Originally posted by Grampy Bobby
[b]"an ancient dilemma..."
Let's say there's an ancient dilemma facing us all in present time. If there is an alive and powerful, eternal entity who/which has offered each of us the unearned and undeserved gift of permanent relationship which we individually reject [and repeatedly reject], isn't it reasonable to expect eternal separation as the only viable alternative? Your comments. (gb)[/b]
Perhaps the parable of the Good Samaritan is more on point: The Samaritan (representing theos
/Christos[/i]) refuses to help/heal (salvation = soterias
, healing) until he is sure that the man in the ditch is conscious and of his own free will chooses to (a) believe that the Samaritan is there to help, and (b) willingly says yes. Otherwise, the Samaritan withdraws the offer, and leaves the man to his fate.
The man, in pain and perhaps a bit delirious, believes that the Samaritan is actually one of the men who beat him up, returned to finish the job, and starts screaming, “No! No! No!” Or, he is only half-conscious, and instinctually pushes the Samaritan away in pain and fear. Or, . . .
In any event, the Samaritan, being a gentleman and not wanting to violate the man’s free will, will not save him unless the man clearly believes and agrees. Otherwise, the man pays the consequence for his own sin (hamartia
= error, failure to “hit the mark”—in this case, his failure to not get himself beat up for whatever reason), and the Samaritan continues on his way.
Well, in the parable, the Samaritan doesn’t wait, doesn’t ask, doesn’t come back later to see that the man is properly grateful, or has taken steps to mend his ways to make sure he doesn’t get attacked again. The Samaritan (God/the Christ
) just saves, without question. He doesn’t even ask whether the man in the ditch is wicked or good—he requires nothing.
This is the difference between the model of (1)(a) sin = wickedness/evil nature, (b) salvation = pardon instead of punishment/condemnation—versus—(2)(a) sin = illness and diminished capacity, (b) salvation = healing (which is what soterias
God’s “consuming fire” is agape
, which is God’s essence. ** All attributes of God (e.g., righteousness, justness) must be interpreted as reflections of that essence, and not as counters to it (no “God is
. Sin as illness (a longstanding view of the eastern Church, based on exegesis of the Greek scriptures) means that the ability to make right decisions (whether applied to faith or works) is diminished: free will is not freely functional, we are not fully conscious (as the translators of the Philokalia
put it, hamartia
always implies plani
The juridical model, which seems to have become conventional (though not universal) in the West, cannot be either loving or just, so long as hamartia
affects the conscious mind (nous
)—the Samaritan does not wait for the confession of belief, or repentance from the conscious man; Ieysou Christos says “Forgive them, for they don’t know … “.
* Judgment is not the same as the verdict/sentence even in the juridical model; it is diagnosis in the healing model.
** John does not say that God is “loving
”, but love; in the Greek the nominative predicate here is “qualitative”, indicating essence or essential nature. There is not in the Biblical corpus (so far as I am aware) any such counterpart with regard to righteousness or justness or even holiness—they are always given as attributes, which thus must be subordinated to essence.
NOTE: I do not mean to imply that the healing model of salvation (soterias
, as I think Irenaeus put it) is universal in Eastern Christianity, just that it is more prominent there.