As Iron Sharpens Iron

An ongoing and online discussion between: an Orthodox informed Ecumaniac without a denominational home, an ordained Baptist youth pastor with an open mind, a Calvinist worship leader/seminarian with a staggering vocabulary and ability to make a point, and a cradle Catholic with a love/hate relationship to Rome.

Saturday, August 05, 2006

I didn't write it, but what do you think?

I've found another possibility for the top 10 Worst Life Verses:
Happy shall he be, that taketh and dasheth thy little ones against the stones. (Psa 137:9)
Here's a question, how can this be a prayer that was pleasing to God? Of course, originally God's people held such views, and of course the people of God understood many things in the Psalms quite literally--until Christ perfected the Psalms in Himself.

But for Christians to cling to any sub-Christian understanding would be sinful.

The minds and hearts of the people of God under the old law were in general incapable of the enlightened life of the Christian. God worked with them on their level, first to restrain their evil, then to prepare them gradually for the full revelation of the Son of God. In fact, His command for them to kill all men, women, and children
in the cities of pagans they conquered, was to prevent endemic practices of these peoples, such as the sacrifice of one's own children to demons, from taking root amongst His own people. In other words, if God had not had them put all the pagans to death, a horror spanning one day, worse spectacles of evil and injustice and
murder and adultery and idol-worship would inescapably have taken root among His people, and these worse evils would have played out day after day, week after week, year after year. God's command represented, one might say, the lesser of two evils.

We can't begrudge God that He worked so patiently with these impossible people of the Hebrews, to get them just a little less evil, so that He might at last send His Son amongst them (and the Gentiles were even worse!). First, God told them "an eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth," because at that time they could scarcely refrain from taking all the eyes and all the teeth of all their enemies' kin. Had God told them to "turn the other cheek," it would have been, in the reality of their situation, nothing but a cruel joke. They could never have pulled it off. Once He had tamed them to an extent, He could finally lead them further on, into love and forgiveness. But first He had to bridle their habits of boundless revenge and animalistic bloodlust.

So God was not "in error" in His economy towards an impossible people. To make light out of dark, one must of necessity traverse the grey.

But that a Christian, in our day and age, could go backwards, and drag the understanding illumined by Christ back into the darkness, is unthinkable, and unconscionable.

We have the Holy Spirit. We are held to a higher standard.


Anonymous BAP said...

I'm not certain what you mean in several passages of this posting, but I think you're making a good point. However, the idea of "traversing the grey" may be better described as a "conversion" from one mode to another. The "enlightened life of the Christian" is not simply methodologically different from the "darkened" life of the unbeliever. It is different in modality, having no meaningful continuum between the extremes, lest there be the possibility of salvation by works.

11:14 AM  

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