Research Paper: Christian Ethics

Pages: 11 (3357 words)  ·  Bibliography Sources: 6  ·  Level: Master's  ·  Topic: Mythology - Religion  ·  Buy This Paper

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[. . .] "The imprecatory psalms and Christian ethics."]

Overall, although there appears to be tension, and possible arguments concerning the justifications of the imprecatory prayers, Christians must be careful to identify that the goals of the prayers, were to achieve glory and honor. Similarly, the prayers aimed to make God's enemies repent, and placing the prayers in the context of the Psalms and the Old Testament will play an important role in efforts to understand them. Still, Christians will have to continue battling with the issues of imprecatory prayers, due to the different interpretations about the vengeance laments.

In this regard, there are believers who do not accept that Old Testament writers were also under the influence of the Holy Spirit, and this contributes to further debates. The unbelievers assert that the Old Testament contains the feelings of Jews, and this is what developed the ethical principles in the books of the Old Testament. In addition, they argue that God is not responsible for the words expressed in the books. Similarly, those who defend the Old Testament, comment that the expressions are central to the righteous people's anger, and Christians should perceive this in reference to scriptural principles. In support of this, Paul wrote that God influenced all writers of the Bible.[footnoteRef:18] [18: Thayer. Dogmatic Theology. Edited by Alan W. Gomes]

Therefore, there is no place, where Paul said that, or provided an exception of the imprecatory prayers. This makes it clear that whatever complications exist in the Psalms, they emerge because of variations in the interpretations, including the degree of faith one has towards the Bible.[footnoteRef:19] On the other hand, the Christians should understand that the Bible made it clear on what the writers were thinking, including their sentiments. In this regard, it is also clear that the Holy Spirit was aware of the messages, which makes it further clear that there was a supposed harmonization, including justification in relation to other scriptural teachings. [19: Raymond F. "Interpretation of the imprecatory Psalms."]

Justifications of Imprecatory Prayers

Although there appears that there will always be debates concerning the legitimacy of the imprecatory Psalms, the Bible has given a variety of justifications for the prayers. In this context, scholars have suggested that awareness of ethical and revelation objectives of the prayers will enable Christians to comprehend the imprecatory Psalms. The purpose of the imprecatory prayer is to establish the righteous. Several scholars have provided their views concerning the prayers, and have stated that imprecatory should be in use in reference to the light of the teaching of the bible.[footnoteRef:20] [20: Roger. Opening up Psalms. Opening Up Commentary]

Moreover, Christians should not use curses on personal enemies, and prior to this prayers, Christians should always pray for the repentance of the people. In the case of Israel, the prayers did not hide the desire for vengeance, even when they came before God. In addition, when the people prayed for vengeance, they did not commit violence towards their oppressor; they left all to God who would impose the punishment.[footnoteRef:21] In this regard, when God judges the evildoers, He also invoked to establish the righteous. This is provided in the Bible, which is the main point of reference for all the justifications provided. [21: Page H. "Prayers of troubled saints."]

Although the imprecatory prayers appear to be harsh, actually the objective is to praise God at the end. This is so after the psalmist has been delivered, and it is closely related to the anticipation of rejoicing, mainly after the psalmist witnesses the vindication happening. Alternatively, when the evil people recognize the reward of righteousness, and view God as the ultimate judge of the earth, they will repent and appreciate that God's objective is to enhance justice on earth. The imprecatory prayers also show that God is the sovereign rule of the entire universe.

Moreover, the imprecatory prayers aim to protect the wicked from enjoying the same blessings as those enjoyed by the righteous. In reference to David, the Bible says that he prayed that those who endure in doing evil might fail to appear in the book of life. In addition, the imprecatory prayers provide the sinners with an opportunity to repent. Apparently, God will also judge ad humiliate His enemies for them to find God and accept Him as sovereign. For these aims, it is notable that from a divine point-of-view, the lamentations for judgment, or rather the imprecatory prayers have justifications from the Bible.[footnoteRef:22] [22: Carl. "A fresh look at the imprecatory Psalms."]

If Christians still hold that imprecatory prayers are moral and ethical, then they would want to refer to quotations made by Jesus, particularly on Psalm 69 and 109. In this context, Jesus suggested that David was speaking divine inspiration. David supposedly had uttered words put to his mouth by the Holy Spirit, when avid had used imprecatory messages in the quoted verses. Overall, when some Christians appear to be opposing the use of imprecatory in the church or Christian life, they should consider the contribution of the Holy Spirit in writing the imprecatory messages. Therefore, Christians should accept imprecatory Psalms because they are inspired by the power of God. They should do this without apology without depreciating the Holy Spirit.[footnoteRef:23] [23: Raymond F. "Interpretation of the imprecatory Psalms."]

The imprecatory Psalm was attempting to reconcile the earlier teachings found in the Old Testament books, and the New Testament, including the teachings of Jesus Christ. Therefore, it may be understandable that some Christians have different views in relation to this; they should understand that imprecations are central to the covenant made by God and Abraham. This is so when reference is made to the promise made by God to Abraham. From this, it is conclusive that the Psalmist was appealing for God to keep the covenant promise. Alternatively, the concept of loving and cursing one's enemies also appears to contradict the concept of the Bible, but the Bible has provided a harmonization on the same. In this regard, God is the ultimate judge, and He alone should provide the judgment on evildoers, including persecutors.[footnoteRef:24] [24: John N. "The imprecatory psalms and Christian ethics."]

Instances of Imprecation

In the Bible, there are several instances of imprecations. For example, Jesus cursed a fig tree, which could not bear fruits. In interpretation, the cursing of the fig tree directed to the faithless and fruitless Israelites who had rejected Jesus. Moreover, the cursed fig tree later on withered, and this portrayed the punishment expected on the enemies of God and His people.[footnoteRef:25] There is also a renowned instance in the Bible when Simon the sorcerer wanted to buy the power of the Holy Spirit from Peter. In that instance, Peter cursed the sorcerer. [25: Carl. "A fresh look at the imprecatory Psalms."]

However, Peter did this by giving the sorcerer an opportunity to repent from his wickedness, and this shows that, despite the curse or imprecatory prayer, there is still an opportunity to repent. In the book of revelation, there is a cry from the saints. The lamentation seeks to know why God had refrained from avenging the saints from their enemies.[footnoteRef:26] In the Old Testament, curses appear justified. Apparently, in the Book of Genesis, God openly promised Abraham that He would bless those who blessed him and his posterity, and subsequently curse those who would curse Abraham. [26: John N. "The imprecatory psalms and Christian ethics."]

In this regard, it is clear when God judged Balaam. Evidently, Balaam, was unable to curse Israel, therefore, they were to receive punishment for the attempt on Israel. Another verse in the book of Psalms suggests that the people who deserve curses were the rulers. This is because the rulers imposed judgment on the people, but this judgment was unfair. In addition, the rulers were entirely unjust, dishonest, and wicked. Therefore, the vengeance was justified mainly because of the ignorance they had shown to their subjects. The rulers held positions in the society, such as in the judiciary, but they only exploited the power vested in them.[footnoteRef:27] [27: John N. "The imprecatory psalms and Christian ethics."]

In the book of Corinthians, Paul, in the case of the incestuous man, he condemned the man to destruction by the power of God. One can also see Paul praying for punishment to Alexander and Hymenaues because of what they had done to Paul. Similarly, in the book of Matthew, Jesus denounced the scribes and Pharisees, and he announces punishment among the unrepentant and evil. Subsequently, Jesus also predicted doom on Tyre, Sidon, Sodom, Bethsaida and other towns including Capernaum.

Conclusion

The condemnations, curses, and imprecations for enemies have resulted to confusion for scholars, pastors, theology students, and theologians. The main issue is the evident incitation of God's vengeance and the wrath supposedly will behold His enemies, which appears to go against the intended plan for God to their people. After referring to both the Old Testament, and the New Testament accounts of imprecations, it is beyond question that the imprecatory… [END OF PREVIEW]

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