Trouble with OT and God's active will vs. permissive will


#1

Dear CAF,
I’m struggling too understand why the OT often refers to God punishing the sinfulness of the Israelites. It is Catholic moral theology (or is it philosophy?) that states that God cannot ever actively will evil because that would be a contradiction to his nature. However, the OT (in English) states many times that God will punish Israel for us sins (see Leviticus ~25/26). Is there something that the vernacular is lacking that can be seen in the Hebrew or Latin vulgate? I realize this is a “the problem with evil post” but I’m looking for a scripture based reason. If I can’t explain it to myself, how can I explain it to others? If this has already been answered please kindly direct mgr to the post.

God bless.
Sic Deus Dilexit Mundum


#2

Oddly, I found peace with this after I posted it. I think this isn’t a post just for me. I still would like too know the answer though.

God love you!


#3

I’m struggling too understand why the OT often refers to God punishing the sinfulness of the Israelites. It is Catholic moral theology (or is it philosophy?) that states that God cannot ever actively will evil because that would be a contradiction to his nature.

Think of this like a father-son relationship. The father has ground rules, and is tolerant, patient, and kind when enforcing these rules. The ground rules are for the son’s own benefit, as well as the benefit of running an orderly household.

Even if the son makes mistakes, the father is forgiving. However, at a certain point, the sins of the son do warrant punishment. The son is verbally warned not to continue the negative behavior. He is reprimanded. If the son continues down his wayward path, the father has no choice but to enforce the rules and put in place consequences for the son’s actions.

The punishment is meant for the son to mend his ways, not to inflict pain arbitrarily. The father wants what is best for his son, and never wants to hurt him. But for his own good, there do have to be consequences if the son is heading down the wrong path.

The father doesn’t will evil for his son. The father wants what is best for his son. His son knows the rules and violated them willfully. The father has no other choice but to reprimand his son in the hope he will mend his ways.

Now skip to Israel. We see the Creator acting in much the same way.


#4

Try Deut. 28. Blessings and curses.

usccb.org/bible/deuteronomy/28


#5

I kind of see where you’re coming from. However we can’t speak about God in human terms because He is completely holy, unlike a human father. He cannot directly punish someone because that would violate His holiness. He can salute the cops to fall where they may. Now if I have a misunderstanding of church teaching on the active and passive will of God, please correct me. But, as I understand it, God’s very being prevents Him from doing evil. Hence He doesn’t withdraw completely from us when we sin (we don’t stop existing) but we lose His friendship because we’ve pulled away. It’s not God punishing us but the reality of what sin does to us. That’s why I’m asking if the actual Hebrew or Latin vulgate has a nuance that is lost in translation.

It could be that God was showing a filial relationship with Israel that was unlike any other concept of God at the time (I believe this is called gradualism) with further revelation revealing His true being.


#6

However we can’t speak about God in human terms because He is completely holy, unlike a human father. He cannot directly punish someone because that would violate His holiness.

Sure we can. Even Christ called the Creator His “Heavenly Father”.

The Creator does directly punish - We see this repeatedly when He sends punishments to Pharaoh.

It’s not God punishing us but the reality of what sin does to us.

The Creator can punish. See above.


#7

Sorry, I wasn’t clear: all human language falls short of God’s reality. We can only speak in analogy, according to st. Thomas Aquinas.

The example of the plagues is an example of permissive will. God tells him what will happen and the pharoah rejects God’s will. God knows this will happen. He then allows his prophetic word to be fulfilled. But does that mean he actively wills the evil? The miracles takes place to affirm that Moses is His representative and to force pharoah to let His people go.

God does not actively will someone to go to hell. It is contrary to goodness to do so, correct?

God did not create humans to send them to hell, but knew, in His omnipotence, that they would choose hell. Also, God did not create hell in the beginning but the devil and fallen angels did cause hell to exist by refusing to be servants to God. He holds it in existence but did not initiate it’s creation. I guess you can call that punishment but it seems more like consequences of our choices.

Thanks for responding. This is clarifying the issue as I read your response and am forced to think about it and respond.


#8

As I think more about this I realize that God has the right and duty to punish because he is ultimately just. But He does not punish in this life according to ones deeds in this life always because He understands our infirmity. I think this is something that I will only be able to be in awe of if I make it into heaven by God’s grace.


#9

Would it make any difference if we called it the POSITIVE will of God (vs permissive will)?


#10

Of course God punish directly. Everything else is over the top nonsense philosophy that twist everything.


#11

I think this too. I see so many times people do verbal somersaults to try and avoid saying the God “punishes”.

Isaiah 13:11 puts it plainly…“I, the LORD, will punish the world for its evil and the wicked for their sin. I will crush the arrogance of the proud and humble the pride of the mighty.”

Sure as heck sounds like God means to punish, and not that folks are making their own choice to “separate themselves from God”. I find this particularly scary, if I’m being honest.


#12

God exorcises his mercy when people end their sinful ways.

For example, when the prophet Jonah went to the city of Nineveh and told the people to recant of their sins. They did and were spared.

But what would have happened if Nineveh had not recanted its sins?
The same thing that happened to Sodom.

Justice exorcised is not a sin.

Mercy tempering justice is not a sin.

May God bless and keep you.


#13

Please, explain this further.

Philosophy is from the same source as Theology: God. I assume that you are not saying that all philosophy is nonsense.

Sin is, by definition, a free choice to say no to God. Sin separates us from God. Mortal sin separates someone completely from God. So people choose to separate themselves from God’s life freely. Am I misunderstanding moral theology?


#14

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