Latest

30 Jun 2015 Articles Resources Comments (12)

Is there really a hell, and if so, how could a good and loving God send people to it?

If you believe what the Bible says about a good and loving God, who sent Jesus to pay for our sins, it seems logical that we believe what Jesus said about hell;…

Read more

20 Oct 2016 News Comments (3)

Christian town captured by ISIS and citizens used as human shields

We are subjected to every kind of hardship, but never distressed; we see no way out but we never despair; we are pursued but never cut off; knocked down, but st…

Read more

13 Jul 2016 Americas Europe News USA Vatican Comments (2)

US archbishops support proposed legislation ‘that will help protect religious freedom’

The House Oversight and Government Reform Committee held a hearing on the First Amendment Defence Act on July 12, a bill two US archbishops said would provide “…

Read more

07 Sep 2015 Articles Resources Comments (2)

Nine Ways the Eucharist Was Hidden in the Old Testament

John Henry Newman once compared Scripture to an inexhaustibly rich wilderness—never failing to reward the faithful explorer with thrilling new discoveries yet a…

Read more

25 Aug 2016 Uncategorized No comments

Was grace given in the baptism of John?

Full Question Was grace given in the baptism of John? Answer No. The Council of Trent (Sess. VII, Canon I. on baptism) anathematized the teaching t…

Read more

10 Apr 2015 Q&A Comments (2)

Was this priest wrong to tell us to leave the spilled precious blood where it was?

Full Question Please help us! Our newly ordained, young priest refused to remove the precious blood that unknowingly had been spilled on the carpet by an e…

Read more

12 Nov 2015 News Vatican No comments

Vatileak II: Investigation of the Journalists involved

Father Federico Lombardi, the director of the Vatican press office, have confirmed the authors of the book revealing contents of the Vatican’s leaked confidenti…

Read more

28 Nov 2014 Q&A Comments (4)

Is Mary’s and the saints’ intercession unbiblical?

Full Question According to 1 Timothy 2:5, the only Mediator between God and us is Jesus. So, isn’t Mary’s and the saints’ intercession unbiblical? …

Read more

14 Oct 2015 News Vatican No comments

Violent marriages: A woman's quest to help synod bishops grasp the issue

Christauria Welland is a clinical psychologist who's worked with both victims and perpetrators of domestic violence – and with one in three women worldwide suff…

Read more
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
«
»

How can God be merciful if he punishes people?

Full Question

How can Christian theologians say that God is perfectly merciful if he still punishes some people? Wouldn’t he be more perfectly merciful if he forgave everyone?

Answer

No. The word “perfect” can be taken in different senses. Sometimes it means “completely” or “in every case.” If this were the sense in which God were perfectly merciful, then he would forgive sins in every single case, thus forgiving everyone. But “perfect” has other meanings–for example, it can also mean “in the best way.”

Suppose a person needs $25 to get out of trouble, and he comes to me for help. I know that if I give him the $25 he will get out of trouble, learn his lesson, and all will be well. I also know that if I give him more than $25 he will not learn his lesson but will use the extra money to go out and get in trouble again. How would we regard the act of giving him $25 versus a larger sum?

Assuming I do not owe him any money, giving either amount would be an act of generosity, but which act would be the more perfect example of generosity? From one perspective we might reason that giving the higher amount would be more generous and thus more completely or “perfectly” generous. From another perspective we might reason that by giving the lower amount I would be helping him more and thus would be more perfectly generous (generous in a better way).

This gives us an insight into the nature of virtue. To do something virtuously is not just to do it in a higher degree, but in a better way.

God is perfectly merciful in that he perfectly displays the virtue of mercy. This means that he is merciful to the right people, at the right time, to the right degree, with the right motive, and in the right circumstances. But some people and some circumstances are not the right ones. It is not appropriate to forgive a person’s sins when he is defiant and unrepentant. It may be appropriate to continue trying to lead him to repentance, but it is not fitting for him to be forgiven even before he has admitted he was wrong.

God is perfectly merciful in the sense that he is merciful in the best way, not in the sense that he forgives every single sin people commit. Some sins (those of which people have not repented) are not appropriate to forgive, so God’s mercy is the very thing that prevents him from forgiving them.










1 comment

  1. Pachomius Reply

    If the answer is no, then why purgatory? He could just send you to hell. So yes God can be merciful with his punishment!

Leave a Reply

  1. most read post
  2. Most Commented
  3. Choose Categories