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Off the rails

Post 41


Hi Gif

re slavery

I find slavery morally abhorrent where there is cruelty, unjust punishment and a sense of hopelessnes among those who are so malevolently treated. But that is not the issue that I am trying to communicate. It is the decision of God to enslave for His purposes --decisions that we see in Scripture that we don't particularly side with but which must be accepted if we are to regard the authority, will and perfect righteousness of God to be enforced. Scripture shows this to be the case. Keep in mind Gif that " slavery " does not necessarily entail evil. God brings Christians to Himself that we may serve Him. The Greek word used thoughout the NT to describe that role of servitude is " doulos " -- it means " slave, " though it has been translated into some English Bible versions as " servant. " But the proper transliteration of " doulos " is much stronger. We are called to be slaves for Jesus Christ. Our lives are no longer our own. Please read 1 Cor. 6:20 ; 7:22,23 -- there is no confusion here. Christians have entered into slavery - albeit an easy yoke ( Matt. 11:29,30 and one that promises the new and abundant life(John 10:10b).

re solipsism

Christians are described as being different from the rest-- no doubt about it ( see 1 Pet. 2:9)! That is why they are persecuted (see 2 Tim. 3:12 ). They are just the same as the rest prior to their conversion, but afterward they take on a new dimension of living i.e. in the Spirit (see Rom. 8:1,2,10,16). I cannot change what the Bible says I am, yet I do know that I am different from the non-Christian because I bear a love for God and all my fellow men. I may not like some people but there is a strong difference between loving and liking since " like " connotes feelings (whereas love is action out of care and concern apart from any accompanying feelings).

I believe that unicorns existed, but perhaps not the unicorns that you envision (see Num. 23:22; Deut. 33:7 ; Job 39:9,10 ).We aren't given any detailed descriptions here.

re God's responsibility
To say that God is responsible for what sinners do is akin to saying that you are responsible for the death of a pedestrian when you plainly know that the car your next-door neighbour drives is badly in need of new brakes, yet you don't warn him or report him to the motor vehicle bureau in time to save the poor individual who gets run over in the crosswalk when your neighbour doesn't stop in time. There is a decided difference between sovereignty over a situation and ultimate responsibility.

re tying myself in knots

Well, you must understand that Jesus did not go to the cross out of free will because He was doing the will of His Father (see Mark 14:34-36 ) You need to read this carefully to see that Christ did not die willingly out of His human nature but did so out of His Divine obedience to the will of His Father -- an obedience that He always maintained (see John 8:29).

Nowhere have I intended to state that man is "...punished for his choice..." Man is punished because he is a sinner. He may die in his sins without making any choices-- precisely for not believing in Jesus Christ as the Saviour of mankind from sin and eternal damnation (cf. John 8:24 , 3:18,19). Any unwillingnesss on my part to accept that I am mistaken is predicated on my new life, a changed attitude, a transformed existence that I had nothing to do with other than accept Jesus Christ by faith. I give you this testimony of myself that you may regard it as true and sincere.

Contrary to what you imply about my doctrinal beliefs, I have not formulated beliefs concerning the salvation or damnation of any man. It is what the Bible tells me...I just quote Scripture. Right or wrong, my faith rests in the Bible as the final authority in these matters.
smiley - smiley

Off the rails

Post 42


Hi Gif

a correction to part of my text in post #40

>on free will<

It should read " while Jesus had the capacity in His humanity to walk among sinners, He could not partake of their iniquity. "

This is what I intended to write, but somehow I inadvertently deleted " not " during my editing.

smiley - smiley

Off the rails

Post 43


Hi Rick,

As I said before, I don't think we are likely to get much further with this, and I was just going to explain what I meant about Lennon and ask about unicorns and leave it at that. But in case you hadn't noticed, I'm psychologically incapable of letting a point go smiley - smiley

>Satan is beholding to God ... Satan did only that which God permitted him to do

That's what I thought you thought. So then how does saying "God allowed Satan to do it" make God any less culpable than saying "God did it"? God had every opportunity to prevent it, but didn't.

>Martin Luther gave wise counsel in saying that when the literal sense makes perfect sense, then seek no other sense.

smiley - rolleyes And, as I pointed out, Jesus' commandment makes perfect literal sense and was, apparently, followed literally by his disciples.

>That instruction was for THEM-but not for everyone else.

And you know that how? Can you give a Biblical reference to support that? What about the instruction to love thy neighbour? Perhaps that was only for his contempories also? Do you see my point here - that you are not reading the NT and doing what it says, you are reading it and *interpreting* it in light of your pre-existing ideas of right and wrong. So when Jesus says "love thy neighbour", you recognise that as being good, idealistic advice and agree with it and take it literally. But when Jesus says "give everything you own away", that's much less acceptable to you, so you decide it must be 'metaphorical' or it 'applies only to other people/times/places'.

(The verse you quote categorically says to observe "all things *whatsoever* I have commanded you" - not 'those bits you think still relevant'. My emphasis, obviously.)

>I do not see anywhere in the NT where Paul disagreed with His Lord.

Careful there. I said Paul disagreed with Jesus' family and disciples - since we don't have Jesus' own writings, we don't know for sure which sub-sect he agreed with. I personally would have thought that people who spent a lot of time with Jesus would know his teachings better than Paul who, as far as we know, never met Jesus during his lifetime; but you're welcome to disagree if you want. What does seem clear is that Paul disagreed with other early Christian writers such as the author of the Epistle of James (traditionally regarded as Jesus' brother but more likely pseudoepigraphal). James appears to be disagreeing with Paul as to whether faith alone or faith and works are required for salvation. Specifically, they disagree about Rahab - it appears that Paul holds her up as someone saved by faith, whereas James points out that it was her actions (as well as her faith) that saved her. Compare, for example, Heb 11:31 with James 2:25. More generally, James probably represents the sect of early Christians who believed it was necessary for converts to becomes Jews (i.e. be circumcised) before they could become Christians. Since you mention Luther, he famously declared James to be an "epistle of straw" for this reason.

>I do not see how you can qualify that by God altering His action plans in and through His foreknowledge, the literal truth is undone.

I didn't say anything about 'literal truth being undone' (whatever that means). What I said was that if God knows what will happen, he should have no need to change his plans. Generally speaking, we change our plans when we change our minds about what we want, or when we find out new information that shows our old plans won't work. Neither of those, presumably, can apply to God as you envisage him.

>You call John Lennon a Christian.

smiley - rolleyes No, let me explain again. You were saying that 'true Christians' can be identified by their love. When I think of people strongly known for love and peace, I think of John Lennon and New-Age hippie types in general. Since Lennon plainly is *not* a Christian, but is known for his love, I am suggesting that there is something wrong with your claim that Christians can be identified by their love. Don't you think?

>sinners cannot do anything that pleases God

What, nothing *at all*? (And aren't we all sinners anyway?) Does that mean that everything everyone (or every non-Christian?) does is displeasing to God? Charities such as UNICEF, Oxfam, UNHCR, the Red Cross and even the Welfare State - all displeasing to God? You don't accept that God might be pleased with certain actions and displeased with others no matter who does them? God is angry with Schindler for his actions?

>God has no free will in that He is holy and cannot sin

smiley - headhurts Well, congratulations on following where your logic leads - but seriously, does anyone or anything other than you personally have free will?

>if Jesus was not Divine, then there would have been some indication in His life of committed sin ... There is nothing recorded in any secular history that Jesus was just like the rest

smiley - rolleyes There is nothing recorded in *any* contemporary secular history about Jesus at all. Even the NT works describe Jesus as a glutton and a drunk who frequently committed 'sinful' acts ranging from breaking the OT laws to anger and wanton destruction of property (not just in the Temple): So Jesus appears not to have lead a particularly sin-free life, even according to accounts biased in his favour, and by your own logic we should therefore conclude he was not Divine. You won't, of course, because once again you are more attached to the lenses than the view.

>some of the weird fiction

Don't *even* get me started on all the Leigh/Lincoln/Baigent stuff! Fun to read, but plainly not factual. On that, at least, I think we are in agreement.

>We are called to be slaves

Again I think you are confusing literal and metaphorical here. The Bible commands a very literal slavery, where one person is owned by another and may be beaten without cause, without benefit or advantage to the slave. This is in no way comparable to your own personal religious choices.

>I cannot change what the Bible says I am

No, but you could disagree with it when it is plainly wrong.

>I do know that I am different from the non-Christian because I bear a love for God and all my fellow men

And how does that make you different from non-Christians? It appears to me that you are different from non-Christians (and most Christians) in that you regard others as being lesser than yourself and incapable of true feelings.

>I believe that unicorns existed, but perhaps not the unicorns that you envision

I almost dread to ask, but - what differences are there between the Biblical unicorns and the ones I am imagining?

>re God's responsibility

Yes, I agree with your metaphor. If I had good reason to think an accident was likely and did nothing, I would be at least partly responsible (morally and legally). If I had *certain* knowledge, I would be still more responsible. How does that get God off the hook?

>God has no free will [...] Jesus ... was doing the will of His Father

smiley - erm So does God have free will or not?

>I just quote Scripture

No, you *interpret* scripture. At the very least, you choose to use only use Christian scripture (and not even all of that), and you also place your own interpretation on it, as I have tried to explain above.

Gif smiley - geek

Off the rails

Post 44


Hi Gif

There is no culpability attached to those who merely observe a crime.
That God allows man to reap the consequences of his sin is not unjust in any way. He has the judicial right to squash us all, but in His forebearance, He gives man time and space to repent. Because Adam followed Satan's advice, he made himself de facto serf of the devil and under Satan's dominion. Is it not fitting then that if one chooses a new master, must the old master provide, care and protect the one who rejected him?

What exact commandment that Jesus gave are you referring to? If it is Luke 18:22,then you have missed the point completely. Jesus was simply undoing this man's vain attempt to self-justify his lifestyle. He was cornered in the same old sin that Paul was forced to acknowledge i.e. covetousness (see Rom. 7:7-9). The rich young ruler was unable to let his riches go. That was a specific command to him --not to anyone else. That Christian men have the power to hold onto their riches or donate them is substantiated by Acts 5:4.

You didn't say Paul disagreed with Jesus' family, you stated in your last post that Paul seemed to disagree with Jesus' teaching. That faith and works are complementary -- the latter coming forth from the former is clearly outlined in the NT and I have summarised this at length in another thread.

That God changes His plans does in no way demonstrate a Divine change of mind. Mal. 3:6 and Heb. 13:8 dismisses that notion. What God does though, is give people the space to repent out of Divine forebearance -- a delay of final judgment. He knows specifically who will be the recipients of his mercy and so brings them to Himself according to His timetable. The recipients of His mercy have beenknown since before the foundation of the world (see Eph. 1:4).

Sinners are under the wrath of God;He is angry with them every day ( Psalm 7:11). Nothing they do is commendable in His sight. Again, please read Is. 64:6 ; Psalm 53:1-3). Your idea of good is not based on a Divine perspective but a human one. It supposes that our altruism is righteous. That is the problem with humanity; we think ourselves okay but in God's eyes we are despicable and worthy only of eternaldeath. That any of us receives of His mercy is therefore, amazing.

Free will is established in the heart of thosewhose spirits have come alive in Christ. That necessitates the born-again experience as I have already stated. The unconverted is bereft of the spirit that Adam was given. It died according to the curse of death -- physical death and spiritual death (see Eph. 2:1 ; Rom. 8:5,6,10). When we are born again, we have the spirit of God renewed in us. Prior to conversion there is no spiritual connection to God. Salvation reconciles us to God spiritually so that we can experience life in body, soul and spirit as we were designed to (see 1 Thess. 5:23). Yes, our bodies will eventually die because we were born to die physically in and through our inherited disposition to sin. But God preserves a people to Himself by saving souls through the awakening of the spirit.

Gif, be sure that life in Jesus Christ is a form of slavery; albeit it is a benevolent master that we serve. But we are no less able to walk free than the slave who picked cotton in the Deep South prior to 1863. Keep in mind that there were also many good-hearted slave owners in Dixie. But, of course, you don't hear anything about them --only the brutal ones. The point I am making is a slave owner does not necessarily imply a brute. No, my use of the term " slave " is in no way metaphorical. Christ told His disciples to " count the cost." Paul stated " you are not your own." Believe it...

You judge me incorrectly, Gif. I in no way demean anyone's character. There is no part of me that views someone else lessthan myself. I am merely one who has found new life. It is a life I dearly wish all could experience. If I didn't care about peoples' souls, I wouldn't take so much time on this forum attempting to convey the love of God. I may be a poor emmissary of Christ inyour estimation, but I am 100% sincere to the betterment of all persons.

You will have to describe the " unicorn " that you envision (is it the one so commonly portrayed with the big spiked horn protruding a meter or more in front of the beast's head?)All I know is the Bible refers to unicorns (I gave you the Scriptures but regrettably, they are descriptive in any detail).So I can state a belief in unicorns -- whatever they are or were.

I think in all fairness that I use a great deal of Scripture to base my arguments. That I could use more is a fair comment. That I interpret Scripture is not my intent. I believe my statements have clear scriptural support and are never contradicted by God's Word. I do admit that I have offered postulations concerning the mysteries that the Bible leaves for us to ponder. But I don't feel I should be criticised for attempting to rationalise specific beliefs on matters that are clearly open-ended and cannot be dogmatically supported.

smiley - smiley

Off the rails

Post 45


Hi Rick,

>There is no culpability attached to those who merely observe a crime.

You didn't ask about observing a crime, you asked about having the opportunity to prevent a disaster. Certainly under UK law all people have the responsibility to take 'reasonable actions' to ensure public safety. See, for instance, I would argue there is a general moral responsibility there as well as a specific legal one. If I see a train heading for a cliff and I'm stood right next to a lever that would switch it onto a safe track, aren't I morally obliged to pull the lever?

>What exact commandment that Jesus gave are you referring to? If it is Luke 18:22,

Nope, Luke 14:33 as I said earlier. A general statement, not referring to a specific individual. It comes right after hating your family.

>you stated in your last post that Paul seemed to disagree with Jesus' teaching.

So I did. Paul disagrees with Jesus as quoted in the NT. Jesus is quoted as saying he does not come to overthrow 'the Law' (i.e. the Torah/OT), whereas Paul thinks circumcision is not necessary to become a Christian. (Then when you replied to me I forgot what I had been thinking of earlier and replied thinking of the Paul/James barney. Sorry for the confusion.)

>That faith and works are complementary -- the latter coming forth from the former is clearly outlined in the NT

In parts of it such as James, yes. But Paul disagrees with this, saying categorically that faith *alone* - without works - is enough. "A man is justified by faith *without* the deeds of the law." - Rom 3:28. James disagrees, saying that faith without works is 'dead' - Jam 2:17 (and this is probably closer to Jesus' view, though we can't know for certain). Primarily they are talking about circucision, though they don't use the word. The necessity for pagans to become Jews as part of becoming Christians was a big issue to the early church, and it's only because Paul's faction won that Christianity has become a major religion and separate from Judaism.

For the rest, we just seem to be going in circles, with you repeating your position and me repeating my objections to it. You don't see any link between changing one's plans and changing one's mind. I do. You think only Christians have free will, whereas I think that's a ridiculous (and, fyi, potentially insulting) notion. You think that slavery is sometime acceptable (or even beneficial) whereas I find the notion of one person owning another repugnant.

And yes, the unicorn I envision looks something like the one shown at You seem confident Biblical unicorns weren't like that, so I just wondered what they were (are?) like. Invisible and pink, perhaps? smiley - winkeye

>I use a great deal of Scripture to base my arguments.

Yes, but the Bible is not the only scripture in the world. You don't use the Gospel of Thomas, Didache, Shepherd of Hermas, Book of Mormon, Koran or Baghavad Gita. You've selected which scriptures to use, and then you've selected a certain interpretation of those scriptures based on your pre-existing ideas - and then you're using your selection of scripture to prove your pre-existing ideas. Postulations on open mysteries are all very well - much better, I would say, than taking the Bible's word. The trouble is that because you insist on using the existence of God as an axiom, you frequently end up with nonsensical, contradictory or morally abhorent conclusions.

>I wouldn't take so much time on this forum attempting to convey the love of God.

Perhaps you should spend less time trying to convince others and more time trying to understand? Just a thought. Your insistence on sticking to your particular viewpoint - your lens, if you like - no matter how unpleasant the conclusions you come to is not likely to win you many converts, I'd have thought.

Gif smiley - geek

Off the rails

Post 46


Hi Gif

re culpability

I agree with you that we have an ethical/moral obligation to prevent disaster when we have the wherewithal and time to prevent it. But if you understand the circumstances that led to man's fall, then you will see that God already gave them the warning. They chose to disregard the warning that they would suffer an irrevocable death ( though admittedly, they knew nothing of what that would entail). Thus God cannot be responsible for their disobedience. He warned them that if they disobeyed His single command, they would suffer. That would equate with someone telling an individual that if he opens the brief case left on the subway platform, there could be a bomb inside set to explode. If that person, in turn, chooses to open it, the one warning him can hardly be guilty of failing to intervene.

I take it you seem to find some objection to God failing to intervene after the Fall. Again, the issue is that God created man with a free will to obey or disobey. Under that created capability, God gave man the opportunity to follow after Him in obedient love. If man had been created with only the ability to do the right thing in the eyes of God, then man would have been created an automaton-- a creature incapable of independent thought and action. This would be very much like the " Stepford Wives " scenario (I don't know if you ever saw that movie).

The commandment you cite does indeed, means laying aside everything for the service of God, but it also presupposes that we will receive all our future needs in response to that obedience. Common sense suggests that if we did not receive the basis essentials of life, we could not survive. God has promised His people that their basic needs would always be met i.e. food, clothing and shelter (cf. Matt. 6:33 ; Phil. 4:19). I believe the context of Luke 14:33 suggests being willing to lay down all in the event that the Lord should call us to service. That would mean leaving our homes, our families, our friends and our false security when the voice of God calls us. That disciples do this continually in response to His call for missionary service around the world, is academic.

Christ came not to overthrow the law, but to fulfil it. That He did fulfil it means His disciples are no longer required to-- He has satisfied the righteous requirements of the law on our behalf. If He had not done so, we would allk still be under the circumcision rite and several laws of sepoaration that were imposed on the Jews. But He has blotted out the ordincves against us i.e. the law that none of us as sinners, were able to fulfil (see Col. 2:14 ; Gal. 3:1-7 ; Gal. 5:1-4).

There is a decided difference between free will and independent thought and action. Forgive me for not spelling this out more clearly. All men have original thought; moreover, their actions bear some resemblance to free will. Thne problem being, that realm of independence stands outside the will of God. The Bible clearly points out that sinners are under the dominion of their flesh and cannot live according to the grace of God in and through righteousness ( Paul's thesis in Rom. 6).

Gif, I haven't a clue what the unicorn looks like and I am not going to speculate. They are mentioned in Scripture so I can conclude they existed. Nothing more than that...

It is not my purpose to win converts to Jesus Christ by amazing arguments and acceptable logic. I fully understand that the ways of God as outlined in Scripture raise the ire of many. Yes, there are many creeds and holy books revered by many of the world's great religions. That their patriarchs and prophets conveyed some truth is not in question. There are many truths paralleled in and through these collective writings (no disagreement here). The bottom line is that only one man was raised from the dead never to die again --with the historical record to support that resurrection. That you and others do not believe it is your right.

I guess we had better leave this off - we're spinning around, don't you think? Good to have had another stimulating debate. I appreciate many of your points and am happy to respond in kind even though you and I don't see eye to eye. I looked through the same lens that you now look through, Gif. But I can only pray that God will open your eyes some day that you may eventually see through the lens He has given me.

Blessings and good health to you!!
smiley - smiley


Off the rails

Post 47


Hi Rick,

Yes, I agree we are going in circles. I don't feel you've answered any of my central points, though presumably you disagree. It's my experience that when we reach this stage, we're unlikely to get much further. So I'll just respond to your summation with my own summation and leave it at that.

>If man had been created with only the ability to do the right thing in the eyes of God, then man would have been created an automaton

Well, if that's your final word on that matter then we'll leave it at that. To sum up my point, I don't think that cuts much ice, on the grounds that (a) it requires you to believe that God and Jesus are automata, and living in Heaven is, as you say, like the Stepford Wives; and (b) it still doesn't explain why God doesn't intervene on certain occasions to prevent people from using their free will to harm others, in the way that a parent would prevent one child from hurting another (which doesn't seem to me to destroy either child's free will).

>There is a decided difference between free will and independent thought and action.

Which again begs the question why God doesn't give us free will but prevent those independent actions that are harmful to others.

>Gif, I haven't a clue what the unicorn looks like and I am not going to speculate.

Then I'm curious how you know they're not like the common image of one? The alternative, of course, is that the bronze age Hebrews believed in mythical animals, just like every other primitive people - something you cannot accept no matter how obvious it may be if you were to remove your 'lenses' for a moment.

>The bottom line is that only one man was raised from the dead never to die again --with the historical record to support that resurrection.

I've already shown you several other examples, so that argument is factually wrong. I've also pointed out that the 'historical record' of this event is distinctly below par. Again, your lenses seem to be obstructing your view rather than clarifying it here. Or do you mean "The only example *I personally* am prepared to believe in is that only one man..."? If so then I would say that any argument that rests on personal belief is a poor argument indeed.

Hope all's going well offline and I'm sure we'll run into each other again soon enough smiley - smiley

Gif smiley - geek

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