On the Judgement of God and Punishment

in the Development of Theology During the Baroque Period
Fr. Dr. Jaroslaw Buciora

Fr. Dr. Jaroslaw Buciora

Fr. Dr. Jaroslaw Buciora

In the contemporary theological discourse there is a constantly growing interest in the subject of theodicy. As the discussion develops from a variety of theological perspectives, there are numerous approaches to identify this particular field of systematic theology. Any discussion on theodicy – a vindication of God’s goodness and justice in the face of the existing evil among contemporary theologians is mostly contextual which asks for an extended analysis. From one side, contextualization of theodicy incarnates essential elements of human life, but from the other, it limits the discussed subject to a particular approach. From the other perspective, contextualization of theological exercise brings us a living and valuable experience with God. This living experience with God broadens our perspective of the approach to the subject of theodicy as a living reality.

Theodicy is a very stimulating topic that entertains very essential questions regarding our relationship with God and humanity. At the present time, when the concepts of an all-powerful God and God as Judge, are so much removed from societal beliefs, very rarely we will hear the terms “Judgement of God” and “God’s Punishment” as they apply to our daily life. Despite all the negative convictions and beliefs in the all-powerful and almighty God inherited by our society, the Orthodox Church brings the concept of God and His relationship to the World in its original understanding that brings faith and hope. We have to commend all those who approach the discussion of these themes throughout the Baroque period. It is during this period that we perceive a certain theological reorientation of thinking about Theodicy, legacy of which we still can notice in contemporary theological thought. To grasp the question of Theodicy at the time of Baroque is to understand the contemporary debate and theological speculations on the subject of theodicy and God’s presence in the world.

Our main task is to analyse the question of the “Judgement and Punishment of God” and their theological content during the Baroque period. This question is especially complex for a variety of reasons. In some of the Orthodox theological circles the question of God’s Judgement and Punishment, as this was developed in the XVI and XVII centuries, has been accepted as an integral component of Orthodox theology. Because of this reason, there is no need for us to enter into polemics that might be unconstructive for the future development of Theodicy in general. At the same time, we have to avoid simplistic interpretations and general conclusions that would oversimplify the question. The additional complexity surfaces from the fact that the subject not only embraces the historical development of theology of the Western and Eastern Churches at the time of Baroque, but the question is entrancingly united with the development of theology in Western Europe at the time of Tertullian and Blessed Augustine. Because of its historical and theological parameters, the historical analysis of this question during the Baroque era is only the conclusion of what became an integral part of the Latin Church many centuries before. It is during the Council of Trident 1545-1563 and its decrees that delivered the essence of the entire problem. If the historical development of the question belongs to the historians, our task is to analyse the question from the theological perspective. Our analysis should not be considered final and all-comprehensive. It is one of the endeavours that need to be analysed in the future.

Upon entering a small Bukovinian farm Church in Manitoba, one will find a very interesting and thought-provoking icon hung on the right wall. This is an icon of the Last Judgement. It is interesting to point out that the Orthodox Church reminds her members about the Last Judgement every day in the liturgical cycle of her life. The content of the icon is quite shocking, as it visualizes the last events of the world. In the centre of the icon, there is a river of fire, in the flame of which people suffer terrible pain. The icon penetrates the feeling of the viewers with tremendous fear. One of the elements, very important for our discussion, is the image of the Lord Jesus Christ sitting on a throne as a Judge. The face of Jesus Christ is very ferocious and turned towards those who are approaching the Throne of Glory. According to the context of this icon, it is pay day for Jesus Christ for our sins. In general, this icon represents a typical icon of the Last Judgement that became known among the members of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of Canada at the end of the nineteenth and the beginning of the twentieth century. Theologically, the icon presents the eschatological image of the last days of the world as this was theorized by the representatives of the Orthodox Church after the Council of Trent and later at the time under Catholic suppression. From the perspective of contemporary Orthodox theology, this icon is a theological paradox that represents a synthesis of two theological trends of the Latin West and Orthodox East. Based on further analysis that will be presented later, God is represented in the liturgical settings of the Church as God loving- mankind, passionate, long – suffering, forgiving… From the other perspective that is represented by this icon and gradually developed by the Western Church, God is introduced as a Tyrant waiting for revenge.

A partial answer for the horrifying representation of God on the icons of the Last Judgement is found in the XV-XVII century in the Western Europe. It is here, that we can see the final stage of the portrayal of God in very negative and horrifying parameters. The best example of this theological mindset in Western Europe can be found on the frescos of Michelangelo in the Sistine Chapel in Rome or even in some of medieval Eastern Orthodox iconography. God was portrayed in the context of an image of a horrifying “Judgement” in the centre of which there was an all-powerful God on a throne judging the entire human race. The event of the Last Judgement, Michelangelo presents the Ascension of Jesus Christ with a raised hand ready for judgement. On the left of Christ, there is a representation of the resurrection of the dead, and on the right, there is a frightful image of hell with open doors ready to accept new potential martyrs. In order to comprehend the essence of the representation of God in such a dreadful image, it is necessary to analyse it in the theological mindset of the Eastern and Western theology since the Early Church which can help us to re-evaluate certain theological stereotypes of a contemporary approach towards Theodicy.

Before entering into the analysis of the theme of God’s Judgement and Punishment on humanity, we have to make a couple of very important remarks. First, it is important for our analysis to introduce the basic principles of Christian Orthodox anthropology, as it is proclaimed by contemporary theological thought and the Fathers of the Church. Based on those anthropological foundations, we shall present the Western understanding of the salvation of man based on the Western Fathers of the Church until the Baroque era. Based on those parameters, we will make the final conclusions that will have immediate implications on our understanding of the analysed subject.

In the analysis of the early Christian soteriology – the teaching of the salvation of man, we have to make one very fundamental remark. According to contemporary theological thought, the Fathers of the Church never developed any theory on soteriology as this is represented by modern Western academics and even some theological circles of the Orthodox Church. The question of soteriology was always considered as an integral part of the entire theology, especially in connection with the theme of Christology and anthropology. Because of this reason, in Orthodox theology, there is a lack of an elaborated theory on atonement, justification and justice. An exclusive elaboration of one of the questions in isolation from the rest of theology creates a danger of theological isolationism. Theological isolationism is not to be identified as a part of Orthodox Church theological thought. It is very characteristic that because of a lack of elaboration on these themes in Patristic literature, the Orthodox Church approaches these themes with some suspicion. But it is correct to conclude, that Christian soteriology of the Western and Eastern Churches defines man as a living reality that lives beyond the original unity with God that was experienced in paradise. What is more important, because of the lost of the original unity with God, man can’t be what God intended him to be. In the theological perspective, the severance of the unity between man and God is called a sin. In other words, a sin is the negation on the part of man to accept God’s life.

In regards to the question of sin and the fall of man from paradise, among the Christian Churches there exists a theological discrepancy, which is fundamental for shaping our analysis. This discrepancy refers to the letter of Apostle Paul to the Romans 5:12:

“ Therefore, just as through one man sin entered the world, and death through sin, and thus death spread to all man, because ( exact translation from Greek says “in whom” or “in what” that is maintained by the Orthodox Church in its theological interpretation to the present time) all sinned”.

Based on the quoted verse of St. Paul and incorrectly translated by Western Church Fathers, especially by Blessed Augustine, the concept of the Original sin was developed and maintained by the Roman Catholic Church until the present day. It is very important to emphasize at this moment how important it is to be critical to any new translations of the Holy Bible, that continue to repeat previous errors in translation, which can cause confusion in the development of theological thought. A mistranslation of the text of St. Paul made by the Blessed Augustine became the main source for the Catholic Church for its new approach toward the theme of soteriology and anthropology which peaked during the time of Baroque and the Trident Council. The Orthodox Church in her official teaching never accepted Blessed Augustine’s interpretation, although in some traditionally Orthodox regions influenced by Catholic theology, this teaching became an integral part of the doctrine of the particular Orthodox Local Church. The Orthodox Church does not accept the inheritance of the sin of Adam, although the consequences of the fall of Adam became an integral part of the Orthodox anthropology. It was introduced very eloquently by one of the greatest Fathers of the Orthodox Church St. John Chrysostom who said:

“…How then did death come in and prevail?… “through the sin of one”. But what means, “for that in whom have sinned? This; he having once fallen? Even they that had not eaten of the tree did from him, all of them, become mortal”.

In other words, between Adam and the rest of humanity there is one element that is integral for Christian anthropology. Even though, humanity inherited the consequences of the fall of Adam, man is not in the stage of the sin of Adam. At this point we can see the importance of a correct translation and interpretation of the Holy Bible and for our case, the translation of St. Paul to Romans 5:12. Because of this incorrect translation of Blessed Augustine, there was a need later in the Roman Catholic Church’s history to create additional theories in order to balance the entire theological system. The theological theories of the Atonement, Justice and Punishment are at this time the best example.

The aspect of sin is closely related in the Orthodox Church with the fundamental principles of Christian anthropology: image and likeness of God in man. In Orthodox theology it is accepted to interpret the image of God as a potential or possibility for man to ascend towards God. In regards to the likeness, the Eastern Church explains this as the realization of man’s potential for the purpose of unification with God. These two basic principles of Christian anthropology are integral and constant elements for man’s self-existence. They are so fundamental for the Orthodox anthropology that even the fall of Adam could not destroy them. In other words, it is exactly because of the image and likeness that humanity can constantly examine itself and seek closer unity with God. In the theological perspective, man is in a process of realizing its potential which is related to the question of salvation and theosis. Because potential for salvation and theosis are integral parts of the human being, they were not changed or eradicated by Adam’s fall.

The orientation of the Orthodox theology towards the question of realizing the potential of the image into the likeness of God is also closely related to the other characteristic of man’s being: the aspect of will. In this context, the question of salvation and theosis that were inaugurated by Jesus Christ is a question of the human will. Contemporary Orthodox thought, based on the Fathers of the Church, constantly emphasizes the fact that God created man free and independent. Man has the potential to direct its destiny. Because the fall of Adam could not destroy the aspects of image and likeness of God, then the will of man, as an integral part of human being, is also an integral and free element of life. St. Gregory of Nyssa says:

“… but pre-eminent among all is the fact that we are free from necessity, and not in bondage to any natural power, but have decision in our own power as we please; for virtue is a voluntary thing, subject to no dominion; that which is the result of compulsion and force cannot be virtue”.

It is exactly here that we see a difference between teachings of the Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox, where, in the Catholic Church, human will lost its integrity. It is important to add, that according the Orthodox Church after the fall of Adam, the human being, has never lost its integrity, although it was darkened and in effect opened to passions. This does not mean that the openness towards passions changed the man’s ability to make a choice towards goodness or separation from God. In support of this argument we have to only recall the anthropology of the Sixth Ecumenical Council and St. Maximus the Confessor, according to which in Jesus Christ there were two wills: human and Divine. In regards to the human will in Christ, St. Maximus differentiates between the human natural will that always aspires towards God and an aphoristic will that is characterized by opinion, consideration and independent self designation. It is because of this differentiation between the natural and aphoristic will and the consolidation in man of the original integrity, the image and likeness of God in man were not affected. In this kind of formulated anthropology of the Eastern Church, we may characterize man after the fall, as a creation of God which after the loss of the unity with God, lost the original direction towards God. After the loss of our unity with God, our original vision to relate towards Divine was darkened.

After a brief introduction of Eastern Orthodox anthropology, our task at this time is to characterize basic principles of Eastern Christology. This shall be very important in the further analysis of our subject. According to the Ecumenical Councils, which dealt predominantly with the question of Christology, the incarnation of the Second Person of the Holy Trinity is due not to the reason of justice and punishment of God, but because of the ontological necessity of God to become man. The fall of man was not the main reason of the incarnation of Jesus Christ. As this was noticed in our analysis, man because of the fall lost its original unity with God. In essence, humanity became spiritually ill, that is man lost the intended orientation towards God and the surrounding world. Because of this exact reason, the Church is understood by Orthodox theology as a hospital for the healing of man, both spiritually and physically. This is a main reason why the Orthodox Church understands the incarnation as an existential healing of man, or man’s return to its original potential to become what it was intended to become. As St. Gregory of Nyssa would say:

“… What He did not assumed He did not healed: but what was united with God was saved”.

According to contemporary Orthodox thought, the incarnation of Jesus Christ had two different causes. First, the incarnation of the Second Person of the Holy Trinity returned man to the stage before the fall. It is the original stage of life God intended for man. The subject of this original stage of life for man is beautifully elaborated by the liturgical life of the Orthodox Church (Holy and Great Lent). In other words the first cause of God’s incarnation is the negative side in order to return man to his original place of God’s creation. The second reason for the incarnation of Christ, which is entrancingly united with the first one, brings humanity into the realm of theosis – unity with God. The first reason – salvation of the human race which is embraced in the aspect of liberation of man from the captivity of suffering and death, is understood eschatology – the teaching of the end of the world in context of death and the Resurrection of Jesus Christ. Thus, the first reason of the incarnation became the foundation of the second one, according to which man was transformed. This means that the death of Jesus Christ cannot be considered as the punishment for the sins of the entire human race. The death of Christ and Resurrection has to be understood in a larger context of theology that goes deep into the cross and has to be considered as a process of the healing of man, which reaches towards theosis. The second reason for the incarnation of Christ, according to St. Maximus the Confessor, has to be considered as the main and integral part of God’s plan. These two reasons are never separated as they create one mystery of God. God died on the cross for mankind. Because of this, the representation of God in some Orthodox iconography and paintings of the Latin Church as a gruesome Judge is not only paradoxical, but it negates the entire Church teaching on Christology, soteriology and anthropology. In other words, God accepted the fallen and mortal human nature in order to return it to the stage of immortality. What is more important, the death of Christ on the cross was not the death of the innocent, but it was the death of the incarnated God. The aim was not in the satisfaction of legal justice, but in the destruction of the cosmic reality of death, that brought man into the vicious circle of sin and corruption. Because of this fundamental motive, the second reason for the incarnation has as its main goal to put the human race in the original plan of God’s creation. This is a main reason why St. Athanasius would say: “He became man, that man can become transformed”. We can summarize the essence of God’s incarnation not only as liberation of man from the oppression of death, but also as a path for humanity for the unity with the Divine. It is important to add, that salvation and theosis are not man’s initiatives. The incarnation of Christ has to be understood as an act of a passionate God for the purpose of healing of the fallen human nature and unity with God. The incarnation of Jesus Christ has to be understood not as an accident caused by the fall of man. The incarnation unites the heavenly with the earthly, where man would be called the microcosm. These two aspects of the incarnation of Christ must be understood as an unquestionable love of God towards humankind. In the process of salvation, as an act of God towards man, humanity still acts as a free agent, which can respond to God in a positive or a negative way. Man can become a participant of Divine glory or he can become a victim of his own illusion.

Such a small elaboration of the Orthodox soteriology and anthropology is necessary for the proper understanding of God and the position of the Church toward the question of Judgement and Punishment of God. Based on the presented material we may understand the suspicion of the Orthodox Church regarding the question of atonement, judgement, punishment and justification as they were elaborated in the Western Church. In order to indicate the difference of thinking between the Orthodox Church and the Roman Catholic Church, we quote from the Augsburg’s confession of faith where we read:

“… All people, that are being born according to the course of nature are conceived and born in sin. Because of this, people are full of evil, deceit and disposition from the womb of their mothers: they are unable to have a true fear and faith in God. What’s more, this is unborn sickness and inherited sin that is a real sin”.

As we try to analyse this very short statement, we can already discern the difference in approach to the theme of anthropology in the Western and Eastern Churches. According to this statement, man is born with the inherited sin of Adam, what became the integral part of the Roman Catholic Church. The presentation of the anthropology in this kind of frame brings us back to Blessed Augustine and his translation and interpretation of the Ap. Paul to the Romans. As we have mentioned this earlier, in the translation of the Letter of Paul to the Romans 5:12, Blessed Augustine states that all mankind sinned in Adam:

“…Therefore, just as through one man sin entered the world, and death through sin, and thus death spread to all men, because all sinned”.

As a result of this kind of translation, in the Western Catholic anthropology the inheritance of the Fall of Adam is concluded in the question of guilt for sin. In other words, every human being that is born in the world is born with the sin of Adam. This statement contradicts the Orthodox interpretation of the original sin, which was presented above. As a reminder, the Orthodox Church does not accept the inheritance of sin but the consequence of sin that is embraced in suffering and death.

For our information, according to Roman Catholic anthropology, the theory of the original sin also includes the unborn children, as a logical extension of the human race.

In further analysis of the theology of Blessed Augustine, man after his fall became the slave of the Devil. In the history of humankind, man was liberated from the captivity of death and suffering by Christ for the price of His Precious Blood. We have to add that according to contemporary theological analysis, the theory of the original sin elaborated by Blessed Augustine is found much earlier in the early Church. But it was Blessed Augustine who formally defined and formed the theory that became known under his authorship. The presented anthropology had an enormous implication on the future development of the Latin Church in medieval times. As we continue our analysis of the question, it is very interesting to mention the logistic application of the further development of the theory of Blessed Augustine. According to the doctrine of original sin elaborated in the West, because man inherited the sin after the fall, the only thing that could save humankind was the created grace from God. This was the beginning of the doctrine of predestination, according to which, God blesses those whom He chooses. With the development of this doctrine in the Western Church, this theory was transformed in the XVI and XVII centuries into a doctrine of double predestination, according to which God in His wisdom saves ones and punishes others. The anthropology of the early Church with its fundamental principles of image and likeness of God in man, as this is still maintained by the Orthodox Church to the present time, was eventually forgotten. With the development of the doctrine of predestination, Blessed Augustine also transplants into this doctrine essential elements of Roman Law. In this context, the sin of Adam offended God’s dignity and glory. In this case, the death of Christ was God’s way of retribution. It is exactly here that we can see the influence of the Roman Law and thinking on the Roman Catholic theological thought. For Blessed Augustine, justice delivers evidence of inherited guilt. Because man dies and because God cannot punish the innocent, therefore man must be guilty based on the fall of Adam. As a conclusion, death also belongs to God. Because death belongs to God, death appears as a punishment from God for man’s transgressions. In this conclusion we see the very first trace of an image of God as a terrifying Judge. The created theological theory, in addition of the Roman justice system, created a very rare system, according to which, even God had to follow the established Roman law. The entire question of the Church was embraced in the context of a legalistic codex, excluding any context of ascetism. According to contemporary Orthodox thought, this kind of created theory of the Fall of Adam and original sin, as this was elaborated by Blessed Augustine, has its own conclusion in something else. For the Western Church, it is not death that became the main problem of man, but the guilt that leads to the fear of God. The Western understanding of the concept of the original sin creates other theological dilemmas, which were dealt with by later Western theologians. Without diminishing the strength of Scholasticism, the theological system developed by Blessed Augustine became the permanent foundation for the Western Church. In addition to the theological system of Blessed Augustine, the Roman Catholic Church adopts in time the theory of satisfaction and justification elaborated by the Anselm of Canterbury (1033-1109), which in the XVI century was classified in various variants. The sin, according to this theory, angered God, for what man was eventually punished. In addition, following this theological theory of Anselm of Canterbury, every sin cannot be forgiven without apology. The venom that stopped this cycle of vicious death was the death of Christ, who as God would satisfy God and ease His anger. It is only God who can bring adequate offering to the God. This theory, first elaborated in the eleventh century, was eventually accepted by the Protestant Movement in Western Europe at the time of Reform and some of the representatives of the Orthodox theological circles in Eastern Europe. The theory of satisfaction and atonement in the period of time eventually even changed the face of the living God. The frescos of Michelangelo discussed earlier in our introduction as well as the icon of the Last Judgement become here the best examples. The theory of retribution and punishment, as this was elaborated by the Roman Catholic Church, eventually detailed the theory of the horrifying God in a more dramatic and accentuated light. In this theory, God was represented as a ferocious Tyrant, Who, while searching for the satisfaction of His justice, enlightens Himself in the suffering of martyrs in hell. Although Orthodox iconography accepted this kind of interpretation of the visualization of God in its later historical development, we have to make at this point one very important note. Orthodox iconography has its own methodology that was developed in a period of many centuries of the existence of the Church. Orthodox icons always had a very special place in the life of people. The substance of an icon is always theologically substantiated. The concept of the “fear of God and punishment” in Orthodox iconography, as this was presented in the iconography of the XV-XVII centuries, had one main purpose: to educate people in a visual manner and to deliver a message to Christians of the final consequence of man’s separation from God. This approach was similar to the approach taken by St. Gregory the Great regarding the use of icons in early Christianity. According to St. Gregory, the icons were regarded as books of the “illiterate”. This was a psychological methodology to describe the metaphysical reality of human life outside of the Divine realm. In other words, the main goal of the Church was the conversion of the sinners to the original state of our unity with God. It was a kind of spiritual food for man, which could be achieved only in the context of the worshipping community. We can call this kind of approach to Theodicy as an “educational methodology”. It is exactly the early Christian anthropology and soteriology that the Church maintained to this time. The use of this kind of methodology to educate the members of the Church at the time of Baroque was directed mainly to those who were unable to comprehend or grasp the reality of distortion of life on earth. The final goal was always the same: educational salvation. It is also important to add, that the Orthodox Church used certain metaphors from Holy Scripture as a sample for the interpretation of theological truths. The metaphor of the Last Judgement, as an example, was a visual interpretation of our separation from God. The main problem of the Roman Catholic Church consisted not only on the ignorance this form of the interpretation of the Holy Scripture, but also in the literal and legalistic interpretation of the text. This problem is even more problematic in the case of the modern evangelical movement.

Analyzing the later development of medieval European Western Christianity, we have to emphasize a dramatic shift of methodology used by the Church in its quest for expansion. A continual separation from the sacramental experience of God in the Christian’s life dramatically changed the orientation of people towards Theodicy. A negative shift in the experience with God by people was deepened by the separation and removal of God from Christian Life. God came to be known as the God of vengeance and judgement. In addition, the oversimplification and one-sided exegetical literal interpretation of the Old and New Testament by the Western Scholastic theologians contributed to an environment of biblical fear of apocalyptic magnitude. This approach also distorted, via legalistic interpretations of biblical images, the Christ incarnation and death on the cross. At the end, Christianity was transformed into a moralistic religion with a sadistic “God in the centre”. Because of this, it is not an accident, that German philosopher and idealist E. Kant at the end of the XVIII century, because of the existence of logistic thinking and special moral differentiation in the Western Church, envisioned the concept of the Highest Judge. As an additional comment, we have to underline, that while the Roman Catholic Church puts emphasis on the concept of the law, the Orthodox Church directs its attention on the aspect of transformation of man’s life in Christ.

CONCLUSION

Analysing this kind of approach towards Theodicy and its development at the time of Baroque from the perspective of the contemporary Orthodox theological perspective, we have to be critical. On the one hand, the fearful presentation of God, as this was done at the time of Baroque would frighten people. On the other hand, God was robbed of the essential elements of faith: love. It is because of Divine love that God manifested Himself in the human flesh of Christ, transforming the entire human life into a restored relationship with God. Faith in God without the hope of love tyrannizes people and brings them into a faith of slavery. We must underline the thesis that it is not the fear of God that should mobilize people to faith. It is not because of hell that man lives by faith, hope and love. The most fundamental principle for Christian life is not fear but love. It is love that overcomes fear. God’s love for man is incomparable with the simplified and logistic concept of God created by the Latin West. The mystery of incarnation and the death on the cross is the mystery of the Divine love that mankind is constantly searching to comprehend. In this context, the best example of this kind of interpretation of God and His love towards man are the frescoes of A. Rublov from 1408, that are still preserved in the Holy-Dormition Cathedral in Vladimir. These frescos, in contrast to frescos of Michelangelo, represent the Last Judgement as a very optimistic and joyous event. Even the fire of the river is represented as a fire of limitless love of God towards the human race. In contrast to the frescos of A. Rublov, the overemphasis of the fear of God and the sinful nature of man by Western theological circles of the time of Baroque created a very negative vision of God in man that paralyzed and destroyed the presence of God in the soul of man. Until now we still are unable to describe the magnitude of damage brought by the Scholars of the Western Church into our society. According to contemporary Orthodox thought, the basic mistake made by Western theology of this time was the over-emphasis of one of the elements of eschatology: fear over love. It is exactly here that we can see a very strong influence of Western theology on the mentality of the Orthodox Church of the time of Baroque. As we analyze the early anthropology and soteriology we notice the difference between this theology and the theological thought of the time of Peter Mohyla. The moralists of the XVI-XVII century concentrated themselves exclusively on the subject of eschatology: the end of the world, condemnation of man and Divine retribution. This methodology was used to present an image of a fearsome God primarily as a method to convert pagans. From the Western perspective, the most thorough investigation on the subject of fear and guilt was presented by the French historian J. Delumeau, who describes the centuries from XVII to XVIII as the centuries of the “Murderous man and horrifying God”. In reality, God’s revelation was used by a particular religious group as a weapon to annihilate the opponents. As a consequence, the most victimized was Theodicy. The Church became an institution of law, punishment and Divine justice. The religious war in Western Europe during the time of Reformation and later is the most expressive example. In essence, for Western theologians, God became a heavenly police man, who, for the purpose of keeping law, order, justice, and punishment, was envisioned as a horrifying Judge. It was a process of Divine treachery. It was the French Revolution and the Enlightenment in Western Europe that brought the final blow to the “theology of fear”. This kind of interpretation of the Theodicy brought Freud to the definition of God as a “Sadistic Father”. At the end of the eighteenth century, people rebelled against the belief in a fearful God, and, as a consequence, the other extreme of God’s non-existence appeared. It was Jean-Paul Sarte and Hegel who were the first ones in Western Europe to proclaim the death of the scholastic God. The final touch to this proclamation was made by Nietzsche, who categorically stated that “God is dead”. In reality, the last three centuries were in the history of the Western world a “moral protest against a religion of fear”. We must quite honestly state that the centuries of the presented “theology of fear” tremendously weakened the Church and considerably discredited it. For S. Bulgakov, it is essential for Orthodox theology at the present time to re-establish the authentic balance between eschatological fear and love. In the Orthodox perspective, eschatology cannot be reduced to a doctrine of God as a Judge and Avenger. We have to redefine a true image of God in the retrospective of the holistic theology. Even the grievous distress of our separation from God cannot harm the authentic image of the loving-kindness of God. A patristic approach to the discussed subject is necessary and fundamental for proper theological discourse. Further analysis of the “pedagogy of fear” was presented by N. Berdyaev and N. Fedorov in the first part of the twentieth century, which in itself deserves to be studied. The rebellion against the “theology of fear” in Western Europe is without any doubt one of the reasons, according to P. Evdokimov, of contemporary atheism. We are a part of this process as we are a part of Western society. If the Orthodox Church wants to be relevant to the philosophy of the modern society, the Church has to address this question in the perspective of the historical mindset that is essential for our analysis. Even the presence of the icon of the Last Judgement in the Bukovinian Church has to be understood and addressed in a proper holistic and historical context. Without this characteristic approach, this icon shall be misunderstood even by the members of the Orthodox Church that profess to the present time the unquestionable love of God to man.

2018-07-12T10:31:27+00:00