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I can be unfair because I am God


Magyar

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Augustine seems to be the first Christian writer to bring up the idea, other than those passages of the Bible that suggest its possibility.

He states in City of God that we are all sinful and deserving of eternal punishment. Therefore, if God chooses at His pleasure to pluck a few souls out of the fire, the rest of us have no grounds to complain, no excuse to call Him unfair.

I disagree.

If my father witnessed my brothers and I ripping branches off the apple tree in the yard but only punished my brother, he would certainly be unfair. We all deserved to be punished. Either punish all of us or provide a way that we can make restitution for what we have done.

Even more bizzare, to me, is the idea that a father could be called good who watched from the window as we headed toward the orchard with our wicked saws and sticks in hand, overheard our conversation, knew what we planned to do, but decided ahead of time that little Bobbie Beauregard down the street who was guilty of picking his nose in the morning but had done the laundry for his sick mother that afternoon and had nothing to do with our plot, should receive a whipping and lose his allowance -- and I, the ringleader of the orchard visit, should get an extra scoop of ice cream for dinner. I.e., pre-destination.

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Another false analogy. Sigh

The presumption is that God does not work within the full knowledge of context.

The presumption in the story is that God also only knows mortality and that nothing exists beyond the moment of punishment.

Both presumptions represent a finite definition of God. God is infinite and therefore we are unaware of what happens in the full context of time, premortal, mortal and post mortal. The mortal portion being the shortest and swiftest.

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Augustine is simply wrong. God does not arbitrarily decide who will be saved and who will be damned.

The truth is that everyone has the chance to reach their full spiritual potential, and that if they don't reach it, it will only be their own choices that prevented it: nothing that God or others did for or to them. All of us will discover at the last judgement, when all the evidence is finally revealed and we share God's omniscient perspective on our own life, that God's judgements are and were completely just.

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Augustine seems to be the first Christian writer to bring up the idea, other than those passages of the Bible that suggest its possibility.

He states in City of God that we are all sinful and deserving of eternal punishment. Therefore, if God chooses at His pleasure to pluck a few souls out of the fire, the rest of us have no grounds to complain, no excuse to call Him unfair.

I disagree.

If my father witnessed my brothers and I ripping branches off the apple tree in the yard but only punished my brother, he would certainly be unfair. We all deserved to be punished. Either punish all of us or provide a way that we can make restitution for what we have done.

Even more bizzare, to me, is the idea that a father could be called good who watched from the window as we headed toward the orchard with our wicked saws and sticks in hand, overheard our conversation, knew what we planned to do, but decided ahead of time that little Bobbie Beauregard down the street who was guilty of picking his nose in the morning but had done the laundry for his sick mother that afternoon and had nothing to do with our plot, should receive a whipping and lose his allowance -- and I, the ringleader of the orchard visit, should get an extra scoop of ice cream for dinner. I.e., pre-destination.

Hi Magyar.

St. Augustine can be pretty dry. I have paused about halfway through his commentary on the Psalms. The Confessions has sections that were a little more readable. I haven't read City of God yet, but just now upon picking up what I thought would be my pristine copy, I see somebody in the house has been at it ahead of me with highlights and underlinings. The book and chapter headings sound pretty interesting (although I know his style isn't necessarily so). So what book are you on? Why don't you give us the passage that prompted your thoughts on this? Here is a website from which you can cut and paste if that is helpful.

http://www.newadvent.org/fathers/1201.htm

Thanks,

3DOP

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I suppose if you can't see the big picture you might think something is unfair. However, God, who knows not only the outward circumstances but the inner heart is a fair judge.

However, it sounds like Augustine is looking at outcomes in this life, ie someone does something minor and has terrible consequences and someone else does something egregious and continues to live without apparent consequences. The problem with this is that we are subject to the arbitrary consequences mortality brings. God isn't going to act on every individual choice in this life. What we do or don't do and the consequences of that are part of the mortal experience, which is very unfair.

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Another false analogy. Sigh

The presumption is that God does not work within the full knowledge of context.

The presumption in the story is that God also only knows mortality and that nothing exists beyond the moment of punishment.

Both presumptions represent a finite definition of God. God is infinite and therefore we are unaware of what happens in the full context of time, premortal, mortal and post mortal. The mortal portion being the shortest and swiftest.

.. and all of this working under the weird assumption that God's attribute of "infinite love and compassion" has any resemblance to what we consider good at all.

God can exists, say he is infinitely good and loving, mormonism be true, etc and we still could consider him not worthy of any praise and be sufficiently justified in donig so.

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The atonement, even with mans most limited understanding, providing the opportunity which changes from nihilism to progression is sufficient knowledge for both praise and adoration. The fact that your comprehension places greater importance on the wrapping rather than what the package contains does not negate the justly deserved praise. I would also point out that your lack of understanding regarding what agency entails also produces a pratfall in your attempts to undermine the greatest gifts man has recieved from God. Mainly the paitence to put up with blind nihilists. :P

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The atonement, even with mans most limited understanding, providing the opportunity which changes from nihilism to progression is sufficient knowledge for both praise and adoration.

What does Nihilism have to do with this? Most non-believers are not nihilists and they need not be to be non-believers. About the atonement... I don't get what's so great about it, really.

The fact that your comprehension places greater importance on the wrapping rather than what the package contains does not negate the justly deserved praise.

can you say what the "package" is that I'm not placing enough importance on? You see, all you're doing here is just telling me I'm not seeing something in different ways but you'll need to do more than that; you know, like actually explaining something.

I would also point out that your lack of understanding

and on and on you say I don't get something which you don't bother to explain at all.

regarding what agency entails also produces a pratfall in your attempts to undermine the greatest gifts man has recieved from God.

???

Mainly the paitence to put up with blind nihilists. wink.gif

well, I do have that. I try to tolerate them as well.

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Jeff K., on 24 February 2011 - 04:29 PM, said:

The atonement, even with mans most limited understanding, providing the opportunity which changes from nihilism to progression is sufficient knowledge for both praise and adoration.

What does Nihilism have to do with this? Most non-believers are not nihilists and they need not be to be non-believers. About the atonement... I don't get what's so great about it, really.

Actually they are, whether they admit to it or not. Nihilism bring about the idea that everything we do is for naught, and when we die it ends where we are concerned. Is that not nihilist? Or do you call it optimism?

Quote

The fact that your comprehension places greater importance on the wrapping rather than what the package contains does not negate the justly deserved praise.

can you say what the "package" is that I'm not placing enough importance on? You see, all you're doing here is just telling me I'm not seeing something in different ways but you'll need to do more than that; you know, like actually explaining something.

Can you say "atonement"? And the atonement is like the color yellow to Helen Keller. We can describe the way we feel about it, but we cannot tell you what it is simply because you are presently incapable of seeing it for what it is and its effect on you.

Quote

regarding what agency entails also produces a pratfall in your attempts to undermine the greatest gifts man has recieved from God.

???

Agency, atonement

Quote

Mainly the paitence to put up with blind nihilists.

well, I do have that. I try to tolerate them as well.

Thus allowing you the ease of living with yourself.

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Actually they are, whether they admit to it or not. Nihilism bring about the idea that everything we do is for naught,

This is nihilism but, again, most atheists/agnostics/non-believers are NOT nihilists. Look up what being a nihilist would entail, man. You have to, you know, put some effort in trying to be correct about what you say.

and when we die it ends where we are concerned.

not believing in an afterlife does not mean one is a nihilist.

Is that not nihilist?

I know you ask this rhetorically, but you should seriously ask this BEFORE you put this label on someone else (or on an entire group which you are totally ignorant of as you are doing right now).

Or do you call it optimism?

...

Can you say "atonement"? And the atonement is like the color yellow to Helen Keller. We can describe the way we feel about it, but we cannot tell you what it is simply because you are presently incapable of seeing it for what it is and its effect on you.

again, "can you say what the "package" is that I'm not placing enough importance on?"

Agency, atonement

I'm not sure how you think God has given you agency, brother. I thought agency predated the atonement and mortal life itself. Even angels can rebel.

Thus allowing you the ease of living with yourself.

...

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Hi Magyar.

St. Augustine can be pretty dry. I have paused about halfway through his commentary on the Psalms. The Confessions has sections that were a little more readable. I haven't read City of God yet, but just now upon picking up what I thought would be my pristine copy, I see somebody in the house has been at it ahead of me with highlights and underlinings. The book and chapter headings sound pretty interesting (although I know his style isn't necessarily so). So what book are you on? Why don't you give us the passage that prompted your thoughts on this? Here is a website from which you can cut and paste if that is helpful.

http://www.newadvent.org/fathers/1201.htm

Thanks,

3DOP

3DOP: Actually, there are parts of City of God that I have found to be enjoyable and beautiful, and I intend to finish the book this month. I will have to wait until I get home tonight to check whence came this particular reference. Somewhere in my files, I also have a note someone wrote that gives Augustine credit for helping to shape many positive aspects of Western civilization. I will have to find that, too, as I would greatly enjoy being able to have a conversation about this pious and passionate man.

Another thought relative to the OP: I always thought that predestination was a Calvinist concept, so I was surprised to find the doctrine in this quintessential Roman Catholic writer -- I would greatly appreciate commentary on the matter from our Catholic posters on this board.

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How do you know he is a fair judge if you don't even know his reasons at all? ...he told you he was good?

??? He has told us his reasons. It is not God being unfair, it is allowing men their agency to see if they will do good or evil and being judged accordingly. It is allowing mortality to be mankind's school so that he can prove himself for a far greater reward. In the process innocents will suffer from the hands of evil men in the world, whether directly or indirectly.

And in answer to the last remark--Mark 10:18 "And Jesus said unto him, Why callest thou me good? there is none good but one, that is, God." The etiology of the word good is God.

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Re agency:

Can I be said to have the agency to steal a hotdog from a street vendor if hotdogs and street vendors do not exist?

In the pre-mortal existence, we had a certain level of agency. We could follow our Father or reject him and get the boot out of the place.

Only in becoming clothed with mortal flesh upon a physical world do we have our options widened: to be chaste or not chaste; to share our blessings or selfishly hoard them; to kill or not to kill, etc.

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No not playful, but you seem quick to judge what is and what isn't, but unable to articulate it. You aren't sure, but know you aren't one? Is that it? How can you tell you aren't a nihilist when you cannot even explain that which seperates nihilism from your belief system?

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3DOP: Actually, there are parts of City of God that I have found to be enjoyable and beautiful, and I intend to finish the book this month. I will have to wait until I get home tonight to check whence came this particular reference. Somewhere in my files, I also have a note someone wrote that gives Augustine credit for helping to shape many positive aspects of Western civilization. I will have to find that, too, as I would greatly enjoy being able to have a conversation about this pious and passionate man.

Another thought relative to the OP: I always thought that predestination was a Calvinist concept, so I was surprised to find the doctrine in this quintessential Roman Catholic writer -- I would greatly appreciate commentary on the matter from our Catholic posters on this board.

Hi Magyar.

Many Catholics are surprised to find that the Church teaches predestination. I think the reason for this is that predestination has come to associated with an odious doctrine that accepts that God predestines the lost unto damnation. It is that aspect of rigorous predestination that is repugnant to most of us and in most conversations, when the subject arises, it is in regard to the predestination of the lost. Many Catholics mistakenly assume that since we are so violently opposed to predestination of the lost that it is safe to say we reject predestination completely. This is not so. They are taken aback just as you were to discover that Augustine, Aquinas, and many other Catholic theologians have spoken eleoquently and favorably upon the subject of predestination. I think we might justly call our position, "soft predestination".

Predestination is a hard subject. Within the Catholic Church there are two schools. The Molinists are named after a Jesuit named Molina, and the Thomists are named after the Dominican, the Angelic Doctor, Aquinas. Each camp has differences of opinion with the other, but they are agreed as to two principles which I will explain with a quote from my book entitled Predestination: The Meaning of Predestination in Scripture and the Church, by Fr. Reginald Garrigou-Lagrange, O.P.:

The scope of this book from beginning to end is the reconciliation of the two principles of divine predilection and possible salvation for all.
---Preface, p. viii

Calvin doesn't seem troubled with the idea of God predestinating unto damnation:

We say, therefore, as evidently attested by the Scripture, that once for all God has decreed by His eternal and immutable plan, whom He willed to accept for eternal salvation, and whom He willed to consign to eternal perdition.
---Institutes of the Christian Religion, Book 3, ch. 21, No. 7, as quoted by Garrigou-Lagrange, ibid. p. 119

Catholics and Calvinists agree that every saved soul is predestinated by God so to be as St. Paul relates in Romans 8:

And we know that to them that love God, all things work together unto good, to such as, according to his purpose, are called to be saints. For whom he foreknew, he also predestinated to be made conformable to the image of his Son; that he might be the firstborn amongst many brethren. And whom he predestinated, them he also called. And whom he called, them he also justified. And whom he justified, them he also glorified.
---vv. 28-30

We see no choice but to be committed to the predestination of the saved. While this key passage says nothing in regard to the children of perdition, a certain logic would seem to indicate that all those who are not predestined to the one, have been predestined to the other. The logic can be granted but the idea is detestable. Even more importantly, further revelation informs us that it is God's will that everyone be saved:

I desire therefore, first of all, that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all men: For kings, and for all that are in high station: that we may lead a quiet and a peaceable life in all piety and chastity. For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Saviour, Who will have all men to be saved, and to come to the knowledge of the truth.
---I Tim 2:1-4

I don't have a firm grasp on what separates the Jesuit from the Dominican in this question. But I do know what separates the Catholic from the Calvinist. Both Jesuits and Dominicans agree and all Catholics must believe that salvation is possible for all. The Calvinists it seems, as Calvin's own word says, are unwilling to live with a mystery. Garrigou-Lagrange admits that the "intimate reconciliation" of the two principles requires more light, while the Calvinist accepts the one truth and rejects the other. Calvin's predestination seems to Catholics like a "hard predestination" without the necessary counterbalance of free will and possible salvation for all.

3DOP

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??? He has told us his reasons.

Oh, did he?

It is not God being unfair,

(Notice how this part of your answer is NOT mutually exclusive with the next thing you say. That is, you can still have a God that allows people their agency in an unfair and evil way)

it is allowing men their agency to see if they will do good or evil and being judged accordingly.

So, if I KNOW that you are going to kill X (or millions of people), how is allowing you to do it so I can judge you afterwards something good at all? That sounds kind of, you know, brutal. Let's also say that your younger brother is about to get seriously harmed through the intentional actions of another individual. Furthermore, you see me knowing what's going to happen and that I am able to stop it with as much effort as it is to move one finger.... But I refuse to do it because I want this to happen so I can send he who harmed your brother to jail. How can you say I am a loving individual?

It is allowing mortality to be mankind's school so that he can prove himself for a far greater reward.

You should see at this point that this statement is completely vacuous in this case since this illustrates nothing at all of God's benevolence or compassion. I've known of very cruel schools with cruel systems and run by cruel people with the "good intention" of doing good. Just because they say and think it's good doesn't make it so.

In the process innocents will suffer from the hands of evil men in the world, whether directly or indirectly.

Again, the problem is NOT that people suffer alone but that God intentionally allows suffering with the bizarre intention of punishing those who caused the suffering.

And in answer to the last remark--Mark 10:18 "And Jesus said unto him, Why callest thou me good? there is none good but one, that is, God." The etiology of the word good is God.

...and?

ETA: If X is going to intentionally cause some seriously harm to Y, preventing X from harming Y becomes something wrong when, exactly? If I stop X just when she has her knife in the air about to strike, will you say I somehow blocked X's agency? Is the prevention of crime the blocking of free agency?Call me crazy but I see X having already made her decision (agency worked already).

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No not playful, but you seem quick to judge what is and what isn't, but unable to articulate it. You aren't sure, but know you aren't one? Is that it? How can you tell you aren't a nihilist when you cannot even explain that which seperates nihilism from your belief system?

oh, brother, seriously I have no idea where you get that I can't articulate what you ask me from. I'm assuming what the characteristics of nihilists are to be known by you... seems like I'm wrong there.

I'm not a nihilist because I have a purpose and I find a meaning in life. Amazing you can't figure that one out. Do me a favor and read this, please: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nihilism

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Hi Magyar.

Many Catholics are surprised to find that the Church teaches predestination. I think the reason for this is that predestination has come to associated with an odious doctrine that accepts that God predestines the lost unto damnation. It is that aspect of rigorous predestination that is repugnant to most of us and in most conversations, when the subject arises, it is in regard to the predestination of the lost. Many Catholics mistakenly assume that since we are so violently opposed to predestination of the lost that it is safe to say we reject predestination completely. This is not so. They are taken aback just as you were to discover that Augustine, Aquinas, and many other Catholic theologians have spoken eleoquently and favorably upon the subject of predestination. I think we might justly call our position, "soft predestination".

Predestination is a hard subject. Within the Catholic Church there are two schools. The Molinists are named after a Jesuit named Molina, and the Thomists are named after the Dominican, the Angelic Doctor, Aquinas. Each camp has differences of opinion with the other, but they are agreed as to two principles which I will explain with a quote from my book entitled Predestination: The Meaning of Predestination in Scripture and the Church, by Fr. Reginald Garrigou-Lagrange, O.P.:

---Preface, p. viii

Calvin doesn't seem troubled with the idea of God predestinating unto damnation: ---Institutes of the Christian Religion, Book 3, ch. 21, No. 7, as quoted by Garrigou-Lagrange, ibid. p. 119

Catholics and Calvinists agree that every saved soul is predestinated by God so to be as St. Paul relates in Romans 8: ---vv. 28-30

We see no choice but to be committed to the predestination of the saved. While this key passage says nothing in regard to the children of perdition, a certain logic would seem to indicate that all those who are not predestined to the one, have been predestined to the other. The logic can be granted but the idea is detestable. Even more importantly, further revelation informs us that it is God's will that everyone be saved:---I Tim 2:1-4

I don't have a firm grasp on what separates the Jesuit from the Dominican in this question. But I do know what separates the Catholic from the Calvinist. Both Jesuits and Dominicans agree and all Catholics must believe that salvation is possible for all. The Calvinists it seems, as Calvin's own word says, are unwilling to live with a mystery. Garrigou-Lagrange admits that the "intimate reconciliation" of the two principles requires more light, while the Calvinist accepts the one truth and rejects the other. Calvin's predestination seems to Catholics like a "hard predestination" without the necessary counterbalance of free will and possible salvation for all.

3DOP

Very, very interesting. Some food for thought, certainly, when my brain has had a Saturday morning to recover from the work-week. Will get back to you!

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