Thursday, July 05, 2007

Let's Talk About Justice

Over on the Stupid Church People blog, I got into quite the discussion over God’s reprehensible behavior in the Old Testament. At one point I said:

"God himself ordered genocide in the Old Testament (Deut 20:16-20; Joshua 6; Joshua 10:40-41), including the murder of women and children; and yet most thinking Christians today condemn genocide. How do you (general you, not specific you) make sense of this?"

Here is one response this prompted:

The Bible is clear, all have sinned and have fallen short of the glory (perfection) of God. The word "all" is pretty clear and inclusive. This idea is reinforced by the scripture that says "there is no one who is righteous, no not one." If you are one of those people, and I'm not saying you are, that thinks you're a good person, run yourself through the 10 Commandments. And answer the next question for yourself, have you kept all 10 always, without fail? If you haven't, you have a sin problem. The Bible says "for the wages of sin is death". To me that means if you sin, you have earned death from God. Why do we freak out when God pays us what we're due, like He did the people in the account in Deuteronomy? Why do we think it's massively unfair?

This is not an unfamiliar response – it’s not like I’ve never heard Romans 3:23 and 6:23 before. And I’m used to hearing that we humans are infested with sin, depraved, and separated from God (here’s a shout out to all you Calvinists out there!). But it begs the fundamental premise that most conservative Christians don’t question: why have we earned death (i.e. eternal punishment) through our inability to lead perfect, spotless lives?

Now when I ask this question, people seem to think I want some kind of blank slate, or want God to turn a blind eye to all the nasty stuff we do, individually and collectively. That is not what I am saying. I am a big proponent of personal accountability.

But I am a big proponent of appropriate personal accountability; in other words, making reparation or payment commensurate with the wrongs I committed. I am not a fan of punishments exceeding the crime. And I am certainly not alone in this. Consider:

1. Our US criminal system operates with the same underlying assumption of appropriateness: to determine what the punishment ought to be, we distinguish between type and severity of crime (misdemeanor or felony), the motivation behind the crime (1st degree vs. 3rd degree murder) and the person’s fitness to face the consequences (“not guilty by reason of insanity”);

2. The 8th Amendment of the US Constitution reads: “Excessive bail shall not be required, nor excessive fines imposed, nor cruel and unusual punishments inflicted.”

3. Outside the US, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (Article 5), the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (Article 7), and the UN Convention Against Torture (preamble) all affirm and stipulate that no one “be subjected to torture or to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment”.

Our modern human sense of justice is all about appropriateness and assuming a modicum of human dignity no matter how severe the wrong that has been committed. We recoil when we hear Abu Ghraib horror stories. We react to the commutation of Scooter Libby’s sentence based on our sense of appropriateness (for some, a prison sentence was excessive; for others, eliminating the prison sentence was letting him off too easy). We strive for fairness in our legal and civil affairs wherever possible, even if we don’t achieve it perfectly or agree on what a fair sentence might be. (Think about it: no serious person thinks Scooter Libby deserves the death penalty for his crimes.)

So I just can’t see how God’s divine justice is served by annihilating, obliterating, and otherwise eternally punishing us for having screwed up here on earth. Why does God see fit to punish humans infinitely, for finite crimes on earth? Does that not fall under every definition of cruel and unusual punishment?

Typical response: “Well, God’s justice is different from ours.” But wait. God is omnipotent, no? So he could overlook sin if he wanted to. "No, he is perfectly just. That would go against his nature." But he's also perfectly merciful and perfectly loving, and fiery eternal hell doesn't fit with that. "Yes, he is those things. But you see, we have chosen hell through our disobedience." But how is it a choice when the way is so narrow that some of us might miss it altogether? "Jesus invites us all to the throne of God. It is our own fault if we don't accept the invitation." What exactly is the invitation? (See this post at de-Conversion.com for a great discussion of how confusing the Good News can be.) What if we don't get it just right?

*sigh*

Okay, let me try a different angle: Jesus commands us in Matthew 18:21-22 to forgive our brothers when they sin against us “seventy times seven” times. So how can God demand one kind of justice (forgiveness) from us, but exempt himself from the same command? He doesn’t put conditions on our forgiving others: “only forgive them if they are appropriately contrite.” “Only forgive them if they say the right words or profess the right belief.”

But somehow, somehow that escapes every possible working part of my brain, it is okay for God to withhold forgiveness, and punish us eternally.

Look, I could get on board with hell as a temporary purification, as a way of burning off our sins and sin nature, so we can then join God in paradise. In fact the rest of the Matthew 18 passage (verses 23-35) seem to support this notion of appropriate responsibility: at the end of the parable of the king and the servants, the servant who does not forgive the debt of his fellow servant is punished “until he should pay back all he owed” (verse 34). (emphasis added)

In fact, one of the most appealing aspects of Catholic theology, when I was exploring it, was the way they approached sin: they have the whole venial and mortal sin distinction, penance, and purgatory to help deal with this question of satisfying God’s sense of justice…well…justly.

But conservative, Biblical literalists don’t go there. It’s outside their paradigm to think that God’s justice might well be satisfied by something less than eternal fiery hell for those who don’t profess the name of Jesus as Lord.

Quite simply, that is a piece of theology I can no longer live with. If God exists, I will continue to hope that God forgives all of us seventy times seven times, regardless of our confessed creed, regardless of whether we believe exactly the right thing about Jesus, regardless of whether our "personal relationship" with Jesus is up to snuff. Beyond that, I will continue to hope that God holds us accountable in the afterlife for our deeds only to an appropriate degree.

Summing up, then: to hell with hell.

55 comments:

Bible student said...

**to hell with hell**

How is an eternity of punishment, for 100 years of sin justice?

Considering Adam got the death sentence and died of natural causes, how do his progeny deserve worse?

I serve a just God.

This sounds like slander! Hmm, who would gain if God was thought to be unjust?

Slapdash said...

I'm sorry, BS, I'm not understanding your points.

Did you even read the post? What exactly sounds like slander?

Bible student said...

The idea that God needs to punish for eternity.

It's not even scripturally sound. (Ecclesiastes 9:5, 10)

SocietyVs said...

I really enjoy the blog - great issues and idea you are bantering about here with a variety of individuals - I really enjoy it.

To the issue at hand, concerning the collective payment of a nation - ie: the genocide in the bible (which is a collective idea). I have thought about this a little latelt concerning the cause and effect idea - that even nations answer for.

With concern for the idea of abusing the earth and the politics nehind big business we see a literal 'stripping' of the earth - and a mass dependance on 'oil' - for the running of a country. At some point things that have a limit (oil) will cease to be - having run their course for the profiteers - with not ample giving back. I could see how a nation could suffer for their intentional actions with regards to this aspect.

There is another aspect where countries pay for their crimes - and this is usually in war. Nazi Germany could not keep betraying their abuses of the world - at some point their extreme narcissism hit the bar most countries were willing to take anymore. That country paid dearly for their affairs within world politics - as cold and dirty as it was - it hit a level other communities could not digest anymore. So on a National level (collectively) the nation suffered much - were all people in that country Nazi's? Likely not - but they all paid if they lived in the cities of this regime (during bombings).

But collective payment and justice is a lot different than individual - ie: the aspects of the law you mentioned with regards to USA law. Individuals are punished by law for their individual crimes - this much we know about law on that level - it is right and just. But comparing that with collective levels of justice are slightly different.

As for the forgiveness aspect - this is individual - for the one who accepts this ideology - and is on the reader to impute (as in comparison with giving honor to the law). The idea Jesus is presenting seems more a 'preventive measure' to more problems (ie: mercy in the justice equation) than creating further problems - again is subject to the reader of those words (individual). So the forgiveness ideal makes sense there - try impute your ideal onto the national level (collective) - nation to nation - well...we could have some problems - since that ideal is about individuals beleiving it and not all people within the nation party will do so (they will likely disagree)...yet action will still happen.

I am all for forgiveness - but this is such a personal quality one has to adopt it is hard to see it written in the nation's laws in general - if it exists - it exists after justice is meted out (as the law is meant/duty to do). The idea of forgiveness is to keep us from getting to that point (trial before the law and falling into problems with the law) and dealing with the issue before it is 'out of hand'. I just don't think that idea works with cold law so much - which is written to protect it's people - by the governing body (which if enacted would lose sight of justice - which is their reason to exist).

Slapdash said...

Wait! BS, do you and I agree on something?!?! ;)

What is your view, then? Nothingness for sinners, heaven for believers?

Slapdash said...

SocVS-

Thanks. :) I have really appreciated your input even if I haven't had time to respond to each comment you've made.

In fact, it's late so I won't try to respond to this one now. Maybe I muddled the arguments here as between individual and collective accountability... I'll think more on it overnight.

Bible student said...

Death for sinners. (Romans 6:23) Eden (paradise on earth) for believers. God’s original intent has never changed, just been interrupted. Jesus was quoting the 37th Psalm at Matthew 5:5. Check especially verses 11 and 29.

Zecryphon said...

I'm honored that you've chosen to feature one of my asnwers in your recent post. :-) I offer this in answer to your question about why I think God punishes people for eternity for their sins. God deals in the infinite, in eternity. Humans deal with a fixed period of time. The average lifespan is 76 years. Look at how long we sentence people to prison for, it's either life, or periods of 20, 30, 40, 50 years. Because we only have about 76 to play with. God has all of eternity to play with. If we have no problem sending people away for what would be considered an eternity by our standards say 40 years in jail, why is it so hard for us to grasp that God, who deals in the eternal things, should not send people away for eternity?

People look at eternal punishment for their sins from the perspective of how it affects them, but do we ever stop to think about how our sins affect God? Do we stop to think how much we actually hurt God when we sin against Him? Do we think about how repugnant and utterly loathsome He must find sin to be, to dole out the kind of punishment He does?

Now, let's think about how many people are sitting in prisons all around the world tonight. Do you think that they actually believe that they deserve to be there? How many of those crimminals do you think believe that they have received a punishment that is in equal proportion to their crimes? I'd be surprised if there's one person that thinks they deserve to be there, or that thinks their punishment is fair, who is of sound mind.

I think we may have adopted the crimminal mindset. Yeah, sure we've sinned, but we don't deserve the kind of punishment the law of God demands. I think because we've sinned so often, that we have become desensitized to what it actually means to sin against God. And since we are desensitized to it, I think we believe that He should be as well.

jennypo said...

Slapdash,

I can relate to your questioning God's justice. Questioning his character is not always challenging his right.

***Okay, let me try a different angle: Jesus commands us in Matthew 18:21-22 to forgive our brothers when they sin against us “seventy times seven” times. (Slapdash)

Jesus was advocating a whole new economy, one that wasn't based on evenness and balance and give and take (an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth...) He could do this because he had come to die. He was offering his life in exchange for ours. He had satisfied the demands of that aspect of justice by offering himself. He holds out the possibility of interacting based on an economy not subject to selfishness/sin. Our ability to forgive is based on what we are (fallible) and on what he has done (given himself as the means of purchasing our full forgiveness). What we have freely received we now have the responsibility to freely give.

***But somehow, somehow that escapes every possible working part of my brain, it is okay for God to withhold forgiveness, and punish us eternally. (Slapdash)

God will never punish us for sin. He has already punished his son. Hell is not our punishment, it is Satan's. The only reason we will end up there is if we refuse the only alternative - Love. The human soul who goes to hell will ride there piggyback along with Satan, the one she has chosen to serve. God has forgiven us fully, based on the blood of Jesus. All of us, not only those who believe he exists, in the right way.

Just as the father forgave the Prodigal Son long before the son came home, and ran to kiss him when he did come home, so our father has forgiven us, and waits for us. If I find myself miserable and lonely and desperate enough to eat pigs' food, it's not because I haven't been forgiven. It's because I've never gone home.

My choice in relation to myself is unlimited, but it doesn't change God one bit. All who find themselves in hell will have gone there fully forgiven.

Slapdash said...

In a bout of insomnia I got online again and came across this book explaining and expounding on a universalist view of heaven/hell:

http://www.hopebeyondhell.net///Revised_Edition.pdf

I just downloaded it and plan to read it over the next few weeks (it's hefty - almost 250 pages).

nakedpastor said...

hey slashdot!! love your blog. i think we should exchange links... we might make great allies! (http://nakedpastor.com)

nakedpastor said...

oops. i said slashdot, when i meant slapdash... hm. freud?

Zecryphon said...

"God will never punish us for sin. He has already punished his son. Hell is not our punishment, it is Satan's. The only reason we will end up there is if we refuse the only alternative - Love."

Jenny, could you email me some verses about these statements? I just don't see this message anywhere in the Bible. The way I understand it from my reading of the text is that yes we are forgiven, but only when we humble ourselves before God and repent of our sins and place our faith and trust in Jesus Christ for salvation from sin and and trust in Him for a future resurrection and eternal life. I could be wrong however.

Salvation in my opinion is conditional, not universal simply because Jesus died. His death and resurrection in my opinion provided the means by which we could be forgiven, but it doesn't mean we automatically were. This is backed up by Jesus Himself in Luke 13:1-5. Where Jesus Himself said "Repent or you too shall likewise perish." You can reach me at: zecryphon@gmail.com. I don't want these comments to derail into a back and forth about the issue of salvation. Your statement that forgiven people will be in hell as well is also confusing to me.

maybeitsnonsense said...

Slapdash-
I have pondered and been perplexed by the same exact question of supposed JUSTICE and appropriateness of sentencing for the crime. I know I have done wrong in my life, and continue to do wrong- but do I really deserve eternal hell and torture in a flame that is never quenched?
As A christian- I use to grieve in this- that i deserve hell. Now- I am not so sure. Am I a perfect or even good person- NO, good sometimes I guess. but still eternal hell?
Bottom Line-
According to the bible I am utterly rotten in comparison to God BUT I am also expected to live right by choosing right, by choosing and following Jesus.
I guess this is one of the main reasons that I am losing faith-
I am not enough and never can be. I do not want to live with this mindset.

Zecryphon said...

Maybeitsnonsense,

if you are in Christ you are now acceptable to God. So the whole mindset of "I'll never be good enough, shouldn't be a burden to you anymore, because your sin has been dealt with, your flawed nautre dealt wtih, all of it has been dealt with because of Christ's work on the cross for us. Repentance of sins and faith in Christ is how we become acceptable to God. He no longer sees us as detestable and wicked sinners. He sees us as righteous children of His. I say, stop focusing on what was and what you were, and focus on what you've become and what you are.

Slapdash said...

***if you are in Christ you are now acceptable to God.*** (Zec)

What does that mean, though?

Zec, am I in Christ? I accepted him as Lord and Savior when I was a wee tot and lived my faith for 25 years. Yet I've offended a lot of people, and even God according to some, with the questions I'm asking.

maybeitsnonsense said...

zec-

"Repentance of sins and faith in Christ is how we become acceptable to God."

I wish this were enough but what about-
1. attend church regularly
2. read the bible and pray daily
3. love people
4. do not drink
5. live holy
6. focus on god
7. worship god
8. seek god with your whole heart
9. obey god
10. witness
11. sacrafice

i can continue- but you get the point. i have been told that jesus's blood is enough but in the same breath i am told to do x,y,z to please and serve god.

Furthermore,
what if i do not know how to repent? and i have no faith? i literally have NO faith- therefore i am not enough.

Slapdash said...

Isn't faith a gift of God?

If it is, why should we beat ourselves up if we can't muster up faith? Isn't it God's responsibility to change our hearts and produce belief?

maybeitsnonsense said...

Slapdash-

((Isn't faith a gift of God?
Isn't it God's responsibility to change our hearts and produce belief?)slapdash))

And this is where we end up. And this is our heartbreak. God has not changed me or given me faith. SO i am condemmed to hell. This is the injustice of it. This is the heartbreak of a de-convert.

Zecryphon said...

"I wish this were enough but what about-
1. attend church regularly"

Not necessary to salvation.

"2. read the bible and pray daily"

You could read the Bible and pray everyday for the rest of your life, but those actions alone wil not save you.

"3. love people"

If this got you into heaven, Christianity would be a works righteous faith.

"4. do not drink"

I don't see drinking forbidden anywhere in the Bible. Drunkeness is what is forbidden.

"5. live holy"

To me that speaks to the process of sanctification, not salvation. The process of becoming more like Jesus by living the new life found in Him.

"6. focus on god"

Do you mean like in the first commandment? Put God first in your life? Okay. But what does that really mean?

"7. worship god"

If you don't have faith, why would you do this?

"8. seek god with your whole heart"

Always a good idea, but it's not going to save you.

"9. obey god"

Why, if you don't have faith in Him?

"10. witness"

We are commanded to do this, but witnessing to others will not save us.

"11. sacrafice"

Again, I think this speaks to sanctification.

"i can continue- but you get the point. i have been told that jesus's blood is enough but in the same breath i am told to do x,y,z to please and serve god."

Well some of the things in that list are not specifically commanded in scripture. When you come to faith, you are given a new heart with new desires. You want to live a life that is pleasing to God. But how to go about doing that, I don't think is as formulaic as alot of churches would like to make it seem.

"Furthermore,
what if i do not know how to repent?"

What have you been told the word repent means? To me it means, to acknowledge my sins, confess to God that I am a sinner, that I'm sorry for my sins and then turn from my sins.

"and i have no faith? i literally have NO faith- therefore i am not enough."

Faith is a gift from God. When you repent of your sins, God will give you salvation and faith. It's not something we can get independent of God.

Zecryphon said...

"Zec, am I in Christ?"

That is only something you can answer for yourself. Have you repented of your sins and put your faith and trust in Christ? Then yes, you are in Christ, because you have been born-again.

"I accepted him as Lord and Savior when I was a wee tot and lived my faith for 25 years."

Why did you do this? Because you were aware of your sins against God by judging yourself against God's moral law or because you were told to by either your parents or those in the church?

"Yet I've offended a lot of people, and even God according to some, with the questions I'm asking."

How do you know you've offended God? Did He tell you that or did some idiot speaking for God tell you that?

Slapdash said...

***That is only something you can answer for yourself. Have you repented of your sins and put your faith and trust in Christ? Then yes, you are in Christ, because you have been born-again.***

Out of curiosity, are you of the "once saved, always saved school" of thought?

I have no doubt that I was born again. But I have not confessed a sin in probably 2 years. And today? Little to no faith/trust in Christ for reasons I have outlined in numerous places in this blog. Basically, God doesn't seem to be listening or responding or engaging ME in a relationship with him. So I give up.

Have I lost my salvation then? Or was Jesus' death on the cross good for all my future sins too? Or wait, just the ones I repent of? What if I forget one?

See, I'm moving toward the point where I care less and less what the state of my eternal soul is, and more and more about just living the good life here. I figure I'll let God worry about the eternal consequences.

Zecryphon said...

"Out of curiosity, are you of the "once saved, always saved school" of thought?"

I don't know. A case can be made for losing salvation too. So this one is currently under investigation by me.

"I have no doubt that I was born again. But I have not confessed a sin in probably 2 years."

Okay, don't worry about not confessing sins today, that has nothing to do with the issue of salvation. At the time you were saved is when the confession of sin counts.

"And today? Little to no faith/trust in Christ for reasons I have outlined in numerous places in this blog. Basically, God doesn't seem to be listening or responding or engaging ME in a relationship with him. So I give up."

Relationships are give and take. It's not up to just one person to keep the relationship going. What are you doing on your end to contribute to the relationship with Him as well? That question is just food for thought for you.

"Have I lost my salvation then?"

I am not in a position to speculate, either way. I can't say "Yes you are saved" or "No you are not saved." Only God knows who are His children. I can look for signs that might suggest you are not truly saved, but I can't say either way with any certainty, because I am not God.

"Or was Jesus' death on the cross good for all my future sins too? Or wait, just the ones I repent of? What if I forget one?"

It doesn't matter if you forget one, because God knows of all your sins. So if you say "God, I'm sorry for the sins I've committed," and you are truly sorry, truly repentant, that will be enough because even though you can't remember every single sin you've committed, God knows which sins you are referring to.

"See, I'm moving toward the point where I care less and less what the state of my eternal soul is, and more and more about just living the good life here. I figure I'll let God worry about the eternal consequences."

If you are soundly saved, and remember I can't say either way whether you are or not, then yes focus on living, and let God handle the eternal destination of your soul. One question that always gets asked is: "Is there anything God can not do?" Christians always answer: "NO! God can do anything, He's God." But there is one thing God can NOT do. He can not send a soundly saved Chrisitan to Hell.

maybeitsnonsense said...

Zec
**Relationships are give and take. It's not up to just one person to keep the relationship going. What are you doing on your end to contribute to the relationship with Him as well? That question is just food for thought for you.**

Right here you are contradicting yourself because you said-

**Faith is a gift from God. When you repent of your sins, God will give you salvation and faith. It's not something we can get independent of God. ***
MEANING that JESUS IS ENOUGH- AND THAT WE ARE ENOUGH BECAUSE OF HIM!

NOW YOU ARE TELLING US TO KEEP UP OUR END OF THE RELATIONSHIP

(THE CAPS MEAN I AM INFURIATED)
I AM INFURIATED- EVEN THOUGH YOU WERE NOT SAYING THIS TO ME, I WANT TO DEFEND MY FELLOW-STRUGGLER!

YOU MUST HAVE NO IDEA THE PAIN THAT IS INVOLVED IN LOSING YOUR FAITH OR WHAT IT IS LIKE TO FEEL TOTALLY ABANDONED BY A SUPPOSED GOD THAT HEARS AND ANSWERS!!!!!

WE HAVE DONE IT- WE KNOW WHAT IT IS TO "BE A CHRISTIAN" WE HAVE DONE OUR PART- GOD, IF HE IS THERE, HAS LEFT US!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

SocietyVs said...

Zecryphon, it seems you tow some theological line that you learned from church teachings more than Jesus' own - like a salvation system...which I am thinking is quite 'old hat' and is in need of refreshing. But I appreciate your heart in the matter.

"So the whole mindset of "I'll never be good enough, shouldn't be a burden to you anymore, because your sin has been dealt with, your flawed nautre dealt wtih, all of it has been dealt with because of Christ's work on the cross for us." (Zec)

Well Zec I disagree with some of this perspective. So Christ died for our sins - so if we do something bad it does not count against us at all? This is a justice system I would never listen to...too many ways to make Jesus a scapegoat for our problems.

As for dealing with our flawed nature and behaviors - this is up to us to do - not Jesus - he provided the teachings - but we are not robots (we do have choices to make with regards to adopting these values or rejecting them). But this has to be part of the salvific path of 'following' Jesus or the teachings are rather useless by all stretches of the imagination. But are we salvific agents also - since the lister wants to be like his rabbi (highest aim)? Worth a look into as far as Jewish theology and the term salvation (in the here and now).


Repentance of sins and faith in Christ is how we become acceptable to God." (Zec)

One second you say we are aceptable in God through Christ then this sentence. Why does Christ (apparently we are in him) need repentance again or even faith in himself? This is also a systemic belief that if you do so much of this action (repent) then you will be recieve more of this benefit (salvation). This is clearly un-biblical as a belief system - and no gospel backs it up. Jesus' apparent gospel message is 'follow him' - it includes being honest about mistakes and living a life of freedom - but it does not include a social structure for entrance into his kingdom (and that based on how strong your beliefs are).

"And this is where we end up. And this is our heartbreak. God has not changed me or given me faith" (Maybeitsnonsense)

Well this call is clearly based on theological viewpoints of the church (and their sacraments) - does this make their interpretation of eternity accurate? Even if 6000 people ask you to believe in something - does it become more true? You have clearly verified this as a 'no'. What makes you think their view of some process of steps to eternal salvation is accurate also? It is likely 'no' - they betray context after context to get to that meaning. I read Matthew and it's this easy - 2 words 'follow Jesus' (and then we have his teachings - this rabbi laid out his value system) - but if not - then just say so.

"At the time you were saved is when the confession of sin counts." (Zec)

I am sorry to say this Zec - but this is horrible theology - what about 'sin' afterwards - ex: rape or incest? Since we have been forgiven at that one point (saved) then these actions after it mean nothing or worse - can be 'gotten away with' in the eyes of God. This is where 'once saved, always saved' fails as a good system of values - since value is seen at one essential point in the 'following of Jesus' - and not all the way through.

"So if you say "God, I'm sorry for the sins I've committed," and you are truly sorry, truly repentant, that will be enough because even though you can't remember every single sin you've committed, God knows which sins you are referring to." (Zec)

How sure are you of this sentence? Seems quite systematic to me and can become so routine as to be useless. Repentance is a lot more deeper than this charade of an explanation - I would lean more to personal responsibility when explaining the depths of 'repenting' (or turning away from a behavior).

Sorry Zecryphon if I sound harsh - I am not being harsh - I am just not sure your points are truly yours but that of a religious system (dogma/doctrine) you were handed down.

Zecryphon said...

"So the whole mindset of "I'll never be good enough, shouldn't be a burden to you anymore, because your sin has been dealt with, your flawed nautre dealt wtih, all of it has been dealt with because of Christ's work on the cross for us." (Zec)

"Well Zec I disagree with some of this perspective. So Christ died for our sins - so if we do something bad it does not count against us at all? This is a justice system I would never listen to...too many ways to make Jesus a scapegoat for our problems."

Only if your problems are related to sin. I don't think all of our problems are. Alot of our problems are due to bad choices we make.

"As for dealing with our flawed nature and behaviors - this is up to us to do - not Jesus - he provided the teachings - but we are not robots (we do have choices to make with regards to adopting these values or rejecting them)."

But doesn't the desire to do those things, to uphold Jesus' teachings come with the new heart and new desires we receive at the time of salvation? What you're advocating sounds like salvation is dependent upon our works. Ephesians 2:8-9 says it isn't based upon works, so that no man can boast.

"But this has to be part of the salvific path of 'following' Jesus or the teachings are rather useless by all stretches of the imagination. But are we salvific agents also - since the lister wants to be like his rabbi (highest aim)? Worth a look into as far as Jewish theology and the term salvation (in the here and now)."

I don't think we can do anything to earn our salvation, if that is what you are suggesting here.

*Repentance of sins and faith in Christ is how we become acceptable to God." (Zec)*

"One second you say we are aceptable in God through Christ then this sentence. Why does Christ (apparently we are in him) need repentance again or even faith in himself?"

We are acceptable to God when we receive faith in Christ, not before. Before I believe we are considered children of the devil and children of wrath. It's God's law that makes the demand. Why did innocent animals have to be sacrificed in the OT to pay for the sins of the people? How does that work? If God is just and righteous, the law must be satisfied. Someone has to pay the fine of death, which is what our sinful actions have earned us. Christ took our punishment, so that all may be saved, not that all would be saved. We have to show we want salvation and I believe we do this by humbling ourselves and repenting of our sins.

"This is also a systemic belief that if you do so much of this action (repent) then you will be recieve more of this benefit (salvation)."

I don't believe we do this on our own but are led in this repentance by the Holy Spirit.

"This is clearly un-biblical as a belief system - and no gospel backs it up. Jesus' apparent gospel message is 'follow him' - it includes being honest about mistakes and living a life of freedom - but it does not include a social structure for entrance into his kingdom (and that based on how strong your beliefs are)."

I never said it did. In John 14:6 Jesus declares that He is the way the truth and the life and that no one comes to the Father except through Him. Jesus also tells us in Luke 13:1-5 to repent or perish. Elsewhere, we read that if we call upon His name we will be saved. It looks to me that repentance and faith in Christ are what save, not doing works.

"At the time you were saved is when the confession of sin counts." (Zec)

"I am sorry to say this Zec - but this is horrible theology"

I was talking in the context of salvation here and when it was she was saved and putting aside her lack of confession for the past two years. I could chide her for not confessing her sins to God or a priest for the last two years, but what good is that gonna do? If she doesn't feel the need to repent, what good is me, a stranger on the net, telling her she has to repent really going to do her, given the animosity she already feels towards Christianity? Wouldn't that make me a "holier than thou" and increase her animosity?

" - what about 'sin' afterwards - ex: rape or incest? Since we have been forgiven at that one point (saved) then these actions after it mean nothing or worse - can be 'gotten away with' in the eyes of God."

You're looking at individual actions when I'm more concerned with the whole picture. This person is in the process of losing her faith, because of excessive legalism and a "do this or else" attitude from within the church. I could be wrong, but this is the impression I'im getting from her posts. So I thought a bit of grace was in order as opposed to more dogma, legalism and rules.

"This is where 'once saved, always saved' fails as a good system of values - since value is seen at one essential point in the 'following of Jesus' - and not all the way through."

Since I apparently have such horrible theology, why don't you give me an example of good theology, so we may all learn what it is. Once saved, always saved I don't feel addresses values, since values tend to be individualistic and relative, where as salvation, which is what is addressed with the "once saved, always saved" doctrine is never directly concerned with future actions. It can influence it, because if you believe this theology then you can adopt the attitude of "hey I'm saved, I can do whatever I want." Alot of Christians do this, but when I see Christians like that I wonder if they are truly saved to begin with, because they are supposed to have received a new heart with new desires when they were saved. So the natural consequences of being saved is upholding God's moral standards and no longer living for ourselves, but rather for our neighbor and pleasing God. We don't do these things to earn salvation, we do them to show our gratitude for salvation. I've said elsewhere that I'm looking into the validity of the "once saved, always saved" doctrine. I'm trying to find out if it is possible to lose your salvation. Right now, I'm at the "I don't know" stage.

"So if you say "God, I'm sorry for the sins I've committed," and you are truly sorry, truly repentant, that will be enough because even though you can't remember every single sin you've committed, God knows which sins you are referring to." (Zec)

"How sure are you of this sentence?"

How sure do I need to be, in your opinion?

"Seems quite systematic to me and can become so routine as to be useless."

When I sin, I immediately repent, because I feel badly about what I've done. I confess the sin immediately so I never have to do a group confession like the one I was talking about above.

"Repentance is a lot more deeper than this charade of an explanation"

Please explain. I'm always eager to learn from someone who is apparently much more knowledgable than I am.

"- I would lean more to personal responsibility when explaining the depths of 'repenting' (or turning away from a behavior)."

That's you, not me.

"Sorry Zecryphon if I sound harsh -"
No, you sound pretty much like everybody else I've run across this week. All convinced I'm a prick and have no clue what I'm talking about. Guess it was just supposed to be a crap week for Zec.

"I am not being harsh - I am just not sure your points are truly yours but that of a religious system (dogma/doctrine) you were handed down."

Are anyone's points truly theirs? Is there anyone on the planet that holds a belief that has not been influenced by past teachers or teachings?

Zecryphon said...

Zec
**Relationships are give and take. It's not up to just one person to keep the relationship going. What are you doing on your end to contribute to the relationship with Him as well? That question is just food for thought for you.**

"Right here you are contradicting yourself because you said-

**Faith is a gift from God. When you repent of your sins, God will give you salvation and faith. It's not something we can get independent of God. ***
MEANING that JESUS IS ENOUGH- AND THAT WE ARE ENOUGH BECAUSE OF HIM!"

Because of Him or because you have faith in Him?

"NOW YOU ARE TELLING US TO KEEP UP OUR END OF THE RELATIONSHIP"

No, what I'm saying is that you can't have a one way relationship with anyone. If you don't read your Bible, pray, meditate upon God's word, what kind of effort are you making in your relationship with God?

"(THE CAPS MEAN I AM INFURIATED)
I AM INFURIATED- EVEN THOUGH YOU WERE NOT SAYING THIS TO ME, I WANT TO DEFEND MY FELLOW-STRUGGLER!"

I'm not a newbie, I've been on the internet for over 20 years, I know what caps mean. So send some rage my way if it makes you feel better.

"YOU MUST HAVE NO IDEA THE PAIN THAT IS INVOLVED IN LOSING YOUR FAITH OR WHAT IT IS LIKE TO FEEL TOTALLY ABANDONED BY A SUPPOSED GOD THAT HEARS AND ANSWERS!!!!!"

And you have arrived at this knowledge about me how? From reading what? Two posts of mine? How insightful! But the bottom line is you don't have a clue about me or what I've been through, so instead of making yourself look like an idiot and assuming facts not in evidence, why don't you just ask me next time.

"WE HAVE DONE IT- WE KNOW WHAT IT IS TO "BE A CHRISTIAN" WE HAVE DONE OUR PART- GOD, IF HE IS THERE, HAS LEFT US!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!"

Well, I guess that's that then. Have a nice day. :-)

maybeitsnonsense said...

zec-
sorry for the outburst

Slapdash said...

Hi nakedpastor, welcome and thanks for visiting! Your blog seems to be down today... temporary issue, I assume?

shelly said...

Isn't faith a gift of God? (Slapdash)

Yes! It's God's faith that saves us, not our own.

1 Also you -- being dead in the trespasses and the sins,

2 in which once ye did walk according to the age of this world, according to the ruler of the authority of the air, of the spirit that is now working in the sons of disobedience,

3 among whom also we all did walk once in the desires of our flesh, doing the wishes of the flesh and of the thoughts, and were by nature children of wrath -- as also the others,

4 and God, being rich in kindness, because of His great love with which He loved us,

5 even being dead in the trespasses, did make us to live together with the Christ, (by grace ye are having been saved,)

6 and did raise [us] up together, and did seat [us] together in the heavenly [places] in Christ Jesus,

7 that He might show, in the ages that are coming, the exceeding riches of His grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus,

8 for by grace ye are having been saved, through faith, and this not of you -- of God the gift,

9 not of works, that no one may boast;

10 for of Him we are workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to good works, which God did before prepare, that in them we may walk.
(Ephesians 2:1-10, Young's Literal Translation, emphasis mine)

And this is where we end up. And this is our heartbreak. God has not changed me or given me faith. SO i am condemmed to hell.

I don't believe that. There are nearly two dozen verses in the Bible that state that ALL are going to be saved (yet, the sinners will still have to reap what they sow--which is eonian punishment, not eternal). A few sample verses (emphasis mine)...

18 Yet all is of God, Who conciliates us to Himself through Christ, and is giving us the dispensation of the conciliation,

19 how that God was in Christ, conciliating the world to Himself, not reckoning their offenses to them, and placing in us the word of the conciliation.
(2 Corinthians 5:18-19, Concordant Version (CV))

3 And I hear a loud voice out of the throne saying, "Lo! the tabernacle of God is with mankind, and He will be tabernacling with them, and they will be His peoples, and God Himself will be with them.
4 And He will be brushing away every tear from their eyes. And death will be no more, nor mourning, nor clamor, nor misery; they will be no more, for the former things passed away."
5 And He Who is sitting on the throne said, "Lo! New am I making all!" And He is saying, "Write, for these sayings are faithful and true."
(Revelation 21:3-5, CV)

21 For since, in fact, through a man came death, through a Man, also, comes the resurrection of the dead.

22 For even as, in Adam, all are dying, thus also, in Christ, shall all be vivified.
(1 Corinthians 15:21-22, CV)

Also check out these studies...
http://www.goodnewsaboutgod.com/judgment.htm
http://www.goodnewsaboutgod.com/wicked.htm
http://www.martinzender.com/Zenderature/ludicrous_threat_of_eternal_torment.htm

jennypo said...

Zec,
First of all, I'm sorry, I have to post this here so that I can clarify what I said. I have overstated my case. I am wrong in the way I have explained this. What I am trying to explain is that the forgiveness is already there. God isn't waiting for anything else. He announced that Jesus' death was enough for him by raising him from the dead. Our repentance isn't a "purchase" of salvation, or a means of convincing God to give it to us - but only the means of our accepting it. He's already convinced - we're the ones who are not.
If I don't see a need to turn to God for a solution to my sin, what I am saying to God is, "Thanks and all for your son, but I don't need him." When God takes me at my word and leaves me with my sin, whose ultimate end is hell and the lake of fire, he's not the one I need to blame for withholding forgiveness. You think a God who accepts death himself so that he can forgive you is waiting to nail you on a technicality? So his death will be wasted?
Life is full of consequences. We don't call them punishments, we call them "reality". Is lung cancer a punishment for smoking? No way. But sometimes it's a consequence. Is death or dismemberment a punishment for not wearing your seatbelt? Nope. But sometimes it's a consequence. Is pain a punishment for not brushing my teeth? Huh uh. Am I going to blame my dentist?
Eternal death is the ultimate consequence. We can see what sin does in our world, but we want it so badly that we convince ourselves that it's going to be benign in the next one. We're sure, because we want to be, that God is going to pull some strings to get it all brushed under the carpet, so long as we don't kill or rape.
God lays it out clearly.
For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Romans 6:23)
The soul that sins it shall die. (Ezekiel 18:20)
But he who sins against me wrongs his own soul; All those who hate me love death. (Proverbs 8:36
He can't remove it without removing something else more important (choice), so he takes it on himself. I figure I can manage without his help, but if that doesn't going to work out, I'm holding God responsible. How do we figure this one?
But we see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels for the suffering of death, crowned with glory and honour; that he by the grace of God should taste death for every man. (Hebrews 2:9)
This is what I was trying to highlight. Jesus already took our death! It's enough for God -
I'm the only one left. If I decide it's enough for me, then the deal is sealed. Done, Society, even if I sin again. When Jesus died, ALL my sins were future ones.
I know, it makes God look pretty dopey. What if I turn out to be a serial rapist? How is that fair?
First of all, the point is that it isn't fair by the old system. Jesus, the just, dies for me, the sinner. But as filthy as I am, that's how pure he is. He is enough.
Second, and this is important - God doesn't just leave us there. He comes, when we choose him, and gives us the spirit of God. Then we have two natures living in us - one that is human and desires what pleases self, and another that is God and desires Love. A Christian who fails to immediately lay down the ground rules and put God's spirit in control can live with a terrible struggle inside between those two natures. She can let the sinful nature have the upper hand, but she is going to be miserable in a way that a person with only a human nature will never be.
God's spirit seals a covenant between him and me that can never be broken because my part in it is simply to accept it. Once and for all. God is the executor of it, and he can't change. We have made a deal whereby I receive a destiny. It's mine. Forever. No. matter. what.

Slapdash, this much I am sure of: if you have made arrangements with God to deal with your sin, it is dealt with, and if it's worth anything, I'll be happy to tell you how (from the Bible) I know this. Even if you become an atheist, God doesn't change. But God's spirit in you ought to be making a stink.
(sorry this post is so long, but this stuff always sounds so trite when I just say it!)

Zecryphon said...

Jenny, email me @ zecryphon@gmail.com A comment section is not a good environment for a good theological discussion. :-)

Heather said...

**To me that means if you sin, you have earned death from God.**

Actually, if we want to get technical, no one dies. The physical body dies, but who the person is, the soul -- that never dies under this theology. It's either in heaven or hell.

I don't see an eternal punishment as just under any sense of the word. If God is capable of that, how does that make God any better than us, honestly. Say someone had mutilated me. If I go do the same to the person who did that to me, am I any better than that person? Yes, I'm the wronged party. But shouldn't I have a higher standard?

Plus, what purpose would it serve? It would be punishment for the sake of punishment, and in the NT, the punishment came across as meaning to be redemptive. It uncovered the full effects of sin so that someone would be willing to forsake the sin.

Zecryphon said...

"I don't see an eternal punishment as just under any sense of the word."

What does the word "just" mean to you?

"If God is capable of that, how does that make God any better than us, honestly. Say someone had mutilated me. If I go do the same to the person who did that to me, am I any better than that person?"

No you are not because the motive is revenge not justice. You are not a judge or an officer of the court charged with upholding the laws. God is the ultimate law-giver and judge, therefore it is within His power to either enforce the law, or in extreme circumstances, set it aside.

"Yes, I'm the wronged party. But shouldn't I have a higher standard?"

Who's standard are you going to use?

Heather said...

Zecryphon,

**What does the word "just" mean to you?** Equality and liberating the oppressed. Combating unjust situations. Punishing those who do wrong with the express purpose of rehibilating them.

**No you are not because the motive is revenge not justice.*
The problem is, throwing someone into eternal punishment comes across as revenge, not justice. It's revenge for making the wrong choice -- much like the Mafia would tell a storeowner to pay protection money or get the store vandalized. And even a judge or officer of the court would not order the mutilator to be treated as he treated his victims -- because that is not justice.

**God is the ultimate law-giver and judge, therefore it is within His power to either enforce the law, or in extreme circumstances, set it aside.** If God can set aside the law and thus be above the law, then not even your salvation is 100% guarenteed. Nor can God be determined to be good, because by what standard could we know that one is following a good or just God?

**Who's standard are you going to use? ** The standard in which people are to be perfect as God is perfect, which requires absolute forgiveness with no time limit, and all are loved alike. The standard in which when the progidal son comes running home, no punishment is required, the father simply forgives. The one in which Jesus says that an 'eye for an eye' is no longer the acceptable standard. The standard in which God is eventually to be all-in-all, which is difficult if there's still a place where sin resides -- aka, hell.

Bible student said...

Heather,

**Actually, if we want to get technical, no one dies. The physical body dies, but who the person is, the soul -- that never dies under this theology. It's either in heaven or hell.**

If no one is dead, who gets resurrected on “judgment day”?

Heather said...

Biblestudent,

**If no one is dead, who gets resurrected on “judgment day”? ***

I was referring to the theology of one's destination in the hereafter being either heaven or hell. Under this system, the only thing dying is the physical body. What makes the person 'them' i.e the spirit/soul, does not ever die. As in, it never 'ends.'

Bible student said...

**What makes the person 'them' i.e the spirit/soul, does not ever die. As in, it never 'ends.'**

I can find scriptures to support everlasting life in heaven, but not in hell. Quite the contrary.

Ezekiel 18:4 says, “Look! All the souls—to me they belong. As the soul of the father so likewise the soul of the son—to me they belong. The soul that is sinning—it itself will die.

Eccl. 9:5, 10 “The living are conscious that they will die; but as for the dead, they are conscious of nothing at all . . . All that your hand finds to do, do with your very power, for there is no work nor devising nor knowledge nor wisdom in Sheol, the place to which you are going.”

Rom. 6:7 “He who has died has been acquitted from his sin.”

**I don't see an eternal punishment as just under any sense of the word. If God is capable of that, how does that make God any better than us**

Since God is just and better than all of us perhaps questioning that theology instead of God makes more sense.

I can believe Jesus when he says at John 5:28, 29, “Do not marvel at this, because the hour is coming in which all those in the memorial tombs will hear his voice and come out, those who did good things to a resurrection of life, those who practiced vile things to a resurrection of judgment.

How about you?

Spiritbear said...

I have a whole new and uncommon theory on the genocide. I still wrestle with whether it actually happend but if you want to know I will explain it. If nothing else its entertaining

SocietyVs said...

"Only if your problems are related to sin. I don't think all of our problems are. Alot of our problems are due to bad choices we make." (Zec)

But you mention our flawed nature and out sin nature has 'been dealt with' - this does not bare out in reality. Even good Christians cheat on their wives, some even fall victim to greed, and all other vices of our 'fallen nature'. You can ask the questions of their 'salvation' (false convert or whatever) but as examples Swaggart and Baker served God for several years - no one during that time called into question their 20 or 30 years of faith until their 'bad choices'. In some sense, our flawed nature exists still. But we can 'choose' not to follow it or give in to evil ideas that exist within the world. Isn't that the point of Jesus' teachings - to follow our teacher and enact his sayings? Fact is a theology that rests on a point of salvation (where salvation starts) can easily lose aight of this.

"But doesn't the desire to do those things, to uphold Jesus' teachings come with the new heart and new desires we receive at the time of salvation? What you're advocating sounds like salvation is dependent upon our works." (Zec)

One could also say 'faith comes by hearing' - and this is the process that starts our value system and beliefs - which Christ teaches. As to how we learn to love God and worship Him - this all happens by choice to listen and love what he says (as in to do them). As for salvation - this is tiered for me. While we are here there are 'salvific' things we enact in our relationships around us (to make lives better for others - thus the teachings). As for the hope of the resurrection - this aspect is way out of my hands - it is in God's (and Paul attributes this aspect to Jesus' death and resurrection - 'right hand of the Father' (authority) idea in the gospels). So far this makes the most sense to me.

"We are acceptable to God when we receive faith in Christ, not before." (Zec)

I am not sure of this point to be exact - what about good people that follow these teachings but do not follow our faith? Are they unacceptable to God and what ramifications does that have for us - as God's children? Shouldn't we also not accept them? And if God loves them irregardless then they are not 'unacceptable' altogether. If I am teaching a salvation by works idea - you are postulating a salvation by the 'correct beliefs' idea. Just how correct do you have to be to not be a 'false convert' (which proof is also based on works)?

"We have to show we want salvation and I believe we do this by humbling ourselves and repenting of our sins." (Zec)

If salvation is an act we do not earn - how is it that we have to 'show' something to prove it? Isn't it more accurate to say we are grateful for that act of Jesus and thus follow His teachings because we see the value of this relationship with God (which he taught us)? Or we could just be grateful for the teachings. Isn't the heart of the matter the teachings - which jesus laid down before he died (of which he came and also died for - which is consistently about love for humanity)? I am fairly open on this one.

"It looks to me that repentance and faith in Christ are what save, not doing works." (Zec)

Repentance (an action) resides within the indivdual - as choices we committ on our part...and choices are what I would consider falling into the pattern of 'works'. I could be wrong but is not repenting - apologizing - an action? Both of the things you mention are things 'we do' in reaction to Christ's actions - which is an easier way to explain it (like if we are loved - we usually love back).

"If she doesn't feel the need to repent, what good is me, a stranger on the net, telling her she has to repent really going to do her, given the animosity she already feels towards Christianity?" (Zec)

I actually thought it was just a discussion - and you voiced your opinions on the subject - sorry if you think I disrupted your chance to help her.

"Since I apparently have such horrible theology, why don't you give me an example of good theology, so we may all learn what it is." (Zec)

This is quite the tone - shouldn't we be open to other view-points about our faith? One paragraph back you just answered a ladies question with the persepctive of 'grace' since it was warranted (legalism) - why can't theology be based on situation and if I am doing that also - don't fault me. I said one aspect of that theology is horrible - Isn't this the same ideal we upbraid in out faith 'hate the sin, love the sinner?'. If the theology is questionable - so be it - how is that a call on your character - and if it is - do you know how someone feels when we do the above sentence about love/hate to them?

"How sure do I need to be, in your opinion?" (Zec)

Very...you're the one espousing it (concerning salvation) on the internet. I get questions raised about my theology all the time (I don't get defensive about it) - I may not have the best answers but I admit they come from what I have learned about God (which is limited as admited by myself). But this type of honesty can be seen as a flaw in our faith - this unsurety. I hope this does not count against me.

"Please explain. I'm always eager to learn from someone who is apparently much more knowledgable than I am." (Zec)

Again Zec, again? I only raised deep concern with that view of repentance - which I have seen become so routine as to be useless (in a few churches and in a lot of theologies). The church can make a system of this repentance and under-petition it's great effect on society. I have actually seen people committ evil under this system and not apologize to another (because they were not Christian or part of the church) - or committ an evil - then repent - then committ again as if they knew they would be 'forgiven'. One could say they never knew what the term even meant? So I raise questions with the definition since it can become watered down - and I think this is detrimental to our faith.

"No, you sound pretty much like everybody else I've run across this week. All convinced I'm a prick and have no clue what I'm talking about. Guess it was just supposed to be a crap week for Zec." (Zec)

Zec the net is a tough playground - a lot of ideals are discussed and jumped on in this realm - but that's part of the risk-reward of it. I am sorry the week went bad for you - I know I contributed to it - I did not mean to hurt your feelings but to discuss the issues at hand.

"Are anyone's points truly theirs? Is there anyone on the planet that holds a belief that has not been influenced by past teachers or teachings?" (Zec)

I think we adopt the points we hold though - thus making them ours in some sense (we have control over them and they change at our will). But yes, we are influenced by others in this regard (and that's a good thing and a bad thing) - but we make ownership of what we learn and keep.

Heather said...

Biblestudent,

I was simply addressing a complication I see with the theology of heaven/hell, and the perception of death. I wasn't advocating it.

Zecryphon said...

**What does the word "just" mean to you?**

"Equality and liberating the oppressed."

Okay, and what should be done with the oppressors? Should they be punished?

"Combating unjust situations. Punishing those who do wrong with the express purpose of rehibilating them."

So instead of Hell for sinners, you want a place like purgatory then? Where you can work off your sins?

**No you are not because the motive is revenge not justice.*

"The problem is, throwing someone into eternal punishment comes across as revenge, not justice."

Only if you look at it from the punishment side. Look at it from God's side, just once. How repugnant and loathsome must He find one sin to be, to send someone away for all eternity in Hell? If people looked at sin that way I think people wouldn't be so flippant about committing them. They'd actually try and live a life according to God's standard, to please Him.

"It's revenge for making the wrong choice"

It's not like God has not provided a solution to the problem.

" -- much like the Mafia would tell a storeowner to pay protection money or get the store vandalized. And even a judge or officer of the court would not order the mutilator to be treated as he treated his victims -- because that is not justice."

No, they might send him away for 40 years, and the treatment such a person receives in prison is not all that nice, or they judge could give him death.

**God is the ultimate law-giver and judge, therefore it is within His power to either enforce the law, or in extreme circumstances, set it aside.**

"If God can set aside the law and thus be above the law, then not even your salvation is 100% guarenteed."

He could set aside the law in extreme circumstances is what I said. God has promised a messiah in Jesus Christ. Jesus Himself said He was the way, the truth and the life, that no one can come to the Father except through Him. God sent Jesus to earth, so that mankind could finally be forgiven. That is His promise. He can not lie, so therefore He must abide by His promise. So salvation is 100% for those who have faith in Christ.

"Nor can God be determined to be good, because by what standard could we know that one is following a good or just God?"

If you're questioning God's goodness you must be using some sort of standard. Who am I to tell you which one you're using. I dont' know myself which one you're using. Most likely man's individual standard of what is good and just.

**Who's standard are you going to use? **

"The standard in which people are to be perfect as God is perfect, which requires absolute forgiveness with no time limit, and all are loved alike."

People are not perfect as God is perfect because of our inherited sin nature. So God knew He had to fix the problem because we never could. He sent Christ as a way to fix the problem. Come to faith in Christ and you will be granted that salvation.

"The standard in which when the progidal son comes running home, no punishment is required, the father simply forgives."

Why? Because the son humbled himself before his father and returned. No one wants to humble themselves before God and repent of their sins. They want to work their way to Heaven by doing good deeds and being nice. Without faith in Christ our good works are as filthy rags to God.

"The one in which Jesus says that an 'eye for an eye' is no longer the acceptable standard. The standard in which God is eventually to be all-in-all, which is difficult if there's still a place where sin resides -- aka, hell."

I believe that one day Hell itself will be thrown into the lake of fire and destroyed. So then it would seem that people will burn in Hell until that day when they are destroyed right along with Satan and his angels, to never know life again. But there are different views on this as well. These are under investigation by me too.

Zecryphon said...

"But you mention our flawed nature and out sin nature has 'been dealt with' - this does not bare out in reality. Even good Christians cheat on their wives, some even fall victim to greed, and all other vices of our 'fallen nature'. You can ask the questions of their 'salvation' (false convert or whatever) but as examples Swaggart and Baker served God for several years - no one during that time called into question their 20 or 30 years of faith until their 'bad choices'."

Maybe I should clarify, cuz you don't seem to get it or you do get it and are just nitpicking now. The consequences for our sinful nature have been dealt with when we are saved. Yes we will continue to sin, but the sign of the soundly saved Christian is that they will repent of their sin immediately. When we repent God will forgive us. We try to keep our sins to an absolute minimum, there are ways to do this, but yes Christians do still sin. It's what we do in response to that sin, that is the mark of a soundly saved Christian.

"In some sense, our flawed nature exists still. But we can 'choose' not to follow it or give in to evil ideas that exist within the world. Isn't that the point of Jesus' teachings - to follow our teacher and enact his sayings?"

But those good works will not save you. We do those things because we are saved, not to be saved.

"Fact is a theology that rests on a point of salvation (where salvation starts) can easily lose aight of this."

If you say so.

*But doesn't the desire to do those things, to uphold Jesus' teachings come with the new heart and new desires we receive at the time of salvation? What you're advocating sounds like salvation is dependent upon our works.* (Zec)

"One could also say 'faith comes by hearing' - and this is the process that starts our value system and beliefs - which Christ teaches."

Okay so you believe faith comes by hearing as taught in Romans 10:17. But what must be taught to have faith in Christ?

"As to how we learn to love God and worship Him - this all happens by choice to listen and love what he says (as in to do them)."

Choice? Really? So it's up to me to figure out how to worship Him on my own? Whatever I decide is worshipping God defines what worship of God is?

"As for salvation - this is tiered for me. While we are here there are 'salvific' things we enact in our relationships around us (to make lives better for others - thus the teachings)."

Easing suffering is not an act of salvation. That's a fruit of the spirit. We want to ease suffering for other people because we now live for others instead of living for ourselves.

"As for the hope of the resurrection - this aspect is way out of my hands - it is in God's (and Paul attributes this aspect to Jesus' death and resurrection - 'right hand of the Father' (authority) idea in the gospels). So far this makes the most sense to me."

Okay.

*We are acceptable to God when we receive faith in Christ, not before.* (Zec)

"I am not sure of this point to be exact - what about good people that follow these teachings but do not follow our faith?"

If they don't follow our faith, why would they follow our teachings. That doesn't make sense to me.

"Are they unacceptable to God and what ramifications does that have for us - as God's children?"

Not every person on the planet is a child of God. Isn't it written that we are children of the devil? We only become children of God when we come to faith in Christ and are made acceptable to God through His Son.

"Shouldn't we also not accept them? And if God loves them irregardless then they are not 'unacceptable' altogether."

We are to love others as Jesus loved us.

"If I am teaching a salvation by works idea - you are postulating a salvation by the 'correct beliefs' idea."

What are the correct beliefs I'm teaching? These are not my teachings, but those of Christ. I am the way, the truth and the life, no one comes to the Father but by me, seems pretty clear on how it is we are reconciled to God.

"Just how correct do you have to be to not be a 'false convert' (which proof is also based on works)?"

False converts expose themselves by their actions, just as soundly saved Christians are exposed by their actions. You will know which is which by their fruits. Decide for yourself.

"We have to show we want salvation and I believe we do this by humbling ourselves and repenting of our sins." (Zec)

"If salvation is an act we do not earn - how is it that we have to 'show' something to prove it?"

Who said you had to show it? You can do good works in private too. You're so worried that people are going to think you're a false convert that you want to do good all the time, you're focused on it. Obsessed with it almost. You know in your heart whether or not you are soundly saved. With your good works who are you trying to convince that you're saved? The world or yourself?

"Isn't it more accurate to say we are grateful for that act of Jesus and thus follow His teachings because we see the value of this relationship with God (which he taught us)? Or we could just be grateful for the teachings. Isn't the heart of the matter the teachings - which jesus laid down before he died (of which he came and also died for - which is consistently about love for humanity)? I am fairly open on this one."

I think we do the good works because we are grateful to Jesus for all He has done for us. It's how we express our gratitude to Him and how we bear witness of what He has done in our lives to others. But these acts by themselves, independent of faith in Him, will not save you.

"It looks to me that repentance and faith in Christ are what save, not doing works." (Zec)

"Repentance (an action) resides within the indivdual - as choices we committ on our part...and choices are what I would consider falling into the pattern of 'works'."

I believe the Holy Spirit draws us to God, and is the one that convicts us of sin. He is also the one that enables us to even come to repentance. If we had any part in the salvation process, we would deserve some of the credit and God would not get all the glory. Since I believe we exist to glorify God, we therefore can not play any part in the salvation process.

"I could be wrong but is not repenting - apologizing - an action?"

That the Holy Spirit leads you to.

"Both of the things you mention are things 'we do' in reaction to Christ's actions - which is an easier way to explain it (like if we are loved - we usually love back)."

The Holy Spirit draws us to God and takes us through the salvation process. We do nothing, He does it all.

"If she doesn't feel the need to repent, what good is me, a stranger on the net, telling her she has to repent really going to do her, given the animosity she already feels towards Christianity?" (Zec)

"I actually thought it was just a discussion - and you voiced your opinions on the subject - sorry if you think I disrupted your chance to help her."

I am only voicing my opinions. But it seemed to me like you jumped all over me for not chiding her for not confessing a single sin in the last two years.

"Since I apparently have such horrible theology, why don't you give me an example of good theology, so we may all learn what it is." (Zec)

"This is quite the tone - shouldn't we be open to other view-points about our faith?"

You wanna talk about tone, when you tell someone else that what they're saying is "just bad theology"? Please.

"One paragraph back you just answered a ladies question with the persepctive of 'grace' since it was warranted (legalism) - why can't theology be based on situation and if I am doing that also - don't fault me. I said one aspect of that theology is horrible - Isn't this the same ideal we upbraid in out faith 'hate the sin, love the sinner?'. If the theology is questionable - so be it - how is that a call on your character -"

But you didn't say it was questionable you said it was horrible. There is a difference. If you thought it were merely questionable you could have easily said so, you didn't and now you're getting all hurt because I called you on it.

"and if it is - do you know how someone feels when we do the above sentence about love/hate to them?"

I don't even know what you're talking about anymore.

"How sure do I need to be, in your opinion?" (Zec)

"Very...you're the one espousing it (concerning salvation) on the internet. I get questions raised about my theology all the time (I don't get defensive about it) - I may not have the best answers but I admit they come from what I have learned about God (which is limited as admited by myself). But this type of honesty can be seen as a flaw in our faith - this unsurety. I hope this does not count against me."

You don't come off as someone who is unsure of their theology. In fact you're so sure of yours that you can tell me that mine is bad. You need to work on your tone as well.

"Please explain. I'm always eager to learn from someone who is apparently much more knowledgable than I am." (Zec)

"Again Zec, again? I only raised deep concern with that view of repentance - which I have seen become so routine as to be useless (in a few churches and in a lot of theologies). The church can make a system of this repentance and under-petition it's great effect on society. I have actually seen people committ evil under this system and not apologize to another (because they were not Christian or part of the church) - or committ an evil - then repent - then committ again as if they knew they would be 'forgiven'. One could say they never knew what the term even meant? So I raise questions with the definition since it can become watered down - and I think this is detrimental to our faith."

The only thing I can reccommend to you at this point is to read Hell's Best Kept Secret by Ray Comfort. He expalins it better than I do apparently.

"No, you sound pretty much like everybody else I've run across this week. All convinced I'm a prick and have no clue what I'm talking about. Guess it was just supposed to be a crap week for Zec." (Zec)

"Zec the net is a tough playground - a lot of ideals are discussed and jumped on in this realm - but that's part of the risk-reward of it. I am sorry the week went bad for you - I know I contributed to it - I did not mean to hurt your feelings but to discuss the issues at hand."

You're not the one I have a problem with. Our discussion was going fine until NN laid into me with a completely personal attack about myself and my personality that totally derailed the discussion and did not address one theological point I had made. The net is a tough place, and I used to be like her, I've developed the style I have now, just to be able to discuss anyting here. Now, some people don't like it. That's fine. If you don't like it, don't talk to me. No one has to respond to anything I say.

"Are anyone's points truly theirs? Is there anyone on the planet that holds a belief that has not been influenced by past teachers or teachings?" (Zec)

"I think we adopt the points we hold though - thus making them ours in some sense (we have control over them and they change at our will). But yes, we are influenced by others in this regard (and that's a good thing and a bad thing) - but we make ownership of what we learn and keep."

But what it sounded like you were advocating is that we should only rely upon our own thoughts and not those of others. Like if we adopted the teachings of others, then we really had no thoughts of our own. No one has any original thoughts anymore. Our thoughts, beliefs etc. come from somewhere. We don't just come up with these things on our own.

Heather said...

Zecryphon,

**Okay, and what should be done with the oppressors? Should they be punished?**
Herein lies the problem: if we’ve all inherited a sin nature, then we are all oppressed by default.

**So instead of Hell for sinners, you want a place like purgatory then? Where you can work off your sins? ** What good would it do to throw the oppressors into a place of eternal punishment with no purpose? How would that make me any better than the oppressors? That would just make me full of revenge.

** How repugnant and loathsome must He find one sin to be, to send someone away for all eternity in Hell?** And how much would you have to hate someone to hold their hand to a burning hot stove even for five seconds? And keep it there when that person starts to scream? Or how much would you have to hate someone to watch them get lit on fire and then burn to death, and do nothing to stop it? Plus, this is equating the sin with the sinner. The two are not the same, as given by hate the sin, love the sinner.

**It's not like God has not provided a solution to the problem.** It is still revenge for making the wrong choice, period. Again, it is like the Mafia telling a storeowner to pay protection money, or risk losing the store. The solution in that case is to pay the Mafia. And if someone goes against that solution, the Mafia gets revenge.

**That is His promise. He can not lie, so therefore He must abide by His promise. So salvation is 100% for those who have faith in Christ.** Except salvation is bound by a set of laws, and you said that laws can be set aside in extreme circumstances – but the extremeness of the circumstance is left up to God. If God is not bound to follow those laws, which includes how one achieves salvation and God determines what constitutes extreme, then no, your salvation is not guaranteed. And you can say that God can’t lie, but how are we to know that God defines a lie the same way in which you do?

**If you're questioning God's goodness you must be using some sort of standard. Who am I to tell you which one you're using. I dont' know myself which one you're using. Most likely man's individual standard of what is good and just. ** I am using the standard laid out in the Bible, where it is clearly defined as to what is good and what is not good. Such as not killing, or absolute forgiveness, where God says to be perfect as He is perfect. And God is perfect by loving all, as specifically stated in the Sermon on the Mount. Or by forgiving those who have wronged you. That is what is considered good, according to Jesus. Therefore, based on that definition, I would see if God in fact follows that standard, in order to see if God is in fact good according to His own definition. Even Jesus says that the ‘eye for an eye’ mentality is no longer acceptable – and for God to throw people in hell simply for rejecting Jesus is the eye for an eye mentality.

**Why? Because the son humbled himself before his father and returned. No one wants to humble themselves before God and repent of their sins.** And he was forgiven based on that alone – no punishment was required in order to the father to forgive, and yet Jesus clearly states this is what God is like: God doesn’t need to punish someone in order to forgive. The father didn't need to go shove his wrath on someone else, or create a solution to appease his wrath, before forgiving his son.

**Without faith in Christ our good works are as filthy rags to God.** Actually, no. This is equating a specific statement in Isaiah, said at a specific time, with the concept of the NT. Even without faith in Christ, good works are pleasing to God, because then man is acting as s/he was originally created. Otherwise, the peacemakers would not be considered the children of God. People wouldn’t be considered fearfully and wonderfully made. Even if you look at the Sermon on the Mount: if it is applicable to the entire crowd, then the entire crowd was called a light to the world before ever confessing a belief in Jesus.

Plus, if my salvation hinges on my repentance and coming to Christ, then I am doing something to merit salvation. I ‘earn’ my salvation based on my actions in terms of repentance.

I also have very little respect for Ray Comfort’s work. I understand that he doesn’t believe in evolution, but his disbelief would garner more respect if he actually understood the process. From what I’ve seen of his and Kirk Cameron’s concept of hell, it seems to be the same process. For starters, the OT has little to no concept of the afterlife, and that’s about 2/3rds of the Bible (the ‘little’ part comes from the one verse in Daniel).

Zecryphon said...

"What good would it do to throw the oppressors into a place of eternal punishment with no purpose? How would that make me any better than the oppressors? That would just make me full of revenge."

The good it does is that it punishes the criminal for their crimes. A sin is a crime you commit against God.

** How repugnant and loathsome must He find one sin to be, to send someone away for all eternity in Hell?**

"And how much would you have to hate someone to hold their hand to a burning hot stove even for five seconds?"

God doesn't send you to Hell because He hates you. He sends you there because of the actions you have committed. Your example fails because you're painting God as someone who's holding someone's hand to a hot stove for no apparent reason. The reason for Hell is apparent.

"And keep it there when that person starts to scream?"

Oh please, it's not like you don't know why you're being punished. You just don't like the punishemnt, so you'd rather say God is evil and sadistic, than say you are. It's just easier to blame someone else isn't it. Sounds alot like people in prisons who say they judge had it out for them, or their lawyer was incompetent, doesn't it?

"Or how much would you have to hate someone to watch them get lit on fire and then burn to death, and do nothing to stop it?"

But God has done something to stop this, He has provided a solution to your sin problem. What's so wrong with faith in Christ?

"Plus, this is equating the sin with the sinner. The two are not the same, as given by hate the sin, love the sinner."

We aren't sinners because we sin, we sin because we're sinners. We were born with a sinful nature and we act according to that nature. people call it human nature nowadays.

**It's not like God has not provided a solution to the problem.**

"It is still revenge for making the wrong choice, period."

It's punishment fitting the crime. Period.

"Again, it is like the Mafia telling a storeowner to pay protection money, or risk losing the store."

No, it's not because the mafia is not upholding a pre-existing law. God is.

"The solution in that case is to pay the Mafia. And if someone goes against that solution, the Mafia gets revenge."

The mafia's threat is not based upon the law. That's the difference and a fact you want to ignore, because by doing so you can paint God as a big cosmic bully.

**That is His promise. He can not lie, so therefore He must abide by His promise. So salvation is 100% for those who have faith in Christ.**

"Except salvation is bound by a set of laws, and you said that laws can be set aside in extreme circumstances – but the extremeness of the circumstance is left up to God."

Of course. My example of an extreme circumstance would be an aborted baby.

"If God is not bound to follow those laws, which includes how one achieves salvation and God determines what constitutes extreme, then no, your salvation is not guaranteed."

You don't get it do you? God has promised eternal life through Christ to all who call upon the name of Christ to be saved. If you have heard the good news of Christ and have rejected it, are trying to earn your way to heaven with deeds, then God should not set aside the law for you. You knew what was required to avoid Hell and chose, using your own freewill, not to do it. He will then see you as a criminal and treat you as such that's fair. You made the choice, God is responding to your choice. The problem here isn't God, it's you. You don't want to be held accountable for your choices. That's natural, but that doesn't make God unfair and mean.

"And you can say that God can’t lie, but how are we to know that God defines a lie the same way in which you do?"

How many ways are there to define a lie. My word is not the final authority on any issue that's being discussed here. Don't believe something just because I say it. Go to the Bible, God's written word and investigate the matter there. Read the works of other theologians, investigate.

**If you're questioning God's goodness you must be using some sort of standard. Who am I to tell you which one you're using. I dont' know myself which one you're using. Most likely man's individual standard of what is good and just. **

"I am using the standard laid out in the Bible, where it is clearly defined as to what is good and what is not good. Such as not killing,"

Actually the command is, thou shalt not murder. Killing is a differnt thing, such as killing your enemy in war.

"or absolute forgiveness, where God says to be perfect as He is perfect. And God is perfect by loving all, as specifically stated in the Sermon on the Mount. Or by forgiving those who have wronged you. That is what is considered good, according to Jesus."

And such acts will save you?

"Therefore, based on that definition, I would see if God in fact follows that standard, in order to see if God is in fact good according to His own definition."

Amd when will you make this determination? Here on earth or after you die?

"Even Jesus says that the ‘eye for an eye’ mentality is no longer acceptable – and for God to throw people in hell simply for rejecting Jesus is the eye for an eye mentality."

One thing that is seen throughout the Bible is sacrifce for sins. Do you think it's fair that in the OT innocent animals had to be sacrificed to cover the sins of the people?

**Why? Because the son humbled himself before his father and returned. No one wants to humble themselves before God and repent of their sins.**

"And he was forgiven based on that alone"

Right, that's a parable designed to illustrate why we need to repent, to humble ourselves before God and ask forgiveness.

" – no punishment was required in order to the father to forgive, and yet Jesus clearly states this is what God is like: God doesn’t need to punish someone in order to forgive."

I have never said He needed to punish someone before forgiving them. You have a choice. Either you trust the gift of salvation that is availalbe from God through Christ, or you pay for your sins yourself. If you do it yourself, you're going to Hell.

"The father didn't need to go shove his wrath on someone else, or create a solution to appease his wrath, before forgiving his son."

He doesn't shove His wrath upon you before forgiving you. You get His wrath after you die. You've had your whole life to humble yourself before your Father in Heaven. Why is it that when you die, if you have no placed your faith in Christ, that God should set aside the law?

**Without faith in Christ our good works are as filthy rags to God.**

"Actually, no. This is equating a specific statement in Isaiah, said at a specific time, with the concept of the NT. Even without faith in Christ, good works are pleasing to God, because then man is acting as s/he was originally created."

Well, earn your way to Heaven, see how that goes for ya.

"Otherwise, the peacemakers would not be considered the children of God. People wouldn’t be considered fearfully and wonderfully made. Even if you look at the Sermon on the Mount: if it is applicable to the entire crowd, then the entire crowd was called a light to the world before ever confessing a belief in Jesus."

John 14:6 makes it pretty clear to me that Jesus is the way to God not works.

"Plus, if my salvation hinges on my repentance and coming to Christ, then I am doing something to merit salvation. I ‘earn’ my salvation based on my actions in terms of repentance."

The Holy Spirit draws you to God, no one comes to Him on their own.

"I also have very little respect for Ray Comfort’s work."

That's fine. To each their own.

"I understand that he doesn’t believe in evolution,"

So what? Does that make his theology on salvation wrong?

"but his disbelief would garner more respect if he actually understood the process."

Just because he doesn't believe in evolution, doesn't mean he doesn't understand the process.

"From what I’ve seen of his and Kirk Cameron’s concept of hell, it seems to be the same process."

Their concept of Hell is the same process as evolution? You've lost me here.

"For starters, the OT has little to no concept of the afterlife, and that’s about 2/3rds of the Bible (the ‘little’ part comes from the one verse in Daniel)."

Which is?

Heather said...

**The good it does is that it punishes the criminal for their crimes. A sin is a crime you commit against God. ** Simply punishing the criminal for the crime accomplishes nothing, other than satisfying a need for revenge. Once you’re done punishing the criminal, then what? Is the criminal redeemed or more hardened, and thus will behave worse than before? If it’s the latter, then the criminal is even more dangerous than before.

**Your example fails because you're painting God as someone who's holding someone's hand to a hot stove for no apparent reason. The reason for Hell is apparent.** The example is used to show the brutality of such an action, regardless if there is a reason or not. You earlier said that God loathed and found sin repugnant. Both words are used in association with hatred. If you are sent to hell, then hatred does play a large role in that.

Look, I’m telling you how it comes across to me. In turn, you’ve pretty much told me that I want to make God be a big bully, I don’t want to be held accountable, and that the problem is me. However, in all those responses, you are essentially attacking me, rather than addressing my position. And for someone who recently said that he’s spent the entire week under fire from an opposing viewpoint, don’t you think you should be careful in the responses?

**We aren't sinners because we sin, we sin because we're sinners. We were born with a sinful nature and we act according to that nature. people call it human nature nowadays. ** So we’re inherently inclined to sin, and are attracted to that the most … and then punished for rejecting something that we aren’t really that attracted to in the first place.

**The mafia's threat is not based upon the law. That's the difference and a fact you want to ignore, because by doing so you can paint God as a big cosmic bully. ** Except the mafia is based on a law that they follow and created – much like the concept of hell is based on a law that God created. If God did not in fact create the law, but is bound by it, then the law is more powerful than God.

**You don't get it do you? God has promised eternal life through Christ to all who call upon the name of Christ to be saved.** Based on a certain set of laws – the sinner must be punished, the sinner can’t pay the bill, Christ came, and those who trust will be saved. If God can set aside any law based on what he deems to be extreme circumstances, then the law of salvation can also be set aside. You can say that God can’t lie, but considering that God isn’t 100% bound by the law, his ways are higher than ours and more mysterious, the concept of the Trinity is a paradox, then it’s just as likely that what we would consider absolute truth, God could consider a lie. If God has promised that all who don’t put their faith in Christ suffer hell, except in this extreme circumstance, then it can just as easily be that God has promised eternal life to all who do put their faith in Christ, except where God decides there is a circumstance where the promise is not applicable. And just because God cannot lie does not mean that our concept of truth/lies are God’s.

**You made the choice, God is responding to your choice. The problem here isn't God, it's you. You don't want to be held accountable for your choices. That's natural, but that doesn't make God unfair and mean.** Which means God is treating the person exactly as the person treated God, and thus God is acting no better than the person. Again – the eye for an eye mentality. And yes, I do want to be accountable for my choices, so that I can learn from them and be a better person.

**Go to the Bible, God's written word and investigate the matter there. Read the works of other theologians, investigate.** I have done both. Which is why I find so many problems with this theology.

**"or absolute forgiveness, where God says to be perfect as He is perfect. And God is perfect by loving all, as specifically stated in the Sermon on the Mount. Or by forgiving those who have wronged you. That is what is considered good, according to Jesus."** This example has nothing to do with what will save me. I am using these examples to show what God considers good. If God considers this good, then God would consistently act in this fashion, because God can only act in a good fashion. This is the standard of good I am using to determine if God is good.

**One thing that is seen throughout the Bible is sacrifce for sins. Do you think it's fair that in the OT innocent animals had to be sacrificed to cover the sins of the people?** How does this address the fact that the concept of hell is the eye for eye mentality?

**I have never said He needed to punish someone before forgiving them.** Except it's coming across that you are: the choice is either to accept Christ who was punished in your stead, or be punished yourself. But somebody is punished for it. The forgiveness is only available because Jesus died on the cross.

** Why is it that when you die, if you have no placed your faith in Christ, that God should set aside the law?** Because the concept makes no sense? Because the world is not that black and white? Because God can set aside the law? If people live a life that shows they truly do yearn to be free of sin, then they are living a life full of grace. And no, it’s not a matter of earning anything.

**Well, earn your way to Heaven, see how that goes for ya.** Where am I saying that people can earn their way to heaven? What I am saying is that it's not as simple as rejecting Christ and then gleefully skipping off to a life full of sin.

"Otherwise, the peacemakers would not be considered the children of God. People wouldn’t be considered fearfully and wonderfully made. Even if you look at the Sermon on the Mount: if it is applicable to the entire crowd, then the entire crowd was called a light to the world before ever confessing a belief in Jesus."

**John 14:6 makes it pretty clear to me that Jesus is the way to God not works. ** But this doesn’t address the peacemakers aspect, or the fearfully and wonderfully aspect, or the light of the world aspect.

**The Holy Spirit draws you to God, no one comes to Him on their own.** Then this contradicts the statement you made earlier about all I have to do is humble myself and repent. Later in this response, you say that I know what I must do to be saved, and if I use my free will to reject it, I’ll be punished – which again leaves salvation something that I earn by responding correctly.

**Just because he doesn't believe in evolution, doesn't mean he doesn't understand the process.** The way in which he has described evolution has pretty much shown that he doesn’t understand the concept. He’s basically refuting a straw man. If he can’t understand something like that, which to him if it were true would completely destroy the Bible, why should I believe anything else he says about salvation or hell or any of that?

**For starters, the OT has little to no concept of the afterlife, and that’s about 2/3rds of the Bible (the ‘little’ part comes from the one verse in Daniel)."

Which is?**

There’s a verse in Daniel about those facing everlasting life, and then everlasting punishment. But other than that, it’s vague.

Zecryphon said...

"Simply punishing the criminal for the crime accomplishes nothing, other than satisfying a need for revenge."

So, all the judges who sentence criminals to jail every day are doing it just for revenge? Or are they upholding the laws of the land?

"Once you’re done punishing the criminal, then what?"

Well this question is obviously not addressing those criminals who have been sentenced to death or life without parole. So, in this case we let them out and see if they learned anything. God's standard is a bit different though. It's Hell for eternity. There is no out. He's provided a way out, but if you choose to not accept that way, (Christ), then you agree to take the punishment that is due to you according to God's standard.

"Is the criminal redeemed or more hardened, and thus will behave worse than before?"

Depends on how cushy or harsh their time in prison was. In Maricopa County, in Arizona the repeat offender rate is rather low, because of how harsh the punishments here are.

"If it’s the latter, then the criminal is even more dangerous than before."

And when he reoffends the punishment will be that much more harsh. Maybe life without parole or death.

**Your example fails because you're painting God as someone who's holding someone's hand to a hot stove for no apparent reason. The reason for Hell is apparent.**

"The example is used to show the brutality of such an action, regardless if there is a reason or not. You earlier said that God loathed and found sin repugnant. Both words are used in association with hatred. If you are sent to hell, then hatred does play a large role in that."

God hates sin, but He desires that all people be reconciled to Him. For that to happen someone had to take our punishment. If you choose, for whatever reason to not accept Christ, then you agree to pay the fine.

"Look, I’m telling you how it comes across to me."

Oh I know that.

"In turn, you’ve pretty much told me that I want to make God be a big bully, I don’t want to be held accountable, and that the problem is me. However, in all those responses, you are essentially attacking me, rather than addressing my position."

That's not attacking you. That's telling you how you're coming across to me.

"And for someone who recently said that he’s spent the entire week under fire from an opposing viewpoint, don’t you think you should be careful in the responses?"

Nope. Like Society said, the net is a harsh place. I used to be way more sensitive than I am now. But to even play in the game here, I had to develop a thicker skin, and now I've got one. Some people don't like it, others do. I'm not really gonna change again because someone with extremely thin skin couldn't handle what I said to her.

**We aren't sinners because we sin, we sin because we're sinners. We were born with a sinful nature and we act according to that nature. people call it human nature nowadays. **

"So we’re inherently inclined to sin, and are attracted to that the most … and then punished for rejecting something that we aren’t really that attracted to in the first place."

Your punished for your actions. You do have a freewill too. You could do good as well. But we don't, because we love sin. Our actions prove that. If you're caught in a sticky situation, is it easier to tell a lie to try and get out of it or to tell the truth and face the consequences? Which one leaps to mind first?

**The mafia's threat is not based upon the law. That's the difference and a fact you want to ignore, because by doing so you can paint God as a big cosmic bully. **

"Except the mafia is based on a law that they follow and created – much like the concept of hell is based on a law that God created."

The mafia doesn't have a law. They do whatever suits them or makes them the most money at the time. God doesn't operate that way.

"If God did not in fact create the law, but is bound by it, then the law is more powerful than God."

God has a moral law. 10 Commandments. I believe He will judge us by these on Judgment Day. If we are in Christ, the law and subsequent punishment for violating said law will be set aside. If we are not in Christ, then the full penalty of the law will be in effect.

**You don't get it do you? God has promised eternal life through Christ to all who call upon the name of Christ to be saved.**

"Based on a certain set of laws – the sinner must be punished, the sinner can’t pay the bill, Christ came, and those who trust will be saved. If God can set aside any law based on what he deems to be extreme circumstances, then the law of salvation can also be set aside."

What is the extreme circumstance that would warrant such an action?

"You can say that God can’t lie, but considering that God isn’t 100% bound by the law, his ways are higher than ours and more mysterious, the concept of the Trinity is a paradox, then it’s just as likely that what we would consider absolute truth, God could consider a lie."

But if our truth is based upon God's promises, then it's not a lie.

"If God has promised that all who don’t put their faith in Christ suffer hell, except in this extreme circumstance, then it can just as easily be that God has promised eternal life to all who do put their faith in Christ, except where God decides there is a circumstance where the promise is not applicable."

Give me an example of such a circumstance.

"And just because God cannot lie does not mean that our concept of truth/lies are God’s."

Where do you get your concept of truth and lies from then?

**You made the choice, God is responding to your choice. The problem here isn't God, it's you. You don't want to be held accountable for your choices. That's natural, but that doesn't make God unfair and mean.**

"Which means God is treating the person exactly as the person treated God, and thus God is acting no better than the person."

In your opinion. In my opinion He is upholding His laws.

"Again – the eye for an eye mentality. And yes, I do want to be accountable for my choices, so that I can learn from them and be a better person."

Okay. But if you're held accountable after you die, you're going to Hell. There is no betterment of you at that point. It's eternal punishment.

**Go to the Bible, God's written word and investigate the matter there. Read the works of other theologians, investigate.**

"I have done both. Which is why I find so many problems with this theology."

Well you could always talk to someone smarter than me. LOL

**"or absolute forgiveness, where God says to be perfect as He is perfect. And God is perfect by loving all, as specifically stated in the Sermon on the Mount. Or by forgiving those who have wronged you. That is what is considered good, according to Jesus."**

"This example has nothing to do with what will save me. I am using these examples to show what God considers good. If God considers this good, then God would consistently act in this fashion, because God can only act in a good fashion. This is the standard of good I am using to determine if God is good."

Okay.

**One thing that is seen throughout the Bible is sacrifce for sins. Do you think it's fair that in the OT innocent animals had to be sacrificed to cover the sins of the people?**

"How does this address the fact that the concept of hell is the eye for eye mentality?"

I'm asking you if you think it's okay to use an eye for an eye mentality upon a totally innocent animal? The animal did nothing wrong, is it okay that it pay for the sins of the people? You, however have sinned, why is it wrong for God to send you to Hell?

**I have never said He needed to punish someone before forgiving them.**

"Except it's coming across that you are: the choice is either to accept Christ who was punished in your stead, or be punished yourself. But somebody is punished for it. The forgiveness is only available because Jesus died on the cross."

That's true, forgiveness for your sins is only available through Christ. You are punished after you die, not in this life.

** Why is it that when you die, if you have no placed your faith in Christ, that God should set aside the law?**

"Because the concept makes no sense?"

So because it makes no sense to you God should put aside His holy laws? If the concept of going to jail for life for murder made no sense to you, should the judge just let you go free? Would you consider that judge to be upholding the laws he is sworn to uphold? I wouldn't.

"Because the world is not that black and white?"

The world dictates God's actions?

"Because God can set aside the law?"

Which He will if you have placed your faith and trust in Jesus.

"If people live a life that shows they truly do yearn to be free of sin, then they are living a life full of grace. And no, it’s not a matter of earning anything."

If you say so.

**Well, earn your way to Heaven, see how that goes for ya.**

"Where am I saying that people can earn their way to heaven? What I am saying is that it's not as simple as rejecting Christ and then gleefully skipping off to a life full of sin."

If you reject the gift of Christ and then try to live a life that is pleasing to God, what are you doing? Do you or do you not desire salvation?

"Otherwise, the peacemakers would not be considered the children of God. People wouldn’t be considered fearfully and wonderfully made. Even if you look at the Sermon on the Mount: if it is applicable to the entire crowd, then the entire crowd was called a light to the world before ever confessing a belief in Jesus."

**John 14:6 makes it pretty clear to me that Jesus is the way to God not works. **

"But this doesn’t address the peacemakers aspect, or the fearfully and wonderfully aspect, or the light of the world aspect."

Which is?

**The Holy Spirit draws you to God, no one comes to Him on their own.**

"Then this contradicts the statement you made earlier about all I have to do is humble myself and repent."

What causes you to repent? I believe it is the Holy Spirit that convicts you of your sin, when an evangelist shares the law of God with you. He pricks your conscience and lets you know you have sinned against God. Then the Holy Spirit leads you in a prayer or confession of repentance. We do nothing to save ourselves. God does it all.

"Later in this response, you say that I know what I must do to be saved, and if I use my free will to reject it, I’ll be punished – which again leaves salvation something that I earn by responding correctly."

I'll look into it more deeply.

**Just because he doesn't believe in evolution, doesn't mean he doesn't understand the process.**

"The way in which he has described evolution has pretty much shown that he doesn’t understand the concept. He’s basically refuting a straw man. If he can’t understand something like that, which to him if it were true would completely destroy the Bible,"

How does evolution destroy the Bible? I believe animals can undergo changes that help them adapt to their environment to ensure survivability. That doesn't contradict or destroy the Bible.

"why should I believe anything else he says about salvation or hell or any of that?"

Because he might be right?

**For starters, the OT has little to no concept of the afterlife, and that’s about 2/3rds of the Bible (the ‘little’ part comes from the one verse in Daniel)."

Which is?**

"There’s a verse in Daniel about those facing everlasting life, and then everlasting punishment. But other than that, it’s vague."

Do you know which verse? I'd like to read it.

Slapdash said...

***Well this question is obviously not addressing those criminals who have been sentenced to death or life without parole. So, in this case we let them out and see if they learned anything.***

No, they're let out because they've paid their debt to society.

Except, as ex-offender re-entry programs are discovering, when offenders are not rehabilitated while paying their debt to society, they are nowhere near prepared to rejoin society as productive members.

Slapdash said...

***Your punished for your actions.***

Aren't you the same person that a few comments above here said that the Holy Spirit draws us to God? That we can't do anything except respond?

You seem to be saying inconsistent and opposite things.

My impression at this point is that we're just going around in circles. Zec is convinced that hell is an appropriate punishment given how severely God views sin; Heather believes no, because it does not square with other characteristics of God, namely mercy and forgiveness.

I used to hold Zec's perspective (or something similar); I now hold Heather's.

Zec, why do you think we will be judged by the 10 Commandments? What scriptures back that up? Because it sounds kinda like just your opinion of things based on how you are reading the Bible.

I have come to think that EVERYONE believes what they want to believe about the Bible - even those who keep saying to go back to the Bible to see what it says because it's sooooo soooooooooooo clear. Nah, they've just found some interpretation that they like and they're holding onto it as truth.

This is why I am feeling more and more comfortable taking the Bible as whatever kind of collection of books I want to (divine, or not)...and believing whatever I want to about God and his Word: I have lots of examples of other Christians who do exactly the same thing.

Zecryphon said...

"Zec, why do you think we will be judged by the 10 Commandments?"

I thought those were God's moral laws. What should He judge us by if He's going to judge us at all?

As to your comment about going around and around in circles, I agree. We all know where each other stands and what we all believe. Time to stop beating this horse, it's dead. :-)

Heather said...

Okay, I just saw that we're retiring this concept, given the circular nature. Except I didn't see that until after I typed my response, and don't want my effort to go to waste, so ...

However, Zecryphon, if you don't respond, I won't in turn do a victory dance in thinking I got the last word. :) I'll acknowledge that you are moving on to new topics.

**So, all the judges who sentence criminals to jail every day are doing it just for revenge? Or are they upholding the laws of the land?** That’s a different concept: those laws are put in place so that societies can function, and criminals won’t be a disruption.

**And when he reoffends the punishment will be that much more harsh. Maybe life without parole or death. ** Then the only thing keeping the criminal in check is fear of punishment, rather than a genuine desire to do good. There’s no redemption here.

**God hates sin, but He desires that all people be reconciled to Him. For that to happen someone had to take our punishment. If you choose, for whatever reason to not accept Christ, then you agree to pay the fine.** People can only be reconciled to God if there is punishment involved.

**Your punished for your actions. You do have a freewill too. You could do good as well. But we don't, because we love sin. Our actions prove that. If you're caught in a sticky situation, is it easier to tell a lie to try and get out of it or to tell the truth and face the consequences? Which one leaps to mind first?** Except earlier you said that no one can do good outside of Christ, because all good works are as filthy rags. Plus, if we are born inherently sinful, then sin is more attractive than good, and thus we don’t really have freewill: sin has the stronger claim on the human soul. People will be punished for doing something they were inherently born to do.

**The mafia doesn't have a law. They do whatever suits them or makes them the most money at the time. God doesn't operate that way.** No, they have some sort of law or they wouldn’t still be functioning. If they are the strongest power in the neighborhood, then their word is law. Which, under this system, is how God operates: whatever he says/does is good and just. There is no standard by which to evaluate if God is in fact good and just.

**What is the extreme circumstance that would warrant such an action?** In setting aside the concept of the law of salvation? You pointed out one earlier: abortion. The fetus would be automatically saved.

**But if our truth is based upon God's promises, then it's not a lie.** Assuming that it’s understood correctly, and that God’s promise isn’t a paradox like the Trinity, or something beyond your understanding: which is a reasoning often given in terms of the atrocities in the OT. Even to point out how to determine God is good: if I point out that God acted less than good in the OT, the response is usually that God’s ways are beyond mine. Okay, but then the concept of good isn’t a set standard, it’s whatever God happens to call good. Same with God’s promise: God can tell someone who repented that they are not in fact saved, and yet still say he kept his promise. Is that contradictory? Yes, but if God’s ways are not my ways, and my understanding is finite. Who am I, if I believed I was saved and wasn’t, to tell God that he’s not fulfilling his promise? Who am I to even say what the concept of a promise is?

**I'm asking you if you think it's okay to use an eye for an eye mentality upon a totally innocent animal? The animal did nothing wrong, is it okay that it pay for the sins of the people? You, however have sinned, why is it wrong for God to send you to Hell? ** That’s not how the eye for an eye mentality works, though. It’s that what someone does do you, you return in kind. Thus the mentality is not used on the animal, because the animal did nothing. The animal didn’t sacrifice a person’s child, so in turn the person sacrifices the animal.

**So because it makes no sense to you God should put aside His holy laws?**
First, it makes no sense to me because this particular theory of atonement wasn’t really developed until the 16th century, and it was modified from a theory developed in the 11th century (if there is evidence to suggest they were in operating before those centuries, I'd be happy to take a look). And both theories were heavily influenced by the culture in which they developed. Second, it’s based on a medieval understanding of rules and legalism. Just look at how you’re defending this concept: it’s all about a court of law, aka legalism. Third, we are repelled by the fact that societies such as the Aztecs offered blood sacrifices to appease their gods, and yet this system as the Christian god requiring the same appeasement.

Which He will if you have placed your faith and trust in Jesus.** Except the law isn’t set aside: it’s still fulfilled. Someone is punished, regardless. If Christ is accepted, then the person’s punishment is fulfilled in Jesus. If Christ is not, then the person is punished. Under this, God’s mercy and compassion and love are temporarily extended. God’s justice is a constant.

** "But this doesn’t address the peacemakers aspect, or the fearfully and wonderfully aspect, or the light of the world aspect."

Which is? ** That works outside of Christ are not filthy rags in the sight of God.

** We do nothing to save ourselves. God does it all.** Except you do, because you have to make the choice whether to accept it. God does 99% of the work, leaving that last important 1% up to you. You do something to save yourself: you accept. If God did everything in terms of salvation, then your ability to choose wouldn’t even be a factor. It also makes the concept of salvation all about punishment and rewards, rather than healing and redemption. To answer your question: no, my primary goal is not to get to heaven. I’d find that goal ultimately futile, since the Bible says that the point was for everyone to be in the graves until the second coming, when there’d be a new heaven and earth. The point of salvation was to redeem Earth, not get a select few into heaven. And to me, it completely dismisses any value to this life if the only point is to make the right choice and inherent heaven.

**How does evolution destroy the Bible? I believe animals can undergo changes that help them adapt to their environment to ensure survivability. That doesn't contradict or destroy the Bible.** If he holds to a 6,000 year old Earth, and says that Adam/Eve are real people, and both need to be true for salvation, then the theory of evolution would destroy the Bible, in his opinion.

I believe Ray Comfort is wrong about the idea of hell. If he can’t describe how scientists accurately define evolution before he proceeds to show how impossible it is, why should I believe that his research or study of the Bible had better details? Two different words were translated into hell: Sheol/Hades and Gehenna. Sheol/Hades basically meant the underworld, the grave, the pit, and was something believed to be directly below earth. Gehenna was modeled after a valley right outside Jerusalem, which was the giant trash heap. If hell were that big of a problem, I would expect to see it front and center in Acts, except in all the situations were sinners were possibly about to die or do something against God, no one said that they would be sent to hell. Stephen prayed that they would be forgiven. Paul during the storm didn’t warn about hell, even though there was a very good chance of people dying unsaved.

**For starters, the OT has little to no concept of the afterlife, and that’s about 2/3rds of the Bible (the ‘little’ part comes from the one verse in Daniel)."

** "There’s a verse in Daniel about those facing everlasting life, and then everlasting punishment. But other than that, it’s vague."

Do you know which verse? I'd like to read it.** I believe it’s in Daniel 12:2

Slapdash said...

***"Zec, why do you think we will be judged by the 10 Commandments?"

I thought those were God's moral laws. What should He judge us by if He's going to judge us at all?***

I'm surprised by this because Jesus goes much, much further than the 10 Commandments.

By the way, I didn't mean to shut down conversation! By all means, if people still want to discuss, do so. I was just observing that it seems like we're getting into repetitive territory.

Heather said...

Slapdash,

**I'm surprised by this because Jesus goes much, much further than the 10 Commandments.** That's actually an interesting point. Does Jesus say anywhere in the Gospels that people will be judged based on the 10 commandments? His primary focus was on the great two: loving God and loving neighbors.

Even if we throw Paul into the mix, and his concept of the law: what law was he referring to? Because I believe Judaism had a total of 613 laws that they used to honor God. So is it specifically stated anywhere in the Bible that the 10 commandments are used in that fashion?

**By the way, I didn't mean to shut down conversation! By all means, if people still want to discuss, do so. **

We were going in circles at this point anyway, so you didn't shut anything down. :)

Slapdash said...

I was struck last night at reading a (lengthy) comment by Ed Babinski on the following blog entry:

http://www.christilling.de/blog/2007/07/god-is-love.html

The whole thing is interesting, but I noted in particular the second comment in the string. An excerpt:

"And if each soul's "free will" means so much, why can't souls in heaven choose to sin any longer, or souls in hell choose to draw nearer God? To prevent that, wouldn't God have to strip all souls of their "free will" after they have died, making sinning in heaven impossible and making repentence in hell equally impossible? But if God strips souls of their "free will" after they have died, then He doesn't really "love" "freewill" as much as the defenders of that view claim He does. Catch-22."

Slapdash said...

Another interesting blog entry on the same subject:

http://seekism.wordpress.com/2007/03/23/hell-are-you-kidding-me/