Thursday, January 29, 2009

But does God "Hate"?

God is love, and he who abides in love adibes in God, and God abides in him." (1 John 4:16)

But does God Hate? The topic came up this week at the coffee hour and I, in my normal fashion, have made it my topic of the week for research and study purposes. Having delved to the depths of scripture, consulted a few ecclesiatics, and looked for the authentic teaching of the Church in the matter it seems the answer to the question is far from the reach of my limited mental capacity. The best answer I can give is this: Yes and No.

Logically that makes no sense. Either he does or he doesn't. But since our minds of modernity are wont for logic I have combined two conclusions into one answer, which I will now separate to give a slightly better though still poor answer.

The discussion stemmed from this question: "Does God love the people in Hell?" The answer I was told previously, and put forth was YES, because he keeps them in existence.

Let's look at 3 scripture verses.

Wisdom 9: 25-27

For thou lovest all things that are, and hatest none of the things which thou hast made: for thou didst not appoint, or make any thing hating it. 26 And how could any thing endure, if thou wouldst not? or be preserved, if not called by thee. 27 But thou sparest all: because they are thine, O Lord, who lovest souls.

Wisdom 14:9

But to God the wicked and his wickedness are hateful alike.

Romans 9:13

13 As it is written: Jacob I have loved, but Esau I have hated.

So, there is an apparent contradiction in scripture. But this is why we have the Church. And when the Church can't solve all our problems we turn to the Fathers, Doctors, and scholars for help.

Regarding Romans 9:13 I found a commentary in my Ignatius study bible that says this is a common Semitic expression for loving something less. We know that God loves some people less than others. But one ounce of God's love is ineffable, so nobody is slighted. But I digress... This makes sense, because Essau was blessed but loved less. Therefore scripture says "but Essau I have hated." Not with a nasty human hatred, but certainly loved less by God.

Let's turn to the Wisdom verses now. While talking with a priest he mentioned how St. Thomas defines the good. And still God created everything and saw that it was good, he does not hate it says " hatest none of the things which thou hast made: for thou didst not appoint, or make any thing hating it."

St. Thomas says:

Every being that is not God is a creature of God. 'For evey creature of God is good,' as is said in 1 Timothy 4.4. Therefore, every being is good.

People in hell are still beings. Wicked people on earth are still beings. St. Thomas continues:

It should be said that every being, insofar as it is a being, is good. For every being, in sofar as it is a being, is actual and in some way perfect, because every act is some sort of perfection. Therefore, the perfected has the note of the appetitible and good, as is clear from what has been said. It follows, therefore, that every being, as such, is good.

But the question is: in what way does God love them? I have been told that it is merely a creative love and not one of charity. Regardless I think that we have found an instance in which the word "hate" in scripture means many things. After all, who literally "hates" his mother, father, brother, etc as if Christ mandated us to loath with seething disgust our immediate families. Nobody. At least nobody who is following Christ does.

So...does God hate? Clearly he does. But we also have to remember that evil is not a positive creation. Oftentimes non-Christians come at us with the question "How could God create evil." He didn't. Evil is merely the loss of some Goodness.

This is a highly interesting topic and I could spend a great deal of time on it. But I think it is safe to say that if you are reading this it means God created you. He created you out of love and the most important thing to us should be answering the question: How can I love God more?


Moonshadow said...

because he keeps them in existence [in Hell].

A minority hold to annihilation which is logically consistent but not orthodox.

I've also read that note on Romans 9:13 in the ISB at some recent time. You know, I study the Bible with some Reformed who take that verse at face value without understanding the Semitism. Same with the Gospel verse. And this is an "enlightened" group who is concerned about reading the Bible in light of ANE culture.

I do like the first Wisdom verse you gave ... though I think it's from chapter 11, not 9. I've encountered it before ... but I can't remember where or in what context. I'll see whether I can track that down (for my own edification).

I'm doing a study on "Understanding the Anger of God" (Kay Arthur, Precept Ministries) and just now read Nahum. There's something so satisfying about corruption "getting theirs," 'though, as a Christian, I oughtn't have any enemies, right?

So, I'm beginning to admit to myself that I don't believe in "the God of the Bible." I'm not sure what to do about that.

Matt said...

Its taken me a long time to use the deuterocanonical books the same way as the rest of Scripture. Perhaps I've just needed time to adjust. I really do like them though. They are pretty hefty and carry a lot of practical spiritual direction.

I don't know any people who hold the annihilation viewpoint. I do know Jehovah's Witnesses believe in temporary and then permanent annihilation...or something like that. (I'm sure one of them will find that sentence in a search and write a very long comment.)

"I'm beginning to admit to myself..."

The God of the Bible is any number of things. I mean, the God of Pentecostalism is not really the same as Mary Sue's parlor Bible study group God.

I know you have a very serious love of scripture study but I think there comes a time when we get burnt out on anything. Have you thought of changing your focus? Perhaps shifting from Scripture study to say...Thomism...or using your skills to figure out just what the heck Lumen Gentium is saying would be of a great benefit.

In any case, our faith doesn't require heaps of knowledge on anything. Remember that we have to enter heaven as "a little child". That is an act of humble submission on our part.

What I would do, if I was having doubts about my faith, is this:

1) Tell God you are having problems with your faith.
2) Talk to his Mother.
3) Tell a good priest you are having problems with your faith.
4) Say the Apostles Creed when a doubt pops into your head.
5) Thank God after each time for giving us his life for us, and for leaving us his Church to guide us.

I'm not a spiritual director by any means. I hope that helps though. I'll remember you in my prayers.

Moonshadow said...

Those suggestions are all good, Matt, and I can do all of them but #3. :-) Maybe I'll substitute a good Catholic friend for my pastor.

I'm not smart enough for Thomism ... I tried it once before. No-go.

The previous generation of Christians with their false dichotomy of the "God of the Old Testament" and the "God of the New" had subsequently an easier time reconciling the being described in Nahum and the Person of Jesus Christ (although Revelation shouldn't be silenced for the sake of that gentle image).

I may be more startled by my own (giddy) reaction to the destruction described in Nahum than by the image of God there. I'm not as "pure" as I thought, perhaps? Without falling into a form of Stoicism, I need to arrive at a perspective where I can read Nahum without reveling in divine retribution - I believe that was the fault of Lot's wife, looking back to appreciate the destruction of sin by the LORD.

In other words, less schadenfreude, more shekhinah. :-)

Matt said...

If you can't bring yourself to study Thomism then I suggest reading Chesterton.

I'm not sure you are at fault for appreciating Divine Justice. After all, God DID those things and they are in scripture.

There is a difference between hurting someone for the purpose of hurting them and bringing down a just penalty.

Yes, God is LOVE, but love can get angry sometimes in a just way and there is nothing wrong with that.

"The whole truth is generally the ally of virtue; a half-truth is always the ally of some vice." - G.K. Chesterton