You are hereGod's Unfinished Future: Jurgen Moltmann Interview on Eschatology

God's Unfinished Future: Jurgen Moltmann Interview on Eschatology

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By Virgil - Posted on 24 August 2009

Jurgen Moltmann is emeritus professor of theology at Tubingen University in Tubingen, Germany. Widely considered to be one of the most important theologians of the last fifty years. He was born Germany, drafted into the army, and began his theological studies while still a POW in England. His landmark book "Theology of Hope," published in 1964, has been widely read and translated into many languages. Please watch this fascinating interview and post your thoughts - I'd love to hear what folks think.

Virgil's picture

Best part of the interview, the closing comment:

"I am not a Universalist because there are a few people I don't want to see again, but God may be...we would be very close to terror in religion if we would follow this line that Damnation is necessary..."

plymouthrock's picture

Finally, some honesty on this topic!

plymouthrock!

Parker's picture

"We would be very close to terror in religion if we would follow this line that Damnation is necessary"

A world without damnation (and also reward) is a world of moral relativism and equivalency in which the man who slaughters others is equivalent to and deserving the same outcomes as the man who saves others from being slaughtered. It is a world in which the man who feeds a starving child is as good as the man who chops off the same child's legs and eats them.

A world without damnation (and reward) is a world in which the Lockerbie bomber is not only set free to a hero's welcome but is never placed in prison to begin with. It is a world in which the 9/11 masterminds are as heroic as the firefighters who died trying to save the victims.

A world without damnation (and reward) is unimaginable, unjust, unfair, unholy, and absolutely horrific in practice. It is mankind's worst of all possible nightmares. Thank God no society has ever been successful in implementing it into our justice systems.

Virgil's picture

Parker, I think you are confusing the idea of Biblical and after-life retribution, with a human legal system. You are talking apples and oranges here.

Parker's picture

Virgil,

Our legal system is justly ordered, for it operates on the principle of reward and punishment. Removing reward and punishment is the essence of injustice. Likewise, removing God's reward and punishment is an even worse injustice, for God's reward and punishment is complete, comprehensive, and based on total knowledge of deeds and motives.

Reward and punishment is the fundamental, foundational principle at the heart of God's justice system. It is woven into the very fabric of existence that a mass murderer is worthy of jail time and death, not a promotion at work or a hero's welcome in the community. Such a person is not entitled to the same outcome as the person who refuses to murder for the sake of justice and the rights of others.

God is just. He doles out punishment for evil and offers rewards for good---just like your boss does, just like you do with your kids, just like we do in our justice systems.

A God without damnation and reward is a God without justice. A universe devoid of damnation and reward is a universe devoid of justice.

Barry's picture

Parker, are saying then that an atheist that walks as justly as a believer will receive the same reward as the believer?
If not why not, since reward and damnation are based upon justice?
Or are you saying that they are not based upon justice?

Barry

we are all in this together

Parker's picture

Barry: Are you saying then that an atheist that walks as justly as a believer will receive the same reward as the believer?

Parker: Only if the atheist's lack of belief is based on ignorance as opposed to willful rebellion. No one in a willful rebellion against God can be said to "walk as justly as a believer."

Yes, reward and damnation are based on justice all through scripture. God rewards or punishes according as men's deeds deserve. He never punishes men for doing good, and never rewards men for doing evil. Rather, he rewards men for doing good (aided by His abundant grace), and he punishes men for doing evil (in willful resistance against that same abundant grace).

Barry's picture

Interesting indeed.
May have more to say later but for the moment I'm curious if anyone else has any follow ups to your points.

Blessings Barry

we are all in this together

Ed's picture

Yes, reward and damnation are based on justice all through scripture. God rewards or punishes according as men's deeds deserve. He never punishes men for doing good, and never rewards men for doing evil. Rather, he rewards men for doing good (aided by His abundant grace), and he punishes men for doing evil (in willful resistance against that same abundant grace).

Parker,
Wow! While I can see where you are going with this, my dear friend and beloved brother; the implications are scary, to say the least. Does God, in fact, reward or punish "as men's deeds deserve"?

Do any of us deserve rewards, apart from Christ? Don't ALL of us deserve punishment without Christ? Since these are rhetorical, let me move on: would it not be more correct to say that "God has mercy upon whom He wills"? Or, that God has created "vessels of honor as well as vessels of dishonor"?

And, if this is indeed the proper understanding, then should we not be trying to find out biblically who these vessels of dishonor are/were? And, if they are not us, post-parousia people, then how does that affect our understanding of biblical redemption?

Don't get me wrong, I am not saying that we not have "justice," but I think that we both agree that even using biblical law, there is a disagreement amongst Christians as to what constitutes Justice.

E.g., biblical case law demands that adulterers be executed by stoning, just like murderers and rapists. Is that justice, or was that a "shadow" of "the death" that was deserved by ALL of us, as Jesus' Sermon on the Mount indicates ("anyone who lusts after another man's wife has already committed adultery in his heart"). We are all deserving of "the fires of gehenna" if we call our brothers, "fool."

All of us, Parker, deserve the condemnation that you hold up as necessary to justice. Yet, the Lord of the heavens and the earth took on human flesh and walked among us for awhile. He lived without sin in order to redeem sinners. He died on the cross that the debt required might be paid ("the wages of sin is death"), and he rose from the dead to CONQUER that DEATH and bring "LIFE to the world."

Whether one is a particularist or an inclusivist, it matters not; to say that God metes out judgment and reward without qualification of the salvific work of Christ would give one pause, to say the least. On top of that, to attribute what one receives from God as what his "deeds deserve," is to condemn us all.

Just some thoughts concerning your remarks.

I do love you though brother.

Peace. :)

ed

Papa is especially fond of us

Parker's picture

Ed: I do love you though brother

Parker: You too, old buddy. : )

Ed: Does God, in fact, reward or punish "as men's deeds deserve"?

Parker: The N.T. scripture says it explicitly and repeatedly using those exact words. And so does the O.T., really.

Ed: Do any of us deserve rewards, apart from Christ?

Parker: All are judged by their deeds done in response to Christ and grace. Grace has come, and all are now called to respond to God, either with repentance and reformation or by deepening resistance and rebellion. And the two paths (reformation v. obstinate love of evil) to not lead to the same outcome.

Ed: I am not saying that we not have "justice," but I think that we both agree that even using biblical law, there is a disagreement amongst Christians as to what constitutes Justice.

Parker: Sins are unjust acts of various sorts (graft, rape, lying, cheating, stealing, etc.), which lead to rightful condemnation, both in the sight of God and man. Christ came to attack our consciences with grace, awakening them to righteous living, and to confession and ongoing repentance in those times when we fail. In contrast, many mock the whole concept of pure and holy living and cling joyfully to evil deeds.

Ed: biblical case law demands that adulterers be executed by stoning, just like murderers and rapists. Is that justice?

Parker: Yes, punishment for that grave act of betrayal is justice. However, throughout the bible, God balances another principle into the mix: mercy. Mercy occurs when full true deserved justice is intentionally withheld based on some intercession in an attempt to achieve the person's repentance/rehabilitation.

Ed: All of us, Parker, deserve the condemnation that you hold up as necessary to justice

Parker: Justice requires punishment for evil deeds and reward for good deeds. That's as biblical as you can get. Christians are called by grace to reform their lives away from evil deeds, and to confess and forsake grave failures to do so. This NT process transforms us from being covenant-breaking lovers of wickedness to covenant-abiding lovers of goodness, justice, and holiness. Most christians I know reflect this ongoing transformation and conversion in their lives.

Ed: To say that God metes out judgment and reward without qualification of the salvific work of Christ would give one pause

Parker: I'm not suggesting that. To the contrary: our real awakening of conscience and transformation of character is the very end goal of the salvific work of Christ (Titus 2:14). Grace is shed upon us to achieve that result of holiness and personal transformation.

Ed: To attribute what one receives from God as what his "deeds deserve," is to condemn us all.

Parker: God is not angered by taking the kids to soccer practice. Rather, he is angered when people betray their spouses and kids in an affair with the soccer coach. God is not angered when a person gives food to the poor. Instead, he is angered when one steals the food of the poor. There's a big difference there. One incurs God's anger, the other God's pleasure. We Christians are not called to evil deeds, but to good deeds.

Ed's picture

Parker,
The problem that I have with what you are saying is that it would appear that you are putting the cart before the horse. Of course, scripture tells us that God has called us to good deeds, but my point is that those good deeds FOLLOW, not precede.

Paul told the Thessalonians the same thing that James told the readers of his epistle - faith leads to good deeds. The good deeds are the result of faith.

Were God to judge us according to our deeds, we would ALL stand condemned. However, he judges our response to Christ, and offers forgiveness to those who respond. The good deeds then follow.

With all of this said, we must remember that in AD70, the law was destroyed (after Christ first fulfilled it), and that since "the law is the power of sin," Christ therefore "put an end to sin," and since "the sting of death is sin," we can therefore surmise that "the last enemy that was destroyed (was) death."

If Christ put an end to sin, destroyed death, and fulfilled the law; what then is God to judge people with? While it is true that people must have laws so that they may live together peacefully, that does not necessitate that God must eternally torture anyone.

ed

Papa is especially fond of us

Parker's picture

Ed: my point is that those good deeds FOLLOW, not precede.

Parker: First, it's good to see we agree that actions actually matter -- that is, stealing is objectively evil and repulsive to God, and giving food to a poor person is objectively good and pleasing to God. Next, I have never said our deeds precede grace or Christ. Instead, Christ and grace have preceded us and call us to a righteous, just, and holy life. We may, by the grace we have received, choose good; or we may obstinately refuse and cling to the love of evil acts. Either way, we are judged by our fruits in response to God's grace.

Ed: James... faith leads to good deeds. The good deeds are the result of faith.

Parker: Faith and good deeds are a duo, a couplet, a dyad. They are two strands of the same thread. James is very clear on that. You can't strain out righteous actions from mental assent and still have valid "faith." Such warped "faith" is the faith of devils who believe yet love evil anyway, according to James.

Ed: Were God to judge us according to our deeds, we would ALL stand condemned.

Parker: We are *not* condemned for the good deeds we do. And for the times men fail and do wrong, God has commanded that we repent and confess--a righteous activity through which we receive forgiveness and reconciliation (though often with some *temporal* consequence that needs additional attention to bring things back to harmony--like when you steal from a friend or abandon a child).

Ed: in AD70, the law was destroyed (after Christ first fulfilled it), and that since "the law is the power of sin," Christ therefore "put an end to sin,"

Parker: The OLD law was destroyed, and indeed that covenant agreement had no effective method of full reconciliation with God. In its place the New Covenant Law of Christ has been instituted, and that covenant is both effective upon conscience and capable of reforming our character into actual justice and godliness.

Ed: that does not necessitate that God must eternally torture anyone

Parker: In the end, the condemned receive the mode of living they have chosen. They receive what they are, what they themselves think is right to inflict upon the innocent, and what they did to others. They get to be on the receiving end. They are judged according as their deeds *deserve*.

You are going to get good rewards, for you are committed to good and godliness, and you rightfully reject the deeds you have done in times in which you failed. That's the mark of a righteous person transformed by grace. But many men are not like that, but are evil and warped and have a deep love of all that is dark and evil. They become like animals, or worse than animals, and they despise good and the God of all goodness. They are the damned.

Virgil's picture

Sorry man, we'll just have to disagree - you are again mixing human retributive legal systems with God's unconditional grace. God's grace and un-selfish forgiveness has nothing to do with our temporal view of blind-folded "justice" who reads a letter of the law and decides accordingly who deserves to be punished and who doesn't.

To me it seems like that's the antithesis of grace.

Maybe a universe void of self righteousness is a universe full of grace? That sounds more plausible to me :)

Ed's picture

I agree Virgil. It seems to me that the very thing that is being taught as "righteousness" is the very thing that Christ condemned. While the Pharisees looked down their noses at the whore and publican, saying that they would get what they deserved, Christ gave them what they did NOT deserve - grace.

To equate Grace with works is not Christian, it is the world's oldest sin.

ed

Papa is especially fond of us

Parker's picture

Ed: It seems to me that the very thing that is being taught as "righteousness" is the very thing that Christ condemned

Parker: Christ did not condemn just commands like don't commit adultery, don't steal, feed the poor, honor your father and mother, etc. Those actions are right and just.

Ed: While the Pharisees looked down their noses at the whore and publican, saying that they would get what they deserved, Christ gave them what they did NOT deserve - grace.

Parker: The Pharisees were not condemned for the good they did, but for the evil they did. And all receive grace as God's means of transforming men from being lovers of evil to lovers of good. Grace is given so as to transform men from hate to love, from stealing to honest earning, from adultery to fidelity, from lying to honesty. That's what grace is for. It's given to transform men from evil to holiness.

StephenGreer's picture

Parker,

Well said.

Stephen

Parker's picture

Thanks, Stephen. I may be the only one "left in the room" here, but I think it's important to be clear on what the Pharisees were rebuked for. They were *not* rebuked for their good obedience to many of God's commands. God is not displeased with obedience to his commands.

Rather, they were rebuked for allowing many big violations of His commands, such as turning the Temple into money-racket, showing no mercy or care for sinners, and practicing elitism (failure to reach out to the the poor and the deeply sinful, such as prostitutes). They were inhospitable to all but themselves.

Moreover, the commandments, which are intended to instruct us in righteousness, the Pharisees used as clubs to beat down the masses. The Pharisees were elites who had no compassion for the "untouchables."

Plus they minored on the majors and majored on the minors. As Jesus said to them: "Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye pay tithe of mint and anise and cummin, and **have omitted the weightier matters of the law,** judgment, mercy, and faith: these ought ye to have done, and not to leave the other undone."

They had no patience with the sinful and the poor, and no interest in helping them experience conversion to right living.

These were the sins of the Pharisees for which they were rightly condemned of God.

Ozark's picture

Parker,

I have a question for you. What do you think God’s highest desire for humanity is? Does he just want us to behave? It seems you are saying that human behavior is his highest concern even in the context of grace.

Concerning the Pharisees, I think it may go deeper than you say. For example, Jesus broke the oral traditions of the Pharisees just about every chance he got. The Pharisees said it was unlawful to heal on the Sabbath. Jesus’ favorite day to heal was the Sabbath. Jesus did things like telling a fellow to take up his pallet and walk on the Sabbath which was working. On another occasion He deliberately told another fellow to walk farther than the tradition of a Sabbath’s day journey. Paul said that he, according to the Law, was blameless. Yet, he counted that as dung. So, the scriptures may not have directly condemned the good of the Pharisees, but it certainly condemns their trust in that good. Righteousness is a gift. To say otherwise is to deny grace. With that in mind, we might be able to enter into an interesting discussion of what God’s purpose is. Is it behavior, or is there something more fundamental?

Parker's picture

Heya Ozark. Glad to see I'm not all alone in this room. : )

God's greatest desire is that human beings live lives of love, respect, joy, mutual service/cooperation, and peace. The No. 1 enemy of that state is unjust sinful action, including murders, thefts, rapes, lying, cheating, hatreds, coveting, jealousies, violence, adulteries, and the like. All of those sins (and more) are grave violations against the normative state of peace and love God intends for and requires of men.

And, since compulsive human sinfulness is the root problem that destroys the peaceful state, the *solution* is to implement a covenant system through which men may escape their sinfulness, thus restoring them and others back to the peaceful state characterized by love, honesty, and harmonious living. It's a direct solution to the direct problem.

God himself implemented that system as one of us (a man), and the grace and light provided by that man and the new covenant has the power to transform all through a process of repentance, confession, and discipleship in righteousness.

Ozark's picture

Parker,

I think that there are two approaches to this topic. One is behavioral, which I gather is your approach. The other is relational which I have grown to prefer. The two are difficult to separate, but I will try. Which do you think is a better definition of holiness, right behavior or participation in God? If the latter is a more accurate definition, it is easier to understand how efforts to be good or to earn God’s acceptance can actually lead us away from God. If I am seeking to establish my own righteousness, how can I have Christ as my righteousness? As Paul said, I have to count the former as dung before I can fully experience the latter.

It is my belief that God’s fundamental desire is union. All of the images of the church in the New Testament support this assumption, the body of Christ, the bride of Christ, the temple of the Holy Spirit, the vine and the branches, etc. God has given Himself through Christ to us as a gift. Holiness is living in that gift. Some view grace just as God changing lenses and seeing all through Christ rather than the Law. I think grace is God’s gift of himself. Our identity has been tied to Christ. We are righteous because he is righteous. Participating in grace is participating in who Christ is and in what he has done. Obedience, therefore, is living in the gift. Yet, living in the gift of Christ entails living in his love for humanity. That is why John said if we do not love, we do not know God. In other words, those who do not love are not participating in God.

This is why the whole reward/punishment scenario falls short, IMO. I don’t see God as saying, “Be good, or else.” That is more of an old covenant framework. The new covenant life is more like God saying “Let’s do this together.” Togetherness is the basis of all new covenant behavior. The fear of the old covenant was simply not great enough to beget love. Only love can beget love.

Parker's picture

Ozark: I think that there are two approaches to this topic. One is behavioral, which I gather is your approach. The other is relational which I have grown to prefer. The two are difficult to separate, but I will try.

Parker: The behavioral and the relational are one. No person can say he loves God and neighbor while actively wronging that neighbor through theft, graft, murder, and adultery. Behavior is simply outward expression of inward beliefs and values. Jesus said that evil deeds come straight from our hearts.

Ozark: Which do you think is a better definition of holiness, right behavior or participation in God?

Parker: They are the same thing. In Christ's teaching, holiness is just ways plus compassion to help those whose ways are currently unjust, warped, and needing reformation. Jesus didn't just "hang out" with cheats and prostitutes for fun; he went to them as a good shepherd to facilitate their reform to upright honest living out of love for them--and many did reform.

Ozark: efforts to be good or to earn God’s acceptance can actually lead us away from God

Parker: How can feeding the poor, honoring your neighbor's marriage with his wife, or earning your wages instead of stealing lead you away from God? Doing such things are the very essence of godliness.

Ozark: It is my belief that God’s fundamental desire is union.

Parker: I would suggest that union includes union of mind and heart with God's. God's fundamental desire is to restore people to holiness so that their lives are rescued from the horrors of murders, child abandonments, rapes, rage, adulteries, theft, laziness, and the like. He wants humans to have His own character restored back in them, thus concretely transforming the real world in which we live.

Ozark: Some view grace just as God changing lenses and seeing all through Christ rather than the Law.

Parker: This was Luther's error. Christ died to make men "snow covered dunghills." Rather, Christ died to make men holy, thus ending their grave violations and discord with each other.

Ozark: Participating in grace is participating in who Christ is and in what he has done. Obedience, therefore, is living in the gift.

Parker: I couldn't agree more. But the key is that God's goal for the gift is our real healing and rescue from evil.

Ozark: This is why the whole reward/punishment scenario falls short

Parker: The bible repeatedly says God issues punishments and rewards. It never says anything to the contrary.

Ozark: I don’t see God as saying, “Be good, or else.”

Parker: I don't either. He is saying, "I'm here to rescue you and restore you." But some men refuse and double down on evil out of love for evil and hatred of good.

Ozark: The new covenant life is more like God saying “Let’s do this together.”

Parker: I agree. : )

(Though I do also embrace the concept of healthy fear. Healthy fear saves us from so much self-destruction, whether it's running for shelter from a tornado or refusing to go near the edge of a cliff. This is also true of moral/ethical acts. Healthy fear is very good. )

Ozark's picture

This is a good conversation, because it is helping me see the connection between what you are saying and what I am saying.

The kingdom of God comes with many rules. However, it would be a grave mistake to reduce the kingdom to rules or principles. I am not suggesting you are doing that, but some do. Jesus is the essence of the kingdom of God. He is its king and without the king there is no kingdom.

I believe God rescued us from evil by rescuing us from the absence of God. My big concern is that by making the goal good behavior rather than God, we risk opening the door for self-righteousness and a judgmental heart. If God is a gift, and the presence of the gift makes me good, how can I look down upon my brother? This idea broke down the wall between the Jews and the Gentiles. If God had given his righteousness to both, how could they be anything but brothers? You asked how the desire to be good can lead away from God. If that desire leads to self-righteousness, that is how. The very fact that God condemns our trust in our own good as the measure of our approval shows his desire is not just good behavior but union.

Jesus told his followers that they must lose their lives to follow him. Is the sum of that loss merely losing all of our evil deeds? Paul said that he suffered the loss of all things to gain Christ. Yet, if we look at the context of his statement in Philippians three, we see that this was not going from being a bad guy to a good guy. It was the loss of his own righteousness that he might gain the righteousness of Christ.

Yes, there were people who lost their evil as the meaning of losing their lives, but even that had a relational component. Turning from evil to good was not just a change of behavior but it was turning to God. In a sense it was finding a new love, a new completion not of the world. It was finding Christ as their life. This is God’s solution to the lusts of this world.

I agree with you that fear can be a healthy thing, but I don’t think it is God’s best. He would much rather our motivation be love than fear. In fact perfect love casts out fear. It takes its place, and it is a far better motivator than fear. Fear can at times compel us to obey. Yet, only love can compel us to worship.

chrisliv's picture

Hey,

Rock On! Ozark. Love, not fear, is better motivation.

Now, we can all agree that the State compels people to partake in evil, either directly, or by financing it, through compelled direct taxes.

Peace to you all,
C. Livingstone

Parker's picture

Ozark: However, it would be a grave mistake to reduce the kingdom to rules or principles.

Parker: We can't have a real discussion of love without discussing what love mean. Just and charitable action towards others is the essence of love. Justice, righteousness, and holiness are interchangeable words for acting lovingly and appropriately towards others. Violations of proper loving action are called "sins," "transgressions," "violations." Such violations include adulteries, murders, thefts, graft, lying, cheating, betrayal, rage, and much more. Jesus died and created a New Covenant System to transform men from being unjust violators to being holy. Practically every page of the New Testament emphasizes this call to justice, holiness, and sinlessness---which is made possible within the New Covenant.

Ozark: by making the goal good behavior rather than God, we risk opening the door for self-righteousness

Parker: I just don't see that the New Testament shares that perspective in any way. (How could refusing to cheat a neighbor, steal his wife, or slander his kids ever be anything but love? Insisting upon respecting a neighbor's life, rights, and property are the essence of upright godly living. Sins are those acts when people DON'T respect their neighbor's life, rights, property, etc.

Now it is true that the Pharisees were claiming to be justified in and through the Old Covenant system, but that was a grave error. The Old Covenant System was ineffective and incapable of transforming men.

Ozark: If God had given his righteousness to both...

Parker: But what does it mean to "have God's righteousness"? It means to "be holy as He is holy." It means to walk even as Christ walked. It means to love the way of goodness and charity, and to refuse sinful acts at every chance possible out of love for one's neighbor.

Ozark: God condemns our trust in our own good

Parker: No man has holy transformation apart from God's initiating grace. I'm not saying we live and think in loving ways by ourselves unaided. Rather, Christ and the New Covenant are powerful aids that enable real transformation into godliness and away from love of evil deeds. They are the *means* of real transformation. But men can still resist this grace and cling to love of evil ways. God is judge over our response to his loving and sacrificial rescue.

Ozark: I agree with you that fear can be a healthy thing, but I don’t think it is God’s best

Parker: The bible constantly exhorts the fear of the Lord and holds out the threat of punishment--in addition to love--as a powerful motivator to do good and to refuse to violate others. Finally, my fear of a hurricane is awe, amazement, wonder, and terror all wrapped in one. This fear causes me to give due deference to it. People who have no fear of negative consequences press on brazenly into the worst sorts of sinfulness. They think: if doing evil is fun and profitable, why not indulge completely? It's very logical...but ultimately foolish.

Ozark's picture

Parker,

God is the essence of godliness, and Christ is the essence of righteousness. I am saying this must be our starting point, otherwise we start with man not with God. Righteousness is a person and love is that same person, Christ. If we build on any other foundation, even good works, we are going to have trouble. Again, consider Paul (Phil. 3). He counted his own righteousness as dung that he might obtain the righteousness of Christ. He didn’t say his bad deeds were dung, but his own righteousness. Paul went from having who he was and what he did as the measure of God’s acceptance to who Christ is and what Christ had done as the measure of his acceptance before God.

Surely, you are not saying this is not a new covenant concept. Yet, if you embrace it, you must start with God as the essence of all things, even righteousness. And if we do not start there, we end up with self-righteousness. There is simply no other place to go.

And do you really think fear is more powerful than love?

Parker's picture

Ozark: God is the essence of godliness, and Christ is the essence of righteousness.

Parker: Be holy, for He is holy. Yes indeed. Be just, for He is just.

Ozark: I am saying this must be our starting point, otherwise we start with man not with God.

Parker: I don't disagree with you on the mechanics of how transformation takes place. But I think protestants generally overlook just how central it is to the entire concept of "salvation" -- i.e., what salvation is and means. Men need to be saved from sins and the deep damage they produce. Since vile injustices (i.e., sins) are what destroy the happy state of life that God intends for men, salvation is stopping that and restoring humans to love and good deeds (as opposed to murders, rapes, thefts, swindle, hit-and-run, kidnapping, etc). Paul says this in almost those exact terms in almost every epistle. Holiness is the state of living in love, good deeds, and compassion for others.

Ozark: Righteousness is a person and love is that same person

Parker: The bible typically describes those things in terms of various actions. Righteousness is simply "right living"--i.e, living rightly in the sight of God and men. I couldn't agree more that it is rooted in the very person of God, but it still means having upright, virtuous, ethical dealings with others---which is the essence of loving others. If I love you, I'll help you and respect your marriage and treat your kids and property well. If I don't, I'll steal your wife, corrupt your kids, and run away with your money, as so many people do.

Ozark: Paul (Phil. 3). He counted his own righteousness as dung that he might obtain the righteousness of Christ.

Parker: That's because the "righteousness" of the Pharisees under the Old Covenant system was littered with hypocrisy, elitism, lack of empathy for sinners, self-interest, and greed for money at the expense of the poor. But Jesus kept ALL the commands, and Jesus instituted a New Covenant under which others might join him in being righteous like Jesus. The New Testament urges good deeds and compassion on virtually every page and warns against evil deeds. It's just *central* to the whole meaning of redemption.

Ozark: if you embrace it, you must start with God as the essence of all things, even righteousness. And if we do not start there, we end up with self-righteousness

Parker: I agree. I would only add that the self-righteousness thing had to do with the Pharisees' error that it would be in and through the Old Covenant that men would become just and loving and resilient to false gods. Rather it was the NEW Covenant of Messiah that would bring that hope to reality.

Ozark: And do you really think fear is more powerful than love?

Parker: Despite the fact that Our God urges both incessantly, nearly all studies on motivation and conditioning say that the primary motivators of humans are love, fear, reward, and punishment. For example, all management classes teach managers how to utilize these to produce a more motivated, productive, and satisfied workforce. Parents, too, must know these pretty well and use all of them in their proper places.

Ozark's picture

Parker,

I agree with you that too many Protestants look at salvation as a ticket to heaven when they die rather than the kingdom of heaven invading their lives now. I do take more of a relational view of righteousness than you, and I think that view is also very prevalent in the scriptures, but I think we often argue different sides of the same coin. Someday, I think these two views of the nature of salvation will be united as they should be. Complete grace was never meant to be a positional thing alone, but a complete transformation of humanity from lust to love.

You make a good point about fear. Perhaps at times scaring the you know what out of someone might be a loving thing to do : )

As always, it was good talking to you. Blessings on you and your family.

Parker's picture

Ozark, I see these things as an integrated whole. Or as you said, "sides of the same coin."

Great talking with you again. Hope you have a good weekend!

Parker's picture

Virgil: Sorry man, we'll just have to disagree - you are again mixing human retributive legal systems with God's unconditional grace.

Parker: Do you punish your child for studying hard and getting good grades? Do you offer rewards to him/her for stabbing a classmate in anger and then lying to you and school officials about it? If not, why not?

I look forward to your answer, Virg.

Paige's picture

Perhaps the questions should be reframed?

1. Do you withhold love from your child when he fails to study hard and get good grades? Do you only show favoritism/love to the one who does?

2. Do consequences for wrong actions stem from a desire to lovingly correct behavior? What motivates a parent, or anyone's, desire to correct?

3. What motivation for "good deeds" represents maturity; the desire for reward/fear of retribution, or love for God, self, and others?

4. What does it mean that God's ways are higher than man's?

Parker's picture

Paige, you may not realize it, but there are many people in the world who justify lying, murder, racism, theft, and more. Yes, justify such things, even take pleasure in such.

God sacrificed Jesus to awaken men's consciences and urge them to abandon such evil justifications so as to embrace the truth in thought and action. But many refuse to do so out of love of evil and hatred of the good. They spit on God, good, and the sacrifice of Jesus. Such people are worthy of condemnation both from God and men.

Parker's picture

Another thing, Paige. There are people who justify the torture of other people's pets. They have been known to carve them up into pieces, suffocate them in plastic bags, even drown them in lakes. Upon being caught, they were unrepentant and without remorse. Some continue to be unrepentant and without remorse for the rest of their lives. Many show pleasure and self-satisfaction.

Or how about this. I have talked with feminists (and I swear I'm telling the truth) who justify abortion, saying that killing a fetus is justifiable because the fetus is an invading entity in the same sense as a violent thief who breaks into your home to rape kill and steal from you. Others say that babies harm the planet. Therefore, say such feminists, women are justified in killing babies in the womb. The more babies killed in the womb, the more justice!

If such people continue obstinately in their murderous cruelty and rampage, even to the point of justifying it and seeking to make it the law of the land, would it not be both evil and unjust to the kittens, babies, and their families to let these people live on freely without condemnation and punishment, or worse reward them with awards?

amie's picture

Parker,

Abortion is a great example for how morality has become a distraction for finding any real solutions for things on a relational level. Folks can hole up in moral court all day about whether it is right or wrong, and so have been arguing for years and years and years. I have never met a woman or girl who has had an abortion who enjoyed it. Both sides recognize that it is painful, and neither side is doing a damn thing about it because of all of the senseless arguing.

And seriously, 'threat of punishment'? That's a joke. All our prison systems are doing are producing more and more hardened criminals because people adapt.

I feel really frustrated with watching conversations like this as if people were issues. And that's the difference between "right living" and "relationship". Relationships deal with reality. Drop the right fighting and get real.

People justify their actions every day, how is this new? Do you think that you are taking Paige to school? Consider those REAL freakin' people that you present as examples -- folks who torture animals and feel no remorse. Did you even consider the pain that they had to become accustomed to in order to get to that point? Or do you think that as a baby they were chomping at the binky to get at Buster the dog? That's rhetorical btw.

"Right behavior" is so self righteous because every advocate of it professes perfection -- oh, with the occassional slip that they quickly repent for so it doesn't count.

Amie

When you change the way you look at things, the things you look at, change.

[url=www.bugsinheaven.com]www.bugsinheaven.com[/url]

Parker's picture

Amie: Abortion is a great example for how morality has become a distraction

Parker: Murder is the taking of a human life. Murder must never be permitted in any civilized society. Period. People who tolerate abortion simply haven't watched one. They have no real knowledge of what's taking place. I encourage people to spend time at www.abortionno.org to get the facts about abortion. No person will ever tolerate abortion after they see it. It's repulsive and odious to human conscience.

Amie: I have never met a woman or girl who has had an abortion who enjoyed it.

Parker: Most women are tricked into abortion by the billion-dollar death industry, only to regret it for decades--even the rest of their lives. (Though hardened feminists swear by it, even taking satisfaction in having killed off an "invader who was 'breaking and entering' their body." Notice the warped invalid justification they must fabricate in order to protect their consciences from the horrors of their own murders.)

Amie: neither side is doing a damn thing about it

Parker: Not true. Christianity funds and operates clinics, teen shelters, adoption agencies, and welfare programs to help women with unexpected pregnancies. And note that they DON'T generally get taxpayer funding to do this.

Amie: I feel really frustrated with watching conversations like this as if people were issues. And that's the difference between "right living" and "relationship". Relationships deal with reality.

Parker: Um, "right living" is all about relationships. It's about how you treat others justly and charitably and how you refuse to harm others.

Amie: Consider those REAL freakin' people that you present as examples -- folks who torture animals and feel no remorse. Did you even consider the pain that they had to become accustomed to in order to get to that point?

Parker: People are not robots. They are both victims AND willful victimizers. While willful injustices may not be your typical problem, a great many people in our society find evil pleasurable, and they develop all manner of intelligent rationalization for their thefts, murders, rapes, adulteries, etc.. Yet those sins cause real carnage to real people, Amie.

Amie: "Right behavior" is so self righteous

Parker: Untrue. Theft hurts people. Date rape hurts people. Right behavior is all about relationships --specifically, making willful decisions to refuse to hurt people via theft, rape, murder, lies, etc. and to instead do good to them--even to one's enemies. God calls all people to virtuous, ethical, honest, compassionate living. It's the essence of the gospel. It's hard to understand why anyone would be dismissive of that.

amie's picture

Parker: Murder is the taking of a human life. Murder must never be permitted in any civilized society. Period. People who tolerate abortion simply haven't watched one. They have no real knowledge of what's taking place. I encourage people to spend time at www.abortionno.org to get the facts about abortion. No person will ever tolerate abortion after they see it. It's repulsive and odious to human conscience.

Amie: Nothing is set in stone. You better believe if someone broke in my home and tried to harm my family I would protect them to the death. And perhaps you don't know a woman who has been raped and forcefully impregnated? Or, a little girl who becomes pregnant whose uterus is underdeveloped and she can't carry a baby and live? I do. It's not about tolerate this or not tolerate that. Once again, that's not reality. It's here whether you personally approve or not, so how about focusing on solutions.

Parker: Most women are tricked into abortion by the billion-dollar death industry, only to regret it for decades--even the rest of their lives. (Though hardened feminists swear by it, even taking satisfaction in having killed off an "invader who was 'breaking and entering' their body." Notice the warped invalid justification they must fabricate in order to protect their consciences from the horrors of their own murders.)

Amie: "Tricked"? Wtf? Do you think women are idiots? Is that why you have such a problem with feminists?

Parker: Not true. Christianity funds and operates clinics, teen shelters, adoption agencies, and welfare programs to help women with unexpected pregnancies. And note that they DON'T generally get taxpayer funding to do this.

Amie: Good for them. Has it done anything to reduce the number of abortions?

Parker: Um, "right living" is all about relationships. It's about how you treat others justly and charitably and how you refuse to harm others.

Amie: I don't see it that way at all. Like Dr Phil says, "You can be right, or you can be happy."

Parker: People are not robots. They are both victims AND willful victimizers. While willful injustices may not be your typical problem, a great many people in our society find evil pleasurable, and they develop all manner of intelligent rationalization for their thefts, murders, rapes, adulteries, etc.. Yet those sins cause real carnage to real people, Amie.

Amie: "Sins", lol!!! Do you think that you are not guilty of sin? People are people. There is a lot that goes into the creation of someone who will do harm and not feel bad for it. That doesn't mean that we enable them to keep on killing, what did you put out there?... Kittens, puppies, and babies. They don't suddenly become less people and less important. They aren't the "evil" discardable, they are still human beings and NOT issues.

Parker: Untrue. Theft hurts people. Date rape hurts people. Right behavior is all about relationships --specifically, making willful decisions to refuse to hurt people via theft, rape, murder, lies, etc. and to instead do good to them--even to one's enemies. God calls all people to virtuous, ethical, honest, compassionate living. It's the essence of the gospel. It's hard to understand why anyone would be dismissive of that.

Amie: It is self righteous because you, yourself, and other folks who believe like you do, declare yourself righteous as if you are. You are guilty just like any example of a harmful behavior you can conjure. If you are going to live by the law/sword, meaning to yield the law in judgement against someone, then you need to recognize you are dead by it as well. It is a double edged sword.

In your view, the gospel is "don't rape people", "don't steal", "don't murder", and so on? I don't see it like that. The point wasn't to perpetuate what already existed. As I see it, there is good news. We are all guilty via the law, and we are all pardoned via the cross. Adam was right, he screwed up. But God loves people through their mistakes. Love doesn't enable, but it sure as hell doesn't keep score either.

Amie

When you change the way you look at things, the things you look at, change.

[url=www.bugsinheaven.com]www.bugsinheaven.com[/url]

Parker's picture

Amie: You better believe if someone broke in my home and tried to harm my family I would protect them to the death.

Parker: A violent criminal break-in to your house and an innocent baby developing in a uterus are not the same thing.

Amie: perhaps you don't know a woman who has been raped and forcefully impregnated?

Parker: You shall not murder.

Amie: "Tricked"? Wtf? Do you think women are idiots? Is that why you have such a problem with feminists?

Parker: Planned Parenthood is a corrupt billion-dollar death marketer. It intentionally deceives young women, protects rapists from being reported, and, of course, sticks forks in babies heads and sucks their brains out. People refuse to look at pictures and videos of abortion because the human conscience can't stand the pain and horror.

Amie: Has it done anything to reduce the number of abortions?

Parker: Yes. But the real way to reduce the number of baby killings is to shut down the industry by making the practice illegal. The 1.3 million annual U.S. death count will drop to about 100,000.

Amie: "Sins", lol!!! Do you think that you are not guilty of sin?

Parker: I absolutely am guilty of sins, and such violations against others are the direct cause of most human suffering. Therefore salvation is the remedy, in that it calls people to turn from all injustices and embrace honest virtuous living.

Amie: It is self righteous because you, yourself, and other folks who believe like you do, declare yourself righteous

Parker: No, quite to the contrary. We declare ourselves sinners who now, in response to Christ's teaching, are rejecting our sinful ways and embracing the way of salvation, which is a life of justice, honesty, and love. And when you multiply this effect worldwide, the whole world is transformed by the gospel.

Amie: As I see it, there is good news. We are all guilty via the law, and we are all pardoned via the cross.

Parker: Jesus didn't come to earth to give human injustice a free pass, cover it up, or sweep it under the rug. He came to transform it, thus restoring peace and life and love to the world. Read the gospels.

amie's picture

Parker,

So are you guilty of sins, or rejecting them? Which is it?

Have you been transformed into someone perfect who always does "right behavior"? Know anyone who has?

Amie

When you change the way you look at things, the things you look at, change.

[url=www.bugsinheaven.com]www.bugsinheaven.com[/url]

Parker's picture

Amie: So are you guilty of sins, or rejecting them? Which is it?

Parker: I, like all people, wrong others. But Christ came to rid us of sinfulness so that our lives can be restored to harmony with others and with our conscience. This means we are called to lives of justice and virtue, and we are to respond to God's call. It is progressive restoration for sure, but it is concrete salvation. This is the gospel of life and light.

Amie: Have you been transformed into someone perfect who always does "right behavior"? Know anyone who has?

Parker: Not perfect yet, but definitely going the right direction, *as are most devout Christians I have met*. What do you have against people turning from their crimes, resolving to repair what they can, and turning to lives of virtue, justice, and love? That's the gospel. And when everyone does it, society is concretely transformed for the good. As scripture says:

Psalm 15
1. Yahweh, who shall dwell in your sanctuary? Who shall live on your holy hill?
2. He who walks blamelessly does what is right, and speaks truth in his heart;
3. He who doesn't slander with his tongue, nor does evil to his friend, nor casts slurs against his fellow man;
4. In whose eyes a vile man is despised, but who honors those who fear Yahweh; he who keeps an oath even when it hurts, and doesn't change;
5. he who doesn't lend out his money for usury, nor take a bribe against the innocent. He who does these things shall never be shaken. A Poem by David.

amie's picture

Parker: What do you have against people turning from their crimes, resolving to repair what they can, and turning to lives of virtue, justice, and love?

Amie: When you love, you aren't acting. It has little to do with 'acting' right (iow "behaving right").

Mat 15:8 "This people draws near to Me with their mouth, and with their lips honor Me; but their heart holds far off from Me.

Amie

When you change the way you look at things, the things you look at, change.

[url=www.bugsinheaven.com]www.bugsinheaven.com[/url]

Parker's picture

Amie: When you love, you aren't acting. It has little to do with 'acting' right (iow "behaving right").

Parker: ???

Parker's picture

Amie,

I'm not your enemy---I'm your friend. Really.

I simply believe there is an issue of justice with God and our faith that you seem to know only as "self righteousness." I'm not advocating empty "self righteousness," as should be apparent by my comments all over this thread.

Best,
Parker

amie's picture

Parker,

I didn't take you for an enemy. I'm not goin' easy on you. Let me know if I am over the top and I'll tone it down.

There is no difference between "self righteousness" and "empty self righteousness". When righteousness is self adorned, it is self adorned - and the robes are the same as that of the "Emperor" in the story of the "Emperor's New Clothes".

In the bible story, folks who kept the law boasted that feat and later discovered that they were still naked. The law declares every person guilty, yet to be clothed in love is to be naked without shame.

I'm not sure what you didn't understand in my last post. I'll try and rephrase. It is true that people can behave rightly, or in other words "act" rightly. Even the Pharisees did that much because they followed the law to the letter. When it became a Word written on the fleshy table of the heart, they were found wanting. Though they kept the law, there was no love for their neighbor in them.

They were obediant to their proverbial husband, because it was their duty. Yet, their husband wanted love - and little did they know how much they needed it themselves.

Consider that in your own marriage. Would you rather your wife be faithful because she will be stoned to death or cast in hell if she isn't? Or, would you rather her be there out of choice and love? If she is held by threat or duty, there's a lack of intimacy.

Amie

When you change the way you look at things, the things you look at, change.

[url=www.bugsinheaven.com]www.bugsinheaven.com[/url]

amie's picture

Parker: "You shall not murder."

Amie: Are you Jewish?

When you change the way you look at things, the things you look at, change.

[url=www.bugsinheaven.com]www.bugsinheaven.com[/url]

tom-g's picture

Virgil,

If there is no punishment, why would you think the scripture says it is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God. Or as the scripture again says: vengeance is mine.

What is fearful or vengeful about love without punishment?

Tom

judge's picture

One of the things I realised about myself at my lowest point is that I am capable of anything. If I am pushed hard enough on the right buttons I could do things that are unimaginable. It is trully a fearful state to be in; in all seriousness.
After having the realisation I have found I became (over time)incapable of believing anyone is worthy of damnation (in the traditional sense.
Yes I can and do feel angry, incensed about things people do and wish them harm, and yes I have right as part of the society I live in to participate in civil and criminal measures against them, but not to judge them in any absolute sense.
The more disconnected a person is (from who they trully are) the more "evil" they can do.

Barry's picture

Interesting observations.

If we think of a loving and caring atmosphere where we are participants therein we think of the opposite of this "disconnect".

Life is about love not justice. Justice comes in really because of the preeminence of love. But love embraces more that mere justice and 1 Cor. 13 proves this.
For example we do not bring up our children to be "just" we bring them up to love where justice plays its part because of love. Justice does not however define love. If you do this the brothers and sisters will not be slitting each other's throats with razor blades LOL!

Damnation in the bible is the ending of the old covenant from the perspective of those that were of it, under it, or under it's umbrella. This ending took the self establishing self or self defining self with it. The chaff is burnt up.
It just simply means that God is indeed God.

Barry

we are all in this together

Parker's picture

Barry: Life is about love not justice.

Parker: Justice is by definition the insistence upon loving action towards others, and the right response when this has been violated. Barry, all people have a God-given right and expectation to be treated with love and respect in all matters of life and property. Justice leaps into action when one person has not loved a man by stealing from him, raping him, cheating him, and lying to him. Love and Justice go together. It is not love at all to permit rape, theft, lying, murder, cheating, adultery, betrayal, etc. These things are the exact opposite of love, or "hate." Allowing such violations against love is the essence of injustice.

Barry: Damnation in the bible is the ending of the old covenant from the perspective of those that were of it, under it, or under it's umbrella

Parker: God issued condemnations (and rewards) upon men long before the Old Covenant was instituted and long after it ended. God is always the Supreme Lover of Justice for all creatures--He never ceases to be the Righteous Judge and rewarder of them that seek justice, holiness, and charity.

Barry's picture

Hey Parker.
In terms which you might relate to, I will sum this up as best as I know how at this time.

What makes right and wrong valuable is people.
Right and wrong is not more valuable than people.
This God knows.

Blessings Barry

we are all in this together

Parker's picture

Judge: I am capable of anything. If I am pushed hard enough on the right buttons I could do things that are unimaginable.

Parker: All humans are *potentially capable* of any behavior. However, we are not robots, but moral beings with ability to evaluate options and make willful choices. We make moral calculations each day about what we ought to do and not do. Our consciences are informed by a range of often conflicting messages we learn from movies, school, church, and family. Those who love right ways and who aspire to walk a straight path have radically different acts and outcomes as those who love to cheat and slander and murder and find creative ways to "get away with it." Christians aspire to live just and honest lives filled with charitable actions and adherence to right ethics. Some men find a twisted happiness and thrill doing just the opposite.

Judge: After having the realisation I have found I became (over time) incapable of believing anyone is worthy of damnation (in the traditional sense

Parker: Do you believe a person who murders or steals or rapes is worthy of punishment? If yes, why?

judge's picture

Parker:Christians aspire to live just and honest lives filled with charitable actions and adherence to right ethics. Some men find a twisted happiness and thrill doing just the opposite.

Judge: But it comes naturally and easily if we are in touch with the Divine.
While there may be some thrill or twisted happiness (and there may not be as we think of it too) these people are still very disconnected.
A man in a dark room has very few choices, and little confidence to follow them.
Turn on the light and suddenly he has more choices and more confidence.
Whilst in darkness they dont "know what they do".
If we harbor ill will towards them we only hurt ourselves, we poison our own minds and hearts, and bodies.

Parker: Do you believe a person who murders or steals or rapes is worthy of punishment? If yes, why?

Judge: Sure. We as a society need to take responsibility to govern these things, and to protect the innocent.
But it isv an impersonal thing.

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