Christ, the Unjust Judge
#1
This is kind of related to St. Isaac of Nineveh, who said something to the effect of "Do not say that God is just.  Never say that God is just!  If God were just, we would be cast into hell the moment we committed our first sin.  Rather, say that God is merciful."

Latins have this mercy is justice and justice is mercy thing with God, and the two are indivisible, and the one cannot cancel the other.  Particularly, that his mercy does not cancel his justice.  We never seem to hear about how his justice does not cancel his mercy.  At any rate, this is something that has been on my mind a lot recently.  I think I've found a way to explain God's mercy being greater than his justice that might make sense from a justice perspective.  Let me know what you think:

Man A commits sin against Man B.  Man A goes to confession, is truly repentant, and is absolved.  But the nature of the sin is one that he cannot in any way undo the effects of the sin he committed against Man B.  He can't mitigate them, he can't repay them.  The effects of the sin are permanent.  Doesn't justice demand that he not be absolved of the debt until he is able to repay it?  Yet he can't.  So Man A is truly forgiven by God, and if he commits no other sin, will go to heaven when he dies.  His conscience has been cleared.  Yet Man B is still owed a debt, one that can never be repaid.  Where is Man B's justice?

One might suggest that Man B will be rewarded for suffering such a debt, and that may be true, but it's far from true justice.  It's more of a consolation prize - you suffered this irreparable loss, so have something else nice instead.  And that's only if he makes it to heaven.  If Man B goes to hell, then he suffers eternal loss, along with the irreparable loss, caused by Man A, eternally.  One might also say that, regardless of the ability to repay, it is one's Christian duty to forgive, or else God will not forgive us, and our sins against him carry a greater debt than anyone can create by sinning against us.  True enough, yet still, justice is not completely served.  

This is unjust, because it is not a true resetting of the balances.  But it is to all of our benefit.  By forgiving that which cannot be re-payed, we become somewhat like God, we're molded into his image, and we receive the mercy of having our own debts forgiven, without having to repay them perfectly.  There is still no true restitution.  There never will be true restitution, because what is irreparable is truly irreparable, in this life and the next.  Man B will never have his debt truly repaid by Man A, and God will never truly have his debt repaid by either Man A or B.  Yet this mercy supercedes justice by allowing both the possibility of reward while debt is still truly owed.  Christ is truly an Unjust Judge, and only because of that are we able to have any hope for ourselves at all.
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#2
I'd be careful with playing around with semantics like this -- what's your point exactly?
Is it simply that God's mercy exceeds his justice?
Are you suggesting God's mercy and justice are separate? If so, I'd be very, very careful here.
We're not all called to be theologians.
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#3
(05-26-2020, 10:57 AM)Melkite Wrote: This is kind of related to St. Isaac of Nineveh, who said something to the effect of "Do not say that God is just.  Never say that God is just!  If God were just, we would be cast into hell the moment we committed our first sin.  Rather, say that God is merciful."

Latins have this mercy is justice and justice is mercy thing with God, and the two are indivisible, and the one cannot cancel the other.  Particularly, that his mercy does not cancel his justice.  We never seem to hear about how his justice does not cancel his mercy.  At any rate, this is something that has been on my mind a lot recently.  I think I've found a way to explain God's mercy being greater than his justice that might make sense from a justice perspective.  Let me know what you think:

Man A commits sin against Man B.  Man A goes to confession, is truly repentant, and is absolved.  But the nature of the sin is one that he cannot in any way undo the effects of the sin he committed against Man B.  He can't mitigate them, he can't repay them.  The effects of the sin are permanent.  Doesn't justice demand that he not be absolved of the debt until he is able to repay it?  Yet he can't.  So Man A is truly forgiven by God, and if he commits no other sin, will go to heaven when he dies.  His conscience has been cleared.  Yet Man B is still owed a debt, one that can never be repaid.  Where is Man B's justice?

One might suggest that Man B will be rewarded for suffering such a debt, and that may be true, but it's far from true justice.  It's more of a consolation prize - you suffered this irreparable loss, so have something else nice instead.  And that's only if he makes it to heaven.  If Man B goes to hell, then he suffers eternal loss, along with the irreparable loss, caused by Man A, eternally.  One might also say that, regardless of the ability to repay, it is one's Christian duty to forgive, or else God will not forgive us, and our sins against him carry a greater debt than anyone can create by sinning against us.  True enough, yet still, justice is not completely served.  

This is unjust, because it is not a true resetting of the balances.  But it is to all of our benefit.  By forgiving that which cannot be re-payed, we become somewhat like God, we're molded into his image, and we receive the mercy of having our own debts forgiven, without having to repay them perfectly.  There is still no true restitution.  There never will be true restitution, because what is irreparable is truly irreparable, in this life and the next.  Man B will never have his debt truly repaid by Man A, and God will never truly have his debt repaid by either Man A or B.  Yet this mercy supercedes justice by allowing both the possibility of reward while debt is still truly owed.  Christ is truly an Unjust Judge, and only because of that are we able to have any hope for ourselves at all.
I confess I rarely think of theology questions anymore and I'm much more at peace.  The scripture story that comes to mind for me is the one where Christ talks about giving the same wages to those that labour for him no matter what time they set out to work.  Between the NT and the beautiful prayers and hymns in the Divine Services its hard for me to truly fall into despair. 

Just like reason alone can not understand the Trinity or how grace works neither can it understand how Mercy and Justice work.  It's a huge mystery, but one that I personally choose not to dabble in or think of too deeply.  Maybe that doesn't work for you but it's all I need. 

When I was younger I'd tie myself in knots thinking of theological and philosophical conundrums till it drove me nearly crazy. I had to take a hiatus where I literally didn't read or think about those things at all and I'm much more at peace.
 
Living fully embodied in the here and now and maintaining a simple faith is what works for me now.  I sit meditation every day, do my Old Rite "Entrance and Exit Bows" and the Jesus Prayer throughout the day and that's it.  No more theology or philosophy for the most part.  

All these years later I've come to appreciate that what a Thai Buddhist monk said about Westerners is true, that Westerners literally "think too much"; there's no learning to get out of our heads and fully inhabit our bodies and trust.  I've come to appreciate that.
Walk before God in simplicity, and not in subtleties of the mind. Simplicity brings faith; but subtle and intricate speculations bring conceit; and conceit brings withdrawal from God. -Saint Isaac of Syria, Directions on Spiritual Training


"It is impossible in human terms to exaggerate the importance of being in a church or chapel before the Blessed Sacrament as often and for as long as our duties and state of life allow. I very seldom repeat what I say. Let me repeat this sentence. It is impossible in human language to exaggerate the importance of being in a chapel or church before the Blessed Sacrament as often and for as long as our duties and state of life allow. That sentence is the talisman of the highest sanctity. "Father John Hardon
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#4
Some people have indeed been to hell after the first sin. Ligouri talks about it
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#5
(05-26-2020, 12:09 PM)FultonFan Wrote: I'd be careful with playing around with semantics like this -- what's your point exactly?
Is it simply that God's mercy exceeds his justice?

Basically.  I get the impression from Latins that they technically see God's justice and mercy being one and the same, but that if one did exceed the other, it would be his justice.  His justice must be perfect, but his mercy mustn't necessarily also be.

I'm suggesting it's precisely the opposite.  His justice is only vaguely so, but really it is mercy.  His mercy far exceeds his justice, evidenced by his even making salvation possible for us.
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#6
(05-26-2020, 12:33 PM)Melkite Wrote:
(05-26-2020, 12:09 PM)FultonFan Wrote: I'd be careful with playing around with semantics like this -- what's your point exactly?
Is it simply that God's mercy exceeds his justice?

Basically.  I get the impression from Latins that they technically see God's justice and mercy being one and the same, but that if one did exceed the other, it would be his justice.  His justice must be perfect, but his mercy mustn't necessarily also be.

I'm suggesting it's precisely the opposite.  His justice is only vaguely so, but really it is mercy.  His mercy far exceeds his justice, evidenced by his even making salvation possible for us.
The theological and ecclesiastical milieu of St. Isaac of Nineveh was very very different from that of post Tridentine Latin Catholicism. It's hard for me to see the same faith manifested to be honest.  There's an abyss of separation culturally and theologically between the two. 

I prefer to look on us all as pretty much hopeless sinners when left to our own devices but we don't look at ourselves, we look at and put our faith in Christ.  There's a beautiful prayer at the end of the Canon to Jesus Christ in the Old Orthodox Prayerbook that captures this sentiment perfectly, but it's not in front of me now or else I'd type it out.  Basically we don't trust in ourselves, we trust in Him. A God that takes flesh and allows Himself to be put to death in order to restore us to paradise is not a God that gloats over our every sin and gleefully longs to cast us into hell.
Walk before God in simplicity, and not in subtleties of the mind. Simplicity brings faith; but subtle and intricate speculations bring conceit; and conceit brings withdrawal from God. -Saint Isaac of Syria, Directions on Spiritual Training


"It is impossible in human terms to exaggerate the importance of being in a church or chapel before the Blessed Sacrament as often and for as long as our duties and state of life allow. I very seldom repeat what I say. Let me repeat this sentence. It is impossible in human language to exaggerate the importance of being in a chapel or church before the Blessed Sacrament as often and for as long as our duties and state of life allow. That sentence is the talisman of the highest sanctity. "Father John Hardon
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#7
The title for this thread is blasphemy.
"The Heart of Jesus is closer to you when you suffer, than when you are full of joy." - St. Margaret Mary Alacoque

Put not your trust in princes: In the children of men, in whom there is no salvation. - Ps. 145:2-3

"For there shall be a time, when they will not endure sound doctrine; but, according to their own desires, they will heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears: And will indeed turn away their hearing from the truth, but will be turned unto fables." - 2 Timothy 4:3-4
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#8
The scenario you posit doesn't make sense because you are equating the guilt of sin of man A is somehow also man B's guilt, when you say that man A committed the sin. This could never be the case if the sin was committed by man A. That said, while man A does the just thing and seeks absolution for his sin and amends his life, then he justly receives the reward of heaven if he dies in a state of grace. Man B, while not at fault for man A's sin, still has his own sins to seek absolution for and amend his own life. Clearly, since he winds up in hell, he committed some unremitted mortal sin in his life and did not repent of it before death. Therefore, his condemnation to hell is a just act because he still committed some sin between the scenario you've created and his death.

Regardless of the scenario. Your last remark, which I will not even quote, is blasphemy, and you need to seek out confession.
"The Heart of Jesus is closer to you when you suffer, than when you are full of joy." - St. Margaret Mary Alacoque

Put not your trust in princes: In the children of men, in whom there is no salvation. - Ps. 145:2-3

"For there shall be a time, when they will not endure sound doctrine; but, according to their own desires, they will heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears: And will indeed turn away their hearing from the truth, but will be turned unto fables." - 2 Timothy 4:3-4
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#9
(05-26-2020, 01:34 PM)Augustinian Wrote: The scenario you posit doesn't make sense because you are equating the guilt of sin of man A is somehow also man B's guilt, when you say that man A committed the sin. This could never be the case if the sin was committed by man A. That said, while man A does the just thing and seeks absolution for his sin and amends his life, then he justly receives the reward of heaven if he dies in a state of grace. Man B, while not at fault for man A's sin, still has his own sins to seek absolution for and amend his own life. Clearly, since he winds up in hell, he committed some unremitted mortal sin in his life and did not repent of it before death. Therefore, his condemnation to hell is a just act because he still committed some sin between the scenario you've created and his death.

Regardless of the scenario. Your last remark, which I will not even quote, is blasphemy, and you need to seek out confession.

I'm not saying Man B is somehow guilty of Man A's sin.  What I mean is, when we commit sins against others, if we truly repent, God forgives us, regardless of if we are able to make restitution or not.  Sometimes we can, sometimes we can't.  Let's say Man A murdered Man B's daughter.  That can't ever be undone.  Even in the next life, the effects of that life taken can never, ever be undone.  True, perfect justice would demand that if restitution cannot be made, Man A's sin cannot be forgiven.  That it is possible for him to be forgiven, to be released from all debt, while Man B must bear the suffering of a lost child, and the daughter must bear the suffering of a life cut short, is unjust to them, and tremendously merciful to Man A.
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#10
(05-26-2020, 10:57 AM)Melkite Wrote: Latins have this mercy is justice and justice is mercy thing with God, and the two are indivisible, and the one cannot cancel the other.  Particularly, that his mercy does not cancel his justice.  We never seem to hear about how his justice does not cancel his mercy.  

You clearly have not read even casually a single scholastic theology manual (Thomistic or any other, for those wondering!) on God's nature if you think this is the Latin tradition. Because let me give you the short answer: it's not.

Before going off on theological speculation based on false premises, make sure you've first checked the premises. Also it's best for our spiritual lives in general not to go off on speculations.
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