« Michael Licona’s New Research on Gospel Differences | Main | Challenge: Diversity of Evidence Prevents Us from Knowing What Was Written »

January 25, 2016

Comments

GH5-

Just one more question. If Jesus died for all possible sins in all possible futures, that must include every sin that is, or even might be, committed in Hell.

Or did you have a more Calvinist meaning of "all" in mind?

"Quite easy for a being as smart as God to predict the future. Even without seeing it as a certainty."

So again, Jesus died on speculation...on a bet.

WL,

First of all, the crack about the "Calvinist meaning of all" was really funny.

That was worth this whole tedious exchange.

"So again, Jesus died on speculation...on a bet."

No. Plenty of people had sinned when Jesus died.

And perhaps it was all except sins in Hell.

So?

what does all this have to do with your notion that Jesus suffers continuously and eternally?

But the suffering Jesus endured wasn't just for pas sins.

It was also for all possible sins in all possible futures...sins He did not know would occur. So it was God's bet.

And he remembers, even now, all that suffering?

Does He remember it perfectly, or is it like my memory...kinda fuzzy the farther you get from the event?

Ok WL,

You've had your fun. Joke is on me. I've answered your questions over and over again.

If you've got a point, make it.

Or you could just explain what all this has to do with your bizarre notion that Jesus is continually suffering for our sins.....

You haven't answered my last question even once.

Does He remember His sufferings perfectly, or is it like my memory...kinda fuzzy the farther you get from the event?

Done playing your game.

Got a point?

Make it.

So...you won't answer that question?

You said "one more question".

I answered it.

Answer mine or make your point.

I actually asked that question before I said "just one more question".

I originally used slightly different wording:

Tell me also, does He remember any of this punishment? Or has it all faded away?
But I can see why you don't want to answer it either way.

And I don't see why you just won't make your point.

And why won't you answer the question I have asked you so many times?

Ok WL,

Here's my previous answer:

"Tell me also, does He remember any of this punishment? Or has it all faded away?"

Well, I have no reason to think that He would choose to forget.

I don't know exactly how God's memory works. But I would guess He has a pretty good memory.

But wait a minute. You don't even think God exists in time, so speaking of His "memory" is meaningless.

So make your point......

"Here's my previous answer"

Fair enough GH5.

Sorry. I missed your answer reading on my phone. Now that I'm at my computer I see it easily. Anyway, My bad on that.

Moving forward.

Remembering an experience perfectly is the same as having the experience again. And if it isn't the same, then the remembrance isn't perfect.

So we are left with these alternatives:

1. Christ remembers His suffering so perfectly that He is actually suffering again.

2. Christ's memory of His suffering is less than perfect. It has faded somewhat with the passage of time.

Item-1 is the point I made initially that you've already rejected as bizarre.

So do you accept Item-2?

It looks like to hold your view, there have to be some things even about the past that God does not fully know.

He doesn't know the future, you say, because it's impossible to know future contingents.

Is it also impossible to know past contingents?

As for the bit about "memory" being meaningless...I am determined to work from your assumptions. I am asking for your views. You don't think God's having memories is meaningless do you?

"1) As soon as you say, “Circumstances or severity of the crime are irrelevant,” you’re no longer talking about a judge that’s analogous to God." - But that only means that "justice" when referred to humans and "justice" when referred to God are two completely different things, even diametrically opposed to each other in some cases, but they are referred to by the same name.

I don't understand what you're claiming here. The circumstances and severity of crimes are very much relevant to God's judgment. You seemed to be making an analogy between God and a human judge who thinks those things are irrelevant, so I was correcting that misunderstanding. Neither human judges nor God think circumstances and severity of crimes are irrelevant. As I said earlier, the punishment of a human being will be adjusted in order to reflect the full severity of his crimes—no more, no less. Since God is able to judge much more than a human judge (because He's omniscient and knows every bit of our hearts and actions), and because God will also judge our rebellion against Him (the most serious crime of all, and not one a human judge has the authority to judge), just punishments handed out by God will be far greater than punishments handed out by human judges on earth.

"The Bible is clear that some punishment will be worse when the crimes are worse. As for human judges, human judges don’t punish crimes against God, nor do they have the authority to judge every single bit of evil. Only God does that." - So what? Doesn´t change the fact that a human judge who tries to emulate God by dishing out the maximum sentence for everything would be called ridiculously unjust

Of course he would be wrong, for the very reason I just explained above: He doesn't have the authority to punish crimes against God or crimes he has no ability to judge. Therefore, a human judge who tried to emulate God by judging crimes he has no right to judge (e.g., the evil in a human heart, the aspect of rebellion against God in any moral infraction, etc.) would be doing something he has no right to do, and he could not do so justly because he hasn't the knowledge or ability to do so justly. There's a narrow category of crimes human authorities have the right to punish, not least of which because they have no access to the minds and hearts of human beings, as God has.

Giving someone something that (s)he does not deserve is the exact opposite of justice. And thinking that you getting something that you don´t deserve would become just because someone else was punished for what you did, is an absolute travesty of justice. If you want justice, then you want what you deserve, nothing more and nothing less. If you want more than you deserve, then you cannot sincerely claim that you desire justice, because you evidently do not.

Of course I desire grace! Because I'm in great need of it! But that doesn't for a moment mean I devalue the goodness of justice, nor does it mean I think justice is wrong when it takes place. I recognize God could have sent me to hell and would have had a right to do so. I'm thankful for His grace in great part due to the fact that I know He could have rightly sent me to hell. (For more on why it's not a travesty of justice for Jesus to pay for our sins, see here. For more on justice, see here.)

WL,

"Remembering an experience perfectly is the same as having the experience again. And if it isn't the same, then the remembrance isn't perfect."

I couldn't disagree more. What reason do you have to believe that your statement is true?

WL,

And since your premise is, in my opinion, untrue...

We aren't locked in to your list of alternatives.

"I couldn't disagree more. What reason do you have to believe that your statement is true?"

What it means for memory to have faded is that parts of the original experience are lost.

Thus a less faded memory of an experience includes more of the original experience.

And a perfectly unfaded memory of an experience doesn't leave out anything that was part of the original experience.

WL,

"And a perfectly unfaded memory of an experience doesn't leave out anything that was part of the original experience."

An accurate memory is just that.... a memory.

Recalling an experience, no matter how accurately, is not the same as having the experience.

Although I don't know how a timeless God could even have a memory, since no past or future would exist for Him.

"Recalling an experience, no matter how accurately, is not the same as having the experience."

So all memory leaves something out.

I guess, then there are indeed some aspects of the past that it is impossible to know.

And, thus, on your view, it is no insult to Omniscience that God does not know them.

Is that your view?

(Obviously a timeless God has one eternal experience...but right now, I'm asking you about your view.)

WL,

Yes, memory leaves something out...

It leaves out the actual experience. No matter how accurately we recall an experience, during the recollection we always know that we are not actually experiencing what we recall. Thus, a memory of a traumatic experience, while it can be horrific, is not at all the same as actually experiencing the trauma.

As far as God's memory goes, I have no reason to think He doesn't know the past completely accurately.

So, yes, I think God knows the past with complete accuracy.

But what does all this have to do with your contention that Jesus is constantly and eternally suffering for our sins?

"Thus, a memory of a traumatic experience, while it can be horrific, is not at all the same as actually experiencing the trauma."

Because it leaves something out.

If we acknowledge that perfect memory leaves nothing out, then the answer to this question, I would think, is obvious: "But what does all this have to do with your contention that Jesus is constantly and eternally suffering for our sins?"

Though, I might add, even the admission you just made...that memories of past traumas can be horrific experiences themselves, is sufficient to ground the claim that Jesus constantly and eternally suffers for our sins. The only thing you can hang your hat on is the fact that the horror that God is constantly suffering might not be as bad as the suffering of the initial trauma.

On the other hand, on your view, the horror that is continually being suffered is the pain of bearing not only all actual sins, but also every possible sin in every possible future after about AD 35.

So maybe quantity makes up for quality...who knows.

In all events, the claim you find bizarre is a consequence of your own views GH5: Jesus is constantly and eternally suffering for our sins.

As with so many other aspects of Open Theism, it promises much, but delivers little.

At least it isn't 'pagan' though.

WL,

Ah. I get it. To make your point you redefine what memory is.

I don't buy it.

For one thing, we don't constantly and continually recall everything in our memory. We remember when we want to. I have no reason to think God's memory works any differently. So, even though Jesus has an accurate memory of His suffering on the cross, I have no reason to think He "constantly and eternally" suffers for our sins.

And, "perfect memory" is an accurate recollection of an experience. It, of course, does not re create the actual experience. That isn't "leaving something out". No matter how accurate the memory, we don't actually re live the experience. Memory doesn't work like that.

Your norm for how God's mind works is how ours works. God's mind is like ours.

Like us, God can't see into the future.

Like us, if God wants something in the future to happen He has to do things 'on spec'. He has to cover all His bases if He wants to make sure of His bet.

Like our memories, God's memories leave some things out.

Like us, God sometimes doesn't pay attention to some things.

It's interesting, isn't it that, though I'm the Greco-pagan, your God looks a lot more like Zeus than mine.

And, BTW...even if God sometimes doesn't pay attention to His horrific memories of being punished for all actual sin up to AD 35 and all possible sins of all possible futures after...He sometimes will. You might avoid, add ruinous theological cost, the charge that His suffering is continuous. Perhaps the most we can say of this latest iteration of your view is that Christ suffers (for all actual sin up to AD 35 and all possible sins of all possible futures after) intermittently for the rest of time.

Is that claim markedly less 'bizarre' than mine?

Actually, is seems to me that each cut in the death of your god by a thousand qualifications makes the whole thing sound more ridiculous and...well...bizarre.

Your norm for how God's mind works is how ours works. God's mind is like ours.

As it relates to memories, that’s exactly Goat Head 5’s issue.

Goat Head 5,

What did the Father experience as the nails were driven into the hands of Christ? At the precise moment when Christ's pain receptors kicked in?

What about the day after? A little better? Even better after a week?

A secondary issue you have, in my opinion, is your assumed view of the nature of human suffering vs. God suffering. (I very well may differ from Wisdom Lover's view here). In other words, humans don’t sit on thrones and suffer for other humans.

A not so brief reply to WL...

"Your norm for how God's mind works is how ours works. God's mind is like ours."

Well, unless He tells us otherwise, yes. Image of God, you know. Or, I could use Pagan Greek Philosophy.....

"Like us, God can't see into the future."

Can't or doesn't. Don't know which.

"Like us, if God wants something in the future to happen He has to do things 'on spec'. He has to cover all His bases if He wants to make sure of His bet."

Well, no. God can always make something happen which He has predicted. Also, not like us, He can make intelligent predictions with uncanny accuracy, because of His Godlike intelligence.

"Like our memories, God's memories leave some things out."

Again, no. His memories don't leave out anything a memory should have. We've been over this. Memories are different than an actual experience. You don't seem to get this.

"Like us, God sometimes doesn't pay attention to some things."

Not being eternally locked into continuously recalling every memory isn't "not paying attention". Besides, neither you or me, Plato, or even KWM, knows precisely how God's attention and memory works.

And we get to the real heart of the matter...

"You might avoid, add(at) ruinous theological cost, the charge that His suffering is continuous"

What is this "ruinous theological cost" that can be avoided if Jesus is continuously and eternally suffering?

And KWM,

"What did the Father experience as the nails were driven into the hands of Christ? At the precise moment when Christ's pain receptors kicked in?"

Neither you nor I know. We could speculate, I suppose.

"What about the day after? A little better? Even better after a week?"

Uh, you can only have an experience once. Are you confusing memory and experience like WL?

"A secondary issue you have, in my opinion, is your assumed view of the nature of human suffering vs. God suffering"

So, KWM, how does "God suffering" differ from plain old garden variety suffering? And how do you know this?

"In other words, humans don’t sit on thrones and suffer for other humans."

Well, sure they do. Plenty of humans have sat on thrones. Plenty have suffered for others.

The ruinous theological cost is obvious GH5. You worship a god that is like Zeus. Christians have historically worshiped the transcendent Creator of all things.

Yet we're, somehow, the pagans.

And after paying that cost, you still have a god who suffers for all time...though intermittently.

"Memories are different than an actual experience."

Actually, since you are the one who wants to use man as the norm for God...

All memory begins with what is called sensory memory. This memory is close to complete. To remember in your sensory memory leaves nothing out that was sensed. Your sensory memory of images lasts for about half a second. It's what enables you to see motion and light traces and such. Much of what we call our experience actually would be impossible without sensory memory.

Other forms of memory are really just lossy compressions of sensory memory that trade off length and recoverability of information for loss of detail. Images, sounds, textures and so on, become symbolic representations.

In other words. These forms of memory are less perfect than sensory memory, because they leave something out.

We have them, as far as I can tell, for two reasons.

First, our brains are limited in their ability to store sensory info. How big a head do we need to have so that we can have a long sensory memory?

Second, there's a problem with our ability to discern and retrieve information. Even if you had a head the size of a locomotive that could maintain a sensory memory lasting an hour instead of half a second. You would get lost in all the image trails snaking through your mind.

But if we had unlimited ability to store and retrieve sensory memory, there would really be no point to the other types.

And as long as information is in the sensory memory, you are experiencing it.

Is God limited in his ability to store and retrieve sensory information?

Or does He have some other reason for throwing it away?

Or does He continue experiencing it?

WL,

Well, I'll say it again and I'm done.

Memory is not the same as the experience, however accurate the memory. Remembering an experience is not the same as having the experience. Because that is the nature of memory.

If you broke your arm in the past, you do not re break your arm every time you remember it. You do not experience breaking your arm when you remember it. To experience that you have to actually break your arm again.

So no. Jesus doesn't continually and eternally die on the cross. It happened. He accomplished His purpose. It is finished. Over. Done. It is now in the past.

Can God remember it accurately? Sure, whenever He wants to. Is He doomed to continually experience it forever somehow? No. Again, remembering is not experiencing. It. is. remembering.

No theological burden there. No "ruinous theological cost".

The cross is empty. He is risen. Hallelujah!

Well, GH5, I think I've shown two things:

1. Even you have an eternally suffering savior, even under all of your anthropomorphic suppositions. Instead of suffering a lot continuously for each actual sin, He suffers less (because even the memory of an unpleasant thing is still unpleasant) and intermittently, for each possible sin in each possible future.

2. Your conception of God has more in common with Zeus than with the Transcendent Creator of all things.

I'll leave it at that.

===================================================

I'll also repeat the fact that my original claim (which you saw fit with hilarious, though I suspect unconscious, inconsistency, to call both "pagan" and "something I just made up") is actually just the recognition of three very old views (that are not pagan at all):

  1. Hell is hell because of the (actual) sin present there...God's punishment of hellions consists precisely of His leaving them with the consequences of their sins for eternity.
  2. Jesus died for all (actual) sin.
  3. Jesus' every experience (including the suffering He endured on our behalf), like Himself, is eternal.

And so, God, the Son, really does bear the punishment for all sins, even those of the hellions. The charge that Christ's suffering is finite, but the agonies of hellions is eternal is answered. He suffers for all eternity, the very punishment that the hellions have chosen, and continue to choose, for themselves.

Only God could bear this pain. Only God is filled with immeasurable joy sufficient to swallow it up. That is why God had to become flesh.

Also answered is the contention of the OP, that one would rather be in hell with one's loved ones than in heaven with God. Hell is hell because of sin. Choosing to be away from God and with your sin is to choose to ultimately be severed from your loved ones more completely than ever you would be in heaven with God.

For in heaven, you will never stop loving your loved ones. In hell, in time, they will no longer be your loved ones. You will grow to hate them, and they you.

Goat Head 5,

I know you said you’re done, but I just want to respond to your last comments to me. On what the Father felt or experienced during the crucifixion you wrote:

Neither you nor I know. We could speculate, I suppose.

It’s safe to say there was suffering. So the question remains: Does that pain and suffering wear off so to speak? Is God relieved that He has the tough part over with? You know, it was rough there for a little while, the flogging, the torture, the nails, but it’s past?

God created the heavens and the earth. Does He not sustain them? Does God not experience, feel, understand, creating and creation with every passing nanosecond? Or is that hard work over too?

Indeed, the cross is empty. But it was also empty when Mary and Joseph were smiling at a little baby boy. Did God know Christ’s suffering then? Since you like the human comparison, if you found out your child would be tortured and murdered in the future would you suffer in the now? In the days leading up? What about the day after?

Uh, you can only have an experience once. Are you confusing memory and experience like WL?

Well, no. This is the problem and common theme of your responses all over this site. It’s the “You can’t do that, and God can’t either” theme. I don’t have to go very far to find an example. Here’s one:

If you broke your arm in the past, you do not re break your arm every time you remember it.

Insightful. The medical profession would agree!

But we are not talking about human memory vs. human experience. We are talking about the concept of God’s suffering. When you draw on God’s attributes (as WL has pointed out) and recognize how those attributes work as it relates to suffering, there’s only one conclusion.

Plenty of humans have sat on thrones. Plenty have suffered for others.

GH5, should I have capitalized throne for you to clearly telegraph my literary allusion to God or are you just being sarcastic? In any event, my point here was that human beings don’t suffer for the entire world from a position of absolute power and perfect information. Humans suffer with extreme limitation and thus have a certain view of suffering that is significantly different from God’s.

In summary, projecting and equating how our experiences, memory, or suffering work on to God is a mistake.

WL and KWM,

I've also shown two things:

1. Jesus isn't eternally suffering for our sins. He died for them and atoned for them in a particular moment in history. The work is done. I think somebody said, "It is finished".

2. Your conception of God has more in common with Greek Philosophy than the God revealed in the Bible.

KWM, your projections on how God is, borrowed from Greek Philosophy, are a mistake.

But, our opinions differ. Reality is what it is. Doesn't really matter what we think, except for how are beliefs cause us to act. Maybe you're right and I'm wrong. Or vice versa. So what?

GH5: "I've shown that Jesus isn't eternally suffering for our sins."

You never actually showed any such thing.

You did object to my arguments intended to show that even given your anthropomorphic assumptions and even given open theism, Christ still suffers eternally for our sin.

Even if your objections to my argument were successful (they're not), that's miles away from showing that Jesus is or isn't doing anything.

As for the objections...

One objection was that a memory of suffering, while horrific, isn't the re-experience of suffering. While this is debatable, even if we grant that, it only shows that the suffering is muted. The unpleasantness of a memory is not as sharp as the unpleasantness of the experience...but it is still unpleasant.

Another objection is that God doesn't necessarily always recall His sufferings. While this also is debatable, it only shows that His sufferings are intermittent.

So even your objections failed to really do in my argument.

And there is a special issue that your position has that the standard view does not. Christ had to suffer not only for the large number of actual sins, but for the vastly greater number of possible sins (after AD 35). His subsequent memories of suffering will, therefore be far more numerous, even if much lower in intensity.

GH5: "I've shown that your conception of God has more in common with Greek Philosophy than the God revealed in the Bible."

This you've also never shown.

You've baldly asserted it in many threads including this one...usually calling the view pagan also.

As already noted, your conception of a limited anthropomorphic god is more like the pagan Zeus or Wotan that the Transcendent Creator is.

And you've never once in any thread argued for your Greco-pagan point. I doubt that you even know what the Greek philosophers had to say about God...it sure as heck was not that God is the Transcendent Creator who calls all things into existence ex nihlio and on whom all things depend. That's a view that very smart Christian thinkers, like Augustine, began to realize they were committed to when they took the words of the Bible seriously.

GH5 (and anyone else still reading),

The problem here is the assumption that God feels, experiences, remembers, thinks, etc. just like humans. Why are people so absolutely committed to the idea that God is like us when the Bible describes God as being so unlike us?

Do we share characteristics? Of course. But there’s a big but. Even within those specific characteristics we are significantly unlike God.

“For My thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways My ways,” declares the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.” – Isaiah 55:8-9

What a chasm!

Is this Greek philosophy?

Part of the answer of why we do this is that we want to view ourselves in a pretty good light. We desperately want to project ourselves on to God when it should be the reverse.

I do not intend to come across as preachy. Lord knows why I shouldn’t, and I hope everyone else knows too!

A final thought:

Though not a perfect example as it relates to this specific issue, supposed I asked this question:

Is God a constantly angry God? Is God a God of unceasing anger?

If you asked this question to many Christians, a very popular answer would be a resounding, “No!”

You would get a myriad of reasons why a person would reject this. Almost all the reasons would have something in common: Our personal experience with anger (and probably a good dose of love).

But what if I then asked if sin angered God? You would certainly get a, “Yes! Of course!”

But do we not live in a world of absolute continuous sin? Is there sin on earth and in hell? “Yes, Of course!"

So again, we are not God. As in Isaiah, Our thoughts and ways are not His thoughts and ways.
____________________________

BTW,

Suffering apart from physical suffering = sufferable thoughts.

God does not suffer curled up in a corner as we often do.

No Greek philosophy needed.

KWM-

Beautifully put my fellow pagan!

Ha! Thanks. I'm in good pagan company then :)

I'm going to take a moment to apologize to GH5 for a bit of misreading on my part.

It is true that here and elsewhere he has made the claim that I hold a view that is somehow grounded in pagan Greek philosophy. However, in this thread, I did attribute one comment to him that was actually from someone else: Michael.

Michael claimed that I'd just made up the view about Hell that I've been expounding.

Close on the heels of that GH5 repeated the pagan-bit adapted to my view of Christ's eternal suffering...even for those in Hell.

I'm not sure why, but these ran together in my thinking. Perhaps it was because Michael disappeared from the conversation at about the same time that GH5 appeared. Anyway, at one point, I ridiculed GH5 for unconscious inconsistency for saying that my view was both greco-pagan and that I just made it up.

I think you can see how that would be a ridiculous pair of views to hold...how could I have just made up a view that I got from Greek antiquity?

As I was saying farewell to this thread, I noticed my mix up. So, GH5, if you're still reading, sorry about that one. We have our disagreements, not always cordial, but at least that one shouldn't be among them, and I'm glad I caught the unjust ridicule on my part.

The comments to this entry are closed.