Genesis (Part 9)

Questions to think about during this lesson…

  • How does St. John Chrysostom’s interpretation of Genesis 3:9, Genesis 3:11 and Genesis 3:13 illustrate God’s loving kindness, patience, gentleness, and tolerance?
  • Consider how Dr. Jeannie responds to the following question from a listener: “Since God knew people would sin at the time He created them, why didn’t He just put everyone in Heaven to begin with?” If you were asked this question by a friend or family member, how would you respond? Where would you start? How could 1 John 4:8 (“God is love”) help? Keep in mind that the traditional Orthodox understanding of Heaven is that it’s not a place but rather eternal life in union with God.
  • How does Dr. Jeannie respond to a listener’s comment that “God caused Adam and Eve to sin because He knew the Son would come to save the world”? Why does she say this is backwards? Why does Dr. Jeannie say that the idea that God controls our choices is “absolute blasphemy, an abomination and even worse than the heresy of pre-destination?” She goes on: “Christians who say that God controls everything, and therefore every single event (including the worst tragedies) — and that they are the will of God and are caused by God — have probably turned more people into Atheists than science ever has. What a horrible conception of God.” What does Dr. Jeannie mean by this and why do you think she gets so fired up about this subject? How does her view relate to the question posed by Fr. Antony Hughes in his article on Ancestral Sin versus Original Sin: “Could it be as Yannaras, Clement and Kalomiris propose that modern atheism is a healthy rebellion against a terrorist deity? Kalomiris writes that there are no atheists, just people who hate the God in whom they have been taught to believe.”
  • What does Dr. Jeannie mean when she says that God works in ways that are illogical according to human understanding, and what does this have to do with Western rationalism/scholasticism and its doctrinal development? Why do you think it’s so hard for Christians who have been brought up with a Western view of Christianity to understand the Eastern view? What recommendations does Dr. Jeannie offer for help developing an Orthodox mind?
  • “There’s a psychological need for certainty, for understanding and definitive answers. But you’re not going to find easy answers in Orthodoxy. You’re not going to find step-by-step explanations and logical conclusions because so much is mystery. The first lesson that you must learn if you wish to acquire an Orthodox mind is to accept mystery — to accept the fact that there are things we will never be able to understand and never be able to explain. We must stop trying because that is keeping us away from God, not drawing us toward Him. We do not approach God through the application of the workings of our mind, but only through prayer — to immerse ourselves in the mystery of God. Be still, and know that I am God. (Psalm 46:10)” What are your thoughts on all of this? Have you ever struggled to “just let it go” and accept mystery?
  • Why does Orthodoxy teach that even in the afterlife we will continue to grow in grace and holiness? (Hint: 2 Corinthians 3:18)
  • How does St. John Chrysostom see Genesis 3:12 and Genesis 3:13 as pointing to man’s free will?
  • According to St. John Chrysostom, why is it that we continue to suffer the affects of the Fall so long after the time of Adam and Eve? Why are we being punished with pain of child birth (Genesis 3:16) and having to work so hard to earn our keep (Genesis 3:19)? In other words, why must we suffer because Adam and Eve made the wrong choice? 

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