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PostPosted: Tue Aug 24, 2004 9:23 pm 
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Upsilon wrote:
You seem to be going two ways in this post. Firstly, you make the claim that it's symbolism, but then you refer to Jesus's crucifixion as your ticket to Heaven. Which is it? If it's the latter, you still haven't explained how that particular physical occurrence was necessary for our redemption.


Ok - I'm not sure what you're meaning here, but I'm going to try and explain myself - tell me if I'm on the right track. Jesus' crucifixion WAS symbolic, just as when people sacrificed animals, it was a symbolic offering to whatever diety the sacrifice was dedicated to. It may have been an actual physical occurence, but the symbolism was there. Certainly to those who literally crucified him, they weren't thinking of him as a sacrifice...but God did and so did Jesus.

As to why it was necessary for our redemption - as stated with the Debt/Debtor analogy, there was a debt that ALL mankind had with God...and it had to be paid. Now, I understand that you think that killing an innocent man was a drastic way of remitting the debt, but I think God chose such a drastic measure to CONVINCE us that He was serious! That He WANTS to forgive us! God wants nothing more than to welcome us home into His arms in Heaven and live with Him for all eternity. As I've said in other threads (or perhaps it was this one, I can't keep track anymore!) Why he doesn't just wave a magic wand and forgive us all?...I don't know. I don't pretend to know...all I know is the love of God and the love of the man who did nothing wrong but died for all the crap I did wrong in my life...

I completely understand your frustrations, Upsilon. And I admit, there were many times when I've doubted God and my faith. But there have been too many things in my life that I wouldn't have gotten through if I didn't have my belief in God.

I hope I helped clarify my point....I know you are probably still left with questions - rest assured, we ALL are, Christians and non-Christians.

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PostPosted: Tue Aug 24, 2004 9:31 pm 
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Woah. Nice. I'm gonna reference this page for quite some time when I need to. Great summary. Woah. Creation Science hour tis on soon.

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StrongCanada: I think I see what you're getting at. While the crucifixion was symbolic, it wasn't entirely symbolism? That makes more sense.

So, what you're saying is, the atonement was necessary on a spiritual level to pay the price for our sins? To eradicate the need for punishing us, Jesus had to be punished? It was like balancing the scales? So... should I infer that all sin demands punishment, but the punishment for all our potential sin was borne by Jesus?

Yeah, I suppose that makes pretty good sense, on some level at least. I still don't really get why God can't save us without that fuss if he wants us to be saved, or why we have to believe in Jesus if we want to be saved... still, good jorb explaining.


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PostPosted: Wed Aug 25, 2004 2:49 pm 
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So... should I infer that all sin demands punishment, but the punishment for all our potential sin was borne by Jesus?


I would say that pretty much sums it up.


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racerx_is_alive wrote:
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So... should I infer that all sin demands punishment, but the punishment for all our potential sin was borne by Jesus?


I would say that pretty much sums it up.


That EXACTLY sums it up.


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PostPosted: Thu Aug 26, 2004 7:09 am 
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AgentSeethroo wrote:
racerx_is_alive wrote:
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So... should I infer that all sin demands punishment, but the punishment for all our potential sin was borne by Jesus?


I would say that pretty much sums it up.


That EXACTLY sums it up.


I concur.

And I think I acknowledged your doubts on why God would choose this method as opposed to another. Now, let me preface this by saying this is MY personal belief - other Christians may not agree with me (and probably don't)...but here's my take on why God had Jesus pay for our sins instead of "waving His hand".

In (most or all? I'm not an expert) Christian doctrine, Jesus is seen as an extension, or a part, or the physical manifestation of God. Jesus and God are the same person while still being two separate beings. So, it was not only Jesus, the man, who died on the cross, but God was there, too. I think God chose such a drastic measure directly involving himself to PROVE to His followers that their debt had been paid.

Think of it this way - let's go back to the debt/debtor analogy....suppose your debtor came to you one day and said he'd waved his hand and all your debt was gone....what would you do? One of two things, I can think of - 1) Immediately go out and create more debt on purpose, cause, heck, it's going to be magically waved away anyway! (by the way, there aren't many who would actually do this, but there are more than you think who would!) or 2) You'd be suspicious of your debtor...I mean, there's gotta be a loophole in there somewheres! Someone has to pay; you just don't get debts cancelled (most of the time). So I think God used Jesus so we wouldn't just sin and sin and sin - we'd hopefully take it more seriously, considering someone actually DIED to pay for that sin, and also so we'd trust God and believe that He's done something physical to atone for our wrongdoings - think about the nature of this discussion in the first place - don't we humans have a hard time understanding the non-physical? That's why many of us don't believe in a higher power - we can't see it! God had Jesus pay for our sins in the crucifixion because it was a physical, tangeable act that we could understand....(now I know I posted about symbolism a few posts back - don't remind me! I still think I haven't contradicted myself....the act was phsyical to convince us of it's legitimacy....the act was also symbolic to make our "sin debt" wiped clean).

Ok - it's late...I'ma go to bed...this post is probably pretty bad, so I'll review it tomorrow afternoon when I get home from work...I'll probably have more explaining to do!!!!

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PostPosted: Thu Aug 26, 2004 12:06 pm 
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Okay, I won't reply to it yet, then. :P

In the Evolution/Creation topic, AgentSeeThroo wrote:
You missed the point, Upsilon. Jesus IS the back-up plan.


I have to say, I expected that. Jesus is not the back=up plan; he's Plan A, so to speak. Failing that, what does God do? (Okay, rhetorical question. I already know what the answer's going to be and it's not pretty.)

Quote:
Before Christ's sacrifice, man had to live a "perfect" life, he had to rely on things he did to atone for his own sins. You would have to use the blood of an innocent spotless animal, a lamb, to carry the punishment of your own sins.

God, therefore, sent his Son to be that sacrifice, but we've already been through that in another thread.


Indeed we have. This much I accept.

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God made a way to life with the death of Jesus, and it's the only way. You no longer had to atone for your own sins, because if you believe on Christ, your sins are atoned automatically.


So the former, I assume, is necessary for the latter? Why? If Jesus bore the sin for all of mankind (which, presumably, includes me), how does not believing in him make it void?

Quote:
(The rest of the post.)


Yeah, granted.


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PostPosted: Thu Aug 26, 2004 1:17 pm 
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For me this debate is rather simple.

I don't believe in the Christian god. Thus I am also not afraid of going to hell. Religious people have told me 'I was going to hell, unless...' And to me thats the same as telling me 'The boogeyman is gonna getcha, unless...'


The world according to me is as follows...

Beginning of the universe, unknown. More research is neccesary, till then, no conclusion should be drawn on it. The big bang theory is interesting, but might not be valid. Working via occam's razor, I do not make assumptions and add something (God) just because I don't know something.


Origin of the solar system. The natural process of the formation of a star may, and seems according to exoplanetary research, will commonly result in the creation of planets. Last I checked exact processes are still unknown, but it seems certain forces will cause certain materials to gather in specific places during the cooling down of a star. Which results in the formation of terrestrial and jovian planets. Enough is known to consider the formation of the sun and the earth a natural galactic process, the likes of which can be observed in certain nebulae and star clusters.


Origin of life. Gravity, one of the universe's fundamental natural forces pulls planetary bodies into orbits, and allows sufficiently heavy planet to maintain a gaseous atmosphere. Physical processes resulted in conditions on archaic earth that where beneficial to the formation of amino-acids. (This has been reproduced in labs.) Aminoacids are the natural building blocks of life. Again, more research is neccesary on how they exactly formed into the first life, but again occams razor will be used here. I personally feel that further research will provide further answers here. What is known also suggests that simple life will be relatively common on planets with the right conditions. The possibility of martian bacteria in an asteroid may confirm this, as may further research on the Jovian moon Europa, where there is a possibility simple life may be found, as it seems to have a salt-water ocean under its surface.


Origin of species. Natural selection will cause the best adapted creatures to survive and procreate. Radiation, a common occurence in the galaxy may damage genetic material and cause mutation. In rare cases mutation will be beneficial. I am a believer in evolution. And to all the people who don't believe humans came from monkeys. Well, humans don't came from our current monkeys! Monkeys and humans have a VERY distant common ancestor that you could probably call a monkey, but that creature has a distant ancestor you can call a lizard and that one has a distant ancestor you can call a single-celled creature. Humans came from a branch called hominids. By the time they came around, even the great apes had long split off that evolutionairy branch into their own branches. However, even that distant relationship does cause humans to have alot of genetic similarity to the species last branched off the line, the Chimpanzee.


Origin of God. God, I consider a human invention to explain what could not be understand at the time. An anthropomorphisation of things like the weather, death, birth and other processes early man had to deal with and couldn't control. The origin of the christian God can in fact be archeologically pinpointed to a few millenia in the past. The hebrew people at one time had two gods. A father sky, called Yahweh, and a mother earth called Astarte. Astarte in fact was a commonly worshipped goddess in the region, who originated all the way back to the Sumerians, and the mother earth/father sky duality has commonly be found amongst other civilisations early in their development. Including certain native american and african tribes.

However, at one point the priests of yahweh succesfully seized power and pushed away their rivals, the priests of astarte. Before this time hebrew statues of Astarte have been found, the oldest of which have much in common with the cro-magnon earth-mother. The small fertility statues with the large posteriors, breasts and belly.
Thus monotheism was founded. Although it wouldn't catch on beyond judaism for quite some time.


Origin of Christianity. At one point in time, the romans conquered a swath of the middle east, including an area along the mediterranean which included such places as Palestine, Judea, Samaria and the like. In this time there was a guy born to a carpenter and his wife. (Even the bible actually does not mention immaculate conception in its original hebrew text. They refer to mary as 'Almah' (Young Woman) and not Betulah (Virgin). However, these texts where later translated into greek during the initial spread of christianity, and the grecian word for young woman and virgin is the same. Then when it was translated into latin, they chose the translation 'virgin')

Anyway, this guy was born, and he inspired people greatly. And after his death they kept talking about him, and formed a legend about him. Identifying his deeds with older stories about Krishna and Mithras (Who preformed similar miracles as the one Jesus was said to have done.)
And some fourhundred years later. (At which time the story was completely distorted, and thus not very reliable) it was written down, by people who hearkened unto the legend. And put together with jewish texts, forming the bible.

What jesus actually said and did is impossible to trace, historical evidence of his existence is scarce and not totally reliable, as it may have been tampered with by early church fathers. Who would have had obvious gain to do so.


Now, this would say that in my view the christian god cannot truly be. And in fact the only place where I have room for a god, is all the way back at the beginning.

Even if the origin of the universe can scientifically be explained. And indeed it might as research progresses further and further. There might, and probably will still be a big 'WHY' question.

Why did the universe suddenly start, why did gravity, electro-magnetism and radiation form the universe as we know it? And even if what is is logical, there are many other ways things could have gone that where logical as well.

And its that why question, where I might have room for a God. Not the christian god. But something less human-like, and more ethereal. A mother of the universe, in a poetic sense. And the answer to the TRULY unanswerable why's that cannot be put into a scientific question, but only be handled philosophically.


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PostPosted: Thu Aug 26, 2004 1:37 pm 
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And I thought I had a lot of free time. :cheatgrin:

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PostPosted: Thu Aug 26, 2004 3:48 pm 
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I'll openly admit I have tons of free time right now... Although that might not last much longer. Going to pick up a study and all. :)


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PostPosted: Thu Aug 26, 2004 8:27 pm 
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Upsilon wrote:
Okay, I won't reply to it yet, then. :P


Ok Upee...I'm awake now...lay it on me, my friend!!! :mrgreen:
I reread my post, and it still makes sense...to me, anyway! :)

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PostPosted: Fri Aug 27, 2004 1:16 am 
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Alright, let's put it this way. I'm new. I've never heard of you guys before. I haven't read half of the posts in this thread. However, I have a pretty good idea of what you all are talking about. As someone put it, the Problem of Evil.

The thing about evil is that, in my opinion, it isn't a force like heat or light. You could say that cold is just the absence of heat, and darkness the absence of light, correct? In the same way, evil could just be the absence of God. If you've ever read the book of Job, you'll notice how Satan had to ask God's permission to do the terrible things he did. That right there tells you that Satan is only limited to what God tells him he can do. This fits in nicely with the "if He brings you to it, He can bring you through it" mentality. In my experiences, if you choose to follow what He tells you to, you'll do fine. If you don't, you won't do fine. Since you didn't do what God told you to, you are thus not with God- ergo, sin. Another example from the Bible: Jonah didn't do what God told him to, and he got pretty well screwed until he decided to get (right) with God again. Then, when he did what God told him to do (which was to save a town from being smitten for not obeying God, btw), he led a good life.

The problem is, some people decide that since good things come from God, that bad things must also come from God. That's like saying that a flame produces heat and cold. Sure, it's cold when it's not there, but does that mean it's the flame's fault?

Also, God never said He was omnipotent. In fact, all He ever said about Himself was "I AM WHO I AM". That would embody that he is ever-being. I like how somebody said that it's not that God can't sin, but it's that He won't sin. I'm somewhat of a musician, and when I'm thinking something up in my head, I'm excited for what's in store. This is like God in that He loved us even before we were born- before the Earth was made, even. He had His idea about us and, at just the right time, decided to put in into action.

However, He gave us the freedom of choice. God loves us even more than I can describe at the moment, but He is very jealous. The Israelites are a good example of the freedom of choice because they have their salvation right there with them but decide to do something else instead. God set them apart as a chosen people, and they decided to become un-chosen again. God is kind of like a teacher in this sense. He gave them instructions and told them that, if they did them, they would get a reward. However, He also gave them a stern warning (many actually) of the consequences of not following the instrucions. This means that God is kind of right in the mice in the maze scenario that InterrupterJones depicted. He told them specifically that one particular way would lead to point "A" and all others would lead to point "B". He loves them enough to tell them what they can face ahead and He also loves them enough to let them have their own choice in the matter.

One more explanation I have here about this is featured in the Brothers Chaps' own Peasant's Quest (warning: possible spoilers). You have the choice after stealing the Jhonka's gold to say no and live or to say yes and die. You have control here. You have the responsibility. "No" is the most reasonable answer, yet some people will still choose yes- even after reading a strategy guide, just for a second's pleasure but wasting one peasant's life's work.

In the real world, though, the consequences are much more dire. Since you turn your back on God, not wanting to see Him again, God loves you so much that He's willing to carry out your request. That's all hell really is- a place without God. Similarly, heaven is the full prescence of God. You get there by jumping off the other side of the fence. Instead of never wanting to see God again, you want to always see God- to know Him and have a deep relationship- a friendship, and, yet, you want Him to be your savior, too- to save you from what would happen were He not with you.

So there you have it. My thoughts on how God must exist, how evil exists, and how God deals with evil. If you wanted to know if God chose the Big Bang or some other theory, you're outta luck. I can only tell you that God will give us what He wants to in His perfect time, and, if it's not now, then that is fine by me.

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PostPosted: Fri Aug 27, 2004 1:21 am 
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MToolen wrote:
Also, God never said He was omnipotent. In fact, all He ever said about Himself was "I AM WHO I AM".


I thought that was Popeye..
Quote:
This means that God is kind of right in the mice in the maze scenario that InterrupterJones depicted. He told them specifically that one particular way would lead to point "A" and all others would lead to point "B". He loves them enough to tell them what they can face ahead and He also loves them enough to let them have their own choice in the matter.


I think you kind of missed the point of the Allegory of the Mice, but whatever.

Quote:
So there you have it. My thoughts on how God must exist


I read your post twice to make sure I didn't just miss it.. you must have skipped this part, 'cause it sure isn't in there.

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PostPosted: Fri Aug 27, 2004 9:28 am 
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StrongCanada wrote:
Think of it this way - let's go back to the debt/debtor analogy....suppose your debtor came to you one day and said he'd waved his hand and all your debt was gone....what would you do? One of two things, I can think of - 1) Immediately go out and create more debt on purpose, cause, heck, it's going to be magically waved away anyway! (by the way, there aren't many who would actually do this, but there are more than you think who would!) or 2) You'd be suspicious of your debtor...I mean, there's gotta be a loophole in there somewheres! Someone has to pay; you just don't get debts cancelled (most of the time).


You mean creditor, actually. A debtor is one who owes money.

Anyway, this analogy assumes a human creditor, right? I think that's the point where it's inconsistent with the real thing. A normal, run-of-the-mill creditor cannot just erase debts; God, the Divine Creditor, can.

Quote:
So I think God used Jesus so we wouldn't just sin and sin and sin - we'd hopefully take it more seriously, considering someone actually DIED to pay for that sin, and also so we'd trust God and believe that He's done something physical to atone for our wrongdoings.


Actually, how does the different method of sin eradication mean that we can't just sin ad nauseam? Whether God gets rid of our sin by saying "abracadabra" or sacrificing himself on the cross, it's still presumably accounted for - why can't we just go nuts?

Quote:
think about the nature of this discussion in the first place - don't we humans have a hard time understanding the non-physical? That's why many of us don't believe in a higher power - we can't see it! God had Jesus pay for our sins in the crucifixion because it was a physical, tangeable act that we could understand...


I find that ironic since I've just spent quite a long time trying to understand it. Personally, I would have had a lot less trouble understanding the "God forgets about the sin" method.

Quote:
(now I know I posted about symbolism a few posts back - don't remind me! I still think I haven't contradicted myself....the act was phsyical to convince us of it's legitimacy....the act was also symbolic to make our "sin debt" wiped clean).


No, you haven't contradicted yourself. That was my own error.


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Upsilon wrote:
A normal, run-of-the-mill creditor cannot just erase debts; God, the Divine Creditor, can.


He can't 'just erase debts' because that would be unjust. And justice is one of his defining attributes. I don't even think he can 'just erase' monetary debts. He can only provide a way to pay for them. Think of when the tax collector came to Jesus and his apostles. Jesus told one of the apostles to go catch a fish, and the money to pay the collector would be in the fish. He provided a way for them to pay what they owed, but he didn't just make them suddenly not owe anything.

Upsilon wrote:
Whether God gets rid of our sin by saying "abracadabra" or sacrificing himself on the cross, it's still presumably accounted for - why can't we just go nuts?


It's only accounted for if we give up our sins to Jesus so his suffering can pay for it. I literally mean give them up to him. When we give up our sins, we don't return to them. So as long as we keep sinning, we haven't truly given our sins up to him. And if we still haven't given them up to him when we die, then to us, it'll be like Jesus never suffered at all, because we'll have to pay the consequences.


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 Post subject: Late-Comer into the game
PostPosted: Mon Aug 30, 2004 5:07 am 
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I'm a late comer into this discussion, and want to know what the open questions still are? I mean, early on, people were asking "why would God create a corruptable earth?" and I don't know if that was addressed to the complete satisfaction of our Agitated Lunchlady friend? Now it seems that there's some substitutionary atonement clarification going on, and there's plenty of good material on that with (as was requested) relatively clear reasoning in scripture. But I don't want to re-answer what "Doubting" Didymus, our Duo of Agents, and others have already finished since I have a tendency to go on for pages (as can be seen in my other religious and political posts). Of course, if I'm that guy who's coming into the movie 5 minutes from the end and wants you to explain the plot, just tell me to "shut up and watch the movie." Actually, I've seen this one and the endings good.

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 Post subject: Re: Late-Comer into the game
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Buz wrote:
and I don't know if that was addressed to the complete satisfaction of our Agitated Lunchlady friend?


Nobody really came up with any good thoughts concerning the Allegory of the Mice. But most seem to have come to the "I don't know why god does the crazy stuff he does", which is really as far as one can take that discussion. But I feel it's been successful.

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 Post subject: Re: Late-Comer into the game
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Buz wrote:
Actually, I've seen this one and the endings good.


Right on.


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racerx_is_alive wrote:
Upsilon wrote:
A normal, run-of-the-mill creditor cannot just erase debts; God, the Divine Creditor, can.


He can't 'just erase debts' because that would be unjust. And justice is one of his defining attributes.


So... if God can't erase debts then, um... why did he? The atonement was a way of erasing our debt.

Quote:
I don't even think he can 'just erase' monetary debts. He can only provide a way to pay for them. Think of when the tax collector came to Jesus and his apostles. Jesus told one of the apostles to go catch a fish, and the money to pay the collector would be in the fish. He provided a way for them to pay what they owed, but he didn't just make them suddenly not owe anything.


That analogy isn't really consistent with the atonement. Jesus said to the disciple, "Go and catch a fish, then you'll be able to pay back your debt." He didn't say, "I'm going to pay back your debt myself, but if you're not a good boy it doesn't count."

Quote:
Upsilon wrote:
Whether God gets rid of our sin by saying "abracadabra" or sacrificing himself on the cross, it's still presumably accounted for - why can't we just go nuts?


It's only accounted for if we give up our sins to Jesus so his suffering can pay for it. I literally mean give them up to him. When we give up our sins, we don't return to them. So as long as we keep sinning, we haven't truly given our sins up to him. And if we still haven't given them up to him when we die, then to us, it'll be like Jesus never suffered at all, because we'll have to pay the consequences.


Why? What does it matter if we sin? I'm confused by your saying "literally give them up to him" as if it were possible to literally give something as intangible as a sin to someone as inaccessible as Jesus. I don't see why sinning makes the repayment illegitimate - if it's been done, how can it be undone, and how is God powerless to prevent it?


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 Post subject: Giving up a sin...
PostPosted: Mon Aug 30, 2004 8:37 pm 
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Upsilon wrote:
Why? What does it matter if we sin? I'm confused by your saying "literally give them up to him" as if it were possible to literally give something as intangible as a sin to someone as inaccessible as Jesus.

Fair question, perhaps if I say something a little different...

Sin matters because it's bad, and if that's not enough, it characteristically hurts people. For example, murder. Bad. It matters if you murder my uncle, and it matters if I murder your friend. Other sins are more subtle, but every one matters, and every one hurts someone.

When someone urges you to "give up a sin," though it's not a tangible sacrifice, the general meaning is the same as the call to "repent" we used to see by preachers on street corners with breadboards. If I give up murder, it means I don't murder anymore. If you give up smoking, it means you don't smoke anymore. If Didymus give up the internet, it means we won't see him here anymore. If Homestar Runner gives up running, he's not going to win a race. Though intangible, it's certainly doable.

The principle that one can give up sin "to Jesus" has to do with purpose and dedication. When my grandmother had her first heart attack, my grandfather gave up smoking for her cold turkey; determined that he would not be the cause of her death. A side note: some theologians will disagree with me not because I say something wrong but that I don't say enough right. However, I don't necessarily know that you have the background that they have in wanting more detail.

Upsilon wrote:
I don't see why sinning makes the repayment illegitimate - if it's been done, how can it be undone, and how is God powerless to prevent it?

The best question of the day, and the topic of a great book
The Grace Awakening by Chuck Swindoll. To summarize his answer, it doesn't. Nothing you can do is so potent a magic that it can overpower God's work. If your sins are forgiven, if you're a follower of God, if your faith is in Christ, then no height, no depth, to fear, no need, no demon, and no army is powerful enough to seperate you from the love of God.

If you're not one of those people, however, you're simply not eligible. It's a family, and you can either be in or out. Just as I am not required by law to jump the fence, break into my neighbor's house, and feed his kids; God is not required to apply family needs for people who don't want him as father. But I am required by law to feed my own kids, and I delight to do that! It's part of what I do for my family, and nothing my son says while mouthing off to me is going to remove him from my family.

I hope my metaphors have not been too vague. Good questions!

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 Post subject: Mice
PostPosted: Mon Aug 30, 2004 8:56 pm 
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OK, I read the layout of the allegory of the Mice, and your question is valid. You describe life , using this metaphor, as a big game with arbitrary conditions on its ending. May I propose a twist that reflects some of the thoughts I have concerning the setup?

The mice, instead of playing your game, break out and escape your little lab. Running into the streets in what they think freedom is like, they begin to catch things like rabies, plague, and in general are cold and miserable. The warmth of your lab and your feelings of love toward these fuzzy creatures will only be fulfilled if you go out to the sewers and gather them up yourself. Will you get all 1000? Maybe, but it'll be hard work. They don't just need to be plucked up by their tails, they need a change of heart to want to be in your cheese-filled lab, frolicking in whatever destiny you desire for them.

So, what of those who bite your finger to make you let go of them? Those that you try to retrieve that run again and again? They'll never be "happy" with you, and will rebel until they die of whatever fate the gutters hold. There's either a change of heart from rebelling to coziness, or there's a dark, cold outside of the mouse's own choosing.

Heaven, if you read the actual description, isn't primarily a vault of eternal earthly pleasures. Sure, there's riches, but that's not the point because I doubt there'll be a K-Mart to spend it at. The point of heaven is eternity with God. If that thought seems cool, or you could at least get used to it, then we can get you rescued. If the idea of spending forever with someone all-powerful makes your stomach turn, and you'd sooner have your teeth drilled than that, then I'm not sure what even God could do for you... you certainly don't want him brainwashing you, do you?

Finally, the difference between the level of love and thinking seperating a lab researcher from his furry subjects is huge. But God isn't just a notch above us, he's so far above us that when he looks down, we're much more like the mice than like him. Our psychology will not natually perceive what it is he's trying to get across until we're better trained (so to speak, in the mouse metaphor) to want to stay in the lab.

Now, not having read the whole discussion on the Allegory of the Mice, is there a vital point that I've missed?

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 Post subject: Re: Mice
PostPosted: Mon Aug 30, 2004 9:21 pm 
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Buz wrote:
You describe life , using this metaphor, as a big game with arbitrary conditions on its ending.


Not a game, unless you're in a horror movie. Games don't end with people suffering for all eternity. And not arbitrary. Even though I created the mice and the maze and the punishment and the criteria for punishment, the mice choose their path, and not arbitrarily, right?

Buz wrote:
The mice, instead of playing your game, break out and escape your little lab.


Again, it's not a game, and unfortunately since this is a metaphor for a Christian reality, there's no third choice. They can't escape the lab any more than I, in a Christian reality, can escape the world that god created. The maze is the whole of existence and, like this Christian reality, there are only two exits, A and B, salvation or eternal punishment. Unless there's a mysterious third choice that I'm missing.

Buz wrote:
Will you get all 1000? Maybe, but it'll be hard work.


There's no such thing as "hard work" for god. There's what god can do (which, as Didymus says, is everything that is not nonsense), which he can do instantly and effortlessly, and what god refuses to do. There's no "well that's kinda tough for god", because that implies that god has limits.

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 Post subject: Re: Mice
PostPosted: Tue Aug 31, 2004 4:59 am 
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InterruptorJones wrote:
Even though I created the mice and the maze and the punishment and the criteria for punishment, the mice choose their path, and not arbitrarily, right?

Perhaps I misunderstood your allegory as far as how the mice chose. Sorry I didn't read enough.
InterruptorJones wrote:
...there's no third choice. They can't escape the lab ...

That was my point in making the changes to the story, I wanted to impress upon you the thought that the rebellion was not a system of "A or B" choices that had what can be described as the psychological term "arbitrary consequesnces punishment" (as opposed to "logical" and "natural" types of consequence punishments). The rebellion consisted of the breaking of the system. I deny your claim that God made a 2-exit maze, based upon my extensive reading of the primary documents in question. My observation is that the "second choice" you name was not an option made by God, but a failure to do what was chosen by God.

I remember the first time an honest questioner asked me how I could believe in a God so mean as to send people to Hell, and I realized that this would indeed be a horrible thing. So I read. I looked up every reference to Hell in the Bible, even passing ones that don't use the term explicitly. And you know what I found? Throughout the Bible it's NOT the result of God being mean and throwing one group of people there instead of heaven. It's exclusively the realm of those who want away from God, no matter what.

So that's the reason I wrote with pathos about sewers. It's not an equal choice between two ends, it's not a system of punishment for trifling trespasses. It's the result of willful, active rebellion against safety and love. For that reason, I claim your original maze metaphor is deficient because it's a horrible way to describe God's love for the people he's created. I mean, if you want to talk about the kind of god who would make a maze like that, you can; but it's not the God that Christians follow, or even would!

Nothing personal for you at all, Interruptor Jones. I'm simply writing what I think you need to know if you think us Christians believe in an arbitrary God with silly rules about "thou shalt not." Christians believe that we've been rescued, not from a path in an arbitrary maze, but from a real evil. And that evil is here, not as a multiple-choice option on a test, but as a refusal to particiapte.

InterruptorJones wrote:
...only two exits, A and B, salvation or eternal punishment. Unless there's a mysterious third choice that I'm missing.


With this reasoning in mind, do you see why I was so eager to address the thought behind the artificial dichotomy?

InterruptorJones wrote:
There's no such thing as "hard work" for god. There's what god can do (which, as Didymus says, is everything that is not nonsense), which he can do instantly and effortlessly, and what god refuses to do. There's no "well that's kinda tough for god", because that implies that god has limits.

Didymus, good use of C.S. Lewis. I suppose that's a place that my metaphor breaks down; it would be hard for a human attendant of real lab mice to go and gather them, but not hard (in the same sense) for God to do the cosmic equivalent. (Hoping to redeem myself here,) Whether God encounters difficulty in accomplishing the task is a lot less important to me than how he feels about the task, and how hard it is for us on this end of the bargain. Many of God's poems about trying to gather in his rebellious children are particularly passionate (Isaiah is a good source, though that was just the first book that came to mind). I claim God really cares about the situation.

An angel told Daniel that he (the angel) had difficulty carrying out God's work due to opposition. And it is difficult for me, the mouse. My nature tells me to run, and that the promises of cheese are too far off to count on. My tendency is to feel that a relationship with God is worthless while I'm in pain and I want releif from pain. I am no stranger to pain, and I'd be willing to tell you more except that this is a public forum and it's somewhat personal.

Speaking of C.S. Lewis, a great short story you can read in one sitting is The Great Divorce. It's about the difference between heaven and hell. It's not really about the difference between the places, it's more about the difference in the attitudes of the residents toward their eternal homes. Though it's a great work of writing with plenty to keep me talking for minutes on end, suffice it to say that the residents of the deep, in this parable, want to be there! They are given the alternative to go to heaven if they want, but each for his or her own reason would rather the gnawing boredom of grey skies to being anywhere near God.

If the fate of a billion starving people is really important to you, then I suggest you do something about them. And if you ask about their eternal fate because you think, "I would believe in God except for this one horrible idea about the fate of others," then I hope I've at least given you good places to start looking for an answer. But all metaphor aside, I ask you (and you don't have to answer in a public forum), what about you? What would you rather? Is God, or even the idea of God, repulsive to you? Is there some childhood trauma that makes you hate him? Is there something in your life that you love so much that there's no room for any more? If not, then give it some thoughtful consideration!

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 Post subject: Re: Giving up a sin...
PostPosted: Tue Aug 31, 2004 10:37 am 
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Buz wrote:
Sin matters because it's bad, and if that's not enough, it characteristically hurts people. For example, murder. Bad. It matters if you murder my uncle, and it matters if I murder your friend. Other sins are more subtle, but every one matters, and every one hurts someone.


Yeah, I took that for granted. What I was asking was, why doesn't the atonement count for anything when we sin? I would presume that we would still be saved.

Quote:
When someone urges you to "give up a sin," though it's not a tangible sacrifice, the general meaning is the same as the call to "repent" we used to see by preachers on street corners with breadboards. If I give up murder, it means I don't murder anymore. If you give up smoking, it means you don't smoke anymore. If Didymus give up the internet, it means we won't see him here anymore. If Homestar Runner gives up running, he's not going to win a race. Though intangible, it's certainly doable. The principle that one can give up sin "to Jesus" has to do with purpose and dedication. When my grandmother had her first heart attack, my grandfather gave up smoking for her cold turkey; determined that he would not be the cause of her death.


So, in fact, what you meant was not "literally" giving your sins to Jesus, but just stopping? Right.

Quote:
Upsilon wrote:
I don't see why sinning makes the repayment illegitimate - if it's been done, how can it be undone, and how is God powerless to prevent it?

The best question of the day, and the topic of a great book
The Grace Awakening by Chuck Swindoll. To summarize his answer, it doesn't. Nothing you can do is so potent a magic that it can overpower God's work. If your sins are forgiven, if you're a follower of God, if your faith is in Christ, then no height, no depth, to fear, no need, no demon, and no army is powerful enough to seperate you from the love of God. If you're not one of those people, however, you're simply not eligible. It's a family, and you can either be in or out. Just as I am not required by law to jump the fence, break into my neighbor's house, and feed his kids; God is not required to apply family needs for people who don't want him as father. But I am required by law to feed my own kids, and I delight to do that! It's part of what I do for my family, and nothing my son says while mouthing off to me is going to remove him from my family.


Well, of course, God isn't required to let me into Heaven, and if he wants to close the Pearly Gates to me, that's his own prerogative. But that suggests to me that either he can't let me in(which is clearly not true) or that he doesn't want to let me in, which implies that he doesn't like me enough to, simply for concluding that he doesn't exist. Either way, it doesn't make sense to me.


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PostPosted: Tue Aug 31, 2004 1:52 pm 
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Upsilon wrote:
God isn't required to let me into Heaven


What?? Who the heck said THAT? It sure wasn't Didymus, who you were quoting!

Didymus wrote:
Just as I am not required by law to jump the fence, break into my neighbor's house, and feed his kids; God is not required to apply family needs for people who don't want him as father.



That's what he said.

You should read a little more thoroughly and try to accept what people are telling you, instead of immediately writing off everything.

Edit: Note that I said accept, not believe.

Now I change the subject for a second. What are your personal beliefs, Upsilon? I think you have a pretty clear view of what we believe, and we can get back to debating our beliefs whenever, but I just want to know your personal view on the afterlife, God, spirituality, your actions/consequences, etc., etc., etc.

You've argued with us without actually saying exactly what you believe. I know what you DON'T believe, but not what you do, ya know?

I'm just tryin' to see where you're comin' from.[/i]


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 Post subject: Re: Mice
PostPosted: Tue Aug 31, 2004 2:03 pm 
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Buz wrote:
But all metaphor aside, I ask you (and you don't have to answer in a public forum), what about you? What would you rather? Is God, or even the idea of God, repulsive to you? Is there some childhood trauma that makes you hate him? Is there something in your life that you love so much that there's no room for any more? If not, then give it some thoughtful consideration!


I don't hate god any more than I hate Rutherford B. Hayes. The truth is that I have no knowledge of him ("him" because it's convenient, not because I have an opinion concerning "his" gender) and could not concieve of hating him any more than I could hate any other figure I've only heard about in stories.

The difficulty many persons of faith seem to encounter with people like me is that they view it as a two-sided coin. Either I believe in god or I don't. And why shouldn't I believe in god? What have I got to lose? Well, as it turns out, I have everything to lose. Because the coin has not two sides, but thousands, or millions, or an infinite number. If I choose the wrong side, I'm damn well screwed, and the odds are stacked overwhelmingly against me. The thing is, I don't see any more evidence for the existence of any of the many flavors of your Christian god than I do for Muslim or Shinto or Neopagan or Ancient Egyptian gods, and any one of them might as likely send me to some hell-analog for all eternity if I worship any one of the others.

Anyway, I already talked about this, with another wordy metaphor, which I might as well call The Allegory of the Horses.

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 Post subject: Re: Mice
PostPosted: Tue Aug 31, 2004 4:25 pm 
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Upsilon wrote:
Yeah, I took that for granted. What I was asking was, why doesn't the atonement count for anything when we sin? I would presume that we would still be saved.

Oh, yeah, in that case you're about right. As I waned eloquent paraphrasing Romans 8:39 (and Mortal's Fathom album) and discussing Swindoll, a grace relationship with God prevents any sin from condemnational effect.

Upsilon wrote:
So, in fact, what you meant was not "literally" giving your sins to Jesus, but just stopping? Right.

Well, to be transparent, not just stopping, but you're right about the stopping. People (and especially Christians) use the word "just" all the time to limit meaning :) . In fact, most of Jesus' own preaching, and all the preaching his disciples did while he was on earth was entreating people to stop sinning. Having said that, I acknowledge that it's hard to do! Most Christians invoke God's power to stop sinning, because they haven't the willpower to do it themselves.

Upsilon wrote:
Well, of course, God isn't required to let me into Heaven, and if he wants to close the Pearly Gates to me, that's his own prerogative. But that suggests to me that either he can't let me in(which is clearly not true) or that he doesn't want to let me in, which implies that he doesn't like me enough to, simply for concluding that he doesn't exist. Either way, it doesn't make sense to me.

Your frustration is widely shared! As I try to see everyone's viewpoint, it's not about those who happen not to get it, it's about those who actively refuse it. I emphasized that in my last post.

AgentSeethroo wrote:
Upsilon wrote:
God isn't required to let me into Heaven

What?? Who the heck said THAT? It sure wasn't Didymus, who you were quoting!

He was paraphrasing me, and in his defence, I think he's right. God doesn't have to do anything by force. Its his good nature and gracious promise that I depend upon, just like I depend on the nature of my car when I drive, and the nature of my ladyfriend when we go out to eat.

AgentSeethroo wrote:
Edit: Note that I said accept, not believe.

That's where both of us live. Let it be known: Christians don't believe that the universe is a guessing game where we guess right and everyone else guesses wrong. Christians have a personal relationship with God, an adoptive sonship that makes a real difference. Even Satan himself knows God is real, but that knowledge doesn't get him into heaven! Satan spits curses against God, while we follow him affectionately. And if Seethroo, Didymus, and I have some different ideas on some things, the fact that one "believes a little different" is not an issue for eternity. We all (apparently) follow and accept Christ.

AgentSeethroo wrote:
Now I change the subject for a second. What are your personal beliefs, Upsilon?

Upsilon, I'm going to agree with Seethroo for a bit here. You see, I'm the type of guy who spends hours listening and minutes talking when in contact with real people. I remember having extensive religious talks with a Hindu friend, during which most of the time he did that talking and I got to know him better. I haven't done that as well on the internet since it's a somewhat impersonal medium. While this thread's about a Christian God, I'm willing to subscribe to a thread on your point of view, as long as you'd take challenges and allegories there too. If you don't want earnest exploration, then I'll leave the thread alone as you wish!

InterruptorJones wrote:
I don't hate god any more than I hate Rutherford B. Hayes. The truth is that I have no knowledge of him... and could not concieve of hating him any more than I could hate any other figure I've only heard about in stories.

And, as I've read your posts, you've heard some pretty interesting stories! The offer to Upsilon it to you too, that I'd read a thread on your beliefs and not let it die with 0 replies :) .

InterruptorJones wrote:
The difficulty many persons of faith... the coin has not two sides, but thousands, or millions, or an infinite number. ... Anyway, I already talked about this, with another wordy metaphor, which I might as well call The Allegory of the Horses.

Just now read it, good allegory! It's not for nothing that Christians call non-Christians "the lost!" I'd probably have no reason to trust a monk who made empty threats and gave no direction.

I propose to you the same experement I've suggested to others, but you can only perform it if you're honestly interested in finding the truth. If you've seen the difficulty and given up, this won't work. If you don't want it to work, it'll fail. But it worked for a man named Keith Green, who knew that something was out there, and wanted to know and adhere to whatever actually was there.

The experement goes thus: pray for personal revalation. Forget the monk. It's basically a "will the true horse with the right number of teeth please step forward?" C.S. Lewis suggested in The Screwtape Letters that we pray "not to who we think God is, but to God knows himself to be." God's not confused, though he certainly laughs at our simplicity in figuring him out. If you want the truth and to know him (the whole point of my sewer-mouse metaphor) and he's smart and kind as I seem to think he is, he'll speak back to you in a way that you know is him. You'll discover, as I have, that he's been seeking me with more work than I've sought him! If the experement fails, and you've been honestly hoping it would work, then I won't hold you accountable. However, please please don't waste your time if you don't really really want it to work. Isn't this the kind of way you'd expect the universe to work if God existed anyway?

Does a horse have 32 teeth? I don't know.

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 Post subject: Re: Mice
PostPosted: Tue Aug 31, 2004 4:38 pm 
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Buz wrote:
AgentSeethroo wrote:
Upsilon wrote:
God isn't required to let me into Heaven

What?? Who the heck said THAT? It sure wasn't Didymus, who you were quoting!

He was paraphrasing me, and in his defence, I think he's right. God doesn't have to do anything by force. Its his good nature and gracious promise that I depend upon, just like I depend on the nature of my car when I drive, and the nature of my ladyfriend when we go out to eat.


Whoops. I misread. I thought he was saying you didn't need God to get into heaven...like God isn't required in your life. I understand that he was saying that God isn't FORCED to let us into heaven. My bad!

I'll follow my own advice now! :blush:


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 Post subject: Re: Mice
PostPosted: Tue Aug 31, 2004 4:52 pm 
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Buz wrote:
The experement goes thus: pray for personal revalation.


Buz, I've heard this one before and I'm not sure it's legitimate. The premise is "become a Christian and god will make himself known to you, and if he doesn't, then you must not have done it right". Surely that doesn't disprove it, but it doesn't exactly make it appealing. And it would be one thing if it was just me who never did it right. But there are millions of people out there who've spent years of their adult lives pouring their entire hearts into Christianity exactly as you describe but, apparently, just haven't done it right, because god chose not to reveal himself to them. I've known my share of these people, as I'm sure you have, and it's fairly heartbreaking to see. And then the believers just shrug and say, "oh, well you must not have really wanted it to work", or "well, try harder."

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 Post subject: Re: Mice
PostPosted: Tue Aug 31, 2004 5:01 pm 
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InterruptorJones wrote:
The premise is "become a Christian and god will make himself known to you, and if he doesn't, then you must not have done it right".


Sorry, Jones, but that's not what the premise is at all.

You've said that you neither believe nor disbelieve in the presence of a God. Doing what Buz suggested does not make you a Christian. It doesn't even mean you believe in God.

What Buz suggests is praying "Whatever you are, whoever you are, God, if you exist, make yourself known to me."


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