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Is God Just? (reasonable...fair)


jerryb
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" Meanwhile,where is God? When you are happy,so happy that you have no sense of needing Him...you will be welcomed with open arms. But...go to Him when your need is desperate,when all other help is vain and what do you find?

A door slammed in your face,and a sound of bolting and double bolting on the inside. AFTER THAT....SILENCE. You may as well turn away." C.S Lewis A grief

observed.

 

If this great champion of christianity felt that way LATE IN HIS LIFE...what are we to say about God being Just and fair? Ever had 'the door slammed in your face'...just when you needed Him most? Is that Just?

 

 

 

Jerryb

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JB

 

My take on this is that G-d ALWAYS pushes human nature to transcend its current conditions in order to take this world of suffering into the next realm.

 

Victimhood, pain, suffering, legal process, retribution, and justice, are functional attributes of this world, not necessarily of the next set of spiritual realities.. Therefore door slamming and silence is sometimes necessary on G-d's part in order to evoke transcendant moments in each of our existences.

 

flow.... :unsure:

Edited by flowperson
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" Meanwhile,where is God? .. when your need is desperate,when all other help is vain and what do you find?

A door slammed in your face ... Is that Just?

 

 

 

Jerryb

 

I've experienced despair, but never after I learned to turn to God. I'm sure how one turns to God matters. There's a lot written about that, but I don't know what's reliable about any of it. People write of "a dark night of the soul", but they write about so many things in that, depression, addiction, oppressive circumstances, a loss of faith or something else internally. So many people write like Lewis and use metaphors when it would be so much better to describe the reality of the situation, even if it is personal and embarassing.

 

My brother-in-law became deeply depressed after the millenium. It was as if he was disappointed all the bad things his fundamentalist teachers were preaching turned out to be false alarms. At the same time, he's been deeply depressed before. Antidepressants didn't help him. All sorts of spiritual help did nothing. I had an intuition about a Bible verse for him once. That didn't help. Nothing helped until he was forced to have electroshock therapy. Then God came back.

 

Was that God's fault? I doubt it.

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JB

 

My take on this is that G-d  ALWAYS pushes human nature to transcend its current conditions in order to take this world of suffering into the next realm.

 

Victimhood, pain, suffering, legal process, retribution, and justice, are functional attributes of this world, not necessarily of the next set of spiritual realities.. Therefore door slamming and silence is sometimes necessary on G-d's part in order to evoke transcendant moments in each of our existences.

 

flow....  :unsure:

 

 

Hi Flow,

 

I like what you said about God PUSHING us toward transcendence. I never thought about it from that perspective. There would have been a time, in my

fundamental days, when I would have cringed in horror at the suggestion that God would EVER push us into anything. We always talked in those days about God

'leading' us. But I'm with you on this...I really believe that sometimes it takes just what you said.....a PUSH!

 

Thanks for your thoughts

 

Jerry

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" Meanwhile,where is God? .. when your need is desperate,when all other help is vain and what do you find?

A door slammed in your face ... Is that Just?

 

 

 

Jerryb

 

I've experienced despair, but never after I learned to turn to God. I'm sure how one turns to God matters. There's a lot written about that, but I don't know what's reliable about any of it. People write of "a dark night of the soul", but they write about so many things in that, depression, addiction, oppressive circumstances, a loss of faith or something else internally. So many people write like Lewis and use metaphors when it would be so much better to describe the reality of the situation, even if it is personal and embarassing.

 

My brother-in-law became deeply depressed after the millenium. It was as if he was disappointed all the bad things his fundamentalist teachers were preaching turned out to be false alarms. At the same time, he's been deeply depressed before. Antidepressants didn't help him. All sorts of spiritual help did nothing. I had an intuition about a Bible verse for him once. That didn't help. Nothing helped until he was forced to have electroshock therapy. Then God came back.

 

Was that God's fault? I doubt it.

 

 

David....I'm glad to hear you say that"I've never experienced despair after I learned to turn to God". It sounds like you have attained a more 'mature' faith than most of us. I salute you my friend.

 

 

 

Godspeed David,

 

Jerry

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I think we need to get away from the notion that God is all powerful/ all knowing.  Time to leave behind childish thoughts.

 

 

Wow! October....you really 'cut to the chase' in your reply. And I truly believe you are right. Maybe...in our effort to 'learning in lean' on the everlasting arms of God,as the old hymn says,we become 'comfortable' there ,and never arrive at the level of faith David speaks about in his post.

 

 

Keep 'pushing' us October!

 

Jerry

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I think we need to get away from the notion that God is all powerful/ all knowing.  Time to leave behind childish thoughts.

 

 

Wow! October....you really 'cut to the chase' in your reply. And I truly believe you are right. Maybe...in our effort to 'learning in lean' on the everlasting arms of God,as the old hymn says,we become 'comfortable' there ,and never arrive at the level of faith David speaks about in his post.

 

 

Keep 'pushing' us October!

 

Jerry

 

 

I'm pushing myself as well. It is easy to get comfortable with saying I'm progressive but I still find myself frustrated with some old thought patterns. I found recently from my education classes that it is hard to change those thought patterns because they are so strongly engrained.

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I'm wondering if the "door slammed in your face" might be a useful metaphor. I let my imagination wander on this and up came the question "Which door slammed?" Perhaps there are many doors. For me, I get the feeling that the door labeled "rational" closes quickly these days. I think I wore out the hinges. Lately things have gone smoother when I open the doors labeled "intuition" and "feeling". How many other doors are there? I have no idea.

 

minsocal :)

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Sorry for the multple postings. I intended to edit the previous one but the option was somehow not available.

 

I agree that we should not dependent on God. I think that the model of a well functioning adult relationship is helpful. The emphasis would then be on mutuality rather than dependence. This implies a complemetary relationship of autonomy and connectedness in the absense of tyranny. The "door metaphor" works well in this respect. I'm thinking of the kind of door on hinges that work in both directions and without locks. The door remains a boundary that functions out of respect and not brute force.

 

minsocal :)

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Sorry for the multple postings. I intended to edit the previous one but the option was somehow not available.

 

I agree that we should not dependent on God. I think that the model of a well functioning adult relationship is helpful. The emphasis would then be on mutuality rather than dependence. This implies a complemetary relationship of autonomy and connectedness in the absense of tyranny. The "door metaphor" works well in this respect. I'm thinking of the kind of door on hinges that work in both directions and without locks. The door remains a boundary that functions out of respect and not brute force.

 

minsocal  :)

 

 

Hi Minsocal.....I like what you said about " the kind of door on hinges that work in both directions".

The idea of a relationship of 'mutuality' is also very appropriate. That way, the thought of God pushing us with brute force disappears.

And since this God of brute force was the God of my past fundamental faith,I am 'more than ready' for the mutuality kind of relationship with God.

 

Thanks for your insightful post,

Jerry

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The doors that swing both ways always remind me of the entryways to saloons in the old west , and of a terrific story in Ralph Ellison's epic novel, Invisible Man. Some prominent critics consider it to have been the landmark novel of the 20th century. I concur. Read it. You won't regret it.

 

In the scene the hero, a young black man who attends a military school is forced to fight another young man for the pleasure and entertainment of clergy, businessmen, and politicians in the Golden Day Saloon. I won't tell you everything that transpires there. It would spoil your enjoyment of a truly great read. Even though it was published in 1947, the book tells us volumes of what has really been going on in our country since WW II.

 

flow.... :)

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In his commentary on the works of St. John of the Cross and Teresa of Avila, Gerald May wrote about the experience of God no longer being in one’s prayers as He had been:

 

“As John makes clear, it is not God who disappears, but only our concepts, images, and sensations of God. This relinquishment occurs to rid us of our attachment to these idols and to make possible a realization of the true God, who cannot by grasped by any thought or feeling. At the time though, it seems like abandonment, even betrayal.” (Gerald G. May, The Dark Night Of The Soul, pp.146-147, 2004, HarperCollins)

 

Every serious illness is an opportunity for spiritual growth, even if it is completely physical. Can one’s usual experiences of God go away for purely physical reasons or is there always this motivation to rid us of idols as Dr. May writes? Either way it’s still an opportunity for spiritual growth.

 

Is it possible this happens many times unsuccessfully for every time that someone makes progress this way? Whether God does this or some automatic feature of spirituality is responsible, is there something that guarantees that this should work every time? Those who see God as being perfect and omnipotent in what He does can’t believe that He would offer spiritual growth to people in so many ways with so few takers. They can’t believe that their theology is so flawed that such growth is necessary, even for C. S. Lewis.

 

My brother-in-law wound up with the same faith after his worst depression as he had before. People cling to their faith whether it’s true or false, fundamentalist or progressive. Maybe that’s the best we can do in a single lifetime, not that we get another. Somebody gets another life, and there does appear to be spiritual evolution going on as well as biological and cultural evolution. Maybe in the future we’ll get to a more stable place. Maybe God knows that or has good reason to believe that, as opposed to people who have some anxiety about it as I do. Then again maybe God is a chain-smoking wreck wondering what He has to do to get more people to follow His clues away from their myths about Him, whether traditional or progressive. It might be a much more collective effort than what most people see.

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My brother-in-law wound up with the same faith after his worst depression as he had before. People cling to their faith whether it’s true or false, fundamentalist or progressive. Maybe that’s the best we can do in a single lifetime, not that we get another.

 

 

I've seen this and often wonder why. Fundamentalism/Conservativism fuels depression and anxiety, specifically. I am often amazed at people's inability to learn from their mistakes. I'm thankful when I see those who go through a tragedy and find their Fundamentalism/Conservativism inadequate and grow into something more mature.

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“As John makes clear, it is not God who disappears, but only our concepts, images, and sensations of God. This relinquishment occurs to rid us of our attachment to these idols and to make possible a realization of the true God, who cannot by grasped by any thought or feeling. At the time though, it seems like abandonment, even betrayal.”

 

I think that is a profound insight and a good point.

 

I think of "dark nights of the soul" as "fingers pointing to the moon."

 

If we are depressed, or going through some other challenging occasion, and God "disappears," what might that "finger" be pointing at?

 

It doesn't tell me that God doesn't care. Perhaps it hints at something bigger about God and our relationship to him?

 

And, on the other hand, there are occasions when just the opposite happens. A dark night situation leads to a feeling of profound presence and caring.

 

Perhaps individual circumstances and mindset determine the outcome in any given situation?

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And, on the other hand, there are occasions when just the opposite happens. A dark night situation leads to a feeling of profound presence and caring.

 

Perhaps individual circumstances and mindset determine the outcome in any given situation?

 

This was my experience as a teenager. I think mindset and how one relates to God (i.e. is God only around when things are going good or do we only thank God when things are going well vs. God is always with us and even feeling our pain when we are going through terrible times) has a lot to do with it. Although I'm wary of trying to sum it up for all people in all cases.

 

I think your statement about individual circumstances and mindset is right on.

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In his commentary on the works of St. John of the Cross and Teresa of Avila, Gerald May wrote about the experience of God no longer being in one’s prayers as He had been:

 

“As John makes clear, it is not God who disappears, but only our concepts, images, and sensations of God. This relinquishment occurs to rid us of our attachment to these idols and to make possible a realization of the true God, who cannot by grasped by any thought or feeling. At the time though, it seems like abandonment, even betrayal.” (Gerald G. May, The Dark Night Of The Soul, pp.146-147, 2004, HarperCollins)

 

Every serious illness is an opportunity for spiritual growth, even if it is completely physical. Can one’s usual experiences of God go away for purely physical reasons or is there always this motivation to rid us of idols as Dr. May writes? Either way it’s still an opportunity for spiritual growth.

 

Is it possible this happens many times unsuccessfully for every time that someone makes progress this way? Whether God does this or some automatic feature of spirituality is responsible, is there something that guarantees that this should work every time? Those who see God as being perfect and omnipotent in what He does can’t believe that He would offer spiritual growth to people in so many ways with so few takers. They can’t believe that their theology is so flawed that such growth is necessary, even for C. S. Lewis.

 

My brother-in-law wound up with the same faith after his worst depression as he had before. People cling to their faith whether it’s true or false, fundamentalist or progressive. Maybe that’s the best we can do in a single lifetime, not that we get another. Somebody gets another life, and there does appear to be spiritual evolution going on as well as biological and cultural evolution. Maybe in the future we’ll get to a more stable place. Maybe God knows that or has good reason to believe that, as opposed to people who have some anxiety about it as I do. Then again maybe God is a chain-smoking wreck wondering what He has to do to get more people to follow His clues away from their myths about Him, whether traditional or progressive. It might be a much more collective effort than what most people see.

 

 

 

David....I like what you said in your post" They can't believe that their theology is so flawed that such growth is necessary...even for C.S.Lewis"

We tend to put people like C.S. Lewis on a spiritual pedestal...thinking that somehow they are less spiritualy flawed than the rest of us. But you have helped us to see otherwise. Thank You.

 

Jerryb

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David....I like what you said in your post" They can't believe that their theology is so flawed that such growth is necessary...even for C.S.Lewis"

We tend to put people like C.S. Lewis on a spiritual pedestal...thinking that somehow they are less spiritualy flawed than the rest of us. But you have helped us to see otherwise. Thank You.

 

                              Jerryb

 

 

I missed David's original post (likely if it was long I didn't read it. I find it difficult to read long posts via a monitor). But I do agree with what he said or Jerryb's interpretation of it, anyhow. I was talking to my husband about the tendency for some people in Seminary (at least the one I went to) to want to pigeon hole everyone into a Barth or Weslyn or some other theologians idealogy. It drove me nutty. I couldn't help but wonder if people thought for themselves anymore or if they just adopted someone else's theology.

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“As John makes clear, it is not God who disappears, but only our concepts, images, and sensations of God. This relinquishment occurs to rid us of our attachment to these idols and to make possible a realization of the true God, who cannot by grasped by any thought or feeling. At the time though, it seems like abandonment, even betrayal.”

Yes, exactly, exactly, exactly!

 

And to be fair to C. S. Lewis, I do respect the fact that he was willing to abandon concepts of God that he would have personally preferred, choosing instead to believe in God as God really appeared to him to be -- even if it was a God he didn't necessarily like -- a God whose action, or inaction in many cases, appeared to him in the context of time and circumstance to be unjust or even cruel. In other words, it was more important for him to believe in a true God -- as he understood that -- than it was to believe in a God he liked. That's theological courage, there, and you don't have to embrace Lewis' theology to respect it. Beware of cozy gods.

 

All the same, the question of whether God is just or fair naturally hinges on the question of the sort of reality you imagine God to be -- and on the question of what you imagine the most important good in the universe to be. If the mere eradication of suffering were the most important good, then a universe with no beings and no suffering would be fantastic. On the other hand, perhaps God considers our spiritual awakening so important, that it's worth all the suffering in the world.

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If the mere eradication of suffering were the most important good, then a universe with no beings and no suffering would be fantastic. On the other hand, perhaps God considers our spiritual awakening so important, that it's worth all the suffering in the world.

 

This 'being human' is a guest house

Every morning a new arrival

 

A joy, a depression, a meanness,

some momentary awareness comes

as an unexpected visitor.

 

Welcome and entertain them all

Even if they're a crowd of sorrows,

who violently sweep you house

empty of it's furniture.

 

Still treat each guest honorably,

He may be clearing you out

for some new delight.

 

The dark thought, the shame, the malice,

meet them at the door laughing,

and invite them in.

 

Be grateful for whoever comes,

because each has been 'sent'

as a guide from the beyond.

 

-- Rumi

Edited by AletheiaRivers
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I think one of the biggest challenges to the Judeo-Christian faith for people is the issue of people being burned by other people claiming to follow Christ whole heartedly and yet seem to be mean to everyone. The problem is that when religious people are mean and unkind their is the tendency to blaim God for these mean people and allowing them to be mean to other people...But the thing is..that ALL churches are created by HUMANS who ARE imperfect...all faith groups and churches are created by imperfect people..this is their attempt to 'try'and reflect God..but their attempts, agian, ARE imperfect....

 

The big challenge is..when anyone is burned by mean acting people in churches..is to try and always remeber that it IS IMperfect PEOPLE who made up these churches and faith groups...and NOT God. The challenge is to learn to SEPERATE hateful acting and mean PEOPLE claiming to follow God...FROM the actual person of GOD and Christ. I feel this is the biggest challenge of all. If one feels they MUST leave their previous church or faith group background because of unkind treatment from people...then by all means, do what you must do...just please try and 'seperate' your leaving a Imperfect church/faith group FROm God. In other words..leave the group but don;t leave God and try and realize that they ARe '2' 'different' things. This is why, I think, SO many liberals become bitterly atheists/Humanists..cause they could NOT seperate the man-made faith groups FROM God.

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I think one of the biggest challenges to the Judeo-Christian faith for people is the issue of people being burned by other people claiming to follow Christ whole heartedly and yet seem to be mean to everyone. ...

I agree with everything you're saying, but this really isn't the topic under discussion. The topic is: Is God Just? Why do bad things happpen to good people? Can we trust God to look out for our best interests? Does s/he care enough, is s/he powerful enough, etc., to do anything about them? And so on...

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This 'being human' is a guest house

Every morning a new arrival

 

A joy, a depression, a meanness,

some momentary awareness comes

as an unexpected visitor.

 

Welcome and entertain them all

Even if they're a crowd of sorrows,

who violently sweep you house

empty of it's furniture.

 

Still treat each guest honorably,

He may be clearing you out

for some new delight.

 

The dark thought, the shame, the malice,

meet them at the door laughing,

and invite them in.

 

Be grateful for whoever comes,

because each has been 'sent'

as a guide from the beyond.

 

-- Rumi

Awesome. It's so Zen, except that he was Muslim.

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We all know how much the heart longs for spiritual sustenance in times of great difficulty. "Honor this longing," says Rumi. "Those that make you return, for whatever reason, to the spirit, be grateful to them. Worry about the others, who give you delicious comfort that keeps you from prayer." - After the Ecstacy, the Laundry

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