The Toughest of Loves
Toward a Neo-Nyssen Model of Severe Divine Punishments
Some Christian theologians and philosophers maintain that God’s punishments are always (at least partly) motivated by redemptive love for those punished, even when these punishments are considerably severe (e.g., killings or damnations). However, advocates of such a conception of divine punishment face significant challenges. Perhaps most fundamentally, it is not entirely apparent how severe and loving features of divine punishment might be understood to fit together within a viable theological model. In this article this foundational issue is addressed. By culling resources from St. Gregory of Nyssa, the present aim is to proffer a contemporary model of divine punishment that naturally combines redemptive love for those punished with apparently harsh treatment.