Saturday, September 09, 2006

God is not a vending machine
Fr J used to draw a comparison between Orthodox and other religious views. He would cite the common prayer, "Lord, let this (new job, new dating partner, new house, etc.) be Thy will." People were always praying for whatever they wanted to be God's will. "Let it be Thy will that I get this cool new MacBookPro for my birthday..."

I note that that particular deity functions nearly the same way as a Santa Claus. And also rather like one of the ones that I used to address in my neo-pagan Magic days. Do the right things, and you'll get what you want.

God, said Fr J, doesn't work that way in the Church's teaching. We don't have to pray for X, Y or Z to be God's will. God's will is known clearly: look at 1 Timothy 2:3-4.
Hoc enim bonum est et acceptum coram salutari nostro Deo qui omnes homines vult salvos fieri et ad agnitionem veritatis venire. For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Saviour, Who will have all men to be saved, and to come to the knowledge of the truth.

God's will is that all be saved: that is His will for All Time. But we can thwart it. And we can thwart it by willing things - on our own - that are not salvific. The question to ask about the new job, about the old one, about the new girl friend, about the children, the kids, the car, the house.... the question is not "God, is this thing your will?" But rather, "God, will this thing help me or hinder me in my quest for salvation?"
- Huw Raphael

It’s an easy trap to fall into! As friend Larry Reilly once described that’s how pagans as in the classical world thought: do the rite correctly and you’ve made a contract with the gods that they have to honour (you control them, at least temporarily); they owe you one!

I don’t know if that difference is peculiar to the Orthodox; sounds like simply authentic Christianity opposed to superstition.

Is ‘Fr J’ Fr Joseph Huneycutt?

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