Sympathy for the Devil?  

Posted by Joe Rawls in ,


Isaac of Nineveh (or Isaac of Syria) was a 7th-century monk, a native of Qatar on the Persian Gulf. He belonged to the Nestorian church (they actually call themselves the Church of the East or the Assyrian Church of the East). His writings in Syriac--translated into Greek and other languages--became very popular outside the Nestorian world and he is venerated as a saint in the Orthodox Church, even though the Nestorians rejected the council of Chalcedon.

The notion that "God is love" underpins all of Isaac's theology and leads to some strongly-worded insights into the generosity of God's concern for all--and I do mean all--of creation. This is brought out in a lecture (http://en.hilarion.orthodoxia.org/6_19) by Russian Orthodox bishop Hilarion Alfeyev, parts of which (containing quotes of Isaac) are reproduced below:

Divine love was the main reason for the creation of the universe and is the main driving force behind the whole of creation. In the creation of the world divine love revealed itself in all its fullness. "...Let us consider, then, how rich in its wealth is the ocean of His creative act, and how many created things belong to God, and how in His compassion He carries everything, acting providentially as He guides creation, and how with a love that cannot be measured He arrived at the establishment of the world and the beginning of creation; and how compassionate God is, and how patient, and how He loves creation, and how He carries it gently, enduring its importunity, the various sins and wickednesses, the terrible blasphemies of demons and evil men."

Divine love is a continuing realization of the creative potential of God, an endless revelation of the Divinity in His creative act. Divine love lies at the foundation of the universe. It governs the world, and it will lead the world to that glorious outcome when the latter will be entirely "consumed" by the Godhead. "What profundity of richness, what mind and exalted wisdom is God's!...In love did He bring the world into existence, in love is He going to bring it to that wondrous transformed state, and in love will the world be swallowed up in the great mystery of Him who has performed all these things; in love will the whole course of the governance of creation be finally comprised."

"What is purity, briefly? It is a heart full of compassion for the whole of created nature...And what is a compassionate heart? He tells us: It is a heart that burns for all creation, for the birds, for the beasts, for the devils, for every creature. When he thinks about them, when he looks at them, his eyes fill with tears. So strong, so violent is his compassion...that his heart breaks when he sees the pain and suffering of the humblest creatures. That is why he prays with tears every moment...for all the enemies of truth and for all who cause harm, that they may be protected and forgiven. He prays even for serpents in the boundless compassion that wells up in his heart after God's likeness."

This entry was posted on Sunday, January 11, 2009 at Sunday, January 11, 2009 and is filed under , . You can follow any responses to this entry through the comments feed .

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