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Some Negative Descriptions

Today, I continue to talk about “negative” words that some people use to describe God.  Of course, when I use the term “negative” I am already beginning to show my disapproval of the term.

Punisher – Does God want to punish us?  No, God would be much happier if he did not have to punish us.  Punishment is never God’s goal.  God’s goal is that we all know his love and seek to follow him.  When we sin, there are consequences that we must face.  Hopefully we learn to do better from the consequences. 

Fearsome One – Here is a struggle for me.  Whenever I hear someone say or read in the Bible that we should fear God I wonder what there is to fear.  Certainly, God is more powerful than I am.  God could destroy me if he wanted to.  But God doesn’t want to destroy me (or anyone).  Why?  Because God is full of compassion.  I know that when I make bad choices I know I have to face consequences, including (for mortal sin) eternity in Hell.  I fear that thought.  Yet, I believe God loves us.  God is many things.  For me, preeminent among them is love.  God is all powerful and all knowing and that can cause fear.  But how do we fear God who is perfect love?

Dictator – God is a dictator.  God sets the rules.  God determines right and wrong.  In human governments, we do not like dictators.  There is the saying, “power corrupts, absolute power corrupts absolutely.”  Human dictators often abuse their power for their own gain.  They are not perfect and so they make mistakes.  At times, they make bad laws.  Fortunately, God is all knowing and perfect.  There is nothing wrong with the rules God gives us.  God does not makes to benefit himself.  God makes rules for our benefit.  The rules only cause problems when we misinterpret them or fail to see the real purpose of the laws.  Lastly, a human dictator may seek to punish anyone who stands in their way.  God gives us free will and lets us make our own choices, whether they are good or bad choices.  There are consequences for our sins.  That is for our own good but God will never destroy us just because we disobey.  Hell is a real possibility but God offers us forgiveness to all who repent.  I started this article talking about negative terms.  I would have to say in general that in our human world, dictators are a bad thing because of those who use their power as dictator for their own gain.  God doesn’t.  God is a good dictator.

Do any of these terms (punisher, fearsome one, or dictator) fit your image of God?

Peace,

Fr. Jeff

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