Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Some 'Nocturnal Theology' by poetic subversion too

T. M. Gagnon has some early morning musings at his blog on the various "causes" of suffering and concludes that some forms of suffering (a la discipline) is from God and should be endured, like Christ, because of the joy set before us - the resurrection life!

While some make a necessary connection between suffering and evil, T.M. points out that that is not always the case, as evil produces no real pleasure (if I'm reading him right), while chastisement does.

Mr. Gagnon doesn't address another mistaken connection Christians make...and that is that discipline and punishment are NOT the same. We know that Christ took the penalty for our sin once and for all on the cross. Thus, while discipline can be severe and from the Lord, it is not penal in nature. We might well remember this in light of the various musings about natural disasters and God's wrath. I do not believe we are seeing God's direct punishment on our nation, despite all the talk from the "radical right wing conspiracy" (joke).

Thanks, Tyler, for either waking up early or staying up late to give us your nocturnal theological reflections. For a good read, visit the link.


T. M. Gagnon said...

Well, Lyn, thanks for the connection here. I so rarely get those, probably because I'm writing silly things about Wendy's hamburgers.

To address a few things:

In speaking of our own sin as cause for suffering, by that I intend the idea of punishment to be included. It wasn't explicit, however, so I'm glad you pointed it out. By sinning, there are consequences, in many cases suffering, such as the simple example of painful vomitting after excess drinking. The question I have for you is if that is punishment or discipline.

I say it is, because it is a direct consequence of our own actions. Discipline, therefore, is suffering out of our own hands. An anecdotal example is that I am currently jobless, and that unfairly. I continue to perform positive actions, sending out resumes, talking to people, looking at job postings, but I get no positive results. It's a hardship, but not punishment. No doubt we can learn, just as children do, from punishment.

As for evil and pleasure, I did not mean to sound as if I were saying that evil produces no real pleasure. On the contrary, I have no doubt that many wicked people will go down to their graves with smiles on their faces and few lines of worry across their heads. Personally, I gain a certain satisfaction when I get back at someone. It is not to say that that satisfaction is godly, however. It is unhealthy and insidious because I recieve no apparent ill consequence. Just as pain and evil are not interchangeable, neither are pleasure and good.

And believe it or not, I stayed up. I didn't want to, but I couldn't sleep.

Lyn said...

Oh my goodness...what a typo! I meant Discipline and Punishment are NOT the same! Will edit the post right now before Christian Carnival folks start arriving!

So, is vomitting after getting drunk punishment for the act? No, just the consequences. It could then be used as a discipline by God to help us get back on track, but theologically speaking, punishment (as in being on the receiving end of God's wrath for commiting sin) is reserved for the wicked on the Day of Judgment. "For there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus." Whew!

As for evil and pleasure - sure, there is pleasure involved and people will endure something bad or even evil for the "pleasure" set before them. But how much better for the believer to endure hardship for the "joy" set before us - resurrection life in Christ.

Thanks for the reply, lgp
ps, don't stay up all night tonight