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Uncertaindrummer and Victor,

I’m sorry but I went from Protestant to atheist to Orthodox and I don’t understand what either of you are trying to say exactly. It seems as though we’re speaking a different language.

UD, you appear to believe that God is something like a human tyrant whose honour must be appeased before forgiveness can be granted. Is that true, or am I misreading you? I see God as a loving Father who will grant forgiveness to those who ask, which is quite different to your apparent view which sounds medieval and I had previously thought was a charicature of RC beliefs. I am a father myself (are you?) and if my son misbehaves I punish him, but not for the sakes of vengeance, not to appease my honour, but merely to teach him. If he is truly sorry he gets forgiven without my demanding ‘satisfaction’. If I am capable of such small mercies what more is God capable of. The onbly good punishment is a pedagogical punishment, vengeance is evil. If you believe God makes non-pedagogical punishments then I’m afraid your concept of God is not all good in my opinion.

Victor, I want to answer you, but I really don’t have a clue what you mean at all. Could you explain further? All I can say is that to me missing the mark (sin) is failing to meet the standards God asks of us. Even better, it can be seen as stumbling off the narrow path. Whilst we’re off in the darkness to one side or other of the path we can’t even see it with solely human eyes, but if through God’s grace we are shown the path again we can take ourselves back to it and carry on in our journey. There is no crime there, as such, merely error. Does that help at all?

It seems to me that perhaps the reason we Orthodox and you RCs have so much trouble understanding one another is that you see the Church (metaphorically) as a courtroom with God as both prosecutor and judge. We see the Church as a hospital with God as the head physician. You, therefore see sin as crime whereas we see it as sickness – it reminds me of Samuel Butler’s [i:263epo0l]Erewhon[/i:263epo0l] every time I talk to RCs about sin, actually.