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August 09, 2013

Comments

If you are still here, Kim, I'll offer this:

I am quite sympathetic to your crisis of faith on this issue. What helped me is theologian and pastor Greg Boyd's brand of Open Theism. His book "Is God to Blame" will provide a Layman's overview.

You are at a crossroads. Jesus said, "If you want to know what God is like, look at me." That is always where we need to start and end, in my opinion. Don't get hung up in obscure OT stuff.

Goat Head 5

scbrownlhrm,

I have no idea what you are trying to say.

Could you dumb it down to perhaps a 6th grade level and "de poetize" it into plain English?

I'd really like to understand what you mean by your post.

Goat Head 5

@Ben: God is not about "arbitrary rules". His law is perfect for our BEST; we disobey it to our own peril.

Your questions posted in your fictional story cannot be addressed because they do not assign proper definitions and understanding of the principals involved or of the principles involved. A lack of understanding of both of these is at the foundation of your rage against God.

How could God allow the cross? Think about that. Within it is the picture of His character and attributes that you are missing.

Finally, consider Proverbs 1:

"The proverbs of Solomon Son of David, king of Israel:
for attaining wisdom and discipline; for understanding words of insight;
for acquiring a disciplined and prudent life,
doing what is right and just and fair;
for giving prudence to the simple, knowledge and discretion to the young--
let the wise listen and add to their learning,
and let the discerning get guidance--
for understanding proverbs and parables, the saying and riddles of the wise.
THE FEAR OF THE LORD IS THE BEGINNING OF KNOWLEDGE, BUT FOOLS DESPISE WISDOM AND DISCIPLINE."

Carolyn,

Whoa, where do you get this "rage against God" idea from? I'm no more enraged by God than I'm enraged by the monster from Beowulf.

You say that I've failed to "assign proper definitions" and have misunderstood "the principles involved," but you don't give any details. What do you think I have misunderstood here? What definitions have I got wrong?

You also ask me, "How could God allow the cross?" Well, I have no idea why God wants what he wants. But I don't see why it is a good thing for Jesus to suffer and die. Why not just forgive mankind without making Jesus go through all that agony? It seems downright sadistic to me.

Finally, I read your proverb but I find no truth in it.

Carolyn's posts in a nutshell: I do not have a reply to your arguments, therefore everything you say is fiction, and refuse to tell you where you are wrong.

I don't know what to make of scbrownlhrm's post. Maybe he cut and pasted some of his old myspace poetry?

>>Sometimes I think God is a tyrrant.

A little more depth here, perhaps a paradigm shift.

Perhaps the issue is that of man in rebellion, and loving it.

Consider government, forms of which can be tyrannical. Let's say a state or city is in full breakdown mode. Looting in the streets. People no longer safe. Gang control of regions. Bad stuff. Let's say the powers that be respond with a stiff crackdown that recalls all rights and privileges of the citizenry for a time. Martial law is declared. But it would not be lifted until full guarantees are set up that would return control to the citizenry. But there are feelings that such cooperation would never be forth coming due to a segment of society that deems such governmental control to be extreme, dictatorial.

Given all circumstances, is such government a tyranny?

>> He drowns 20,000,000 men, women, teenagers, children, toddlers, infants, and unborn in a worldwide flood. (and four other examples)

Kim,

Your Biblical choices phrased as you have them betrays a subtle exclusion of possible human culpability. After all, Job's children were young adults prone to "party hearty." (Job 1: 4,5). But your first choice, the Noahan Flood, seems to delete or overlook the rationale for the whole episode: The earth was corrupt before God, and the earth was filled with violence. God saw the earth, and saw that it was corrupt, for all flesh had corrupted their way on the earth (Gen 6: 11, 12). The difficult term Nephalim (verse four of that chapter) seems to speak of those who "fell on" preyed upon, exploited others. The culture seemed to idolize the Ariel Castros of its day and taught their children to emulate them. God, the author of life, held the right to end such life focused on self-interest and oppression.

Josiah Tidwell, former professor at Baylor many years ago, spoke of a "false sympathy" invoked by some who bewailed a Canaanite genocide (question, who was there to influence the Israelites of the next generations in Canaanite rituals, if there had been a genocide beyond the destruction of armies?), but never a tear for the Assyrian expansion of 622 B.C. or Babylonian thrusting out of Judah ca. 587 B.C. He gently reminded the eaders that the Canannite civilization was in a cultural nadir, much in the same as the degeneration of Roman culture that couldn't withstand the vigorous upstarts of the Germanic barbarian invasions. Perhaps our horrification of the Canaanites comes from failing to see that the culture that sacrifices children to sex-obsessed deities is morally exhausted and its decline only is hastened.

This seems to be the final problem. The last prophet, Malachi, had the difficulty of getting his listeners to understand their own laxity of their devotion and slow decay of their morality. They constantly countered that prophet with "How come you say this?" (Mal. 1: 2, 6, 13; 2: 14, 17; 3: 8). The problem of evil may yet be trumped by the problem of sanctimony.

"Values are not matters of fact, and so one cannot possibly "err" in what he values."
Hi Ben, I dont think you understand my point. What can be known about man, God, and sin are not value judgements, subject to the eye of the observer. They can be objectively known through the knowledge given about them. I've asked you several times, how do you come to know true things about God? You keep making statements about Him....what informs you that what you are making true statements...or are you just making stuff up that suits your predisposed/preferred outcome about Him?

I think DGFisher's post has added an important element to consider.

@Ben: So you haven't a clue how I came about the conclusion that you're enraged at God? You wrote:

"It amazes me how apologists can just repeat over and over how good and loving God is in the face of overwhelming evidence that he is in fact a hideous monster."

Sounds like some serious anger at God to me, or did I miss something?

You asked:

"You say that I've failed to "assign proper definitions" and have misunderstood "the principles involved," but you don't give any details. What do you think I have misunderstood here? What definitions have I got wrong?"

Your definition of God is not the God of the Bible. The God of Scripture is far above anything we can imagine, and there is none who can equal Him. He is ALL perfect, ALL holy, ALL righteous, ALL loving, ALL just, ALL compassionate, ALL merciful, ALL mighty. He is not one who does things our way, or sees things our way--because His ways are perfect and we are not. He is superior in every way and does not need to conform to our limited understanding of His perfection. You have called Him a hideous monster--not a correct definition by any measure.

Your view of man appears to be that he is quite superior to God--he has a better grasp of reality and how things should be done, and when they should be done, and he is completely justified in his beliefs. In truth, the unredeemed man is full of his own self-importance and pride and sin--all of which make him incapable of rightly discerning anything true regarding God.

So those are the principals I was referring to, God and man... The principles which suffer from your treatment of them are the attributes of God-His holiness, His goodness, His mercy, His love, His righteousness, His compassion--all of them! Seen through human eyes, you find them all lacking, and brazenly call them faulty. Your own limited understanding of them seems far more in tune with the god you want to see on the throne--a god of your own design who does things the way you think they should be done.

You ended your post by saying that you decided that there is no truth in His Word as quoted from Proverbs. I take that to mean that you disagree with what He says, as well as with what He does.

@BendyLine: This long post serves as the impetus for why I will not engage in some hypothetical storyline regarding the "god" in Ben's example. You're free, of course, to see that any way you want to, but to me it would be meaningless and unproductive to imagine God being anything unlike Himself (an impossibility) and myself being capable of making determinations that I am not in a position to make (another impossibility).

Carolyn,

I don't expect you to take my word for it that God is a monster. Instead, I want you to see that for yourself. I think if you look at God's actions honestly and critically, you will see that indeed they are as monstrous and sadistic as I've been saying.

That's why I wanted you to compare God's actions to what you would do in His shoes. Would you bring your loved one into the fold of Heaven? Or would you condemn your loved one to eternal torment? Surely it is the former. So why does God insist on the latter? What is it about God that makes him want to see all these people in everlasting agony?

You wrote: "Your view of man appears to be that he is quite superior to God--he has a better grasp of reality and how things should be done, and when they should be done, and he is completely justified in his beliefs."

Oh no, not at all. I am quite willing to acknowledge that God knows everything and has the power to do anything. Who can compete with such omnimax attributes? I just think it's obvious that God is misusing his enormous power.

On the other hand, we are fallible human beings and we don't see the big picture that God gets to see. So maybe we should withhold our judgment, right? But that's not what you want to do. Since you think that God is good, you must want us to be able to judge God's moral character despite not being able to know all that God knows. It's just that you judge his moral character to be good, whereas I judge it to be monstrous. But notice that I am disagreeing with YOUR judgment, not God's.

And finally, you added: "I take that to mean that you disagree with what He says, as well as with what He does."

Yes, I do disagree with what God says. It's not hard to see that He is a liar.

This:

I don't expect you to take my word for it that God is a monster.
And this :
It's not hard to see that He is a liar.

Ben, please prove the charge[s] made. If you would, please show your work...ie cite source[s] and reference[s]...afterall, it isn't just your word

btw, this is just another way of asking you to tell us how you know true things about God.

Brad,

What do you think I've been writing about this entire time? God is a monster because he wants people to be tormented for eternity, because he loves his favorite system of rules more than the well-being of conscious creatures, because he created a world full of agonizing suffering, etc. Go back and re-read my earlier posts for more details on this.

As for his lying, well, that has to do with the fear of the Lord being the beginning of knowledge. Clearly, non-Christians have great knowledge, far more in many cases than do Christians.

@Kim: Yesterday you pointed to Mark 16:17-18,

"The promise of healing in Mark 16 is not conditional, there are no ifs. It's more of a declaration than a promise, Mark 16:17 & 18: And these signs shall follow them that believe; In my name shall they cast out devils; they shall speak with new tongues; 18 They shall take up serpents; and if they drink any deadly thing, it shall not hurt them; they shall lay hands on the sick, and they shall recover." According to my NIV Bible, it notes that "The most reliable early manuscripts and other ancient witnesses do not have Mark 16:9-20."

Hi Ben, the shortcut is what we get is the opinion from someone who's blind to reality, cannot ground ethics to even objectively determine good/bad, and is therefore formally excluded from making the judgements you make. Your worldview provides no justification to argue in the first place. This is in no way an assault on your intelligence, but more an assasination of the character of your integrity and fidelity when it comes to the practice of pure reason. The truth doesn't evade you bacause of lack of ability, but from lack of desire. You prefer a worldview without grounding and logical justification to hold comprehensively coherent propositions to avoid having to deal with a worldview that begins with the proposition "God Is".

This is what is meant by "the beginning of knowledge is the fear of the Lord".

You say "God is a Monster", I can only assume that your source is biblical reference since you wont actually say where you come to this conclusion. I dont know where else you might have come to the knowledge that "God is a Monster". Maybe you have another source? Do tell puuullleeeaaassseeee!

Ben, you choose to believe that which is not true regarding God. His Word is filled with His reality, but you declare Him a liar. In John 8:47--Christ Himself said, "He who belongs to God hears what God says. The reason you do not hear is that you do not belong to God."

It is noteworthy that scripture, Love Himself, describes the entire OT geography as such: a bloody, fruitless, frustrating Taskmaster.

Love's Eternally Sacrificed Self, present in all tenses forever within the Triune, desires, offers, another Tree for Man.

Hi scbrownlhrm, good observation. This noteworthy point leads one to consider the motivation behind such a historical accounting.

The love for justice provides motivation to exact punishment....The love for goodness provides motivation to discourage evil....The love for truth provides motivation to expose lies...The love for peace provides motivation to stop those who'd threaten it.

In scripture it says that the Lord does not enjoy the punishment of the wicked, but His love for good and right is stronger than His dislike of exacting punishment and discipline. It also statees how much he despises the acts that offend His pure good commands that were set forth to teach man of the great purity he was created for...image bearers of God Himself.

Well said, Brad B. Thank you for the insights.

Kim, there are two theologies pitted against each other in our discussion. Calvinism, which says "whosoever believes will be saved", making faith a fruit of the Spirit and a characteristic of those whom God saves. And the Arminian position which says"whosoever believes will be saved", making faith a condition people must meet in order to save themselves.

If you study the Calvinistic position, you might gain a totally fresh look at the verses you are pondering.

You have a garden. On the path bordering the garden are a number of snails, slowly creeping their way towards your garden. So you step on them.

Is it unjust that among those snails were some that had never eaten of your garden, and yet died. Perhaps some of those snails were young and had neither opportunity or inclination to do so?

No. The snails were judged not because of their actions, but their nature. It is the nature of snails to eat of the garden, and it is the wont of gardeners to judge them for this.

We are snails. In fact, we are worse than snails. Snails have no real knowledge of us until they happen upon us. But it is the very nature of humans to deny the authority and existence of God and set ourselves up as petty tyrants to squabble over his realm, the realm we were supposed to rule in unity as his regents. And so this life is brutal and short, both by the active judgement of God, and the direct result our indulgence in our own self-centred struggle with him and each other.

Unless we believe ourselves to be less than snails, we will not understand the fallen nature of this world. We will believe that God owes us good things, rather than comprehending that the good things we have are a merciful gift of God, who still holds affection for us despite our best attempts to thwart him and the rebellion which is endemic to our fallen nature.

It is instructive to consider the book of Job. His friends believe in moral cause and effect: you suffer because you sinned; repent of the sin and God will remove the suffering. Yet Job knows this is false. Finally, he speaks to God and demands an answer for his sufferings. And God responds, "Are you God? Do you see all, know all?", and of course Job is not. But notice that God then declares Job as righteous and instructs his friends to bring sacrifices of repentance that Job will offer on their behalf.

Notice what happens: God tests Job to his breaking point, and then uses it to instruct Job in humility and faith. Meanwhile, Job's friends have got it all wrong: they think it's about what Job does or does not do, rather than about God.

This is the great mercy of God, that he refrains from giving us what we deserve.

Beautifully put, Andrew W.

Another noted,“’We do not live in a moral universe’ is usually followed by some level of anger at mass disaster or senseless suffering or violence. It seems we want to argue the cake doesn't exist and eat it too. I have always appreciated the brave confession of C.S. Lewis that he was once living in a whirl of contradictions. This is a difficult thing even to notice of one's life, let alone admit it aloud. Self-deception is always one of the more powerful forces of interpretation; the general human ability to see the lives of others far more critically than our own is another. Our own contradictions often exist glaringly amongst our thoughts, even as they go unnoticed.” Bertrand Russell carried this point as well from the vantage point of what is necessarily the mind of the created, and though he didn’t intend it, he brings ultimate truth and ultimate mind into a head-on collision, “The truth of a belief is something not involving beliefs or in general any mind at all but only the objects of belief. A mind which believes therefore believes truly when there is a corresponding complex of facts not involving the mind but only its objects. This correspondence ensures truth and its absence entails falsehood. Hence we account simultaneously for the two facts that beliefs: A) depend on minds for their existence and B) do not depend on minds for their truth.” Our beliefs are one thing; the truth is, or is not, something else.

Moral Rage here becomes but a fantasy about some other fantasy. Of course when it is our loved ones we know, we know it is anything but a fantasy. Ought-Not-Have just is the fact of the matter. Love’s Perfect Exemplar is found here at the end of regress.

Ben’s overall philosophy is a good example of the average reasoning here on suffering, which we all share in, and which we all wrestle with. Immutable Love, God, resolves all tensions here, but for a clear picture of Ben’s thesis, and how it ends in suffering without hope, ends void of love, ends void of good experiences (which that philosophy values above all else), ends void of volition, and ends void of what we know as Mind, you can peruse the thread in “November 01, 2012 Challenge Response: Does God Have Free Will?” All of that philosophy ends up destroying the very things we all hope for and strive for by mistakenly seeking motions into that which is Self rather than motions into that which is Other, and it ends up bringing us, inching us toward, suffering of the worst kind as we track it out to its necessary conclusions.

I just can’t escape this God Who is Love. All my anger and all my fists held high in rage are brought to the Courtroom and speak of, testify of the end of all things, the end of all my reasonings and the end of all my philosophies for I find I cannot utter a word in wrath but for Love’s immutable fusion atop, beneath, within all my elucidations. But for Love, all my songs of jurisprudence are muted.

The Courtroom which I roar against is in fact my greatest ally. The Judge with Whom we are concerned has but Hope poured out atop His Bench and only inside the Created Self's Volition shall such be lost, was lost. –Tis not God Who has set the world on fire. –Tis not God. –Tis I. Pure I. And this Judge with Whom we are concerned peers upon me. I shake my fist at His Face and then this Judge starts His offenses spewing forth across His Courtroom for He tells me to whom little is given, little is required. To whom all is given, all is required. To whom much, much. To whom nothing, nothing. And His Gavel offends my love of Law far more than these mere edicts, for Grace is not done yet. No, Grace will offend yet further. The One into Whose Hand all Judgment is given speaks an outrage and shouts from high atop His Bench this decree: They do not know, therefore, forgive them. And here all my hate of my angry atheism is refuted utterly for Love's Grace forever out-reaches all my own attempts at mercy and unties all my knots of rage I think justified. Will the Clay tell the Potter how to work? Will my love of the knowledge of Good and Evil trump God's love of me, of us, the beloved? No. Word's Corporeal, Word Made Flesh, Love incognito redeeming the world to Himself manifests all these things on all fronts and Ransoms the world and yet Ransom will not it seems destroy those fences which He Himself has Willed, which is His Image, and thus I and You and We stand intact in our possession of those motions within volition both in-to and out-of the Self, which is, that motion in-to Self, in His Triune but Life, yet is to me, that motion in-to Self, but Isolation, void of Community, thus void of Love, and love-less is but death. And His Image births too those motions in-to and out-of the Other, which is in His Triune but Life, which is for me, that motion in-to Love’s Other, but Joy, but Community amid E Pluribus Unum. This Image and these Motions are found uncreated in Love's Triune where Uncreated Community regresses to embrace. Grace stands wide open though it is said that such shall not always be the case. I haven’t a clue the how of it. Delight, it seems, will lead in-to or out-of and then a Door, an Age, a Cosmos will close and this my darkness, this my natal labor will there end as confinement finally shatters this my mutable skin laced with pain from A to Z.

There is nothing fair in Love's Motions streaming down which we call Grace. Nothing fair at all. I am but Need. I cry for help and in response I sense but the pain of this bloody womb’s tonic contractions piercing through. Water breaks. Blood pours out. –Tis not fair! Yet this my eyes then see as my wearied head in labor begins to crown into the light of Day: There is no fairness in any issue at all where God-In-Man, Man-In-God comes into play. There is only sheer impossibility but by the Power of the All-Sufficient, Immutable Love, Who Alone can fashion such amalgamations. I haven’t a clue the how of it. The Created-Self just finds that it cannot ever in actuality pull the Uncreated into itself regardless of what it, in itself, ever does. We find here just no series of actions "bad enough" to shun the offensive Grace of this Judge with Whom we are concerned. We find here just no series of actions "good enough" by which In-Sufficiency can force the hand of All-Sufficiency. We are but Need. Man's love towards Love Himself only stands to gain, to receive into, to be filled-up, to be glorified. Love's love towards Man only stands to lose, to pour out, to empty, to be debased. We his beloved are glorified. He our Groom is debased. We can only Rise. He can only Fall. The Uncreated, it seems, must spread His arms wide, and pour Himself out, there in Love's Eternally Sacrificed Self, and offer the All Sufficient Cup, and the Insufficient, having thus swallowed up, and having thus been swallowed up by, All-Sufficiency, then finds in itself a Sufficiency of which it had not formally known.

We may in good faith perhaps note the action of two wills there within Man's Volition via "swallowed up" and within Power's Will via "swallowed up by". But, we must note, that without the passions of the later, the former has no hope. Love makes in the sparrow that which soars, and the sparrow should it soar in obedience cannot steal glory for itself, for what it has it has from Love’s Cup, and in soaring it glorifies Him and no other. No, obeying does not steal glory for the Self, but only glorifies the Other for the Creature in its proper mode is declared by our Potter to be but Good, and all Good things are from His Hand, and no other. If the sparrow should disobey, it must there fall lifeless, and here too Love will have His glory, for He Himself will there fall lifeless, and, having thus poured out, restore again this poor sparrow’s wings, who yet again may fly, and yet again does but that which has been poured into it. In obedience and disobedience the Creature is but a song in praise of Love’s Delight upon it. All Good things are from above.


It seems both are very present, this former “swallowed up” and this later “swallowed up by”, and we simply cannot deny these two motions of these two wills, for we find Volitions' Motions willed by Power fully intact on His command and we also find Power's Will fully intact on Necessity, each from A to Z, and both are on all counts but by Him, nor can we deny that the later passion of Love’s Will gets all the glory whether the Creature be found in obedience or in its former disobedience now rescued, for, but for Love’s Passions, the Creature is on all fronts hopeless, for it is just not sufficient in its own Self, no matter what it does. Shall In-Sufficiency use legs granted it by Power to walk and thus walk and thereby fail to glorify He Who fashions legs? If anything exists, it exists but by Love’s Hand. If the creature finds in itself that it chooses, then it chooses but by Love’s grant of His Own Image of Self-Other within the Whole of E Pluribus Unum, and thus even in choosing it glorifies Him and no other, for what legs has any but that which Power grants? The Creature in its proper mode cannot glorify itself. If Man soars then he soars in his proper mode granted by Love’s grant of His Own Image. If he falls to the ground then he falls by his own volition thus granted, and here too Love is lifted up for He yet loves, yet rescues and yet again we find but His Hand and no other as the creature can seek, but it cannot save, yet Love Himself can, and does, save, the creature can cry for help, but it cannot rescue, though Love Himself can, and does, rescue. It is said that In-Sufficiency will one day find All-Sufficiency, the God Who is love, filling it up, surrounding it, beneath it, above it, ad infinitum, and there in that final amalgamation of Man-In-God, God-In-Man, Word’s Corporeal, it will find in itself a Sufficiency of which it had not formally known. This Tree called Life is found from A to Z.

In my original comment I stated that the death of that little boy in our congregation was just one of the many things that pushed me over the edge into my crisis of faith. Within a few months of each other my eldlerly father who I adored committed suicide. (My mother had died of cancer when I was very young and I grew up very much a daddy's girl.) My godly mother-in-law died of brain injuries after a fall, and a very dear godly friend of mine perished in a fire while saving his family. Before all of this I had a childlike, Joel Osteen-type view of God. I saw God as my Abba Father. One who held me to His breast as a shepherd does his beloved lamb. One who surrounds me with His angels and protects me in all of my ways. Even though I've studied the Bible in depth, it doesn't make sense to me anymore. I no longer trust its promises. I can't reconcile what the Bible says with what I see in real life. I can't reconcile it with modern science. I don't know what to do with the contradictions and chronological errors. I don't know how to reconcile the God of extreme love with the God of incredible wrath. I can't reconcile the God of infinite power and intelligence who created an incredibly vast and complicated universe with the God who gave some seemingly ridiculous and petty laws and commands in the OT. I'm disillusioned and dismayed that I may never again have the sweet fellowship that I once experienced with God. I mostly keep my angst to myself out of love and out of the fact that I don't want to shake up my world. My husband loves God with his whole being. We've built and enjoyed a wonderful life together and I love him with all of my heart. I could never hurt him by revealing the depth of my questioning. All of my dearest friends and family are extremely devout Christians who would be devastated if they knew what's going on inside of me. Thank you for allowing me to ramble and share what I can't share with anyone else in my life. Anonymity is a wonderful thing.

Hi Kim, get specific with one of these irriconcilable/contradictions....either you are interpreting the bible wrong or the science/experience. I spent years and years with similar questions about how to reconcile what I saw and experienced in the world with what was being told me on Sunday. A time came when I began getting catechized elsewhere and came to realize that my church and pastor were keeping me from maturity. Look for answers to your questions in historic Protestant books and writers. A good resource is R.C. Sproul, Ligonier Ministries.

A childlike view of God is for babes, maybe He's urging you to maturity, this doesn't mean He not overseeing everything with His full attention at His breast.

David said "thy rod and thy staff, they comfort me. A rod of discipline is not pleasant when it is experienced, but it can be much more meaningful if you have ultimate trust in the Discipline-r.

Kin I think Goat Head 5 had a key earlier.

The loss of a loved one is unequaled pain.

I know this probably won't help but on the loss of his loved one CS Lewis found the silence of God to be absurd, "Knock and it shall be opened. But does knocking mean hammering and kicking the door like a maniac?" He found the pain of the loss to be obscene, "The death of a beloved is an amputation." He found the repetitive pain absurdly obscene, "How often -- will it be for always? -- how often will the vast emptiness astonish me like a complete novelty and make me say, "I never realized my loss till this moment"? The same leg is cut off time after time." And he found religion hollow, "...don't come talking to me about the consolations of religion or I shall suspect that you don't understand..." From "A Grief Observed" (by C.S. Lewis)

Prayers are for you.

Kim I think Goat Head 5 had a key earlier.

The loss of a loved one is unequaled pain.

I know this probably won't help but on the loss of his loved one CS Lewis found the silence of God to be absurd, "Knock and it shall be opened. But does knocking mean hammering and kicking the door like a maniac?" He found the pain of the loss to be obscene, "The death of a beloved is an amputation." He found the repetitive pain absurdly obscene, "How often -- will it be for always? -- how often will the vast emptiness astonish me like a complete novelty and make me say, "I never realized my loss till this moment"? The same leg is cut off time after time." And he found religion hollow, "...don't come talking to me about the consolations of religion or I shall suspect that you don't understand..." From "A Grief Observed" (by C.S. Lewis)

Prayers are for you.

Kim,

I'm sorry for the double post. My own faith rests on, to be honest, calls for help answered. There was uncomfortable waiting. I've found that in calling, and in waiting, He, Love Himself, shows up. The waiting is hard. Very hard. I like Goat Head 5's post to you earlier.


Again, prayers are for you.

Dave, Dave.... Dave. You made the Goat Head laugh!

"And the Arminian position which says"whosoever believes will be saved", making faith a condition people must meet in order to save themselves."

You might want, Dave, to study up on "Arminian positions" before you make absurd statements and set up ridiculous straw men.

I would suggest Roger Olson's "Arminian Theology, Myths and Realities" as an antidote to your ignorance.

Goat Head 5

(If this seems off-topic, I would ask the moderator to delete my post; thank you!)

I just purchased a child's DVD made by a well-known Christian writer, speaker and pastor's wife, based upon a book she wrote. I watched it first before taking the liberty of giving it to a special child in my life. It is biblically based, in that the stories told revolve around specific Bible verses, BUT...the execution of the film perpetuates some rather infantile thinking when it comes to God. While I realize it's made for small children, nonetheless, it reinforces beginning foundational ideas which seem to stay with people as they grow older. Specifically, I'm referring to the concept of God's "protection"; this little film uses ideas which seem to say to a child, "You have no need to be concerned about anything because I am with you and will protect you from every bad thing in the world." Sounds like a nice, comforting thought. But an astute child has only to ask, "Wasn't God with my friend Angela when she got cancer and died, Mommy?" Sadly, I think people who promote the thinking in this DVD have not stopped to consider how these concepts get established as the bedrock of grown-up belief. Consequently, when storms virtually drown us with pain and sorrow, we decide that our "faith" doesn't work.

I can feel the tremendous pain Kim has experienced and my heart aches for it and for her. Losses which hit us out of left field over and over again can be devastating. I know I will be received with daggers for the next remarks, but I feel very strongly that I must say them: there are churches out there which teach concepts about God and faith that are, to my mind, crippling and demoralizing people who want to belong to Christ. They offer trite, pat answers to deep issues about Christianity and dismiss anyone who does not buy into them as "not really Believers or Christians". They leave people clinging to flimsy notions for their lifeline and, when those notions are battered in real life, they chide that more faith is needed. I have seen this over and over again, and I am always astounded that the victims of this charade are so steadfast in their unquestioning acceptance of these troubling concepts, that they cannot articulate a coherent objection to the notions in the first place. Kudos to you, Kim, for recognizing the deception of a candy-flavored "faith" experience; it goes down easy, but it doesn't fit the illness. Joel Osteen is a prime example of this kind of potion-peddler; just seeing his name mentioned was a red flag. And he is only one of many, many charlatans out there.

There is MEAT in the Word of God and we are admonished not to be content with milk! Even the milk we serve to the little child must represent the TRUTH of the Word. God will NOT protect us from every harm in this world--He promises to go through it with us! Children might not yet grasp the full significance of this, but as adult Believers we should cherish this as imminently comforting in its truth! He KNOWS our losses--He Himself GAVE His Son to die--for lousy sinners like us. He KNOWS, and He promises to go through our losses with us. Inevitably, someone will reach in and grab a verse that seems to say that "God will indeed protect us from everything bad" (like Deut. 31:6-8), but this is a misappropriation of the verse. Simply because it's in the text does not mean it was written specifically for someone today in their particular situation; the whole textual counsel and content must be examined and, certainly, the overarching concepts will be useful to us as Believers. That does not mean that every verse is available to be plucked out and used as a "proof" of the thing we want it to apply to.

The time is short. We cannot afford to languish in "faith" devoid of Truth. We cannot afford to drink milk any longer! Faith cannot stand under the scrutiny of the world when all we have to answer is placating words. The faith we must stand with is in the person of Jesus Christ. His words were not just directed to three year olds who cannot discern their full meaning; they were given as our very bread--that we might grow and flourish, not wither and die.

Goat Head 5, thanks for recommending that I look into Greg Boyd's books on Open Theism. What exactly is Open Theism? Please describe it on a level that this pea brain can comprehend.

Carolyn, thanks for your comments, there'll be no daggers from me. Could you recommend a path of deprogramming and rebuilding of my faith? Thanks.

Hello, Kim,

Perhaps the best way to respond is by suggesting you try what I did upon leaving the "religion" of my youth. (Leaving was the only option because there was a huge disconnect between what was preached and the answers or lack of answers given to questions which were raised.)

While some of my ideas about God were sound, there were LOTS of wrong ideas. The journey began with praying a terribly childlike and pretty darn defensive prayer--that God, IF He really existed, would reveal Himself to me so I could know Truth and not be misled any longer. Then began the reading of His Word, in depth, for myself-- and noting things that seemed new or that suddenly presented themselves through a different lens--absent the digested version fed previously. That began a journey and quest that is ever continuing even after 35 years. Paradoxically, my soul was like a sponge that was always thirsty for more, and yet never disappointed with what it soaked up.

Listening in earnest to apologists who were into the meat of Scripture, and participating in lecture series on faith helped grow deep roots. STR's website has had a huge impact on this faith walk and is full of incredible resources to build up knowledge and confidence in God. Attending a believing church was another beginning step--one which encouraged each person to get into the Word and discuss potential problems we found, through research and study. There have been many over the years, largely due to multiple house moves; other times they were changed due to their wavering from orthodoxy or refusal to address unpopular subjects. Countless women's Bible Studies have helped foster the desire to search deeper and deeper into Scripture and build a strong and certain foundation in Christ.

Assembling a well-rounded library of Christian resource material was really helpful. Having a great concordance, commentaries on Scripture, etc. and challenging reading materials opens our eyes to the incredible bottomless well which is Christianity, and to see its impact upon history as well.

Practicing discernment is going to be very key. There are so many people out there who seem like they're speaking from a Christian perspective, but are doing everything BUT that. When we know His Word ourselves, because we have really searched it on our own, it's much easier to detect when we're being led down some other path. There are SOME outspoken "charismatic" congregations out there which have dumbed down Scripture to the point of being ridiculous, whose adherents are in a nearly brainwashed state, unable to see the conflict between key pet verses and the whole of Scripture. My prayer for you is (and will be) that you will be able to rightly divide the Truth.

Kim, this is worth the time and effort it will take. You will emerge from it with restored hope in the only One who is worthy of that hope. May God gently lead you through the tangle of tears and sorrows you've experienced and restore you to a richer, solid faith that cannot be shaken loose because of circumstances.

In Christ,
Carolyn

Hi Kim, I'd advise you to peruse what mainstream Chrsitian theologians and what STR's Greg Koukle has to say about "open theism" before you spend any money buying a book. Koukl in his radio program 1/13/2013 speaks briefly but difinitively that open theism is a mistaken and damaging view and is an assasination on the character of God. You can look up the podcast on this site and see the line up to find the call/answer.

Carolyn's advice to you is sound,[both x's] and I would add that if you aren't getting serious questions answered from those set over you in the faith, start looking elsewhere.

Carolyn I can't thank you enough for taking the time to share part of your own journey and for the sound advice and counsel you've given me. I will take all that you've said to heart and walk it out step by step.

Brad, thanks for the heads up regarding open theism. The last thing I need right now is to go down another wrong path.

My apologies to the group for hijacking this thread. It wasn't my intention to do so, but it just kind of snowballed and a dam inside me broke. Thanks for your patience.

The problem with open theism is that it only focuses on what the Son knows, and ignores the Father. As if the Triune is not "both" one and three. Knowing just is contextual. Contextually triune, that is.

Kim, you are most welcome--hope some of it is helpful in your journey. No apologies needed for the exchanges here; this happens often as our dams burst and we face deep issues in our lives. It took courage for you to face your crisis of faith, and I praise God for this site which addresses thought-provoking questions and lets us get things out in the open. Thank you, STR, for all you do to prod and challenge us!

Concerning Open Theism,

Go straight to the horse's mouth at reknew.org for info.

As far as Brad B.'s comment: "open theism is a mistaken and damaging view and is an assasination on the character of God", that is the exact comment I would have about his "reformed" views about God.

So. I would suggest going straight to the source rather than making decisions on ignorant hearsay.

Goat Head 5

"is the exact comment I would have about his "reformed" views about God."
Well, fyi Goat Head, those are Koukls words...not a direct quote, but his words nonetheless. Koukle isn't actually associated with a Reformed congregation, he's been on the White Horse Inn with Horton Rosenbladt and Riddlebarger, [Reformed, Lutheran, and Reformed] and gotten along famously many times. Either way, just because someone is Reformed or not, has no bearing on the truth or falsity of this novel view which has never been endorsed by the historic church, but I'm sure we'll have a chance to explore at some other time.

Why would God Allow Pain and Suffering?

Simple/short answer: SOMETHING IS WRONG!

Brad B

I wonder, on what location to you place glory there in Eden in those motions of choosing to eat from the allowed options for who knows how long prior to choosing the evil fruit? Choosing is as, say, seeing or breathing. The eye and the diaphragm are but gifts and the employment thereof cannot "steal glory". I may be wrong, but I think you may view God's gift to us to choose as something we cannot then employ to trust Him lest we are "better" than one who employs that same muscle to trust, not Him, but one's self. I speak here of pre-fall and post resurrection, not of the wasteland in between. There are no muscles which are not from above. I think we can be yet cut off, though not always will that be so. Even that though is my use of a leg which is from above and is a glory to Him, as is the wing of the sparrow employed in flight.

I know we see differently a bit in these nuances, but on Adam's eating of allowed fruit prior to his fall, is such a theft of credit in your view? The bit about being cut off I'm not asking here, its only mentioned to equate the New to the Prefall, which no one need grant me.

Qualification:

If Adam's eating of allowed fruit prefall is NOT a theft of credit in your view, I there do NOT consider that a concession on your end that the New Adam here (post resurrection and pre-new-City of God) is the SAME fabric as Eden's Adam. I'm just curious about your view of prefall muscles and credit and so on.

Brad B,

I should clarify that I hold that Man obeyed for "awhile", perhaps a long time, in obedience prior to our fall. I'm only focusing there. I don't think such would be a credit to Man. The muscle is but God's.

Jesus' seemingly harsh statement on "Do you expect reward for obeying? Its your minimal duty...." may be less harsh sounding in this context.

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