Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Answers From the Christian WorldView Perspective

What is evil? Evil is not really the existence of something as much as it is the absence of something. Evil is the absence of good. It is a result of man living for himself instead of in the righteous way he was designed to live. It is, thus, a product of the God given free-will of man. God could have created men as robots with no freedom. They could then be “good” and love Him because He makes them do that, but would that be love? Would love keep us from harm so much so that it suffocates us into mindless obedience to a Will more powerful than our own to which we have no choice, but to serve? I think we can emphatically answer no. Therefore, the way of love is for God to create humans who can chose to love Him and live ensconced in His love or they can reject Him and live as they please.



Now living contrary to our created purpose will be harmful and against what is good, pure, and holy. It will have consequences because the way of sin leads to death. That is the natural order of things. If something leaves its natural habitat where it belongs and enters an unnatural habitat there will be a significant depletion of its vitality. It is the same for humans. If we live contrary to our created habitat of existence, which is in communion with our life source, God, then we begin to lose the fullness of life and we live in a counterfeit reality. We need our roots to be in God to have the fullness of life. When our roots are in this world instead we do not obtain enough sustenance to be complete. When our nature took on sin when Adam chose to go his own way, humanity was altered, depleted in a sense from our intended nature. Adam spiritually and physically caused a change of events in all humanity. But God is a loving and good God and despite our digging our roots into nature instead of His Super-nature, He in His grace and mercy provided a way to protect us from the consequences of sin. He did this by the most loving act of sacrifice of His own Son who is of His substance, God. This redemption provided by the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ was not just for those who trust in Jesus after this event, but for all those who looked forward to the promise of redemption before this event. All of creation climaxed and culminates in the redemptive act of Christ. All that was depleted can find restoration in Christ because of His sacrifice.



Why did God have to do it this way? Why not just forgive all our sins with no sacrifice? Or why not just let us do as we please and give us all eternal bliss anyway? The wages of sin is death. Death, physically and spiritually, is the result of sin in the natural order of things. So either we continue in that death—that separation from the life source of God or He dies in our place and substitutes Himself to pay the price that we would have had to pay to protect us and restore us by His works and not by ours. So while all men sin and none are good by themselves. He paid our debt of sin. He suffered so we wouldn’t have to. What greater love can there be? What greater goodness?



You see, eternal life is more than heaven. Heaven is a place where our life continues after the natural body dies, but it is an extension of our source of life while we are living on the earth. If we are in God on earth, we continue the same way upon natural death. We continue that life with God. If we reject God on earth we continue in that place of rejection after death. It’s the state we exist in by our choice, not by His punishment. Eternal life happens when we accept the free gift of the forgiveness of God through Jesus. He promises that He will dwell within us, and commune with us, changing our nature to a redeemed nature versus our nature that is tied to death and the earth due to sin.



I was asked in a comment that if a Christian’s nature is changed why are some atheists more moral than some Christians? It would appear there is nothing to this whole idea that somehow Christians are changed for they are not better in their actions than anyone else who strives to be moral.



The answer is that while spiritually we are made new, sometimes it takes some time for that to mature in outward changes. It is a process of growth in Christ. Some Christians are in a place where they accepted His forgiveness and they have His eternal life, but they never left infancy in their relationship with Him. Sometimes it’s because they held on to some parts of their lives that they did not want to surrender to God and God’s still working out a process of redemption in those areas. Each person’s relationship with God is different and its own journey. There are not to be cookie cutter Christians who are all in the same robotic state of maturity in Christ because they said some prayer and now everything in their life is all-good. Upon accepting God’s forgiveness and coming into relationship with Him, you are at that moment under His grace and mercy and His justice justifies you as holy and pure in His sight. But in the natural there are things that still persist from the old life that often times can take time to work out. You do not suddenly loose your will and become a perfect moral puppet serving God’s every whim. You still have control of your mind, will, and emotions and you still are in a learning process of what it means to know and trust God. God is patient with us and He is kind. Our struggles or our doubts do not offend Him. So you’ll find Christians at all different places in their walk with God.



The important thing is looking at ourselves and our own distance from God. We can’t get to God by being good or being religious or any other way we can come up with by our own ideas. The only way to God, is God coming to us. He has done that through Jesus opening the door for anyone who wants to step through and walk a new walk by His loving strength; therefore entering a new supernatural reality that is more real than our counterfeit realities we derive by our unaided reason. He is the reason we can reason and yet we use it to deny Him instead of to come to Him for even our reason has been adversely affected by the sinful nature. When we use it without Him being our source of truth, we use it in a limited fashion and not in its fullness.

38 comments:

Apologist said...

I haven't read about him yet.

I would love to recommend the apologist: Matt Slick

His site is" www.carm.org

Check it out and God Bless

Anonymous said...

Honestly, I don't feel that this post answers the bulk of the criticisms/questions that I've posed. There's the issue of whether free will is even possible with an omni-max deity, whether Adam and Eve should be held accountable, what level of accountability god plays in this whole scenario, why god deemed to propagate the punishment for disobedience to all humans for the actions of just two, the problem of natural evil (which would be the lack of god doing something good to save our lives from cruel nature), and probably some others that I can't think of off the top of my head.

In addition, this raises some new questions.

"He did this by the most loving act of sacrifice of His own Son who is of His substance, God."

How is this loving? Remember, it was god who decided what the punishments must be. It was god that demanded blood so that he could forgive us. Yet, he had already made up his mind to forgive us, so why was this even necessary? And, what does it accomplish to kill someone (a purportedly innocent person) for the crimes of another? Would we do that with our justice system? Would a serial killer on death row be allowed to go free if I volunteered myself to die in his place?

"Why did God have to do it this way? Why not just forgive all our sins with no sacrifice? Or why not just let us do as we please and give us all eternal bliss anyway? The wages of sin is death."

Once again, remember that it was god that set up the rules. So, if death was required, then it's because god decided death was required. Why would an omni-benevolent being decree such a thing?

"So while all men sin and none are good by themselves."

Is this really free will if I don't have the free will in order to always choose good and live a sin-free life?

"If we reject God on earth we continue in that place of rejection after death. It’s the state we exist in by our choice, not by His punishment."

How is it my choice to reject god? Do you simply choose what you believe in? If that is the case, try believing in Allah for a day or two. No one chooses to go to hell. If it exists and if god exists and we go to hell for our disbelief, then god is to blame for setting up a system whereby people are eternally tormented and a system where we don't actually make the choice. Besides, I ask again, what is inherently moral about my belief in god? god seems to be judging me based on whether I have the capacity to discern the correct answer to a factual matter, not a moral matter. god's existence is a factual question, i.e. does he exist or not? If I answer that question wrong, I end up in hell, yet it has nothing to do with how well (morally) I live my life.

"The answer is that while spiritually we are made new, sometimes it takes some time for that to mature in outward changes..."

This all may very well be true, but it sounds a bit ad hoc to me. I think an objection that could be raised as well would be that Xians should still be more moral than non-Xians because all humans are morally depraved to begin with, so a relationship with god should start a person the process of becoming a moral person. IOW, all humans would start at point zero and Xians would gain ground - though not all at once or at the same time as you point out. This would put all Xians at various levels above the non-Xians, however. This is not what we observe in real life, however.

"We can’t get to God by being good or being religious or any other way we can come up with by our own ideas. The only way to God, is God coming to us. He has done that through Jesus opening the door for anyone who wants to step through..."

I'm confused by this. Can we come to god on our own or can't we? If we can't, then it's certainly NOT a choice that we make, and god sends us to hell simply because he hasn't done the work to save us. If you are saying that we can, then I would point out that one doesn't simply choose to believe in something. Also, if god is opening the door for all those that want to come in, how would one explain the fact that some Xians (such as myself) deconvert and become atheists? Obviously, as a Xian I held a god/Jesus belief and strode to walk through the door. Obviously, that has not happened in reality - why not?

There's much more I could say, but I've said enough for now.

OMGF

Karla said...

apologist, I'm familar with www.carm.org. Check out www.rzim.org.

Karla said...

Let me deal with one question first that I feel of primary importance. You ask in essense how God can send a person to hell for rejecting Him and by rejecting Him you seem to take that only to mean disbelieving in Him. You ask how I answer deconverted Christians who once believed and now do not. . .

Being a Christian is not about intellectual belief that God exists and that Jesus did something great for us and magically the result is we become good wonderful humans in constrast to the rest of the world.

This is not Christianity. You can believe God exist and even that Jesus died and rose again and not know God. I think this is what happens sometimes with people who believe themselves to be Christians, but their lives carry no substantial proof of this reality. They live like a practical atheist. Their lives don't look any different from an unbeliever. Because their "belief" isn't more than that. Every atheist I have ever encountered to my knowledge has been invovled in Christianity in some form before becoming an atheist. I think this is happening because when Christianity didn't produce the results it claims to produce it was naturally rejected. I believe what they/you may have experienced was merely religion and not God. Obviously if you experienced God you wouldn't be saying He doesn't exist. You may still have questions about how it all works and what's true and what's not, but you would be going at them with the knowledge that He does exist.

Moreover, when you say my argument is ad hoc. I admit, while it is true that this happens in Christianity, it is not the norm of what a Christian life should be like. And there are many Christians that live over and beyond extraordinary lives that can only be explained by their intimacy with God. You can look at those who are Christians who look no different than anyone else and let that turn you off to the reality of Christ or you can look at those that are living testimonies of the miraculous power of God and wonder what it is they have and how to have it for yourself.

We cannot come to God by our own works, but we can come to Him because He has already come to us through Jesus. He has already made the way to Him so when we accept that way we seal the deal and come into His eternal life. But we can choose not to because He will not force you. Would you expect God to make you spend eternity with Him when you want nothing of Him on earth?

However, I feel that this God I tell you about were indeed real as I claim that you wouldn't reject Him. One of the reason I have so much hope for atheists is that I think you all have this idea of God that isn't God at all and that is who you reject. I hope that if you take the time to learn more about the God who is God you will see the truth and not reject Him.

As for God allowing Adam and Eve to reject Him and for all this to play out this way and thus be responsible for those who reject Him and immoral for letting them reap the consequences of that life lived without Him. . . He is holy and He cannot do what is not in His nature. He never changes. He cannot stop being Just or we would know no Justice. He cannot stop being merciful or we would know no mercy. He is who is Is and He cannot be different from that or change or He would not be God. So even though things will play out and not all will come to have relationship with Him, He must respond in justice. He is just and love and good and holy.

Anonymous said...

"This is not Christianity. You can believe God exist and even that Jesus died and rose again and not know God. I think this is what happens sometimes with people who believe themselves to be Christians, but their lives carry no substantial proof of this reality. They live like a practical atheist."

There are examples of very staunch believers that have deconverted, including pastors and priests. I don't know how you can simply assume that only those who lead exemplary lives are really with god. This sounds like a no true scotsman fallacy. Please explain.

"Obviously if you experienced God you wouldn't be saying He doesn't exist."

Yet, there are people who have claimed to have experienced god only to realize later that it wasn't god at all.

"And there are many Christians that live over and beyond extraordinary lives that can only be explained by their intimacy with God."

And there are Hindus that live over and beyond extraordinary lives that can only be explained by shiva. And there are Muslims that live over and beyond extraordinary lives that can only be explained by allah. And there are atheists that live over and beyond extraordinary lives that can only be explained by the FSM. I don't think this is an argument that you really want to try to stick to.

"You can look at those who are Christians who look no different than anyone else and let that turn you off to the reality of Christ or you can look at those that are living testimonies of the miraculous power of God and wonder what it is they have and how to have it for yourself."

I could look at people who inspire me and strive to be like them independently of whether I believe in their god as well. Simply because some of the notions of Gandhi are inspiring doesn't mean that you or I have to share his Hindu faith.

"We cannot come to God by our own works, but we can come to Him because He has already come to us through Jesus. He has already made the way to Him so when we accept that way we seal the deal and come into His eternal life. But we can choose not to because He will not force you. Would you expect God to make you spend eternity with Him when you want nothing of Him on earth?"

I'm still confused as this sounds a lot like you've simply repeated the passage that had me confused in the first place. Can you perhaps explain it in a different way?

The last sentence does raise an interesting question, however. Who says that all those who disbelieve want nothing to do with god? Some people who disbelieve want very much for there to be a god that is all-loving and will make everything work out, yet they simply don't believe that such a being exists. This is not a case of them rejecting god, but of them not seeing any evidence that this god exists. Why would god not want to show himself to these people so that they can have a relationship with him? Why does god hide himself from everyone on Earth? I'll tell you what, with my free will I freely choose to want god to show himself to me if he does exist - why wouldn't someone want that? If I'm going to hell and I can stop that, why wouldn't I want to know if god exists? If god wants a relationship with me, why wouldn't he show himself to me?

"One of the reason I have so much hope for atheists is that I think you all have this idea of God that isn't God at all and that is who you reject. I hope that if you take the time to learn more about the God who is God you will see the truth and not reject Him."

How do you suggest I do this? I've already mentioned that I take my idea of the Xian god from the Bible - what better source is there?

"He is holy and He cannot do what is not in His nature."

Please define "holy" and how you know that about god.

"He never changes."

That's a contradictory concept and contradicted by the Bible. He has a couple episodes where he repents (like after Noah's flood) which is clearly an act of change. He also at some time had a desire to create the universe, which means that he changed from the instant before that when he didn't desire it.

"He cannot stop being Just or we would know no Justice."

How is god just? Please explain. And, why does our human system of justice not count?

"He cannot stop being merciful or we would know no mercy."

How is god merciful? Please explain. And, why does it not count to experience mercy or give mercy on a human scale?

"He is who is Is and He cannot be different from that or change or He would not be God."

Is god omnipotent? Why can god not do whatever he pleases, including change his nature? Many Xians assert that god can not lie. Do you also believe that? Don't you think that's contradictory with the idea of an omnipotent god?

"So even though things will play out and not all will come to have relationship with Him, He must respond in justice."

OK, so how is it just to punish all humans for the "sins" of the first two? How is it just to send humans to hell, especially when he created us knowing that we would go to hell? How is it just to kill infants and newborns in floods and other acts?

"He is just and love and good and holy."

How do you know any of those things are true. This is really an important question, because it gets to the heart of a lot of matters. It also is talked about as part of Euthyphro's dilemma and Epicurus's dilemma, which I can't stress enough that you need to read (both of them) and think about. They are tough questions/scenarios for the theist to answer and help put this all in perspective.

Amanda said...

I think a lot about the good/evil thing. I can't really make sense of it in my head. Thanks for the thoughts.

Karla said...

I'll have to respond in more detail tomorrow. But for now I will answer the first question because I don't want to leave you with a false idea of what I meant. I think there are many Christians who have a relationship with God, but have not walked that out in an outward way. I do not believe that only those who live exemplary lives know God. Many people are saved who do not live exemplary lives. What I meant was that there is a fullness of life available to those who know God that is a supernatural life that is beyond anything anyone could live naturally. I did not mean to insinuate your interpretation of my statement.

Oh, and as for will God reveal Himself to you if you desire it? He does reveal Himself in creation and He can reveal Himself personally in a real way to you. What I was saying is I think people do want God and are waiting for someone to show them He is real and for Him to show them He's real. I am trying to explain His reality to you for this reason. Moreover, I know He can reveal Himself to you and you can encounter Him. Have you ever asked Him to sincerely?

I sense all your questions are real and heartfelt inquiry and that you want truth more than anything. I admire that, keep seeking truth in all you do and don't settle for anything less.

I'll try and address more questions tomorrow.

Karla said...

"Is what is moral commanded by God because it is moral, or is it moral because it is commanded by God?"

Is this the dilemma you are referring to?

I would answer simply that God is holy and Holiness is the standard because it is Holy.

I think morality is only a small part of the bigger picture. Holiness gets more to the reality of what God is. And while we are not holy by our own merits, He makes us holy through Jesus when we accept His extended gift of salvation and eternal life. Holiness is more than morality, but should contain morality.

I think often times we get caught up in the knowledge of good and evil and we think it's only about choosing good over evil. This is going to get very theological, but God is Holy before creation. Evil did not exist before creation for there was no "apartness from God". We often see good in contrast of evil. Before creation there was no evil. Good was more than not doing wrong. God is the very essence of Goodness. So when you say God, being omnipotent, could just as easily rescue us from the consequences of our sin without sacrifice for He determines all of this, you are asking Him to act outside of His nature. His Divine Nature is a constant.

Goodness finds its fulfillment, it's standard, it's reality in God who is Good. That is why I keep saying that you can't have "goodness" apart from God being behind the nature of the attribute.

If all we have is evolution, that can only produce beneficial and not beneficial. It can produce things that work well and things that don't. It cannot produce good or evil. Yet we see a world full of both and we know them to exist as something more than beneficial and not beneficial. We don't look at a murder or a rape and simply say that wasn't beneficial to that person. We say it was wrong, it was evil, it was contemptuous. We demand justice be served. Why do we have the idea that things should be just? Why do we look for order? Why do we want goodness? How can evolution account for that?

C.S. Lewis said that when he was an atheists he realized how he wanted a just world, but wasn't sure how that could be if there was no standard of justice. Why did he feel the world ought to be something other than what it was, unless it is supposed to be different than it is. If there is a standard that it has fallen from. If it is a world in need of restoration. To what? Do a more evolved creation? We wouldn't know we were less evolved than an ideal unless there was something in us that told us there was more. We all have that desire. We all have that longing for something more. We have that desire because He who fulfills it exists.

Apologist said...

I have a question Karla about theology - what is your take on the subject of Christ dying on the cross.

Do you believe he died for everyone?

or

Do you believe Jesus died for only those who would believe in Him?

Karla said...

Apologist,

My answer is; everyone. Every sin and all of creation.

(If you want to discuss this topic further e-mail me instead of using this forum as it's not on topic for this blog--thanks!!)

Anonymous said...

OK, I have a lot to respond to it seems.

"What I meant was that there is a fullness of life available to those who know God that is a supernatural life that is beyond anything anyone could live naturally."

How does this manifest itself? How is it any different from the fullness of life that I feel or a very devout Muslim feels?

"Oh, and as for will God reveal Himself to you if you desire it? He does reveal Himself in creation and He can reveal Himself personally in a real way to you. What I was saying is I think people do want God and are waiting for someone to show them He is real and for Him to show them He's real."

So, if god can show himself and people wish for god to show himself, why doesn't he? If the penalty for my disbelief is hell and god can show himself to me, then when he never does and I never believe then god is guilty for sending me to hell.

"Have you ever asked Him to sincerely?"

I used to be a Xian, so of course I have. So did mother theresa. So did many people that were more devout than I was who never encountered god.

"I sense all your questions are real and heartfelt inquiry and that you want truth more than anything. I admire that, keep seeking truth in all you do and don't settle for anything less."

Do you think you've found the truth? If so, how do you know you've found it?

"I would answer simply that God is holy and Holiness is the standard because it is Holy."

I'm sorry but it doesn't really answer the question. If god commanded you to kill someone else, would it be good or not? Before you object that god would never do this, he has according to the Bible.

"Evil did not exist before creation for there was no "apartness from God"."

How can one be apart from god? I thought a Xian tenet was that god is omnipresent. Also, god is still responsible for evil, as it says in the Bible (Isaiah I believe).

"We often see good in contrast of evil."

I don't have to eat dirt in order to know that my veggie burger tastes good.

"God is the very essence of Goodness. So when you say God, being omnipotent, could just as easily rescue us from the consequences of our sin without sacrifice for He determines all of this, you are asking Him to act outside of His nature. His Divine Nature is a constant."

I'm not sure how this makes sense. If god is the essence of goodness, where does evil come from? If god can obliterate evil but doesn't do so, why not? If he knew this world would have so much evil and created it anyway, what does that say about his goodness?

"It cannot produce good or evil. Yet we see a world full of both and we know them to exist as something more than beneficial and not beneficial."

Again, we humans have created these concepts of good and evil to explain conditions of the world. That is why your conception of good varies so widely from another's conception of good.

"We don't look at a murder or a rape and simply say that wasn't beneficial to that person. We say it was wrong, it was evil, it was contemptuous."

And yet, not everyone sees it in the same light as you or I do coming from our Western culture. Take the example of the honor killings in Muslim societies for example.

"Why do we have the idea that things should be just?"

Because we have intelligence and empathy. We realize that we would not want things like murder to happen to us. We also live in a society where we have rules and customs to allow the society to function. When those things are upset, we want them to be remedied because it's part of our personal and societal survival. Again, other animals do the same things in different degrees. Do you think god has given them moral compasses as well?

"C.S. Lewis said that when he was an atheists he realized how he wanted a just world, but wasn't sure how that could be if there was no standard of justice."

CS Lewis was never an atheist by the way according to some statements he's made about being angry at god during that time. Anyway, why does there need to be some sort of standard in order for us to introduce a concept of justice? Does there have to be a standard of food goodness for me to enjoy eating my food?

"Why did he feel the world ought to be something other than what it was, unless it is supposed to be different than it is."

This is the is/ought fallacy.

"Do a more evolved creation? We wouldn't know we were less evolved than an ideal unless there was something in us that told us there was more."

Again, this is the is/ought fallacy. And, as a note, terms like more evolved or less evolved are rather meaningless. Other animals on this planet are not less evolved than humans.

"My answer is; everyone. Every sin and all of creation."

I don't think that apologist's question was off topic, as it gets to a question I too have raised. If jesus died for everyone, then why does one need to believe in him/the act in order to receive the "gift"?

OMGF

Karla said...

Here’s my response: Some of the answers to these questions I think applied to the last few questions you asked so I didn’t repeat myself to answer those at this point. (Sorry it's so long)

”How does this manifest itself? How is it any different from the fullness of life that I feel or a very devout Muslim feels?”

Did you know that Muslim’s are having dreams of Jesus and coming to believe in him without ever meeting a missionary? I first heard this from a Christian friend who was a former Muslim and who does investigative reporting and had personally interviewed Muslims having dreams and visions of Jesus and coming to know Him without ever having anyone bring them the Gospel. Then I heard the story on a Christian news program. Then I heard it on the regular CNN news where they were interviewing a pastor who had come to the Lord from this same experience. Muslim’s risk their lives and the lives of their families to follow Christ. There is no freedom of religion. Coming to Christ is a death sentence and they must live in secret just like the Chinese Christians. I cannot remember if the former Muslim now Christian pastor interviewed was disguised or if he was in a country where he had more freedom. But I know for a fact that conversion is not permitted by law.

Thus there is something more to following Christ than following Allah. Muslims are risking death and worse to leave Islam and follow Christ. I think, (this is just me) that they are experiencing such amazing miraculous revelation of truth so that they can endure the persecution coming for their commitment to Christ. American’s have it easy. Many Christians in this world don’t enjoy such freedom.


”So, if god can show himself and people wish for god to show himself, why doesn't he? If the penalty for my disbelief is hell and god can show himself to me, then when he never does and I never believe then god is guilty for sending me to hell.”

He has shown Himself through creation, through His revealed Word, through history, through His followers, and He does draw us by His Holy Spirit. If He did more than a subtle draw of the Spirit it would overpower our will and defeat the purpose of free-will. He asks us to seek Him and when we seek, we will find. I think He pursues each of us equally, but differently. Sometimes we do not see His hand guiding us to Him until we are in Him and look back and see it. However, that being said, He can and does reveal Himself in a tangible way as well. Only He can fill the void in our lives. Only He can redeem us to the fullness of life and it is a process that is walked out hand in hand with Him. It’s more than intellectual belief. It’s our life connecting to His life and being sustained by His eternal life.


”I used to be a Xian, so of course I have. So did mother theresa. So did many people that were more devout than I was who never encountered god.”

Mother Theresa went through a time where she felt God was far away. The media has distorted her diary to mean something it was never about. Every Christian goes through those times where although they know He exist and He loves them they don’t feel close to Him. That happens in marriage too. That happens in any relationship. It is a period of growing and maturing and not necessarily of regressing. The Song of Solomon is very allegorical of the relationship between Christ and Christians.

”Do you think you've found the truth? If so, how do you know you've found it?”

I am growing in knowing the Truth. I believe Jesus is the Truth and growing in relationship, knowledge and wisdom of Him is moving closer and closer to what is. On earth, we will always only know in part, thus there is much to learn and much that will remain a mystery this side of heaven and maybe some will still be a mystery even then, I don’t know. Only God is omniscient.

I know I’ve found Christ, because I have relationship with Him. I’m talking about something experiential not something pseudo-spiritual where I believe I know Him, but have no physical tangible experiences. I can point to history, archeology, philosophy, the validity of the Bible and all kinds of things to intellectually provide reasons for Christ existence. But I know I’ve found Him, not because of all that data, but because I know Him. Someone could give me all kinds of reason my husband exists and show me his birth certificate and all that, but I know I have relationship with Him, not because of a marriage certificate, but because I know Him.


”I'm sorry but it doesn't really answer the question. If god commanded you to kill someone else, would it be good or not? Before you object that god would never do this, he has according to the Bible.”

Like I said, God is Holy and He does not operate outside of His goodness, holiness, perfection, mercy, grace, love, kindness. All these are divine attributes revealed to us in Scripture and proved to us by knowing Him and experiencing His love. I think this question is missing the point of who God is. Yes God led Israel into battles. Yes God sent Floods and people dropped dead when they touched the Ark of the Covenant when they weren’t allowed to do so. And I understand how you can look at that and get a picture of a tyrannical unloving vindictive God. But we are still looking at it the wrong way when we judge God by a standard of goodness that comes out of us for we are not the Creator and Sustainer of all life. We are not the One who Is and we really are not in a place to cast judgment on God. Still, once you begin to see God in His totality you begin to see that those things that seemed unjust were really just for He is Holy.


”How can one be apart from god? I thought a Xian tenet was that god is omnipresent.”

If you follow the blogroll link to the A.W. Tozer site, Tozer discusses the attributes of God. He also talks about this subject. In short, yes God is omnipresent, but we are separated from Him not by distance, but by difference. You can have an old friend sitting right next to you that you have drifted away from and feel “apartness” even though you are “together” in proximity. So we are “separated” from God by our difference (by our sinful nature) not by physical distance.

“Also, god is still responsible for evil, as it says in the Bible (Isaiah I believe).”

I know the verse and that word “evil” used in that context speaks of natural calamities and such things and not “evil” in the sense of wrong doing. God doesn’t do anything wrong. God did not create evil. It’s not an entity. There are demonic entities that do evil, but they were not created that way. They were created good as angels and they rebelled against God and became “separated” from Him and began to take on a new nature based on their separateness which produced evil. Man took into His nature sin and it was passed through to all men through Adam because we are decedents of that nature. However, just as sin entered all men through Adam, righteousness and holiness enters all men through Christ if we accept Him instead of continuing in our rejection of God. We reject Him by not accepting God. The more we continue in that separateness and the more we guard our heart from His truth, the more our lives show corruption. But no matter how far we travel away from Him, He is still there ready to redeem us if only we accept Him.


”I'm not sure how this makes sense. If god is the essence of goodness, where does evil come from? If god can obliterate evil but doesn't do so, why not? If he knew this world would have so much evil and created it anyway, what does that say about his goodness?”

I’ve answered this above. He is Holy and cannot be less than Holy. It’s all going to be worth the temporary reign of evil. What is coming, the glory of all creation, the redemption of mankind, it’s all going to be worth it.

Anonymous said...

"Did you know that Muslim’s are having dreams of Jesus and coming to believe in him without ever meeting a missionary?"

And some Xians have dreams of Muhammed I'm sure. Do you think they were wholly ignorant of Jesus and Xianity? Our imaginations are powerful things. This is something that Dawkins touches upon in a couple of his books.

"Muslim’s risk their lives and the lives of their families to follow Christ. There is no freedom of religion."

Sorry, but one being willing to die for one's belief is not compelling to me, or to you. If it were, then you would also want to convert to Islam, since there are plenty of Muslim suicide bombers dying for their beliefs.

"Thus there is something more to following Christ than following Allah."

No, actually there isn't. Consider that Islam is growing more rapidly that Xianity, that Muslims also die for their beliefs, that some Xians convert to Islam, etc.

"Muslims are risking death and worse to leave Islam and follow Christ."

And what about the Muslims who were persecuted by Xians in places like Bosnia? Obviously, they had a chance to come to Xianity and not be persecuted, but they stayed Muslims in the face of death and persecution. Obviously there must be something to this Islam thing according to your logic.

"He has shown Himself through creation, through His revealed Word, through history, through His followers, and He does draw us by His Holy Spirit."

Then, why is there no sign of him, no evidence of him? Also, he should have known that many of us would follow false gods or would not be convinced by this, so obviously his actions have come up short.

"If He did more than a subtle draw of the Spirit it would overpower our will and defeat the purpose of free-will."

Then why did he show himself to you? Why did he show himself to the people in the Bible? And why, if I truly, freely would like him to show himself to me does he not do it? It would not be violating my free will, but actually would be fulfilling what I wish for. Lastly, why does he care so much about whether we can examine the evidence perfectly and come to the right factual conclusion? This is not a moral matter, but a factual one. Why should I burn in hell for eternity for being erroneous?

"He asks us to seek Him and when we seek, we will find."

Which is demonstrably false, as I've already shown, else people would never deconvert. And, you can't even make a no true scotsman argument against this one - that deconverters weren't true Xians - because many of them (or at least some of them) were truly sincere in their desire to find god, yet they did not.

"Mother Theresa went through a time where she felt God was far away. The media has distorted her diary to mean something it was never about."

Really? Perhaps you should read it again, because she plainly says that she does not feel god's presence.

"Every Christian goes through those times where although they know He exist and He loves them they don’t feel close to Him. That happens in marriage too. That happens in any relationship."

Why would you expect that would happen with an omni-max, all-loving god? Shouldn't god be able to fill any void? Why doesn't he?

"I believe Jesus is the Truth and growing in relationship, knowledge and wisdom of Him is moving closer and closer to what is."

Hope you don't think I'm twisting your words or playing rhetorical games, but I think this is important. You don't actually know that god exists or that you have a relationship with him, you believe you do. There's a big difference there, right? So, why is it that you have this belief? If you were raised in another culture, say in India, do you think you'd be a Xian right now?

"I know I’ve found Christ, because I have relationship with Him. I’m talking about something experiential not something pseudo-spiritual where I believe I know Him, but have no physical tangible experiences."

No, actually you don't know it, as I've talked about above. People also claim to know other gods, so why are their experiences not as good as yours?

"I can point to history, archeology, philosophy, the validity of the Bible and all kinds of things to intellectually provide reasons for Christ existence."

I'd be interested in some of these, as most of these fall well short of the mark.

"I think this question is missing the point of who God is. Yes God led Israel into battles. Yes God sent Floods and people dropped dead when they touched the Ark of the Covenant when they weren’t allowed to do so. And I understand how you can look at that and get a picture of a tyrannical unloving vindictive God."

Sorry, but I don't think it's a bad question, and it seems as though you are unwittingly answering that what god says is good is good. Therefore, it was OK for god to kill almost all of humanity in the Noachian flood, that it was OK for god to order the genocide of the Philistines and the Amalekites, etc. This is contradictory, however, to your statement that god is good by our standards surely, because good entities don't commit genocide.

"But we are still looking at it the wrong way when we judge God by a standard of goodness that comes out of us for we are not the Creator and Sustainer of all life. We are not the One who Is and we really are not in a place to cast judgment on God."

Why do you think we are looking at it the wrong way? What justification can god possibly have to kill almost all of humanity? What justification could god possible have for his actions towards Job? You seem to be saying that god is right no matter what simply because he created us, but might does not make right. Simply because god is mighty doesn't mean that he is always right or that he is always good. And, I don't see why we can't make those judgements. If you can make the judgement that god is good, then you can make the opposite judgement as well. By saying that we can't judge god, you're also saying that we can't say that god is good.

"Still, once you begin to see God in His totality you begin to see that those things that seemed unjust were really just for He is Holy."

Really? Do you feel justified in making that claim? Do you feel that you can see god in his totality and make the claim that once you see that god is necessarily just? In order to make the claim you are making, you have to actually be able to see god in his totality, something you've said is completely impossible for us. Therefore, you can't make this claim.

Also, there are philosophical disproofs of the idea that god is wholly just. For instance, if you believe that aborted fetuses go to heaven, then god is unjust, because they get a free ride to heaven while we do not. There are other such arguments.

"In short, yes God is omnipresent, but we are separated from Him not by distance, but by difference. You can have an old friend sitting right next to you that you have drifted away from and feel “apartness” even though you are “together” in proximity. So we are “separated” from God by our difference (by our sinful nature) not by physical distance."

And, whose fault is that? Not to sound flippant, but is that my fault? I was born as a human, apparently with the inability to not be separated by god. god has the ability to repair that gap, but has not done so.

"I know the verse and that word “evil” used in that context speaks of natural calamities and such things and not “evil” in the sense of wrong doing."

Actually it doesn't. That's what some apologists have tried to assert in order to shield god from criticism, but it doesn't hold. The word used is "ra" which is used in quite a few other places in the Bible, like the tree of good and "ra", god caused the flood because of human "ra", the people of Sodom were "ra", etc. It simply doesn't fit that it simply means natural disasters. Also, I have to question how anything in this universe can exist without god explicitly creating it. See my argument on free will for the reason.

And, even if it did mean calamity, how is this really any better? You are making the argument that it's OK because god only causes tsunamis that kill thousands of people, but not the evil in a person's heart? Does this make sense to you?

"They were created good as angels and they rebelled against God and became “separated” from Him and began to take on a new nature based on their separateness which produced evil."

This also speaks against your free will defense of the problem of evil. god won't reveal himself to me because then I'll have no free will to choose to believe or not, but those angels that became demons obviously would have known of god since they dwelt with him. If they still had the free will to rebel, then there's no reason why god can't reveal himself to all of us.

"Man took into His nature sin and it was passed through to all men through Adam because we are decedents of that nature."

I don't think you've ever answered whether that was just or not. Why was it just for god to punish all of us for the actions of 2 of us?

"I’ve answered this above."

You've answered part of it, and I've replied in the ongoing dialog. I don't think you've touched on why god doesn't eradicate that evil.

"What is coming, the glory of all creation, the redemption of mankind, it’s all going to be worth it."

So, god created evil so that some of mankind (not the ones in hell of course) could be redeemed? I still have to question why? Why would an omni-benevolent god create evil? How is the end greater than something god could have created without using evil? Why does an omni-max being need to go through such a drawn-out process? It makes no sense and is contradictory to the notions of an omni-max being that is omni-benevolent.

I want to briefly go back to the issue of evolution and the existence of good and evil. Can you please explain to me how you came to the idea that good and evil can only be present in the presence of your particular god? It sounds to me - and I may be mistaken - as if you might be making a false dichotomy that it's either evolution or god. Then, it looks like you are making an argument from incredulity (I don't see how evolution could have done it, so therefore god did it) and falling back on the false dichotomy to simply assert that god is the logical choice and is therefore supported. The further problem is that denying or proving one thing wrong doesn't provide positive evidence for the alternative. In a truly dichotic system, if you can eliminate one option, the other must be true. This is certainly not a system like that, however, so you need to provide some positive evidence that god exists, created good and evil (or good at least and somehow evil came to be even though this is contradictory to the notion of an omni-max entity), and the rest of your claims. I feel that the positive evidence for evolution is our shared common ancestry with other animals and the observations we have of their societal structures. Do you have similar evidence for god and your conception of where good and evil come from?

OMGF

Apologist said...

I have heard the argument recently that the existence of evil in the world accounts for God not being an "all-loving God."

First of all, the bible doesn't tell us God is an "all-loving" God, he is a "loving God." If he was all loving, he would love all = everything. But one good example, God hates sin, so he doesn't love everything.

For more on Evil and suffering:

http://www.carm.org/questions/suffering.htm

Karla said...

I do mean that I "know" and not simply that I "believe". And I also believe that God can reveal Himself to you in a real experiential way beyond the knowledge available by evidence, creation, testimony etc., just as He has many other people.

On one hand, you indicate that you desire to know God, if He were real to know. And on the other you seem to think even if He were real He would not be the sort of God worth knowing.

I will address the good/evil matter again in more detail. I can't right now for lack of time.

Also, you indicated interest in knowing what evidence there may be to support Christianity. Are you a reader? Do you enjoy books even from different streams of thought than your own? You seem like your a reader, but since I don't know you I have to ask.

I can refer you to books and resources to explore some of the evidences further. You seem to have an open mind to look into things outside of your current worldview.

Karla said...

Apologist, your right. God doesn't love sin. He didn't create it. And He doesn't love it. And one day He will abolish evil from creation once its redemption is fulfilled.

Anonymous said...

apologist,
I don't think "all-loving" means that god loves sin or evil. I think it means that god supposedly loves all of us and wants the best for us. If it helps for you to simply have me write "loving" then I can do that, but I don't see it as changing the scope of any of my arguments. If I'm wrong about that, please correct me.

"I do mean that I "know" and not simply that I "believe". And I also believe that God can reveal Himself to you in a real experiential way beyond the knowledge available by evidence, creation, testimony etc., just as He has many other people."

So, I have to ask how you can "know" it? And, what does it mean to have something "beyond the knowledge available by evidence..." Evidence is what you use in order to come to "know" something. How can you have knowledge beyond evidence?

"On one hand, you indicate that you desire to know God, if He were real to know. And on the other you seem to think even if He were real He would not be the sort of God worth knowing."

If god is real, then he should indeed show himself to me - I do desire that. I do want to know the factual answer to that question. But, you are correct in that I'm skeptical as to whether this god would be worthy of our worship. If this god is the one that is described in the Bible, then I think we would not be lucky to have this god in our universe. I can go into more detail, but the events described in the Bible don't paint a pretty picture for this god.

"Also, you indicated interest in knowing what evidence there may be to support Christianity. Are you a reader?"

I do read, including Xian books. I've actually gone through the Bible as well.

OMGF

Karla said...

Why do you think it is impossible to have knowledge of God's existence?

Also I just wrote a short blog post addressing evil again.

I would recommend reading:

The Real Face of Atheism by Ravi Zacharias

The God Who is There by Francis Schaeffer

The Case for Christ by Lee Strobel

I'd start with those.

Apologist said...

Dear anonymous,

You realize the bible does not give God the attribute of all-loving. It gives the attribute of "loving." All-loving would mean much more.

Other than that, there is not only such thing as empirical evidence. There are more types of evidence, such as eyewitness evidence. Its whether you choose to believe their evidence or not.

Karla said...

Apologist, the Bible says God is love. Love is one of His attributes. I think you are arguing symantics.

Apologist said...

Yes, God is love.

But does that mean God loves sin?

The answer is no - so logically, God is not all-loving... and the bible does not teach he is all loving.

God is also a God of wrath

Anonymous said...

Karla,
"Why do you think it is impossible to have knowledge of God's existence?"

I don't believe that I've said that. I think I was arguing that you can't "know" that god exists without having tangible evidence of such. I know you claim to have experiential evidence, but you can't rule out non-god causes of those feelings, hence you still can't "know" that those feelings are caused by god. Do you understand what I'm saying?

"I would recommend reading..."

Why would you recommend those? What is in them that would merit their recognition?

Apologist,
"Yes, God is love.

But does that mean God loves sin?"

I've already provided a definiton of all-loving that does not include sin. Please read that. You are indeed arguing semantics. You are insisting that "all-loving" means one specific thing while ignoring the rest of the argument. As I said before, I don't think the differences in definition really changes the thrust of my arguments at all. If you'd like to deal with the actual arguments, please do.

"God is also a God of wrath"

OK, so what does that mean? Are you implying that god is not all-loving because he can also be wrathful? OK, so when is he loving, when is he wrathful, and why? Why does a supposedly perfect being have wrath? What is there to be so angry about for god?

OMGF

Apologist said...

The term "all-loving" does NOT exist in the bible. That is the point I am trying to make, and my stand is biblical.

God loves all people, but does not love all things. God has wrath on sin, and that wrath is the reason people go to Hell.

It is best to define terms, but the term "all-loving" does not exist in the bible, so there is no reason to redefine it and try to describe "God' by that term.

Anonymous said...

Apologist,
"The term "all-loving" does NOT exist in the bible. That is the point I am trying to make, and my stand is biblical."

Then you should take that up with Karla and the many other Xians that believe that god is all-loving. If that was your intent from the beginning, then I apologize for stepping into it in my misperception of what you meant.

"God loves all people, but does not love all things. God has wrath on sin, and that wrath is the reason people go to Hell."

Tell me, would you be able to send a loved one to hell? I submit to you that god can't possible love someone and be willing to send them to hell. That is contradictory.

"It is best to define terms, but the term "all-loving" does not exist in the bible, so there is no reason to redefine it and try to describe "God' by that term."

Again, this sounds like a gripe with your fellow Xians instead of me, so I'll step aside. As I've said, whether god supposedly is all-loving (by your definition or others') or just loving makes no difference to my arguments.

Apologist said...

Dear Anonymous,

You Said:

Tell me, would you be able to send a loved one to hell? I submit to you that god can't possible love someone and be willing to send them to hell. That is contradictory.

My Reply:

God loves everyone, but would you allow everyone to rebel against you and just forgive them to keep rebelling. That isn't fair or just to God. It isn't contradictory. God doesn't want to send them to hell, but if they don't choose Him, God has to send them to hell.

Anonymous said...

Apologist,
You didn't answer my question. Would you be able to send a loved one to hell? Since you seem to be defending god's actions here, can I take it that you would send someone you love to hell?

"God loves everyone, but would you allow everyone to rebel against you and just forgive them to keep rebelling."

If he loved us as you say he does, then yes, he would. Or he could simply not have us exist. One thing he would decidedly not do if he truly loved us and was moral would be to put us in a place where we would be tortured for eternity with no hope for redemption. I can't even see him torturing us for any length of time if he truly loved us. Could you torture a loved one for any length of time?

"That isn't fair or just to God."

Life isn't fair, or so people tell me. Of course, if a perfectly just god existed, I would be hard pressed to explain why life is not fair...

"It isn't contradictory."

Actually, it is. You can't simultaneously love someone and be willing to torture them for all eternity (outside of some sexual-type games, but that is definitely not the same thing as what's under discussion).

"God doesn't want to send them to hell, but if they don't choose Him, God has to send them to hell."

I'm always amazed when I hear all the things that god "has to" do. god doesn't have to send anyone to hell, else god is not omni-max. If god does not wish people to go to hell, then there should be no one in hell, period. That is the logical conclusion of having an omni-max god. Either hell does not exist and Xians are wrong about it (meaning the Bible is also wrong), or god does not exist, or god is not omni-max (are there other logical conclusions possible?)

Karla said...

I think maybe, anonymous, you are thinking of hell in a misconception of sorts. Hell isn't a place God is torturing people. Hell is a place that is so distant from God (by difference) so separate from His nature that the people are left what they wanted. Life without God.

When we say God "has to" we mean His actions are determined by His character. A person can have a very kind character and still treat someone unkindly on a bad day. When we say God is Holy-- He is always Holy. He is always Just and He is always Love. His attributes do not fight against each other, but He is what He is and He is always that and never different. He never acts like someone other than God. So in that sense He "has to" be loving because He is love. But He also has to be just because He is Just. And His Justice is still Good even when it's not pleasant to the human experiencing His Justice. Goodness doesn't mean "happiness" or "tranquility" or anything of that nature.

It is good for a jury to find a murderer guilty versus not guilty. And it's good and just for that person to be imprisoned for the deed. But that murderer doesn't like being imprisoned, and may endure hardship due to his imprisonment -- but it is still good and just. So to say God ought to just extended a blanket forgiveness and blind eye to all the hearts and souls of humanity becuase you think that would be "good" means that there would then be no evil for all would be permitted. There would be no Justice. Where there is no justice there could be no mercy. Where there is no wrong there can be no forgiveness. I'm not sure if you realize the kind of world you would be asking for and I don't think that sort of world would be a good world or the work of a good God.

Karla said...

In regards to the recommended books.
You expressed interest in evidence for Christianity. I thought you may like some reading material on that topic. Lee Strobel was an atheist who set out to disprove Christianity and he tells his story and presents his research in "The Case For Christ."

Ravi Zacharias travels the world, is an expert in world religions and worldviews. He is repeatedly invited to the White House as well as foreign dignitary's of countries hostile to Christianity because he has earned their respect. You will find him highly learned, respectful, and if you are interested in a scholarly Christian response to atheism I recommend "The Real Face of Atheism" If you would like something comparing worldreligions and Christianity I would recommend "Jesus Among Other Gods".

Francis Scheaffer was an apologist of the 50's and 60's from Switzerland who had a retreat place in the Swiss Alps call L'Abri (still exist today) where people who wanted to sit and contemplate world religions and truth and all could come and just relax and study and if they wanted to ask him questions he was available for that if they came to him. He has written foundational philosophical books regarding the necessity of the Christian God and I selected "The God Who is There" as one of the best of his books.

So that's why I gave you that list. If you really want to learn more about the things we are talking about and you are open to further study those are good books to read.

Karla said...

I think maybe what apologist is getting at is that although God is love, He doesn't love sin and so His justice is invoked by sin. But Christ frees us from the curse of sin and death by His love. Is love isn't contrary to His jutice but we have a fallen since of love as meaning pleasantness or happiness.

Apologist said...

God is God. He is in control, not us. It is up to us to choose him, those who don't will go to hell. Many people know this and do not care. Many think its unfair, yet will not choose God over themselves.

Why do people complain if they rather not follow God anyway? It doesn't seem logical. One will say its not fair that he loves us, yet will send us if we don't follow Him.

For more info on this subject, this page has a more "in depth answer" -

http://www.carm.org/evidence/sendtohell.htm

Here is an excerpt from that page:

This is regarding why God has people go to hell:

The Bible tells us that God is righteous. "God is a righteous judge," (Psalm 7:9). His righteousness is part of His character just as are mercy and love. Righteousness deals with justice and justice deals with the Law. This means that God will always do that which is right and He does so according to the righteous Law that He has set forth. God cannot do anything wrong. God must do that which is right, otherwise He would not be righteous.

To Karla,

Hell is still torture. God doesn't want us to subside in Hell, but Hell is not just "separation from God."

Hell is:

Unquenchable Fire
Matt. 3:12 "And His winnowing fork is in His hand, and He will thoroughly clear His threshing floor; and He will gather His wheat into the barn, but He will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire."

Fiery Hell
Matt. 5:22, "whoever shall say, 'You fool,' shall be guilty enough to go into the fiery hell." See also, Matt. 5:29,30.

Fiery Hell
Matt. 18:8-9, "And if your hand or your foot causes you to stumble, cut it off and throw it from you; it is better for you to enter life crippled or lame, than having two hands or two feet, to be cast into the eternal fire. 9"And if your eye causes you to stumble, pluck it out, and throw it from you. It is better for you to enter life with one eye, than having two eyes, to be cast into the fiery hell."

Eternal Fire
Matt. 25:41, "Then He will also say to those on His left, 'Depart from Me, accursed ones, into the eternal fire which has been prepared for the devil and his angels.

Eternal Punishment
Matt. 25:46, "And these will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life."
The word 'eternal' in both places is "aionios" which means 1)without beginning and end, that which always has been and always will be; 2)without beginning; 3)without end, never to cease, everlasting. The word 'punishment' is the word kolasis and it means "to punish, with the implication of resulting severe suffering - 'to punish, punishment.'"(5)

Eternal Fire
Jude 7, "Just as Sodom and Gomorrah and the cities around them, since they in the same way as these indulged in gross immorality and went after strange flesh, are exhibited as an example, in undergoing the punishment of eternal fire."

Lake of Fire
Rev. 20:15, "And if anyone's name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire."

Just wanted to make sure I'd clarify that Hell is more than eternal separation from God.

Karla said...

I wasn't implying hell isn't horrific or torturous only that it is so because it's a place far removed from God's nature. God does not desire people to perish there, but it is the result of His justice when we refuse to accept His life and salvation through Jesus Christ. In contrast, His justice justifies us when we are redeemed by Christ. Though I dislike focusing on this, not because I want to avoid unpleasant reality, but because the Kingdom of God is not simply a matter of where we spend eternity.

The Lord is good. And He indwells those who accept Him as Savior and offers us a new way of life. A supernatural life. A life in personal relationship with the living God. A redeemed life.

I don't serve God because I am fearful of hell or because I know I have heaven waiting for me. I serve Him because He is worthy and He delights in me and I in Him.

This relationship I speak of is not a cultural based religion attached to religious emotive experiences based in hype. This is a real tangible thing.

You ask how is it different from other people's claims to religious experiences. The others are counterfeit experiences. They can be real too like physics can have real supernatural knowledge of events they could not know otherwise. But then you have prophets who have divine supernatural knowledge from God that is more real and good than anything dark powers can counterfeit.

Apologist said...

Its only that many Christians believe Hell is just "eternal separation" from God. I was only clarifying. I didn't trust God because I didn't want to go to hell, but because he called me when I heard about him.

Anonymous said...

Apologist,
You still haven't answered my question. Would you be able to send a loved one to hell? It's a yes or no question; it shouldn't be that hard to answer.

"God is God. He is in control, not us. It is up to us to choose him, those who don't will go to hell. Many people know this and do not care. Many think its unfair, yet will not choose God over themselves."

As I asked Karla, does might make right? Doesn't god have a moral obligation to us from the very act of creating us? Further, didn't god know how many people would "rebel" from him when he created the universe, thus meaning that he planned for us all to go to hell from the start? Also, is non-violent "rebellion" grounds for eternal torture? Can you really defend this act with a clear conscious?

"Why do people complain if they rather not follow God anyway? It doesn't seem logical. One will say its not fair that he loves us, yet will send us if we don't follow Him."

Don't get me wrong, I'm not complaining in the least, I'm simply pointing out the holes in your theology and asking probing questions. Nor would anyone say that it is unfair that he loves us (at least I don't know anyone who would say that). What I'm saying is that he can't possibly love us and take the actions he takes. The two concepts are contradictory. You can not possibly torture those you love for "crimes" that you are at least partly responsible for, that don't harm you, and that are completely less severe than the severity of the punishment and still claim that you love them. This is akin to those husbands (and wives sometimes) that beat their spouses for not hanging the towels correctly.

"The Bible tells us that God is righteous."

OK, but that does not make it so. Even if you believe that the Bible is god's words straight from the horses mouth (so to speak) it would not mean it was true. You have no assurance that the Bible is correct on this point or that god is not lying to you. I know that many people think the Bible says that god can not lie, but that defense runs into the same exact issue.

"God must do that which is right, otherwise He would not be righteous."

Because you can not be sure that your starting assumption of god's righteousness is correct, your conclusion here is certainly not proven. This also smacks of circular reasoning - god is righteous because he does what is right all the time, and he does what is right all the time because he is righteous.

OMGF

Anonymous said...

Karla,
"I think maybe, anonymous, you are thinking of hell in a misconception of sorts. Hell isn't a place God is torturing people. Hell is a place that is so distant from God (by difference) so separate from His nature that the people are left what they wanted. Life without God."

I think Apologist's answer to this is sufficient. The Bible does detail that it is a place of great suffering. It matters not, however, in that god is still withdrawing himself from them for all eternity, yet you claim we have everlasting souls. Why is it that after death we can't change our minds and freely choose to come to god? god apparently doesn't like that idea, so he seals us away for eternity, and for what? You've not addressed the point I made about it being a matter of factual belief vs. morality. What is it about my being wrong about the facts of god's existence that merits my eternal torment - especially since it is not a moral question?

"When we say God "has to" we mean His actions are determined by His character. A person can have a very kind character and still treat someone unkindly on a bad day."

Your implication, of course, is that god does not have this ability to act against his nature. This leaves god as a robot that is unable to think or do as he pleases. Ironically, god would have less free will than you claim that we have.

"When we say God is Holy-- He is always Holy. He is always Just and He is always Love. His attributes do not fight against each other, but He is what He is and He is always that and never different."

I've yet to see evidence of this or an answer to the obvious problems of his behavior in the Bible.

"So in that sense He "has to" be loving because He is love. But He also has to be just because He is Just."

So, what happens in the paradoxical situation where those two attributes collide? It is NOT loving to send someone to hell, but you think it is justice. So, obviously god does not always have to be loving if he is sending people to hell. That's the problem with absolutes.

"It is good for a jury to find a murderer guilty versus not guilty. And it's good and just for that person to be imprisoned for the deed. But that murderer doesn't like being imprisoned, and may endure hardship due to his imprisonment -- but it is still good and just. So to say God ought to just extended a blanket forgiveness and blind eye to all the hearts and souls of humanity becuase you think that would be "good" means that there would then be no evil for all would be permitted."

And, this is a false dichotomy. It's either no justice and no rules and anarchy, or people have to be sent to hell for eternity? I'm sorry, but that's simply not true and logically fallacious.

"I'm not sure if you realize the kind of world you would be asking for and I don't think that sort of world would be a good world or the work of a good God."

So, if god doesn't send people to hell for eternity, then this would be a horrible world to live in? Do you really want to argue that? Do you really think god could not have created a world that is more just? I've already given tons of examples of things god could do differently that would not lead to a world of murderous chaos, did you not read them?

"In regards to the recommended books."

Thank you. I find it's a good thing to tell a person why you are recommending a given book instead of just giving a blanket "Go read these" kind of statement. This way I can target my book search a little better. I'll have to try and pick something up from my library.

OMGF

Apologist said...

Dear anonymous,

1) We have roughly 70 years on average if we are lucky, to choose God while we are here on earth. Some of us come across God in different ways, some refuse to believe for a variety of reasons, and some people find other sources to have faith in.

Jesus did say this: I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father (God) except through me.

2) God cannot do something against his nature, such as: God cannot sin. God is perfect, and if God sinned - it would be against his perfect nature.

3) Who said "justice" isn't based off of love. God is love and loves everyone. God hates sin. There must be some way to justify those who sin all the time. Jesus came to help justify all those who believe in Him as "innocent." Those who do not allow God's free gift (Jesus' sacrifice on the cross) must face another form of justice - condemnation. Its really not too difficult to understand. =)

Let me give you an example of how God works:

There is a command. If we violate that command, we are subject to punishment. The law is that: we must believe in Christ as our savior. Those who don't will receive punishment after death.

You die. You are put in court to defend your position. You are you're own attorney. You did not obey the law: You did not accept Christ as your savior. You decided you could live life on your own without Christ.

God is the judge and the jury. He goes in loving you, but you did not obey His command. Although he loves you, he cannot just forgive you for your crime. You had the choice to follow the command, but you didn't - and you knew the consequences. God has to be just. Although God loves you, He also has to be just.

You received fair warning. You are found guilty and receive the punishment of condemnation to hell by God. It does not mean he wanted you to perish from Him, but you did not choose to follow his command.

- I just came up with that example of how God works if he were the judge and jury while you were the defense for yourself and what you were accused of.

4) If there was no punishment for rebellion for God, what would the justice be? Everyone gets away with it? There would therefore evil would not be in essence "evil." Since rebellion is "evil," if it is not punished and allowed - it would essentially be "good."

Anonymous said...

Apologist,
You STILL have not answered the simple question I posed to you. Would you be willing to send a loved one to hell? Why are you refusing to answer this question? Why are you dancing around it?

"1) We have roughly 70 years on average if we are lucky, to choose God while we are here on earth."

If we are lucky? Shouldn't a perfectly just god set up a system where we all have the same opportunity to "choose" god?

"Some of us come across God in different ways, some refuse to believe for a variety of reasons, and some people find other sources to have faith in."

And what about those that don't come across god at all? Is it their fault for not believing?

"3) Who said "justice" isn't based off of love. God is love and loves everyone."

So, god sends us to hell because he loves us? Permit me to say that that seems like the opposite of love.

"Its really not too difficult to understand. =)"

Except you didn't answer the questions that I asked, like why would a loving, good god demand a human sacrifice? What is it about belief in a factual matter that makes one worthy of heaven or hell? You know, questions like that.

"You die. You are put in court to defend your position. You are you're own attorney."

Right there, I can conclude that our system is better than god's system. We don't force people to be their own attorneys here, which is good because I don't have the time nor the inclination to study up on every aspect of the law in order to ensure that I can adequately defend myself in a court of law. That's why we have specialists, so that people can have the protection of someone who does know the law. Why didn't god think of that?

"You did not obey the law: You did not accept Christ as your savior. You decided you could live life on your own without Christ."

And, once again, why is that law on the books? What difference does it make morally for me to be wrong about the existence of god and jesus? If I am factually wrong, have I made some sort of moral transgression against god? How does one transgress against a perfect being anyway - is that even possible? And, how do I simply decide to believe in jesus? Do you think that's possible? If you do, I suggest you try and believe in Zeus for a day and tell me how it goes.

"God is the judge and the jury."

Is that just?

"Although he loves you, he cannot just forgive you for your crime. You had the choice to follow the command, but you didn't - and you knew the consequences. God has to be just. Although God loves you, He also has to be just."

How is it that he loves me if he's not willing to forgive me for these alleged crimes? That's what love is, you forgive. And, why does god have to be anything, because it is his nature? Then, that makes god into a robot that has no more control over his actions than you or I. Finally, what is just about hell? Hell is infinitely unjust because it is infinite punishment for finite crimes. The finite "crime" is disbelief, which is rectified once I find out that god is real. So, I've disbelieved for my lifetime (maybe 70 years let's say) and for that I get a disproportionate sentence of eternity. Also, for thinking bad thoughts, I get a disproportionate sentence of torture. The severity of the punishment does not fit the crime, nor does the length. How is this in any way just?

I also have to question the systemt that god has set up here, where belief is more important than not murdering/raping/etc. others. How can you consider a system just where an otherwise moral person that simply doesn't believe in god or believes in another god will wallow in hell (Gandhi comes to mind) while a murderous maniac can be in heaven simply for his beliefs (Timothy McVie comes to mind)?

"You received fair warning."

I did? How do you or I know that the Bible is correct? It's not like god has come down here and told us so. We have to pick one religious path and hope that we got the right one. If not, then we will end up in hell, and I'm sure it will be small consolation for you when Allah tells you that you "received fair warning," right? So, why should that not be so for your god?

"You are found guilty and receive the punishment of condemnation to hell by God. It does not mean he wanted you to perish from Him, but you did not choose to follow his command."

I fail to see how anything could happen that is not in the wishes of an omni-max deity. That very notion is contradictory. If I go to hell, it is not because god didn't want it to happen. There is no logical way around this. That is one of the consequences of an omni-max deity.

"4) If there was no punishment for rebellion for God, what would the justice be? Everyone gets away with it? There would therefore evil would not be in essence "evil." Since rebellion is "evil," if it is not punished and allowed - it would essentially be "good.""

You seem to be suffering the same problem as Karla, that things must be black or white. First off, even if my "crime" of disbelief required some punishment, there is no logical reason why it would have to be infinite in nature. A finite punishment would not bring anarchy and chaos and evil to this world. Second, what god does to us in the afterlife would have no bearing on this world, since we don't actually have a clue that any of your conjecture is accurate to any degree. Third, simply being wrong on a factual account does not constitute "rebellion" nor should it be considered a crime. If anything, my disbelief is not at all my fault, but the fault of god. At the very least, he bears some responsibility for it. If he wants me to believe in him, then he should step forward and give me the evidence that I need. And, since he is omniscient, he knows exactly what evidence I would need in order to believe. Instead, he does nothing. For a being that supposedly wants to love me and for me to love him and wants me to believe in him, he's surprisingly absent. And, being that he is omnipotent, it is not any sort of problem for him to provide the evidence I would need and to present himself to me so that I can start believing and we can have this relationship that Xians tell me he so wants with me.

OMGF

Karla said...

It's not a crime of disbelief. Satan and his demons believe Jesus died for the sins of the world and they believe God exist, but they refuse to serve Him.

God has revealed Himself to mankind. He has done so through creation. He has done so through Jesus. He has done so through the Bible. He has done so through people who know Him sharing Him with you (right now).

What He asks is not intellectual belief in factual information. That means nothing. He ask for your heart. For your life. For your will. Believing God is not about believing a fact, but about trusting Him as your Savior. It's about giving up your right to live your life your way and surrendering to Him.

I once heard a story of a little girl who had this little dime store string of pearls. Her father asked her one night as he was tucking her into bed if she loved Him. She said she did. He said then give me your string of pearls. She refused. Night after night he asked her to show her love and give him her string of pearls. Night after night she refused, cherishing "her" pearls over her father's request. Finally one night she surrendered her pearls to her father. Her father took her pearls and reached into his pocket and pulled out a real genuine string of pearls and gave it to his precious daughter. She learned that day that when you surrender the counterfeit you gain the real.

We live in a counterfeit reality when we think all there is is nature. We think our lives as we know them are all there is to life and we hold on dearly to the existence we have and by doing so we loose it all. God has been asking you to give up your will for His and you hang on to the lesser by your choice and refuse the greater life--and refuse Him.

And justice is at work in both those that choose Him and those who reject Him. Justice condemns those who are not in Him and protects those who are. His love is for both groups, and that is why He gave the greatest sacrifice to open the door for every person to join Him in relationship through Jesus. That is His love. But if you reject His loving gift justice still ensues for that is the order of things.

You can call that black and white if you want, but that is truth. I didn't invent the truth. God did. He is the author of this story.

Anonymous said...

Karla,
"It's not a crime of disbelief. Satan and his demons believe Jesus died for the sins of the world and they believe God exist, but they refuse to serve Him.

...

What He asks is not intellectual belief in factual information. That means nothing. He ask for your heart. For your life. For your will. Believing God is not about believing a fact, but about trusting Him as your Savior. It's about giving up your right to live your life your way and surrendering to Him."

Which is meaningless without the factual basis for believing he exists in the first place. So, it seems to me that god should show that he exists so that we can move beyond that factual point to whether we will follow him or not. But, he does not do that, and people end up in hell because of it. This is not justice nor is it love.

"God has revealed Himself to mankind. He has done so through creation. He has done so through Jesus. He has done so through the Bible. He has done so through people who know Him sharing Him with you (right now)."

I know the Bible says that no man has an excuse since god has revealed himself sufficiently, but that is demonstrably untrue, since it is obviously not sufficient for many people. Do you honestly think that I believe in god but am saying that I don't? And, for what reason? I could just as easily say that I believe in god but that I find him to be a monster as the Bible describes.

As for creation, it's funny but we have natural laws that tell the tale of creation quite well (not fully mind you) and we've found no reason to look to god to provide answers. Of course, god doesn't provide any answers, and his story about how it happened just happens to be completely false.

As for jesus, again we find that the stories recorded are very weak evidence and they don't seem to line up at all. Plus, they require interpretation, so you might still be bound for hell if you don't understand him correctly. And, the kicker is that in the Bible jesus talks about speaking in parables in order to be confusing.

As for the Bible, you've admitted yourself that it's not good evidence for anyone who hasn't already accepted the "truth" of it, so why make that argument now?

And, lastly personal testimony from people like you is hardly convincing when I can go to another blog and hear personal testimony from a Hindu or a Muslim.

None of these things constitute very good evidence of god, yet we will be judged on whether we interpret the evidence correctly or not. That is not just nor loving.

"I once heard a story of a little girl who had this little dime store string of pearls...."

Nice story, but it raised a question for me? Why is the father demanding that she give something up to him? Does the father not love the little girl? Why would you demand something of someone like that that you supposedly love?

"We live in a counterfeit reality when we think all there is is nature. We think our lives as we know them are all there is to life and we hold on dearly to the existence we have and by doing so we loose it all. God has been asking you to give up your will for His and you hang on to the lesser by your choice and refuse the greater life--and refuse Him."

Do you have evidence of any of this? I can tell you right now that as a former Xian, god was not asking me to be with him, and I was a receptive audience. What you are claiming is simply false. There is countering evidence in any former Xian that what you are claiming is simply false. How do you feel justified in making that claim?

"And justice is at work in both those that choose Him and those who reject Him."

Why is rejection of god worthy of eternal torture? Has anyone ever gone out with you and then broken up with you? Did you go out and torture them?

"His love is for both groups..."

Which is why he tortures one of them? This is logically incoherent that god could torture someone he supposedly loves.

"You can call that black and white if you want, but that is truth."

What I called black and white was your insistence that only through perfect justice is there any justice at all, or only through perfect goodness is there any goodness at all. I had hoped that would have been more clear, but alas it wasn't.

May I make a suggestion as well. Discussions where you continually assert that god is good, etc. without an underlying argument is really not compelling, especially since I have so many unanswered objections. Perhaps it would be better to focus on one subject at once and go into depth with that one subject? What do you think?

OMGF