By Oswald Sobrino, J.D.; M.A. (Econ.); M.A. (Theo.); M.L. (Master of Latin), doctoral student, University of Florida.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

God Is Not a Perfectionist

But, yes, many of us are; and, as an ancient Greek said (as I recall) and as others, including I think the philosopher Feuerbach (readers, verify this last historical reference), have repeated throughout history, we tend to create God in our own image. This thought came to me as I considered the Catholic teaching on the state of purgatory: God assigns us ultimately to his presence in heaven even thought we are still materially flawed and in great need of purification or purgation. He mercifully uses what an old calculus teacher of mine called "the fudge factor" to eventually let many of us into his presence. Certainly, we read in the Gospel that the Father calls us to be perfect as He is perfect--yet, as a Catholic, I know that this call to perfection includes His provision of the state (notice I did not say "place") of purgatory. If God were a perfectionist, there would be no assigning to heaven of those in need of purgatory--they would be too imperfect at the moment of death for the ticket into his presence.

So, if you meet someone preaching a very perfectionist, angry, compulsive, legalistic God, take a look at the messenger--he or she may be simply preaching himself rather than the deity. Yet, notice that, while God is not perfectionist in the sense of necessarily jettisoning the materially flawed, He still insists on purification. He is not a perfectionist in the sense of automatically excluding the materially flawed, but He is a perfectionist of sorts in arranging for purification and purgation. Yes, He is much more subtle than many of our disordered personalities, personalities both very secular and very religious and which include every combination in between these two types.