Monday, January 14, 2008

Miss the right turn? Recalculating...

Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you, saying, "This is the way; walk in it."
-- Isaiah 30:21

It struck me as I was taking my birthday present, a GPS (Global Positioning System), out for a test run. How much easier it would be if believers had a GWPS (God's Will Positioning System) that would give such clear and precise directions for the turns of our lives.

"Turn right in 500 feet to meet future spouse." "Continue in present career for six years." "Donate $50 to Loaves & Fishes food bank in one mile on left."

Instead, discernment is hard. We stumble along, making the best decisions we can, never quite sure if it's the right path -- listening hard after taking a step for that voice that whispers "This is the way." And sometimes we can hear it in the peace that fills us after the decision is made.

"Turn left on I-85 in 0.5 miles," the helpful woman in my GPS advised. I decided to ignore her. "Turn left on I-85," the GPS insisted. No.

I glanced nervously at the little device, half expecting a lecture: "What do you think you are doing? Turn around, you fool! How do you expect to get anywhere if you don't follow directions?"

What I heard instead was one word: "Recalculating." Then Ms. GPS (Graciously Patient System?) gave me another turn, an alternate way to get back on track from where I was.

I thought then of all the times that, oblivious, I miss a turn in my life. Of all the times that, willful, I go left when I know I need to bear right. Of all the times I force God to say -- with a sigh, perhaps? -- "Recalculating."

But that's the encouraging part. It doesn't matter how far we wander off course, the GWPS directs us home from wherever we are. Whether we turn to the right or the left, the voice tells us the way from there. Wherever we are at this moment is the beginning of the right path.

It's an imperfect metaphor, of course. I choose where the GPS takes me, but God is not a tool to guide us where we want to go -- unless the destination we most desire is to be close to God. In my better moments, that's exactly where I want to be.

Driving down the recalculated route, I start humming "Amazing Grace." "... I once was lost but now am found ..."

--

Where do you hope your life will go? How do you know when you are on the right path?

57 comments:

D.J. said...

"Instead, discernment is hard. We stumble along, making the best decisions we can, never quite sure if it's the right path.."

Indeed, discernment is hard, and it is a lifelong calling for the Christian. However, we do have a system of direction through the Scriptures, a guide telling us with certainty what the will of God is. One of the saddest things is to see professing Christians desperately asking "What is God's will for me?" while neglecting the volumes of revelation God has given us on exactly that topic. Praise be to God that we don't stumble around blindly but that we can walk confidently knowing that his word is "a lamp to our feet and a light to our path." Discernment in the face of life's events is a daunting task, but when we lean on the revelation of God's will through his word it is, by his grace, an achievable task.

Soli Deo Gloria

Anonymous said...

DJ: "telling us with certainty what the will of God is"

So you are claiming that you know for certain what the will of God is?

Wow, what a statement!

Sincerely,
Iztok

Anonymous said...

Discernment is a mark of spiritual maturity that even the most mature person can fail in. dj has a point in that the Word never fails. There are many lights to our path within it. However, we can still be at a point were all of the choices/possible outcomes line up with scripture and it is that point at which discernment for God's direct will can be difficult to distinguish, imo. Discernment is more than "figuring out God's will" - many times it is related to wisdom in the Bible. And wisdom is many times depicted as quiet and still. It is not out screaming in the market place like ignorance is.

I like the idea of recalculating here though. Because God is a God of redemption. As many times as he calls us to forgive our brother, he forgives us the same. So that when we foolishly veer off the course he has set for us, He will recalculate to get us back on course.

The trick to it all is to not get off in the first place. The grace is to know, that no matter what the voice of the enemy convinces you of - you can ALWAYS recalculate and turn back.

DJ, people are people. I can understand your frustration (if I am reading your tone correctly) and relate to it - because why should we allow the failure in the first place? Why aren't we always up to snuff enough to listen intently?
Because we aren't. Period. Where would the need for Christ be if we could alway walk the line the "right way"?

But I would say that the will of God is that we should love him with our whole hearts, and all of our mind body and soul and then love our neighbour as we love ourself.

just my 2 cents. I'm not here to argue.

Anonymous said...

"But I would say that the will of God is that we should love him with our whole hearts, and all of our mind body and soul and then love our neighbour as we love ourself."

Hm... sounds familiar. Perhaps you should live in North Korea.

Sincerely,
Iztok

pornstudent said...

Jane - "Where do you hope your life will go? How do you know when you are on the right path?"

I have a few things I'd like to do. We're going to do some camping this year. Maybe travel the Caribbean. I'd like to meet some people to enjoy life with.

On some things I make a pro and con list. If it's a financial decision, I make sure I cover all the details and opportunity costs. On day to day stuff I try to chill, go with the flow, take it easy. I try to keep things in perspective.

I don't think there is a RIGHT path, just one I choose or happen to end up on. Hopefully I'll stay out of trouble.

sky said...

Iztok,
Apparently you failed to read the purpose of this blog. We are not here to question or criticize the beliefs of others... we are here to discuss them in a respectful manner.

DJ is talking about the bible, not himself, and the quote you mocked was from Jesus. He called it "the greatest commandment" and communist countries hate it more than anyone.

Anonymous said...

sky, what was quoted is exactly what is expected from people of North Korea. Life there evolves around constant worship of Great Leader and Dear Leader. I guess they are one short of trinity so it is not quite the same (yet).

Sincerely,
Iztok

get a life. said...

BLAH BLAH BLAH BLAH

D.J. said...

Anon #3,

Great thoughts, especially your comments relating discernment to wisdom. I think my tone did likely come off as a little more frustrated than it should have been. Certainly we all fail in exercising wise discernment, and in those moments the grace of Christ is more than sufficient. None of us have arrived, and we should be patient with one another in our struggles. The point I was trying to make was an expression of sadness that many people run around looking for God's will in all their life's details while completely disregarding those areas of his will which Scripture clearly reveals to us. We tend to trust personal experience more than divine revelation, which is tragic.

I was likely a little too frustrated when I posted that yesterday and I apologize if that affected the tone of the post. Praise be to God for his grace, and may we never neglect his word.

Soli Deo Gloria

D.J. said...

Iztok,

"So you are claiming that you know for certain what the will of God is?

Wow, what a statement!"

Please note the context of my claim. I don't claim a personal hotline from which God gives me inside information. I do, however, claim that through Scripture we can know the will of God with absolute certainly in certain areas. After all, Scripture claims to be exactly that - revelation from God. I can know with certainty that it is the will of God for me to repent of and turn from my sinful behaviors and attitudes, for me to put my full faith and trust in Christ, for me to in every situation seek to bring glory to God rather than to myself, for me to be united with other believers in worship, study, prayer, and fellowship, and for me to at every opportunity hold out the light of the gospel to those who, like me, so desperately need it, whether they realize it or not. Because of the testimony of Scripture, I can say with certainty that it is the will of God for me to do those things. That is quite a statement - a simultaneously comforting and challenging statement on which I have gladly staked my life.

Soli Deo Gloria

Nick said...

I know I'm probably in the minority here, but I don't believe hearing the voice of God is a normative practice for Christians today. (Nor was it in the Bible) I also don't place stock when people say they "feel led." (I challenge readers to look up the three times where the Bible speaks of being led by the Spirit and see if they can get our modern doctrine from it.)

Decisions we make are not to be made on the basis so much of correct or incorrect but on the basis of moral vs. immoral. Since future spouse was mentioned and I am a young single guy, I will use marriage as an example.

Is there just one girl out there I'm supposed to find and marry and if I don't, I've screwed up God's plan for my life? Well, not likely.

Instead, I can turn to a book like Proverbs and see what kind of woman I am told to marry. I can look in the Pauline epistles and find the standards by which I am to live a married life. I can turn to Jesus's teachings on marriage and divorce to find out how serious this is. I can also look and see what kind of husband I am to believe.

I think this is where we need to be heading back to. Not the "Does God want me to invest in this company?" as much as "Would this be a moral action that would get me closer to holiness?"

Anonymous said...

"Where do you hope your life will go? How do you know when you are on the right path?"

Where do I hope my life will go?

Honestly I don't see any particular direction. Only thing I really know is that I want to be able to help a young girl in my home reach her full potential. It will take a lot of time and a lot of resources (about $1000 a month for next two years in tuition at a learning center to help her catch up to her grade level) but with some sacrifice we should be able to achieve that for her. I know this is not something glorious but helping one child at the time is something I can do.

How do I know I am on the right path?

Well I would say when a child that found shelter in my home started to call me dad I knew I was on the right path.

Sincerely,
Iztok

Anonymous said...

"sky, what was quoted is exactly what is expected from people of North Korea. Life there evolves around constant worship of Great Leader and Dear Leader. I guess they are one short of trinity so it is not quite the same (yet).

Sincerely,
Iztok"

Iztok, there is a difference, the Great Leader and Dear Leader (soi-dissant) of North Korea are just human beings.

God is God. There is a big difference. He is all-wise, all-knowing, and all-powerful He made us, and if he wished to, he could unmake us simply by the sheer exercise of His will.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous, how do you KNOW Great Leader is just a human? After all he is running the country from beyond!

Also: "God is God. There is a big difference. He is all-wise, all-knowing, and all-powerful He made us, and if he wished to, he could unmake us simply by the sheer exercise of His will."

Is God willing to prevent evil, but not able? Then he is not omnipotent.
Is he able, but not willing? Then he is malevolent.
Is he both able and willing? Then whence cometh evil?
Is he neither able nor willing? Then why call him God? (Epicurus)

Sincerely,
Iztok

sky said...

Iztok said:
"Is God willing to prevent evil, but not able? Then he is not omnipotent.
Is he able, but not willing? Then he is malevolent.
Is he both able and willing? Then whence cometh evil?
Is he neither able nor willing? Then why call him God? (Epicurus)"

He gave us free will. He tells us how He wishes we would live, but the choice is still ours. You spoke of wanting to "help a young girl in my home reach her full potential.", that's a wonderful desire... but there will come a time when she will have to choose for herself, how she want's to live her life. When that comes, you will have no choice but to let her... even if you know she will suffer because of it. Because that's life.

God wants to be worshipped and loved, but it isn't worship or love if you don't have the choice not to. That's free will.

pornstudent said...

Sky,
There is much horror that happens in the world that has nothing to do with free will,eg, disease, earthquakes and tornadoes. There is much cruelty in nature that has nothing to do with people, eg, a cat's enjoyment at tormenting mice.

If I were as smart as God is supposed to be I could have made a world where all the animals are vegetarians. I'm not even a very loving person, but that's the way I would have done it.

It is illogical that there is an all-wise, all-powerful and loving Creator.

D.J. said...

Pornstudent,

"There is much horror that happens in the world that has nothing to do with free will,eg, disease, earthquakes and tornadoes."

Of course, Scripture does tell us that human sin has stained all of creation, and that all of creation now groans for its eventual redemption by Christ's sacrifice.

"It is illogical that there is an all-wise, all-powerful and loving Creator."

Unless, of course, God has a plan and a purpose in which the acts of evil men (Genesis 50) and natural disasters and disease (Job) are ultimately used for his glory and our good (Romans 8:28).

Soli Deo Gloria

pornstudent said...

DJ - "Scripture does tell us that human sin has stained all of creation.."

This person, God, has all the world suffering because a man didn't obey him. Very petty and cruel.

DJ - "God has a plan and a purpose in which the acts of evil men and natural disasters and disease are for his glory and our good"

Making excuses for God. Following this logic we should welcome more horrors and cruelty.

Anonymous said...

Nick: "He gave us free will. He tells us how He wishes we would live, but the choice is still ours. You spoke of wanting to "help a young girl in my home reach her full potential.", that's a wonderful desire... but there will come a time when she will have to choose for herself, how she want's to live her life. When that comes, you will have no choice but to let her... even if you know she will suffer because of it. Because that's life.

God wants to be worshipped and loved, but it isn't worship or love if you don't have the choice not to. That's free will."

Here is the thing.

1. God itself doesn't have free will, does he?

2. We were created in his image. (How come we are not invisible and how come we have free will?)

3. God (if exists) is an atheist. (If it is good enough for him it is good enough for me.)

More importantly:

4. My love to my daughter comes unconditionally. If she returns the love, so be it, if doesn't so what. I am not going to punish her for not loving or not accepting me. Your God does punish people who do not love/accept him, doesn't he?

5. Earthquakes, tornadoes, etc... are not our doing, yet it seems we get punished for it.

6. In our society it is not acceptable to be punished for someone else's doings. Yet it seems that (just?) God is punishing us for what Adam and Eve did (they were framed anyway)? Where is justice in that?

7. Only requirement for reward of heaven is acceptance of God. So it is easy to say that those who did a lot of good and lived life without doing anything bed will get punished in hell for eternity if they don't believe in God (well to be honest, they apparently have to choose the right God in the first place, because if they choose wrong one - amongst hundreds of choices - they will go to hell anyway). Where is justice in that? Compared to a Christian who goes around murdering people and at the end confesses and pledges his allegiance to Jesus.

Sincerely,
Iztok

pornstudent said...

This concept of God is not only petty and cruel, but unjust.

D.J. said...

Iztok,

To respond to your points...

1) Of course God has free will - he is sovereignly in control of all things.

2) When Scripture says that we were created in the image of God it indicates that we share many of the characteristics of God - we are creative, emotive, intelligent, relational beings, unique among all creation. This does not mean that we share ALL of God's characteristics (as Scripture itself states in Isaiah 45:5-6, "I am Yahweh, and there is no other, besides me there is no God; I equip you, though you do not know me, that people may know, from the rising of the sun and from the west, that there is none besides me; I am Yahweh, and there is no other.")

3) This assertion is simply laughable. God believes in a supreme being - himself.

4) God punishes people for sin. Also, please not a fundamental difference - you are not a being deserving of ultimate love and worship, nor does beholding your glory grant ultimate and eternal satisfaction. To understand my point, please check out this article by pastor/theologian John Piper...

http://www.desiringgod.org/ResourceLibrary/TasteAndSee/ByDate/2003/1245_An_Open_Letter_to_Michael_Prowse/

5) As I stated earlier, OUR sin has affected all of creation, and we stand before God guilty and deserving of punishment.

6) God punishes us each for our sins. None of us can claim we've lived a perfect life and are being punished for Adam's screw-up. We all willfully and gladly sin.

7) No, the only requirement for heaven is absolute perfection - reflecting the infinite holiness of God. None can meet this standard. Show me a man or woman who has never done anything bad, never sinned. None exists. Thus, as Scripture asserts in Romans 3:23, "All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God." Belief in God doesn't get you to heaven - James said, "You believe that there is one God? Good. Even the demons believe that - and shudder."
The only thing that will get someone into heaven is perfect righteousness. None can meet that standard, and we are all thus justly under condemnation. But God, being rich in mercy, came to earth in the person of Jesus Christ, fully human and fully divine, lived that perfect life and on the cross willingly took upon himself the guilt of his people and suffered our just punishment. We, in turn, are credited with his perfect rightousness, and by that grace we are called the children of God and welcomed into eternal fellowship with him. You ask, "Where is the justice in that?" God's justice is fully vindicated, since every sin is paid for, whether by Christ on the cross or by the sinner in hell. The cross both upheld God's justice in forgiving sin and displayed his glorious grace in saving undeserving sinners like me. The assertion that the Christian view of God is cruel and unjust fails to comprehend adaquately the severity of human sin.

Soli Deo Gloria

pornstudent said...

Iztok's asked, "Your God does punish people who do not love/accept him, doesn't he?" My answer is that he does. This is a petty God.

pornstudent said...

DJ - "As I stated earlier, OUR sin has affected all of creation..."

According to your religion all the horrible stuff that happens in the world is because we don't do what god wants. Why would you ever want to worship such a thing?

D.J. said...

Pornstudnent,

"According to your religion all the horrible stuff that happens in the world is because we don't do what god wants."

By that logic, all the suffering a murderer goes through in prison is because he didn't do what society wanted. It's called justice.

"Why would you ever want to worship such a thing?"

Because he is the ultimate source of satisfaction and joy, the very thing I was created to experience. Did you even read the article I linked by Piper? It answers your exact question.

Soli Deo Gloria

pornstudent said...

DJ,

Maybe you want to read over your sentence about logic. It doesn't make sense.

Yes, I did read that article before my last comment.

As you can tell, I don't think "God really is the most admirable being in the universe."

The other reason in the article for worshiping God is the joy that I will experience (the word joy is written eight times along with enjoy, enjoyment and enjoyable). Yeah, I'm giving up some bliss, but I try to make up for it in other other ways.

Anonymous said...

DJ

1. "Of course God has free will - he is sovereignly in control of all things."

Really? If good is all knowing, all powerful, and all good, then he can't have free will as he is compelled to do what is the best and nothing else. Thus he can't have free will.

3. God believes in himself, so do I. He doesn't believe in any being higher then him, neither do I. I guess God and I have indeed a lot in common here. Perhaps I should change my mind and not call myself an atheist but God.

5. "As I stated earlier, OUR sin has affected all of creation, and we stand before God guilty and deserving of punishment."

Which sin is that? Specifically what did those individuals that died of tsunami recently did to deserve this? What level of sin one has to make to deserve such death? Is a lie big enough? Or does someone have to kill to deserve this? What did babies that died in tsunami did to deserve death? Or is this like hit and miss punishment? Just directed toward specific people and rest are collateral damage? Perhaps better guiding system is in order for such "missile" strikes from God? So please, let us know what is just in killing babies?

6. "God punishes us each for our sins. None of us can claim we've lived a perfect life and are being punished for Adam's screw-up. We all willfully and gladly sin."

I don't see anything I've done deserving eternal punishment in hell. It seems grossly disproportionate (black/white if you wish). So care to be specific which sins deserve eternal punishment in hell and which don't? Plus God created us less then perfect, why are we to blame for someone else's screwup?

And again, I LOVE my daughter unconditionally (even if she doesn't acknowledge me or even despise me). Can you claim the same thing for your just and loving God? Or do some conditions apply? If conditions apply, are they fair, considering we are supposedly his creation (creation of a perfect being by definition should be perfect). Why are we created unable to achieve standards required by your God?

And at the end (and again), how do you justify innocent babies being killed (natural disasters and other things)? Is this God's collateral damage? Did he miss or he deliberately hit those babies?

Sincerely,
Iztok

D.J. said...

Pornstudent,

"Maybe you want to read over your sentence about logic. It doesn't make sense."

Let me explain. Your initial critique was that God is mean because he punishes us for doing wrong. My sentence demonstrates that by that same logic, society is mean for having punished people who do wrong.

Iztok,

1) Let's define the term "free will." God acts freely and sovereignly according to his nature (just, loving, gracious, powerful, holy). Certainly one would not say that you do not have free will because you can't choose to teleport yourself to Nebraska.

3) I have teeth, can jump more than two feet, and die when the temperature drops below -200 degrees. I should call myself a tiger. Come on, this is just silly and accomplishes nothing productive.

5) Any sin is enough to make us deserving of God's wrath, for any offense against an infinitely holy God is thus infinite in its scope. Why does disaster befall some but not others? Not everything is for us to know. I would direct you to the words of Jesus in Luke 13:1-5, "There were some present at that very time who told him about the Galileans whose blood Pilate had mingled with their sacrifices. And he answered them, “Do you think that these Galileans were worse sinners than all the other Galileans, because they suffered in this way? No, I tell you; but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish. Or those eighteen on whom the tower in Siloam fell and killed them: do you think that they were worse offenders than all the others who lived in Jerusalem? No, I tell you; but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish.”"

6) You said...

"I don't see anything I've done deserving eternal punishment in hell. It seems grossly disproportionate (black/white if you wish)."

Because, as I explained earlier, you fail to take into account the infinite holiness of God.

"So care to be specific which sins deserve eternal punishment in hell and which don't?"

All sins do.

"Plus God created us less then perfect, why are we to blame for someone else's screwup?"

As stated several times, God created us morally responsible for our choices. We freely and gladly choose sin. We are to blame.

"And again, I LOVE my daughter unconditionally (even if she doesn't acknowledge me or even despise me). Can you claim the same thing for your just and loving God? Or do some conditions apply? If conditions apply, are they fair, considering we are supposedly his creation (creation of a perfect being by definition should be perfect)."

If your daughter committed murder (I want to say I'm a bit uncomfortable with using something so personal as an example, but I'm simply elaborating on the example you have given - please don't take this as anything more than a hypothetical) should she be put in prison? You love her unconditionally, yet love manifests itself in different ways depending on circumstances. God is just. Sin will be punished. Does that make him unloving? Would you believing your daughter should go to prison make you unloving?

Let me make one more point very clearly: your hypothetical examples about yourself always break down on a certain level because you cannot make a 1 for 1 comparison between yourself and God. He is holy, you are not. He is worthy and altogether deserving of infinte love, praise, and admiration, you are not. Thus, for you to constantly say, "I treat my daughter this way, thus God must treat us this way," ignores a great portion of Christian theology dealing with the nature of God.

"And at the end (and again), how do you justify innocent babies being killed (natural disasters and other things)? Is this God's collateral damage? Did he miss or he deliberately hit those babies?"

All of us are sinners by nature from the moment we are concieved. Children may be "innocent" compared to the fully realized sinfulness found in adults, but those same sinful attitudes and dendencies are present from birth. All of us are under condemnation as sinners, all of us. That being said, let me make a very important point. Many times, when horrible things happen, we ask why. Many times, we will never know the answers. Why do some babies die in disasters? I don't know. I'm not God, and I don't have exhaustive knowledge. I look forward to spending eternity constantly exploring but never exhausting the riches of the wisdom and glory of God. Yet now I must trust, based on what I know of his character and promises, that he works all things together for his glory and our good. I realize that answer will simply not be good enough for you. I trust in Christ. By his grace, I will to my dying breath. In that trust, while experiencing the sorrow that comes through living in this fallen world, I have the steadfast hope that God does all things well. At this point, our conversation will always break, since I cannot cause you to have that hope. I pray that you would experience this freedom, and to that end I live my life...

Soli Deo Gloria

pornstudent said...

DJ,

I said - "According to your religion all the horrible stuff that happens in the world is because we don't do what god wants."

DJ - "By that logic, all the suffering a murderer goes through in prison is because he didn't do what society wanted. It's called justice."

I said - "Maybe you want to read over your sentence about logic. It doesn't make sense."

DJ - "Let me explain. Your initial critique was that God is mean because he punishes us for doing wrong. My sentence demonstrates that by that same logic, society is mean for having punished people who do wrong."

My initial critique is that if all the horrible stuff that happens in the world, not just to human babies, but to all species, is the consequence of people sinning, ie, not doing what God wants, then God is unjust.

All species in the world suffer in some way. Your religion says this is because of our sin, not the other species'. Yet they all suffer. This is unjust.

Not that it isn't mean, but that wasn't my point.

D.J. said...

Pornstudent,

Ah, now I understand your point. Apologies.

Humanity is unique in being created in the image of God, thus unique in having the capacity for moral rather than purely instinctual judgment. As such, we were given dominion over the rest of creation by God and charged to care for it. Our sin has now subjected the created order (placed under our responsiblity) to futility, a la Romans 8. We are thus responsible for the sufferings of creation because we have failed in our role as its caretakers. Creation suffers the consequences of our actions. The suffering of creation is not an example of God's injustice, but an effect of our sin.

Soli Deo Gloria

Anonymous said...

"Children may be "innocent" compared to the fully realized sinfulness found in adults, but those same sinful attitudes and dendencies are present from birth. All of us are under condemnation as sinners, all of us."

Exactly my point. I can't subscribe to a "loving God" that condemns babies that were just born to death for nothing they've done. Let alone worship such a creature. To me it sounds its targeting system (its GPS) needs to be adjusted.

Sincerely,
Iztok

pornstudent said...

DJ - "Any sin is enough to make us deserving of God's wrath, for any offense against an infinitely holy God is thus infinite in its scope."

In other words, God is perfect and any imperfection is infinitely away from perfection. Any crime, no matter how small it may seem to us is actually very, very, very, very.... big. So the slightest imperfect thought, say, a moments lust for my neighbor's wife, is as much a transgression as torturing and killing millions of people.

Since all imperfection is equally evil, that is, infinitley so, then all imperfection deserves the same infinitely excruciating punishment.

pornstudent said...

Iztok,
I agree with you. A loving God would not send babies to torment in Hell.

DJ,
If you want to limit your comments to what you think God is and your Christian theology, that's your problem.

D.J. said...

Iztok,

"Exactly my point. I can't subscribe to a "loving God" that condemns babies that were just born to death for nothing they've done. Let alone worship such a creature. To me it sounds its targeting system (its GPS) needs to be adjusted."

Actually, I think I stated the exact opposite. All people are condemned for their own sinfulness. I said that though babies seem to us more "innocent" than adults, sin is still very much present from birth.

Pornstudent,

Basically, yes.

Soli Deo Gloria

D.J. said...

Pornstudent,

"Iztok,
I agree with you. A loving God would not send babies to torment in Hell."

Please notice that Iztok and I were discussing the suffering of infants in this world. I never made any statement on the eternal destiny of infants who die.

"If you want to limit your comments to what you think God is and your Christian theology, that's your problem."

?

Soli Deo Gloria

pornstudent said...

But your God does send babies to Hell, doesn't he?

DJ said, "Let me make one more point very clearly: your hypothetical examples about yourself always break down on a certain level because you cannot make a 1 for 1 comparison between yourself and God. He is holy, you are not. He is worthy and altogether deserving of infinte love, praise, and admiration, you are not. Thus, for you to constantly say, "I treat my daughter this way, thus God must treat us this way," ignores a great portion of Christian theology dealing with the nature of God."

If you want to limit your comments to what you think God is and your Christian theology, that's your problem.

Nick said...

Iztok: Here is the thing.

1. God itself doesn't have free will, does he?

Me: Yes he does. Ever read Aquinas?

Iztok: 2. We were created in his image. (How come we are not invisible and how come we have free will?)

Me: Then this is a misunderstanding of what it means. It means we are like God. It does not mean we are carbon copies. We possess rationality, free-will, intellect, sexuality, etc.

Iztok: 3. God (if exists) is an atheist. (If it is good enough for him it is good enough for me.)

Me: Only if you define theism as belief in a higher power which is making a relational statement about the substance. This is what is referred to as an accident. God though is one who affirms all truths and if the truth is that he exists, then God affirms that and is no atheist.


Iztok: 4. My love to my daughter comes unconditionally. If she returns the love, so be it, if doesn't so what. I am not going to punish her for not loving or not accepting me. Your God does punish people who do not love/accept him, doesn't he?

Me: Which you are loving but you are not love itself. If Christianity is true, God is truth, goodness, beauty, love, wisdom, power, etc. Now what is to happen with someone who rejects God? They are rejecting all of those in turn.

Iztok: 5. Earthquakes, tornadoes, etc... are not our doing, yet it seems we get punished for it.

Me: Actually, we could easily deal with these. There's a reason Native Americans didn't build on the shores of Florida. We can build buildings that are earthquake proof.

Furthermore, all of these things are essential to life. If a planet does not have plate tektonics for instance, it can't survive.

Lastly, you have to have a moral standard still whereby you condemn these things and you've yet to give one.

Iztok: 6. In our society it is not acceptable to be punished for someone else's doings. Yet it seems that (just?) God is punishing us for what Adam and Eve did (they were framed anyway)? Where is justice in that?

Me: First off, Adam and Eve were not framed. They ate of the fruit. Why do we have some sufferings from that? Do some study on the doctrine of Traducianism and we can talk about it.

However, in the end on judgment day, you will not be called to account for the sins of Adam and Eve. You will be called to account for your own sins. Playing the blame game like they did won't cut it.

Iztok: 7. Only requirement for reward of heaven is acceptance of God. So it is easy to say that those who did a lot of good and lived life without doing anything bed will get punished in hell for eternity if they don't believe in God (well to be honest, they apparently have to choose the right God in the first place, because if they choose wrong one - amongst hundreds of choices - they will go to hell anyway). Where is justice in that? Compared to a Christian who goes around murdering people and at the end confesses and pledges his allegiance to Jesus.

Sincerely,
Iztok

Me: This one is a complex issue. It depends though on what the end of man is. If the end of man is simply to live a good life, then everyone who lives a good life is in. Is that why mankind was created though? Is the highest good in life simply virtue? Remember the saying about a finger being good for pointing to the moon but woe to the person who mistakes a finger for the moon?

Also, it is not easy to live the Christian life. It is quite difficult. It is not that the Christian life has been tried and found wanting but it has been found difficult and left untried. The person doesn't have to just believe in God. Even the demons do that and tremble. They have to act on that belief.

Finally, if one wants to find truth, then I invite them to study and religion, but Christianity is the logical one to start with. Here's two reasons:

#1-Christianity makes an objective claim about an event in history. If you can show that Jesus did not rise from the dead, then you can forget it and move on.

#2-Christianity has Jesus. Every religion has tried to incorporate Jesus. Even eastern religions that preceded Jesus try to get him in their system somehow. Christianity has Jesus as the central figure.

Pornstudent. Iztok. Can any of you show me a verse in Scripture talking about a baby being in Hell also?

Finally Iztok, I'm still waiting for you to answer me on Secret Mark that you brought up in another blog.

D.J. said...

Pornstudent,

"But your God does send babies to Hell, doesn't he?"

Scripture does not say anything either way about the destiny of infants who die. Many theologians have tried to make inference based on different factors (for both heaven and hell), but I prefer to stay silent where Scipture is silent. All I can say is I don't know, but know that God will do what is good and right.

"If you want to limit your comments to what you think God is and your Christian theology, that's your problem."

I'm still not sure I understand your point, but let me take a guess. Are you saying I shouldn't tell Iztok to take Christian theology into account in his comments? If so, he is making statments about why the God of the Bible is unjust and cruel. If he is going to make those statements, he must first understand the God of the Bible. Otherwise, his argument is a straw man.

Soli Deo Gloria

pornstudent said...

At what age is a person destined for Hell for not believing in Christ?

Anonymous said...

"As such, we were given dominion over the rest of creation by God and charged to care for it."

Do we really have dominion over the rest of the creation? Last time I've checked and correct me if I am wrong, microorganisms have dominion over us, don't they? We barely can grasp what all they are responsible for and hardly can fight against them even with modern medicine and health care. So if we don't really have dominion over microorganisms, is someone telling a fib?

Sincerely,
Iztok

D.J. said...

Pornstudent,

"At what age is a person destined for Hell for not believing in Christ?"

All people are under condemnation for their sin (not for "not believing in Christ"). As I said, Scripture is silent on the eternal destiny of infants or others who are mentally incapable of comprehending sin and the gospel. It knows of no such age. I will not pretend to speak for God, I simply trust him to do what is right and good.

Iztok,

We have been given dominion over creation. We care for it, tend it, use it for our needs. To say that we don't have dominion, microrganisms do, is quite a semantic stretch. Sure, we are susceptible to disease, but we are also susceptible to being killed by a lion, yet no one would state that lions are the dominant species on earth. It's growing tiresome to hear these same criticisms brought up again and again.

Soli Deo Gloria

pornstudent said...

I would think God would have been more clear on what age a human is doomed to Hell.

DJ - "To say that we don't have dominion, microrganisms [sic] do, is quite a semantic stretch."

It has nothing to do with semantics. Microorganisms are vital to humans and the environment. We can't exist without them, they can exist without us. They may not be aware of this fact, and neither are most people, but it doesn't change it one iota. It does makes more sense to say they have dominion over us rather than we over them.

Danbo59 said...

When are you guys going to realize that arguing with Iztok is like talking to a dead horse? My nine-year-old can refute his "pearls" of limited insight.

Anonymous said...

Danbo, can I drop off some DVDs for your 9 year old somewhere for you to pick up? "The Royal Institution Christmas Lectures for Children" is what I have in mind.

Sincerely,
Iztok

pornstudent said...

"Ironically, the word 'atheist' was first used by pagans to describe Christians because they denied the very existence of the gods and goddesses whom the pagans so revered." pg 16 – God Against The Gods by Jonathan Kirsch

According to the original use of the word, Iztok is right, God is an atheist.

Iztok has a good question, "My love to my daughter comes unconditionally. If she returns the love, so be it, if doesn't so what. I am not going to punish her for not loving or not accepting me. Your God does punish people who do not love/accept him, doesn't he?"

DJ's answer, "God punishes people for sin. Also, please note a fundamental difference - you are not a being deserving of ultimate love and worship, nor does beholding your glory grant ultimate and eternal satisfaction."

The answer, Intok, is "Yes." The Christian God would punish his children for not loving him.

DJ's last sentence in this thread, "It's growing tiresome to hear these same criticisms brought up again and again."

You're getting tired of defending children going to Hell. I can understand that.

Nick said...

Iztok's problem though is that God is love himself. Iztok is a giver of love but he is not love. What is God to do with those who reject love? He simply gives them what they wants.

In eternity, everyone does get what they want. If someone does not want God's presence, they don't get it.

As for children going to Hell, no one's showed a verse yet where that happens.

pornstudent said...

Nick said, "What is God to do with those who reject love? He simply gives them what they want."

Children often reject their parents' love, but loving parents don't abandon their children when they are rejected. Say a 5 year old boy is at an amusement park and his mother tells him it's time to go home. The child refuses, has a tantrum, tells his mother he hates her and wishes she were dead. The vast majority of us humans, as unloving as we can sometimes be, would not abandon that child. You said God would because he is simply giving this child what he wants. How can you keep saying this God is love?

Nick said, "As for children going to Hell, no one's showed a verse yet where that happens."

If you are implying that Christians don't believe children are going to Hell, wonderful!

Nick said, "In eternity, everyone does get what they want."

Now that is good news.

Nick said...

You're missing the point. You are comparing a loving parent with love itself. One can reject a loving parent and find love elsewhere. If you reject love itself though, where are you to go. There's nowhere left. People that don't want the love of God, get exactly what they want.

Which is what Heaven and Hell are. People who do want love and follow that love to its source in God get what they want. People who don't go to the source and treat any love here like it's the highest good and choose not to go with God get what they want. They get stuck with the god they chose.

However, it's nothing good. Without the source of that love, they are simply left with an empty shell. People do not experience love in Hell, unless it's the case that the wrath of Hell is actually the love of God experienced as wrath.

pornstudent said...

I think you're saying that love does not exist in the Universe apart from God. You do say there are lesser kinds of love; but the real love, the essence of love, is God. I disagree.

pornstudent said...

Nick said, "However, it's nothing good. Without the source of that love, they are simply left with an empty shell."

Without God the love for our families isn't good? it's an "empty shell?"

Nick said, "People who ...choose not to go with God get what they want. They get stuck with the god they chose."

We can choose to be with our families instead of God when we die? Wonderful!

pornstudent said...

Uh-oh. I just read the fine print... "People do not experience love in Hell, unless it's the case that the wrath of Hell is actually the love of God experienced as wrath."

Shoot. Well, maybe I can take my guitar, laptop and TV.

Danbo59 said...

Iztok asked, "Danbo, can I drop off some DVDs for your 9 year old somewhere for you to pick up? "The Royal Institution Christmas Lectures for Children" is what I have in mind."

No.

Anonymous said...

Danbo, I guess you are afraid that your 9 year old might start doubting your teachings. Understandable. It is all about control with people like you. God forbid you'll have your kid really learn about evolution, it might change their mind and figure out that "just a theory" is actually very strongly supported fact. Then you will actually see that your 9 year old can start debating on my side. (If they are as smart as you claim.)

Sincerely,
Iztok

Nick said...

And I'm sure it's just as scholarly as tripe like Zeitgeist is.

*Sits back and waits for Iztok to continue what he was saying in another thread about Secret Mark.*

Danbo59 said...

Iztok, at times like these I turn to Proverbs 14:7 -- "Goeth from the sight of the foolish man when you perceive not the words of wisdom within him."

In layman's terms, I shouldn't waste my time arguing with an idiot.

Anonymous said...

Danbo, you are right for a change,I shouldn't argue with you.

Sincerely,
Iztok

D.J. said...

...And a discussion degrades into uselessness.

Soli Deo Gloria

Danbo59 said...

Iztok aped, "Danbo, you are right for a change,I shouldn't argue with you."

Am not...you are! [sticks tongue out]