather than what is on the inside?

And yet, does not the law provide the Two Great Commandments? I ask because wasn’t it a law scholar and not Jesus Himself who spoke them, as the summary of the whole law? Jesus just gave His stamp of approval that the scholar had spoken rightly.

Alan

Yes, indeed. It was Hillel the Elder, who preceded Jesus, that said to a student that the whole Torah Law can be summarized as commanding us to love G-d and “not do unto others what is hateful to yourself, and all the rest is commentary, now go and learn.” Some of the Pharisees understood that, while others did not. Jesus rebuked those who did not understand the true message of the Torah. Hillel was so influential that his school of thought came to dominate modern-day Judaism.

I had not heard this…
I believe that Alan was probably referring to this passage:
[BIBLEDRB]Mt 22:36-40[/BIBLEDRB]

Actually I was talking about the account in Luke where the student says the commands, and Jesus says yes – in the other two accounts Jesus says it.

[BIBLEDRB]Lk 10:26-28[/BIBLEDRB]

I don’t know about you Uriah but I have had experience that our God is definitely a personal God and that He really does exist. In fact, I have experienced several Eucharistic Miracles in the course of my life as a Catholic. I was received into the Church on Easter Vigil of 2006. One such miracle occurred when I was in the hospital and I received the Eucharist. As the priest held up the Sacred Host, I could literally see veins and arteries and muscle tissue within the Sacred Host. It was amazing. I told my pastor what I saw and asked him if it was real and he smiled and said “Maybe you really did experience a miracle.” Well, that wasn’t his exact words but you get the gist. This is not the first Eucharistic Miracle I have experienced either. And believe me, I don’t say this out of pride. I am truly unworthy to have experienced such miracles and it is amazing that I did experience them. I know I am an unworthy sinner but God saw it fit to let me experience these miracles anyway. May His holy name be praised forever!

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