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Recently, one of my christian friends died of cancer. My Christian friends told me that Yahweh is very merciful. But if he got well, Yahweh would be merciful, too.

So, HYPOTHETICALLY (see the note): could there be any possible real action proving Yahweh to be cruel? By real I mean not requiring faith in soul, heaven, sin and other christian stuff, clear to non-Christians.

In other words: If Yahweh did X, he would be cruel. - Is there any X from christian perspective (any doctrine)?

Note: I expect many downvotes here, but please help me improve it instead of closing votes: I don't mean this as holy war against Christians, I just want to know any reference to this question. Thank you.

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closed as not constructive by Narnian, wax eagle Apr 30 '13 at 14:04

As it currently stands, this question is not a good fit for our Q&A format. We expect answers to be supported by facts, references, or expertise, but this question will likely solicit debate, arguments, polling, or extended discussion. If you feel that this question can be improved and possibly reopened, visit the help center for guidance.If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

    
I've closed this pending some editing to get it solidly in the constructive camp. –  wax eagle Apr 30 '13 at 14:04
    
Nice question, however I do not believe it fits the Stackexchange format and specifically the guidelines of Christianity SE Your question is searching for truth. The question is not scoped within a specific Christian denomination nor is it a broad question about Christianity as a religion. –  The Freemason Apr 30 '13 at 15:11
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pterandon: "the cross" as in "the instrument of torture and death". "the cross" as in that gold thing that Christian's wear around their neck? "the cross" as in the pseudo logo of the Jesus myth? None of these "answer" the question. –  The Freemason May 1 '13 at 14:53
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@JanTuroň two things really. The first is your asking for a proof of a negative, which is basically impossible. The second is that as Dan says you're asking for truth when we aren't really equipped for that. What we do best and most effectively is answer specific questions related to doctrines. –  wax eagle May 1 '13 at 19:32
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@JanTuroň and what I'm saying in the second half of my statement is that there is no "christian perspective" there are calvinist perspectives, baptist perspectives, catholic perspectives, orthodox perspectives. Christians are not a unified group and one of the points of dissension is how we handle this very question. Please do some research and find out if there is a particular perspective that interests you. Knowing that is like knowing what language you're asking a question about on SO or what game you're asking about on Arqade. –  wax eagle May 2 '13 at 12:26

3 Answers 3

Google gave the following definition for mercy:

Compassion or forgiveness shown toward someone whom it is within one's power to punish or harm

Excluding the concept of sin excludes the concept of mercy with respect to compassion or forgiveness and punishment.

If one assumes that God is the most powerful being, the fact that the world does not seem to be as bad as it could be would seem to imply some degree of either compassion or apathy (i.e., the power to harm would have presented opportunities which do not seem to have been taken).

Excluding eternal aspects, particularly "the chief end of man . . . is to glorify God and enjoy him forever", and expecting to perceive God as merciful would be like excluding concepts of vitamins, fiber, etc. (or even agreeing on what good health is) and expecting to perceive a nutritionist's advice as being in one's best interest--good tasting is more "real" than nutritionally good. (Christians would claim good effects from God, much as one who follows a nutritionist's advice would claim good effects; but unlike the nutritionist example one cannot have a "there is no God" control group for scientific testing of God's general mercy. Also, as the Apostle Paul states [1 Corinthians 15:19]: "If only for this life we have hope in Christ, we are to be pitied more than all men."[NIV])

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Another way to look at this, and I think the one that makes the most sense, is that God is in His very nature who He is, and we get our definition of "good" from this. I think the difference between this derived definition of good based on God's nature, and God just possessing the quality of "goodness" (and like qualities, mercy, holiness, etc), is best shown through a good ol' fashioned proof by contradiction.

Proof:

  1. Assume God possesses the characteristic of "goodness."
  2. This means that God is conforming to some higher law of what is right and wrong.
  3. Therefore God is not the highest authority, for even He must conform to something higher.

Therefore, God must be "goodness" itself. His very nature must define what the word means. He certainly has shown that he has the authority to say what is good and what is not (Genesis 1).

With this definition in mind, we can see that God indeed can do whatever He wants because His will is not bound by anyone or anything else as we see in Daniel 4:35:

“And all the inhabitants of the earth are accounted as nothing, but He does according to His will in the host of heaven and among the inhabitants of earth; and no one can ward off His hand or say to Him, ‘What hast Thou done?’”

We can further see that while God can do whatever He wants, He is still completely good, because what He wants becomes what goodness is. The good news for us is that God loves us and does not change (The definition of goodness and the fact that He loves us never changes):

For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. -John 3:16

And:

Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever. -Hebrews 13:8

Running with this idea, if He were to commit an act that was not merciful (and thus not good if for no other reason than He lied about His mercifulness) then He would not be merely breaking some higher "rule," but in essence He would have denied His very nature. This, according to common sense and (above all) scripture, is impossible.

If we are faithless, He remains faithful; He cannot deny Himself. -2 Timothy 2:13

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Mercy is when judgment is withheld from those who deserve it. God is merciful in that He oftentimes does withhold judgment and punishment from those who deserve it.

However, God is not merciful in every situation. If that were the case, He no one would ever suffer any penalty for anything they ever did. Hitler and Stalin would be completely without judgment. This is not the case.

There is a distinction between God being Love and God being loving. God is love in that love is an attribute of God. Loving describes His actions. God is merciful (adjective), but God is not mercy.

Regarding the death of Christians, history is full of Christians who have died young and who have been killed for their faith. Yet, in the truest sense, God was merciful to them--not in preventing all harm and death from them, but in forgiving them for their sins against God. Death is the fate of all men, but death is not the end. Mercy has to do with our sins being forgiven--not in us being freed from all suffering.

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There is also common grace; even unbelievers receive some mercy it seems. –  Paul A. Clayton Apr 30 '13 at 13:44
    
@PaulA.Clayton Good point. Indeed, they do. –  Narnian Apr 30 '13 at 13:56