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PostPosted: Sun Sep 12, 2004 6:29 pm 
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Just for fun, let me examine the first "contradiction" addressed by the SAB.

About Hebrew Verbs. Unlike English verbs, Hebrew verbal aspect is not necessarily related to time. In English, there are past, present, future, past perfect, present perfect, etc. In Hebrew, there are only perfect (indicating completed actions), imperfect (indicating ongoing actions), participle, and infinitive. Past, present, and future must be determined by context. WIth that out of the way, let's look at the passage in question.

The NIV translates the passage, "Now the LORD God had formed out of the ground all the beasts of the field and all the birds of the air [i.e., before creating man]. He brought them to the man to see what he would name them; and whatever the man called each living creature, that was its name." The order of events is not, as indicated by the SAB: (1) created Man, (2) created animals, (3) brought the animals to man. Instead, the proper sequence of events is, (1) created animals, (2) created man, (3) brought animals to man.

The verb used for creating the animals is an imperfect with a vav consecutive, which means it functions as a perfect. The next question to ask, however, is exactly what is the time relationship between this verb and the other surrounding verbs. Hebrew verbal system does not have an absolute means of demonstrating that, like we have in English, but context would demand that we understand that the animals were already there before God brought them to Adam.

There. One "contradiction" down. Probably a hundred or so more to go. Actually, a quick look at a different translation would have helped, but knowing a little bit about Hebrew verb aspect also helps.

As for a few of the others I noted:

Light existing before the sun - this is impossible only if you assume that light can ONLY emanate from the sun. A quick look at Revelation reveals that light emanates from God himself. Therefore it is perfectly feasable that God Himself served as the source of all light prior to creating the sun and other heavenly bodies. While this view does not fit with the rather narrow worldview of the SAB, it fits perfectly well with my own.

This is further complicated by the fact that the first chapter of Genesis is a song, not a history. The whole point of it is not HOW God created the world, but WHO did the creating.

Incidentally, the SAB conveniently ignores the fact that the first few verses of Chapter 2 serve as a RECAP of the preceding events (note how v. 4 actually says essentially, "here's a summary"). The accounts do not present two different ORDERS but two different EMPHASES. In the first chapter, the emphasis was on God creating the whole universe, whereas the second chapter zooms in on God's relationship to man.

At this point, Upsilon, I have to ask. Do you rely entirely on SAB's version and commentary, or do you consult other sources as well? In my exegetical classes, they insisted we start by translating the language itself (i.e., starting with our own work), then consulting numerous commentaries, rather than relying on a limited number of sources. And yes, some of the favored commentaries are those written by historical-critical scholars (i.e., skeptics).

I do encourage you to keep up your studies. Just keep in mind that reliance on a single version and commentary could hinder your intellectual growth.

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PostPosted: Tue Sep 14, 2004 8:43 am 
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How the [omitted] are we supposed to know? (pardon my language)

This topic will go nowhere fast.

PS: Didymus, you didn't do a Top Of The Page Dance! With this guy: :eekdance: That guy is cool.

[Edit by InterruptorJones: Watch your language or get banned.]

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PostPosted: Tue Sep 14, 2004 2:11 pm 
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Eh! Nick wrote:
How the [omitted] are we supposed to know? (pardon my language)

This topic will go nowhere fast.


PS: Didymus, you didn't do a Top Of The Page Dance! With this guy: :eekdance: That guy is cool.


A post like that has NO place in this forum. If you can't post something constructive, please don't post at all.


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PostPosted: Tue Sep 14, 2004 7:40 pm 
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Didymus: That's a pretty insightful post. For the sake of investigation I decided to read into the two accounts of the Creation in my NIV (that's the translation you used, so at least there'll be no disgreements there ;)).

So, to offer a summary:

Genesis 1's account

    God creates heaven and earth
    Earth is "formless", covered in water
    First day: God creates light
    Second day: God creates sky[1]
    Third day: God gathers water to one place, leaving dry ground
    God creates plants
    Fourth day: God creates sun, moon and stars
    Fifth day:God creates aquatic creatures and birds[2]
    Sixth day: God creates land animals
    God creates humans, male and female[3]
    God gives the humans privileges over all the other animals
    God rests[4]

Genesis 2's account

    God makes heaven and earth
    No plants have appeared yet, it hasn't rained and humans don't exist[5]
    Streams appear from the Earth and water the ground instead[6]
    God creates a man and sticks him in Eden[7]
    God makes trees[8]
    Some rivers flow into Eden
    God puts the man in Eden[9]
    God tells the man not to eat from the tree of knowledge, because otherwise he'll die
    God decides the man shouldn't be alone and brings lots of animals to him; sadly, no helper is found among them
    God sends the man to sleep, nicks one of his ribs and makes a woman out of it[10]
    The man remarks that the lady was taken from a man; being the master punster that he is, he calls her a "woman"
    The humans are naked, but don't care


[1]How do you "create" sky? It's just empty space, which was already there.

[2]Just a small point here: does "birds" include flightless birds?

[3]At the same time? I would assume so.

[4]What, here, is meant by "rested"? An omnipotent god would not have to spend any energy at all creating the universe.

[5]Evidently, then, this describes some time before the third day, on which plants were created.

[6]Despite this, "streams came up from the earth and watered the whole surface of the ground" - although this is before the third day, when the ground was created. However, since he created the ground before the plants, this could still be said to be some time during the third day.

[7]We jump to the sixth day (after God's done the plants, stars, moon and animals), when God creates man.

[8]God makes trees - although he created plants three days ago? Sounds somewhat suspect...

[9]Well, he's done that already, but I suppose that's a recap.

[10]See point 3; although in Genesis 1 it didn't specify, it definitely implies that the two genders were created at the same time.


Just a few minor points I jotted down there - nothing major cropped up and no outright conradictions. Of course, all that covers only one contradiction out of over three hundred. Makes you think, eh?

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PostPosted: Tue Sep 14, 2004 7:46 pm 
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Upsilon wrote:
[4]What, here, is meant by "rested"? An omnipotent god would not have to spend any energy at all creating the universe.


I just wanted to answer this one real fast, I'm not tryin' to step on your toes, Didymus.

Upsilon, are you an omnipotent god? Have you created a universe lately? Do you know what that takes?

You also should look at it like this.

God just spent 6 days creating. After that he just wanted to kinda chill and look at all of it!

Imagine that you're a musician for a second. You spend hours working on a song, recording it, editing it, whatnot.

After all those hours, you just sit for a little while, relax, and listen to your work. You take the time to appreciate what you've been toiling over.

Does that make sense to you? He was happy with what he created.


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PostPosted: Tue Sep 14, 2004 7:51 pm 
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Yeah, granted. I was just pointing out that "rested" is an awkward word to use: it implies that God was tired.

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PostPosted: Tue Sep 14, 2004 7:56 pm 
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Upsilon wrote:
Yeah, granted. I was just pointing out that "rested" is an awkward word to use: it implies that God was tired.


This may be a translation issue. I'm not schooled on Biblical language, maybe Didymus can clear this up, plus add anything I may have left out.


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PostPosted: Wed Sep 15, 2004 3:04 am 
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Just real quick.

The Hebrew word for "rest" is sbt (pronounced "shabat," also the root for the word "Sabbath"). It literally means "to cease" (Brown Driver Briggs). It was not that God depleated his power in creating, but rather that, once his work was complete, he kicked back with a "cold one." You are right, Upsilon, "rest" is a rather poor choice of translation.

The verb referring to God creating trees: again, Hebrew verbs do not have inherent time aspect. The verb is a hiphil imperfect vav consecutive, meaning that it functions as a causative perfect (God caused the trees to sprout). The contextual emphasis is on God being the one responsible for making this Garden to be man's home. Whether he had already created trees before hand, or if he waited until then to create them is not specified by the verb itself, but the context would suggest the former.

I presume that the two sexes, if not created at the exact same time, were created on the same day. Interestingly, the whole thing about God taking man's rib to create Eve is something of a Hebrew pun. It's hard to explain without access to Hebrew characters, but it has to do with the way the masculine and feminie forms of "man" (ish and ishah) are spelled in Hebrew. One has a point (rib) in the "shin" and the other doesn't. Pretty weird, huh?

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 Post subject: Sacrifice Bunt
PostPosted: Thu Sep 16, 2004 4:23 am 
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Gee, guys, I'm out of town for a few days and this thread runs away without me! You all rock at least 12% more than I realized.

Upsilon wrote:
Quote:
Take for example The Seventh Inning Stretch.

...I assume it's just a rule of baseball, right?

Oh, sorry no one ever explained it to you! Between the top and bottom of the seventh, there's an intermission. It's a tradition, not a rule of baseball. Our bad not answering this sooner.

Upsilon wrote:
If it was truly just a social custom, it wouldn't be God who decided on it.

I rarely use the word "just." Something can be a social custom without being just a social custom: marriage for example. This is getting to be a real hot issue in America, because some people are saying "it's just a social custom." But it's not just a social custom, and I'd go into more if this was an appropriate thread about it. However, I'll stay on topic and hope that my comparison holds value for you.

Upsilon wrote:
Quote:
What it comes down to is that most sacrifices were much like the modern day potluck dinner.

No, I didn't know that.

With one note... in my recent reading of Leviticus, I noticed that if anyone had a barbecue other than a sacrifice, he was to be put out of the fellowship of the camp! Just thought I'd give new life to the beating of this dead horse.

Upsilon wrote:
See, that's the kind of answer that inevitably brings this kind of discussion to a halt. ...although I'm not satisfied with the answer, it's still legitimate in theory ... I simply hold with the idea that believing in a god who transcends the very logic that our universe runs on is irrational, but neither of us will budge.

There's logic and then there's logic. Not that there's plurality, but that there's "such-and-such is internally consistent," versus, "I have all the information and observe this." What is being cited here is not "God is illogical and that's it." Rather, they're saying, "I admit I don't have all the information." Before bacteria were discovered, surgeons were less sanitary than butcher shops. Most surgeries ended up in infection, and the first couple surgeons who washed well and had higher survival rates were laughed at by the medical community. The medical community was being logical, but they didn't have all the information. When people say "God transcends logic," they aren't saying God is illogical, contralogical, or insane. They are saying that we don't have the information on which the decisions are based. And that's all they're saying.

Upsilon wrote:
I don't see how a Christian Jew is possible.

Someone else beat me to this, but this has been a source of curiosity to me too! I've met many Jews here in the midwest, but none of them is Kosher. That tells me that to them, "Jewish-ness" is a cultural context rather than a religion, like "being Irish." I would love to meet an Orthodox Jew, but they don't come 'round these parts. So the only way I've used the word is with the racial meaning, not the religious one.

Upsilon wrote:
Blood? So, does blood have some kind of special supernatural propety that allows it to cancel out sins? I don't get this at all.

If you want to go further, the Mosaic law says that blood represents life. As someone who's undergone medical procedures which include almost fatally reducing my blood counts, I can attest to the truth of that. What part of Abel metaphorically cried out from the ground as a testament against Cain? But to get to the point, typeology as I mentioned above implies that the supernatural forgiveness of sins through loss of life was a symbol of Christ's sacrifice. While no dead ox forgives my sins, knowing that death is required for forgiveness is necessary before you can understand the death of Christ.

Upsilon wrote:
but it also contains things that have no relevance or benefit whatsoever, whichever way you look at it (the whole sacrifice meme is my example).

Like I said, getting into the specifics, like typeology, takes someone with the kind of education I'm merely exposed to, and haven't had. Perhaps one of our M.Div.'s can throw us a rope here. Also, if the scholarship comittee of a seminary is looking for a candidate; PM me!

Upsilon wrote:
Quote:
After my lengthy discourse above, I'd start to ask, "chosen for what?!"

Well... chosen to see God. ...it was clear whose side Jehovah was on for that little epsiode.

Maybe I didn't make it clear, I submit that the sons of Abraham were not chosen to receive temporal blessings, but chosen to undergo hardship like the western world rarely sees! There is a little in Exodus, Chronicles, and Joshua where the Israelites win a few instances, but the rest of the OT is jam-packed with Jewish suffering and persecution.

Upsilon wrote:
I don't really understand what you're saying here. Are you referring to the prejudice displayed towards Jews?

I'm referring to three thousand years of suffering with a few dozen years of prosperity interspersed every couple of centuries. Jews were not chosen by God as golden boys, they were chosen as whipping boys. There's modern predudice against Jews, but that's just the tip of the iceburg! Now I don't want to minimize the fact that God promised to bless Abraham's decendants. But they haven't seen it yet. It's like those Spirder-Man movies. He's "blessed" with superpowers, but is neither prosperous nor happy most of the films. So it is with prophets, Jews, and Christians. We're chosen to see God, yes. But your implication that "it's not fair that they get God and the rest of the world doesn't" just doesn't hold up with a broad reading of the Bible. While it's denotation is true, the connotation is not.

Upsilon wrote:
Isn't it rather a contradiction, though? Throughout the New Testament we're told that to get into Heaven we have to believe in Jesus - and here a religion which doesn't give the man a second thought is apparently going there anyway.

The other theologians and I may disagree on this, depending on whether they come from a covenant or dispensational background. "Believe in Jesus" means "Trust, rely, and depend on Jesus." To follow him. Just believing he exists won't get you anywhere, according to the NT. Even demons believe he exists, and they don't get to go to heaven. Jesus will come again as messiah, and Israel (in some way) will follow him. Depend, trust, rely on him. That's what the passage says. It does not imply that loafers will accidentally get into heaven because of who their parents are.

Upsilon wrote:
Quote:
Yeah, I don't know why modern Jews don't burn cows and sheep... I can only guess it's because there's no temple and when the temple is rebuilt they'll start again.

Um... what temple?

Sorry, the temple in Jerusalem. It's been destroyed for centuries, and the rubble is known as the "Wailing Wall." Without the temple, I guess Jews have an excuse not to sacrifice. But the temple will be rebuilt, though most Jews probably don't know that yet.

Upsilon wrote:
Aw, think nothing of it. ;) I'm really enjoying this discussion - keep it up! :)

Since I wait so long between posts and post long instead of often, my post-count is really low. But I intend to continue exploring ideas as long as I can carve the time out my schedule!

Upsilon wrote:
Stands to reason? You're justifying your god's existence by applying the very same logic that he's supposed to be ungoverned by?

As I mentioned above, it's a reasonable, self-consistent conclusion. But the base information to completely figure God out is not all available.

Upsilon wrote:
Quote:
To me, trying to make a god who conforms to the logic of our universe is what's irrational, because such a god would not be God.

Why not?

Christians differ on this, but may I submit: that a God contained in the universe could not have created it. Not that God is contralogical, but that he created it and must therefore transcend it. I would say "God is more than logical, but not less." That is, he contains all logic and is not self-contradictory, but has elements that are outside the scope of mere logic. I've written many computer programs, and many posts on this forum. But I am not completely in those posts or programs. I am more, but not less. If you know me personally, you'll read everything I've ever composed and see that it's consistent with me, but it's not everything I am. In fact, my very nature as a physical human being is completely imperceivable to a computer who processes my 1's and 0's. Humans therefore, as we get to know God with our brains, find that everything we've experienced about him is consistent (including the fact that he created everything, and chose Israel), but our brains in this universe are simply at a loss to know the stuff about him that's not injected in to the universe (injection here used as the mathematical term of a functional image that preserves group/topological structure). Though I'm confident I've addressed your question, I'm not sure if I've done it justice.

Upsilon wrote:
Hang on. By "Jew" do you mean a descendant of the Hebrews, or one who actually follows the religion, Judaism? If it's the former, is that definition legit?

Which definition of Jew did Hitler use? Which definition of Jew do people going to a (local) temple use colloquially? If the definitions of these two enemies agree, then it's the definition we can use confidently. And I therefore think the term Jew refers to people of Jewish descent, though I am aware that a Jew can adopt a Gentile child and the child can be considered Jewish. I'm not sure if I am allowed to mention the Jewish rituals that the guys have after birth (which is probably the strongest statistical correlation) on this forum.

Upsilon wrote:
So, let's see... things that God is/isn't: ...findable...

I choose one that I think is the simplest. And of all the contradictions, I think this one is one of the most important to pursue. As discussed before, Nothing in the universe can access things outside the universe. As the creator of the universe, it stands to reason that God isn't in it. So God is unobservable to anyone in the universe. However, the Bible is story after story of God's revelation to man. It's as if Shakespeare wrote himself as a character into one of his plays. Only thus could Prospero know Shakespeare. And only because of God's intervention can we know him. The verses saying God is findable operate on the observation that God has made the appearences and is therefore findable. Not findable: by our power. Findable: because of God's power.

Didymus wrote:
About Hebrew Verbs....

You get a cool point.

Didymus wrote:
Light existing before the sun - this is impossible only if you assume that light can ONLY emanate from the sun.

As I mentioned in the thread voted most likely to get locked in the next 36 hours, Modern physics understands that light was around long before stars. During first couple of seconds of the universe's existence, space itself emitted light to the point that it was opaque. That light isn't all gone: the snow on your TV is basically that radiation after the universe's expansion increased its wavelength. So that light, and even trees, were there for a few days before the sun is perfectly consistent with modern physics.

Didymus wrote:
And yes, some of the favored commentaries are those written by historical-critical scholars (i.e., skeptics).

In C.S. Lewis' least liked book, That Hideous Strength, the series' protagonist keeps a skeptic employed on his team because of the useful insight skeptics provide. But there's a difference between being skeptical and being hostile, just like there's a difference between being careful and being paranoid.

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PostPosted: Fri Sep 17, 2004 11:19 am 
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AgentSeethroo wrote:
Eh! Nick wrote:
How the [omitted] are we supposed to know? (pardon my language)

This topic will go nowhere fast.


PS: Didymus, you didn't do a Top Of The Page Dance! With this guy: :eekdance: That guy is cool.


A post like that has NO place in this forum. If you can't post something constructive, please don't post at all.


Suggestion noted. I won't post on "Religion and Politics" any more.

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 Post subject: Commendation
PostPosted: Fri Sep 17, 2004 7:59 pm 
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Eh! Nick wrote:
Suggestion noted. I won't post on "Religion and Politics" any more.

Someone else who restrains himself! I refrain from posting on the gay marriage thread because I'm sure I couldn't behave the way I expect others to behave if I were in that discussion. Kudos.

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PostPosted: Sun Sep 19, 2004 3:17 pm 
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Buz wrote:
I rarely use the word "just." Something can be a social custom without being just a social custom: marriage for example. This is getting to be a real hot issue in America, because some people are saying "it's just a social custom." But it's not just a social custom, and I'd go into more if this was an appropriate thread about it. However, I'll stay on topic and hope that my comparison holds value for you.


Personally, I wouldn't count marriage as a social custom, because it has importance in society, whereas many of the things that God tells the Jews in the Books of Law that they must do are completely valueless. Analogy: marriage is not "just" a social custom. Wearing a top hat to a wedding is.

Quote:
Upsilon wrote:
Quote:
What it comes down to is that most sacrifices were much like the modern day potluck dinner.

No, I didn't know that.

With one note... in my recent reading of Leviticus, I noticed that if anyone had a barbecue other than a sacrifice, he was to be put out of the fellowship of the camp! Just thought I'd give new life to the beating of this dead horse.


They were a tolerant lot, the Hebrews, weren't they? ;)

Quote:
Upsilon wrote:
See, that's the kind of answer that inevitably brings this kind of discussion to a halt. ...although I'm not satisfied with the answer, it's still legitimate in theory ... I simply hold with the idea that believing in a god who transcends the very logic that our universe runs on is irrational, but neither of us will budge.

There's logic and then there's logic. [...] And that's all they're saying.


Doubtless. I think I mentioned earlier that there was a clear difference between a direct contradiction and something that just doesn't seem to make sense to us.

Quote:
Upsilon wrote:
I don't see how a Christian Jew is possible.

Someone else beat me to this, but this has been a source of curiosity to me too! I've met many Jews here in the midwest, but none of them is Kosher. That tells me that to them, "Jewish-ness" is a cultural context rather than a religion, like "being Irish." I would love to meet an Orthodox Jew, but they don't come 'round these parts. So the only way I've used the word is with the racial meaning, not the religious one.


Ah, fair enough. For me, it's the other way around. I'll have to look further into that...

Quote:
Upsilon wrote:
Blood? So, does blood have some kind of special supernatural propety that allows it to cancel out sins? I don't get this at all.

If you want to go further, the Mosaic law says that blood represents life. As someone who's undergone medical procedures which include almost fatally reducing my blood counts, I can attest to the truth of that. What part of Abel metaphorically cried out from the ground as a testament against Cain? But to get to the point, typeology as I mentioned above implies that the supernatural forgiveness of sins through loss of life was a symbol of Christ's sacrifice. While no dead ox forgives my sins, knowing that death is required for forgiveness is necessary before you can understand the death of Christ.


Why is death required for forgiveness? If you're truly sorry for your transgressions, I don't see why God can't just say "all right, that's cool" and put it in the past without somebody having to die.

Quote:
Upsilon wrote:
Quote:
After my lengthy discourse above, I'd start to ask, "chosen for what?!"

Well... chosen to see God. ...it was clear whose side Jehovah was on for that little epsiode.

Maybe I didn't make it clear, I submit that the sons of Abraham were not chosen to receive temporal blessings, but chosen to undergo hardship like the western world rarely sees! [...] While it's denotation is true, the connotation is not.


Well, whatever. Whether the Israelites being chosen was good for them or bad, the fact remains that they didn't need to be "chosen" at all - if God had made himself universally known, many such hardships wouldn't even have taken place.

Quote:
Upsilon wrote:
Isn't it rather a contradiction, though? Throughout the New Testament we're told that to get into Heaven we have to believe in Jesus - and here a religion which doesn't give the man a second thought is apparently going there anyway.

The other theologians and I may disagree on this, depending on whether they come from a covenant or dispensational background. "Believe in Jesus" means "Trust, rely, and depend on Jesus." To follow him. Just believing he exists won't get you anywhere, according to the NT. Even demons believe he exists, and they don't get to go to heaven. Jesus will come again as messiah, and Israel (in some way) will follow him. Depend, trust, rely on him. That's what the passage says. It does not imply that loafers will accidentally get into heaven because of who their parents are.


That doesn't really address my query. Of course, by "believe in Jesus" I mean "believe in and follow him" (it would be fairly ridiculous for us to believe that Jesus is the Son of God and not follow him, after all). Also, if the Jews are not going to Heaven because of their religion and not because of their heritage, why are they going there? You seem to have made the verse redundant.

Quote:
Upsilon wrote:
Quote:
Yeah, I don't know why modern Jews don't burn cows and sheep... I can only guess it's because there's no temple and when the temple is rebuilt they'll start again.

Um... what temple?

Sorry, the temple in Jerusalem. It's been destroyed for centuries, and the rubble is known as the "Wailing Wall." Without the temple, I guess Jews have an excuse not to sacrifice. But the temple will be rebuilt, though most Jews probably don't know that yet.


But if death is required for forgiveness, doesn't that mean that the Jews are just screwing themselves for not sacrificing? Why can't they do sacrifices at local synagogues, or in their own homes?

Quote:
Upsilon wrote:
Stands to reason? You're justifying your god's existence by applying the very same logic that he's supposed to be ungoverned by?

As I mentioned above, it's a reasonable, self-consistent conclusion. But the base information to completely figure God out is not all available.


But Didymus makes the claim that God does not conform to our logic (that's where you and he differ) - and then he justifies it by using a form of our logic.

Quote:
Upsilon wrote:
Quote:
To me, trying to make a god who conforms to the logic of our universe is what's irrational, because such a god would not be God.

Why not?

Christians differ on this, but may I submit: that a God contained in the universe could not have created it. [...] Though I'm confident I've addressed your question, I'm not sure if I've done it justice.


Good answer.

Quote:
Upsilon wrote:
Hang on. By "Jew" do you mean a descendant of the Hebrews, or one who actually follows the religion, Judaism? If it's the former, is that definition legit?

Which definition of Jew did Hitler use? Which definition of Jew do people going to a (local) temple use colloquially? If the definitions of these two enemies agree, then it's the definition we can use confidently. And I therefore think the term Jew refers to people of Jewish descent, though I am aware that a Jew can adopt a Gentile child and the child can be considered Jewish. I'm not sure if I am allowed to mention the Jewish rituals that the guys have after birth (which is probably the strongest statistical correlation) on this forum.


Uh-huh. I think this point is just about dead now.

Quote:
Upsilon wrote:
So, let's see... things that God is/isn't: ...findable...

I choose one that I think is the simplest. And of all the contradictions, I think this one is one of the most important to pursue. As discussed before, Nothing in the universe can access things outside the universe. As the creator of the universe, it stands to reason that God isn't in it. So God is unobservable to anyone in the universe. However, the Bible is story after story of God's revelation to man. It's as if Shakespeare wrote himself as a character into one of his plays. Only thus could Prospero know Shakespeare. And only because of God's intervention can we know him. The verses saying God is findable operate on the observation that God has made the appearences and is therefore findable. Not findable: by our power. Findable: because of God's power.


Therefore, God is findable? I'm afraid I can't give any insight into this because the SAB seems to have become password-protected.

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PostPosted: Tue Sep 21, 2004 3:54 am 
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Upsilon wrote:
They were a tolerant lot, the Hebrews, weren't they? ;)

Tolerance was pretty rare back in the day. It's actually pretty rare today. Thanks for being tolerant. I hope that if people kill Christians for being Christians in your lifetime, that you'll stand up for us. Or at least, not join in the executions.

Upsilon wrote:
Buz wrote:
the only way I've used the word is with the racial meaning, not the religious one.

Ah, fair enough. For me, it's the other way around. I'll have to look further into that...

I don't know what the UK is like in the way of diversity (either racial or religious). It's entirely possible that on this side of the river the term is used differently than it is on that side. Ah, Semantics about Semetics. Eek, the Pun Police!

Upsilon wrote:
Why is death required for forgiveness? If you're truly sorry for your transgressions, I don't see why God can't just say "all right, that's cool" and put it in the past without somebody having to die.

I think that's something that's already been discussed, and I don't know that I could say anything to add something to that part of the discussion. I also can't explain why Planck's constant is what it is. Wish I could, because that'd be a nobel prize and an honorary doctorate in Physics in the bag.

Upsilon wrote:
Whether the Israelites being chosen was good for them or bad, the fact remains that they didn't need to be "chosen" at all - if God had made himself universally known, many such hardships wouldn't even have taken place.

It's Biblical that God did what you ask at both Adam's time and Noah's, but that people drifted away after a few generations. For this to be as effective as you desire, God would have to do it either for every generation or for every human individually. I've suggested above that he's willing to do it at some level for every individual, but you're right that he doesn't consistently do it at the "smoking mountain and angels singing" level all the time for everyone. I've heard several ideas for why God would choose this way: one was that everyone gets a chance like that at the moment of death, which is not a Biblical idea. Another is that he wants to involve his children in his work for their growth like a dad teaching his kid baseball or carpentry. But to be honest, I don't know why God doesn't personally and overwhelmingly blast everyone with his will. Maybe someone else does know. For me, it's not a deal-breaker in my relationship with God... perhaps it more like those conversations where kids ask their parents birds-and-bees kinds of questions when the kid is five and the parent won't tell. In retrospect, it's OK... but to a kid it's very confusing! I'm not dogmatic about those types of mysteries like some people are, but for me it's OK to not know everything as long as I know what really matters to me. As I shrug, I'll turn it around to you: is this a deal-breaker question? Is it something that's not OK to leave unknown? As I suggested earlier, God may show up to you at some point and make this conversation moot.

Upsilon wrote:
Of course, by "believe in Jesus" I mean "believe in and follow him" (it would be fairly ridiculous for us to believe that Jesus is the Son of God and not follow him, after all).

You win a cool point there. I am blatantly dumbfounded at the great number of people who factually believe in God and don't follow him. According to the Brittish authors I've read, the Anglican church is choc-full of them (no insult meant to the Church of England; I'm sure they'd like to see a little more zeal in their pews too!). Your recognition that behavior should follow personal philosophy is one of the oldest and greatest principles of ethics.

Upsilon wrote:
Also, if the Jews are not going to Heaven because of their religion and not because of their heritage, why are they going there? You seem to have made the verse redundant.

What I was saying is that one of the the standard interpretations of that passage is that Jews in general, at that time, will become (racially Jewish) Christians. The fact that the Judaism's current official stance on Jesus is "that he's not the real McCoy" is not as relevant since they will have the revalation we're discussing. Another standard interpretation is that Christianity is "circumcision of the heart" (can I use that term here?) and the verse pertains to Jews version 2.0 (Christians). That makes the passage a little redundant for us just as you say, but meaningful for the author and initial first-century readers to be assured of.

Upsilon wrote:
But if death is required for forgiveness, doesn't that mean that the Jews are just screwing themselves for not sacrificing? Why can't they do sacrifices at local synagogues, or in their own homes?

My point exactly. I have no idea why they don't sacrifice now. Like I said, I've never met an Othrodox Jew to ask. If you find out, tell me! Is there a thread "Can [a Judaistic] God Be?"

Upsilon wrote:
But Didymus makes the claim that God does not conform to our logic (that's where you and he differ) - and then he justifies it by using a form of our logic.

While I may be read up on philosophy of Christianity (and for this kind of discussion, C.S. Lewis is particulary useful -- a Professor of Medieval and Renaissance Literature at Oxford back in the 30's, 40's and 50's) -- Didymus appears to have a more formal training in theology. In this kind of case, Lewis would always defer to the students of theology. So I'm not trying to disagree with Didymus, I'm trying to give an angle that reconciles the points and illuminates both parties.

For an example, some people say that dead Christians "sleep" until the resurrection (and judgement day) so they'll all rise at the same time, and others say that Christians go to be with Christ immediately. My knowledge of linear algebra and physics allows me to see that both are possible if we introduce a second temporal dimension to the universe along with the several known spacial and one known temporal dimension. But that's a long discussion that wouldn't make sense or add to the current discussion.

Didymus could be right and I could be wrong (I have been wrong a few times before). In my defense, according to the Lewis tome Miracles, logic itself is the foundational observable supernatural phenomenon: there's no natural reason that humans would have logic at their disposal. Evolution may explain why we think we're logical, or why we'd think we're right, but it can never explain why something logical would actually be true. To actually know something that is true, and to know it's true by logic, takes more than any merely causal natural explaination can account for. So I use logic in my exploration of theology without any hesitation, and Didymus will probably caution irresponsible use of the tool of logic. He knows that when all is said and done, only three tools of mind will be left: faith, hope, and love. Logic may not be eternal theologically.

But I digress into unecessary metaphysics. Sorry, sometimes my head is in the clouds and I forget that I need to help build a ramp for a handicapped friend's house.

Upsilon wrote:
Therefore, God is findable?

Again, it's a yes-and-no answer. God is not discoverable by merely human means (microscopes, telescopes, archaeology, literature, etc.). But because God has revealed and does reveal himself deliberately, by his choice and power he's made himself discoverable by all of those means and more.

Job 28 is a very poetic discourse into the hidden wisdom of life. And when the Bible discusses wisdom, that characteristically includes knowledge. When we think of "The Wisdom of Solomon," it's easy to forget that he was a biologist (1 Kings 4:33) as well as king.

I'm not sure if anything I've said today answers any of your real concerns. I feel like I'm just reacting rather than adding anything new. It's been a rough day. Not bad, just hard.

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Upsilon wrote:
But if death is required for forgiveness, doesn't that mean that the Jews are just screwing themselves for not sacrificing? Why can't they do sacrifices at local synagogues, or in their own homes?


Sacrifices were only performed at the Temple, and if you couldn't get to a temple, you didn't offer sacrifices. Now, there is no temple, so no orthodox jewish people perform sacrifices.

Here's a decent summary I googled. http://www.faqs.org/faqs/judaism/FAQ/05-Worship/section-75.html
This may or may not be canon, but it sounded like it, and it made sense to me. Maybe someone else can find a better link.

This one is related: http://www.faqs.org/faqs/judaism/FAQ/05-Worship/section-74.html


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 Post subject: Sweet, a Jewish answer!
PostPosted: Tue Sep 21, 2004 11:00 pm 
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racerx_is_alive wrote:
Sacrifices were only performed at the Temple, and if you couldn't get to a temple, you didn't offer sacrifices. Now, there is no temple, so no orthodox jewish people perform sacrifices.

That was the impression I suggested several posts ago, but I was unsure. The fact that I threw in about the imminent rebuilding of the temple probably obscured my ability to communicate.

racerx_is_alive wrote:

The page, for a scripture reference, lists Hosea 14:3, which appears to be unrelated to the discussion. Is there a slightly different numbering for Jewishs texts in Hosea? I was familiar with the Leviticus and Numbers references, but was unaware of how seriously the prophets' statements were taken by Orthodox Judaism. The Psalms references were used to emphasize that animal sacrifice was unnecessary, but they accomplish the opposite effect (to my reading) in context. The Kings reference does not make animal sacrifice obsolete, it asks for favor.

I am not trying to be argumentative, I'm actually guessing that there are some very strong statements supporting the thesis and the references given in the above summary are merely the most accessable scriptures. I appear to be in Upsilon's shoes saying, "that's OK as confirming evidence for someone who agrees, but it's not strong enough to be motivational for a skeptic like me."

racerx_is_alive wrote:

Concise and to the point, but without the references I crave.

Don't get me wrong, I'm not saying I want to barbecue a thousand pounds of critter flesh. I'm just surprised that Jews don't! The answers you gave are satisfactory, since they state the reasoning very clearly. But if I were talking to the policy-makers, I'd ask them if they really really deep-down thought it was OK to skip the aroma pleasing to the L-RD.

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One problem raised about the sacrificial system today is whether or not it would be valid anymore. At least for us Christians, there is more to the question than the existence of the Temple of Zion. According to Hebrews, the sacrificial system is no longer necessary because Jesus has already completed the necessary sacrifice for us. In fact, the sacrificial system was always inadequate, but was meant only as a shadow of things to come.

I am not terribly concerned about a new temple. I do not believe another temple is necessary for the Second Coming; otherwise, why proclaim that Christ will come at any time? I know some Christians get really hyped up about it, but frankly I could care less. The way I see it, any temple worship that is not Christ-centered is not adequate for us Christians, anyway, so why make a fuss about it?

But this is probably off topic. Maybe I should post it in that eschatology thread.

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PostPosted: Wed Sep 22, 2004 3:07 pm 
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Didymus wrote:
...According to Hebrews, the sacrificial system is no longer necessary because Jesus has already completed the necessary sacrifice for us [Christians].

Well, yes. You're right and my take on it is the same as yours. I was only raising the question from a Jewish perspective, which doesn't acknowledge the canonicity of the book of Hebrews.

Didymus wrote:
In fact, the sacrificial system was always inadequate, but was meant only as a shadow of things to come.

A type, as I tried to describe (but probably didn't do justice to) above.

Didymus wrote:
Christians get really hyped up about it, but frankly I could care less. ... so why make a fuss about it?

I didn't mean to give the topic a disproportionally great amount of attention. Again, it would be much more important to a Jew and that's the perspective I was exploring philosophically. I personally believe, similar to Jesus indirectly claiming his body was a/the real temple, that my body is a temple that I should sanctify. John 2:19-21, 1 Cor 3:16-17, 6:19.

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Buz wrote:
Upsilon wrote:
They were a tolerant lot, the Hebrews, weren't they? ;)

Tolerance was pretty rare back in the day. It's actually pretty rare today. Thanks for being tolerant.


And the same to you. Actually, in atheist Britain there's a fair bit of anti-Christian sentiment going around at the moment (if my immediate vicinity is anything to go by, anyway), which does upset me. There's nothing nearly as serious as the gay discrimination, though.

Quote:
Upsilon wrote:
Buz wrote:
the only way I've used the word is with the racial meaning, not the religious one.

Ah, fair enough. For me, it's the other way around. I'll have to look further into that...

I don't know what the UK is like in the way of diversity (either racial or religious).


All I really know is that we're approximately 90% white and it seems to me that religion is fighting a losing battle against secularism (but I don't have any statistics to back up the latter).

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Upsilon wrote:
Whether the Israelites being chosen was good for them or bad, the fact remains that they didn't need to be "chosen" at all - if God had made himself universally known, many such hardships wouldn't even have taken place.

It's Biblical that God did what you ask at both Adam's time and Noah's, but that people drifted away after a few generations. For this to be as effective as you desire, God would have to do it either for every generation or for every human individually.


I've always thought that God could simply make himself evident to the world in general - like the US President, to make a comparison, only more so. That way no-one would be in any doubt and people would be judged strictly on how well they lead their lives, as opposed to whether or not they decided to follow him.

Quote:
I've suggested above that he's willing to do it at some level for every individual...


If this is true, I'll drop all charges against God. Deal? Deal. ;)

Quote:
...but you're right that he doesn't consistently do it at the "smoking mountain and angels singing" level all the time for everyone. I've heard several ideas for why God would choose this way: one was that everyone gets a chance like that at the moment of death, which is not a Biblical idea.


How would that work? God just appears to you once you've died, or what?

Quote:
As I shrug, I'll turn it around to you: is this a deal-breaker question? Is it something that's not OK to leave unknown?


Really, yes, I do rate this one quite highly in my file of theological questions. I have this little story which I call the Alien Named Chris Allegory. Let's imagine that you're going for a short stroll of an evening when you're beamed up into a ship and encounter a purple alien. The alien tells you that he's called Chris. He tells you that you have to spread the word about him and his race to humanity and everyone who does not give 20 dollars to the alien race will be killed.

You hand him 20 dollars and hurry home to tell all your friends and family. Unsurprisingly, they all think that you're having a laugh, and you don't receive a cent from them. Next week, everyone on Earth except you is annihilated. The question is, is it really fair that you were spared just because you were the only one who had reason to believe that it was true? The analogy should be clear.

Quote:
As I suggested earlier, God may show up to you at some point and make this conversation moot.


Well, yeah, if he does appear to me in a show of lightning and choirs of angels, I'll hardly be any position to argue. ;)

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Upsilon wrote:
Also, if the Jews are not going to Heaven because of their religion and not because of their heritage, why are they going there? You seem to have made the verse redundant.

What I was saying is that one of the the standard interpretations of that passage is that Jews in general, at that time, will become (racially Jewish) Christians. The fact that the Judaism's current official stance on Jesus is "that he's not the real McCoy" is not as relevant since they will have the revalation we're discussing. Another standard interpretation is that Christianity is "circumcision of the heart" (can I use that term here?) and the verse pertains to Jews version 2.0 (Christians). That makes the passage a little redundant for us just as you say, but meaningful for the author and initial first-century readers to be assured of.


So... basically, by "Jews", it actually means "Christians"?

Quote:
Upsilon wrote:
But if death is required for forgiveness, doesn't that mean that the Jews are just screwing themselves for not sacrificing? Why can't they do sacrifices at local synagogues, or in their own homes?

My point exactly. I have no idea why they don't sacrifice now. Like I said, I've never met an Othrodox Jew to ask. If you find out, tell me! Is there a thread "Can [a Judaistic] God Be?"


Yeah, I suppose that question shouldn't really be aimed at you.

Quote:
Didymus could be right and I could be wrong [...] Logic may not be eternal theologically.


You have a good point there. What you're saying is that reason is a bit like the law of gravity: while it always works in this universe, God can easily fiddle around with it or get rid of it altogether? Interesting...

Quote:
Upsilon wrote:
Therefore, God is findable?

Again, it's a yes-and-no answer. God is not discoverable by merely human means (microscopes, telescopes, archaeology, literature, etc.). But because God has revealed and does reveal himself deliberately, by his choice and power he's made himself discoverable by all of those means and more.


I get it. The SAB is now accessible to the public again, so I can address this apparent contradiction in more detail... to the NIV!

Proverbs 8:17 says: "I love all those who love me, and those who seek me find me."

Matthew 7:8 says: "For everyone who asks receives; he who seeks finds; and to him who knocks, the door will be opened."

And on the other side:

Psalm 18:41 says: "They cried for help, but there was no-one to save them – to the Lord, but he did not answer." This could be said to contradict Matthew 7:8; actually, I myself can testify that I have knocked and the door remains shut.

Proverbs 1:28 says: "Then they will call to me but I will not answer; they will look for me but will not find me." I'm a bit unsure about this one, since apparently this is wisdom talking, not God.

Lamentations 3:8 says: "Even when I call out or cry for help, he shuts out my prayer." This doesn't seem a very God-like thing to do, especially given Matthew 7:8.

Lamentations 3:44 says: "You have covered yourself with a cloud so no prayer can get through." A bit of a grey area, this one. Again, he who is seeking is evidently not finding anything. Even if, as context suggests, the people saying this have made transgressions, this verse implies that God doesn't want to know what you've got to say, even if it is repentance. However, this is thrown into ambiguity by the following verses.

Luke 13:24 says: "'Make every effort to enter through the narrow door, because many, I tell you, will try to enter and not be able to.'" Jesus never specifies why these people can't enter – a reading of the passage in full only tells me that God "doesn't know them or where they came from". Far from being an aid to insight, that just throws an extra bucket of mystery on this verse.

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Quote:
Matthew 7:8 says: "For everyone who asks receives; he who seeks finds; and to him who knocks, the door will be opened."

And on the other side:

Psalm 18:41 says: "They cried for help, but there was no-one to save them – to the Lord, but he did not answer." This could be said to contradict Matthew 7:8; actually, I myself can testify that I have knocked and the door remains shut.

CONTEXT CONTEXT CONTEXT. That's one of the first things they teach us here in our biblical exegesis classes.

Before quoting Psalm 18:41, you might want to look at v. 40. In v. 40, David is destroying his enemies with God's help. This is not about people seeking God, but God vindicating one of his saints against people who hate them both. The enemies are looking for someone to rescue them from David's (God's) wrath, but there is no help available to them anymore.

Quote:
Proverbs 1:28 says: "Then they will call to me but I will not answer; they will look for me but will not find me." I'm a bit unsure about this one, since apparently this is wisdom talking, not God.

This is about wisdom. But look at v. 24. These are people who had already rejected wisdom; they had no place for it in their lives. Then, when tragedy struck, they had not consolation. It's their own fault, not God's, even if it were referring to God and not wisdom.

Lamentations is a poem about Jeremiah's struggle with faith. A reading of the whole book is necessary to understand it. Jeremiah FEELS as though God doesn't care, and he expresses that in his writing. But in fact, God does care, and Jeremiah begins to realize this later in the poem. Does the SAB give ANY introductory material to these writings, addressing issues such as literary genre? Any good commentary, whether conservative or critical, ought to at least do that.

As for the Luke passage, Christ himself later claims to be that door. Read John 10, and focus in on v. 9, "I am the door. If anyone enters by me, he will be saved and will go in and out and find pasture." Yes, the way is narrow. Those who wish to seek God should do so through his Son. The problem is that so many people wish to deny the Son, and to do so is to deny the Father. They do not seek God where he is to be found. It's like that old joke about the guy searching for his wallet by the street lamp, when he actually lost it down the street somewhere. In this case, the guy thought he was seeking his wallet, but in reality he was seeking the street lamp.

I am afraid I do not know enough about your own spiritual journey to be able to say why you have not found God. I can honestly say, however, that at least on this forum, you have sought ANSWERS, and there is a difference. Not that the two aren't connected. Job in his spiritual journey sought answers, too. He didn't get any. All he got was more questions, and it was God who asked them. Job didn't get all his questions answered, and the simple fact is that neither will we.

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Didymus wrote:
Quote:
Matthew 7:8 says: "For everyone who asks receives; he who seeks finds; and to him who knocks, the door will be opened."

And on the other side:

Psalm 18:41 says: "They cried for help, but there was no-one to save them – to the Lord, but he did not answer." This could be said to contradict Matthew 7:8; actually, I myself can testify that I have knocked and the door remains shut.

CONTEXT CONTEXT CONTEXT. That's one of the first things they teach us here in our biblical exegesis classes.

Before quoting Psalm 18:41, you might want to look at v. 40. In v. 40, David is destroying his enemies with God's help. This is not about people seeking God, but God vindicating one of his saints against people who hate them both. The enemies are looking for someone to rescue them from David's (God's) wrath, but there is no help available to them anymore.


Ah, yeah, that makes sense. Thanks for clearing that up.

Quote:
Quote:
Proverbs 1:28 says: "Then they will call to me but I will not answer; they will look for me but will not find me." I'm a bit unsure about this one, since apparently this is wisdom talking, not God.

This is about wisdom. But look at v. 24. These are people who had already rejected wisdom; they had no place for it in their lives. Then, when tragedy struck, they had not consolation. It's their own fault, not God's, even if it were referring to God and not wisdom.


So this goes for God as well? How does this mean that I stand? Does God intend to ignore me because I "had no place for him"?

Quote:
Lamentations is a poem about Jeremiah's struggle with faith. A reading of the whole book is necessary to understand it. Jeremiah FEELS as though God doesn't care, and he expresses that in his writing. But in fact, God does care, and Jeremiah begins to realize this later in the poem.


There seems to be only one example of this: Lamentations 3:55-57 ("I called on your name, O Lord, from the depths of the pit. You heard my plea: 'Do not close your ears to my cry for relief.' You came near when I called you and you said, 'Do not fear.'") It looks completely out of place compared with the rest of the poem.

Quote:
As for the Luke passage, Christ himself later claims to be that door. Read John 10, and focus in on v. 9, "I am the door. If anyone enters by me, he will be saved and will go in and out and find pasture." Yes, the way is narrow. Those who wish to seek God should do so through his Son. The problem is that so many people wish to deny the Son, and to do so is to deny the Father. They do not seek God where he is to be found. It's like that old joke about the guy searching for his wallet by the street lamp, when he actually lost it down the street somewhere. In this case, the guy thought he was seeking his wallet, but in reality he was seeking the street lamp.


So in Luke 13, the reason God turns the "evildoers" away is because they’ve sought him in the wrong place? That's never exactly specified…

Quote:
I am afraid I do not know enough about your own spiritual journey to be able to say why you have not found God. I can honestly say, however, that at least on this forum, you have sought ANSWERS, and there is a difference. Not that the two aren't connected. Job in his spiritual journey sought answers, too. He didn't get any. All he got was more questions, and it was God who asked them. Job didn't get all his questions answered, and the simple fact is that neither will we.


I think that's one of the reasons that I find Christianity in general frustrating: bits don't make sense, small parts don't fit in, and when I try to find answers, there are never any.

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One thing to keep in mind is that if we are slow to hearken to God's commandments, he is also slow to come to our rescue. If we are (knowingly) ignoring his commandments and guidance, and get ourselves into a mess, and then belatedly call on God to rescue us, it's just not gonna happen. And of course, God answers our prayers, etc... on his own timetable.

Upsilon wrote:
Luke 13:24 says: "'Make every effort to enter through the narrow door, because many, I tell you, will try to enter and not be able to.'" Jesus never specifies why these people can't enter – a reading of the passage in full only tells me that God "doesn't know them or where they came from". Far from being an aid to insight, that just throws an extra bucket of mystery on this verse.


Verse 27 indicates that these people were workers of iniquity. And then after working such iniquity their entire lives, at the point of death or the second coming (verse 25), they try and repent on their deathbeds, so to speak. By that time, it is too late. At least this is one of the interpretations that I take.


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You're probably right, but the verse doesn't exactly specify.

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PostPosted: Mon Sep 27, 2004 7:47 pm 
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Upsilon wrote:
And the same to you. Actually, in atheist Britain there's a fair bit of anti-Christian sentiment going around at the moment

We're used to it. Well, that's not true. But it's been pretty common, and it's why we (social we, not my ancestors specifically) left Britain. Of course, the Christians left and started a country where they won't be harassed, and by that principle didn't prohibit others from worshipping here. Now as a result of the fact that we granted them freedom, they want to take over and prohibit us from worshipping. There's a deadly amount of anti-Christian sentiment in parts of the U.S.

Upsilon wrote:
All I really know is that we're approximately 90% white and it seems to me that religion is fighting a losing battle against secularism (but I don't have any statistics to back up the latter).

It always will except possibly in an individual's heart.

Upsilon wrote:
Buz wrote:
Upsilon wrote:
...if God had made himself universally known....

... at both Adam's time and Noah's... for every human individually.


I've always thought that God could simply make himself evident to the world in general - like the US President, to make a comparison, only more so. That way no-one would be in any doubt and people would be judged strictly on how well they lead their lives, as opposed to whether or not they decided to follow him.

Two notes, one is important theologically, and the other is important personally.

First, if anyone were judged on how they led their lives, and I mean anyone from Hitler to Mother Theresa, they would fall short of God's requirements. I know we've tread this ground before, but since it's so foundational to Christianity I can't remind myself about it enough. One sin per day, even a "white lie," is as bad as one teaspoon of urine in your beer, or one bit of manure in your brownie recepie. It ruins the whole batch. I, for one, am so glad that I -- a sinner by nature and habit -- can be cleansed by Christ (however it is that his death effects that result, I am still glad).

Secondly, what you ask is as impersonal as a newspaper article. God is not impersonal, just the opposite: he is intensely personal. Moses, Adam, David, Elijah, Jesus, Paul, John, Abraham, and so forth to me! We make the mistake of generalizing "each" to "every," and thus easily lose the personality of it all. Did you know that God said to Moses that he was willing to kill every single other Israelite and make a new nation, just out of Moses? The only reason that God worked with mass Israel was on behalf of their ancestor, Jabob (renamed Israel, the namesake of the nationality) and Moses begging that God would spare them all.

God does nothing of which I'm aware "to everyone" except in the fact that he does it "to each." While the mathematical quantifiers "for each" and "for every" are the same (the capital upside-down A), the meaning in English could not be more different. A soldier dies for his country, but a husband will die to defend his wife. A representative in the house of commons will make a rule for his nation, but a father makes a rule for his son. We think of Christianity in terms of the number of people in our church, Christ himself thought of it in terms of 12 men he spent a few years with.

I take back what I said in the above paragraph about "nothing to everyone as a mass," because my reflection made me realize that there is one thing he does by mass: destruction. He wipes out enemies in mass. But that goes with what I said about a husband and wife above. Christianity is about love and relationship, concepts which have no meaningful analogue without a specific individual object.

If you come to know God, it will not be as a result of him coming out a cloud and saying to the world, "Hey, do these things." It will be as a result of your personally getting to know him. This is consistent with the fact that every single Christian I know was won over, not by mass media or commandments, but by a friend or family member who showed God's love. And so, a government against Christianity (we discussed above) is less relevant. It's individuals who know God.

Now if you subsequently ask why God chose to act through personal love instead of mass instruction, you'll not find an answer in logic: you might as well ask why he didn't make the night sky white with black stars, or why we have 2 arms instead of 4. Your answer will be in your heart, because you know that love is better than ordinance. The risk of failure is greater, yes. But we all want, above every other natural desire, love.

Upsilon wrote:
Buz wrote:
I've suggested above that he's willing to do it at some level for every individual...
If this is true, I'll drop all charges against God. Deal? Deal. ;)

Deal!

Upsilon wrote:
Buz wrote:
...everyone gets a chance like that at the moment of death, which is not a Biblical idea.

How would that work? God just appears to you once you've died, or what?

That's what one guy I otherwise respect said. I don't buy it.

Upsilon wrote:
Really, yes, I do rate this one quite highly in my file of theological questions. I have this little story which I call the Alien Named Chris Allegory. ... is it really fair that you were spared just because you were the only one who had reason to believe that it was true? The analogy should be clear.

Um, OK, you're right, no it's not fair. I'm not making an embarassing confession for Christianity, I'm saying that you're right to say that it's not fair that everyone didn't have a chance for deliverace. In fact, in reformed Christian theology, it's even more unfair: those who are fated to reprobation are psychologically incapacitated from believing in purple aliens, so to speak.

But I ask, why is Chris destroying humaity, and what's the $20 get him? Is it a "put your money where your mouth is" issue? If Chris is destroying humanity like American soldiers blew up Al-Qaeda terrorists in Pakistan, then I really don't care that most didn't get a chance to defect, those jerks merited death. And herein lies the similarity to Christianity: no one's going to hell except sinners. That is, unfortunately, everyone (a misfortune of galactic proportions). This is Christianity 101, and lends perspective to your analogy. Your alien Chris buddy is not a maniacal conquistador with a strange taste in friends, he's on a mission to make the universe a better place, and only through his pity on you and anyone who'd join you has he accepted your $20. I mean, we (U.S. and U.K. ground forces) gave better accomodations to defector Iraquis during Gulf Wars I and II than their own government could. But not everyone believed the paper leaflets we dropped (telling them that we'd spare them), and not everyone got one.

The story is repeated over and over in alien mythology, meaning : Though Aldaris ordered Zerg-infested Terran worlds burned, Tassadar would not use the Protoss fleet against those that would cooperate. Kosh Naranek would not send planet killers against Shadow-touched worlds that had races inhabiting them if those races would cooperate with Vorlon guidance and resisted Shadow control. In the 1951 Day the Earth Stood Still, noncooperation with Klaatu meant death by Gort and his ilk. And when God destroyed the world with a flood, he spared the small family of Noah who was willing to build the boat.

So, is $20 for a scuba suit? :)

Anyway, the pattern is engrained in our psychology, and you'd probably do the same thing if you were in war. The problem may be that it doesn't feel like war when we walk outside in a cool summer rain, or go to a friend's wedding. The perspective of war changes our reaction to our own state of mind.

Upsilon wrote:
Well, yeah, if he does appear to me in a show of lightning and choirs of angels, I'll hardly be any position to argue. ;)

Yeah, he's done that at least once in response to hard questions: the long, long book of Job describes the questions, then a brief and overwhelming "answer." But of course, one can infer from the first few chapters that Job was someone with whom God had a relationship.

Upsilon wrote:
So... basically, by "Jews", it actually means "Christians"?

Non-Gentile Christians, yes. I didn't mean to confuse you, and the implication was almost certainly clear to the original readers of the letter. And the fact that they weren't Christians before Christ was (future "was") revealed is what causes them to be labeled "Israel" in the passage.

Upsilon wrote:
Quote:
Didymus could be right and I could be wrong [...] Logic may not be eternal theologically.

You have a good point there. What you're saying is that reason is a bit like the law of gravity: while it always works in this universe, God can easily fiddle around with it or get rid of it altogether? Interesting...

Time definitely is like that. But logic... that's hard to accept. However, another great theologian Oswald Chambers in his exposition of the aforementioned book of Job said that the basis of the Universe is not logical but tragic. He thinks that logic is merely a human convention we impose to make sense of the maelstrom of events. I have trouble with that, but it is (heh) logical. Anyway, the real test of the eternality of logic (and of love, and of space, etc.) is whether it's an artefact of the universe or an attribute of God. Love is an attribute of God, space is not; therefore love is eternal and space is temporal. Logic is implied in a number of places throughout the Bible, but always in the context of behavioral reasoning (Acts 26:25, 1 Samuel 19:5, Job 2:3, Job 12:24, Job 32:11, Acts 17:2, 17, 18:4, 19, Romans 12:1, Hebrews 2:17, 9:15, 10:1, 1 Peter 3:15, and especially Isaiah 1:18 and John 8:47) and human versions of it (Matthew 12:10, 19:3, John 12:27, 1 Corinthians 12:15-16, 13:11, Hebrew 11:19) or the close cousin to logic, wisdom. Wisdom is commended in humans throughout the Bible and we know God is wise, so it's possible that logic, as a stepchild of wisdom, is eternal. But if someone who has a lot more education in these matters than I contradicts me, then I'm willing to learn. That, after all, is wisdom; and to be wise about wisdom, what could be wiser? Oh, and humble.

Upsilon wrote:
...I can address this apparent contradiction in more detail... to the NIV!

I think my predecessors have done the subject more justice than I could. Where I feel I have a little to add, I will. Actually, I wrote that sentence after doing about half of the adding; making me outside the timeline of your reading of this post. A very Godlike feeling when I make such a prophesy. Prophesy is the easiest of the miracles of God.

Didymus wrote:
CONTEXT CONTEXT CONTEXT. That's one of the first things they teach us here in our biblical exegesis classes.

Location, location, location. Same concept, different application.

Didymus wrote:
Before quoting Psalm 18:41, you might want to look at v. 40. In v. 40, David is destroying his enemies with God's help. This is not about people seeking God, but God vindicating one of his saints against people who hate them both. The enemies are looking for someone to rescue them from David's (God's) wrath, but there is no help available to them anymore.

If I may be so bold as to add, the enemies are probably worse than you think. They probably thought, "God's a big, cosmic softie and David's his little chump. All we have to do is ask God for help like David does, and we can commit atrocity after atrocity. Because God's a big goodie-two-shoes he'll forgive us and we can get away with murder." When someone with that attitude asks God, basically believing he can manipulate God into doing what a mere man wants, that fool will be surprised how quickly and decisively the hammer falls. You (the rhetorical you) can not manipilate God to do your bidding.

Didymus wrote:
Quote:
Proverbs 1:28 says: "Then they will call to me but I will not answer; they will look for me but will not find me." I'm a bit unsure about this one, since apparently this is wisdom talking, not God.

This is about wisdom. But look at v. 24. These are people who had already rejected wisdom; they had no place for it in their lives. Then, when tragedy struck, they had not consolation. It's their own fault, not God's, even if it were referring to God and not wisdom.

The wisdom allegory here is both deep and profound. But what it comes to is that you can't get the results of being wise without behaving wisely. It personifies wisdom and describes her as rewarding investment, but refusing those who don't make the investment. It sort of like trying to cash in your retirement account at 65 and being surprised it's empty though you never made a contribution.

Didymus wrote:
Lamentations is a poem about Jeremiah's struggle with faith. A reading of the whole book is necessary to understand it. Jeremiah FEELS as though God doesn't care, and he expresses that in his writing. But in fact, God does care, and Jeremiah begins to realize this later in the poem.

Lamentations is not theological literature, it is a poem. Though much theology can be derived from Biblical poetry, we also allow men to express their feelings about God and man. For example, David in one poem expressing great hurt wishes he could run to his enemies' city and grab their infant children, then smash their baby skulls on the pavement. Now no Christian believes that he can actually do such a horrible thing! But many of us have felt that way (not the specifics, but to that extent) in our darker hours. When I trust God for everything to go OK in my life, then (for example) my child dies from Lukemia, I'll also question God's willingness to hear my prayer. That is the nature of Lamentations for a city of Jews who believed God would supernaturally protect their city because of the presence of the temple. C.S. Lewis wrote a similar prosaic opus, A Grief Observed, after his wife died very early in their marriage. In it, he accuses God of all kinds of things we don't like to think about. But the fact that God embraces our expressions of pain and wants us to be open (speaking, writing and reading) about the subject of suffering, makes me respect him more, not less.

Upsilon wrote:
...a reading of the passage in full only tells me that God "doesn't know them or where they came from". Far from being an aid to insight, that just throws an extra bucket of mystery on this verse.

I refer back to the intensely personal relationship God seeks with individuals. "I don't know you" is the ultimate description of what it means to be a non-Christian from God's point of view.

Didymus wrote:
...you have sought ANSWERS, and there is a difference. Not that the two aren't connected. ... Job didn't get all his questions answered, and the simple fact is that neither will we.

We can reason together, and make metaphors. God may not be obligated to explain everything, but he does give each person what he needs. If Upsilon needs answers, truly needs them, I believe they will be provided. If (as you suggested about Upsilon's spiritual journey) the questions are actually superficial while something bigger is going on inside, that real need is what God will provide if he provides anything. What I think he needs (just an educated guess) is someone local to him that he knows and trusts who knows Jesus in the same way that we do. Upsilon's relationship with God, if there is to be one, will be personal, and so will its beginning be. All we can provide in this conglomeration of electrons is information. As long as I can type, I will try to communicate answers. But like Didymus said, there are times where I won't have any to give.

Upsilon wrote:
So [the wisdom principle] goes for God as well? How does this mean that I stand? Does God intend to ignore me because I "had no place for him"?

The principle is somewhat pervasive, though there are exceptions. Saul of Tarsus, for example, had no place for Jesus. We trace most of our Christian theology to him since, after Christ got a hold of him, he followed Christ with more vehemence than he had rejected him beforehand.

Upsilon wrote:
There seems to be only one example of this...It looks completely out of place compared with the rest of the poem.

See also the book of Jeremiah and references to Jeremiah in Daniel and Matthew.

Upsilon wrote:
I think that's one of the reasons that I find Christianity in general frustrating: bits don't make sense, small parts don't fit in, and when I try to find answers, there are never any.

It's not really that different in that respect from the inside. Your reading of Lamentations shows that the people of God don't get answers so much either. Modern Christians (Lewis above and myself among them) have come to believe that there are a lot of revealed truths that we need to search out and understand better, never giving up just because someone says "there is no answer to that." But we also accept that there are some unsearchable, unrevealed truths. For example, a better knowledge of physics can make someone a better theologian, though many would say "we can't know where the universe came from." It's all in the perspective: Carl Sagan was a bad theologian while Stephen Hawking is actually pretty good. So, to the point, growing in knowledge and wisdom is right and good. But sometimes the journey is longer than our lifespan. Some pop philosophers say that the journey itself is what's important.

racerx_is_alive wrote:
...of course, God answers our prayers, etc... on his own timetable.

Don't I know it! Sometimes he takes his sweet time.

Upsilon wrote:
racerx_is_alive wrote:
...try and repent on their deathbeds, so to speak. By that time, it is too late. At least this is one of the interpretations that I take.

You're probably right, but the verse doesn't exactly specify.

Another C.S. Lewis book, The Great Divorce, tackles the question of deathbed and post-deathbed repentings in a fanciful manner. It's his thesis that the result of a corrupted mind is a hatred for God that would rather have hell than be with someone like God appears to be. That's why I asked such apparently harsh questions about hating God before I got to know you better; to determine if you were that far out yet. No offense intended.

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PostPosted: Mon Sep 27, 2004 7:49 pm 
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Sorry my posts are indigestibly long. If the peoples prefer, I'll switch to one post per idea to make it less apparently monolithic. Let me know.

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Yes, Please.


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PostPosted: Tue Sep 28, 2004 12:33 pm 
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Yeah, because this page has become so long that I've quit reading this thread. It tuckers me out.


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Now here's an interesting argument for the existence of God. I wasn't exactly sure what to make of it myself until I had time to think about it, but I'll share it with you. It's called The Aesthetic Argument:
Peter Kreeft wrote:
There is J.S. Bach; therefore, there is a God.

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PostPosted: Sat Oct 02, 2004 12:53 am 
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Didymus wrote:
The Aesthetic Argument:
Peter Kreeft wrote:
There is J.S. Bach; therefore, there is a God.

I've read two Kreeft books, Socrates Meets Jesus and Between Heaven & Hell, both several years ago. His points are cradled in narrative and his characters are a little exaggerated, but his logic is acceptable when seen for what it is (and not for what it is not). In those books, Kreeft wanted to assure people that faith in God is completely reasonable. His purpose is more apologetics than evangelism: he doesn't set out to prove you wrong so much as prove that his stance is reasonable. At any rate, his material is very on-topic for this thread.

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PostPosted: Sat Oct 02, 2004 10:50 am 
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This post is late.

Buz wrote:
Upsilon wrote:
All I really know is that we're approximately 90% white and it seems to me that religion is fighting a losing battle against secularism (but I don't have any statistics to back up the latter).

It always will except possibly in an individual's heart.


On this subject, I did a little research into this and it turns out that, at least in England, Anglicanism is still winning the game at a large majority of 31.5 million. Just goes to show how wrong an impression can be, eh?

Quote:
Upsilon wrote:
Buz wrote:
Upsilon wrote:
...if God had made himself universally known....

... at both Adam's time and Noah's... for every human individually.


I've always thought that God could simply make himself evident to the world in general - like the US President, to make a comparison, only more so. That way no-one would be in any doubt and people would be judged strictly on how well they lead their lives, as opposed to whether or not they decided to follow him.

Two notes, one is important theologically [...] can be cleansed by Christ (however it is that his death effects that result, I am still glad).


You're right, I didn't phrase it properly, I guess. I mean, naturally, what I meant was that if God was universally known, no-one would get sent to Hell on the dodgy grounds of never having believed in Jesus.

Quote:
Secondly, what you ask is as impersonal as a newspaper article. God is not impersonal, just the opposite: he is intensely personal. Moses, Adam, David, Elijah, Jesus, Paul, John, Abraham, and so forth to me! […] The risk of failure is greater, yes. But we all want, above every other natural desire, love.


Well, either way - whether you look up in the sky and see a huge bearded man sitting on a cloud, or you just hear a voice saying "Hi" in the middle of the night – you can still take it for granted that God exists.


Quote:
Upsilon wrote:
Buz wrote:
I've suggested above that he's willing to do it at some level for every individual...
If this is true, I'll drop all charges against God. Deal? Deal. ;)

Deal!


Right, and if it's not true, you have to bake me a batch of your special Buzcakes.

Quote:
Upsilon wrote:
Buz wrote:
...everyone gets a chance like that at the moment of death, which is not a Biblical idea.

How would that work? God just appears to you once you've died, or what?

That's what one guy I otherwise respect said. I don't buy it.


Fair enough. The idea I have of that philosophy at the moment is far too sketchy for me to form an opinion on it. So I won't.

Quote:
But I ask, why is Chris destroying humaity, and what's the $20 get him? […] So, is $20 for a scuba suit? :)


Yeah, Chris loves his scuba.

Seriously though, believe it or not, I was thinking about this the other day. I cast my mind back to that allegory I posted and I thought, "You know, I really could have made that better," and I spent a couple of minutes devising a slightly different version that has more relevance to Christian theology.

So, in the Allegory of Chris Mk. II, Chris comes from a very advanced race (of course) that spent many millennia scouring the galaxy for other forms of sentient life (naturally). For the past few thousand years the Theolians (see what I did there?) have fondly watched the inhabitants of the planet called Earth forming some kind of civilisation. Now, recently, a Theolian astronomer noticed an enormous asteroid heading towards the blue planet and this caused some worry amongst the Earth-watchers. If this asteroid were to collide with the Earth, it would undoubtedly wipe out the entire population. The people of Theol are ever so fond of the primitive hominids on Earth and would hate to see such a promising race get wiped out.

So they send a messenger to Earth (the messenger is called Chris). The twenty bucks goes towards the construction of a spaceship that will evacuate Earth before the asteroid strikes. This means that they can only save those who hand over the money. (Yeah, there's a bit of a shortage of cash on Theol and they can't afford to spend any of their own money on this, no matter how much it breaks their heart.)

Of course, only the one human (or small group of humans) they choose to appear to actually hand over the money – the rest all die a slow and painful death when the planet is hit.

Thanks for pointing out the flaw in my story, though. :)

Quote:
Upsilon wrote:
So... basically, by "Jews", it actually means "Christians"?

Non-Gentile Christians, yes. I didn't mean to confuse you, and the implication was almost certainly clear to the original readers of the letter. And the fact that they weren't Christians before Christ was (future "was") revealed is what causes them to be labeled "Israel" in the passage.


I think I get it. I certainly hope they did, too. ;)

Quote:
Upsilon wrote:
Quote:
Didymus could be right and I could be wrong [...] Logic may not be eternal theologically.

You have a good point there. What you're saying is that reason is a bit like the law of gravity: while it always works in this universe, God can easily fiddle around with it or get rid of it altogether? Interesting...

Time definitely is like that. But logic... that's hard to accept.


Tell me about it. I mean, if logic doesn't hold true in the grand scheme of things, I could well have turned into a trout by next morning.

Quote:
However, another great theologian Oswald Chambers in his exposition of the aforementioned book of Job said that the basis of the Universe is not logical but tragic. He thinks that logic is merely a human convention we impose to make sense of the maelstrom of events. I have trouble with that, but it is (heh) logical.


That's probably the major problem we can have with an argument that logic is an illusion: there's nothing to judge it by but logic, so it can hardly be proven or disproven.

Quote:
Anyway, the real test of the eternality of logic (and of love, and of space, etc.) is whether it's an artefact of the universe or an attribute of God. [...] Wisdom is commended in humans throughout the Bible and we know God is wise, so it's possible that logic, as a stepchild of wisdom, is eternal.


I hope so. Otherwise, I wouldn't know what to think.

Quote:
But if someone who has a lot more education in these matters than I contradicts me, then I'm willing to learn. That, after all, is wisdom; and to be wise about wisdom, what could be wiser? Oh, and humble.


That's a modest approach. I should be more like that.

Quote:
Upsilon wrote:
...a reading of the passage in full only tells me that God "doesn't know them or where they came from". Far from being an aid to insight, that just throws an extra bucket of mystery on this verse.

I refer back to the intensely personal relationship God seeks with individuals. "I don't know you" is the ultimate description of what it means to be a non-Christian from God's point of view.


Fair point. I think a more accurate description would be "you don't know me".

Quote:
Upsilon wrote:
So [the wisdom principle] goes for God as well? How does this mean that I stand? Does God intend to ignore me because I "had no place for him"?

The principle is somewhat pervasive, though there are exceptions. Saul of Tarsus, for example, had no place for Jesus. We trace most of our Christian theology to him since, after Christ got a hold of him, he followed Christ with more vehemence than he had rejected him beforehand.


Saul of Tarsus was an exception? So does that mean that I'm unlikely to have a chance in hell of evading hell? (Excuse my little pun-ishment there.)

Quote:
racerx_is_alive wrote:
...of course, God answers our prayers, etc... on his own timetable.

Don't I know it! Sometimes he takes his sweet time.


And sometimes he doesn't seem to notice.

Quote:
Upsilon wrote:
racerx_is_alive wrote:
...try and repent on their deathbeds, so to speak. By that time, it is too late. At least this is one of the interpretations that I take.

You're probably right, but the verse doesn't exactly specify.

Another C.S. Lewis book, The Great Divorce, tackles the question of deathbed and post-deathbed repentings in a fanciful manner.


Just out of interest, does God have anything against deathbed repenting? If someone, just before dying, honestly regretted all the bad things they had done and became a Christian a only few minutes before kicking the bucket, would God mind?

Quote:
It's his thesis that the result of a corrupted mind is a hatred for God that would rather have hell than be with someone like God appears to be. That's why I asked such apparently harsh questions about hating God before I got to know you better; to determine if you were that far out yet. No offense intended.


None taken. I don't think anything you've said in this topic has been harsh, and I hope you can say the same about me.

On the Aesthetic Argument: Heh, that's pretty interesting. Of course, it can be disproven as easily as it can be supported, but I can see how it could work on a personal level.

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Upsilon wrote:
Quote:
Upsilon wrote:
racerx_is_alive wrote:
...try and repent on their deathbeds, so to speak. By that time, it is too late. At least this is one of the interpretations that I take.


You're probably right, but the verse doesn't exactly specify.


Another C.S. Lewis book, The Great Divorce, tackles the question of deathbed and post-deathbed repentings in a fanciful manner.



Just out of interest, does God have anything against deathbed repenting? If someone, just before dying, honestly regretted all the bad things they had done and became a Christian a only few minutes before kicking the bucket, would God mind?


Repentance is more than just regretting bad things. Recognizing and regretting our sins is a first step, but true repentance also can involve trying to right the wrongs we have caused, and always involves never returning to sin. And we show that commitment to never commit that sin again over time.

The problem with deathbead repentance is that the person never gets the chance to show that they will stay strong in resisting temptation. I suppose God can judge, as he knows our hearts, but generally, regret is not sufficient to incite true repentance. As an example, I know people who regret ever starting to smoke, or who regret ever looking at pornography, that never quite have the strength to quit either.


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