"Somewhere in the Bible it says "Vengeance is mine, says the Lord". And often people console themselves with that when a heinous crime has been committed, or when they think about the people who have done the worst possible evil, heads of state mainly. Top of the list is Hitler, or Bin Laden, or Pol Pot, Mao, Stalin, the North Korea gang, Pinochet and more.
"People like to think that they who do these things will wind up in hell, as divine punishment. Is there a divine retribution for them, or will God just let them keep on until they get it and repent, since the only power of evil is to self-destruct?"
This was posed to me following my recent "Angry no more" lecture. There are a couple of questions raised here - Is God a vengeful God? and, Does God know and punish sinners? Here is my response. Stay with me to the end. Don't let the first sentences fool you into thinking that God doesn't take on and take down evil.
God is divine Good, pure Spirit, infinite Love, resplendent Soul. Just as Light isn't vindictive toward the darkness it displaces, God, pure good, doesn't avenge evil. Light knows light and only light. God is conscious of Himself and all that He manifests. Nothing is real or permanent outside of God and the infinite manifestation of His goodness.
God is All, and that allness is the exterminator of anything unlike good. Just as light eliminates darkness through it's simple presence, eliminating moral and physical darkness isn't an act of destruction for divine Good; it's an act of simply being God.
So where did the darkness come from if it isn't part of God's allness? Darkness is a false perspective; it's not a thing, it's the suggestion of an absence of light.
Darkness is often self-imposed. Take my cat, for example. She loves light, even seeking it out. But she also closes her eyes tightly when the sun is shining on her. The light doesn't disappear, and she can't avoid its effects; but the darkness she experiences may seem very real to her with her eyes closed to it.
If one is duped into believing that God is distant, that good is far off, that good can be subverted and changed into its opposite, or that one is not good as God's image, he is holding a false view of the divine Light in and around him.
Sin is Bible vocabulary for negativity, for evil thoughts and deeds.The Bible teaches that sin is punished. It also teaches that man is redeemable from sin. Christ Jesus illustrated this redemption by forgiving and turning people's hearts from sin. Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures points out one of the basic tenets of Christian Science: "We acknowledge God’s forgiveness of sin in the destruction of sin and the spiritual understanding that casts out evil as unreal. But the belief in sin is punished so long as the belief lasts." (Mary Baker Eddy, p. 497)
It is important to note that God doesn't do the punishing. A sin belief punishes itself. Sin is self-destructive. The belief punishes itself, induces suffering on itself, until the belief is released. "Vengeance is mine" is an attempt to to explain this phenomena of self-destructive evil by blaming the discomfort on a human-like and angry god.
To the question of "people like that," whether they will ultimately be redeemed, it is important to note that mortals don't become children of God. Mortality and its conditions of evil passions and appetites, depraved will, cruelty, hatred, revenge, have no life in them to redeem.
If there is not a single morsel of morality - some slight indication of humanity, honesty, affection, compassion, hope, faith, meekness or temperance in a Hitler, than that Hitler was never a man. (Man, in this sense, is the generic term for manifestation or child of God.) In such a case he would be classified, and would always remain, a figment of what Christian Science denotes as animal magnetism, the anti-Christ, generic evil, or complete darkness. However, If there is any slight indication of humanity there - whether we have personally ever seen it or not - that makes him redeemable.
Fortunately, we don't have to worry about if or how a Hitler is or isn't transformed or changed. Whether man or a figment of animal magnetism, the divine and irrevocable law of progress will sort out the true facts, redeem the real and wipe out entirely that which is unlike God.
Darkness never wins in a contest with Light. Light, and the good that constitutes God and His creation, conquers all.
For a beautiful illustration of how pure good overcame the darkness and evil of the Holocaust, check out my earlier post titled "I will love, if another hates."
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Have you ever found yourself in such a dark place that you have wondered if there was truly a way out?
I have been thinking about the Bethlehem star. On the blackest night, a beam of light illuminated the place where the Christ child lay.
Was this Jesus’ star? I always thought so. But the prophet-shepherds and wisemen saw it and followed. I now believe that star belonged to them and it belongs to each of us.
In a Christmas message, Mary Baker Eddy, the discoverer of Christian Science, wrote, “The star that looked lovingly down on the manger of our Lord, lends its resplendent light to this hour: the light of Truth, to cheer, guide, and bless man as he reaches forth for the infant idea of divine perfection dawning upon human imperfection, — that calms man's fears, bears his burdens, beckons him on to Truth and Love and the sweet immunity these bring from sin, sickness, and death.” Miscellaneous Writings, 320
I remember a time when mental darkness was threatening to take me out. As much as I longed to, I couldn’t see a way forward. In a particularly desperate moment, I felt the impetus to become completely still. Then, I realized that I didn’t have a personal mind with personal thoughts that needed to be controlled. I could trust that the one divine Mind, my real and only Mind, knew everything for and about me. I could have confidence that Mind, God knew me as His child, all good - only good - and I could trust Him with the details of revealing what that meant.
I felt safe.
I fell asleep, and upon waking, I found I’d broken free of the fixating depression. In the next hours and days I followed God's illuminating presence, thought by thought, from darkness to light. My thoughts were clear and directed. I stayed with the fact of Mind as the unopposed knower and revealer of all the good in my life until I was well.
Shepherds in the eastern sky
Saw a pale star passing by,
Guiding them at break of day
Where the babe in meekness lay,
Born the gracious news to tell,
God with us, Immanuel.
Star of being, still thy light
Shines before us in the night,
By those radiant beams we find
Christ, the Truth, for all mankind.
Marion Susan Campbell
Christian Science Hymnal, #11
This post first appeared a year ago on this blog. It has been edited for this repost, as my mastery of English writing impoves bit by bit.
"And a woman who had been suffering from a hemorrhage for twelve years, came up behind Him and touched the fringe of His cloak, for she was saying to herself, “If I only touch His garment, I will get well.”
But Jesus turning and seeing her said, “Daughter, take courage; your faith has made you well.” At once the woman was made well."
(Matthew 9:20-22 NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE)
In Biblical Hebrew, there is no punctuation. There is also no time indicator - no past or future tense. Everything is stated in the present. Translators have tried to bring out, according to their understanding, the original meaning by adding punctuation and chronology. But as the picture to the left points out, the meaning of a sentence can be hugely affected by even minor adjustments. The placement of a simple comma can mean life or death to Grandpa!
In translating the King James version, men from different backgrounds and religions participated in the process of word selection and punctuating. Sometimes extra words were added if they made clearer the meaning of a text. Thanks to intellectual integrity, additions were italicized to avoid confusion. Aside from the difficulties of translation, scholars are still debating the theology of the original Hebrew.
I have practiced Christian Science professionally in
some form since 1979.
But my journey with
Christian Science started
in a Sunday school
where as a young child
I was taught the Scriptures and some simple basics
of Jesus' method of
scientific Christian healing.
A significant experience
at the age of twelve
opened my eyes to
the great potential
of this practice.
After impaling my foot
on a nail,
I prayed the way I had learned
in Sunday school.
the pain stopped
and healing began.
By the next morning the wound had disappeared completely.
the great potential
of Christian Science,
there would be no