Tuesday, April 22, 2014

"City of God" IX.4-5

Chapter 4:
When we consider the role of emotions in the different views of the philosophers, we find that they are all in reality different ways of saying loosely the same thing. Even Stoics aren't truly without emotion (despite their claims to have risen above it), they are in fact as passionate as anyone else as we see from their actions.

Chapter 5:
Christians, on the other hand, do not deny the presence--indeed, even sometimes the dominance--of emotions. We instead understand that they have their rightful place and need to be turned towards appropriate ends. This may be just a result of this life, yet even the angels and God Himself are said to have emotions--they are, however, emotions without being touched by sin. God can be "angry" without any "perturbation." In a sense, there is in heaven no distinction between emotion and action, so it makes sense that it would be a challenge for us to sort through exactly what it means for us to say that "God is angry," while simultaneously maintaining that God does not sin, especially when that anger is so often tied to some kind of worldly punishment.

If nothing else, this section should make us long for the day when we can live in all ways, but perhaps especially in our emotions, without sin. We can desire something and know that it is not covetous; we can hunger without being gluttonous; we can delight without being lascivious; we can be joyful without rejoicing in sin. If you want a wonderful reflection on this subject, I'm happy to recommend Sam Storms' talk on Jonathan Edwards' view of heaven as one way of thinking about how our emotions will be perfected once we're in glory.

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