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I’ve been thinking about a comment I made in response to someone (he can acknowledge it if he feels) — but I didn’t finish it.
Member: Pelagianism kind of describes my very early split with religion. Good man lives a good life, never comes to God, doesn’t go to Heaven. Sus.
Me: Well, that’s sort of at the very core of Christianity. Man (Adam) took one innocent (but not) bite of a fruit and cursed not only himself but everyone born to him to hell, essentially. One can look at the unfairness of it all, but when I look at the world, I think I get the point.
But I didn’t say the point.
The point is that this past century (more or less) we’ve had WWI, WWII, Stalin’s millions, Mao’s millions, and a world constantly at war. And wars now in Ukraine and Israel threatening WWIII. And I vaguely remember a chart demonstrating that the world has gone without war for only a few years, once or twice in its history. And according to the reading of Genesis, it all started with one man taking one bite of a fruit that he was told – and he understood – not to eat; and the world has been subjected to war and death ever since. That’s the effect of sin. If taking one bad bite did this, it is possible that if Adam had been just one in ten thousand walking the earth, or even one in a million, the same evil, warlike people devolved from him – even if surrounded by ten or a hundred times as many peaceful nations – would have led us to exactly where we are today.
Forty-five years ago, I was told by a professor (a queer rabbit he was; a former Hell’s Angel, former Forest Ranger, former US naval officer, and then-current Ph.D. in the Hebrew Scriptures and Semitic languages) that there was speculation that when satan sinned, the other angels said privately: Yes, he sinned and needs to be punished, but forever? Isn’t that just too much?
Overkill? they wondered. Who today does not wonder this?
And the implication is, as far as I can see, that God has allowed all this, all these millennia of evil to occur to show the Angels, (perhaps the Watchers of Dan 4:17), and all of creation ever to come, just how bad sin is, just what one little disobedience, one little minor disobedient bite, leads to. And this, in turn, shows how good the opposite is, how good God’s good is. His character. His rightness. How perfect, and peaceful, how joyous, and how right His way is. So for every heartbreak, for every illness, for every slander or theft or murder, this creates an eternal testimony for how bad, how evil, even the slightest evil, the slightest disregard for God, is. And this, in turn, contrasts the greatness and the brightness and wisdom and goodness of God.
And so, yes, in the meantime we have to trust that God is good, and that His ways are perfect, and that ultimate justice will be done. And that, in the end, all will be made right. And, yes, that it will be manifestly true to each and every soul ever to have lived, that God is right. And that God is good.
This is for us now perhaps inconceivable in its expanse and import.
But for the Jews (Isaiah 6:1-7):
I saw also the Lord sitting upon a throne, high and lifted up, and his train filled the temple … And one cried unto another, and said, Holy, holy, holy, is the Lord of hosts: the whole earth is full of his glory. … [A]nd the house was filled with smoke. Then said I,
Woe is me! for I am undone; because I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips: for mine eyes have seen the King, the Lord of hosts. Then flew one of the seraphims unto me, having a live coal in his hand, which he had taken with the tongs from off the altar: And he laid it upon my mouth, and said,
Lo, this has touched your lips; and your iniquity is taken away, and your sin purged.
And for those in the Time of the Gentiles (Rev 1:17-18):
And when I saw Him, I fell at His feet as dead. But He laid His right hand on me, saying to me, “Do not be afraid; I am the First and the Last. I am He who lives, and was dead, and behold, I am alive forevermore. Amen.”