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Tuesday, August 28, 2012

This Is Not a Test

- at the monastery

There's a post at America magazine's blog, 'Christ is Testing Us', about the troubles of Coptic Christians in Egypt, in which someone is quoted as saying “Christ is testing us. I tell my friends to stay. Christ could end this suffering, this trial, at any time. How will you feel, I tell my friends, if you’re in Canada instead of Egypt when Christ returns?”

This made me think of a Lost episode I'd just watched. In that scene, Desmond has joined a monastery (in Scotland?) and is helping his superior put labels on the bottles of wine that the monastery sells ...

MONK: You do realize you are free to talk again, Brother Desmond.

DESMOND: Used to being quiet, I suppose.

[He looks at the "Moriah Vineyards" label]

DESMOND: Moriah. I find the name the brothers have chosen for the wine made here interesting.

MONK: And why is that brother?

DESMOND: Well, Moriah's the mountain where Abraham was asked to kill Isaac. It's not exactly the most festive locale, is it.

MONK: And yet God spared Isaac.

DESMOND: Well, one might argue then God may not have asked Abraham to sacrifice his son in the first place.

MONK: Well then it wouldn't have been much of a test, would it brother?

I don't want to believe that God tests us. If you look online, though, you'll find lots of support for the idea that he does. One example which I found really distressing was a past post at dotCommonweal - it didn't ask *if* God tests us but instead assumed he did and explained why, using Augustine and Aquinas as backup. Today, though, I came across a sermon by a Methodist preacher, Does God Test Us?, that reached the opposite conclusion - I really liked it.


Anonymous Henry said...

Hi Crystal,

How have you been my friend?

What's being "tested"?


11:17 AM  
Blogger crystal said...

Hi Henry,

It's good to hear from you :)

That one dotCommonweal post thought that what was being tested was our love for God. But maybe it's faith being tested? I'm not sure - I mostly worry about what will happen when I fail ;)

11:30 AM  
Anonymous Henry said...

Hi Crystal,

I'm just starting to get back into blogs slowly - like our friend Prickliest Pear, I've fasted from the net for several months now. I found that I was negelecting my prayer life becuase of it and so I decided to cut back to regain my balance.

I, like you, am troubled by the idea of "testing" becuase it smacks of a punitive God, which I don't believe in. I do, however, beleive in a God who respects our free-will enough to let us reject Him.

Regarding failing, I dont think the fall is as important as availaing ourselves of the grace and mercy offered to us by Christ in the sacrament of reconciliation.

1:01 PM  
Blogger crystal said...

I agree with you. It's kind of like that first week of the Spiritual Exercises, where Ignatius wants people to think about how bad they've been - it's not to dwell on failure but to see how God loves us no matter what. Sometimes when things are going badly I have a hard time believing that stuff, though.

1:22 PM  

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