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Divine Judgement And Redemption


tariki
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I would just like to quote from Thomas Talbott's book "The Inescapable Love of God".....

 

........we should, I believe, interpret all the biblical ideas associated with divine judgement as redemptive ideas.

 

Any comments?

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Looks like I need to set the ball rolling myself. I've started this topic mainly because of a little exchange on another topic between davidk and myself concerning "judgement" and "mercy". I first intimated that the Christian terms used would be "mercy NOT judgement" and davidk responded by saying that without judgement there can be no mercy. I then said that perhaps the Christian terms would better be stated as that the FINAL word is mercy and not judgement.

 

I am a Pure Land Buddhist. Its teachings are explicitly Universalist, not in the sense that ALL must eventually be converted to the Pure Land way, but in the sense that ALL will eventually come to awakening/be enlightened.............(be "saved") Thinking about it, the closest you can come to the Pure Land way within the Christian fold is that of Calvanist Predestinationism; but Calvanism with one important distinction.................that ALL are pre-elected and pre-destined to Salvation!

 

Obviously, for a Christian with commitments towards some form of Biblical "inspiration", this leaves many texts that speak - apparently explicitly - of "eternal" damnation, or others that appear to imply some form of final separation from God, in need of fresh thought or another explanation.

 

Thomas Talbott, in my opinion, makes a very persuasive job of this. But then, with me he is in effect speaking to the converted! Within Pure Land, "judgement" would be the shadow cast by ourselves, the shadow of our inability to accept ourselves fully. Reality-as-is is infinite compassion - not an admixture of "judgement" and "mercy" but just infinite unhindered light. Shinran, the founder of Jodo Shin Shu (the form of Pure Land Buddhism that I seek to live by), speaks of our "passions" as being "ice" that melts under the warm glow of Unhindered Light........ and that the more ice then the more water that flows from us in a life of gratitude. It is the pure trust that our only "judge" is in fact Infinite Compassion that feeds us the courage to look deeply at ourselves and see all the dark corners........and the deeper the darkness acknowledged the greater the light, the greater the light the deeper the darkness. The Pure Land dialectic! And the only possible response when seeing the failures/faults/sin of others is a - hopefully - spontaneous "hey, just like me" rather than a stab of judgement followed by a sense of superiority. Empathy and communion, not separation (well, thats the idea!)

 

Hopefully what I have written is not seen as some attempt to "convert". Christianity in the hands of those such as Thomas Merton needs no conversion to anything else.

 

Anyway, hopefully I have set the ball rolling.( Maybe it has rolled and gone right over the cliff!!) Any thoughts on "judgement" , "mercy"......and their relationship? Ways to relate such to various biblical texts?

 

:)

Edited by tariki
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Well, you beat me to the first response. Yesterday was a family day and a day of worship, so I stayed out of the forums for the most part.

 

I feel that most of the biblical references in the NT concerning judgement should be taken metaphorically. I believe in a God of mercy and compassion, not of judgement and and retribution. Christianity teaches forgiveness, not punishment. The Master, Jesus Christ, did not condemn anyone for their sins. He openly loved them all. In Luke, Chapter 8 he was confronted by the Pharisee concerning a woman who was guilty of adultery. He did not advocate stoning, but said, "He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her." When they left he told her to go and sin no more. It was her own guilt that passed judgement on her, not the Master. Even when dying on the cross, Jesus asked, "Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do." It would be out of character, at the least, for this same God to pass judgement and condemn a spirit to eternal Hell. Again, in the Gospel of John, Chapter 12:47-48, we see Jesus as a Master of compassion, not as a judge of divine condemnation. "If any man hear my sayings and keep them not, I judge him not: for I came not to judge the world, but to save the world. The one who rejects me and does not receive my words has a judge; the word I have spoken will judge him on the last day."

 

The judgement we have before us is brought by our own selves. Daily we encounter the three ultimates of spiritual reality; truth, goodness, and beauty. If we are aligned with these, our spirits are at peace. If we are not, we exist in a state of perpetual suffering. We are in our own Hell attempting to fill the void inside us with things from the outside world.

 

This is true on this plane of existence as it will be in the next. We are spiritual beings, living in a physical plane. When we pass from this one there will be no judgement before God, just our spiritual make up, unfettered by our human bodies. If we have not prepared ourselves spiritually to live a spiritual existence, it very well may be a Hell for us. How will a person who derives all of their pleasures from earthly, physical sources find happiness in a spiritual plane of existence?

 

I acknowledge that there are many references to judgement and punishment in the NT, but they did not come from the mouth of the Master. Most of them are from Paul, and not suprising with his background in Jewish law. When read for understanding, the words of the Master advocate forgiveness, and mercy. Our judgement comes fom within, and the knowledge that we have not acted as spiritual beings, in harmony with beauty, truth, and goodness, but have acted against them for our own selfish reasons. At least, that is my interpretation of judgement. I look forward to hearing others.

 

Bless,

-Jake

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Greetings Tariki,

 

From my perspective as a PC, it seems you have said it very well only using other words. I share the view that as you have said "that ALL are pre-elected and pre-destined to Salvation!" This is not because of a belief in a doctrine or church dogma but a deeper sense of who or what we are that has been subjectively experienced in me and found lacking in words.

 

Having said that there is a deep Christian writing that speaks at least to me as a confirmation of an inward 'knowing' of this. It reads "That in the dispensation of the fulness of times he might gather together in one ALL things in Christ, both which are in heaven, and which are on earth; even in him: In whom also we have obtained an inheritance, being predestinated according to the purpose of him who worketh all things after the counsel of his own will: Eph 1:10-11 To me, this only leaves the definite of 'Christ' as a question to understand it in relation to other religions or beliefs and it seems from my understanding there is much commonality in the deeper meaning of the word.

 

Also since to me nothing in reality is separate, it would be impossible to be eternally separated from ones source of life except in the temporariness of mind which is not eternal but created and to perish with the using.

 

Love in Christ,

Joseph

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I am a decidedly heterodox Protestant. I feel at home with progressive Christians partly because I think we read many of the same books (e.g. Borg, Crossan, and Spong) and partly because progressives tend to be open to a wide variety of points of view. I view the Bible as a useful means of determining how to live life. In that regard I am more interested in seeing Jesus as one who was a champion of the oppressed than I am in notions about atonement or salvation. And I incorporate the ideas in the Hebrew Scriptures that have to do with similar themes, such as those of Amos and the Deuteronomy passages about the widow, the orphan, and the stranger outside the gate.

 

As far as an afterlife is concerned, if there is one I think we probably all wind up with a similar initial experience. But for various reasons I think that at some point we will all have to come to know what the life experiences of others actually were. And to the extent that our own actions caused pain and suffering to others, I think we will have to deal with that. And this is what I think of a judgment. But I also suspect that in an afterlife where this life is truly in the past, that those who have suffered will be likely to be more kind and forgiving that they could have been in this life. So I suppose that is where mercy would come in.

 

I'm not sure where these ideas fit in with respect to various orthodoxies, but I suppose they could be called universalist. Also, I have purposely avoided referring to any particular kind of deity, though the idea that there is a next life might imply such an entitiy, at least from the Christian perspective.

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Well, you beat me to the first response. Yesterday was a family day and a day of worship, so I stayed out of the forums for the most part.

 

I feel that most of the biblical references in the NT concerning judgement should be taken metaphorically. I believe in a God of mercy and compassion, not of judgement and and retribution. Christianity teaches forgiveness, not punishment. The Master, Jesus Christ, did not condemn anyone for their sins. He openly loved them all. In Luke, Chapter 8 he was confronted by the Pharisee concerning a woman who was guilty of adultery. He did not advocate stoning, but said, "He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her." When they left he told her to go and sin no more. It was her own guilt that passed judgement on her, not the Master. Even when dying on the cross, Jesus asked, "Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do." It would be out of character, at the least, for this same God to pass judgement and condemn a spirit to eternal Hell. Again, in the Gospel of John, Chapter 12:47-48, we see Jesus as a Master of compassion, not as a judge of divine condemnation. "If any man hear my sayings and keep them not, I judge him not: for I came not to judge the world, but to save the world. The one who rejects me and does not receive my words has a judge; the word I have spoken will judge him on the last day."

 

The judgement we have before us is brought by our own selves. Daily we encounter the three ultimates of spiritual reality; truth, goodness, and beauty. If we are aligned with these, our spirits are at peace. If we are not, we exist in a state of perpetual suffering. We are in our own Hell attempting to fill the void inside us with things from the outside world.

 

This is true on this plane of existence as it will be in the next. We are spiritual beings, living in a physical plane. When we pass from this one there will be no judgement before God, just our spiritual make up, unfettered by our human bodies. If we have not prepared ourselves spiritually to live a spiritual existence, it very well may be a Hell for us. How will a person who derives all of their pleasures from earthly, physical sources find happiness in a spiritual plane of existence?

 

I acknowledge that there are many references to judgement and punishment in the NT, but they did not come from the mouth of the Master. Most of them are from Paul, and not suprising with his background in Jewish law. When read for understanding, the words of the Master advocate forgiveness, and mercy. Our judgement comes fom within, and the knowledge that we have not acted as spiritual beings, in harmony with beauty, truth, and goodness, but have acted against them for our own selfish reasons. At least, that is my interpretation of judgement. I look forward to hearing others.

 

Bless,

-Jake

 

Greetings jake,

 

WoW! A world without judgement.....what would that look like? As someone noted earlier...Jesus,in john 12 :47 said," I did not come to judge the world". If He felt that strongly about being judgemental, maybe we should give it SERIOUS thought.

 

blessings,

 

jerryb

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Just like to thank grampawombat (just WHERE do some of these names come from!!?) for the necessary emphasis on the communal and participatory dimension of judgement and mercy.........whether within this current life or any imagined life to come. So often certain theologies seem to concentrate purely upon an "exchange" between the divine and the individual - no matter the wrong, all is made good by repentance and a forgiveness that follows, without reference to those who have been wronged.

 

One of the strengths of Thomas Talbotts book is how he draws out the interconnections between Gods love for one and the love of all, that "exclusivism" (God's love and foregiveness towards some but not others) has inherent contradictions incapable of any final reconciliation. In other slightly differing contexts, Buddhism has its own differences on this, forms that speak of an "escape from suffering" that appears to many to be "selfish", following a trajectory "up" and finally out of this world, and other forms that react against this and seek involvement in this world and the recognition that the suffering of any other being is in fact our own.

 

Anyway, I think the quotation from the Bible given by JosephM, that pointed towards a final fulfilment of all things in Christ was well made and pertinent. Buddhism is not too strong on "last things", at least in some "future" age, being more concerned with what could be called a "realised eschatology" within this life. But lets not go there...........some of these big words do my head in.

 

Thanks to all

Derek

:)

Edited by tariki
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