Moving On…

This will be my last post on this blog.

As mentioned (as a possibility) in a previous post, I have started a new blog here. I will also be blogging in Japanese here. I don’t plan on writing about theology anymore, at least not nearly as much as I did here. I’m intending my blogging to become more a combination of journaling and a sharing of my thoughts than the writing of articles that it seemed to be here. I’ll be writing about whatever I’m interested in, which tends to be wide-ranging and varies significantly over time.

To all my readers: Thanks for sticking with this blog until now, especially those of you who supported me with encouraging words.

Peace and love,

Ty

Humanity in the Hands of a Happy God

humanity in hands of happy god

(Another unorganized post…)

Mercy, wrath, love, justice, etc. are all the same attribute of God (divine simplicity); it’s just that humans use different words to describe our experience of God’s attributes.
But love isn’t just an attribute. John writes that God is love. This is not true of the others. God is not anger. God is not justice. God is not wrath.
This means that all other attributes of God are simply manifestations of his love.
God is pure love. So everything that comes from him is an expression of love. So if wrath comes from God, it is an expression of love.
But this isn’t an attempt to distort what we mean by love.
“Even the wrath of God is simply an extension of His love. It is a big, fat “No!” to sinfulness, because of how it destroys and molests His children. God’s wrath has nothing to do with hating us. It has to do with hating the sinfulness that was destroying us. Even God’s wrath is for you, not against you.” – John Crowder
God’s wrath is against sin, not people (Romans 1:18); He loves people!
The cross didn’t satisfy God’s wrath; it changed our view of God. It revealed that humanity was the violent one, not God. It wasn’t God’s wrath that Jesus drank; it was ours! As Andre Rabe puts it, “we were the angry deities that needed to be satisfied.”

“It is on the cross that Jesus put to death the violent portrayal of God in the Old Testament and revealed once and for all that God is not like that.” – Jeremy Myers

“Wrath designates God’s fervent reaction to human wickedness. God’s refusal to tolerate, compromise with, or indulge evil…wrath is not a chronic case of ill temper on God’s part but a measured commitment to act against evil and injustice in order to contain it and destroy it…it is not so much a matter of direct, individually tailored punitive intervention as it is a matter of measured withdrawal of his protective influence and control, a refusal to intervene to stem the deleterious effects of human rebellion.” – Christ Marshall

“The cross was the place of Divine Agape not divine anger! The only anger there that day was the anger of sinful humanity unleashed on Pure Love. … The cross of Jesus Christ is the most pure expression of love that has ever or will ever exist. In that place of propitiation, Pure Agape submitted Himself to the ferocity of sinful humanity while at the same time absorbing our sin into Himself so that we would be delivered from its consequence.” – Steve McVey

Meaning of Greek word often translated “wrath”:
http://www.biblestudytools.com/lexicons/greek/nas/orge.html
Take a look at the second definition and you’ll see that wrath can be “any violent emotion.”
The word “wrath” doesn’t have to mean anger at all. It actually can refer to ANY intense excitement – including love. Of course, if our view is that our God is a Judge who is obsessed with right & wrong in our lives, we will automatically think His wrath is an expression of anger.
Experience of the intensity of love

“God’s wrath and judgment is against anything that brings separation, against anything that tries to reduce the pure and intimate relationship He designed, to something less. It is exactly because He loves man that He judges sin. His judgment is not against true man as such, but against anything that would reduce man to less than His original design. God will not settle for an inferior relationship.” (unknown)

“The cross did nothing about the wrath of God. The wrath of God was connected to the Old Covenant system, which existed and continued until its final destruction in 70AD (Hebrew 8:13). God judged the Old Covenant and those that clung to the sinking ship drowned with it. Those that turned to the New Covenant of Christ were saved from the Day of Wrath.” – Jonathan Welton

Even the destruction of Jerusalem was a passive form of judgment. God didn’t say “I want to destroy Jerusalem so I’m going to make the Romans attack it!” Rather, God knew that if the Jews refused to believe in Jesus, stuck with their false and violent idea of messiahship (in which the Messiah would beat up the Romans and make the Jews the strongest nation) and continued in their rebellion against Rome, they would be destroyed.

*****

Also see:

Judgment of Light
http://pathux.wordpress.com/2011/02/23/judgment-of-light

Bible Threatenings Explained
http://www.tentmaker.org/books/BibleThreateningsExplained.html

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1lzTySVpe2Y

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-ADZwg9qQf8

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Zov0RJLSTuU

The Will of God

free will

(Another unorganized post…)

What is God’s will for you? It is for you to decide! God gave us a free will so that we would not be robots and it would be possible for us to love. He does not desire for us to use our free will to ask him about every decision we make and then do what God says (because he doesn’t always tell us what to do). That is called choosing to be a robot. It is choosing to be what God did not design you to be. We have a relationship with God. Of course we should communicate with God about all things in life. He loves to give us input because he is very wise and happens to know all things. We create a problem for ourselves when we assume that God has a will for every little thing we do in life. Having someone make all your choices for you is called immaturity. This is why we renew our mind and gain an accurate understanding of God’s heart, because we are then able to make decisions that are aligned with his heart.

God’s will is that you will.

Matt Spinks explains that following God’s will is like floating down a river on a raft. You have to try to get out of his will. It’s effortless.

“Forget about trying to find His plan for your life – your life is His plan! Neither your location nor your timing matters – He has dawned His eternal day. You are His moment; you are His location! “…worship the Father neither here at this mountain nor there … It’s who you are…” (John 4:21:23 MSG).”

God doesn’t always have a will for us (2 Samuel 7, Acts 5, Romans 14). He didn’t give us freedom so that we would use it to ask him what to do for everything. That defeats the purpose

“The “will of God” is not like a funnel, desiring to control your every move with precision. It is like Revealing to you that there were more options than you could imagine and empowering you to freely choose.”

“God willing we will…” Well, we could do it or make it happen outside of God’s will too. You can’t say this and then when it comes about conclude it was God’s will.
James 4:15 – James was giving an arrogant people who thought they were self-sufficient a humbler way of speech, not giving a way to talk for all people.

“Not my will but yours…” Luke 22:42 – This is really an interaction of two natures, not Jesus not knowing what his Father’s will was (which is the way it is used today lol)

Asking God what to do in every situation is called control (and he doesn’t want it). Never talking about decisions with God is called independence (and it’s an illusion). Conversing with God about things that matter to his heart is called relationship (and it’s lots of fun).

“If it’s your will, then…” – This basically shows that the person saying this doesn’t know Jesus. Rather, the person only knows about him. To such people Jesus said, “depart from me; I never knew you.”

What would this sound like in human relationships?
Say a man feels like eating Mexican food on a certain night, so he decides to bring the matter before his wife: “Honey, if it’s your will, then let us eat Mexican tonight.” And then he walks away. He’s thinking, “I did my part. Whatever happens will happen, and the will of my wife will be revealed through what she does.” – This is a monologue. It is weird. What would a normal person do in this situation? He would ask her a question! “Would you like to eat Mexican tonight?” “What would you like to eat tonight?” Just because he doesn’t know what his wife is thinking at this moment doesn’t mean that he despairs of finding out her thoughts until she takes some action while he passively does nothing. He interacts and relates with her.

Yes! It’s okay to ask God questions. And he loves it when you do. He desires to answer you. He’ll answer in his own way that we may not be used to (just look at how Jesus answered people’s questions all throughout Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John), but he will. “How much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him.”

Not saying we completely know God’s every thought at all times, but we share in it; we have the mind of Christ

Paul prayed in Colossians 1:9 that they would be filled with the knowledge of the will of God, so obviously it’s possible and not only that but also desirable.

Ephesians 1:9, 5:18
Matt 26:39; James 4:13-16; Rom 12:2; I no longer call you servants but friends, because you know my business. Praying in Jesus’ name is according to his will
God’s ways were higher than ours until Jesus raised us up to heavenly places (Kris Vallotton)

“Love God and do whatever” – St. Augustine

Casting lots in Acts was the last time from then on that that method was used to determine God’s will; everything was revealed by Holy Spirit from then on.

“The will of God” isn’t something that is but something you do.

God still works in the same “mysterious ways” that he always has. But they are not so mysterious anymore; we have the mind of Christ.
Isaiah 55:8-9, 2 Corinthians 2? (and the OT Scripture it quotes)

*****

Also see:

http://frankviola.org/rethinkingthewill.pdf

Theology (Knowing God or Knowing About God?)

(Another unorganized post…)

“Where is God? Not ideas about God. Not Biblical explanations about God. Where is God? Where can we find him, feel him, see him?
To experience God with our physical senses, we need to seek him in a place that is not physical, not a building or a book, but rather in an abstract, yet divine place. That place is Love. God’s in love, and why shouldn’t he be! He IS love. Seek genuine, loving friendships and you’ll find God there. Offer others a genuine, loving friendship and you’ll reveal God to others.
God is not discovered in the theories and theologies we talk about. The technicalities perhaps. The head knowledge maybe. But the hands on, experience of God is discovered in the practical, real-life relationships we build. When we build them with love, every time we meet one another, we experience the tangible presence of God, for we feel love, and God is Love.” –  Mick Mooney

“Never let your love for theology be greater than your love for people. For without a love for people, even the best of theology is useless.” – Mick Mooney

“As the author of the Theologia Germanica says, we may come to love knowledge – our knowing – more than the thing known: to delight not in the exercise of our talents bit in the facts that they are ours, or even in the reputation they bring us.” – Lewis

Nothing you can know about God is God.

“God can’t be thought, only encountered.” – Anthony Bartlett

“Theology is not a private reserve of theologians. It is not a private affair of professors…Nor is it a private affair of pastors…Theology is a matter for the church.” – Karl Barth

Studying someone implies the relationship is either immature (in the very early stages) or dysfunctional (because relationship is reduced to knowledge).

“Roughly speaking, the word faith seems to be used by Christians in two senses or on two levels, and I will take them in turn. In the first sense it means simply belief–accepting or regarding as true the doctrines of Christianity. That is fairly simple. But what does puzzle people–at least it used to puzzle me–is the fact that Christians regard faith in this sense as a virtue. I used to ask how on Earth it can be a virtue–what is there moral or immoral about believing or not believing a set of statements? Obviously, I used to say, a sane man accepts or rejects any statement, not because he wants or does not want to, but because the evidence seems to him good or bad. If he were mistaken about the goodness or badness of the evidence, that would not mean he was a bad man, but only that he was not very clever. And if he thought the evidence bad but tried to force himself to believe in spite of it, that would be merely stupid.” – C.S. Lewis

theologybox

The Law, Morality, and Knowledge of Good and Evil

(Here’s one of the unorganized posts I warned you about in an earlier post…)

God never wanted the Law

Story illustrating God didn’t want Law in chapter 4 of “Imagine” by Andre Rabe
“Marriage is meant for intimacy and enjoyment – suspicion and distance undermine the very purpose of marriage. One can never replace the spontaneity and freedom of being in love, with formality and obligation and still maintain the same quality of relationship.
Let’s imagine a scenario in which a husband and wife have had a fight, and seeing that it’s just a fantasy, lets say it’s all the wife’s fault! The husband tries to converse, but the situation is so tender that the wife can’t face any further confrontation. Silence and distance become her only escape.
Through the days and weeks that follow the situation only gets worse and this results in a separation. The husband observes his wife sinking into a pit of depression but she is not willing to face him or converse with him. However the husband still loves his wife and believes that the relationship can be restored, so he makes a practical interim arrangement. In order to prevent her from falling into absolute destitution and despair, he commits to support her and provide for her if she keeps to some basic and reasonable obligations. For instance: remain faithful to him, no other lovers allowed! Very reasonable. A few other ‘boundaries’ are agreed – about 10 in all. All this is done for her protection.
The only thing these arrangements are supposed to reveal, is that the husband still believes that the relationship can be saved. These arrangements were never meant to replace the original intimate relationship. They were only put in place for her protection and provision until the original relationship is restored. By no means can this situation compete or compare with the spontaneous, intimate relationship they once enjoyed.
And something terrible happens in this arrangement: It gives validity to the distance! The very distance that needs to be destroyed, finds an opportunity within this temporary arrangement to make itself legitimate. This new law-system gives validity to the distance!
And the wife, instead of trying to find a fundamental solution to the problem, now hides behind the fact that she is keeping the rules and therefore deserves the provision. She actually finds this new system very convenient, because she does not have to deal with her husband directly. She feels justified in keeping the rules, and even when she breaks the rules there are ways of correcting the situation without direct contact with him. Her hearts grows even harder!” – Andre Rabe

Law not given by God but by angels to Moses, then Moses to the people

I first believed (as my parents taught me) that God wanted to give the Law and he indeed give the Law. Later, I came to understand that actually, God didn’t want to give the Law, but he did so reluctantly as a kind of compromise (as you explained). Currently, I’m of the opinion that God may have communicated some parts of the Law but that he did not do so in its entirety. Part of the reason for that is the violence inherent in some laws. Another is because I don’t believe the scriptures are inspired in the way most christians would define inspiration. I wrote a series about inspiration on the blog, and actually one of the posts deals with the topic of the Law specifically. I point out a number of scriptures that seem to indicate that the Law was in fact not given by God (at least in its entirety). You can read it here: https://supernaturalgospel.wordpress.com/2013/11/04/what-does-biblical-inspiration-mean-really-part-5/

Temples, priests, sacrifice, prophets, seers, kings and laws (even specific ones) were not unique to Israel by any means.

“Why then the law? It was added because of transgressions, until the offspring should come to whom the promise had been made, and it was put in place through angels by an intermediary. Now an intermediary implies more than one, but God is one.” (Galatians 3:19-20).
Acts 7:52-53
Hebrews 2:2-3
“The moral standards by which Israel’s first ancestors were expected to act seem to come not so much by God’s unique commandment but by expectations of the surrounding cultures. The behavior of Israel’s ancestors is not a matter of direct revelation by God, but of the accepted cultural norms of the day.

In John 8:17 and 10:34 Jesus refers to the Law as “your [the Pharisee’s] Law” and not “our Law,” thus refusing to identify with their way of thinking.

“You have heard that it was said, ‘Eye for eye, and tooth for tooth.’ But I tell you, do not resist an evil person…” (Matthew 5:38-39; Jesus is directly quoting Exodus 21:24, Leviticus 24:20, Deuteronomy 19:21). Here Jesus gives ways of living that are opposite to that of the Law. “You have heard it said…But I tell you…” In essence, Jesus is saying that he did not say that part of the Law and is now telling them what he really thinks (as opposed to what they thought he, that is God, was saying). After all, if the Law was perfect (which it would be if it was given by Jesus), Jesus would have no need to correct it and show a better way.

This raises the question: was the Law really given by God? An answer of “no” is what Paul seems to imply in Galatians 3:19-20. “Why then the law? It was added because of transgressions, until the offspring should come to whom the promise had been made, and it was put in place through angels by an intermediary. Now an intermediary implies more than one, but God is one.” Even if the original was given by God, what if the human and angelic elements modified it in the process of transmission and transcription?

Jesus seems to imply this in Mark 10:2-5. “Some Pharisees came up to Jesus, testing Him, and began to question Him whether it was lawful for a man to divorce a wife. And He answered and said to them, ‘What did Moses command you?’ They said, ‘Moses permitted a man to write a certificate of divorce and send her away.’ But Jesus said to them, ‘Because of your hardness of heart he wrote you this commandment.'” Jesus makes it sound very much like Moses was not only the writer but also the author of this commandment. “Moses permitted [it],” not God.

Law

Is saying “this is grace and that is law” eating from the tree of knowledge of good and evil?

Connection between conscience and tree of knowledge of good and evil
They didn’t have a conscience (consciousness of sins; see Hebrews) before eating of that tree.

“Grace cannot prevail until law is dead…until morality has been bound, gagged, and stuffed unceremoniously in the trunk.” – Robert Capon

It’s interesting how there are many things that the world doesn’t feel guilty about that believers do. This makes me think that the guilt that believers experience in such areas is merely from the Christian culture surrounding them.

“Grace means that God does something for me; law means that I do something for God.” – Watchman Nee

Undutifully fulfill your duty

The only times Paul mentioned the Law to the Gentile churches that he wrote to was when he needed to emphasize its unnecessity in our new lives in Christ. Most of the time he simply didn’t mention it at all.

The fear of not preaching and requiring Law: without Law, the only motivator becomes desire based on joy, not fear. Law followers know nothing of desire, only fear. That’s why they can’t trust getting rid of the Law. “People will start sinning because that’s what they desire!”
We don’t want to be led by our feelings, but we want to be led by our new and holy desires. The distinction is important and it takes lots of trust in what Jesus did and is in you.

“The Law revealed the sin in you. The Gospel reveals the Son in you.” – Jeff Turner

The meaning of God putting his Law on our hearts isn’t getting a conscience or consciousness of sins but the divine nature of naturally desiring that which brings life, what the Law pointed to.

Test to see if you are legalistic: Think about what you would think and feel (or actually try it out if you’re not sure) if you stopped reading the Bible, stopped going to church, quit having set times for prayer, etc. If there is any fear, guilt, shame, or condemnation, then you are legalistic.

The moral principle of the Law (love) is still true, but we don’t derive our morality from the Law anymore. We don’t ever need to read it to know how to live morally because we have Holy Spirit as our guide.

The Law is a part of the Old Covenant which is now obsolete; Hebrews 8:13.

Living by Law is slavery (Galatians 5:1)

Hebrews 7:11-2, 18-19, 9:10, 10:1 (All of Hebrews lol)

Ephesians 2:15

Hebrews 5:14 But solid food is for the mature, who because of practice have their senses trained to discern good and evil.
In this new covenant, good and evil are things we sense, not figure out through the Law. It’s in our hearts.

Galatians 3:24-25
The Law was our tutor that led us to Christ, but no longer

“Grace and sin can coexist, but grace and legalism can never coexist.” – Jeff Turner

2 Corinthians 3:6-18

Titus 3:9

The curse was a natural consequence of eating of the tree and of submitting to Satan. God wasn’t putting junk onto people – they chose it. Just like the Law.

“The fall didn’t change God; the fall changed you. The cross didn’t change God; the cross changed you.” – Jeff Turner

We know we are not justified by obedience to the Law (by the works of the law shall no man living be justified). But many Christians feel that they are still somehow bound to obedience to the Law.

To understand our prior and current relationship with the Law, it is important to know its purpose. Paul says that the Law given so that we would know our own sinfulness (Romans 7:7). When we try our best to follow the Law, we find that our efforts are futile. Thus God administrates his grace to us through the Law because it makes evident our need for a savior. God imposed an impossibility on us to reveal our self-insufficiency. It sheds light on the fundamental error made at the fall – that we could do life alone. The Law causes us to turn to Christ.

“The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law” (1 Corinthians 15:56).
“For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ.” – John 1:17
“But we know that the law [is] good if one uses it lawfully, knowing this: that the law is not made for a righteous person, but for [the] lawless and insubordinate, for [the] ungodly and for sinners, for [the] unholy and profane, for murderers of fathers and murderers of mothers, for manslayers,” – 1 Timothy 1:8-9

But what about after we have turned to Christ? Paul communicates a complete shift in our relationship with the Law that took place at the cross. We used to be joined to the Law; now we are joined to Christ (v. 1-4). We were bound to the Law; now we have been released (v. 6). We served in the oldness of the letter; we now serve in the newness of the Spirit (v. 6).
The law brought with it a curse; Christ has set us free from it
“Ye are become dead to the law by the body of Christ”
“having abolished in his flesh the enmity, the law of commandments contained in ordinances”
“blotting out the handwriting of ordinances that was against us, which was contrary to us, and took it out of the way, nailing it to His cross”
“Christ is the end of the Law”

Ultimately the Law is good (v. 12). Yet it is through it that sinful passions are aroused in us (Romans 7:5). That’s why when, after believing in Jesus, we continue to make efforts to follow the Law we will inevitably fall into sin. It is through God’s commandments that sin produces its actions in us, for without the Law sin is dead (v. 8). Through the Law sin deceives us and kills us.

The Law can neither condemn nor punish us anymore.

“Do not be excessively righteous and do not be overly wise. Why should you ruin yourself?” (Ecclesiastes 7:16)
Law and the effort it requires will kill you, literally!

Glory/No Glory – The Jesus Trip
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9VscdMoNS-Q&feature=plcp

There can be no distinction between “ceremonial” and “moral” laws

Galatians 3:10-14
Obey whole Law or none of it. Obey part of it and you are cursed! We don’t live by Law but by faith in Spirit

The division of Moses’ law into three categories is a “totally arbitrary distinction between aspects of the law” (Walter Martin).

“The Mosaic law is viewed by the Scriptures as a unit. The word torah (“law”) when applied to the law of Moses is always singular, although it contains 613 commandments” – Arnold Fruchtenbaum

“It should always be remembered, however, that the distinctions Christians make between ‘moral’ and ‘ceremonial’ laws in the Old Testament, was hardly perspicuous to the Hebrew mind. In the Old Testament, cultic and ethical, moral and ceremonial, religious and civil enactment’s are all worked together, with no sense of impropriety, since they all express the will of Yahweh for his covenant people Israel.” – Paul K. Jewett

“In the epistles that have been preserved to us, nowhere is a distinction made explicitly between the moral and ceremonial, particularistic parts of the law.” – Herman Ridderbos

The Mosaic law-covenant was a unified code which had a beginning and end in history.
The Law of Moses (as a totality) was connected to a particular covenant people that it not us.
In the ultimate purpose of God, this Mosaic economy was temporary, destined to exist “until the time of reformation” (Heb.9:10) when God would speak in a final way in His Son in the last days (Heb.1:1-2).

This doesn’t mean, however, that it is okay to murder, for example. I’m not saying that we should now do the very things the Law forbade. I am saying that the Law is not needed as a written set of instructions for any moral purposes because it’s been placed in us and written on our hearts (Jeremiah 31:33).

Morality, good & evil

http://newcovenantgroup.com/sections/general/alan-darley-on-morality/

There is no good and evil, just wise and foolish

Behavior modification

We are made in God’s image. God wouldn’t implant in us conceptions of good and evil that are different than his. He made the tree of knowledge of good and evil. Thus if something intuitively seems evil (especially to many people), it most likely is.

“Ultimately the Gospel has little to do with morality and much to do with Love – Love, in which morality finds its true context. Meaning, it’s possible the moral person may be in worse shape than the immoral.” – Benjamin Dunn

“When we operate out of the “knowledge of good and evil”, we have nothing to say and nothing to do unless their is a scapegoat to blame for the world and the Church’s problems. We have to have an enemy, or we don’t know what to do with ourselves. We can only recognize good when we have evil to compare it with, and vice versa. Paul, upon beholding the beauty of God’s grace, however, emerged with a different view of things. He concluded that since “one died for all, all died”! In light of this revelation, he could “know no man according to the flesh”. (2 Corinthians 5) He no longer needed evil in order to enable him to see the good, he simply saw good through the light of what Christ had done for all men.” – Jeff Turner

Drop “sin” from vocabulary.
This word now has the connotation of offending God. But God is not offended by our sin. https://supernaturalgospel.wordpress.com/2013/05/03/unoffendability-and-the-relativity-of-sin-part-1/
Replace with miss, error, deviation, mistake

Adam and Even were at their best when they were ignorant of good and evil and were totally fixated on one thing – life.

Christianity is not about a new morality
“The church is not in the morals business. The world is in the morals business, quite rightfully; and it has done a fine job of it, all things considered. The history of the world’s moral codes is a monument of striking unity and beauty. As C.S. Lewis said, everybody who thinks the moral codes of humankind are all different should be locked up in a library and be made to read three days’ worth of them. They would be bored silly by the sheer sameness.
What the world cannot get right, however, is the forgiveness business — and that, of course, is the church’s real job. She is in the world to deal with the sin that the world can’t turn off or escape from. She is not in the business of telling the world what’s right and wrong so that it can do good and avoid evil. She is in the business of offering, to a world that knows all about that tiresome subject, forgiveness for its chronic unwillingness to take its own advice. But the minute she even hints that morals, and not forgiveness, is the name of her game, she instantly corrupts the Gospel and runs headlong into blatant nonsense.” – Robert Capon
“There is nothing intrinsically contrary to the church’s mission, of course, in the suggestion that an upright life might be a good thing for Christians to attempt. But she that suggestion reaches the point at which it becomes a test of membership in the church, it comes smack up against a radical peculiarity of the Gospel: Jesus was not a teach of ethics. The Sermon on the Mount, for instance, is not a string of sensible lessons in morality: it’s a paradoxical presentation, in the form of ethical advice, of recipes for getting yourself creamed. And the radical Gospel of grace and forgiveness that is the church’s deepest message isn’t ethics either. It’s an outrageously unethical offer not to count anybody’s sins at all, because the Lamb of God simply stopped count in when he drew everybody to himself on the cross. At its root, therefore, the Gospel is immoral not moral: it lest scoundrels in free for nothing.” – Robert Capon

Jeremiah 7:22 “For in the day that I brought your ancestors out of the land of Egypt, I did not speak to them or command them concerning burnt offerings and sacrifices.”
(NIV adds “just” to completely change the meaning lol)

Ethics is the attempt to rationally discern good and evil apart from God, just like in the garden.

“Does this mean there is no room for discussions of morality or ethics within the Christian community? Not at all. But al lot these conversations that name certain behaviors as ‘sinful’ must stem from whether or not said behavior is harmful to others, not whether the Bible has certain verses that condemn the behavior. Certain behaviors are both condoned and condemned in Scripture.

You don’t need religion to have a basis for morality, and any basis, even the scriptures, will be subjective.

There is even a science of morality

*****

Also see:

http://www.charismaministries.org/the-12-commandments/
http://www.charismaministries.org/holy-living-vs-moral-living/
http://www.charismaministries.org/descriptions-of-the-mosaic-law-in-the-new-testament/
http://www.charismaministries.org/do-christians-need-to-fulfill-the-law/
http://www.charismaministries.org/law-abiding-vs-under-the-law-vs-gace/
http://www.raptitude.com/2009/04/there-is-no-good-and-evil-just-smart-and-dumb-part-1-of-2/
http://www.raptitude.com/2009/04/there-is-no-good-and-evil-just-smart-and-dumb-part-2-of-2/
http://rachelheldevans.com/blog/bible-clear
http://jimpalmerblog.com/2013/11/04/6-lies-and-6-truths-about-sin-2/
http://jmarjoram.blogspot.jp/2013/05/the-knowledge-of-good-and-evil.html
http://jmarjoram.blogspot.jp/2013/05/more-about-living-loved.html
http://pathux.wordpress.com/2013/01/23/morality
http://pathux.wordpress.com/2013/05/29/moralizers-are-the-new-judaizers/

Missionary Thought Experiment

The following thought experiment was inspired by a Facebook post by Andre van der Merwe.

*****

One day, a scantly clad dark-skinned man named Chruth (who you later find out belongs to a tribe living in the Amazon rainforest) comes knocking at your door with a translator, claiming to bring good news (actually, the way he put it was “the Good News”).

You ask Chruth what exactly this good news is. He begins to explain the nature of all that exists and how it came to be.

In the beginning, Chruth says, there was only Wonchrugad. Wonchrugad is the one true God; there is no other beside her. Wonchrugad created everything in existence out of love.

Humans were special, the crown of her creation. Unlike other creatures, Wonchrugad had designed human beings so that they could have a relationship with her. She loved humanity dearly.

In order to help humanity live the most pleasurable lives possible, Wonchrugad gave them some guidelines for life. One day, however, humanity decided to ignore her guidelines; they thought they knew better. From that point forward, humanity was on a morally downward spiral, further straying from what their consciences told them was good and right.

During this decline, Wonchrugad had reached out to humanity by speaking through shamans and performing miracles. Things only ever improved temporarily, however, and matters only became worse overall.

Thus, Wonchrugad decided to come to earth in human form and fix things directly. She showed people her love. She performed miracles. She exposed lies and explained the truth. Some people were for her; others were against her. In the end, those who were against her, unwilling to tolerate the disruption she was causing in society, succeeded in their plan to brutally murder her.

Yet Wonchrugad had seen it coming; this was part of her plan all along! Wonchrugad raised herself from the dead, appearing to her followers before leaving earth (although only in her human form). Through her death and resurrection, she was able to redeem all of humanity, if only they would repent and accept Wonchrugad into their hearts.

Her followers were given the mission of spreading this Good News. They were also endowed with the Spirit of Wonchrugad, enabling them to perform all kinds of signs and wonders. This Good News has been passed down throughout the ages, all the way to Chruth, a follower of Wonchrugad and a messenger of the Good News.

Curious, you ask Chruth how he came to believe in this story.

Chruth replies that his parents believed in this story and taught it to him growing up. He had also personally experienced the existence of Wonchrugad in various ways, such as communicating with her, feeling her presence, being healed by her, etc.

You tell Chruth that he has an interesting set of beliefs, but that, actually, you possess the true revelation and the real Good News (which, you point out, in fact has many similarities with his beliefs). You ask if you can share it with him.

Chruth, slightly surprised by your arrogant incredulity (but not too much because his scriptures predicted that such propagators of lies would show up), replies, “I see that your heart is unbelieving. I plead with you, do not reject Wonchrugad and consign yourself to eternal separation from her. Open up your heart and change your mind. Choose life, not death.”

You see that Chruth is genuine in his call to repentance, yet you struggle to find a reply because you would have liked to say exactly the same thing to Chruth. “But Chruth, you don’t yet even know the god I believe in. How can you be so confident that you are right and I am wrong?”

Chruth laughs and replies, “Whatever god you have been taught to believe in does not really exist; I guarantee you, it’s false at best and demonic at worst. For I have both experienced first-hand the reality of Wonchrugad and witnessed undeniable reasons for why my beliefs about her are correct.”

You ask Chruth whether he has any compelling evidence as to why his beliefs must be right.

“The holy writings say that the reality of Wonchrugad is evident in nature and plain for all to see. You are only stubbornly denying that which Wonchrugad has made obvious to all humanity.” Chruth then walks you through his apologetics for the historicity and validity of his holy writings, proofs for the existence of Wonchrugad, and demonstrations of the falsity of any other belief system.

You begin to give similar reasoned arguments for your own beliefs, but Chruth cuts you off. “Listen, I’m not interested in your arguments. I’m sure some of them are quite good, but that doesn’t matter to me because I already know the truth. And truth be told, so do you. Why do you keep resisting?”

Realizing that this conversation is going nowhere, you thank Chruth, tell him you’re not interested, and close the door.

*****

Now, let’s think about this thought experiment.

Firstly, that this isn’t a true story doesn’t detract from the lesson it communicates (it’s called a thought experiment for a reason…besides, there are plenty of belief systems that in fact do make competing claims to those of christianity). The point is this: what about your belief system do you have to show that distinguishes it from all others? What can you say about yours that no one else could ever say about theirs, how does that support its validity? Why should that be reason for someone to be convinced by it and agree with you?

Of course, every belief system has things unique to it. Precisely because of this, we must recognize that merely possessing a unique characteristic doesn’t make a belief system unique (unique, that is, in the sense that it is so profound or powerful that it must be the truth). For example, christians love to tout how, in christianity, God is Trinity, three in one, and therefore only he (as compared to gods of other religions) is capable of being love itself (rather than just being loving). (Incidentally, christianity is not the only religion with a trinitarian god; in fact there were many religions before it with trinities.) Even if this were the case, so what? Possessing a unique doctrine in no way proves that christianity is true or better than any other religion.

Imagine that the story above actually happened to you. Do you think you would be convinced? Even a little? To me it seems extremely unlikely. Most people would be inclined to think the person is a little crazy. Yet religious folks do basically the same and expect to be believed (the only difference may be that they are less aggressive in their approach).

This thought experiment doesn’t show that all or any particular belief system is ridiculous or false; that isn’t the point. What it shows is that expecting other people to agree with you or become convinced once you share what you believe is utterly unrealistic, particularly in the absence of compelling evidence. Indeed, the opposite should be expected.

Despite this fact, most christians (the religion I am most familiar with) believe that unless people become convinced of certain intellectual propositions (despite the lack of any compelling evidence, at least in many people’s minds) they will eternally suffer the consequences of their choices, both now and in the afterlife.

More significantly, christians are generally exceedingly confident that what they believe is true, despite the fact that there are plenty of other people with different upbringings, experiences, logical arguments, etc. that are just as credible as those of christians yet supportive of competing claims. What if you had experienced life in their shoes, being told about a different god(s), having different religious experiences (or having the same ones but interpreting them differently because you believe differently), and hearing different logical arguments in favor of the belief system you were brought up to believe in? Do you really think you would have turned out any different from them? Would you somehow be able to escape being affected by your experience and say, “no, it’s all wrong, christianity is the one true religion!”?

But if this is the case, and whatever true god exists requires that we “get the right religion” (or else…), honestly, he’s kind of a jerk. If so much of what we come to believe in is dependent on our various experiences, many of which we cannot control or choose, how can we reasonably be expected to believe in the right things?

Such belief systems require you to conceive of people that don’t agree with your “truth” as not merely mistaken but fundamentally evil. They aren’t just intellectually convinced otherwise; they are stubbornly resisting what they actually know to be true. Because what could be wicked about not being exposed to enough experiences to become convinced, and how could that be sufficient reason to spend eternity in hell?

The Right Religion

coincidenceAre you able to accept the fact that, had you grown up in a Muslim family, you would most likely be a Muslim now (and similarly for any other belief system)? You would be knowledgable of the scriptures, teachings, and apologetics of Islam, have had experiences that confirm the reality of your belief system (because you would be conditioned to interpret them in such a way), and be as ignorant as you are now of most other religions (except, perhaps, for their broadest details).

If not, you are likely ignorant of or downplaying the significance that your upbringing has on your beliefs (that is, you mistakenly think that your beliefs are relatively free from the influence of the limited languages, experiences, information, people, etc. you were exposed to growing up, thinking that the conclusions you have drawn are for the most part rationally based).

(Just consider the fact that almost no one believes in a religion they’ve never heard of (except for those who start their own). You might object, “well if they don’t know about it, then of course they can’t!” This demonstrates, however, that belief systems are generally not fundamentally rational but rather experiential. For if they were fundamentally rational, people should be able to arrive at belief systems deductively.)

If you are able to accept that fact, however, how is it reasonable for a god to expect human beings to get their beliefs exactly right (and punish them otherwise)? In particular, why do the gods of Western religions seem so obsessed with right belief, anyway? As expounded by the psychological theory situationism, it is not even clear that the person plays a more influential role in determining their behavior than the situation that person is in (in other words, what if beliefs are influenced more by external, situational factors rather than internal traits or motivations?).

Everybody wants to think that, by the grace of God, they happened to be born in a family that believed the “one and only truth” and belonged to the “right faith.” What often happens as a result is that people subscribe to whatever criteria for determining truth set forth by the group they belong to. The internally self-perpetuating cycle of self-validation of the group is thus continued.

religion

per person