This is the Message Centre for royalrcrompton
Off the rails
Giford Started conversation Oct 15, 2008
I think you're right that this is best continued off the Bible verse thread - that way it has at least a fighting chance of surviving!
>Human suffering is plainly the result of disobedience.
Is it? Tsunamis and earthquakes are 'plainly' caused by human disobedience to God? Even if that's true, is it right for a loving parent to watch His children killing and torturing each other and do nothing to intervene or punish? I think I've used my parable of the two children and the light socket before but I'm happy to trot it out again. I just don't see how free will is a complete explanation of suffering.
How have you concluded that smoking is against God's will?
>In the Divine view of things, mankind deserves only eternal punishment.
Fortunately, in the rational view of things, mankind is a part of nature and should endeavour to live in harmony with it. We 'deserve' whatever world we make for ourselves, and whatever problems we cause for ourselves. We don't have to take the rather misanthropic view that Christians seem to.
>None of us deserves mercy because we all repeatedly break God's moral laws.
I would say that just because someone breaks a law, doesn't mean they should be treated mercilessly. I would also say that there are times when it is a moral imperative to break the laws set out in the Bible - and point out that only secular ethics can tell us when that is.
Off the rails
royalrcrompton Posted Oct 16, 2008
You suppose that natural disasters occur independent of human disobedience. Well, according to Genesis, these maledictions are also the result of man's fall into sin and disobedience. Nothing works the way it was designed.( see Gen. 3:17,18 ; Rom. 8:18-23 ) The deterioration caused by the Fall is the root of universal malady.
You are right in suggesting it is wrong allow evildoers to go scot free. They need to be duly punished. Mankind is charged by God to bring lawbreakers to justice (see Rom. 13:1-7 and 1 Tim. 1:8-10).
The matter of man having a total and independent free will has been severely skewed since the Fall. Man no longer has the capacity to do good (the will of God) on a continuum since he is born under the dominion of his flesh rather than his spirit (see Rom. 6:18-23), and the flesh likes to satiate itself --often doing harm to others in the process.
I would say that anything not natural to the human design of respiration and digestion is against the will of God (though perhaps, not exactly condemned by Him either). That smoke is noxious to the delicate lining of the mucous membranes and lung tissues suggest that God is displeased that humans have taken up smoking.
We can all try to live in harmony with nature, but because nature is quite out of harmony ( e.g. tsunamis, earthquakes, tornadoes etc.), there can be no peaceful co-existence between man and his surroundings. We can do our best to minimise willful destruction, but in the final analysis, God remains sovereign over the universe.
There is a difference between God's "moral law" and the whole gamut of human law. There is indeed, mercy from God for sinners. But that mercy is through the atonement of the Lord Jesus Christ alone. Judicial mercy ( a pardon) is at the discretion of the powers-that-be; though God declares that he who shows no mercy cannot expect mercy himself.
Modern ethics tend to encircle a very wide spectrum, often becoming relative to the subjective anaylsis of the ethicists.
How are you doing? Hope things are going okay for you!
Off the rails
Giford Posted Oct 17, 2008
Things are going pretty well, thanks. Always better when I see a nice long post of philosophy to chat about! How's things in the New World?
Anyway, down to business I would suggest that if Genesis says that human actions cause earthquakes, Genesis is wrong. Rather than giving a Bible verse, can you explain how you think that sinful behaviour - let's say worship of false idols - leads to natural disasters like tornados? What is the causal link or mechanism connecting the two?
Punishment for crimes is a no-brainer, and indeed much of Leviticus is given to the subject. But what I meant was intervening to prevent suffering in the first place. Here's that parable I threatened - I can't remember if I've mentioned it to you before.
Imagine I walk into a room and see two children playing. The larger child is slowly pushing the smaller child's fingers into an electrical socket. I do nothing to prevent this, because I do not want to interfere with the larger child's free will.
Have I acted in an admirable way? Shouldn't I intervene? Wouldn't a loving parent intervene? In fact, if I did nothing, would I not be held responsible for any harm that occurred? Yet isn't that exactly the argument that people use to defend the existence of evil - that God doesn't intervene because that would diminish our free will? Would later punishing the larger child - or asking someone else to punish him - be an excuse? And hey, doesn't the smaller child's free will have any relevance?
"Man no longer has the capacity to do good" - really? I disagree. What a depressing world-view. In fact, I think it's so blindingly obvious that humans can and do do good that I'm wondering if you meant something by 'on a continuum' that I don't understand?
>That smoke is noxious to the delicate lining of the mucous membranes and lung tissues suggest that God is displeased that humans have taken up smoking.
Hmm, well smoking is certainly harmful - but does harmful = sinful? This kind of logic, where we assume that God has a purpose for everything, can rapidly lead to some fairly bizarre conclusions. Is the use of asbestos sinful? Was it sinful before people discovered it was carcinogenic? What about direct sunlight? Did God intend us to live indoors?
Incidentally, if smoking is sinful, why did God create tobacco? In fact, following your logic, isn't it only sinful because God made it harmful to humans? Or are you saying that God made tobacco toxic to signify that we shouldn't smoke it? If so, what was God's objection to people smoking non-toxic tobacco? Is smoking cannabis less sinful? Indeed, what's the point of putting an addictive toxin in something to prevent people from getting addicted to it? You don't see people smoking poison ivy, after all. If there was no nicotine in tobacco leaves, no-one would smoke them. Basically, your simple-sounding statement opens up a whole slew of problems, and I would contend that they all stem from your basic theistic assumption.
I'm also not quite sure what you meant by "against the will of God (though perhaps, not exactly condemned by Him either)." I thought "against the will of God" was your definition of sin? And if some things which are against the will of God are not sins, how can you tell which?
>There is indeed, mercy from God for sinners. But that mercy is through the atonement of the Lord Jesus Christ alone.
Hmm, so we have two killers. One goes on to become - or already is - a devout Christian, but feels no remorse for his crime. The other spends his life racked by guilt for what he has done and carrying out good deeds in what he knows is a futile attempt to redeem himself, but does not become a Christian. Think Radovan Karadzic and Angel from Buffy (if you've seen it). Are you saying that Karadzic goes to heaven but Angel burns in hell? Or denying that 'true Christians' would kill without remorse? Or both?
Off the rails
royalrcrompton Posted Oct 17, 2008
Things are going on just as bad here as in Europe with all the economic upheaval. We just concluded our federal election in Canada the other day -- minority Tory government. A case of most everyone holding their noses at the voting booths. I've never seen such a pack of next-to-useless candidates before. So it goes...
Natural disasters such as tornadoes come as a result of the curse on man as well as on Earth. That's what the Genesis verses clearly state. That natural disasters are more prevalent in areas where the population is bound up in idolatry is not conclusive. God has meted out judgment against idolaters before -- but the record clearly shows that it was chiefly against Israel when they began assimilatinng with the surrounding heathen and began adopting their worship practices. There is a clear case for God's judgment against sin through natural disasters. But as God is sovereign over each situation, there is no formula for predicting rthem -- no absolute causal link for aiding the prognosticator.
The matter of Divine intervention is not lost on humanity as concerns crime. Many crimes are prevented by God in the " cutting off " of the offender. The Psalms and Proverbs attest to that intervention. Yet, it is indeed true, God sometimes permits crime to flourish. I think your example of the electric socket is not completely analagous to the expectation of Divine intervention in time of danger. That is because God has pronounced a direction and law for life and liberty that is clearly understood by law and conscience. The issue of God's failure to intervene in certain situations is largely the issue of man being disobedient to adhereing to what is right. The parent will intervene to prevent an electric shock because the child has not understood that his younger sibling's finger does not belong in the socket. To do it wilfully again means that child must be punished. God does much the same. How many times has He let us off the hook for our folly -- intervening at the point of disaster so that we come to little or no harm? I can state with certainty that it has happened to me many, many times.
Man is a sinner by nature and therefore cannot do good in the eyes of God. He may do good in the eyes of his fellow men but any altruism falls short of the standard that God sets ( Rom. 3:23). We tend to think of ourselves far too highly.
Gif, I have to sign out now but will be back shortly to offer some thoughts on your other remaining points.
Off the rails
royalrcrompton Posted Oct 17, 2008
That smoking provides no known conclusive benefit to mankind and produces such harmful effects is well known to humanity. It is an addiction also. When one engages that which is both addictive and harmful suggests it will exacerbate poor health and is therefore sinful in the eyes of God because man has defiled the body that He gave him. From birth, man only craves that which can satiate his basic needs: food, water, clothing, shelter and later sexual gratification. But man has no inherent craving for smoking. Society influences, encourages, teaches him to smoke and to do a lot of other things that will only hurt him. All this occurs because man is inherently sinful (Romn. 5:12)and out of synch with God.
God condemns all men to eternal punishment apart from the justifying work of Christ Jesus -- a justification that is only efficacious for those who receive Him by faith. So, it is not really a question of God permitting some sin and condemning sin -- in stating that, I was off-base. All sin condemns. It may be more to do with the fact that God is not so stirred up with wrath against certain forms of sin; whereas, with other forms, He is greatly angered.
There are many natural substances that are harmful if ingested. Yet they all have some purpose in the balance of Nature that God created -- providing we don't attempt to use them in ways that God has not intended. Yes, it is a basic theistic assumption...I can't argue that. But I choose not to argue with the designer of the universe. Through trial and error man has come to know what to eat and drink (potatoes/juice, and what not to (poison mushrooms/piss); what to play with (puppies)and what to avoid (cobras). In the re-creation after the return of Christ, the New Earth will enjoy perfection and its occupants will not come to harm within the perfection of that new order ( see Isaiah 11:1-9 ; 65:17-25).
The two killers you cite are both equally condemned in God's eyes. It is impossible for a killer who shows no remorse to be in a right relationship with God. His supposed faith and belief in God is false. Conversion necessitates a clear repentance ( Luke 13:1-5 ; 2 Tim. 2:24,25 ). Repentance always brings about remorse ( see Luke 15:17,18,21). Without genuine remorse for sin, there can be no conversion. Repentance is brought about by the sorrowful conviction of sin ( 2 Cor. 7:10 ). Pseudo-repentance is merely a sorrow for having been caught in one's sin or crime. I've seen the crocodile tears of those who knew what they were doing was wrong but they did not stop their wicked ways. As Errol Flynn once said, " Women and drink will kill me. " He knew his bad behaviour was his death sentence but he wouldn't stop it, finally dying of a heart attack at the ripe old age of 50 in a Vancouver penthouse flat. That you mention good works to atone for sin as being impossible, demonstrates our need to get right with God by the only means that will produce that reconciliation and grant peace (Col. 1:20-22).
Off the rails
Giford Posted Oct 20, 2008
Yeah, I saw something about the elections in the press here - sounded sort of like a vote for no change. It certainly didn't get the same sort of coverage that the US elections do, but I guess that's the burden you Canadians are stuck with!
This might seem like a fairly minor issue (because it is!) but I'm trying to work out how you come to conclusions based on theology - is there anything involved other than your own opinion? At the moment, it doesn't seem to me that there is. It sounds more like you have started from the conclusion that smoking is sinful and worked backwards to find justifications for that.
I can certainly agree with you that smoking is unnatural and unhealthy. But there are plenty of other unnatural, unhealthy things that you probably don't regard as sinful - I already mentioned drinking alcohol and eating fatty meat. There are also plenty of natural, healthy things you may regard as sinful. You seem to be making the point that knowing something is harmful is part of it being sinful. It is well known *now* that smoking is harmful, but it wasn't always. It was once regarded as invigorating. Did it become sinful after medical research highlighted its harmful nature? When we didn't know it was harmful, why did God not intervene to save smokers from cancer, as per your response to the electric socket thing?
I ask again what you mean by "they all have some purpose in the balance of Nature that God created -- providing we don't attempt to use them in ways that God has not intended." What is the intended purpose of nicotine? And if it isn't for smoking, why did God make it an intoxicant?
The Electric Socket
>The parent will intervene to prevent an electric shock because the child has not understood that his younger sibling's finger does not belong in the socket. To do it wilfully again means that child must be punished.
Under what circumstances are you saying a parent would not intervene to save the smaller child, in the way that God does not intervene during (e.g.) genocide? Are you saying that punishment is an *alternative* to saving the smaller child?
>How many times has He let us off the hook for our folly -- intervening at the point of disaster so that we come to little or no harm?
None, as far as I am aware. I think you're rather using the guilty verdict as part of the prosecution here, trying to use your assumption that God intervenes to prove that God intervenes. When humans are full of folly, they (or others) tend to reap the consequences of that folly, from the holocaust to Nagasaki to Wall Street. Sometimes, of course, we get lucky - but what makes you think that that is due to God?
Natural Disasters and Free Will
OK, it's interesting to see your justifications for natural disasters, though I'm still not quite sure how you think free will causes earthquakes - unless you're saying it's God's free will that causes earthquakes?
Reading the Bible vs Interpreting the Bible
>That's what the Genesis verses clearly state.
Gonna have to disagree with you there. The verse you quoted literally says that Adam will have to farm for a living and the ground will bring forth weeds. No mention of natural disasters, much less what causes them. You might regard them as a metaphor or an analogy - but surely not a 'clear' one.
I assume that by 'the record' of Israeli history, you mean the Bible / OT, since secular archaeology shows no Israeli state in Canaan for much of the time, and certainly doesn't say anything about God punishing them for religious inclusiveness. But if Kings and Chronicles are essentially fictitious histories put together at around the time of the Babylonian Exile to make a religious point, can they really be used as evidence to support that point?
>It is impossible for a killer who shows no remorse to be in a right relationship with God.
So David, Joshua, Moses, even God himself were all in a wrong relationship with God? They're all described as killing in the Bible, without a hint of remorse at any time, and in some cases being praised for their 'righteousness'. How about Abraham, who would have killed but didn't have to?
The fact that you have been able to support your case with Bible verses, yet I have made the opposite case also solely from scripture, illustrates why I don't find arguments based on Biblical quotations particularly informative. You can argue pretty much anything you want from the Bible, especially if you're prepared to take your own metaphorical interpretations as the 'clear truth'.
>In the re-creation after the return of Christ, the New Earth will enjoy perfection and its occupants will not come to harm within the perfection of that new order
But that totally contradicts everything you've just said! Why bother with this imperfect Earth? Why not just create a perfect Earth and be done with it? If it's possible for God to create a perfect Earth, why is there so much unneccesary suffering in this one? Will we have free will in this perfect Earth? If so, will there be natural disasters?
Off the rails
royalrcrompton Posted Oct 20, 2008
The Bible clearly states that we are not to consume or engage that which defiles the body. No, we cannot see anything in Scripture that prohibits smoking specifically (nor a lot of other things). But some of what we attempt to pass of as culturally-acceptable is plainly harmful to human health. Some things are not so obvious. It has taken Europeans at least 400 years to finally understand what is now pretty obvious according to the individual's metabolism, genetic makeup and chance thrown in )smoking will do him some harm. We are not accountable for what we do not know or understand but with knowledge, we become responsible. And that is what we are to be judged on. Among the Westminster Divines who formulated the Westminster Shorter and Larger Catechisms, a few were wont to puff the pipes. But they did so out of ignorance and so are not condemned for it. But for those of us who clearly understand the harmful effects, we cannot plead ignorance.
The balance of Nature as we know it today, sustains a reasonable harmony that does not allow the Earth to explode/implode or self-destruct by other means. But that the Earth is now out of synch with the original design (weeds, for example, did not exist in the original design - they cam forth out of the curse. And tobacco like its cousin jimsun is weed. ( We call cigarettes " weeds " here in Canada). Yes, this is the biblical account that many reject; but it is the basis of what science still cannot disprove even after 5,000 years of recorded history.
More to come...
Off the rails
royalrcrompton Posted Oct 20, 2008
I had been going along with this but somehow got cut off and lost a page of answers...
The socket scenario presupposes that a caring parent will intervene in an emergency when the child may come to harm at the hands of another (the older sibling). But when one acts foolishly repeatedly and independently, a wise parent will not always intervene but allow the child to experience pain and some suffering when it is perceived that the result will not yield permanent disfigurement or other serious consequences.
God does, indeed, intervene for those subjected to malicious behaviour. But sometimes He does not. That may be due to a need for Divine retribution against the one being hurt or wounded. It may be that this victim did the same to someone else and now it's payback time. " What comes around, goes around..." God sees things from a far more complex perspective than do we, so it is pointless to judge God as fair or uncaring. He does what is just and right because that is His nature and character. That God is a God of retribution should be readily understood from Scripture, especially the Psalms.
You do not seem to understand the forbearance of God, Gif (maybe because you disavow His existence). He is always letting us off the hook. It just sometimes is not apparent to us that it is He who is allowing us to escape trouble and harm. Think back on your own life. Ever fall asleep at the wheel of a car and then wake up suddenly and unexpectantly just in time to get the car back under control before going over the cliff or into a deep ditch? That you woke up in the nick of time may not be chance. There are some whom God allows to fall alseep and then does not wake up, and so they perish.
There is no mention of a natural disaster like earthquakes or tornadoes in Genesis or in any other Bible book -- and that's because there are no real natural disasters. The Scriptures declare that God is supernaturally behind all of them ( note Job 37,38 , Matt. 24, Mark 13, Luke 17 and 21 ). The Flood and the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah in Gen. 15 relate that these disasters were judgments of God against man's sin.
David showed great remorse for his murder of Uriah and the adultery with Batsheba. Just read Psalms 38, 51 and 32 (in that order). Joshua did not murder per se. He was commissioned by God to destroy the wicked Canaanite nations. I agree, that Moses is another matter-- a more difficult account to explain. He did murder an Egyptian in the defence of a Hebrew. However, it may be that he was justified by God for that action as one who was just protecting an unfairly treated slave. Abraham would surely have killed having been put under a direct order from God. But it become a moot point to argue this case since God stopped him from committing the crime. Nevertheless, we are guilty not from crime itself, but from the thought of it ( Sermon on the Mount, Matt. 5,6,7 ). That shows us that Abraham also needed a Saviour and God was gracious to provide that blood sacrifice ( the ram in the thicket) as an atonement for his sin.
The re-creation of the new world order is God's promise to His beloved. I cannot change that. Again, God does what He wills. It is not for me to question His intents. The prophetic words have mostly come to passs. I have no reason to believe that the remaining unfulfilled prophecies won't. God superintends this imperfect Earth for reasons neither you nor I can fathom. Would I handle things differently? Of course! But since I lack the wisdom of God, I think it better for me to sit back and watch everything unfold as He intends.
Off the rails
Giford Posted Oct 21, 2008
OK, so you think that smoking was fine before we knew it was harmful, but now we know it's harmful it's sinful. And you seem to be saying that nicotine was created in The Fall and does not have a divine purpose (which contradicts what you said earlier about "natural substances that are harmful if ingested [...] all have some purpose in the balance of Nature that God created").
Perhaps that's as far as we can take this. I have to say that I found your reasoning bizarre, and even contradictory at times. I've been trying to make the point that you can 'interpret' the Bible to say whatever you want. Either you agree with that or this example clearly isn't going to convince you.
btw, not sure I ever actually said - I don't smoke myself, and I agree that it's a disgusting habit. It's just that I don't base that on the Bible!
>God does, indeed, intervene for those subjected to malicious behaviour. But sometimes He does not. That may be due to a need for Divine retribution against the one being hurt or wounded. It may be that this victim did the same to someone else and now it's payback time. " What comes around, goes around..."
So we should blame the victim for the crime? The Jews *deserved* the Holocaust? Even the kids? The unborn foetuses? Heck, why do we even bother having a criminal justice system if the only ones who get hurt deserve it anyway?
Actually, I don't think you believe any of that. I think you're desperately looking for an answer, and when you think you've found one you're not thinking too carefully about the consequences of that answer.
>Ever fall asleep at the wheel of a car and then wake up suddenly and unexpectantly just in time to get the car back under control before going over the cliff or into a deep ditch? That you woke up in the nick of time may not be chance. There are some whom God allows to fall alseep and then does not wake up, and so they perish.
No I haven't, but I'm happy to run with the example. Is divine intervention the *only* way someone could wake up? If not, how can we tell who was woken up by God and who woke up naturally? Indeed, how can we tell if anyone was ever woken up by God?
Although I can see that this is how you would interpret the world from a religious persepective, it's not evidence for the existence of God. Tell me which you think is more effective at preventing car crashes: not driving while tired or intoxicated, or praying before each journey and 'being right with God'. Is that something we could measure?
>there are no real natural disasters. The Scriptures declare that God is supernaturally behind all of them
again! So God killed 30,000 people at random on Boxing Day a couple of years back, then - 10 times worse than the World Trade Centre attacks. But of course if you personally wake up from a light doze after a second or two, God is lovingly preserving you. This is called 'solipsism', the belief that I personally am unique and more important than everyone else.
>David showed great remorse for his murder of Uriah and the adultery with Batsheba.
Indeed, but not for killing his tens of thousands of Philistines. (1 Sam 18:6-7) God is pleased, and later asks for an encore (1 Sam 23:2-5).
>Joshua did not murder per se. He was commissioned by God to destroy the wicked Canaanite nations.
Exactly - he killed many with no remorse. (NB: whose word do we have that the Canaanites were 'wicked'? - only the religious texts of the people who killed them and took their land, right?)
>Moses [...] it may be that he was justified by God for that action
>Abraham would surely have killed [...] we are guilty not from crime itself, but from the thought of it
Great. So, with the possible exception of David (and God, who you didn't mention but who is also described as killing without mercy in the Bible), we are agreed that it is possible to kill without remorse and be 'right with God'. Back to my original point then - two killers, one a repentant atheist, the other an unrepentant Christian. Perhaps he believes (either correctly or incorrectly) that he was justified by God, like Moses. Which (if either) goes to Heaven?
>The re-creation of the new world order is God's promise to His beloved [...] I think it better for me to sit back and watch everything unfold as He intends.
Ah, the 'mystery card'. If you want to play this angle then obviously there is no way I can disprove it. But you should understand that (a) it contradicts everything you have said earlier about how you *do* understand what God wants, and (b) you are effectively saying that logic and evidence are against you, but you will believe anyway.
In a couple of the above points, we have got to the stage where you have had to 'bite the bullet' so to speak. Your religiously-based logic has lead you to a controversial conclusion. That's pretty much where I was trying to get to. The point I was trying to make was that basing your logic on theistic assumptions eventually leaves you with choices like 'either God has no mercy or victims cause their own suffering'. I am hoping you will find that neither option is acceptable, so therefore you have to question your starting assumption, that God exists.
Off the rails
royalrcrompton Posted Oct 21, 2008
I am not trying to base whether smoking is sinful or not based on what the Bible says. I have already acknowledged that the Bible says zip on the matter. But we all know that smoking is harmful and as you say, disgusting. My point is God knew all that well before we did and the practice of smoking has always been disgusting (sinful) in His sight. Tobacco's Divine purpose cannot be categorically defined. Since it is plainly a weed, we can rightly assume that in the cursing of the Earth (see Gen 3:17,18), God used weeds to frustrate man's ability to reap abundant harvests. That tobacco was subsequently used to pollute human lungs cannot be deemed condemnatory since no law has ever existed against it. Nevertheless, it remains just as wrong in the eyes of God without a law against it as it would if there was a law imposed against it. That is because it engenders against the health and welfare of the human body.
We don't blame victims for the crimes but we cannot dismiss the possibility that they may be receiving their just desserts for past evils. We maintain a justice system first and foremost to maintain law and order. It is not our position to judge if somebody is getting what they deserve but it is our resposibility to invoke just punishment for evil based on the evidence.
There is always an element of coincidence in avoiding a perilous crash after falling asleep at the wheel. But since God is sovereign we could suppose that He might ensure that the person doesn't wake up.
But I agree, we could never be sure that God has intervened or not, though weird and bizarre circumstances that surround such occurrences
might suggest something providential.
Nobody can prove the existence of God any more than one can prove He does not exist. Right on! I have never tried to prove Him but rather, in my fumbling way, attempted to show His character as revealed in the Bible. But please do not draw the conclusion that I am trying to prove His existence. That has never been my intent.
That disasters occur,point to the wrath of God. That He controls the elementsis clearly shown through the Bible passsages I mentioned. Thus if He controls them, then He commissions disaster for His own purposes. We do need to remember that while Heis a God of love; He is also a God of wrath. He is a God of peace but He is also a God of war. The Bible is clear on this. It cuts against the grain of what many people seem to erroneously believe about the God of the Bible. That may not aquare with what people think God should be and how He should act. That is why so many refuse to acknowledge God and decry Him for being so ruthless and unfeeling. But who are we to question God? He does not consult us and does what he pleases -- a dictator to be sure, but a merciful one who will pardon all sinners who trust in His Son, the Lord Jesus. WE either accept His condition or perish eternally. God will not be negotiated with.
You are confusing the term " killing " with murder. When God commissions annihilation, it is no longer murder -- but a " cutting off " in retribution by means of human agency. You evidently see thatas being repugnant. But God sees it as necessary.
I can understand your unwillingness to accept the God of Scripture, Gif. That is your prerogative. But it is sheer folly to assume that you are right about your humanitarian perspectives and God is all wrong about what He and those who have been called by Him to enact Divine justice are doing.
Off the rails
Giford Posted Oct 22, 2008
I assume we can agree that if someone believes two contradictory things, they are wrong about at least one of them. It seems to me that some of what you are saying is self-contradictory. So I'm going to point out where. I'm not 'having a go', but these are places where either it should be clear to you there is a problem with what you believe, or where I haven't properly understood what you're saying. Either way, I think they're worth looking at in more detail.
>We don't blame victims for the crimes but we cannot dismiss the possibility that they may be receiving their just desserts for past evils.
That sounds like a contradiction to me - considering the possiblity that someone is getting what they deserve *is* blaming them. Can you explain what you mean?
(You wrote this in response to me talking about young or even unborn children. I just want to be clear - are you talking about reincarnation? If not, what possible past crimes could they have committed?)
>We maintain a justice system first and foremost to maintain law and order.
>It is not our position to judge if somebody is getting what they deserve but it is our resposibility to invoke just punishment
Again, sounds like a contradiction - we shouldn't judge what someone deserves, but we should make sure they get what they deserve?
I think we're going round in circles on the smoking thing.
(1) How do you know that physically harmful things are spiritually harmful (sinful)? As I said before, drinking alcohol or eating fatty meat (or !) are also harmful, yet you don't seem to think they are sinful.
(2) We can both see that smoking is harmful for purely secular reasons. But you seem to be going further, and saying that there must be some kind of divine purpose for tobacco. Why do you think that?
(3) If God regarded smoking as sinful before we knew it was harmful, do all smokers who died before the 1950s (and thus never repented their sinful smoking since they never knew it was harmful) go to hell? What about other Christians who don't agree with your logic and continue to smoke thinking it's not spiritually harmful? What about things you or I might be doing that are harmful although we don't know it?
>it is plainly a weed
Plainly? To a tobacco farmer? A weed is simply any plant growing where we don't want it to, it's not a biological category. Roses are weeds to a corn-farmer.
>God used weeds to frustrate man's ability to reap abundant harvests.
OK, leaving aside the abundant tobacco harvest, why does this particular weed have to be narcotic? If God didn't want us to smoke because smoking is harmful, why did He make tobacco harmful, addictive and enjoyable? As I said before, you don't see people smoking other weeds like dandelions.
Weeds, like all living things, exist because they fill an evolutionary niche. They do not have 'purpose' (other than to reproduce) and to them, humans are just another environmental factor. It's when you try to introduce the assumption that they have a 'purpose in God's plan' that we start to encounter all the problems above. To me, that seems to indicate that there is a problem with the extra assumption.
>When God commissions annihilation, it is no longer murder -- but a " cutting off " in retribution by means of human agency.
I was careful not to say 'murder'! So back to my example - a repentant atheist killer and an unrepentant Christian killer who belives God has ordered him to kill. Actually, lets say two Christian killers, one who believes correctly God has told him to kill and one who believes incorrectly that God has told him to kill. Who goes to Heaven?
And tying into your point on order and justice above, which (if any) should be punished under human law?
>I can understand your unwillingness to accept the God of Scripture, Gif. That is your prerogative. But it is sheer folly to assume that you are right about your humanitarian perspectives and God is all wrong about what He and those who have been called by Him to enact Divine justice are doing.
Well certainly - and I can't say this strongly enough - I would dislike the God you describe, who I would consider of sub-human moral values and deeply unsuitable as an object of worship.
But is it 'folly' to have humanitarian perspectives of justice? You've recognised the need for human systems of law, which must naturally be founded on our own secular sense of right and wrong. So we, as a society, cannot afford to have people going around killing others and then claiming that they have been 'called to divine justice'. What alternative to secular morality are you suggesting? Are you proposing a court system that would have to decide whether God told someone to commit a crime? That would be a theocratic anarchist nightmare where criminals have to be tried by a religious court rather than a secular one. How would the court even decide what God's will was in such a case?
Let me put it another way: if someone told you that we should determine criminal guilt in murder cases by holding people underwater and knowing that God will prevent them drowning if they are innocent, how would you argue against them?
>That disasters occur [...etc]
OK, so you hold God responsible for the suffering caused by natural disasters. In fact, judged by human standards, the God you describe is a murderer (he "is responsible for acts that result in death and for which there was intent to kill or to grievously wound."), yet you also said that unrepentant murderers could not be right with God. Or are you saying that God shouldn't be judged by human standards, even though He is also the model for human standards?
Off the rails
royalrcrompton Posted Oct 22, 2008
You seem to be adding considerably to what I have actually said, e.g.
"we don't blame victims for the crimes.." Where did I say that? That may be what you have inferred, but I never intended to communicate that. Forgive me for failing to make things clearer.
What man deserves is hell right from the get-go. That is the sentence that God decrees in and through His perfect justice. The wages of sin is death (Rom. 6:23a ; Ezek. 18:4) All men are sinners ( Rom. 3:23; 5:12 ) and so all are guilty without reservation. The repeated crimes that men commit do not add anything to their guilt but only add to the severity of judgment (see Luke 12:47). Similarly, to " clean up one's act does not mitigate against the guilt of prior sins. They cannot be pardoned by anything other than the serving of justice for those crimes i.e. the death of the offender or the death of a substitute (Christ, the only possibility -- the just for the unjust).
We are all collectively blameworthy. We receive justice for what we deserve and escape justice by means of God's mercy in giving us what we don't deserve ( Christ as a substitutionary sacrifice). That justice against sinners is delayed speaks to the forebearance of God against those who oppose His righteousness.
Young children are conceived in the sinful corruption of man and are predisposed to sinning. It is a natural response in accordance to their fallen nature as inherited from like sinners. You do raise an excellent point in queryingwhether or not young babies who die are shown mercy by God. It seems academic that even though they are corrupted by natural inheritance but have not allowed that corruption to manifest in sin due to the lack of opportunity, then God would pardon them. The Westminster Divines in summarising the Larger Chatechism spoke of " elect infants " finding mercy. Just who are these infants, the Bible does not make clear. It is a point of mystery that cannot be unravelled by Scripture itself.
It is mandated by God that we do indeed, judge what is right and wrong. That is why God has given us magistrates, policemen and other authorities to punish evildoers ( see Rom. 13: 1-6 ; 1 Tim. 1:8-11). We cannot punish them justly unless we conclude that they have broken the law -- and that implies a form of discernment in judgment.
Yes, I agree we are going around in circles with the smoking thing. But I don't think we are actually at opposite ends of the spectrum on this. I would just say that if we are willfully doing something we know to be physically harmful, and if we acknowledge that there is a Creator (that is the starting point), then we should logically conclude that we are defiling His creation -- assuming that we are created. If we don't believe in Creation, then we certainly cannot assume our irresponsible behaviour is sinful.
The matter of killing and murder must be clearly defined and separated to make assessment of guilt or righteousnes. There is no judgment against killing -- but against murder. Murder is the willful taking of a man's life out of the realm of justice. It is just to execute murderers; it is just to slay (in self-defence)the one who would take your own life; it is just to slay anyone who is threatening to kill someone and has the means to do it ( holding a knife to the neck of a victim ). There are many other common-sense scenarios that I just cannot list exhaustively. Please understand, we go to hell for one reason only : we reject the love that is in Jesus Christ ( see John 3:18,19 and we go to heaven when we accept the love in Christ ( see Rom. 3:24,25 ; 1 John 4:15,16,19). Those accepting Jesus as their Saviour receive the Holy Ghost who then directs them into the paths of righteousness; the blood of Christ then cleansing us from our future sins ( see 1 John 1:7 ).
The perspectives of justice are all God-ordained. Even the most primitive tribes understand the differences between right and wrong --all due to the work of the conscience. We do not need to base our laws precisely on the oT though most of English common law is derived from the principles of the Decalogue. That is why our courtrooms have a Bible next to the witness stand which symbolizes justice as being received from a higher than human authority.
How can we judge God or call Him to account for His Divine justice? He is the Supreme ruler or Lord of the universe. And what He does is according to that authority. Thus it is folly to suggest that He be brought to the assizes to be judged of men. He is the Truth and the law of God is justice in and through that truth. If man fails to enact justice, then God will do it for us. That is why the guilty who go unpunished by men here on Earth will be cut off.
God is never "responsible." Man is solely responsible for His own hardship in the light of the sentence that God pronounced in perfect justice ( Gen. 2:17). God simply metes out various forms of justice and retribution to curtail the spread of evil. In justice without mercy, God should have been required to annihilate all mankind so that you and I would never see the light of day. Why He did not do that is not clearly understood but we can suppose that in His plan for humanity and the universe, He has seen fit to extend mercy to humankind -- a salvation for eternity to those who fear Him ( see Luke 12:4)
Off the rails
Giford Posted Oct 23, 2008
>"we don't blame victims for the crimes.." Where did I say that? That may be what you have inferred, but I never intended to communicate that.
They're your exact words from Post 10, 2nd para, opening lines. So now I'm even more confused and don't know what you meant in the first place. I did say I wasn't sure if you meant what I thought you meant, and it seems you didn't. So perhaps we could start from scratch - I was asking about your comment in Post 8 that God 'intervenes' (i.e. kills people including children via natural disasters, or fails to save them from the acts of other humans) as justice for past misdeeds. But by saying that, aren't you blaming the victims for the crime - God killed them, therefore they must have done something to deserve it?
>What man deserves is hell right from the get-go. That is the sentence that God decrees in and through His perfect justice [...] In justice without mercy, God should have been required to annihilate all mankind so that you and I would never see the light of day.
Um... why? Are you saying that genocide is the 'just' punishment for scrumping? What exactly has mankind done to merit genocide? Never mind eternal punishment thereafter! What *could* anyone do to justly deserve *eternal* punishment? And why, exactly, is God "required" to do anything? Isn't it God making the laws about what is right and wrong and who is required to do what?
Again, I can only say it seems a strange type of justice that assumes guilt when there is no possibility of it, e.g. in a newborn infant. (Again, unless you are talking about reincarnation?) That you have Biblical verses to back that up only makes me question how reliable the Bible is as a moral guide.
>They cannot be pardoned by anything other than the serving of justice for those crimes i.e. the death of the offender or the death of a substitute
Again, I've never quite understood how punishing someone else makes me less guilty. If a murderer can find a willing substitute to do his jail time for him, should he go free?
>Young children are conceived in the sinful corruption of man and are predisposed to sinning.
Well, if that's your opinion, I can only say it sounds thoroughly depressing to me. Fortunately, I disagree. Unless you can produce some evidence to support what you say, I guess we'll have to leave it at that.
>Please understand, we go to hell for one reason only : we reject the love that is in Jesus Christ ( see John 3:18,19 and we go to heaven when we accept the love in Christ
So your answer to my query is that the repentant atheist goes to hell but the unrepentant Christians go to heaven, both the one who was directed to kill by God and the one who believes incorrectly that he was directed to kill by God?
>The Westminster Divines in summarising the Larger Chatechism spoke of " elect infants " finding mercy.
Interesting - so it *is* possible, in your opinion, to be Saved without believing in Jesus in some circumstances?
>That is why God has given us magistrates, policemen and other authorities to punish evildoers
Not according to http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Police Policemen are purely human invention. Or do you mean 'God gave up magistrates' in the same sense that 'God gave us criminals'?
>There is no judgment against killing
Well, it's my turn to quote scripture then: Ex 20:13, Deut 5:17, Mark 10:19, Luke 18:20 Both the Old and New Testaments command against killing (Matthew also speaks against murder). Of course, there are also plenty of places where God commands killings, so the Bible is contradictory on this - again making it hard to use as a moral guide.
>The perspectives of justice are all God-ordained.
Which perspectives? The perspective of racism 100 years ago, or the one we have now? The perspective of slavery 500 years ago, or our modern attitude? The perspective of women's rights in the USA, UAE or UK? The perspective on religious freedom in the Bible or in the American Constitution?
As I said before, the only way that we can make judgements of this sort is on secular grounds.
>most of English common law is derived from the principles of the Decalogue.
Nope. Only 3 of the Ethical Decalogue (and none of the Ritual Decalogue) are against the law in the UK (theft, killing and adultery), with another 2 illegal under certain circumstances (Sunday trading and lying) and 4 perfectly legal (freedom of worship, covetousness, honouring parents and saying Jehova). And those illegal three are common to every legal system in the world, because they are easily derived from secular principles. Or do you think that before Moses came down from the mountain, the Israelites had no idea that murder and theft were wrong?
>How can we judge God or call Him to account for His Divine justice?
Obviously we have no chance of bringing him to justice, whether he exists or not. We can still make judgements about him though. It seems a no-brainer that someone who intentionally kills frequently and randomly is a murderer and not a role-model for ethical behaviour. Are you disagreeing with that?
>God is never "responsible." Man is solely responsible for His own hardship in the light of the sentence that God pronounced in perfect justice
Perhaps we're talking at cross purposes. I'm still thinking of 'hardship' in terms of tsunamis and earthquakes. Let me state it plainly: there is no justice in earthquakes. They do not strike the sinners and spare the saints. They are utterly random, and if you believe that God sends them, they are cruel and unjust. They are certainly *not* caused by a human "failure to enact justice". You have said yourself that they are sent by God, therefore I don't see how you can say God is not responsible for their consequences.
Off the rails
royalrcrompton Posted Oct 23, 2008
Guess I was in La-la Land when I wrote that bit about "crimes and blaming. " It was my failure to state what I meant and so wound up writing something slightly different than what I intended. Sorry...
No, I'm not at all saying that genocide is just punishment. Man has no right to take another's life by virtue of his belief that someone is responsible for the woes of the world just because his race is predominanant in finance and banking. That was Hitler's rationale. Just punishment is about stopping law-breakers. The fact that we have broken God's laws means that we are all deserving of that just punishment which God decress to be physical death(the timing to be at His discretion) and everlasting separation from Him in a realm of suffering and darkness (hell). I too, have thought that God's decree is severe -- but it is just in terms of His right as Lord to enact such sentencing. Again, it's His prerogative.
But man does have a choice to avoid Divine retribution. And if we reject the free offer of His love through Jesus Christ, who then is to blame?? God has provided the means to avoid punishment, so do you then conclude that God is unfair? Is He to be despised just because His perfect justice does not square with your or my idea of what justice should be?
Punishing someone else does not make you less guilty. If you accept the pardon in the person of the one who dies in your stead, you become innocent of the charge since the penalty for the crime has been paid. It's not a questionnof reduction in guilt, it is the total elimination of it. The charge is expunged from the record.
It is plain to see the sinning nature of children-- even before age one. They need constantly to be told that what they are fdoing is wrong. Teaching necessitates amending their selfishness (" Mine!!")and disobedience. Children don't need any instruction in rebellion. It's second nature to them.That rebellion just grows as the age. That is why there are laws in the first place. Because man is inherently out to please himself at the expense of others and so they break laws that harm the other individual. If man were inherently good there would be no criminals or jails. Man doesn't need to learn how to do evil vis-a-vis the Ten Commandments. He breaks the first and the tenth commandments continually and so often breaks the ones in between. Commands 1-4 direct us to love God and commands 5-10 direct us to love our neighbours. With the exception of the sixth command most people break every other one outwardly. Christ's Sermon on the Mount shows us that we often commit murder inwardly and so we are just as guilty in God's eyes. Thus we all must pay for the plethora of crimes we have committed against God and man. And that sentence is hell, unless we accept the pardon offered to us in Christ. That pardon is the amazing love of God in Christ. He sent His own Son to die in our stead.
Your analysis of the unrepentant atheist and the unrepentant Christian is an oxymoron. There is no such thing as an unrepentant Christian. Again, as I stated in a previous post, His repentance is essential-- a contrite acknowledgement of the crimes he has committed against God.
I do believe that in the case of infants, God has set His love upon them because they have yet to commit sin or guilefully walk in the direction of evil. The wages of sin is death, but if no sin is committed, then it stands to reason that no eternal punishment can be meted out against them. The question of what age they become accountable before God is very subjective. Some theologians conclude it is around 5 to 7 years but in view of what I see some young children do, it would appear to me to be younger.
Where God ordains annihilation, it is obvious that it does not fall within the realm of sin, since God is sinless.
Re English Common Law, I was thinking more than just the Ten Commandments, but also other portions of the Mosaic Law that pertain to restitution.
Off the rails
Giford Posted Oct 24, 2008
Frankly, phew! I was starting to get worried that you actually did think kids were to blame for hurricanes! Glad to see that's not the case. (And it also makes clear that you're not talking about Resurrection, which is a whole can of worms we can leave firmly closed.) But if not... why *does* God kill innocent people (including kids) in hurricanes?
As you've said, just punishment is about stopping law-breaking - but is that the effect or the intent of natural disasters? Look at the way a loving parent punishes a child; immediate, mild rebukes that make the child associate certain behaviours with punishment, combined with role-modelling good behaviour. Now look at the 'punishment' you think God uses - wholesale random slaughter for poorly-defined crimes, followed by *eternal* damnation, whilst not needing to abide by his own moral laws. It's not even as if God directs natural disasters against particularly sinful cities.
Doesn't it look like natural disasters are purposeless and unfeeling consequences of the laws of nature, with no God to stop them?
And then this bizarre concept that killing someone else then allows God to remove from us the guilt that he dumped on us in the first place. I ask again, if a murderer can persuade someone else to serve their jail time for them, are they no longer guilty of murder?
OK, I see your logic that if someone chooses punishment then that's they're own fault. But... if a human threatened to kill you unless you did something for him, what would be your opinion of that human? Would you really say you have a 'free choice'? What about someone who tried to form relationships based on threats and fear? Basically, it's not moral to force anyone to do something under threat of torture. And what is the point of giving people free will but then punishing them if they use it?
Doesn't it make more sense to say that people should be judged fairly on their actions, not condemned to eternal punishment unless they can find someone else to take their punishment for them?
>I'm not at all saying that genocide is just punishment [...] Just punishment is about stopping law-breakers [...] The fact that we have broken God's laws means that we are all deserving of that just punishment which God decress to be physical death(the timing to be at His discretion)
So you started out by saying that genocide is not just punishment, but then went on to explain why killing everyone is just. Saying "it's His prerogative" doesn't change that. It's pretty basic to morality that the rules apply to *everyone*, *particularly* those who are powerful enough to escape punishment for breaking them.
I could also add that this is based on the assumption that Christianity is the one true religion. A Muslim would say that you deserve Hell for your free will choice to reject the teachings of Mohammed. So you and Muslims have both made a choice on the best available evidence - but they deserve eternal suffering and you do not? Why?
>It is plain to see the sinning nature of children-- even before age one.
Well, it's not plain to me. I guess it's just a matter of perspective. Children under one do very little other than feed, excrete, sleep and cry. I'll agree that they have no sense of right and wrong until they are taught what is right and wrong - but how does that square with your previous claim that we have an innate, God-given sense of right and wrong?
>If man were inherently good there would be no criminals or jails.
Again, this seems like a matter of viewpoint. If man were inherently bad, we'd never have invented democracy or charities. People have the capacity to be either selfish or cooperative, surely? And that is presumably based on some combination of nature and nurture for each individual. Where does God come into it?
>There is no such thing as an unrepentant Christian.
We're going in circles here. So David, Abraham, Joshua, Moses and God, all of whom killed without repenting, won't go to Heaven? (OK, they're all OT so not Christians.) Or are you saying a Christian must repent of performing the actions God tells him to do? Remember, one of the examples is a Christian ordered by God to kill, something you have said you do believe happens.
>Where God ordains annihilation, it is obvious that it does not fall within the realm of sin, since God is sinless.
So murder isn't a sin when God does it? Isn't you reasoning here circular - we know anything God does is not a sin because we know God doesn't do anything sinful?
As I've asked before, why didn't God make us sinless 'in His image'?
>Re English Common Law, I was thinking more than just the Ten Commandments, but also other portions of the Mosaic Law that pertain to restitution.
So you think that murderers should be released if they reach certain designated cities, we shouldn't eat 'bottom feeders' (whatever they are) and shouldn't wear clothes of mixed fabrics? The vast majority of the Mosaic law - other than the Ethical Decalogue - is devoted to Jewish ritual laws and the correct way to sacrifice animals. In what way is English law based on them?
Isn't it the case that you pick and choose which bits of the OT laws you think still apply - and that you make that choice on purely secular grounds?
Off the rails
royalrcrompton Posted Oct 24, 2008
There are no " innocent " people on planet Earth. A critical examination of Scripture reveals this in many sections ( Psalm 14:1-4 ; 53:-14 ; Rom. 3:10 ; Rom. 3:23 " for all have sinned..." If all have sinned then there is no innocency. We can though, presuppose that " all " cannot logically include infants who have died before they have walked in disobedience to God's moral law.
You incorrectly suppose that God has not rebuked all the people who eventually come to harm, and that suffer and die in and through supernatural disasters. What about the conscience that God gave to everyone? That is surely a better mechanism for correction as a tongue-lashinng because it immediately bears witness of wrong without any verbal abuse or corporal punishment. And all of us have been smitten by that conscience. God states that His Spirit will not stive forever with mankind ( Gen. 6:3). There comes a day when each of us must die -- some go in their sleep, some die by accident, some die in famine and pestilence and others die in disaster.
Because the sentence for breaking God's law is death, there can be no substitutionary serving of a jail-term. God requires the life of the transgressor and so, Christ as that substitute, must die, if there is to be any atoning work and expiation of man's guilt. It is not a question of whether we adequately understand or agree with this vicarious w of Jesus Christ. God has set tin place as the only means of justification for sinful man and we can either accept it or reject it. Those who accept will find pardon while those who reject it must face damnation.
We all have a free choice to accept the gospel -- the Good News that we can be released from a terrifying eternal sentence. That man first broke the relationship with God as He intended it to function demonstrates that God is merciful in allowing the relationship to be reconciled. He is not bound in any way to to reconcile Himself to rebels any more than we are to suffer those who commit treason against the state. If God chose not to devise a means of reeconcilaition, then I would agree with you that we are left with no choice and free will would be meaningless. But He has left the door open for us to walk through. It is now each individual's free will to go through or turn away from the free offer.
It is indeed, just that God punish sin. That death was His just sentence is not open to reversal. But it is not killing per se. Every man has the seed of death in his makeup through a prediliction to rebellion against righteousness, and so each of us dies as a result of our own rebellion. Ever heard of someone who was not held in the clutches of death(apart from Jesus Christ)? Death is the universal sentence imposed on man for transgression and it does not occur because God simply takes a dislike to him and decides to do him in. Man dies in Adam because of Adam's guilt ( 1 Cor. 15:21,22).
As for genocide, there have been many genocides : mostly against Christians. At least 20 million Christians have been martyred for their faith -- ( more than 2 million alone in the 20th Century ), far more deaths by genocide than happened through the Russsian pogromwsand Nazi atrocities. Yet God allowed that for His own purposes -- in fact, Christ predicted it would happen!
From the toddler stage, youngsters need to be taught how to act appropriately. They are in constant need of correction. Their behaviour is not simply benign. They naturally serve their selfish natures -- just as we do as adults. Any fair observation proves that to the case.
The Bible declares man to be inherently bad. That man could be more wicked than he is is perhaps a better way of viewing his makeup. We tend to think of ourselves as being " just as good as the next guy " when really we are " just as bad as the next guy." Admittedly, this all comes down to God's perspective of us. It is only natural that wee ourselves in a better light. But Scripture says we are as filth in His sight.
Christians are ALWAYS brought to repentance by God. That is the promised work of the Holy Spirit. No exceptions...
God never murders. He enacts His sentence of justice which is quite a different thing.
Mosaic Law includes forms of restitution. I was thinking about fines and paying back the one who has lost property/livestock etc. as a result of crime. Common Law covers some of that.
Off the rails
Giford Posted Oct 27, 2008
As I said, Bible verses hold little weight for me in proving that all people are guilty. I can only use my own experience and common sense to make such judgements. So I partly agree with you on that (though not on your interpretation of Paul's word 'all' to mean 'some'!). Sure, small children don't know right from wrong until you tell them (and I'm still wondering how you square that with the idea of a God-given moral sense), but the vast majority of them grow up to be morally good people.
But as soon as you allow that some have not sinned, even if it's just babies, how can you justify God killing them in such terrible ways? You wrote about us having 'sinned in Adam', which I assume is a reference to Original Sin. If so, doesn't that contradict the idea that children are free of sin until they act sinfully? If not, why do children die in natural disasters? Even if natural disasters are punishment for sin, why is God's punishment so arbitrary? Unless you're claiming that earthquakes only kill the sinful, or that Christians die peacefully and only non-Christians suffer when they die - which I don't think you are.
This whole idea of sin explaining suffering just doesn't cut it for me, and throwing in the idea of original sin just makes it worse. Doesn't it seem to you like natural disasters are the result of purely natural processes and not sent by a loving God?
The thing about our consciousness being a 'rebuke from God' - well, perhaps, but then why do different people feel guilty about different things? I for one have never felt the slightest guilt about working on a Sunday, nor about not worshipping God. Vast numbers of people worship gods other than YHWH without guilt - indeed, quite the reverse, they feel virtuous because of it. If their moral sense is sent from God to rebuke them, why is that? Or could it be that moral sense has to be taught, and if one is not taught to hold the sabbath sacred then one feels no guilt about working Sundays?
You're arguing that since God has declared us all sinners, and declared the punishment for sin to be death, only the sacrifice of Jesus can redeem us. I am questioning whether the idea of substitutionary sacrifice makes sense - not the substitution of jail time for death, the substitute of one person for another. The example I'm using is a murderer - let's say one with a fanatical following. If one of the followers offers to take the punishment (whether that be imprisonment or death), is the murderer then not guilty?
I'm curious how you can explain how God has decided that all people deserve eternal punishment, and then go on to describe him as 'merciful' because he exempts some people from that punishment.
And finally, I'm still pretty confused about whether killers can go to Heaven. You now seem to be saying that Christians don't kill, whereas before you seemed to be saying that they were sometimes ordered by God to do just that. I've already said I'm deliberately avoiding the word 'murder' precisely because it does involve judgements about whether killing is 'legitimate' or not. You initially said that God does order people to kill (though you're saying that's not murder, and for the purposes of this debate I'm not arguing with that). So Christians can and do kill without remorse.
Perhaps it would be easier if I set this out as bullet-points and you could tell me whether you agree, disagree, don't know or something else for each:
(1) God sometimes orders people to kill.
(2) God sometimes sends people to hell for following his orders.
(3) People sometimes think God has ordered them to kill when he has not.
(4) People sometimes kill because they believe (rightly or wrongly) that God has ordered them to.
(5) People who correctly believe God has ordered them to kill can kill and feel no remorse.
(6) People who incorrectly believe God has ordered them to kill can kill and feel no remorse.
(7) People who correctly believe God has ordered them to kill, and who have killed with no remorse, may go to Heaven.
(8) People who incorrectly believe God has ordered them to kill, and who have killed with no remorse, may go to Heaven.
(Obviously if you disagree with an early point, some of the later ones may be irrelevant, e.g if you disagree with (1) then (5) and (7) make no sense.) The point I'm trying to make is that by starting with the assumption that a Christian God exists, you can follow a perfectly logical path to some very bizarre conclusions. But I'm not clear on what conclusions you have reached. If you could respond to those 8 points, I would at least have a better understanding of what you believe.
>Ever heard of someone who was not held in the clutches of death(apart from Jesus Christ)?
Yes, lots of people! http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_immortal_people#Claimed_to_be_immortal_by_others
>there have been many genocides : mostly against Christians.
Where did you get that idea from? There have been at least as many genocides perpetrated by Christians as directed at Christians (and not a few that were Christian vs Christian). http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Genocides_in_history Genocides are carried out by the powerful against the weak; other than that, I can't see any particular pattern to them, whether it be religious, political or racial. I've always found it slightly strange that Christians (and some other faiths) seem to hold being persecuted as a badge of honour, or even as evidence that their beliefs are true.
Off the rails
royalrcrompton Posted Oct 27, 2008
RE " the vast majority grow up to be morally good people..." By whose standard? Certainly not God's, who declares us all unclean, unfit and without inherent good. That all of us do break civic laws imposed to curtial eveil menas we all stand guilty. Ever steal a chocolate bar or lollupop fro the confectioner? We are all guilty(though perhaps, most of us have not yet been caught in our crime).
God does not murder (if you equate that action with taking lives unjustly). He does kill according to His secret counsel. That He does is out of our realm of understanding. But He may hasten the cutting off of certain individuals to prevent them from harming others; or in the case of infants, do so to spare them needless suffering that, in His omniscience, He foresees. We all die eventually because of our proclivity to sin and our eventual falling into it (with the exception of infants who have died before wilfully disobeying God's moral law). I could come to terms with questioning God's edict of death apart from sin, but since we do sin, we are receiving the just sentence. The fact that we all don't sie at 75 or 80 years is God's business - -not ours. Soem tend toi think that the life of a babe is far more imortant that the life of an aol;d man. But that is nbot so. God is concerned not with th3e body but with the salvation of the lost soul. So if a child dies in infancy and goes to heaven to enjoy eternal bliss through God's grace but an old man dies and goes directly t hell, who then should we feel sorry for? Certainly the old man I should think as he cannot escape and as Dante wrote in His Divine comedy " Abandon all hope ye who enter here."
I think that disasters such as tornadoes are plausibly natural occurences, but since the Bible explains the weather systems as being completely under the control of God, I can only accept that extreme weather patterns that produce cyclones, hurricanes etc. are also Divinely introduced.
Guilt by the conscience is a mechanism that checks man's fre-fall into depravity. I don't work on Sunday's but as Rom. 14 clarifies, we have liberty to do those things which are good on the Sabbath --and that would include building a shelter to help some poor perosn stay dry after a hurricane destroyed his abode. The conscience checks us when we act in hatred. A loving action or perspective is never checked by the conscience but only those acts which ultimately wreak harm and sorrow for our fellow men and those actions that disrespect God - breaking the first 4 commands. (taking his name in vain, lovong other false gods, three-dimensional altars of worship etc. failing to observe one day in seven as a day of rest). The fact that someone's conscience is not affected, speaks to its hardening ( moving toward a deadeness that identifies a reprobate state see Rom. 1 ).
A sinner cannot offer to substitute himself for the guilt of another sinner -- since both are guilty and the penalty for sin is death (not just the crime of murder). Humans tend to think that the only puishment worthy of death is murder. But God declares that any ONE sin is condemnable, because it breaks the moral law. The moral law stands as a single code ( Love the Lord Thy God with all thy heart soul mind and strength and love thy neighbour as thyself (See Mark 12 and James 2).
That God has shown grace to some but chooses to pass by others is a decree that some theologinas have described as horrifying. But to those who ahve trusted in Christ, we simply praise God that He chose us--recognizing that we altogether unworty and questuioning why He would show His love to us? When I think of all the filth that I was into in my 20's and 30's, it makes me realize that God is indeed, gracious. The adultery, drunkenness, brawling, drug abuse, profanity, pornography, cheating, theft, deception, lying...it goes on and on, Gif. If I could explain Rom. 9 and John 6:37, I would be a lot smarter, but I cannot. I just accept what God says about himself. as having love for an elect people to whom He shows mercy (Rom. 8ff).
re killing :
2. Yes, Sennacherib, the King of Assyria as an example . Brought down Israel in 712 BC and dies worshipping at the altar of His God Nisroch ( idlators do not go to heaven)
3. Yes . It happens all the tim - the god of their imagination(devil)
4. Yes (an extension of #3)
5. most would feel remorse, I'm sure, for no other reason that they had to (as a necessity ) enact Divine justice -- an executioner as an example. I don't believe executioners rejoice in their trade.
6. Generally No, but possibly Yes.( if their conscience had hardened whereby they no longerr feel no guilt).
Not in the clutches of death -- nobody indefinitely. We All go out sooner or later
Off the rails
royalrcrompton Posted Oct 29, 2008
Sorry for my failure to edit and correct misspellings in my last reply. I was interrupted for awhile, lost my train of thought, then later went back to the computer. Somehow I thought the corrections had already been done and hit the "post message" button. Rather careless of me. As you can see, I type just about as well as I peform brain surgery.
1st para should read "...to curtail evil means..."
2nd para " " "...that we all don't die at 75 or 80..."
" far more important than the life of an old man..."
6th para " " "...chose us -- recognising that we are altogether unworthy. That unworthiness should cause us to question why He would even bother to show us any love at all.
Off the rails
Giford Posted Oct 29, 2008
Thanks for taking the time to answer my list of questions. And don't worry about the spellings; trust me, I work with people who get paid by the hour and try to email me from their BlackBerrys. You're a fair way ahead of their standard so far!
You've been lead logically to answer 'yes' to number seven (though strangely after giving a qualified 'no' to 5). So you are accepting that Christians can, under some circumstances, kill without remorse, right? So, in answer to my original question, a repentant atheist would go to hell, but an unrepentant Christian would go to heaven. (On the proviso that they are not mistaken about God's will - which raises the question of how you can tell whether you are mistaken or not when you think you know God's will.)
Taken in combination with your idea that all sins are equal, it gets even worse. Would you say that an atheist whose only sin is not to believe in God, and who feels really bad about that and wishes he did believe in God, but just can't convince himself that God exists, and who also spends his whole life doing good works and trying to follow the Biblical laws - such a person deserves eternal hell?
Again, what I am trying to show is that using logic based on the assumption that God exists can lead inevitably to some very strange conclusions. Most people would consider that the repentant are more deserving than the unrepentant, but you cannot allow that in this instance because it conflicts with your ideas about salvation being through faith alone. (When it comes to innocent children, you've gone the other way and allowed an exception to the faith-only rule.) It seems to me that this is a bizarre conclusion that flies against common sense - but you are forced to it because you have certain preconceptions about God which you cannot change.
> RE " the vast majority grow up to be morally good people..." By whose standard?
Well, by pretty much any standard. By and large we get along well with each-other. Crime is the exception, not the rule, in even the worst societies. Charities prosper. We agree to be governed. Parents care for their children. If you believe in a God who does not see any good at all in that, I would question the moral values of your God. If you just want to say we're imperfect, then fine - but no good *at all*?
> Certainly not God's, who declares us all unclean, unfit and without inherent good.
Sounds like a Design fault to me. Seriously, though, you are saying that God made us 'in His image' and 'without inherent good' and then decided to punish us for that? A God who you describe as 'killing according to His secret council' - a depth to which few humans would sink, and which I would still consider murder - then labels us as deserving of punishment? What would you think of a human court that arrested you and sentenced you to death without a trial and without even telling you the charges? I'd describe that as a combination of Kafka and Machiavelli - hardly a model of justice.
It gets even worse if you consider all to be already condemned to death and suffering. I am already guilty of breaking at least 4 of the Ten Commandments. Therefore I am - in your eyes - already going to suffer the worst punishment possible. Why, then, should I not murder a few people while I'm about it? If the only basis for moral behaviour is fear of punishment, and if I have already earned myself the worst possible punishment, and if I'm already ignoring my own moral sense, what reason have I for any moral behaviour at all? If all sins are equally bad, would *you* have any objection to me murdering people as long as I stop working on Sundays?
Or do you use some other, secular standard to judge such behaviour?
>So if a child dies in infancy and goes to heaven to enjoy eternal bliss through God's grace but an old man dies and goes directly t hell, who then should we feel sorry for?
Indeed. From a religious viewpoint, your logic is flawless. And yet we clearly do have more pity for the lost potential of an innocent child than for the expected passing of someone who has lived a long and happy life. How does this square with your idea that our morals are sent from God?
Ever seen a Christian crying at the funeral of another Christian? Why, if they truly believe in Heaven?
>I think that disasters such as tornadoes are plausibly natural occurences, but since the Bible explains the weather systems as being completely under the control of God, I can only accept that extreme weather patterns that produce cyclones, hurricanes etc. are also Divinely introduced.
This would be somewhere that the OT's bronze-age understanding of nature conflicts with modern science. Which one you want to go with is your own choice, but if you are going for the Biblical option you would need to accept that God kills at random.
> A loving action or perspective is never checked by the conscience but only those acts which ultimately wreak harm and sorrow for our fellow men and those actions that disrespect God - breaking the first 4 commands. (taking his name in vain, lovong other false gods, three-dimensional altars of worship etc. failing to observe one day in seven as a day of rest). The fact that someone's conscience is not affected, speaks to its hardening ( moving toward a deadeness that identifies a reprobate state see Rom. 1 ).
Whoah, hang on, you're on dangerous ground here. Your prime (if not only) reason for thinking that God exists is that you feel a sense of contact with Him. Yet you are very, very quick to claim that all members of other religions ('lovers of false gods') are simply mistaken (and possibly morally inferior since you regard that as a sin). But how do you know that it's not you who's mistaken and morally hardened? I can assure you that I have never had the slightest pang of guilt about not worshipping God (and that applies equally to all the Gods I don't worship, not just the Christian one). There's been no conscious 'hardening' involved in that.
> A sinner cannot offer to substitute himself for the guilt of another sinner
Is anger a sin ('inward murder' I think was your phrase)? Did Jesus feel anger? Was Jesus a sinner?
Can a human be free of sin? Was Jesus human (as well as divine)? Was Jesus a sinner?
Could God have made us free of sin? Did God make Jesus? Was Jesus a sinner?
And this still doesn't answer my original question: if a murderer has followers who will willingly give their lives for him - young children who have not yet sinned, for instance - is the murderer then innocent?
As I said, this whole idea - so fundamental to Christian theology - just doesn't make any sense to me. Again, it seems to be based on the assumption that there must be good reasons for Christ's death and for believing in Him, and works backwards from that to the idea of substitutionary sacrifice. Taken by itself, that idea just doesn't make any sense. To me, anyway.
> The adultery, drunkenness, brawling, drug abuse, profanity, pornography, cheating, theft, deception, lying...it goes on and on,
I'm pleased you've put all that behind you, and if religion helped you to do that then good for you and good for religion. But credit where credit's due; you managed that due to your own inner strength, and you felt the desire to change because of your own moral sense (and possibly other factors, I don't know your exact personal situation, obviously). Your faith may have given you the support you needed to make those changes, but your faith comes ultimately from you, not from some external source that made those changes for you.
Key: Complain about this post
Off the rails
- 1: Giford (Oct 15, 2008)
- 2: royalrcrompton (Oct 16, 2008)
- 3: Giford (Oct 17, 2008)
- 4: royalrcrompton (Oct 17, 2008)
- 5: royalrcrompton (Oct 17, 2008)
- 6: Giford (Oct 20, 2008)
- 7: royalrcrompton (Oct 20, 2008)
- 8: royalrcrompton (Oct 20, 2008)
- 9: Giford (Oct 21, 2008)
- 10: royalrcrompton (Oct 21, 2008)
- 11: Giford (Oct 22, 2008)
- 12: royalrcrompton (Oct 22, 2008)
- 13: Giford (Oct 23, 2008)
- 14: royalrcrompton (Oct 23, 2008)
- 15: Giford (Oct 24, 2008)
- 16: royalrcrompton (Oct 24, 2008)
- 17: Giford (Oct 27, 2008)
- 18: royalrcrompton (Oct 27, 2008)
- 19: royalrcrompton (Oct 29, 2008)
- 20: Giford (Oct 29, 2008)