Divine love as mercy

Argument from evil: Evil is that from which God would save us.

Scriptural religion: Evil is that from which only God can save us.

Both leave a hope: the AFE that we will save ourselves from evil; Scripture of when God will save us completely.

-Briefly: AFE: God hasn’t saved us from all evil, and he won’t because he doesn’t exist; Scripture: God hasn’t saved us from all evil, but he exists, so he will. Man can decide rationally between them only at the end of history.

-The ceaseless saccharine sermons about God’s love forget its main marvel: we’re not lovable. It’s mercy. God’s love can stay as it is, what has to change is the assumption that it must be like our love of an adorable lamb or a nubile and agreeable lover when in fact it is God’s love of what does not command or justify love.

-We shouldn’t confuse knowing that we don’t command or justify love with knowing just how and in what way we don’t command or justify love. Correctly experiencing our own wickedness is as hard as experiencing the presence of God, and they grow in tandem. We are as likely to make mistakes about our unloveableness as we are to make mistakes about God’s nature. Only one knowing God’s love as a saint could know man’s depravity correctly.

-I try to imagine myself as a sinner, unlovable, grotesque. I visualize God as an old man with a beard on a throne yelling at a dungheap and threatening to burn it while somehow loving it. Why not just put the throne on Olympus and gladden the scene with a sacrificed chicken?

-A demon is just as happy to work with your self-loathing as your self-esteem.

Evagrius:

5. First pray for the gift of tears, so that through sorrowing you may tame what is savage in your soul. And having confessed your transgressions to the Lord, you will obtain forgiveness from Him.

6. Pray with tears and all you ask will be heard. For the Lord rejoices greatly when you pray with tears.

7. If you do shed tears during your prayer, do not exalt yourself, thinking you are better than others. For your prayer has received help so that you can confess your sins readily and make your peace with the Lord through your tears. Therefore do not turn the remedy for passions into a passion, and so again provoke to anger Him who has given you this grace.

-The pagan thought he loved the divine but loved only a crude facsimile that he had created. The Christian was told for the first time to hate his own sins and hated the same thing.

-Human wickedness and God’s goodness are two sides of a mystery. Some things about both are self-evident or at least widely believed, some things can be figured out with effort, other things are beyond reckoning.

God’s love for man is seen in man as unloveable, and man’s unloveableness from God’s mercy toward it.

 

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