Monday, March 9, 2009

Three Problems of Evil.

by Rob R

I wrote this as a response to Masoni and I am posting it over on the Barb wire as well. I know it is very long, but I figured that I could only write a coverage of this that had only two of the three qualities. It could have two of the three qualities of simplicity, thoroughness, and effectiveness, but it couldn't have all three. To help with the length, I have broken the article down into subsections so the reader could see the progression of thought at a glance.



The logical Problem of Evil

First, to make things clear, lets formalize the argument so we may more effectively analyze it.

1.a completely good being would eliminate evil to the extent of its ability (premise)
2.an omnipotent being can do anything (premise)
3.If God is completely good and God is omnipotent, then God would eliminate evil wherever it exists. (from 1 and 2)
4.Evil Exists(premise)
Thus
5 Since evil exists, either God is not completely good or God is not omnipotent or God does not exist at all. (from 3 and 4)

I believe this is logically valid. That means that if all of the premises are correct, then the conclusion cannot fail to be wrong. It should be noted that while many atheists cite the logical problem of evil, it does not follow that the non-existence of God is the only possible outcome. One more thing should be noted about the scope of this argument. It is a means of expressing the logical problem of evil. Obviously, the logical problem of evil argues that it is logically impossible that there should be an omnipotent, omnibenevolent God in a world where evil exists. I have my reason for stating the obvious which will become apparent.

There are some theologians who have bit this bullet and decided that God is not omnipotent. I haven't read his book, but my understanding is that this is the approach of Harold Kushner in “When Bad Things Happen to Good People.” I would suspect that even fewer would agree that God is not completely good, at least not many within the western theological tradition.

While this argument is valid, I do not believe that it is sound. That is I do not believe that the premises are true, thus the conclusion need not follow in light of the falsity of the premises upon which it rests.

First, a refinement is in order. I agree with the second premise. I hold that the definition of omnipotence is relevant here; omnipotence is the ability to do anything that is “Logically” possible. This limit is informative for this issue, and yet it is not a real limit. So if I were to deny that God could make a square circle or deny that God could make 2 plus 2 equal 3, I am not really denying any ability at all because those results don't constitute real actions at all. The descriptions of the logically impossible are nonsense and do not describe anything. The very utterance of square circle, when defined carefully enough (because we could easily overlap a square and a circle, but that is not what I'm talking about, I'm talking about one 2-dimensional shape that is nothing more than a perfect square and nothing more than a perfect circle at the same time in the same 2 dimensional plane) is ultimately nonsense. It doesn't describe anything at all.

Now, the solution to the problem of evil that I believe is the most fruitful is to deny the first premise. An all-good being does not necessarily eliminate just any evil even when it is within that being's power to eliminate that evil. Why? Simple. An all-good being may have a good reason not to eliminate that evil. And for me, that is the solution to the logical problem of evil. But there is of course the matter of what sort of reason that may be. I will get into the specifics of that in the next issue.

the Evidential Problem of Evil

Now, there is another argument regarding evil, and that is the evidential problem of evil. Instead of the broad sweeping claim of the first, that an omnipotent, omnibenevolent God as part of a world where evil exists is illogical, the evidential problem of evil merely suggests that evil could be so great that the chance that an omnipotent, omnibenevolent God is highly unlikely. To put it closer to the terms of our discussion, the degree of evil is such that it is very unlikely that there could be a good reason for an all-good, all powerful God to have allowed it. For that, we need to dig into the reason why God has allowed evil to the extent that he has.

Of course, the source of evil is free will. I was tempted to say that God's good reason for allowing evil is free will itself, but I'm not confident in that because I'm not sure that free will itself has intrinsic value, that it has value in and of itself. The justifications of allowing the possibility of evil and the source of that possibility are those intrinsic goods that free will achieves and makes possible.

Reasons for Free Will

There are several reasons for free will but the most important one that is usually mentioned is that free will is needed for love. God wanted creatures who would love him and love each other. Before elaborating on this I will go over other reasons. Free will also makes a quality of consciousness possible. Of course, consciousness is perhaps the most basic feature of personhood and the exercise of free will is not just a small part of it our experience of it. Also, free will enables a robust sort of creativity which adds a great depth and quality to our existence. Another part of God's intention for us is that we would act as caretakers of his world and would represent him to the world. So that our sovereignty in that task would reflect God's (as we are created in his image) free will is a part of that sovereignty.* I have once suggested that free will adds to the common ground that we share with God as creatures created in his likeness. I had reservations about asserting this because all of the other reasons work toward this end. But since all of the other reasons overlap each other anyway, I might as well mention this.

One reason that has been given for free will is that free will makes moral good possible. I'm actually not convinced that this in and of itself is a good reason. Perhaps I just don't understand it. I suppose that all the other reasons I've cited contribute to moral good or better yet, they are the content of that moral good. But I don't know by calling them morally good, that I've added anything to the debate. I've added a label that has a use in the context of the possibility of evil, but I just don't feel that the information and dimension of justification here has been expanded.

So why couldn't have God created creatures that would love out of necessity and not free will? Some theologians have stated that if God did that, it would have been like rape. I actually disagree with this comparison very much. First of all, the evil of rape has everything to do with the way that we are made to begin with. Animals rape other animals and it isn't some terrible moral crime since the sexual nature of animals is not sacred. The animal doesn't have a quality of self worth that is violated and disgraced deeply when another member of its species forces itself upon the “victim." To get closer to home, I would say that not all of our love that we experience is the result of immediate free decisions. I would say that, for example, a psychologically healthy mother does not choose to love her babies out of thorough and authentic free will. If she must willfully choose to be loving, then she is having a struggle with a mind that is slightly or even majorly out of order. Now free will plays an important role in this sort of relationship as there are decisions that are relevant to the relationship, but the direct act itself of whether to love or not is not such a choice. So it is conceivable even from our own experiences that God could have created loving creatures that were determined to be that way. HOWEVER, while I will readily admit that determined love is possible, I would contest that determined love cannot be of the same quality and perhaps even the same depth that is possible with love that is characterized by free will directly or even indirectly (as is the case with the mother and infant).

There may be other reasons for free will, but these are all that I can think of. Now that we have explored these, we can approach the question of why the possibility of evil should be allowed to reach the depths of tragedy that we know it to have reached by an all powerful, all-good God.

It happens that the closer we are in relationships, the more vulnerable we are to each other. So God, in desiring a close relationship with us opened himself up to vulnerability. This is not far from our experience at all. Divorce, of course, is very hard to go through and there are people who go as far as committing suicide when a loved one breaks off the relationship. But the risk of pain does not mean that loving relationships are not worth having. It actually demonstrates the opposite, that something was there that was very much worth having and now it's gone. (Of course, that isn't to say that there aren't inappropriate relationships, but I would say that these take advantage of our psychological features towards the wrong and even destructive ends. They take something that is good and put it in the wrong context which could lead to even more destruction).

So God created something that was so good that its absence is a tragedy; its destruction is terrible perversity.

So why couldn't God have just created creatures who could choose to love him or ignore him with little peril to themselves and others? Because God did not create a relation that was that flippant and unnecessary. We were created for God on a very deep and important level.

We have such potential to hurt each other because God did not just create us for himself but for each other. In creating beings that God could relate to on a deep and personal level, he needed to create us to reflect himself and part of that reflection is somehow based upon the community that exists in the trinity. So not only is God vulnerable to us (and we to him), but we are vulnerable to each other because of this potential and actual closeness.

One Matter of Consistency

Now there is at least one problem of consistency with this picture that someone might raise. If free will, which for us necessarily entails the possibility for evil, is also part of the image of God, why shouldn't it be possible that God may also commit evil and wicked acts? I believe that the type of love (and the type of moral goodness) that free will makes possible for us, that is also the same quality of love that God possesses is self determined love. God is self-determined but not free with respect to triune love (though he was free with respect to loving us since God did not have to create to begin with).

To get at this, I need to describe what I call a psychologically responsible view of freedom. Not all of our behaviors are free in the liberterian sense (meaning it is fully possible for us to act and and it is fully possible to refrain from that act). We find ourselves in situations where we act on autopilot; we act out of habit, strong preference and even addiction. Some of these actions involve some degree of freedom, and some of these actions are committed by us and in the moment. It doesn't occur to us at all that we might refrain, hence, psychologically speaking, such actions were not truly free in the libertarian sense. Some of these actions, some habits, though not free in the moment, were self-determined. The habits developed as a result of free actions in our past and through our free actions, we formed a predictable character. But, of course, even when one has a habit, though many actions committed out of this habit are not free, there are nevertheless occasions where the habit may be challenged (like when an addict's friends perform an intervention) and in those moments, he does face some free actions and may be able to take steps to change the habit or continue down the road in which he has been trapped.

Now, God does not want the faithful to be eternally free with respect to loving him. We make our choices to live life for God and our characters develop, and perhaps in this life, we may solidify that faithfulness, or in the next, God may act to develop our characters in consistency with the choices we made in this life. But the end result is that our behavior towards God will then on be self determined.

I believe that God never had to be free with respect to a similar quality of love and moral goodness that is found within the trinity because God's self determinism is based upon God's history of loving and morally good actions from an everlasting history. Attributes and actions that are self determined are attributes and actions the necessity of which arises from within the individual. The necessity of them does not come from outside. If God determined that we would love him, as we are temporally finite creatures with our creation originating from God, the necessity of our love would not have arisen from within us but from outside of us in God. The only way we can be self determined is through libertarian freedom. Not so with a being who's past extends infinitely. God's triune love and moral goodness has always arisen from himself.

Embodiment and the Natural Problem of Evil

What about the savage brutality that we see people commit against each other? What about torture and violent crimes? If the source of evil has to do with matters of the heart, why should evil be manifest in such physically brutal ways? Why should alienation from God and others involve these sorts of tragedies?

If we examine so much of the tragedies that we experience, if we look at many if not most of the most severe problems of the world, what is common amongst them is that they are problems of the body. Starvation, AIDS, teen pregnancy, violence, cancer, racism, child abuse, rape, malaria and so much more, all of these are problems surrounding physical embodiment. Another observation that is relevant to us is that not all of these problems involve moral evil. Here we see the natural problem of evil at work, and with that comes another puzzle. Much of Christian theology argues that evil has come upon the world through the abuse of free will and yet we suffer so many evils that have nothing to do with anyone's free choices as far as we can tell. Tragedy and evil just befall us naturally as even nature itself is against us.

I believe that understanding the importance and relationship of the soul to the body and environment is important to understanding possible solutions to the natural problem of evil as well the reason that evil has taken on the brutal forms that it has.

In Judeo-Christian theism, the body is very much a part of who we are. In describing the creation of man, a passage in Genesis is sometimes translated as saying that when God formed the body, he breathed life into it such that it became a living soul. Given the life that we know, much of that which is spiritual, even mental is expressed through the body. We are not creatures with a distinct crisp dualism of mind and body. The two are deeply intertwined and overlap each other. Your awareness, consciousness deeply involves the 5 senses of the body. Of course so much of human experience that we'd say was spiritual involves the body, such as birth, marriage, death, human expression such as we see in the arts and so on. God intended for us to have bodies, the Old testament law is very much concerned with the body as something that is sacred and in the New Testament and for many Jews in the inter-testamental period, it is not enough of a solution to death that the soul leaves the body and flies off to heaven. The expectation that confirms the goodness of God's original intention in creation is that we will be bodily resurrected or given new bodies.

It was not God's intention that human bodies should die, but when human kind rebelled, the soul was in a bad place, twisted into something it wasn't meant to be. Reading the Genesis narrative, it implies that it was possible for humans to live in this state for ever, but instead, God himself broke the created order putting nature and the human body under a curse. So in the Judeo-Christian narrative, even the natural problem of evil is tied to human free will. And the result is a dangerous harsh world where virtually all of mankind will experience suffering and death and a variety of hazards and tragedies.

But why would God do this? How could putting the body into the path of harm, and even grievous and unspeakable harm help when the soul is in danger of eternal death? I suspect that if the body's trials did not match the soul's problems, we might not care that there was a problem at all. But regardless, a cursed world where hardships are the norm and where terrible tragedies happen provides a context of redemption. It provides a context where we would find ourselves searching for help from God and from each other, where we would have reason to be compassionate. Of course free will isn't eliminated here either as so many do not use the opportunity for compassion but rather become predators coping with the world by oppressing others. Here, of course, free will is necessary in the process of redemption since it is, in our context, a part of what it means to enter a loving relationship with God.

Is God doing Nothing?

Now sometimes the problem of evil is stated in such a way that it is questioned how God can be all good, all powerful, and yet stands idly by when there is evil. I did not state it this way above but there is a very important correction to be made here. God is not doing nothing but he is very active in confronting evil and dealing with it according to his wisdom and by a wise and measured use of his infinite power. God has already won the victory against evil by embracing it's strongest consequence, death and has risen undefeated by it. Of course, all though evil has lost the war, the final battles, which will ultimately be losing battles for evil continue as the world awaits full redemption and restoration. God is not standing idly by but he continues to suffer with the oppressed and with his people who are persecuted all throughout the world, but he is allowing evil and the brokenness of the world to continue so that the redemption may continue to grow and spread by his direction and through the work of his authentic followers.

Concluding Remarks

This constitutes my answers to the problems of evil. In short, evil is not logically problematic for an all good all powerful God because God may have a good reason for allowing evil. God's good reasons for allowing evil stem from his reasons for creating us free. The reasons that God has allowed evil to get to the depth that it has is due to the depths to which God has created us for relationship and responsibility and the reason for the depths of the brutal and violent nature of evil have to do with the sacredness of the body and the brokenness of creation. The reason for the brokenness of creation is to create a context for redemption, and it is in this context where God is very active confronting evil.

I do want to highlight what I didn't say. Many Christians when confronted with evil say that there are no accidents and that God has a plan. What they mean is that the tragedy that happened (as are all tragedies) was ultimately God's will which he allowed for a specific reason. I do not accept this.

While I believe that there are general answers for why there is evil, I don't believe that there are always specific reasons and it is my estimation that such an approach is not completely in tune with what evil actually is. Evil is a perverse invasion in our world and so many of its specific manifestations are senseless and meaningless. But while I don't believe every tragedy and evil is an intricate part of, that does not mean that God cannot use the results of that evil. In Genesis, Joseph is sold to slave traders headed to Egypt by his brothers. When his brothers come to Egypt after Joseph becomes the second most powerful man in Egypt and they are confronted for the evil they have done, Joseph is conciliatory and tells them that what they meant for evil, God meant for good. What I believe to be the case here is that while God did not place the evil and jealousy within the brothers hearts, he sovereignly let it manifest in a way that would ultimately prosper his people and at the same time, confront them with their own treachery.

God is resourceful to use situations which he did not determine to bring about good, and some of those are evil situations. At the very least, even if there was no specific plan in place to utilize evil in a way that is ultimately against evil and for the greater good as we see in the case of Joseph, God can still utilize that evil or tragedy for those who suffer by giving them an opportunity to draw closer to him. And this is demonstrably true.

Many Christians who face terrible tragedies respond in three ways. I've personally known people and I know of more who have faith that the terrible loss they faced (the death of a loved one) is part of a plan for the better and that God has a reason. Of course there are those who face such evils that they find this idea so repugnant that they reject God. But there is a middle way as I have described and there are those who don't believe that a just God was responsible for their specific tragedy, but that God grieves with them. All three feel emotionally drawn to their view. The first can't bear the idea that God allowed this terrible thing to happen without a good purpose. The second can't get around the problem of evil and cannot forgive God for allowing this terrible thing to happen. The third cannot see and accept that certain evils could not be planned by a good God and see this as part of the problem that God is at work fixing.

I've known people in both the first and third groups and many of them experience a closeness with God such that even though they may give anything to have the tragedy they faced reversed, they wouldn't trade anything for the relationship with God that they have. I think that people in the first group are mistaken but God still meets them in a deep and new way.

There are in fact hundreds of millions of people who would answer the question of the evidential problem of evil if the depths of evil were worth tolerating with an affirmative, and those are the persecuted Christians around the world who suffer terribly for their faith. Richard Wurmbrand, who wrote “Tortured for Christ,” suffered under the Nazis and then the Communists for being both Jewish and a Christian. He stated that in the prisons and concentration camps, he had seen unspeakable evils, and yet in the midst of it, in his persistence in faith, God had shown him unspeakable beauties.



* This comment was added to my post in light of an observation made by Christian Apologist.

61 comments:

Christian Apologist said...

One thing I realized as I was reading your post was another benefit of free will that I hadn't thought of before. That is the issue of soveriegnty. When man was created God gave him soveriegn authority over the all the earth. (Gen. 1:26). Now in order for the delegation of authority to be effective the person who has been given the authority must be given the ability to make the free choices involved in making those decisions as well as the responsibility should something go wrong with what is put under his control. Therefore evil is the result of human mismanagement. Even those which dont seem to be the result of direct human decisions. i.e. natural disasters. The bible says in many places that the actions of men pollute and defile the land. It also demonstrates that virtuous men can establish control over the elements of nature. (Jesus calming the storm, Elijah causing 3 years of drought, Moses parting the red sea, and Joshua the Jordan, etc.)

Barb said...

Good work, Fellahs.

Would I guess, CA, that you disagree a bit with Pastor K on the interp of natural disasters? I know I do. He may be right --or wrong. It's one of those things we can't know for sure (re: Katrina, e.g. --but if ever a city should not return to its wicked ways, it is that one) , but we do know that God can control nature as Jesus demonstrated.

Yet, Jesus also reminds us that the rain falls on the just and the unjust --and we assume the too much rain that floods does so as well.

Rob R said...

Thanks for the point CA. I will definitely add soveriegnty to my list of reasons for free will.

As for your other points, the issue regarding the land purity is an interesting one and deserves more study.

As for virtuous men gaining control over the elements, I would say these men recieved their gifts for specific reasons for God's purposes, but at the same time, it would seem that Moses demonstrated a certain autonomy with his gifts when he struke the rock contrary to God's instruction, and yet the rock gave forth water anyway.

Anonymous said...

Or. THERE IS NO GOD.
Now stop worrying and get on with your life.

Buddha said...

Light can not exist without darkness, sound without silence, life without death, good without evil.
Your view as all religious views has nothing to do with God but rather is just an expression of your ignorance :)

Rob R said...

Or. THERE IS NO GOD.
Now stop worrying and get on with your life.


That wouldn't be a reason to stop worrying.

I'd just be exchanging one set of worries for a different set.

And the exchange also brings with it the loss of so many hopes.

Rob R said...

Light can not exist without darkness, sound without silence, life without death, good without evil.

Why is that?

Good without evil is perfectly concievable. Suggesting otherwise is like saying there can't be any good marriages without divorce, there can't be any loving parents without child abusers, health cannot exist without disease and so on. But I don't know of any reason why that necessarily should be true.

Why should brokenness be present so things can work properly?

It seems quite the opposite to me. Good doesn't need evil to exist. It is evil that depends upon something that has the attribute of oughtness, something for which there is a way that it should be in order for something to be twisted into something that shouldn't be.

Your view as all religious views has nothing to do with God but rather is just an expression of your ignorance :)

That could be, but I can't simply take your word for it. You would have to enlighten me.

Christian Apologist said...

Life without God is shallow and pointless. Been there, done that, not going back.

Christian Apologist said...

I dont think I disagree with Paster K. as much as expanding his argument.

matthew said...

Barb,

I lead a Bible study in my home and we've been studying the book of Amos all year. It has really been a great book to learn.

Amos asks the following question, rhetorically, in verse 6 of chapter 3: "Does disaster come to a city, unless the Lord has done it?"

The surrounding verses are all demonstrating that nothing happens outside of God's control. I thought this may apply to your comment above.

Rob R said...

I don't have a problem with the idea that Katrina was a punishment for the wickedness of New Orleans. Most people do because they reasons that lots of good people where harmed in the process and lots of evil people got by in a reletively better way. But I think the error here is in something that the west doesn't understand, and that is corporate responsibility.

But I don't have confidence in this notion that All tragedies that befall any city are from God.

I currently don't have a thorough explanation of Amos 3:6 as I don't have time to research it, but if it is absolute, does that mean the Amos 3:7 is also absolute?

So God does nothing without revealing it to his prophets? Does that mean that every single tragedy that has ever befallen any city was revealed to the prophets? So the Mayan cities that fell thousands of years before were revealed by God's prophets? And to what prophets was the Katrina/New Orleans catastrophe revealed?

Of course, that verse taken as absolute as the one prior could mean that every single act that God takes is revealed to the prophets. And if that is the case, relatively speaking, it wouldn't seem that God is doing much at all.

Barb said...

It may be that "natural" disasters do bring people back to God -not all, but some. We realize we are not in control at all --except what control God grants through prayer and godly living --i.e. He does promise to bless His sheep --yet, we know there are Job-like experiences even for the sheep.

Christian Apologist said...

There are two ways that the Lord destroys a city. Through direct intervention the way he destroyed Soddom & Gamorra, Or through the natural laws that he set in place whereby a peoples own wickedness pollutes the land and causes it, and the people around them, to backlash against them. For example when the wickedness of Jeruselem became so great that God allowed Babylon to destroy it and carry those who survived into slavery. When the world was created it was created good. Therefore we should expect nature to react violently to wickedness.

matthew said...

Therefore we should expect nature to react violently to wickedness.

"Nature" doesn't do anything apart from God's will. That was my point in quoting the Amos passage.

I'm not saying God sent Katrina to destroy New Orleans for its wickedness. I don't claim to know why God does the things He does. What I do know is that God did it. He was not surprised or disappointed.

Rob R said...

But your prooftext is dubious for the reasons I cited.

I haven't read Amos in detail but what I have read seems to indicate that vs 3:6 written in normal everyday human language(the only language scripture could be written in) which includes hyperbole and phenomenological language is easily limited to the context of Israel, just like vs 3:7. It seems to be limited to the context placed when and where God actually did send prophets to warn Israel (at least to the people of God but at most, but far from likely, to the region of the people of God) and not intended as a philosophical statement on theological determinism. If you disagree, I want to know why you absolutize vs 3:6 and but not 3:7. Or if you would so absolutize vs. 3:7, that requires quite an explanation.

matthew said...

Rob,

The section from Amos we're discussing is all cause-and-effect. For instance, verse 6: "Is a trumpet blown in a city, and the people are not afraid?" The trumpet was blown as a call to arms. I'm sure you could find an exception somewhere and Israel could point to sometime that a trumpet was blown and the people did not fear. That misses the forest for the trees, though.

Amos is saying that things happen (people on a walk, lions roaring, birds and animals trapped, battle warnings given, disaster coming upon a city) as a result of other things. A bird falls because the trap was laid. People fear because the trumpet was blown, disaster comes to a city because God caused it.

Now you seem to have a problem with verse 7. I'm not sure why. God is saying that He's given His warning and when it goes unheeded, judgment will come. Has not God warned all of us through His prophets?

Amos is writing these as rhetorical questions. He's presuming everyone knows the answer. Does a trap spring unless something triggered it? Of course not. Does disaster come to a city unless the Lord did it? Of course not. Interestingly, Amos is stating the obvious, assuming that even the hardhearted Israelites will get this but you seemingly don't get it. I'm not intending this as an insult (have to be careful any time the tender Christian Apologist is around) but Amos just takes the answer for granted.

Christian Apologist said...

Matthew,
You seem to be missing the whole point of the chapter for the sake of your sovereignty of God theology. The point of Amos 3 is God warning Isreal of the immanent doom comming upon them for turning away from him and setting up altars in Bethel and Samaria, and for all the other wickedness they were doing. These rhetorical statements were merely there to get peoples attention and remind them that there are causes to every effect. I am not entirely convinced that the cultural and geographical context which apply in verse 6-7 are applicable today. Amos is speaking to a people bound under the Mosaic covenant. However, those people rejected God and did not fulfill their obligations, and so the blessings of Abraham have been fulfilled to all nations through the death and resurection of our glorious Lord Jesus Christ. Temporal punishment was an effect of the Mosaic covenant. Now that we are all under the Lordship of Christ we will be judged individually at Judgement day for our own sins.

Rob R said...

Now you seem to have a problem with verse 7. I'm not sure why. God is saying that He's given His warning and when it goes unheeded, judgment will come. Has not God warned all of us through His prophets?
.


It said more than that Matt. It said that God does NOTHING without telling the prophets.

So again, if we absolutize vs 3:6, I don't know why we wouldn't 3:7. You haven't explained that.

I agree with you that Amos did indeed make an issue of cause and effect. It is very reasonable to understand that given the covenant for the people to whom Amos was writing, there was an immeadiate cause and effect with regard to the piety (or lack there of) of the Jews and tragedies that befall their cities. There was such a cause and effect for the people to whom God sent prophets. I don't know how that applies to us today nor would it apply in the intertestamental period.

If Amos doesn't spell it out that this description was limited to the people to whom he was writing, it's because it wasn't necessary. They weren't thinking about issues of theological determinism and how God governs the world at all times and all places. The language is phenomenological language as much of scriptural and and basic human language is. That means it spoke truthfully to their experiences and any possible exceptions just weren't relevent or important at the time outside the experience of the covenant people under what we recognize as the old covenant. (ex of phenomenological language: the sun rises and sets; the soldiers, crops, etc, was without measure)

It seems to me that Amos, and much of the old testament ties the fortunes and tragedies of the people of God and their cities to their piety, and yet, you say that you yourself don't know that's the case with New Orleans and the Hurricanes. Seems to me that you to are contextualizing the issue.

AndThenSome said...

Explain this to me if you will, Barb: Your god has always known that I would choose to be an atheist and therefore be tortured for all eternity. Surely, non-existence is preferable to everlasting, unrelenting suffering. And yet, here I am. How is that not evil?

Anonymous said...

AndthenSome: I predict lovely Barb and her crew will use one of two arguments; they will say "Ohhh... that's because of free will that you are an atheist, not Gods fault!".

RobR:
And to what prophets was the Katrina/New Orleans catastrophe revealed?
I always KNEW those meterologists were special!

matthew said...

These rhetorical statements were merely there to get peoples attention and remind them that there are causes to every effect.

While I wouldn't put the word "merely" in there, I think that statement pretty much echoes what I've been saying. When bad things happen to a city, they happen because God caused them. So how exactly have I missed the entire point of the chapter. The point of the chapter, as you explained it, is precisely what I've been teaching my Bible study group for three months now.

I am not entirely convinced that the cultural and geographical context which apply in verse 6-7 are applicable today.

That's a very convenient way to disregard a whole lot of Scripture. We must use discernment to apply these things to our lives rather than write them off as old and obsolete.

However, those people rejected God and did not fulfill their obligations, and so the blessings of Abraham have been fulfilled to all nations through the death and resurection of our glorious Lord Jesus Christ.

I completely agree with you here, happy to say.

Temporal punishment was an effect of the Mosaic covenant.

Well, our unity was short-lived. I'll give you the benefit of the doubt, though, and assume you didn't mean that.

Now that we are all under the Lordship of Christ we will be judged individually at Judgement day for our own sins.

Now I'm really confused. Do you think this is not the case for the Old Testament Israelites?

matthew said...

It said more than that Matt. It said that God does NOTHING without telling the prophets.

As Aaron pointed out, the context of the chapter is warning of judgment for their sins. Why would you snatch the word "nothing" out of the verse? If I hear a loud crash in my son's bedroom I go up to see what's going on. If he then tells me, "I didn't do anything," I would take that to mean he's denying responsibility for the crash. I wouldn't take that to mean he's denying having ever done anything. The same is true in this text: Amos is saying that God does not judge a city without giving it warning. Amos is not saying that God doesn't do anything whatsoever without revealing it to His prophets.

you say that you yourself don't know that's the case with New Orleans and the Hurricanes.

What I said is that I know God caused the hurricane. I don't know the secret purpose of God which means I can't say definitively that the hurricane was judgment for something in particular. Maybe it was. God certainly did it for some purpose. I just don't know what it was.

I really didn't make my original comment in order to spark a discussion like this. I truly thought we'd all agree. Again, Amos took for granted that everyone would understand that God is behind everything. This isn't really a Calvinistic thing. Aaron said that I'm saying this all to support my sovereignty of God theology. Typically, Arminians believe in the sovereignty of God. Amos assumed people would believe in the sovereignty of God. I'm really surprised we're disagreeing here.

Christian Apologist said...

That's a very convenient way to disregard a whole lot of Scripture. We must use discernment to apply these things to our lives rather than write them off as old and obsolete.

Good job taking my statement out of context. The entire point of what I said after this was to explain why it no longer applies.

I really didn't make my original comment in order to spark a discussion like this. I truly thought we'd all agree. Again, Amos took for granted that everyone would understand that God is behind everything. This isn't really a Calvinistic thing. Aaron said that I'm saying this all to support my sovereignty of God theology. Typically, Arminians believe in the sovereignty of God. Amos assumed people would believe in the sovereignty of God. I'm really surprised we're disagreeing here.

While I wholeheartedly agree that God is sovereign, I disagree that everything that happens is in accord with the will of God. This issue is precisely where Calvinists and Arminians disagree and it is surprising that you dont see that. Think of it in terms of the feudal system. God is the Lord and we are his vassals. We will be held accountable for everything He places under our responsibility, but we also have the free will to govern as we choose. But in the end everything still belongs to Him.

matthew said...

Good job taking my statement out of context.

Uh oh, I sense hurt feelings again...

The entire point of what I said after this was to explain why it no longer applies.

So instead of dropping it without explanation you spent a couple minutes justifying it. You still disregard it and consider it obsolete. Not good.

Look, Amos made a simple statement. He asked a rhetorical question that had such a simple answer he knew everyone would get it. But you guys are going to jump through hoops to make it say something else. All so you can prop up your vain system.

Rob R said...

Andthensome

Your question is not Barb's specialty. It is mine.

Explain this to me if you will, Barb: Your god has always known that I would choose to be an atheist and therefore be tortured for all eternity. Surely, non-existence is preferable to everlasting, unrelenting suffering. And yet, here I am. How is that not evil?

God didn't know any such thing. The future is open and God knows a partly definite, partly indefinite future exhaustively. He knows what has been determined by himself and his creatures and he knows what has yet to be determined. Why, because you have real legitimate libertarian free will.

Check out:
www.opentheism.info or
www.gregboyd.org

course you can also ask me at geebob0 at lycos dot com. (BTW that's a zero after geebob)

Barb said...

I'm surprised the fellows have ignored you, And then Some and Anony but I'll respond:

Some here do not believe in eternal punishment except as a metaphor for extinction, end of existance --which they say is referred to as a 2nd death after the resurrection of the dead and the judgment Day.

Some may not believe that God knows ALL of the future where our free will is concerned --because we have free will. Because of a scripture where God says he planned a certain consequence for Israel but repented of it and did not do it because Israel did not do the evil He expected.

And yet, we have instances of Jesus seeing the future of a free will agent named Peter --Jesus predicts Peter will deny him 3 times before the rooster crows.

I do believe that whether or not God has exhaustive foreknowledge, we all have a choice and an opportunity to gain eternal life through repentance for sin and faith in Christ. If one never has knowledge of Christ, faith in God and a love of righteousness might qualify him for salvation but that is God's call. His promised provision is through Christ alone.

Jesus came that we might have life --that we who believe in Him might be called the "children of God." He extended the "chosen" status of the Jews to the Gentiles --to all of us everyone and everywhere who choose to believe in Christ and follow Him.

Barb said...

O --i see rob DID answer you --same time as I did!

Rob R said...

Matt:

If he then tells me, "I didn't do anything," I would take that to mean he's denying responsibility for the crash. I wouldn't take that to mean he's denying having ever done anything. The same is true in this text: Amos is saying that God does not judge a city without giving it warning. Amos is not saying that God doesn't do anything whatsoever without revealing it to His prophets.

exactly. it's hyperbole. vs 3:7 is hyperbolic, just as vs 3:6 is likely to be.

If you hear that there isn't a church potlock that Rob doesn't show up to, clearly, it's not the intention to state that I show up to absolutely every single church potluck in the world. It's basic human language just like in vs 3:6 and vs 3:7 which you recognize.

What I said is that I know God caused the hurricane. I don't know the secret purpose of God which means I can't say definitively that the hurricane was judgment for something in particular. Maybe it was. God certainly did it for some purpose. I just don't know what it was.

Correct me if I'm wrong, but Amos isn't about any secret purpose. God is connecting punishment with sin in the context of old covenant Israel. That's the context of vs 3:7. Not secret purposes. So if your speaking of secret purposes, I don't see warrant to speak of vs 3:7. Furthermore, again God reveals these things to his prophets. He reveals them, he doesn't leave it within a secret purpose. If God has a secret purpose, we aren't talking about Amos, especially not in light of vs 3:7 (leaving us no reason to think that we are dealing with the content of vs. 3:6)

I really didn't make my original comment in order to spark a discussion like this. I truly thought we'd all agree.

nothing wrong with discussion and now you are learning something new. Of course I did mention in the body of the topic towards the end, I did mention that I did not believe that every tragedy was part of God's plan for some secret purpose (not that I don't believe that there secret purposes, because Amos 3:6-7 doesn't apply to us outside of the old covenant. The different views on soveriegnty between free will theists and theological determinists are labelled meticulous soveriegnty for the determinists and general soverignty for the free will theists where at least God has soveriegnly decided to give his creatures significant free will and at most has allowed an element of self determinism to the creation itself, including in it's brokenness.

But you guys are going to jump through hoops to make it say something else.

the hoops are there. there's a difference between the old covenant and the new one. New covenant, new deal. You aren't avoiding ham are you? And the context of AMos is what it is.

All so you can prop up your vain system.

yes, everything I do is to prop up our vain system. This arrogant vain view that dares to say that

AndThenSome said...

Rob R writes:

God didn't know any such thing [The fact that I would be an atheist and therefore damned for all eternity]. The future is open and God knows a partly definite, partly indefinite future exhaustively. He knows what has been determined by himself and his creatures and he knows what has yet to be determined. Why, because you have real legitimate libertarian free will.

Setting aside for the moment how you know the above to be true, you seem to be saying that your god's omniscience is limited, which is to say it isn't omniscient at all.

Given its supreme intelligence, however, it could surely predict with near-perfect accuracy the choices each of us will make in our lives. It could then refuse to create those beings with a high probability of damnation, thereby sparing them eternal torment, but it doesn't, does it? It knows that most of his creation will end up in hell for one reason or another, but allows it in the name of free will.

How is that not evil?

AndThenSome said...

Thanks for the response, Barb.

I'm not sure, however, that it really answers much of anything. You say that hell might be eternal torment, or it might not. That your god has perfect foreknowledge, or it might not. That we can only be saved by believing in Christ, but there might be exceptions.

But beyond all that uncertainty, would you agree that it is evil to create a being that you know, or have good reason to predict, will end up being tortured for all eternity?

matthew said...

you seem to be saying that your god's omniscience is limited, which is to say it isn't omniscient at all.

I'm hearing more wisdom from the atheists than the Christians. Seriously, Rob, does your pastor know about your unorthodox views? Even in a liberal denomination like yours I would expect you to be disciplined for this.

Jeanette said...

I admit to having next to no sleep last night and probably being unintelligible, but I have to disagree with anyone who says God doesn't know everything. He is Omniscient.

He did not create man and put them into separate lines with the one on the right being the ones to be saved and the ones on the left being the ones not saved.

His own word, quoted on every post in this blog state He is not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to redemption.

He does have foreknowledge but He allows us to choose our destiny. His plan was to have eternal fellowship with us, but Adam and Eve fell for the devil's lies. Yes, God had to have known about that too.

About the simplest way I can explain it is this way and it is simple, maybe senseless.

Last night our dogs got loose because my husband opened the doors and they scooted out. Now we could have had them on a chain or in the fenced in back yard, but they got out through the front door. If I keep them fenced or chained I can say they love me because they never leave me, but they don't have a choice, do they?

They came back home within ten minutes and greeted us as though they were happy to see us. In fact, the seven month old puppy wanted me to hold her and comfort her for about an hour. She chose to come back home of her own free will. It would be reasonable to say she came back because she loves us and knows we love her. She hasn't quite grasped the idea of coming when called, so she did return of her own free will.

God didn't set us up to be robots who would stay on a chain so He could claim we love Him. We have to come to Him of our own free will with the help of the Holy Spirit guiding us and convicting us of our sins so we repent and accept the gift God provided that was the only acceptable sacrifice for the payment of our sins. It was His own blood shed on the cross at Calvary in the human body of His Only Begotten Son Jesus.

We have a choice to make and we all make it whether or not we are aware of it. We choose to follow Him or we choose to reject Him.

Hell was made for Satan and his demons and not for people, but for those people who reject God the only place for them is hell. It's hard to accept and I don't want anyone to go there, but if someone makes a conscious decision to reject Him and He says whosoever's name was not written in the Book of Life was cast into the lake of fire, you can count on it. It's not His will, but He has given us all chances and He does not lie.

Hell is forever. No letup and you won't be able to pal around with your friends there because it will be so dark and so miserable you will be able to think of nothing but yourselves and wish you had made a different decision while you were alive.

This is not cruel. This is God's justice meted out after innumerable chances offered to everyone to accept His salvation so freely given at great cost to Him in the person of Jesus, who suffered physically and spiritually when He had the sin of the world on His shoulders.

Christians shouldn't even be saying there might be some dispensation from hell. Neither should they be saying God doesn't know everything. Of course He does! He lived it already. He's not constrained by time and space.

That's why the prophecies in the Bible that have been fulfilled are so accurate. God already knew the outcome. He was the only One Who could break the covenant with Abraham when He put Abraham into a deep sleep and walked over the covenant area. That meant He was the one who would fulfill the covenant.

Foreknowledge does not mean willingness for any of us to have the worst of hell, which is the eternal separation of God and the realization you were wrong. He's given you the tools necessary to be saved, but you think you have to work for salvation. The work was done on the cross and all we have to do is accept that Jesus is the Only Begotten Son of the Only Living God, the Creator, that He was born of a virgin, lived a perfect life, was God on earth in the form of man, was beaten, crucified, died, buried and risen again and lives today at the right hand of God the Father.

No work man can do will give him salvation. It's only the blood of Christ and then the works come after that.

Jeanette said...

I might also mention that the most grievous sin we Christians can commit is causing discord in the Church by arguing over things that should be settled.

If Amos didn't have any purpose to life today why is it included in the Bible?

Let's stop grieving God in this way. Wanting to win an argument is not justification for tearing believers apart from one another.

Jeanette said...

Lastly, has it ever occurred to any of you that Katrina may have been the work of Satan and not of God and there may be no other explanation. Sure, NO is a sinful city, but sin is sin no matter where it is. If God were tired of the sin here why wouldn't He have destroyed the entire country as sinners live everywhere?

God has given Satan pretty much free reign on earth and his power is getting stronger as we enter the last days.

I don't know who caused Katrina or why, but good people died and suffered as well as bad. In fact, I don't care who caused Katrina.

Masoni said...

First, I'd like to point out that I never said that god's nonexistence was the ONLY logical outcome - merely the one that made the most sense to me, based on that and other arguments I presented in "God, Take 7."

You define omnipotence as the ability to do anything that is "logically" possible. I'd say I agree, but Christians cannot have their cake and eat it, too. Christians also make the claim that god is outside of logic, allowing him to exist before anything else, making him the "uncaused cause" - which is logically impossible.

"...the source of evil is free will." Why would god allow free will to exist if he were conscious of the outcome, evil, which he obviously would be if he is omniscient? Couldn't he invent a free will that doesn't spawn evil? Hell, he can do anything - he's god! Oh, wait, your god is limited by logic in this particular argument (but not other ones, apparently) - which, may I add, he invented - and therefore cannot do what is logically impossible.

You can't limit your god in one breath and claim his omnipotence in another! It's one or the other, Rob! Either god can do anything he wants, unlimited by the systems of logic that HE HIMSELF would have created, or he is not omnipotent at all. I'll be posting this on my site.

Thanks for a well-thought out and civil rebuttal. M.

Rob R said...

ANNOUNCEMENT

Andthensome,

thank you for your questions on the omnsiscience of God but I will not answer you in this thread. I will start a new topic which I hope you will read.

And everyone else

I have specific purposes for this thread. It is about the problem of evil and while omniscience is somewhat relevent, it is not relevent enough.

Issues of soveriegnty are and so they may continue. Issues directly about the problem of evil are right on the mark.

From now on, please stick closer to the subject matter of the topic and chit chat and tangents may be deleted.

AGain, this is not about avoidance but about the goals and agenda I have set here.

And yes matt, he does, God bless im.

Rob R said...

Thanks for joining the discussion Masoni,

First, I'd like to point out that I never said that god's nonexistence was the ONLY logical outcome

Fair enough. But while I wrote this blog in part as a response to you, I intend it as a general discussion of the problem of evil and for the purpose of giving a thorough (albeit not exhaustive) solution to much of it.

You define omnipotence as the ability to do anything that is "logically" possible. I'd say I agree, but Christians cannot have their cake and eat it, too. Christians also make the claim that god is outside of logic, allowing him to exist before anything else, making him the "uncaused cause" - which is logically impossible.

1) there are theologians (and laymen I'm sure, ho hum...) who would insist that God can do even the logically impossible. I disagree with them, primarily for the reason I cited. While there are logically incoherent ideas (which in truth cannot be complete by nature of the fact that they are illogical) there really is no such thing that is illogical, ie there is nothing that can exist. The illogical is fictional. The illogical describes nothing. (one might insist though that abstractions can be illogical, but again, such things because of their illogical nature cannot be complete and they ultimately describe nothing).

2)an uncaused cause or even creation out of nothing is not illogical by any non-controversial rule of logic. You won't find this is the case from sentential logic, but there may be higher order logics in which we run into problems. Now I can't prove a negative here so if you disagree, you would have to demonstrat that.

"...the source of evil is free will." Why would god allow free will to exist if he were conscious of the outcome, evil, which he obviously would be if he is omniscient?

1)I gave four reasons as to why God gave us free will. Aaron provided a fifth, which I will edit into my post. You'd have to explain why these weren't good enough, but then if you do, I can't imagine that arguement won't ultimately be subjective. While I believe my answers are excellent and completely rational, subjectivity in evaluating whether the reasons I gave for free will and a broken world are sufficient cannot be eliminated regardless of whether you are an atheist or a theist. Ultimately, acceptance of my answer is an excersize in free will and cannot be compelled one way or another by the strict rules of logic or even the emperical data.

2)While I believe that a free will theist with a traditional view of omniscience can benefit from my answers, My view of freedom and omniscience are not the norm. I've explained this somewhat in your blog but look forward to my upcoming topic on the issue. While it's relevent, it's a bit tangential and it's too big to bring up here which is already a huge topic.

Couldn't he invent a free will that doesn't spawn evil?

yes, but it would not be logically possible to accomplish what God wanted with free will that did not extend into moral issues. Please refer to the topic under the sub-headings "REasons for Free will" and "one matter of consistency" which comes right after it.

Oh, wait, your god is limited by logic in this particular argument (but not other ones, apparently)

As I explained here and in my post, it's not a real limit. If anything is a real limit to God's power, it's that he cannot do evil acts, but given that God is essentially good, that may be and has been classified by others as logically impossible for God.

unlimited by the systems of logic that HE HIMSELF would have created,

I am going to part ways again with other Christians (but there is more agreement on this one). I don't believe that God created logic or mathematics. I believe that logic and mathematics are an eternal part of God's nature. This is similar to what I call modified dvine command theory. Moral goodness was also not created by God but is an eternal part of his creation, though these morals as applied to his creatures have been shaped.

You can't limit your god in one breath and claim his omnipotence in another! It's one or the other, Rob! Either god can do anything he wants, unlimited by the systems of logic that HE HIMSELF would have created, or he is not omnipotent at all. I'll be posting this on my site.

God is not our conception of God. our concepts are to aid us in understanding him and when they fail to do so, we may adjust our concepts to do the job better.

God after all has not finished teaching the church. Semper Reformanda!

AndThenSome said...

I was talking about a particular problem involving evil, Rob R, that of a supreme being creating someone it knows will suffer eternal pain. That seems to me to be relevant to the discussion, but if you'd rather talk about it elsewhere, so be it.

Rob R said...

You are right andthensome. it is relevent to the problem of evil, but again, it is a huge in and of itself involving many many tangential issues and I intend to answer your questions elsewhere. If you still see the need to bring up the problem of evil with respect to omniscience, please do so when I make a topic which will have answers to your questions. I intend to have it up today.

Rob R said...

Jeanette

I agree that demonic activity is relevent to the problem of evil. I thought about discussing it but my post was very long and I'm not and my knowledge there is more limited. The demonic issue has been asserted by philosophers and theologians with regard to the natural problem of evil. I like my take on the natural problem of evil best noting a context for redeption, but I think the demonic issue is very relevent and it's not an either or issue.

I have two books on my shelf which I intend to get into by Greg Boyd, both on the topic, which are "God at War" and a follow up work "Satan and the Problem of Evil". I've read the first part of "God at War" an Boyd tells a very sad Holocaust story about a Girl named Zosia who was tortured by the Nazi's in front of her mother and murdered shortly after. It's in light of these sorts of things that the idea that God ordains absolutely every minute detail becomes absurd and grievious.

As for Amos, it has a purpose in the life of the church today, one of which is telling the history of God and his people. The narrative is essential to telling us who we are and who God is. But to really understand what it says for Christians today, we have to understand what it says in its context to avoid misapplying it.

As for arguing, Paul speaks against arguing in the church in Corinthians, but it isn't clear what specific issues were at stake. I would suggest that they were making a big deal over the minor issues in following personalities. Our disagreements aren't primarily over the personalities we follow, but about very important concepts and mentioning persons is only a convenient way of speaking of range of concepts.

The arguing over theological determinism isn't just about overblown insignificant logic puzzles for nerds. It's about the nature of God's love and righteousness. At one point, I almost lost my faith because I could not swallow what appeared to be biblical promotions of reprobation and theological determinism. I could not swallow that a God who does these things is truely good and truely loving. If it's a matter of losing ones faith, it is absolutely important to dig down into the issues even to the extent of contending for what strongly appears to be true.

I think what I would take from Paul's speach against arguing is not that people were contending for what they thought was the best understanding, but rather it was that they divided. I wouldn't divide against the theological determinists and I would happily admit that some love God more than I do and are more mature in the faith. But I believe that some of these positions are grievious that they take and I don't believe that they are thinking it through consistently. The answer is not to avoid the conflict or fight writing each other off as damned for their views on important though not central matters, but matters that nevertheless may cause Christians to lose the faith or keep atheists from entering. The answer is to dig down deep even if it means telling others that they are wrong.

And it's always important to realize that if you don't like the discussion, you personally don't have to engage in it. The church is a big place with many tasks and right doctrine is only one of them. There is still a lot to do with compassion, teaching, healing, serving, and so on, but the body of Christ doesn't just have hands and feet but also has a brain which the church itself cannot neglect. The world is asking questions and the church cannot ignore these questions if it is to fully address it's tasks. Again, not everyone has to do it, but someone in the church has to.

But thank you for sharing your perspective.

kateb said...

AndThenSome said...

I was talking about a particular problem involving evil, Rob R, that of a supreme being creating someone it knows will suffer eternal pain....
__________________-

I think that's a very valid question and one that I struggled with for a long time.

For me, the first conclusion that I came to was that for us to understand time from God's perspective would be like sitting my dog down in front of the pc and asking him to type a letter. We don't have the capacity to understand God's logic, time or space.

But we do have SOME capacity to understand it - and we know that from the explanations of time given in the Bible. Much the same as you explain how an ATM machine works to a small child. We are expected to have some understanding.

We also know that God believes in Agape love - love for loves sake. He believes in 'free will'. He did not wish to mandate that we accept and love him - or his son. And he could easily have done so. But he desires that we love him - and only that.

So the two things we know are that Lucifer, as are all of God's creation had the 'choice' to love God or not. And we also know that there must be a myriad of outcomes based upon our decisions. And each decision stands as a beginning point for future events. How difficult that must be, when God could make us do anything - he lets us choose. (up until the final point of course).

Lucifer was above every other angel in heaven. His appearance was beautiful and dazzling. He radiated light and glory. He was covered with gold and shimmering jewels. Lucifer was the Chief Covering angel and he worked in the throne room of God.

Many believe Lucifer was given the keeping of music as the favorite.
_____________________________
"12 "You were the seal of perfection,
Full of wisdom and perfect in beauty.
13 You were in Eden, the garden of God;
Every precious stone was your covering:
The sardius, topaz, and diamond,
Beryl, onyx, and jasper,
Sapphire, turquoise, and emerald with gold.
The workmanship of your timbrels and pipes
Was prepared for you on the day you were created.
14 You were the anointed cherub who covers;
I established you;
You were on the holy mountain of God;
You walked back and forth in the midst of fiery stones.”
Ezekiel 28:12-14
______________________________

Lucifer became prideful and jealous of God's relationship with Jesus.

"Your heart was lifted up because of your beauty; You corrupted your wisdom for the sake of your splendor.” Ezekiel 28:17

"you have set your heart as the heart of a God.” Ezekiel 28:6"
___________________

Lucifer set himself against God and desired to be deified and worshiped as another God. And God could no longer influence or reason with him.

Lucifer began to recruit followers in his fight with God. And Lucifer and his followers were thrown out of heaven.

"How you are fallen from heaven,
O Lucifer, son of the morning!
How you are cut down to the ground,
You who weakened the nations!
13 For you have said in your heart:
'I will ascend into heaven,
I will exalt my throne above the stars of God;
I will also sit on the mount of the congregation
On the farthest sides of the north;
14 I will ascend above the heights of the clouds,
I will be like the Most High.'” Isaiah 14:12-14
___________________________-

For many people this is equivalent to an opera they would go to watch and no more realistic - but they are fooled.

Rather than realize his folly, Lucifer became embittered and upon earth he and his followers became evil embodied and demons. They are quite real.

After time it became Satan's greatest desire to separate us from God. To punish God. The act of a foiled child to be sure.

But in not acknowledging that Satan and his followers are real - they are only empowered.

_______________________

After all this, I came to know the true power of free will. And how dangerous it can be!

And I also came to feel a bit sorry for Satan - to have fallen so far and from the favored position. It's a tragic story.

AndThenSome said...

I don't mean to trivialize your response, kateb, and I appreciate your measured and thoughtful answer, but it seems to just boil down to "The Lord works in mysterious ways."

It may seem like an answer to you, but it isn't very satifying to an atheist, as you might imagine.

Christian Apologist said...

I was talking about a particular problem involving evil, Rob R, that of a supreme being creating someone it knows will suffer eternal pain. That seems to me to be relevant to the discussion, but if you'd rather talk about it elsewhere, so be it.

The answer to you question is that the orthodox view of eternal damnation actually has very little biblical support but rather comes out of the greek conception of the immortality of the soul. What the bible really teaches is that the bodies and souls of the wicked are eternally destroyed in the fires of hell. This is the second death. I do not wish to enter into this debate with other christians at the moment. For one thing it is outside the purvue of the original post. For another it would be a long discussion. If anyone wishes to dissuade me from my position then I will start a topic on this on my blog.

Christian Apologist said...

Uh oh, I sense hurt feelings again...

Listen Matt whatever I have said in the past that has offended you so much that you insist on slandering me as a touchy feely girly man I appologize and ask for forgiveness, but please cease and descist with the slander.

So instead of dropping it without explanation you spent a couple minutes justifying it. You still disregard it and consider it obsolete. Not good.

I am not ignoring it, I am saying that given the cultural and temporal context the verse is not meant to imply what you are saying it implies. Isreal was Gods chosen people and he dealt with them differently then he dealt with the gentile nations surrounding them. Amos was a Jewish prophet speaking to the Jewish people. The statement can be specifically true without being universally true.

Look, Amos made a simple statement. He asked a rhetorical question that had such a simple answer he knew everyone would get it. But you guys are going to jump through hoops to make it say something else. All so you can prop up your vain system.

You are the one who is pulling this verse out of the context of both its overarching prophetic statement, and of the unique situation, in order to bolster you own theology.

By the way vanity is a sin, are you now accusing your brothers in Christ of sin simply because we hold to a different doctrine?

kateb said...

AndThenSome - yes I certainly see why an atheist would have trouble with those concepts.

No insult taken. We all see it differently. No worries.

I'm just happy to have a conversation about faith that I didn't get slammed because we don't think/believe alike!

Thank you.

matthew said...

but please cease and descist with the slander.

While I wouldn't call what I'm doing slanderous or libelous, since you asked nicely I will stop implying that you are a girly man. The fact you're actually standing up for yourself and telling me to shut up makes me think maybe I was wrong in the first place.

By the way vanity is a sin, are you now accusing your brothers in Christ of sin simply because we hold to a different doctrine?

Yes. Actually, I'm surprised you've been missing that.

By the way, regarding the brothers in Christ stuff, I'm really starting to wonder about Rob. He exhibits fruits of the spirit and shows signs of God's work in his life but this open theism stuff is really intolerable heresy.

Barb said...

Matthew --did you see the latest Time magazine about "the new Calvinism" "reform theology," etc.? Interesting.

AndThenSome said...

And thank you for your graciousness, kateb. It really made my day.

People like us are supposed to be at each other's throats, given our very different views, especially on the net. I imagine it's because it's easier for people to dwell on differences than to build on what they have in common. It's tiresome, really, intellectually and emotionally.

We will likely never see eye-to-eye on the subject of faith, kateb, but hopefully we can continue to discuss it politely.

Take care, and happy St. Patty's eve.

Christian Apologist said...

Yes. Actually, I'm surprised you've been missing that.

By the way, regarding the brothers in Christ stuff, I'm really starting to wonder about Rob. He exhibits fruits of the spirit and shows signs of God's work in his life but this open theism stuff is really intolerable heresy.


Calling other christians who believe differently then you do, heretics and sinners, is both divisive and sectarian. The root of all of this is pride of knowledge. You believe you are right and everyone else is wrong. You have pre-judged Rob as a heretic before he has even posted what he is referring to about his open theism.

The fruits of the spirit are: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faith, gentleness, and self-control. But the greatest of these is love. I find almost none of these in your posts on these boards and this makes me question the underlying doctrine of reform calvinism more than anything else.

matthew said...

Calling other christians who believe differently then you do, heretics and sinners, is both divisive and sectarian.

I call everyone a sinner, Aaron, myself included. Maybe your Wesleyan background has caused you to misunderstand the nature of sin. It permeates everything we do and say. So, with that in mind, my accusations of sin aren't as earth shattering as you may have originally thought.

I haven't called Rob a heretic, necessarily. Open theism is certainly heresy and if Rob holds to it firmly then eventually I would be convinced of him on a personal level. Men in the church need to be willing to fight over things that are important. This one is preeminently important. Also, it may be worth noting that I haven't written this stuff based upon one blog post or one comment from Rob. We've had much interaction over the years.

Regarding love... I think I've mentioned before that a truncated, superficial understanding of love would see my posts as very unloving. But a deeper and more thorough understanding of love might see something more in what I've written. That said, I don't claim to be right in everything I say and do and I definitely don't claim to always have the proper attitude and motivation as I do them. So you're the second person today to remind me of the need for love. The first was the Holy Spirit as I read the book of Ephesians this morning (particularly the end of chapter four and first verse of chapter 5).

matthew said...

Barb,

Someone else told me about the article but I haven't had a chance to look it up. It's probably online, I suppose. Maybe I'll check it out right now...

Christian Apologist said...

I call everyone a sinner, Aaron, myself included. Maybe your Wesleyan background has caused you to misunderstand the nature of sin. It permeates everything we do and say. So, with that in mind, my accusations of sin aren't as earth shattering as you may have originally thought.

And indeed I am a sinner as well. Thankfully I have been baptized into the death and resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ. Sin no longer has a hold on me. It does not permeate everything I do and say. As I refuse to conform to the pattern of this world but am transformed by the renewal of my mind, by the Holy Spirit through the word of God, sin is losing its hold on me. Its influence in my life is gradually receeding as I take up my cross daily, and put to death the desires of the sinful nature. All praise and glory to God the father and Jesus Christ his only begotten son, by whose power alone is this possible.

Rob R said...

Thanks for defending me CA and Matt, thanks for calling my views heretical in front of unbelievers.

And with that, I am forbidding the pursuit of this tangent further in this thread. If there are further posts, please stick to the claims of the topic so I don't have to prune. I'm not saying the discussion wasn't important, but it's importance isn't related enough to my goals and purposes in this topic.

matthew said...
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Christian Apologist said...
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matthew said...
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kateb said...
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Christian Apologist said...
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Rob R said...

Folks, If I'll delete me own mudder I'll delete your posts too.

It wasn't all bad, but I gotta be consistent. Please stick to the topic. If no one else comments on that topic, that's fine with me.

Hope there's no hard feelings, but a man's gotta do what a man's gotta do.

Rob R said...

FYI, feel free to say whatever on "bloggin delays".

Rob R said...

I am closing the comments on this topic.

If you'd like to discuss the ideas here, mention it in the comment section in a recent post and I will open up a space for it.