Monday, September 8, 2008

How are we representing the Lord?

Christians and non-Christians a like often loose sight of what it really means to be a follower of Jesus. I read many blogs lamenting against Christian education and Christian values and Christian anything. I think this is because Christians have misrepresented the Lord to the watching world. I recently read about Justin the Martyr. In his day, Christians were misrepresented as being immoral and, believe it or not, atheists. They were charged with atheism because they did not serve the Roman Emperor or believe in the polytheist gods of Rome. They were charged as being immoral for rumors abounded that they were cannibals because the teaching about taking communion was misunderstood. Justin the Martyr wrote and spoke to the Roman world citing example after example of Christians who were the most dedicated soldiers and citizens of Rome. He spoke of the morality Christians adhered to and how this was beneficial to Rome. He explained that Christians were not cannibals and helped give an apologetic for the Christian teachings to belay the concerns of the Romans. Notwithstanding, he was soon martyred at the hands of the Romans for his public professions of faith in one God.


I think of the Sermon on the Mount and how there is nothing that Jesus taught that is not good for the world. Matthew 5 recounts His most famous sermon. Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness. Blessed are those who are merciful. Blessed are those who are pure in heart. Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness sake.


He calls His followers to be shining pure examples of His Light so that others will see and praise God. Our lives are to be living testimonies of Him so much so that people see us and want to praise God.


Jesus goes on to speak of forgiving those who owe us a debt or have done us wrong. He speaks of being faithful to one’s spouse. He speaks of keeping ones word. He tells us to always give to those who ask and to go the extra mile as well. He says that if someone steals from you give them more. If they strike you on one cheek, give them the other as well. He says we are to love our enemies, not just our friends.


Just think of a world where everyone lived just by these words of Christ in Matthew 5 given in the Sermon on the Mount. What would that world look like? Would it not be a world of peace, mercy, love, forgiveness, giving, righteousness, purity, faithfulness? Jesus says that this is possible, not by our might, but by His working in us and bringing about these things in our lives. These things do not earn us God’s approval. We, as Christians, are already stamped with His forgiveness and His holiness in Christ. But we are called to live as Christ did and we are empowered to do so through Christ, doing so causes the world to praise God. It is not for our glory that we live this way, but for His. It is because of His love overflowing in us that this ought to be what it looks like to follow Jesus. We owe it to the world.



35 comments:

Anonymous said...

How do you know that god loves you or any of us? How do you know that god is good?

Mike said...

I do know this; historically, when men and women who ("claim to") have a relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ, go to peoples who are suffering - via whatever means that may be; e.g. devil worship, idol worship, poverty, sickness, locked up in Jail, dying with no hope for rescue, etc... and they bring the message of the Gospel (good news) of Jesus Christ, there is a genuine change for the "GOOD" the great majority of the time. When it is accompanied by other types of compassion, charity and outreach like food, water, clothing, teaching, etc... Generally speaking it only gets better!

I can't say I can historically prove the same testimony for those who are so called "atheists". I can't say that I can make that claim for Muslims, Hindus, Buddhists, or a great many other world 'religions' that are not based on the Judeo/Christian world view. If there isn't any other evidence that you will believe, then I challenge you to prove me wrong on this one! Whether or not you will ever believe that God exists, it appears that the belief in this particular God seems to have its benefits for mankind above all other world views. Honestly, if that was all there was, it would still be good enough for me, because its solid evidence that I can build a case on and sustain my life on... MM

Anonymous said...

Mike,
"...there is a genuine change for the "GOOD" the great majority of the time."

Evidence please?

"I can't say I can historically prove the same testimony for those who are so called "atheists"."

Isn't this apples and oranges considering that atheists don't run around proselytizing?

"I can't say that I can make that claim for Muslims, Hindus, Buddhists, or a great many other world 'religions' that are not based on the Judeo/Christian world view."

Which would be cultural and confirmation bias on your part most likely. And why, "Judeo/Xian?"

"If there isn't any other evidence that you will believe, then I challenge you to prove me wrong on this one!"

I challenge you to actually provide some evidence that your assertion is correct. Why should you be allowed to simply make assertions and then claim that you are right until I prove you wrong? That's actually backwards. If you are making an assertion, the burden of proof lies upon you to back those assertions up.

"Whether or not you will ever believe that God exists, it appears that the belief in this particular God seems to have its benefits for mankind above all other world views."

I suggest you read, "Breaking the Spell" by Dennett.

"Honestly, if that was all there was, it would still be good enough for me, because its solid evidence that I can build a case on and sustain my life on..."

Really? OK, let's say that some group does come up with a philosophy of life that makes one a better person. They then attribute it to god X. So, when people hear about this philosophy and follow it, they feel better about themselves and are generally more happy, etc. Does this mean that god X exists? Is this evidence for the existence of god X? Or is it simply evidence that the philosophy works? Belief in belief is not equal to evidence for the corectness of that belief. If we all believed that purple fairies made rainbows and that somehow made us happy, that wouldn't be evidence that purple fairies exist.

Karla said...

Believing something doesn't make it true. Believing something sincerely and for "good" reasons doesn't make it true. Something is true because it lines up with what really is and not because we want it to be or wish it to be. And something is not true when it fails to line up with what is. So we have to investigate the reality of what is to find the truth.

Karla said...

"How do you know that god loves you or any of us? How do you know that god is good?"

If He doesn't exist, these questions are moot. If He does exist they are given meaning and validity.

Do you think an unloving God exist who is not good?

Or do you think because the Christian God doesn't appear to be good and loving to your way of thinking that He cannot exist?

Anonymous said...

Karla,
"Believing something doesn't make it true..."

Was this aimed at me or Mike? If it's aimed at me, I have to question why you would say that, considering I'm not the one professing a positive assertion of belief in anything here.

"If He doesn't exist, these questions are moot. If He does exist they are given meaning and validity."

Yes. If god exists, it's worthwhile for us to figure out if god is good or not. So, how do we go about doing that?

"Do you think an unloving God exist who is not good?

Or do you think because the Christian God doesn't appear to be good and loving to your way of thinking that He cannot exist?"

I think at least most conceptions of the Xian god are logically contradictory and impossible, and are therefore false. I think that if a god does exist, the evidence we have using reason and logic points to a god that is at best indifferent to our plight. And, no, it's not just my specific way of thinking, but our general way of thinking. Apologists have lots of work to do to apologize for the Xian god, because Yahweh has not been particularly good. It's only through special pleading and other logical fallacies or simply uncritical acceptance/naivety/ignorance that one can look at the actions of this god and not condemn them all the while condemning people when they act in similar ways.

My questions still stand.

Karla said...

anonymous, my statement was in response to Mike in agreement with your response to him for I do not think someone ought to accept a belief system just because it is something beneficial. If it's deceptively beneficial it would not really be beneficial at all so you have reason to want more than it potentially being beneficial. My post, however, addressed two things I was thinking about 1) that true Christianity isn't anything for people of other beliefs to fear, and 2) that Christians need to remember what being a Christian really looks like and who Jesus called us to be

I know God's love and goodness are sincere questions you have. I'm not sure that a philosophical answer, no matter how good will ever meet the need you have for knowing He is loving and good. I could tell a woman who had a bad father or bad husband that men aren't all bad and she would never believe me unless she met one who was loving and kind to her and treated her the way she ought to be treated.

So on one hand I can point to philosophical reasons, theological reasons, biblical revelation, personal experience as I have and I am not sure any of that would convince you that He loves you and is a good God. You want to know that He loves you and you have good reason to want to really know that truth, if it is true (I believe it is, I know you don't). I have been praying for you and asking God to show you His love supernaturally and I am also praying that He show me if there is any words I can say that would convince you of His love.

There is a place for evidence that can be conveyed in words, and there is a place for experiencing reality of God and I think you need the latter though I am still working on the former by your request.

I hope you can see that I care about you knowing God's love, not because of any selfish reason, but because I gain anything at all. That's why I don't want to argue, because it's not about winning an argument.

I've never been pressed this far to prove His love and I am not certain I can outside of praying for His revealing it to you. The question is ever present on my mind. I know He is and that He loves as sure as I know my husband exist and that he loves me.

Karla said...

Correction: in that next to last paragraph is supposed to read:

I hope you can see that I care about you knowing God's love, not because of any selfish reason, because I do not gain anything at all. That's why I don't want to argue, because it's not about winning an argument.

Anonymous said...

Karla,
"anonymous, my statement was in response to Mike in agreement with your response to him for I do not think someone ought to accept a belief system just because it is something beneficial."

Thank you for the clarification, it's much appreciated.

"So on one hand I can point to philosophical reasons, theological reasons, biblical revelation, personal experience as I have and I am not sure any of that would convince you that He loves you and is a good God."

The problem is that those explanations have been lacking. Your explanation for why god is good was that god is loving. As I pointed out, even if god loves, it doesn't necessarily follow that that makes god good. It also raised the question of how you know that god loves us, which you haven't really addressed. This isn't about any experiences of mine, whether good or bad, but about the philosophical arguments being put forth. If I am being asked to accept that god is good and loving and also that natural evil exist, the Bible is true, etc. then I am being asked to accept contradictory tenets...unless you can show that they are not contradictory that is.

"I've never been pressed this far to prove His love and I am not certain I can outside of praying for His revealing it to you. The question is ever present on my mind. I know He is and that He loves as sure as I know my husband exist and that he loves me."

But, how do you know that? This is important. How do you know the things you think you know? What assumptions are you working under and are those assumptions correct or worthy? If you simply assume that god is loving and then act accordingly, fitting the facts around your assumption, then you don't actually know that god is loving and you are committing special pleading and confirmation bias. How do you know that god exists? I know that you claim to have experienced god, but how do you know that that experience was, in fact, god? Is it because you felt something that you couldn't explain (god of the gaps)? Was it because you wanted to feel god or felt that you would and convinced yourself it happened (confirmation bias)? Have you ruled out any and all possible natural explanations for what you've experienced? Would you believe in god had you never heard of this entity or had you been raised in a different culture with different gods?

Karla said...

"Was it because you wanted to feel god or felt that you would and convinced yourself it happened (confirmation bias)?" Nope, every time I have felt the tangible presence of God (which is distinct from the constant experience of knowing Him internally) I did not expect it or ask for it. He just gave me that experience. I wasn't looking for it.

"Would you believe in god had you never heard of this entity or had you been raised in a different culture with different gods?"

Many a person has been raised in a culture with various religious teachings that are contrary to Christ and many have come to know the real God despite their cultural upbringing. Some have done so through God directly giving them dreams and visions of His truth without ever having encountered a Christian or a Bible. An Eskimo tribe actually had this happen. Years later a team of missionaries encountered the tribe and they already knew of Christ without any Bible or any encounter with any Christian. Muslims are coming to Christ through dreams and visions-- I first saw the stories of this happen through a Christian news media then recently I saw it on the secular news. The truth of who God is written in creation, and in our hearts. We long for the reality and many try and fill up with religion or vices instead of Him and no matter the money and pleasures they seek their souls are thirsty for the living God.

I honestly don't know how anyone can not know God exist. You ask me how I know, and I have given reason. I have experienced Him. Without Him there is no meaning to logic, truth, life, reason, values, good, there is no hope for a victim of a crime, no justice. He is so very real to me I cannot conceive of what life would be like to not be filled with Him. All of my post speak of Him from the first to the 40 something post. My whole life is a testimony of who He is.

Anonymous said...

Karla,
"Nope, every time I have felt the tangible presence of God (which is distinct from the constant experience of knowing Him internally) I did not expect it or ask for it. He just gave me that experience. I wasn't looking for it."

I find this hard to believe. When you go to an apologist conference and have people praying around you, do you really expect nothing to happen? Of course you expected something to happen and of course you wanted something to happen. All of a sudden you feel something happening. It's because you convinced yourself it was happening. It's like the people that start speaking in tongues in church. It's a well-known phenomena that hypnotists use quite often.

"Many a person has been raised in a culture with various religious teachings that are contrary to Christ and many have come to know the real God despite their cultural upbringing."

Yes, and some Xians deconvert and become atheists or Muslims, etc. The vast majority of people, however, are the same religion as their parents and their immediate community. The fact is that had you been born in Saudi Arabia, you'd probably be wearing a burqua and praying 5 times a day.

"I honestly don't know how anyone can not know God exist."

Where is the evidence? How does one really know which god?

"You ask me how I know, and I have given reason. I have experienced Him."

If that is the pre-requisite, then the reason that others don't know would be because god has not revealed himself to them. It's quite simple really. And, if god has not revealed himself to them, then at least one of your assumptions about god's nature is faulty.

There's an additional problem with your statement, BTW. You have not given reason. You have said that you simply know that you have experienced god, but you can't articulate how you know that it is god. This is not giving reason to make the statement that you "know" god, it is giving an assertion, the same assertion that is being questioned, no less.

"Without Him there is no meaning to logic, truth, life, reason, values, good, there is no hope for a victim of a crime, no justice."

What kind of meaning do you refer to here? And, at least part of your statement is demonstrably false, and we've been over this before. Even if god is necessary for perfect justice, that does not mean that no justice exists without god. Although our human justice system is admittedly flawed, that doesn't equate to no justice. Please stop making that statement, since it is obviously false.

"My whole life is a testimony of who He is."

That's a rather odd statement. I could take that in many ways. One way would be that since you are a Xian, you believe that all people are sinners, so your life would be a testament to a god of sin. I think you should clarify your statement here, because it is too ambiguous to mean anything.

Karla said...

“When you go to an apologist conference and have people praying around you, do you really expect nothing to happen? Of course you expected something to happen and of course you wanted something to happen. All of a sudden you feel something happening. It's because you convinced yourself it was happening.”
I wasn’t at an apologetics conference. Honestly, I really didn’t expect anything to happen. I knew that one of the guys praying for me had raised a person from the dead and that all of the ministers praying for me regularly had amazing supernatural experiences, but I honestly didn’t have an expectation for my own healing. It is odd, but it is true. I have more expectation now because of that event and others when I pray for people to see healing, and I have seen people healed. But at that time that I wrote about in my other post, I did not enter that expecting to be healed or expecting to feel the presence of God.


”Yes, and some Xians deconvert and become atheists or Muslims, etc.”
I know this is stepping on toes, maybe even yours, but I don’t think that a person who has experienced Christ authentically will ever become an atheist or a Muslim or anything of the sort. I believe a person can know Christ and reject Him even then with that knowledge, but they have no doubt that He is and that they are rejecting truth.


”If that is the pre-requisite, then the reason that others don't know would be because god has not revealed himself to them. It's quite simple really. And, if god has not revealed himself to them, then at least one of your assumptions about god's nature is faulty.”

No, knowing Him in this manner, isn’t a pre-requisite for knowing He exist. It one of the ways I personally know. I have shared other evidence for His existence. All of creation points to it.


”Even if god is necessary for perfect justice, that does not mean that no justice exists without god. Although our human justice system is admittedly flawed, that doesn't equate to no justice.”

True, man made justice is imperfect. However, we persist in it because we believe in the idea of justice even if we employ it imperfectly. Evolution doesn’t account for that need.

Karla: "My whole life is a testimony of who He is."

Anonymous: That's a rather odd statement. I could take that in many ways. One way would be that since you are a Xian, you believe that all people are sinners, so your life would be a testament to a god of sin. I think you should clarify your statement here, because it is too ambiguous to mean anything.”

Karla: I mean that I live my life for God, not that I’m perfect. I am saying that my life is given to ministry. I desire to give my time to serve others to help them come to know God. I desire to shine Christ truth through the way I live so that I point others, not to myself, but to Him.

Anonymous said...

Karla,
"Honestly, I really didn’t expect anything to happen. I knew that one of the guys praying for me had raised a person from the dead and that all of the ministers praying for me regularly had amazing supernatural experiences, but I honestly didn’t have an expectation for my own healing."

You might want to inspect this passage again and rethink your answer.

"I know this is stepping on toes, maybe even yours, but I don’t think that a person who has experienced Christ authentically will ever become an atheist or a Muslim or anything of the sort."

And, I'm sure Muslims will say the same thing about experiencing Allah.

"I believe a person can know Christ and reject Him even then with that knowledge, but they have no doubt that He is and that they are rejecting truth."

And, why would someone do that?

"No, knowing Him in this manner, isn’t a pre-requisite for knowing He exist. It one of the ways I personally know. I have shared other evidence for His existence. All of creation points to it."

Quite simply, creation does not point to god. It is logically fallacious to say that creation points to god. So, what other ways can one know god? I've asked you directly how you know god exists, and the answer that you've given so far is that he revealed himself to you. If there are other ways, what are they, because so far you have not been able to defend the notion that it was definitely god that revealed himself to you or that anything supernatural happened.

"True, man made justice is imperfect. However, we persist in it because we believe in the idea of justice even if we employ it imperfectly."

So, will you stop saying that no justice exists without god?

"Evolution doesn’t account for that need."

How would you possibly know that? What basis do you use to make the pronouncement? You are partially right and not even wrong all at the same time. You are partially right in that evolution doesn't seek to account for the emotional needs of humans; that's beyond the scope of the theory. This, however, also makes you not even wrong in that your abuse of the theory of evolution shows a pretty bad understanding of it.

"I mean that I live my life for God, not that I’m perfect."

OK, then how do you know that your life is a testimony of what god is. What you really should say is that your life is a testimony of what you believe god is.

Karla said...

"So, will you stop saying that no justice exists without god?"

I have not been saying that someone needs to believe in God to develop a justice system. (I think you think I am saying that) It would help to believe in Him and follow His ways to create a better justice system than could be created by people who have a worldview that doesn't account for Him.

However, I am saying that "justice" as a ideal would not exist if there was no God putting that knowledge and need for justice in all of humanities understanding.

Do you see the difference?

The same goes for morality. People who don't believe in God still feel a need for being moral.

However, mankind would not have such a need if we were not made by God with that understanding.

So an atheist saying "I'm moral and I don't believe in God" is not a defense against the Christian position that the need for morality comes out of our being created by God. Because even the atheist has been created by God and has a moral understanding.

Anonymous said...

Karla,
"I have not been saying that someone needs to believe in God to develop a justice system. (I think you think I am saying that)..."

What you said was that without god there is no justice, period. This is a false statement that I would appreciate you stop saying.

"It would help to believe in Him and follow His ways to create a better justice system than could be created by people who have a worldview that doesn't account for Him."

How would that work, by following his rules about how and when to hold slaves, or maybe his rules about how to mistreat women? Or, maybe we are to follow his rules about using death as the appropriate punishment for just about every crime?

But, seriously, you've already admitted that belief in god does not make someone more moral by fiat, so I fail to see how belief in god would make our justice system better. If anything, our justice system is certainly better in some ways than god's, so we'd actually be doing ourselves a disservice in some respects.

"However, I am saying that "justice" as a ideal would not exist if there was no God putting that knowledge and need for justice in all of humanities understanding."

And, this is completely unsupported and very certainly untrue. Our justice system is not predicated on god, so it is possible for us to create a justice system apart from god. It's also quite probable that it would happen given the evolutionary development of our species and our animal ancestors.

"Do you see the difference?"

Yes, I see now that you are making a completely unprovable statement that is akin to us not being here if god hadn't created us. There's no way that you can actually know that this is so, yet you uncritically continue to announce it? This is highly irrational.

"The same goes for morality. People who don't believe in God still feel a need for being moral."

Which is pretty obvious considering that other animals have the same patterns of behavior. It is logically fallacious to simply conclude that this means goddidit.

"However, mankind would not have such a need if we were not made by God with that understanding."

And, your evidence for this is what? It's not enough to make pretty statements and then conclude that they are true, you have to back them up. Why is it logically impossible that humans would develop morality or justice on their own without god? Your statement is even more outrageous when one takes the present evidence into account, that animals also display this behavior, etc. Will you make the post hoc rationalization that god instilled this bahavior into other animals as well? How does one test your ideas? How does one prove you ideas? How can we be sure that your ideas have merit? Etc.

"So an atheist saying "I'm moral and I don't believe in God" is not a defense against the Christian position that the need for morality comes out of our being created by God."

It is against the statement that many Xians make that belief in god makes one a more moral person or that atheism inexoribly leads to nihilism. If you are not making that argument, so be it.

"Because even the atheist has been created by God and has a moral understanding."

You should realize, however, that by making this argument you've gotten even further away from making a statement that is testable or provable. In essence, you've put up a shield to protect your god from criticism, but in the process you've made your god even less accessible and that much harder to prove or provide evidence for. It's a tautology and meaningless to assert that god gives us all morality, so since we have the concepts of morality this somehow proves god. I could substitute any made-up word in the last sentence for the word "god" and it would make just as much sense.

Karla said...

I think if you read the Bible in it's entirety you would learn about a God that is not how you think He is proclaimed to be. You will see one who is slow to exact justice, wanting none to perish, who upholds restoration first and foremost. Who is merciful and just. I cannot convince you of that. If you are really interested in knowing about the real God, not the one you posit, but the real one who created you, I welcome you to read the Bible, the whole Bible. And if you are not interested in knowing the real God and not the God, Dawkins laments against, that's your right to continue in your unbelief.

Anonymous said...

Karla,
"I think if you read the Bible in it's entirety you would learn about a God that is not how you think He is proclaimed to be."

What makes you think that I have not read the Bible? Reading the Bible is actually a big basis for my attitudes toward the Xian conception of god. This is the god that (in the Bible) is responsible for many, many despicable acts, like genocide, rape, murder, etc. This is a god that does not condemn slavery or the mistreatment of women. Only by glossing over these sections and reading parts of the Bible can one come away with the idea that god is all-loving or perfectly good.

"You will see one who is slow to exact justice, wanting none to perish, who upholds restoration first and foremost."

If god wanted none to perish, then none would perish. It's as simple as that. And, by being slow to "exact justice" he ends up being unjust by punishing those that had nothing to do with what he's upset about. Take the slaughter of the Amalekites for instance. He orders it because he's upset at something Amalek did generations earlier, and he takes it out on the descendants of Amalek? This is justice? This is good? How can you defend that? How can you defend god ordering his people to slaughter every man, woman, child, and piece of livestock and then becoming angry at Saul when Saul doesn't kill everything alive?

And, here's something else, why would a god that supposedly loves us all select a certain group of people to be "his people?"

"Who is merciful and just."

Was it merciful or just to send the Noachian flood? Was it merciful or just to have bears come and maul kids that were making fun of a bald man? These are but two examples out of many.

"If you are really interested in knowing about the real God, not the one you posit, but the real one who created you, I welcome you to read the Bible, the whole Bible."

Again, how do you know that I haven't? You're making a bad assumption here, and in the process making me question whether you have read it. How can one read the Bible and not walk away disgusted at the barbaric acts contained within?

"And if you are not interested in knowing the real God and not the God, Dawkins laments against, that's your right to continue in your unbelief."

So, is it your contention that if I read the Bible cover to cover I would become a believer? Is this singular to me or to anyone who reads it?

Karla said...

I have read the whole Bible. I didn't know whether you have or not. And I am not saying that reading it will make you a Christian, but that maybe you would see a more complete picture of who the real God is.

I just know from what I have heard Dawkins say that he hasn't a clue about what Christianity is really about.

I have not yet read one of his books myself. Is there an atheist book you would recommend to me that would help me learn more about atheism?

Anonymous said...

Karla,
"And I am not saying that reading it will make you a Christian, but that maybe you would see a more complete picture of who the real God is."

Many people say this, and many people say that reading the Bible gives a completely different picture of god than the one you have. I've heard quite a few atheists say that part of what made them stop believing was reading the whole Bible.

"I just know from what I have heard Dawkins say that he hasn't a clue about what Christianity is really about."

How so? Because he disagrees with your vision of it? How is my understanding of Xianity?

"Is there an atheist book you would recommend to me that would help me learn more about atheism?"

Good question. Sam Harris's book, "Letter to a Christian Nation" is a good, short, quick read. "The Impossibility of god" gives lots of disproofs for god, but not a lot on what it means to be an atheist. I'll have to think on this and come up with some good reads for you.

Karla said...

There is a difference to assenting to intellectual belief and knowing something/someone relationally. You can intellectually assent to believe God exist and that Jesus is the way to Him, or you can tangibly enter a relationship with Him that changes believing to knowing.

I remember in my high school Spanish class there were two word for "know" in Spanish: Saber and Conocer. Saber means to know someone by knowing about them like saying "yes I know/sabe George Washington" and Conocer means to know someone relationally "yes, I know/conozco Bob, he's a good friend of mine." In English we use "know" for both. Thus, someone can know about God and believe God exist just like I can say I know George Washington lived, but I cannot say I know George Washington personally. Some can say they know God personally and others do not have this relational knowing of God.

There is a good deal one can know about God and about Christianity without that relational knowing, but then there is a great deal that can never be known outside of that relational experience. Same goes for people, like I said above.

Dawkins and Harris are incorrect in their promulgation of "good deal" one can know without being in relationship with God. They get that wrong about who God is. Maybe they are so set on seeing Him that way they overlook the truth, or maybe they have never encountered the truth about God factually.

As for you, I can only go one what you have written and while I can understand your view of the Christian God, I believe it is in error. If we only speak from the factual knowing versus the personal knowing I think the factual that you have developed about God is in need of revision.

I think part of the reason you see God in the way that you do is because you are keeping the truth about Him at arms length and using skepticism as a defense. I could be way off, because I don't know you. But it seems something caused you to be distrustful at some point in your life and you don't want to get your hopes up that a real good God loves you and wants to know you.

Sometime back in this conversation you stated that if such a God existed you would certainly want to know Him and thought any person would want that and you wanted to know why He hadn't made Himself known to you. There seemed at that point to be a glimmer of your seeking heart. Please hear me out. Please don't respond quickly and denounce me for proselytizing.

I really do love atheists. And I feel I owe you guys for the injustice done to you by the church not showing you authentic Christianity. Like, I've said, I am learning the questions you all have and trying to provide answers as best I know how and researching when I don't know or when my answer doesn't suffice.

I digging into all kinds of resources trying to understand the questions and the answers and to relay them adequately.

Anonymous said...

Karla,
"You can intellectually assent to believe God exist and that Jesus is the way to Him, or you can tangibly enter a relationship with Him that changes believing to knowing."

So you keep telling me, but you don't tell me how you can possibly know that. Even given that it's a supernatural cause (which I don't give, but for the sake of argument) you can't even be sure that the entity that you think you are speaking to and feeling is the entity that you think it is.

"..."yes I know/sabe George Washington"..."

Not to be pedantic, but "saber" like "conocer" is also irregular. The first person singular form is "se," not "sabe."

"Dawkins and Harris are incorrect in their promulgation of "good deal" one can know without being in relationship with God. They get that wrong about who God is. Maybe they are so set on seeing Him that way they overlook the truth, or maybe they have never encountered the truth about God factually."

How do you know any of that? OK, so let's say that you are talking to god - well he's nice to you, but that doesn't mean that he's nice to everyone. Maybe he loves you, but that doesn't mean that he loves everyone. He's good to you, but that doesn't mean that he's good to everyone. You simply can't know any of these things.

"If we only speak from the factual knowing versus the personal knowing I think the factual that you have developed about God is in need of revision."

The only "objective" measure we have for god is the Bible - if the Bible is true and the word of god. Using subjective means and feelings based on a relationship is not a good way to determine the characteristics of god when we have his own words and actions in print in front of us and we all have access to those things. Even the worst tyrants have people that love them and people they love, so we can't base it on that.

"I think part of the reason you see God in the way that you do is because you are keeping the truth about Him at arms length and using skepticism as a defense. I could be way off, because I don't know you. But it seems something caused you to be distrustful at some point in your life and you don't want to get your hopes up that a real good God loves you and wants to know you."

Sorry, but no traumatic experience happened to make me question god and ultimately give it up. It was actually studying god and seeing the difficulties both with contradictions and logical problems that made me realize it was made up.

"Sometime back in this conversation you stated that if such a God existed you would certainly want to know Him and thought any person would want that and you wanted to know why He hadn't made Himself known to you."

I thought it was rather a rational response. If my immortal soul is on the line based on whether I believe in god or not, then I would rationally want god to present himself to me so that I can see for myself whether he exists to save my immortal soul. I still desire that. If god does exist and if free will somehow does exist (it can't if god is omni-max) then I free choose to want god to show himself to me to show me he exists. It's been how long and he's not done so?

"I really do love atheists."

I what manner? In the manner that you love all humans? That just makes you a moral person (more moral than god) and pretty normal. I think that deep down most people are good people despite the fact that some religions tells us that we aren't.

"I digging into all kinds of resources trying to understand the questions and the answers and to relay them adequately."

Would you like for me to recommend some resources that you can access online?

Karla said...

“So you keep telling me, but you don't tell me how you can possibly know that. Even given that it's a supernatural cause (which I don't give, but for the sake of argument) you can't even be sure that the entity that you think you are speaking to and feeling is the entity that you think it is.”

I can be sure of that by relationship I know the difference. God has proven Himself to me time and time again. I know the difference, between Him and an imposter. Maybe I can’t prove that to you. But that doesn’t change it’s truth.


”How do you know any of that? OK, so let's say that you are talking to god - well he's nice to you, but that doesn't mean that he's nice to everyone. Maybe he loves you, but that doesn't mean that he loves everyone. He's good to you, but that doesn't mean that he's good to everyone. You simply can't know any of these things.”

I am not making the claim that He is good based only on His goodness to me. I am making it because it is a logical necessity, a theological reality, a Biblical truth, and because I have experienced it. Why can’t I know? You keep stating I can’t, but you haven’t stated why I can’t.


”The only "objective" measure we have for god is the Bible - if the Bible is true and the word of god. Using subjective means and feelings based on a relationship is not a good way to determine the characteristics of god when we have his own words and actions in print in front of us and we all have access to those things. Even the worst tyrants have people that love them and people they love, so we can't base it on that.”

Okay I can show you plenty of verses that declare that He loves us and give examples of that reality especially in the person of Christ. Would you accept a Biblical defense? Or do you only want to us it when it serves purportedly to aid your argument?


”Sorry, but no traumatic experience happened to make me question god and ultimately give it up. It was actually studying god and seeing the difficulties both with contradictions and logical problems that made me realize it was made up.”

Okay, well that’s good. I hope you’ll keep studying.


”I thought it was rather a rational response. If my immortal soul is on the line based on whether I believe in god or not, then I would rationally want god to present himself to me so that I can see for myself whether he exists to save my immortal soul. I still desire that. If god does exist and if free will somehow does exist (it can't if god is omni-max) then I free choose to want god to show himself to me to show me he exists. It's been how long and he's not done so?”

It is a rational response. I’m glad you are willing to want that if it is truth. I do believe that people can put up walls to their heart to keep from experiencing Him by their own free will which He does not overpower. Extreme skepticism can be such a wall.


”In what manner? In the manner that you love all humans? That just makes you a moral person (more moral than god) and pretty normal. I think that deep down most people are good people despite the fact that some religions tells us that we aren't.”

Differently than that. Of course I love all humans, not as well as God does, but I do have a love for all of humanity. I think God has given me a special compassion toward atheists. I feel like you are missing something awesome and it grieves me that you live with that separation from God. It’s not for my benefit that I share Christ, but for yours and others who I may be able to touch with His truth and His love.


”Would you like for me to recommend some resources that you can access online?”

I’m willing to look into atheist worldview resources if you have some to recommend. That is why I was asking about the Dawkins books. I regret that I have not read them. I certainly wouldn’t publish a book through responding to atheism without having some bonafied atheist read it and confirm I get their worldview right and treat it fairly before responding from a Christian worldview.

Anonymous said...

"I can be sure of that by relationship I know the difference. God has proven Himself to me time and time again. I know the difference, between Him and an imposter. Maybe I can’t prove that to you. But that doesn’t change it’s truth."

No, Karla, you can't. You can't be sure that god has ever talked to you period. Even if it was something supernatural, you can't be sure it was your god and not a demon. Your only method of telling seems to be that it makes you feel good or that it leads you to accept the a priori things that you've already accepted. The best I can tell is that if the feeling corresponds to YOUR perception of what god should be like, then you designate that it is from god. This is circular reasoning among other things. You can continue to tell me that you can "Just tell" but it won't make it any more true.

"I am not making the claim that He is good based only on His goodness to me. I am making it because it is a logical necessity, a theological reality, a Biblical truth, and because I have experienced it. Why can’t I know? You keep stating I can’t, but you haven’t stated why I can’t."

Actually, you made the claim that he is good because he loves us all, but you can't know that. The reason you can't know that is because you can't know that it is god that you are talking to. In order to conclude the supernatural is happening, you have to be able to rule out any and all possible natural causes, which you can't possibly do. Then, on top of that, you have no basis for determining which supernatural cause it is; whether it is god, some demon, or some other god like Allah. And, I've seen no logical argument from you to conclude that it is a logical necessity that god be omni-good.

"Okay I can show you plenty of verses that declare that He loves us and give examples of that reality especially in the person of Christ. Would you accept a Biblical defense? Or do you only want to us it when it serves purportedly to aid your argument?"

And there are verses that don't support you. So, either god is lying about one or the other, and since we can determine that god is lying, then he must be lying about being wholly good, because lying is not good. Plus, the example of Jesus doesn't work as per my drowning example. Another inherent problem with the Bible is that it is supposedly god's word. It's a self-referential story.

"It is a rational response. I’m glad you are willing to want that if it is truth. I do believe that people can put up walls to their heart to keep from experiencing Him by their own free will which He does not overpower. Extreme skepticism can be such a wall."

Problem is that this defeats at least one of your arguments. If god wants me to believe in him, he should show himself. But, you contend that would ruin my free will, right? So, once I freely choose to have god appear, then it will actually help me fulfill my free will. When god does not appear, then something is amiss. Either he does not want to meet with me or he does not exist.

"I’m willing to look into atheist worldview resources if you have some to recommend. That is why I was asking about the Dawkins books. I regret that I have not read them. I certainly wouldn’t publish a book through responding to atheism without having some bonafied atheist read it and confirm I get their worldview right and treat it fairly before responding from a Christian worldview."

Karla, I don't think you will enjoy Dawkins at all, due to the obvious preconceptions you have about him. (BTW, how do you know what his treatment of Xianity is if you haven't read his book?) I would recommend something else. Most books that I've read have been books that delve pretty heavily into the reasons why gods don't exist, but I feel like you are looking for a book that deals more extensively with why one should be an atheist, correct?

Karla said...

I have thus far left out appealing to Scripture. However, part of knowing that I know is because Scripture is a written infallible authority of who God has revealed Himself to be. I know you think it reveals a maniac Deity and not what a good God. I have some things to present about that soon, I just have to wait until I get a little more time to write about it.

It is not so arbitrary as my own experience. My experiences link up to what the Bible says about God. They are not just ambiguous emotive events with no standard by which to judge them. I have the authority of Scripture to test my experiences by.

Anonymous said...

Karla,
"However, part of knowing that I know is because Scripture is a written infallible authority of who God has revealed Himself to be."

Not to sound like a broken record, but how do you know that the scriptures are infallible, that they are authoritative, or that they came from god?

"I know you think it reveals a maniac Deity and not what a good God."

Actually, no. I think they reveal the religious opinions of a lot of different people with different agendas and vastly inferior moralities to our own. If it is god's personal autobiography, then it simply reveals god's vastly inferior morality.

"It is not so arbitrary as my own experience. My experiences link up to what the Bible says about God."

You mean that they link up to what you expect them to reveal about god based on your personal interpretations. But, let's say it is something supernatural - you still have no assurance that your interpretations of your holy books are right and that a demon hasn't led you astray. You also have no assurance that your holy book is right and not the work of some demon to begin with. Etc. etc. etc.

"They are not just ambiguous emotive events with no standard by which to judge them."

Or maybe they are. How do you know that your interpretation of the events in question and the scriptures are both accurate?

"I have the authority of Scripture to test my experiences by."

Which verses and what does the scripture specifically tell you about your experiences? If you are reading the scripture and learning about how wonderful god is and then you get a nice feeling and decide it must be god, well that's only because you left out all the parts where god is not nice and not wonderful. That's a huge problem with the Bible.

Karla said...

I don't think you have any idea what I mean when I say I have experienced God. I don't think you have a framework for it and I don't know how to help with that. It's not akin to any emotion. It's more like a soft electrical charge of sorts and that's not quiet an accurate analogy. It's like if you could feel love like you can taste something sweet and feel the sweet food on your tongue. It's more a physical feeling but like nothing of this world that I could compare it to.


Your skepticism of everything confounds me.

Anonymous said...

Karla,
"I don't think you have any idea what I mean when I say I have experienced God."

I don't think you do either. What I mean is that you know how you felt, but you don't have any idea that it was god except for your own personal feelings on the matter. You have nothing that you can point to to say for sure that it was god. You can't rule out natural causes, you can't definitively look to scripture as that needs your interpretation, etc.

"It's like if you could feel love like you can taste something sweet and feel the sweet food on your tongue. It's more a physical feeling but like nothing of this world that I could compare it to."

There are many feelings in this world that can't be compared to one another, that doesn't make the supernatural.

"Your skepticism of everything confounds me."

I'm not skeptical of everything, just everything presented without evidentiary basis.

Karla said...

Bias is not always a bad thing. I am biased towards God's truth. I don't hide that. To me it's like you trying to get me to consider the earth doesn't exist. I know it does, so there is no way I could take any evidence to the contrary seriously. You might as well be telling me I imagined the existence of the sun and the warmth I feel from it on a sunny day is just based on that faulty assumption that the sun is real. I am very biased to the idea that there is a sun just as I am very biased to the reality that God exists and that the Bible is true. Everything I say comes from that worldview.

Anonymous said...

"Bias is not always a bad thing."

It is if you are looking for truth.

"I am biased towards God's truth. I don't hide that."

And, it makes you less reliable.

"To me it's like you trying to get me to consider the earth doesn't exist. I know it does, so there is no way I could take any evidence to the contrary seriously."

In the strict sense, you don't know the Earth exists. You could be a brain in a jar on some planet that you've never dreamed of or floating in space or whatever. We do, however, have very good evidence for the Earth's existence, so we feel comfortable in concluding that it does exist - this is rational. We do not, however, have good evidence that god exists, therefore it is not rational to believe that he does exist. The very nature of god lends itself to that, being supernatural and all. That you think you have evidence for god is basically destroyed by the fact that we can't know anything beyond nature - we can't know how anything beyond nature would act, think, what kind of powers it would have, etc. This opens up so many questions that are unanswered and unanswerable that your claim to "know" anything about that which is beyond nature is a very weak claim indeed.

"I am very biased to the idea that there is a sun just as I am very biased to the reality that God exists and that the Bible is true. Everything I say comes from that worldview."

IOW, don't bother me with the facts, my mind is made up, right? How do you square away the inherent contradictions in the attributes of your god? How do you assure the quality of the Bible, considering its many problems and contradictions and how do you ensure that your interpretations are correct? What you are basically doing is claiming an objective standard based on your subjective interpretations. Do you really not see this?

Karla said...

How could I be unbiased when I am in love with God and I know Him? How can I step away from that knowing to look objectively at the possibility of not knowing. I'm not claiming to know everything about Him, but I am claiming to know that He is and to have a real relationship with Him. I am certain of this.

Anonymous said...

"How could I be unbiased when I am in love with God and I know Him?"

In science, this is typically done with experimentation, preferably double-blind experimentation. It would also help to check your underlying assumptions and check to see if they are true or not, as well as the facts and evidence you are using. Another tip would be to think of confounders or counter-arguments and try to answer them. I've given you quite a few counter-arguments that you've obviously had trouble answering; you could start with those.

"...I am claiming to know that He is and to have a real relationship with Him. I am certain of this."

How can you be certain of it? How can you be certain of anything supernatural related? Implicit in that is an assumption that you can be certain about supernatural entities, happenings, etc. Is that assumption warranted?

Karla said...

Just because something is "supernatural" doesn't mean you can't experience it. It's not like an imaginary friend or something. "Supernatural" does not translate "make believe." It just means that something exist outside of our natural world. The supernatural does effect the natural and become visible or auditory or physically felt. I think it strange to think that only what you can determine scientifically is what is. And if you can't measure it or weigh it or pick up readings on scientific instruments then it doesn't exist. Science is way too fallible for such thinking.

I do seek out counter arguments and consume loads of resources about what other people think and believe and how to answer those worldviews. I don't do this for me, expect that it interest me, but the real reason is for others. I want to help others see the truth. I believe the truth is knowable and that it is exclusive of non-truth. If God exist then he doesn't also not exist. If the Bible is true and God is the one Creator God who is good and loving, it is not also true that He is not one but one among many. It is illogical to think opposite truth claims can co-exist rationally. If you find your keys that you lost you don't keep looking for them thinking you might find them under a different couch after you are holding them in your hand. That would be absurd.

Anonymous said...

"Just because something is "supernatural" doesn't mean you can't experience it. It's not like an imaginary friend or something. "Supernatural" does not translate "make believe." It just means that something exist outside of our natural world."

How would you know? Our senses are based on the natural world. We have no sensory way to perceive anything outside of this world.

"The supernatural does effect the natural and become visible or auditory or physically felt."

Where and when has this happened that you can verify?

"I think it strange to think that only what you can determine scientifically is what is."

That's not what I said. What I said was that only the things I can verify are things I can say that I am certain of. There's a big difference there.

"And if you can't measure it or weigh it or pick up readings on scientific instruments then it doesn't exist."

I didn't say that either, but there's no reason to believe in things that have no evidentiary basis.

"Science is way too fallible for such thinking."

Science is a process for gaining better knowledge, so of course it is fallible. It's built with that in mind. In fact, we try to falsify hypotheses as a matter of course! And it works! Look at all the knowledge we have gained through science. We know how to build computers, tvs, go to the moon, etc. Does revelation have a track record to fall back on? What have we learned through revelation? Nothing.

"I don't do this for me, expect that it interest me, but the real reason is for others. I want to help others see the truth."

Then you're doing it for the wrong reasons in terms of examining your own biases. You're not putting your assumptions to the test, you're simply continuing to assume they are true and looking for a way to win the debate and convert a heathen.

"If the Bible is true and God is the one Creator God who is good and loving, it is not also true that He is not one but one among many."

What do you mean by "true" when referencing the Bible? If you mean that it was written by god, then it could just be one god of many, and that god does not need to be just and good and loving. There are actually many possibilities. You can try all day to set up dichotomies, but what does it accomplish?

"It is illogical to think opposite truth claims can co-exist rationally."

So, what do you do when the Bible makes opposite truth claims?

Karla said...

"What I said was that only the things I can verify are things I can say that I am certain of."

So you trust your own ability to know things for certain?

"but there's no reason to believe in things that have no evidentiary basis."

There is much evidence. You can disagree with the evidence, but it does exist.

"Does revelation have a track record to fall back on? What have we learned through revelation?"

We have learned how to know God. We have learned about the reason for our existence, the meaning and value of our existence, we have learned how to love, how to have peace, how to live productive lives. Christians have learned how to raise the dead, heal the sick and have power over the demonic forces in peoples lives to set them free.

"So, what do you do when the Bible makes opposite truth claims?"

It doesn't. If I come to something I think is contradictory I search it out and soon find it is not, it was merely my ignorance that was at work.

When I say the Bible is true I mean all the events recorded in it really happened or will happen. I mean that every teaching about what is true physically, supernaturally and spiritually is what is.

Anonymous said...

"So you trust your own ability to know things for certain?"

I trust my own ability to hold certain things as rational to believe based on the repeatable, verifiable, etc. evidence that we have.

"There is much evidence. You can disagree with the evidence, but it does exist."

Like what? It doesn't meet any standard of evidence that we can actually use and it is based on first accepting assumptions that can't be proven (begging the question).

"We have learned how to know God."

You think you have at least, but you don't actually have knowledge that you've learned any such thing, because it's non-verifiable, non-repeatable, etc. To put it another way, some have revelations that your god is false and does not exist and that their god is the one true god. How do you know their knowledge isn't correct? How do you discern between the two?

"We have learned about the reason for our existence, the meaning and value of our existence, we have learned how to love, how to have peace, how to live productive lives."

Again, have we learned these things or have we only asserted that we know these things? It's really the latter. How do you verify that you have learned these things?

"Christians have learned how to raise the dead, heal the sick and have power over the demonic forces in peoples lives to set them free."

And this is completely false. If Xians really have these powers, they should be able to demonstrate them in scientific experiments, but those inevitably fail.

"It doesn't. If I come to something I think is contradictory I search it out and soon find it is not, it was merely my ignorance that was at work."

Where and when was Jesus born?

"When I say the Bible is true I mean all the events recorded in it really happened or will happen."

Wait, so you believe in a literal Adam and Eve? How about a 6000 year old universe, do you believe in that? Do you believe in the flood literally? Do you understand the sheer magnitude of the evidence that contradicts those beliefs?

"I mean that every teaching about what is true physically, supernaturally and spiritually is what is."

And, how do you know that that is the case? What assurance do you have that the Bible is true? Also, the Bible is obviously open to interpretation, so how do you know that your interpretation is correct?