Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Big questions - response to a blog

The following is from the July 23 entry of the blog http://heroesheretics.wordpress.com/ . His/her coments are in the italicized quotes and bolded, mine follow.

“None of the commenters explain why the choice of Adam and Eve is inherited. Why couldn’t God let each individual choose? Maybe Abel wouldn’t have screwed up, why is he damned for what dad did? Couldn’t God offer the tree to him as well? God apparently changed human nature because of the act of these two. The closest to an answer to this is that the act somehow cracked the mold of humanity or a spiritual law caused it to happen.”

What if the Garden was a probation? That as long as Adam and Eve obeyed the simple laws given, relationship with God was ensured with no barriers. If they had children at this point I assume they would have been given the same opportunity. How long would it last? I don't know. The barriers came up when the decision to disobey was put into action. Could the world have been a different place if Adam and Eve had decided to obey? I expect the answer would be yes. Is it moral how God set it up? I believe it lines up with who God is, His character, yes. Oh, and I am damned by what I did, as you are by what you have done.

I have come to the point of belief and faith in this God, so my pursuit is to understand His infiniteness in my finiteness. There could be a whole different explanation that makes total sense to you or I but we just haven't thought of it yet. To say with confidence that this is all wrong is to have a certain amount of pride in your (and humanity's) level of intelligence and thought. It is always easy to prove something "wrong" through lack of understanding a reality that is beyond you. This isn't personal, talk to me about quantum physics and I could with confidence say certain things are wrong, simply because that experience is beyond me.

If a characteristic of God as stated in the Bible doesn't seem correct or to make sense to me (or you), it may be my (mis)understanding of how an eternal God exists and thinks, that is at fault, rather than God Himself who is whacked out. As I understand you in your pursuit of knowing God, you are trying to dispel all the things that don't make sense to you, whether it is the traditional God of Bob the Believer or the Allah of Mohammed. Who is God to you now? I see that all this “traditional” stuff doesn’t make sense to you. Do you trust the Bible as an authoritative voice as His revelation? If not, why even bother with this "Christian" God? I find it odd that people will use parts of the Bible to show why God is evil or doesn't make sense as if those passages are inspired, but then try to discredit other passages as if those ones are wrong (using the ones you have picked out as “right”. It gets to be pretty arbitrary. If your role is to discredit the Bible by showing inconsistencies, that is a different argument. Either accept the Bible and use the Bible as your starting point (i.e., what does this passage mean when it says this about God?), or reject it and search for God somewhere else. To argue that something doesn’t make sense to your own moral logic only goes as far as you – you can’t say something doesn’t make sense because the whole universe agrees with me, where’s the logic in that?

“But more importantly, there was really no attempt to explain why killing his son is the way to get rid of original sin. There is talk about having someone perfect to take on the sins. How does Jesus dying help at all?”

Why is death the penalty (or payment) of sin? I think the answer has to do with separation. The act of creation was about life, about existence. Physically, death separates the breathing part of us (our soul/spirit) from the physical part of us (and all other things that are physically based - life). Spiritual death is the separation of our spirit from God's presence. Sin produces that separation because it is anything against/outside of God's character. For us as humans, God provided the way to bridge that separation by conquering death, which the Bible seems to indicate wasn't an afterthought of the Garden. The choice wasn't about whether to give man free will or not - that is part of the image of God. God’s choice was creation in the first place. It is free will that necessitated the choice in the Garden, for how can you have free will without choice? And knowing that there was a choice, God also knew that a created being could not live up to the same standard of who He was (deity), and so along with creation the plan of salvation was created at the same time in the Godhead.

“But there is no explanation of why Adam wronging God should affect me. How is a God that creates all of the suffering in the world because of one act at all just or merciful?”

I notice that we are descendents of Adam and Eve, and not created out of dust like them. It is that descendent stuff that causes the sin nature to be inherited. It part of man's creation to have babies and descendents, to be fruitful and multiply. Does a baby die in sin at 2 months? I don't believe that. I believe in an age of accountability (that is different for different people) where a person becomes responsible for their actions not just before men, but before God. The sin issue is universal. God didn’t create the suffering, and it wasn’t just one act. Suffering is the result of actions of people today – the murderer, the greedy power broker, the gossip who kills with words, the rapist, the self-righteous who don’t help others…

“And none of the commenters explain the necessity of sending Jesus. First, I don’t see how that it really changed anything. When we are “saved” by Jesus, we are just as selfish and sinful. Nothing changed in human nature with the coming of Jesus, and believers are no less selfish than others. If sending God was supposed to save us from original sin, why all of this talk about us still being sinful? If believing in Jesus made us less sinful you might have a case, but clearly Christians are just as prone to sin as anyone else.”

The Bible clearly states we have everything at our disposal to live without sinning. It is not will power or strength of character. It is by surrendering our will to the will of God through the work of the Holy Spirit in us. Read Romans 8 for a great discussion on this. This is at the heart of the struggle of free will. It also answers the question, “Why was I created?” The short answer is so that we could become more like Jesus in our attitudes, words, and actions. We don’t become little gods, but our character begins to reflect the character of God. A great verse in 2 Corinthians 3 gives us the analogy of a mirror. When we look in it we should be seeing Jesus looking back at us – we should be reflecting God’s character in our life, primarily through loving our neighbour as our self. Don’t judge God by how people behave, even those who say they follow Him. The Bible is filled with how lousy we are at following God. Maybe some people failed because they were too busy talking about the Law and theology and philosophy that they gave little thought to what they should be doing to help others. Jesus clearly stated that people will know His disciples by their actions (primarily love).

And from Juy 31 about free will and sin:

"The problem of evil is how there can be evil in a world if God is all powerful and all good. One common answer to this is the argument from free will: God allows evil in the world, because only if there is evil can there be free will. We must be free to choose good or bad. This argument assumes that free will is one of the greatest goods, so God allows evil in order to allow the greater good of free will."

The choice (free will) wasn't between good and evil, the choice was to obey God or not. Evil is a result of the choice, not the other way around. Free will didn't come with sin, it came with the creation of man. You still have that choice today. Are you going to shoplift something or pay for it? Are you going to cheat on an exam, or study hard and do your best? Are you going to ignore your neighbour who needs help because you think he stinks, or extend grace to him and see what you can do to help?

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