Tuesday, July 31, 2007

The Seeker's Prayer

Heard this on Way of the Master radio, and cannot help but post it.

The Seeker's Prayer:

Dear God, whom I hate with all my being precisely because you hate and threaten me with hell, I hate this punishment perhaps even more than I hate you. Or, maybe I should say that I love my comfort even more than I hate you. For that reason I am asking a favor of you. I want you to make me love you, whom I hate even when I ask this and even more because I have to ask this. I am being frank with you because I know it is no use to be otherwise. You know even better than I how much I hate you and that I love only myself. It is no use for me to pretend to be sincere. I most certainly do not love you and do not want to love you. I hate the thought of loving you but that is what I'm asking because I love myself. If you can answer this 'prayer' I guess the gift of gratitude will come with it and then I will be able to do what I would not think of doing now—thank you for making me love you whom I hate. Amen.

18 comments:

Lucian said...

you hate and threaten me with hell

Is this the Protestant opinion (??), or is it just something that the man who invented this prayer thought that the one praying it thougt?

Rhology said...

This is not the Protestant opinion. It's biblical terminology.
I always think it's funny how Orthodox and RCs so often crow "opinion! opinion!" when all the Protestant did was quote the Bible.

Here.
And here.
And here.
And here.
And here.
And here.

I think it's interesting that God also loves them enough to present the Gospel to them. But it's also say-able that He hates sinners.

Benjamin said...

Rhoblogy,

A question. We have a here, according to a simple reading of Scripture, a God that both loves and hates sinners. I'd be interested in your understanding of the nature of that hate: does he hate their sin, their woeful actions or does he hate them as well, their essential nature, their very being? Obviously, the simplest answer from looking at the text is that he hates them. But do you discern between the two with God, between hating the activity and hating the person? I'd be interested to know.

David Bryan said...

To piggyback on benjamin's question: I'd be interested to know how God can hate someone while loving that same person at the same time.

You do not love the one you hate, nor vice versa.

Benjamin said...

Yes, God's hate and hate in general are throughout the Scriptures. "Jacob have I loved, Esau have I hated" comes to mind. Jesus himself tells us that unless we hate our relatives we are not worthy of his Kingdom. Each of these deserves their context and each deserves to be interpreted by what we, as Christians, claim to know about God, his nature, and his actions in his Messiah.

Of course, I am not here to deny God's wrath. "Our God is a consuming fire" and "It is a fearful thing to follow into the hands of the living God" - the Scriptures are full of this truth. But to speak of God's hate we must be careful not to fill it to the brim with our understanding of human hate.

Fr. Thomas Hopko gave a talk once and did deal with the issue of God's hate. God does hate things, he made it clear:The scriptures are clear. And if we are to be godly, we too will hate things. But as far as the wisdom and interpretive traditions I've been given go, this is a hate of evil and of disobedience and of all things that ruin God's good creation. Not a hatred of that creation in and of itself. Even - and this is important - even if that creation is the cause of its own evil and rebellion.

What are you thoughts on this?

Rhology said...

Gentlemen,

Wilkommen.

We have a here, according to a simple reading of Scripture, a God that both loves and hates sinners.

W/o question, yes. I said it's "interesting" that God loves and hates at the same time...precisely b/c it's interesting. It's a bit odd to the human ear, but then again there are comparable experiences in human life. Loving and hating an abusive boyfriend, for example.

The Scr presents a God Who hates evil DEEDS and evil DOERS. Keeping in mind that those who don't believe are enemies of God, it's not hard to understand. But God is also merciful to love those who hate Him.
I don't know what else to do w/ this Scriptural info than to conclude that both are true, to remind myself and you that men hate God b/c they are rebellious, shortsighted, selfish, and evil, and to rejoice that I don't have to be subject to God's hate and wrath anymore!

David Bryan said:
You do not love the one you hate, nor vice versa.

I guess God does. He also laughs in derision (Psalm 2) at evil men while at the same time extending an offer of mercy to them.
I'd be interested, however, in hearing from The Orthodox Church about this. I want to believe stuff on good authority, after all! ;-)

Benjamin said:
even if that creation is the cause of its own evil and rebellion.

I hear you. But unless we want to de-canonise The Psalms or figure out another supportable definition for "hate", we're "stuck" w/ this.
A more direct response is: God already thought of that and still had no problem saying what He said.

Rhology said...

Oh, yeah, I was going to say this and forgot. I'd add that this prayer is not sthg I'd suggest to an unbeliever to pray to accept Christ (though what I'd tell him would be significantly more beefed-up than the usual lame "Sinner's Prayer" we usually hear). Rather, this is what an unbeliever SHOULD pray if somehow he had a good understanding of the Bible and a heart sanctified by the Holy Spirit before he knew Christ. Which is obviously bupkus.

Call it "The Prayer I Would And Should Have Prayed To Get Saved Had I Known Then What I Know Now, Though That's Impossible." Or TPIWASHPTGSHIKTWIKN for short.

David Bryan said...

Well, you're going to have to forgive the hastily-typed reply--had a baby wake up on me--that's no excuse for not including the caveat provided dutifully by benjamin that when we "speak of God's hate we must be careful not to fill it to the brim with our understanding of human hate."

"God already thought of that and still had no problem saying what He said."

That's very true, but if we unknowingly fail to separate what was said from how our cultural inheritance dictates that we perceive it, we will have no good done if we read that God "hates" sin and sinner if we have no concept of what His "hatred" entails, nor of how it differs from our fallen hatred, the latter of which springs from loss incurred or harm inflicted upon the one who hates, and can hardly be applied to a transcendent One.

Sigh...fatherhood is busy...

Lucian said...

OK. Thanx for the answer. (I was a bit shocked in hearing that Protestants believe that -- I mean, I was willy-nilly exposed to Protestantism ever since I was but a little boy; but I've *NEVER* known that about them).

How many (or: which) [Neo-]Protestant groups believe that? Just those of a [more-than-usual] Calvinist bent, ... or?

------
I'd be interested, however, in hearing from The Orthodox Church about this.

The opinion of Orthodoxy is that "hate" isn't bi-directional: Scripture says: WE are enemies of God; WE are building a brick-wall between us and God, due to OUR sins; etc.

---------
Benjamin,

expressions like "love this, hate that" are Semitisms. (i.e., some-sort of linguistic calques from Hebrew/Aramaic to Koine Greek). It means "prefere this over that" -- which fits the context: love God *MORE* (than family, etc). [Even in the DecaLogue, the 1st 4 commandments are about God, our Heavenly Father, and only the 5th about our bodily parents -- so there's a hierarchy].

Benjamin said...

Lucian,

I certainly don’t disagree with you about the need for context, which I did mention in my references above. My point was that hate is throughout the Scriptures and that it is, in a very real and yet necessarily thoughtful way, a part of Christian life. It must be, somehow, as it is a part of God’s life and if our calling as followers of his Son is to enter into his very life.

Rhology,

I would have to reiterate the point that David made reiterating the point that I made: how are we to understand God’s hate? This is the key question and it isn’t asked in any vain attempt to avoid “the simple meaning of Scripture”, but to pay enough respect to the Scriptures to dig deep enough into them and their narrative and their overarching revelation of God so that what may appear as simple may at times become much more complex, and visa versa. For example “Jacob have I loved and Esau have a I hated” may seem very simple, but we both know that what Paul does with it in Romans makes it a much wilder animal. What we need, then, is a biblical definition of God’s hate. Which cannot be simple, knowing what we know about Jesus.

Lucian said...

Rhology,

again as to addressing Your question: no, we don't interpret the Scriptures with such dreaded and fierce antropomorphic literalism. ("For God is not a man, nor the son of man, to... "). -- this means Jesus can't be God, ... right? I meam, ... He *DID* change His divinity into flesh while incarnating, ... right? (See John 1:14). Besides, ... even God "repented of making man", -right?-, though at first He *DID* "see that it was good"? -- which means that 'open theism' is right, ... right?

Romans 2:29, 7:6; 2 Corinthians 3:6.
-- consider this also as a delayed response to the acrivy and hardneckedness deriving from "Sola Scriptura", coupled with a good deal of stiffnecked "Textual Criticism". (We aren't Jews, so let's not become some, ... OK?).

Rhology said...

Gentlemen,

David Bryan said:
if we read that God "hates" sin and sinner if we have no concept of what His "hatred" entails, nor of how it differs from our fallen hatred, the latter of which springs from loss incurred or harm inflicted upon the one who hates, and can hardly be applied to a transcendent One.

So we need to work through the difference between these statements:
God hates sin.
God hates sinners.
God hated Esau.

Perhaps if we went at it from a different angle than the emotions God is feeling...We can look at them from the result of what God will do to each, as consequence of His hatred.
Sin - will be done away with, ie, destroyed.
Sinners - will be cast into the lake of fire, ie, destroyed.
Esau - was foreknown to be a pig who despised his birthright; a scorner of God and God's institutions; a marrier of pagan women. Eventually he (ie, Edom) was done away with too, ie, it/he was destroyed.

I'm kind of groping now to understand why God used the word "hate" in the Scripture. I guess we could also say "He's the enemy of..."
There's a reason why He didn't say sthg like "My love is not given to..."

Lucian said:
How many (or: which) [Neo-]Protestant groups believe that? Just those of a [more-than-usual] Calvinist bent, ... or?

Yes, sadly, most Prot groups don't read the Bible anymore. Thankfully those of the conservative Calvinistic and Baptistic stripe still do on occasion.

The opinion of Orthodoxy is that "hate" isn't bi-directional: Scripture says: WE are enemies of God; WE are building a brick-wall between us and God, due to OUR sins; etc.

All the worse for O-doxy, then, that you don't use Scriptural language nor Scriptural ideas in this case.

antropomorphic literalism. ("For God is not a man, nor the son of man, to... "). -- this means Jesus can't be God, ... right? I meam, ... He *DID* change His divinity into flesh while incarnating, ... right?

No, it doesn't mean that. It's a mistake to interp the Scr like w/ the assumption of unitarianism as opposed to going TO the Bible to find if unitarianism is true (as opposed to trinitarianism).

even God "repented of making man", -right?-, though at first He *DID* "see that it was good"? -- which means that 'open theism' is right, ... right?

Open Theism can't be true b/c of the gazillions of confident assertions about the future, the constant claims to know everythg God makes, etc. Though kudos to you for knowing the term "Open Theism": I commend you.
You may be reminding me not to take one part of the Scr in isolation. Thank you - it's always a welcome reminder.

Rom 2:29

Interestingly, the very next part of Paul's discussion deals w/ the total depravity of mankind and justification by grace thru faith alone. Be careful what you quote.

I'd add that these references to "the letter" vs "the Spirit" deal w/ the Old vs. the New covenant - that of works vs that of faith, respectively.

Benjamin,

Hopefully my initial comments dealt w/ what you said. Very thought-provoking, this.

Lucian said...

sadly, most Prot groups don't read the Bible anymore

I knew when I heard it, that it sounded strange ... (it was really unheard of, for me at least).

Interestingly, the very next part of Paul's discussion deals w/ the total depravity of mankind and justification by grace thru faith alone

So what has this to do with *GOD* hating us? The same goes for this:

Keeping in mind that those who don't believe are enemies of God, it's not hard to understand.

and other instances as well:

hatred toward God(James 4:4)

and the Romans 5:7-10 passage oposes Your views. (St. Paul's entire corpus refutes Your views).

The same goes for the *warning* that God, as loving Father, gave to our forefathers in the garden of Eden ... which the West sees as a *curse* or *condamnation*.

VERILY, VERILY I SAY UNTO YOU, ALAN, IN THE EXACT MOMENT THAT THOU SHALT STICK YOUR FINGERS INTO THE PLUG, THOU SHALT SURELY DIE !

-------
I'm not recanting my former opinion that Protestantism has enslaved himself to the very same deadening letter of the law that St. Paul tried to free us from. (If You don't believe me, take a look around You ... and inside You). This enslavement to the letter of the law is what I would call "The BABYLONIAN Captivity of the [Protestant] Church". -- the TALMUD was created there ... and its literalism needs no further introduction.

Re: Open Theism: I was *stunned* when I heard that there ARE people who ACTUALLY BELIEVE this !!!

Rhology said...

the Romans 5:7-10 passage oposes Your views.

In what way? B/c men are enemies of God?
So that somehow means that God can't be their enemy back?

The same goes for the *warning* that God, as loving Father, gave to our forefathers in the garden of Eden ... which the West sees as a *curse* or *condamnation*.

I don't know whom you mean, but I see it as a warning. A warning that came true when they ate the fruit.

Protestantism has enslaved himself to the very same deadening letter of the law that St. Paul tried to free us from.

Ah yes, salvation by grace thru faith alone, God's promise given to wretched unworthy sinners solely on the basis of His generosity, of the death of His Son on the cross, and by His glorious resurrection. What a burden! What a load! What agonising enSLAVEment!
[/melodrama]

Benjamin said...

One need only find certain passages in Isaiah and Jeremiah to see that the Lord does pour out wrath against the nations, both his own people and the Gentiles. He "fights them" through the twists and turns of history. But we are given much in the Old Testament, and still much more in the New, to show that oftentimes the purpose of his hostility (especially in regards to his people Israel, but, at times, we see this extended to the "nations") is to bring them to repentance, to the confession of his Name. I think we must keep this in mind when we consider God as an enemy. Indeed, God is Holy and just and the things that are unholy and unjust he will not allow to have the last word. Thus he does fight against them but not only to fight them but to free the creation enslaved to them. So we see in this general theme the love and mercy that are behind his hate, so to speak.

To tie this into a salvific train of thought, we who are baptized into Christ are baptized into his death - thus we die. We are destroyed in death so that we can walk anew in Christ. God hates what we do as it is an affront to all he has created and an affront to the dignity he has given us and thus, in a way, he destroys us in Christ's death so that he can recreate us in Christ's resurrection. This aspect of the theology of God's emnity with man is a beautiful one, and one, I might add, found in the Fathers and on the lips of modern Orthodox teachers today.

Lucian said...

The one who told us to love even our enemies doesn't hate his. ["Be holy as I am holy"]. I thought so much was clear. (To "blame it on God" is an abhorent tactic). -- THAT was my point.

David Bryan said...

"B/c men are enemies of God...that somehow means that God can't be their enemy back?"

Well, yes, but based on what we know about the Father--which, I'm pretty sure you agree, is usually "God" as spoken of in the Old Covenant--as revealed through His Son, we know that the way in which He responds to the unjust is to send down sun and rain, to show forbearance (at least for the time being) and, in doing so, provide the example that His Son speaks of "love thy enemies, etc).

When the "time being" is accomplished, however, He will come in a great Apocalypse and, in that self-revelation, judge the earth through His Son, bringing all things into subjection under Himself whether certain parts of humanity are ready or not. This He does out of hatred of falsehood, of the fact that Good has been called Evil and Evil Good for so long, and that He will not condone it any longer. He does not, however, force this on humanity in a vindictive way (as if to say, "Look at what you've done to Me!"), but rather in a way that loves righteousness in an ultimate sense (while still saying, tragically, to the unjust, "Look at what you've done to you!".

Were God's anger based in any way on resentment towards the offender (rather than on a desire to see the rehabilitation of the offender), or on any idea of causing suffering for merely penal objectives (rather than causing suffering for the purpose of the sinner's repentance), then such would not be the God of the Orthodox, nor (so we believe) the God of Scripture.

God's anger is indeed anger, yet it is higher than our sinful, selfish anger. His vengeance is indeed vengeance--he will not allow injustice to go unchecked forever--yet it is higher than our petty vengeance. Just as His ways and thoughts are higher than ours, so is His manner of dealing with the unrighteous--a way He reveals gloriously through His Son.

Rhology said...

Well said, guys.
I was gonna add "but, vengeance", but I think David Bryan covered it well.