What are we? What is our relationship to God? Why are we separate from God? Psychology? Redemption?

August 7, 2014 by  
Filed under Dialogues

 

As I am reading all these wonder ful posts (thanks!) my apetite for seeking straight answers to some of the foundational questions is increasing. So, here it goes:
1. Who are we? Are we the body or the soul? Someone gave the analogy of car and the driver… car being hte body and driver being the soul.
2. Who creates us? (OK! I know this one.. God)
3. Why does He creates us?
4. What is our relationship to our creater? (Father or Master?)
5. Where does God live?
6. Why do we live separate from God? He could have just accomodated us near Him so that we could serve Him and glorify him.
7. Why do we live here on Earth, only to die one day? No one wants to die- why? Why do we seek to live? Is eternality our characterstic and is that the reason we don’t like death?
8. How can we get reconnected to God- our Father/ Creater?
9. What is happiness? Looks like everyone is seeking happiness only to get frustrated after a while. Why isn’t anyone looking for misery? Where do we get this nature to seek happiness?
10. How is Jesus different from other Prophets? Why doesn’t He explicitly say; “Hey! I am God.” Why the qualifier- “Son” of God. Why does He leave the concept of Trinity for us to conclude from the overall framework? What if He was just the greatest devotee of the Father at that time who descended to show how we should surrender to God?

I know I am getting greedy, and quite honestly that is because the kind administrators of this site have shown the mercy to attend to my stupid questions! Thanks!

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  • New Apologetics Thank you for the great questions. We will get to them as soon as possible. In the meantime, we ask that no answers from others be posted here.
  • New Apologetics You wrote:
    1. Who are we? Are we the body or the soul? Someone gave the analogy of car and the driver… car being hte body and driver being the soul.

    We reply:
    We are a unity of body and soul. We are both essentially. The body is not expendable for a human being.

    You wrote:
    2. Who creates us? (OK! I know this one.. God)

    We reply:
    God creates the soul, and our parents participate in the creation of the body. Further, the previous actions of every person in the human race determine the nature of the body to be conceived. Consider that what you do today will affect what every person does henceforth until the end of the world. Hence all future conceptions are determined by your choices. 

    You wrote:
    3. Why does He creates us?

    We reply:
    God creates us out of gratuitous generosity so that he may *glorify* us. We are called to share in the glory of the divine nature.

    You wrote:
    4. What is our relationship to our creater? (Father or Master?)

    We reply:
    God looks at us as if we were God and he were the servant. Holiness is to let him serve us. When we receive what he gives, we are enabled to love with his love.

    You wrote:
    5. Where does God live?

    We reply:
    Everywhere.

    You wrote:
    6. Why do we live separate from God? He could have just accomodated us near Him so that we could serve Him and glorify him.

    We reply:
    We live in an illusion of separation from God because of the effects of original sin. This is a complex illusion which comes, ironically, from the fact that God created us *good.* Consider the following:

    1) On the original order, all of our needs would be met, and each of our actions would be integral to meeting the needs of others. Because of the disorder caused by original sin, in order for one to meet his needs he must contradict others who are also trying to meet their needs. We are not made for suffering and so we are compelled towards selfishness no matter how hard we fight against ourselves. In the *new* order, the spirit of God possesses us and acts within us to enable us to have the freedom to act sacrificially for the good of others without thought of ourselves. Being one with God, we cannot be threatened by loss. In him we possess everything.

    2) On the original order, we were not made to have the experience of inner ugliness or sinfulness. Because of the disorder caused by original sin, we are in radical need of God’s intervention to save us. But because we were not created to see ugliness within ourselves, we are compelled to *resist* seeing it regardless of how much we want to know ourselves. Only God can supernaturally reveal our need for his rescue, and any glimpse of it will seem to us like *death* because we are not made to see it. He reveals only a small part at a time and gives us what we need to allow him to heal and restore us. 

    3) On the original order, the world was a gift to us, and we are made to receive, not renounce the gift. Because of the disorder caused by original sin, we are now in a world which is passing away. Everything is afflicted by disorder and doomed to failure. However, because our nature was created to hold on to what is good (not to let go of it), we cling to whatever goods we find here for dear life. God’s grace works to separate us from these attachments which are guaranteed to fail us. But this feels like death to us because it is contrary to the good desires of our created nature. God doesn’t want it to be this hard, but it is because of the terrible situation.

    4) On the original order we would be perfect in righteousness, and would never have any reason to accept any imperfection within ourselves. Original sin has driven us to act in ways contrary to what we really know is right. Because of our faults, and because we are made in the image of God which accepts only that which is truly righteous, we are compelled to reject ourselves *and* to fiercely defend ourselves. Both of these contrary compulsions come from the fact that we are made for *justice*. It is not that we are crazy, but that we are driven to seek justice, and apart from the perfect justice which God gives through the redemption, we cannot *allow* ourselves to be loved, and we cannot stop *demanding* that others love us.

    5) On the original order, we would be members of a total communion of persons where the actions of one are integral to the happiness of all. The disorder created by original sin has turned our influence on every other person into the means of distribution of disaster and chaos. Only through the redemption can God cause all things to work together for the good such as to reintegrate the community into the perfect unity it was intended to have. 

    6) On the original order, we would have received glory which fulfilled our need for glory. All would know of our importance to their happiness and would rejoice in our role. Because of original sin, we (struggling to survive) are at odds with all others in some degree, and we cannot find our rightful glory. We are therefore driven to see others as beneath us and to glorify ourselves since nobody else is willing to do it to our satisfaction. Through the redemption, God has given us a greater glory than what we lost. When we come to know this glory, we can say “I do not seek to glorify myself. There is one who seeks my glory and he is the judge.”

    7) On the original order, the world would have been a gift from God mediated through creatures. Because of original sin, it is a horror show of events which are infinitely offensive to God. Because our nature expects everything to be a gift of God, we see God as responsible for the evil that befalls us. Our flesh cannot understand that the world has gone off the rails, and wrongly sees the evil as coming from God. Through the grace of God, we are able to know the truth that God is love, and that love has nothing in common with evil. In the redemption, we are united to Christ such that our sufferings are transformed so that the evils that happen to us become the means of God’s gift of glory coming to us and the whole world.

    8 ) On the original order, evil (demonic influences and disorder in the animal world) would be ours to conquer with the authority God had given us to subdue the earth. Because of original sin, we have come under the same disorder which we would have defeated. In the redemption, through union with Christ, we are given a holy vengeance against all which harms justice and innocence. Every good thing that God accomplishes in the destruction of the power of evil is accomplished through us in union with Christ.

    We will continue our response in a separate comment.
  • Ankit Dhawan You say that we are both body and soul, but the body dies whereas the soul doesn’t. What is my state when the body is destroyed? Am I not pure spirit after death? 

    You say God creates the soul. Is soul a discreet atomic object or is it some kind of energy? If God looks at us as God, then at least qualitatively our pure spirit should exhibit God’s nature? Analogy: Single drop of ocean water exhibits the same saltiness, as the ocean.. similarly, my spirit should exhibit the same qualities as God… am I correct in understanding this?

    You say Holiness is to let Him serve us. But, that’s contrary to what Jesus kept saying throughout His pastimes on Earth- “I am doing Father’s will (paraphrasing)”… that tells me that my constitutional position relative to God is that of son and I am suppose to serve and surrender to His will. I don’t understand your answer, please explain.

    This original sin keeps coming back again and again. This is not very easy to fully comprehend. Let me ask again Sir, why didn’t God- the fountainhead of love, mercy, super controller anihalated the effects of Original Sin by just saying, “Go Away”. Why did He feel the need to display His love for us in accepting death through His Son, only to come back after three days. I will re read your response in the other thread… so far what I got out of the explaination that you have present is that Jesus died because God loved us so much that He accepted death on our behalf. This death came upon us due to Adam’s sin and this troubled God gazillion times more than it troubles us. But, this redemption could have been achieved by just saying “Go away” and God’s love would not have been diluted an iota. 

    Anyway, many thanks again for your answers.
  • New Apologetics Ankit Dhawan You wrote: This original sin keeps coming back again and again. This is not very easy to fully comprehend. Let me ask again Sir, why didn’t God- the fountainhead of love, mercy, super controller anihalated the effects of Original Sin by just saying, “Go Away”. 

    We reply: Note that we have *not* yet attempted to answer this question, but have been establishing some of the necessary background that will be integral to understanding the forthcoming answer. A lengthy article is in preparation right now on this topic, and will be posted to our website soon. However, we are happy to address the question directly here as well.

    You wrote:
    Why did He feel the need to display His love for us in accepting death through His Son, only to come back after three days. 

    We reply:
    We are going do post a separate comment to address this.

    You wrote:
    I will re read your response in the other thread… so far what I got out of the explaination that you have present is that Jesus died because God loved us so much that He accepted death on our behalf. This death came upon us due to Adam’s sin and this troubled God gazillion times more than it troubles us. But, this redemption could have been achieved by just saying “Go away” and God’s love would not have been diluted an iota. 

    We reply: Our response on this topic has not yet been offered. We say this because you are under the assumption that you missed it in the previous responses. You didn’t miss it.
  • New Apologetics Ankit Dhawan How did the suffering, death, and resurrection of Jesus save us? There is a reason why you have not received a satisfactory answer to your question. The answer is very, very deep and covers every aspect of human existence.

    Here is a very cursory presentation of some of the basics of how our redemption was wrought through Christ. This outline only addresses one aspect of the redemption (the transformation of our suffering). There are other (equally important) considerations to be elucidated at a later point.

    1) God, being perfectly good, wills *only* the good. Sin is a departure from the good order that God wills.

    2) Any departure from the right order of things as willed by God brings about a deprivation of the good. This deprivation is called suffering. Most of our suffering is not our fault individually. However, every mental illness, birth defect, accident, disaster and so on is the result of some sin by somebody somewhere. As we discussed, sin has a ripple effect. Each of us is burdened by the unfairness created by the “sin of the world.”

    3) Suffering eventually gives rise to death due to compounding disorder. Neither suffering nor death are willed by God. To understand how God can be totally opposed to suffering and death, yet still be omnipotent and omniscient, please read this article:
    http://newapologetics.com/the-theodicy-of-divine-chastity

    4) Because God is perfectly good (i.e. just) it follows that no suffering or dying person can be doing the will of God. God wants only that which is best for us and does not compromise to will something diminished from its original intent. Note that we are not saying that God is *rejecting* those who suffer. Rather, we are saying that God, in his justice, wills life and *undiminished* joy, but now we find ourselves in a situation contrary to God’s will. 

    5) If God does not do something to integrate suffering and death into his perfect will, then we can never be doing his will. In other words, we can never be reconciled with his justice (which is his act of willing only what is best for us). This divide causes the total frustration of the purpose for which we were created – that is, to receive the fullness of the gift God intends to give. Anything less than true justice is unacceptable to God.

    6) One might argue that simply healing the whole world of all present sufferings would be enough to restore us to correspondence with God’s justice. Such a healing is *not* enough because we are (even when healed) still diminished by our past having been something other than what it ought to have been. In order to truly bring his justice, God must transform our past as well:

    “On the other hand, he also constantly emphasized this ‘negative’ dialectic and asserted that justice —true justice—would require a world ‘where not only present suffering would be wiped out, but also that which is irrevocably past would be undone’…There is justice. There is an ‘undoing’ of past suffering, a reparation that sets things aright.” (Benedict XVI)

    “Our spirit, united with the Holy Spirit, enters into the drama revealed in Jesus Christ. We are taken into God’s saving action in history, where the Holy Spirit transforms our personal and social history.” John Paul II

    There are other important reasons why a universal healing is presently impossible, but the above is enough to proceed for now.

    7) In order to restore our destiny of justice, it is necessary that God take that which ought *not* to be, and make it something *consistent* with his justice without compromising his standard of willing *only* that which is highest and best. This is, as it seems, a tall order.

    8 ) To accomplish the requirement of 7, it is necessary that God somehow directly *will* suffering and death (otherwise our afflicted situation can never exemplify his *perfect* will. But this seems impossible since God is good and *cannot* will evil.

    9) In order to integrate suffering and death into his perfect will, God must either directly will suffering and death upon *himself* or upon *another*.

    10) But God *cannot* will suffering upon another because this is contrary to divine goodness.

    11) And God cannot will suffering upon himself in the *divine* nature because the divine nature cannot be diminished or harmed.

    12) However, if God were to take to himself a human nature capable of suffering, then he could will suffering upon himself. [It is not that God would do harm to himself, but to simply come into our horrible situation (having assumed human nature) and love us unconditionally.]

    13) In the incarnation, God is able to perfectly will the suffering he receives to himself by sharing our situation as an act of sacrificial love.

    13 ) Through the incarnation, there is *one* suffering and dying person who is doing the will of God, that is Jesus Christ, who is God incarnate. God is infinitely opposed to *our* suffering, but perfectly wills his own.

    14) It becomes possible for our suffering and death to be consistent with the perfect will of God only when united to Christ’s as one body, for he is the only suffering and dying person who can be doing the perfect will of God.

    15) Apart from union with Christ, no suffering or dying person has the possibility of restoring their lost destiny of perfect justice. All is *disorder* with no hope of integration because any new integration is still diminished by the past disorder which never should have been.

    16) Yet, in Christ, our past disorder can be transformed into a higher meaning. All sin, suffering and death can be transubstantiated into the wounds of the resurrected Christ. It is through this transubstantiation of our diminishment that the power of evil to harm us is cancelled, and God’s justice is therefore satisfied.

    Very much more needs to be said, and this is presented as a beginning point only.

    newapologetics.com

    The occurrence of tragedy is especially problematic for the worldview of the Chr…See More
  • New Apologetics Ankit Dhawan Note that your question about why God cannot simply erase the consequences of our actions is discussed in a preliminary way in the Divine Chastity, Part 1 article. A necessary part of our essence as persons made in the image of God is that our actions are *maximally* significant to the ultimate happiness of all others. If God were to alter this aspect of our essence, our individual role in the community of persons would be *permanently* compromised. So as not to hurt us in our essence, he endures the infinitely offensive consequences of our actions and reintegrates these consequences in Christ such that each of our actions (including our sins) works together for the good of all in Christ. He holds the consequences in being because he safeguards our dignity. And in the meantime, while here, each of us suffers the disordered consequences of the sin of every other. In this sense, it can be rightly said that those who suffer makes the forgiveness of sins possible. Our suffering makes it possible for God to preserve the dignity of maximal importance in the sinner by allowing the consequences to run their course until the end. And if this dignity were not preserved, then the sinner could never be saved because his essence in being a maximally important member of the community of the human race would be annihilated.
  • New Apologetics Ankit Dhawan Note further that in the above comment, we do not intend to rule out miraculous healing or God’s intervention into these negative consequences to bring justice on a finite scale. There is an explanation of how healing miracles harmonize with the above description of how our suffering in union with Christ makes the forgiveness of sins possible. We will get to that once the above is understood well enough to move on.
  • New Apologetics Ankit Dhawan You wrote: You say Holiness is to let Him serve us. But, that’s contrary to what Jesus kept saying throughout His pastimes on Earth- “I am doing Father’s will (paraphrasing)”… that tells me that my constitutional position relative to God is that of son and I am suppose to serve and surrender to His will. I don’t understand your answer, please explain.

    We reply: We can only return God’s love purely when we allow him to love us as he will (beyond our expectations and prohibitions) and fill us to the full. He, in serving us, fulfills our every desire for justice and security. Only when fully secure in God’s justice can we be *free* to give as he gives, for it is only in his justice that evil cannot threaten us. This is not the same as stoicism (which is intrinsically disordered)… When he satisfies us, the cup runs over, and it happens *automatically*. This satisfaction is given quite independently of our felt experience of it. It *may* be experienced in the emotions, but it is not necessarily so. A person can have this inner abundance, but have the felt experience of total emptiness. Mother Theresa, for example, had this latter experience. Many have mistakenly described it as the “dark night of the soul” (where the soul is purged of its disordered attachments) but that was not the case with her. She was clearly in the unitive way (fully possessed by God), and her suffering was nothing less than union with Christ in his dereliction. To fulfill the desire of her heart, she had to see the poor as Christ sees them. To see them, you have to know what they know.
  • Ankit Dhawan How do we allow him to love us? We are in a little bit of chicken and egg situation with this discussion it seems. Let’s go slow on our condition: (1) I am under the spell of original sin, from which I am getting an acquired sinful nature; (2) however, I do have free will, which is significantly compromised due to my sinful nature, but I do keep some choice. Now the question is how do I use my rights and restrictions in a manner that allows for God to love me? Just so you know, I am yet to read all your commentary from today so may be you have addressed my question in your comments. Thanks!
  • Ankit Dhawan OK… I just read the article you linked in your comments. I am fine with parts of your thesis where you explain God as foutainhead of infinite and pure love that has no consideration for the moral character of the recipient of that love. However, the premise that God is less Sovereign by distributing the finite power to the created beings is not fitting well with the image of God. We are talking about God here and not some mundane rich, powerful, kind guy of our world. His characteristic of *Love* cannot shortchange Him from His majestic position as *Owner and Controller* of creation. If one takes 10 drops or even million drops of water from the ocean, the ocean is no less rich. So, your argument of God being something less than “King of Kings” in order to display His Love for all, is not a very good one. So, for now I will need some more scriptural or tradition basis to digest the argument that God has delegated his finite power and therefore willfully lost control over the events in His created world. Sorry!
  • New Apologetics Ankit Dhawan

    You wrote: 
    OK… I just read the article you linked in your comments. I am fine with parts of your thesis where you explain God as foutainhead of infinite and pure love that has no consideration for the moral character of the recipient of that love. However, the premise that God is less Sovereign by distributing the finite power to the created beings is not fitting well with the image of God.

    We reply: It is a pleasure to dialogue with you because you are unwilling to settle for anything less than a completely just picture of reality.

    In response to your point above, we say that (once again), you are *correct* in your intuitions: God is sovereign, and to say otherwise is a mistake. If the article were saying what you suspect it to be saying, then we would have departed very seriously from the teaching of the Church. We assure you that we have not taken such a position. 

    To begin, the Church teaches that God is universally powerful and that his will is not thwarted:

    “The Holy Scriptures repeatedly confess the universal power of God. He is called the ‘Mighty One of Jacob’, the ‘LORD of hosts’, the ‘strong and mighty’ one. If God is almighty ‘in heaven and on earth’, it is because he made them. Nothing is impossible with God, who disposes his works according to his will. He is the Lord of the universe, whose order he established and which remains wholly subject to him and at his disposal. He is master of history, governing hearts and events in keeping with his will: ‘It is always in your power to show great strength, and who can withstand the strength of your arm?’ (Catechism of the Catholic Church, 269)

    And it is also affirmed that *everything* that happens works together for the good of those who love God. From the Catechism:

    “‘We know that in everything God works for good for those who love him.’ The constant witness of the saints confirms this truth:

    St. Catherine of Siena said to ‘those who are scandalized and rebel against what happens to them’: ‘Everything comes from love, all is ordained for the salvation of man, God does nothing without this goal in mind.’

    St. Thomas More, shortly before his martyrdom, consoled his daughter: ‘Nothing can come but that that God wills. and I make me very sure that whatsoever that be, seem it never so bad in sight, it shall indeed be the best.'” (Catechism of the Catholic Church, 313)

    From the above, it would seem, at face value, that God is *directly* running everything, and that every evil and injustice is actually part of a divine plan. However, this is far from the truth, and is also far from the teaching of the Church. The Catechism goes on:

    “Death is a consequence of sin. The Church’s Magisterium, as authentic interpreter of the affirmations of Scripture and Tradition, teaches that death entered the world on account of man’s sin. Even though man’s nature is mortal, God had destined him not to die. Death was therefore contrary to the plans of God the Creator and entered the world as a consequence of sin. Bodily death, from which man would have been immune had he not sinned is thus the last enemy of man left to be conquered.” (Catechism of the Catholic Church, 1008)

    According to the definitive teaching of the Church, death is something contrary to the plan of God. The Church also teaches that suffering is contrary to the plan of God:

    “Christianity proclaims the essential good of existence and the good of that which exists, acknowledges the goodness of the Creator and proclaims the good of creatures. Man suffers on account of evil, which is a certain lack, limitation or distortion of good. We could say that man suffers because of a good in which he does not share, from which in a certain sense he is cut off, or of which he has deprived himself. He particularly suffers when he “ought” — in the normal order of things — to have a share in this good and does not have it.” John Paul II

    It is not usually known that suffering and evil are *identical* in the language of the Hebrews:

    “In the vocabulary of the Old Testament, suffering and evil are identified with each other. In fact, that vocabulary did not have a specific word to indicate “suffering”. Thus it defined as “evil” everything that was suffering. John Paul II

    But this is not simply a flaw of language. There is a profound truth in it which is vital to remember:

    “…suffering cannot be divorced from the sin of the beginnings, from what Saint John calls ‘the sin of the world,’ from the sinful background of the personal actions and social processes in human history.” John Paul II

    “It can be said that man suffers whenever he experiences any kind of evil.” John Paul II

    Suffering and death are the experience of evil, and they are contrary to the plan of God because he wanted us *not* to experience evil, but only the good:

    “God created the world to show forth and communicate his glory. That his creatures should share in his truth, goodness and beauty – this is the glory for which God created them.” (Catechism of the Catholic Church, 319)

    Taking all of these quotes together we know that (according to the Church) the following must be believed:

    1) God’s power and sovereignty are real. God’s will is accomplished in all things. 
    2) Suffering and death are evils which are *contrary* to the plans of God the creator. 

    If we hold both of these ideas at once, it seems like a contradiction. It seems so *convincingly* to be a contradiction that it is almost impossible to find a Christian who believes *both* of these points as the Church requires. But it is not a contradiction. We will explain why it is not a contradiction in a comment following this one.
  • Ankit Dhawan May I say that this discussion is going like a Sherlock Holmes suspense thriller, just like the other thread on why redemption is needed:)
  • New Apologetics Ankit Dhawan We would like to address your question about receiving the love of God as its own thread on the timeline. Would you like to post it there? We are referring to the following: “How do we allow him to love us? We are in a little bit of chicken and egg situation with this discussion it seems. Let’s go slow on our condition: (1) I am under the spell of original sin, from which I am getting an acquired sinful nature; (2) however, I do have free will, which is significantly compromised due to my sinful nature, but I do keep some choice. Now the question is how do I use my rights and restrictions in a manner that allows for God to love me? Just so you know, I am yet to read all your commentary from today so may be you have addressed my question in your comments. Thanks!”
  • Ankit Dhawan Absolutely Sir! You can post this as a separate thread.

  • New Apologetics Ankit Dhawan When we finish responding to your other questions, could *you* post this question as a separate thread?