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February 12, 2014

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at that moment I realized just how deep the human capacity for self-deception is. And I recognized that I and everyone around me were included in that sobering realization.

Amen.

Ask someone if they think, on the whole, they’re a good person. You learn a lot from the answer you get.

You might get a list of the charities they donate to. You might hear that they love their family and friends. That they attend church weekly and pray daily. Perhaps they do nice things and give the credit to others.

These are good things, but it’s impossible to understand how wretched we are when compared to Christ.

That’s why we need Him. Otherwise, we could just say, "Thanks but no thanks."

This ability to deceive ourselves about our goodness is likely an evolutionary adaptation allowing us to convince ourselves that the world needs our seed.

Evolution also explains our need to seek societal validation of our moral choices. If I'm convinced that my genes are as good as anyone else's, and society sends me the message that my genes have the right to live in perpetuity, then it's all evolutionary. It's all natural. It's all pre-determined.

TIC

how nice--another article about the fantasy of hell.

"Wannamaker learned this lesson early, but I personally had to blunder through this old world for a third of a century before it even began to dawn upon me that ninety-nine times out of a hundred, people don't criticize themselves for anything, no matter how wrong it may be." ~Dale Carnegie, How to Win Friends and Influence People

"The truth is, we believe in decency so much--we feel the Rule of Law pressing on us so--that we cannot bear the fact that we are breaking it, and consequently we try to shift the responsibility. For you notice it is only for our bad behavior that we find all these explanations. It is only our bad temper that we put down to being tired or worried or hungry; we put our good temper down to ourselves." ~C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity

"By and large we do know right from wrong, but wish we didn't. We only make believe we are searching for truth-so that we can do wrong, condone wrong, or suppress our remorse for having done wrong in the past." ~J. Budziszewski, The Revenge of Conscience

- See more at: http://str.typepad.com/weblog/2013/02/god-cares-more-about-behavior-than-most-people-think.html#sthash.p0nRtlHW.dpuf

Moose, if your view is correct, not only is Hell a fantasy, but also good, evil, justice, and our ability to perceive reality in the first place--which would make every comment you ever post here about "reality" a fantasy.

Believing that justice is real seems infinitely more plausible to me.

Another post on how bad we are.

Neo Calvinists are so obsessed with our unworthiness. We carry God's image. We are capable of great good. God looks at our good deeds and is pleased.

He is not the abusive Tiger Mom constantly screaming at her kid to always be flawless.

Goat Head 5

GH5,

>> God looks at our good deeds and is pleased.

OK, how about the bad deeds? While I love those acts of random kindness, we slip and do the faux pas with just as much ease.

Perhaps I would ask for your thinking on Jesus' parable of the Pharisee and Tax-Collector (Lk. 18: 9-14). What do you take to be His point? The OP is that flair for self-righteousness we seem to bank on from time to time.

Being a "child of God" is not an opportunity to do some chest-thumping, but to marvel at grace.

The Apostle Paul tells us that "whatever is not of faith is sin" Romans 14:23.

It also says that all of our righteousness is as filthy rags Isiah 64:6, which to me means that we never do any good for the right reasons.

So, we might be good in our own estimation, but any good we go is polluted and needs Christ's atoning blood and perfect obedience in our behalf, to make it acceptable to God.

amy-that is beautiful philosophy, how about showing some evidence (real evidence) that hell is real?--not philosophy or what any ancient holy book claims but real evidence--along with a detailed description of what exactly hell (supposedly)is

Dave,

Context. Take to heart Greg's adage, "never read a Bible verse".

You can't just pluck a verse out of context, universalize it, and make it mean whatever you want.

The Bible cautions against pride. Acknowledging that we are all made in God's image and are capable of doing good is not pride. We all know non Christians who act more righteously than people in our churches. People are capable of great good, and God loves it when we make the right choices.

Goat Head 5

DG,

When God sees our bad deeds, He is displeased. What would you expect?

The parable you mentioned teaches against pride. The pharisee thought he was righteous when he really wasn't. The tax collector knew he wasn't righteous and begged for mercy.

The parable does NOT teach that nobody ever does anything righteous.

Goat Head 5

GH5,

And when God is displeased, how does He show it?

I grant that people are capable of moral actions, but note that the next episode the Luke records after the parable of pharisee and tax-collector is the blessing of little children. Jesus adores the childlike trusting faith, and the humility of all that. Focusing on the righteous acts one does might run the danger of obscuring the grace that impels the actions. I'm sure you don't espouse that idea.

The Pharisee was full of the righteous actions done for self-glorification. I fear pride squelches grace if we center on our deeds as our own and not of the Spirit's initiative. That leads us to the OP. Can we do a trustworthy introspection of our actions and our motives? It is a balancing act, to know we are saved by grace but made to be God's masterpiece created to do good.

So, it does not boil down to neo-Calvinists obsessed with unworthiness (the Pharisee, for all his accomplishments, was extremely unworthy. The tax-gatherer, for all his shame, was justified). What then is the Christian life than a wonderful embrace of the day granted by God, living for His glory, and sola gloria Deo.

Re: GH5,

Thanks for the advise. The next time a cop pulls me over for running a stop sign, I'm going to tell them that the sign is not to be taken out of context. Stop doesn't necessarily mean stop unless you can produce foot notes of several other similar laws on the sign along with it. Until you do that, I'll drive as I please.

I can and do speak the way we speak about these things.

I can say, “My father is a good man.”

I can say, “My wife is a godly woman.”

But I know I’m just talking how we talk about these things. There is meaning, but it's in the here and now. What do I think about my father and wife, really? They both are in horrible need of a Savior. Like me.

Something I’m confident in:

God will not say to me,

“Now, now, you’ve been too hard on yourself. Way too hard. Life was quite hard and you made some very good choices in your life. You made some bad ones, but often times you pleased me very much.”

No.

I ought to hang my head in shame. What I know I deserve from God is the silent treatment - followed by a dismissive wave of His hand off to Hell.

That’s why I’m thankful that Jesus Christ saves.

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