D6 – Not Just a Conference but a Way of Life!

"D6 is more than a conference: it’s a biblical passage, a principle, a strategy, a way of life." (link)

Taken by Deb

Have you ever heard of a conference called D6?  The conference planners must believe it is really AWESOME because they describe it as a WAY OF LIFE.  It will take place next week in the Dallas metroplex.

Perhaps you are wondering why this conference suddenly came onto our radar screen.  I recently discovered that the producer of the video Divided (mentioned at the end of yesterday's post) has been "disinvited" to the D6 Conference.  Wow!  The only time I have ever heard of someone being "disinvited" to a conference was last May when Ken Ham was given the left boot of fellowship from a Christian homeschool conference. 

Just what is D6?  The conference name centers around Deuteronomy 6:7 which, according to the D6 website, "tells us three things: Love God, treasure His Word, and teach this to the next generation. The vision of the D6 Conference is to champion a movement of parents who disciple their own kids and teens in partnership with their local church. The D6 Conference is dedicated to helping churches, leaders, parents, and volunteers to develop a generational discipleship model based on Deuteronomy 6."

Here is how the D6 conference is introduced on its website: (link)

“Over the last several decades church discipleship programs have reached an all time standard of excellence.

We have seen more kids and students come through our doors than we could have ever imagined. But what are the results? Conservative studies show that between 70% -75% of the students in our youth groups are not attending church within 5 years after high school graduation: most of whom will never return. D6 is about a scriptural approach to a problem of biblical proportions.

D6 is more than a conference: it’s a biblical passage, a principle, a strategy, a way of life."

Pretty scary stuff…  Will the church survive beyond the next generation? Perhaps D6 can remedy this dire situation.  It appears from the D6 website that this annual conference began just three years ago.  Conferences, conferences, conferences…  Where would be be without them.  This year's theme is "Biblical Discipleship".  There's that descriptor again — biblical.  Who gets to define the term? 

Here is the gist of the conference:

"Most parents want to be involved in the spiritual development of their kids’ lives, but just don’t know where to begin. Parents are involved in sports, homework, and hygiene, but many find it challenging to connect with their children when it comes to their faith in Jesus Christ.

Unfortunately, many people rely on the pastor, Sunday School teacher, or youth pastor to be the primary spiritual influence for our kids. The problem is we only spend, at most, four hours a week at church. What about the other 164 hours?"

For just $319 (not including travel expenses, food, and lodging) attendees get to learn from the D6 speakers who have brilliantly come up with a method of training up children to love the Lord.  Not to worry, the attendee's church is probably picking up the tab.  Pricing info can be found here.  Sorry you missed the early bird specials…  Hopefully some of the two thousand attendees got a discount on the conference fee.  

Main Event Speakers

Here is the list of conference speakers who will provide training in biblical discipleship. This is not an exhaustive list.  See link for more info.

David Platt

Voddie Baucham

Dannah Gresh

Josh Griffin

Garnett Reid

Lab Speakers

If you arrive a day early you can pay an extra $99 for the "pre-con labs".  Some of these speakers include: (link)

Brian Haynes

Sean McDowell

Voddia Baucham

Tommy Swindol

Dr. Richard Ross

Randy Stinson

Timothy Paul Jones

Jay Strother

John Trent

And many more…

Partners appear to be an important component to the success of D6. Here are just some of them:  D6 Curriculum, Randall House, Focus on the Family, LIfeway, Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, David C. Cook, Dallas Theological Seminary, Golden Gate Baptist Seminary, Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, and Gospel Light.

What is REALLY going on here? It is admirable that these “experts” are so concerned about the next generation, but is that all there is to it? This conference is obviously a big deal to the speakers, partners, and exhibitors.

As I searched the website, I finally learned who the sponsor is in the FAQ section. Here is what I discovered: (link)

“D6 is hosted and owned by Randall House.”

When I clicked on the Randall House hyperlink, I read the following information: (link)

"Randall House is a Christian publisher dedicated to promoting the cause of Christ and serving the Church through the development and distribution of Bible-based curriculum and quality Christian products. As a trusted publisher of Bible-based products for more than forty years, we are proud of the impact our products make on the lives of people around the world."

Now that there is such a great emphasis on connecting the church and home among some Christian leaders, all of the current training materials appear to be obsolete. New curricula and books must be written and purchased in mass quantities to train those interacting with the youth so they will not forsake their faith.  Desperate times call for desperate measures… 

Are you getting the picture?

Here is my most sincere question…

Who stands to gain the most from the D6 movement? Is it the youth, the churches / denominations, the curriculum writers, the experts writing books, the publishers, the parachurch ministries, and/or the booksellers? I believe it’s a fair question.

It will be fascinating to follow this newfangled movement in the coming years to see whether it is really making a different in the lives of the upcoming generation or whether it is just another one of those Christian cottage industries.

 

Lydia's Corner:  1 Chronicles 1:1-2:17    Acts 23:11-35     Psalm 3:1-8     Proverbs 18:14-15

Comments

D6 – Not Just a Conference but a Way of Life! — 184 Comments

  1. Deb, so another non-biblical para-church movement/conference. The Bible no where calls us to go to conferences to learn what God would have us do. Interesting. So do they teach that you should not turn your learning efforts over to leaders in front of you (or your children) and instead do it yourself?

  2. Eagle,
    If you went to a “lab” session like that with questions like that, you’d probably just come away angry. Life’s too short.

  3. Eagle, I’ll see you on Q1 😉

    I’ve been thinking a lot about this recently.

    My theory is this: God gives us free will.

    As reprehensible as child molestation is, the molester is exercising his free will to abuse that child. Many of us wish God would step in and prevent it. However, that would then be God overriding free will to stop a terrible sin happening. Fair enough, it’s a terrible thing.

    But where should God draw the line?

    If I go out tonight and get plastered, and get in my car and drive home, and I’m going to hit and kill someone with my car, at what point should God step in and prevent me?

    Before I go out? Before I have too much to drink? Prevent the car from starting?

    Let’s take a step back to something more benign.

    A guy isn’t pay attention in the supermarket, and runs over my sore toe with his trolley. I lose my temper and start yelling at him, calling him an idiot and swearing at him.

    Should God have prevented him from running over my toe, or just shut my mouth?

    But what if that guy wasn’t just careless, but was at the end of his rope, and my litle tirade pushed him over the edge, and he goes home and gargles some bullets?

    It goes from stopping a small sin, and becomes stopping something I couldn’t foresee happening..

    A world like that would be crazy. It wouldn’t make any sense. There’d be a random disconnect between cause and effect. It would also have ramifications for personal responsibility.

    So there is my current working theory as to why God doesn’t step in and break our free will.

    Of course, I’m not a Calvinist, and I think it would be a far more difficult question for a Calvinist to answer.

  4. Eagle,

    I wrote a response to one of your comments on the post “Sinfully Craving Truth”, but it was at the end of the thread, and I don’t think you saw it. I am reposting the same response here so that you see how one person is able to deal with these issues and remain a Christian. Here it is.

    “I read this blog regularly, but have never commented. Your heartfelt questions have prompted me to add another perspective. My husband has been on a church staff or in some kind of denominational position all of his career. So, we have always been immersed in church life and our faith has been integral to us. Our daughter is 38. In her late teens, we found out that she had been sexually molested by a grandfather from the age of 2-10 on annual summer visits. It has been 20 years ago that we started dealing with the ramifications of this. In the chaos and despair of the first few months of find out, I decided that the only way I could get through this was to be honest with God about everything I was processing. I read, talked with people I trusted and tried to make some sense of what had happened. All the while, I was restless with the concept of God not intervening in such evil acts to a child. After several years of this, I sensed that I needed to choose whether I believed in an all-powerful God or an all-loving God. The thought that God could have stopped this abuse for eight years, but chose not too was too much for me. If that was true, I would need to walk away. I have come to embrace that God is a loving God, who is not able to stop the evil acts of humans. I am at peace with that and my faith still sustains me. I realize that this may not be a popular view, and it may not be correct. I just know that going through this changed my view of god, but my faith is still intact.”

  5. Amazing, isn’t it? This is how these speakers supplement their preaching income or for some, like Voddie now, it is how they make a living. I had thought a bad economy would fix some of this conference, book, materials, silliness. But I guess some folks really do not know what to do without being told what to do so they pay a lot to be told by so called “experts”.

    Just one example: Aren’t David Platt’s kids still young? How do we know his advice is correct until we see the end product—his kids as adults living out what he is teaching now? I had this problem with Voddie 10 years ago teaching us about raising children when his oldest was 10. We were not able to see the fruit of his declarations. And the same problem with Doug Phillips who has been touting this stuff while he had very young children.

  6. How much did it cost to attend the “Sermon on the Mount” conference? But that only had One speaker, so maybe not worth that much, eh?

  7. Warwick, I am a Christian, but your answer has me a little puzzled. If God just doesn’t intervene because it’s too hard for him to figure out where to draw the line, do we then assume he doesn’t answer prayer? Why then bother to pray for healing, help, etc.? And if he does answer prayer, why some and not others? And why then would he CHOOSE to let a child be molested, if he could answer prayers to protect her?

    If I’m veering off topic too quickly, mods, just let me know.

  8. To our readers

    Both of us are out of pocket for the day so our comments will be minimal. But, we will continue to moderate comments and release them.

  9. Lin,

    Excellent point about these young dads playing the expert on training up the younger generation in the way they should go. I am growing weary of these so-called experts.

  10. tlc,

    What a great comment! Since this crowd is so into being ‘Biblical’, are conferences Biblical?

  11. Eagle asked:
    1. Why does an omniscient, loving God allow a child to be molested? I mean he knows its coming and he does nothing to stop it? Why do you call this God to be loving? Why do you make excuses for this God?

    This question has a direct answer from the perspective of Christian Faith. And its already been given here. It is a form of the larger question, “why does God allow evil”. And the ‘answer’ is that He allows us autonomy. But the answer to why He allows autonomy is harder. To allow autonomy, He must allow gross evil. How is that justified is the real question. What is it about allowing autonomy that justifies allowing evil? I don’t know if there is a robust answer to THAT question, however, I do not think the fact we can’t answer that question means God is necessarily inconsistent in His nature in making things this way, because even I can see that autonomy and universally preventing evil are mutually exclusive. And after all, it is this assumed inconsistency which forms the basis for how this question is used to make a case for God not existing.

    Eagle asked: “2. Why are held responsible for Adam’s sin 5000 years ago? What did you speciffically do to get on God’s ^&%$ list. 😉

    We are not held responsible for Adam’s sin, we all inherit a sinful nature and commit sin and are therefore are all guilty of it. The typical understanding of original sin gets messy and leads to statements like ‘even if a man never sinned he’d go to Hell because of original sin’ and stuff like that – which is totally unnecessary. There isn’t anyone who never sinned (except Christ), so it’s silly to ramble on about what would happen to someone who never sinned.

    We all have sinned. And we answer to God for our sins. And that is why we need Christ.

    3. Can you tell me what happens to a person who never heard the gospel due to when and where they lived? Does someone from Wuhan, China in 100 BCE go to hell becuase he never accepted Christ?

    The Bible gives a clear answer for those who lived before Christ –

    “All who sin apart from the law will also perish apart from the law, and all who sin under the law will be judged by the law.”

    The implications elsewhere is that those who died before Christ were given some kind of opportunity to appropriate his work for themselves.

    The person who never hears about Christ is judge righteously according to their deeds. The problem is, all sin. Whether they have the law or not. We all sin in a way we know we’ve sinned. God’s judgment on all is absolutely fair and just according to who they are and what they knew.

    In Christ we are offered the chance for redemption from our sin, a way of getting our just dues taken on by someone else so we don’t have to pay them.

    So what of those who never hear of Christs redemption in this life? I do not know. It seems unfair that God would withhold the opportunity to gain Christ’s work because they lived somewhere the Gospel had never been preached. But I trust God with that. What ever He does, it will be the right thing to do. But if God gave those before Christ some opportunity to gain His work, then I have to believe that if someone seeks God, He’ll make a way for them in our age as well. The implication is that for the most part, they don’t seek Him, and they will perish. That is why we must make the effort to tell them (as many times as they will listen) about Jesus.

    The problem for you is that is not where you live. You have heard the Gospel. So the opportunity exists for you to be free from condemnation over your own sins and to be born again and made a new creation through Christ, should you chose to do so.

    Zeta

  12. On topic, as for whether there is some profit motive associated with the new materials and the sale of them at the converence, I am reminded of Paul’s words:

    Some, to be sure, preaching Christ even from envy and strife, but some also from good will;
    the latter do it out of love, knowing that I am appointed for the defense of the gospel; the former proclaim Christ out of selfish ambition rather than from pure motives, thinking to cause me distress in my imprisonment.
    What then? Only that in every way, whether in pretense or in truth, Christ is proclaimed; and in this I rejoice. Yes, and I will rejoice

    Zeta

  13. Zeta,
    Good point about rjeoicing that Christ is proclaimed whether or not the preacher has right motives. TYhe gospel is truth, even when spoken by a liar. I think the real concern with a conference like D6 is whether or not what they are promoting is truth, or just opinion or what has worked for some packaged as one size fits all.

  14. The answers to the questions of the existence of evil, sinful natures, etc. are nothing more than spin. The whole idea of omnipotence negates the very answers to the questions of theodicy. As soon as you start off an answer with “God needs to…, or “God has to allow…”, you’re in direct contrast with the very definition of omnipotence.

    If indeed He is omnipotent, then by definition He doesn’t have to do anything. That’s what omnipotence implies…He can make the world any way He likes and still permit free will.

    A limitation on the available choices does not negate the concept of free will. You are still free to chose from the available options. It does not imply an infinite number of choices.

    By a simple example, if I build a room and placed only 3 doors for you to choose from to exit…have I taken away your free will? Are you any less free than if I had put 10 or 100 doors in the room?

    In the same way, you would not have any less free will without evil as a possible choice than you have with it. You are still free to choose from the available options.

  15. Bounded Reality

    Free will here is in the sense of being able to chose good or evil, to chose to follow God or not follow Him. You comments about omnipotence are true, just incomplete. I can’t answer the question of why would God make a world where evil is possible, but clearly the answers given above preclude the context of a world where there is good or evil. It may well be that ‘being’ and ‘sentience’ are elements of existence that have inherent in them the capability of good and evil and that the only way to have sentient beings capable of true conscience, they must exist in an environment where ‘good’ and ‘evil’ are available choices. In fact, it is entirely possible our current existence and universe represents the ‘softest’ form in which such concepts can find full expression in some kind of infinite sense.

    But given a universe where good and evil exist, full or nearly full autonomy and the prevention of evil are mutually exclusive concepts.

    Zeta

  16. Bounded Reality – have you considered the following verses in relation to the free will issue?

    Rom 7:15 For I don’t understand what I am doing. For I do not do what I want — instead, I do what I hate.
    Rom 7:16 But if I do what I don’t want, I agree that the law is good.
    Rom 7:17 But now it is no longer me doing it, but sin that lives in me.
    Rom 7:18 For I know that nothing good lives in me, that is, in my flesh. For I want to do the good, but I cannot do it.24
    Rom 7:19 For I do not do the good I want, but I do the very evil I do not want!
    Rom 7:20 Now if I do what I do not want, it is no longer me doing it but sin that lives in me.
    Rom 7:21 So, I find the law that when I want to do good, evil is present with me.
    Rom 7:22 For I delight in the law of God in my inner being.
    Rom 7:23 But I see a different law in my members waging war against the law of my mind and making me captive to the law of sin that is in my members.
    Rom 7:24 Wretched man that I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death?

  17. BR,
    I agree with your assessment that an omnipotent God is not required to do anything. But that does not mean that he is necessarily able to do everything. The standard definition of God’s omnipotence is not that God can do anything; rather, it is that God can do anything which can be done. For example, because God has characteristics other than omnipotence, such as perfection and justice, He cannot act in imperfect or unjust ways.

    You make an interesting argument that a limitation of the number of choices does not necessarily negate free will. I personally don’t believe that “free will” is an adequate answer to the existence of evil, and I don’t believe that the human will is ever truly totally unfettered, so I wouldn’t defend the the argument that free will is an answer to the existence of evil. Even so, I think there is an error of category in your statements.

    Yes, God could allow some choices and not others, and people would have freedom in just those areas in which choices were allowed. But free will as relates to the ability to choose good versus evil is ultimately, of necessity, a binary concept. The issue is not quantitative (the number of choices available), rather it is qualitative (the kinds of choices being made).

  18. Rom 7:15 For I don’t understand what I am doing. For I do not do what I want — instead, I do what I hate.
    Rom 7:16 But if I do what I don’t want, I agree that the law is good.
    Rom 7:17 But now it is no longer me doing it, but sin that lives in me.
    Rom 7:18 For I know that nothing good lives in me, that is, in my flesh. For I want to do the good, but I cannot do it.
    Rom 7:19 For I do not do the good I want, but I do the very evil I do not want!
    Rom 7:20 Now if I do what I do not want, it is no longer me doing it but sin that lives in me.
    Rom 7:21 So, I find the law that when I want to do good, evil is present with me.
    Rom 7:22 For I delight in the law of God in my inner being.
    Rom 7:23 But I see a different law in my members waging war against the law of my mind and making me captive to the law of sin that is in my members.
    Rom 7:24 Wretched man that I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death?

  19. My question; with all sincerity. “Where does the Bible teach or state that a man has free will?” Thanks.

  20. John,

    It doesn’t say it specifically…but without it…God becomes the author of evil….

    In truth, the idea of “free will” or “choice” doesn’t seem to be supported by what we know. I suspect, that the idea of “choice” is yet another concept we are saddled with, if we wish to keep believing in Gods and religion…’round and ’round we go…

  21. “My question; with all sincerity. “Where does the Bible teach or state that a man has free will?” Thanks”

    Why would NT scripture give us a ton of “one anothers”, tell us to “be Holy”, Imitate Christ, tame our tongue, not to show favoritism and we must include the lists of things not to do (example: Galatians)if we want to inherit the kingdom, etc….if we have NO capacity at all to “do” them or “not do them”?

    We cannot earn our salvation and we are promised the Holy Spirit to guide us. Sanctification flows from true salvation.

    As to sin…we are born in corrupt bodies and we live on ground that was cursed. The fact my body is decaying is a result of sin.

  22. Dee,

    Here’s one for you, since you are fond of pointing out that we can’t help but sin because of our inherited nature. Just how long, after reaching the moment of accountability, is it, until a person commits a sin?

    I would think you’d have to make a case of immediately.. literally in the same instant…otherwise…a child who reaches the age of accountability…lives for 2 seconds past that then dies, would quite literally be sinless and not need salvation. I mean whether it’s a second a day, week, month or years…the time is irrelevant…what do you say?

  23. Eagle,

    Bounded is right, it really is about spin. Long ago, I believed everything they (Lutheran Catechism, Calvary Chapel fundamentalism etc.) spoon fed to me and accepted it without question as “what the Bible teaches”. In the intervening years of study from then until now, I no longer come up with the same conclusions. For example I now reject the doctrine of Original Sin along with its corollary of Penal Substitution. If one pre-supposes a pissed-off God at the fall (which I don’t) then these ideas work out and fit nicely along with separation from God, spiritual death, and sin nature (spark of divine not allowed) as the default condition of humans.

    If on the other hand one pre-supposes a horrified and broken hearted father (God) at the fall, then the Christus Victor model fits better and Yeshua came to repair the damage, not to slake the blood lust of a cruel and vindictive deity who demands perfection.

    Yeah whatever. How does this explain the problem of evil? Here’s my spin.

    I see it as a titanic cosmic struggle for the hearts and minds of human and angel alike. And more often than not, we humans wind up as collateral damage. We have the power to put a stop to much of the evil that occurs around us. There’s a Native American parable about all humans being born with two wolves within. One is kind and good & the other is mean and vicious. The one that wins depends entirely on which one we feed and which one we teach our children to feed. And the stuff we have no control over? Yeshua promises that one day there’ll be a grand reckoning when all is put right.

  24. psr

    My heart goes out to you. Molestation of a child is devastating for the parents as well as the child.I would call it my “hot button” issue. I left a church over the mishandling of a similar situation. I had a young child who suffered with a brain tumor. I, too, had to struggle with that issue. I read a book during that time, that brought me to a slightly different place than you but a place in which I found a God who was there. It is called Disappointment with God by Phillip Yancey. He helped me to see a God who did offer a solution to man’s problem but the solution was not fully understood for a time.

    It had to do with the healing of the lame man. What did He first say to the man? “Your sins are forgiven.” But is that what the man really wanted? He wanted to be able to walk. The Pharisees went nuts because only God could forgive sins. Jesus did go onto heal the man but it is the first statement “your sins are forgiven” that speaks to the true need and the true miracle.Is it because we are focused on this life, while God is pointing us to the next? I have read some other responses that are excellent that deal with free will which ties into this.

    Once again, i am sorry for your pain. It breaks my heart. i will pray for you and your daughter.

  25. BR

    What does the age of accountability have to do with committing sin? A child still sins but is not held accountable.

  26. Dee,

    yes, but it IS important. You maintain that we are not punished for Adam’s sin, but rather we each are incapable of not sinning due to our fallen nature. If that’s the case, then what you are saying is that for every person, at the moment they reach the age of accountability (whenever that is)…they must immediately commit a sin…for if they do not, in that instant sin, and then they were to die…they would be dying sinless..what need would they have for absolution?

  27. BR
    I am still confused. A child, before the age of accountability still sins and is covered by Jesus. So, at some point, the child reaches said age, he continues in s sinful state but is justified by Jesus. We are positionally holy but each one of us is a sinner and we die not having personally resolved all of our sins but we are forgiven all of our sins. So no one is “sinless” but all who accept Jesus are forgiven.

    Dee-sorry i signed in on another account

  28. Final Anonymous,

    To answer your question… I don’t really know.

    Your questions raise more questions for me to think about (I’ve been thinking about them all morning).

    Although, to clarify, I’m not saying God wouldn’t know where to stop things. I’m theorising he chooses not to violate the free will, based on the way things appear to be. Could He? Absolutely. Does He? I don’t think He does.

    Right now, I’m not sure that prayer is inconsistent with that idea.

    I could also be completely wrong.

    I had a lengthy explanation of how I got to my position, but I deleted it because it was turning into a blog post.

    It appears that cries for release from terrible situations often (regularly? usually?) go unanswered. Why does God not answer those prayers?

    I don’t know. I’m not sure (at this point) that God does answer prayer that interferes with one’s free will. There are probably plenty of examples in my blind spots.

    However, if we look at Jesus in the garden, we see him submitting to the Father’s will, rather than it being forced on Him. I think there’s something in that, although I’m not sure whether it’s directly applicable to my theory 😉

    W

  29. Anon,

    How can a child sin, if the child is not aware that it is choosing disobedience…I think most theologian would disagree with you, in that the idea of sin has no meaning up until a certain age..in the same way that it would be meaningless to speak of an animal sinning or an inanimate object.

    The question, in its most succinct form is “what happens if a person dies before they commit a sin”…the chronological age is unimportant….if we are not being punished for Adam’s sin, but only inherit a sinful nature as a result of the fall…then is it possible to die before committing a sin…and if so, then that individual…dies sinless and not in need of salvation.

  30. Garland,

    Glad you like the photos. My husband and I traveled to Europe last summer with our daughter’s senior high school class, and there were such wonderful sites. I wish I had taken more photos. I’ll keep sharing them from time to time.

    Blessings!

  31. “The mystery of the relationship between divine sovereignty and human free will has challenged the greatest Christian thinkers down through the centuries.”

    “Unfortunately, some have purged human responsibility in order to seemingly preserve divine prerogative.”

    “Likewise, others have sacrificed God’s sovereignty in order to hold on to humanity’s free choice.”

    “Each of these alternatives is wrong and leads to subsequent error.”

    –Dr. Norman Geisler. (ST,v2)

  32. Randy Stinson? Now there’s a huge problem. I’m sure he’ll come prepared with all his CBMW propaganda that he will attempt to

  33. BR

    My daughter, at the age of 2, left the house of a friend with me. She was walking awkwardly and doing her best nt to let me see the hand behind her back. She had taken little friend’s truck. She somehow knew what she was doing was wrong and she tried to hide it from me.

  34. Here is an interesting verse to consider about the “original sin” issue:

    Romans 5:18 – Consequently, just as condemnation for all people came through one transgression, so too through the one righteous act came righteousness leading to life for all people.

    We had the first Adam that brought condemnation for all people, but now we have the Last Adam who brings righteousness leading to life for all people. The Last Adam replaces the first Adam.

  35. Evie

    Repeat-he is Biblical. Why? because he is a member of the Council of “Biblical” Manhood/Womanhood. Ergo-you and I are NOT “Biblical.” Darn…

  36. “Those words of the Apostle (Paul)  (Rom. 7:19; 9:16*) are not to be taken as though man does not wish or does not run of his free-will, but because the free-will is not sufficient thereto unless it be moved and helped by God.”

    q. 83, Of Free-Will, Thomas Aquinas, Summa Theologica (in English)

    ___
    *
    For the good that I would purpose- I do not.
    For the evil which I would not even speak of-that I do.

    It is not about him who wills a thing
    Nor about him that tackles with action
    But about the God that shows mercy

    Our God has shown great mercy…
    In his dear Son, Jesus…

    I am very glad you did, my Lord!

    Sopy ;~)
     

  37. Dee,
    Interesting illustration about your daughter. It would seem that ideas of right and wrong are an inherent part of humanness, even prior to a full understanding of those ideas.

    However, I’m not sure that knowing that you’ve done something wrong is necessarily the same thing as knowing that you have sinned. Certainly awareness of wrong doing is a component of understanding we have sinned against God, but seems like there is more to it that that alone. My dog might have some awareness of wrongdoing when he chews up my shoes, but that doesn’t mean he understands the idea of sin.

    But I’m not a big believer in the age of accountability concept anyway. Contrary to some opinions expressed here, I believe we are indeed held accountable (and condemned) by God for Adam’s sin, and I also believe that an aspect of the atonement was penal substitution to address our condemnation for both Adam’s sin and ours. I understand the objections of rationalism to these concepts, but I don’t believe that every biblical doctrine needs to be (or even can be) fully apprehended by reason alone.

  38. I had to go look up the verse that Sopy had in that last post:

    Romans 9:16 – “So then it does not depend on man’s will or effort, but on God who shows mercy.” (New Simplified Bible)

    WOW!

    Great post Sopy! Thank you.

  39. Lin,

    To answer your question, the entire Bible itself is compelling toward the concept that God has given us freewill and has paid dearly as a result (the Father and Son being wrenched apart for a time.)

    That we got to choose to sin is evidence of free will and its significance because surely the Father would have come up with a better plan had one been doable.

  40. Here is a great word of encouragement that I saw on my Facebook page tonight:

    “God, you are enough! You are enough when we are sad; enough when we feel lonely; enough when we are not sure which way to turn; enough when we are needing comfort; enough when we are struggling; enough when we need a lift; enough when have run out of our own patience; enough when we are misunderstood; enough when we don’t seem to have enough. YOU ARE ENOUGH!!!”

  41. Bounded Reality said: “How can a child sin, if the child is not aware that it is choosing disobedience…I think most theologian would disagree with you, in that the idea of sin has no meaning up until a certain age..in the same way that it would be meaningless to speak of an animal sinning or an inanimate object.

    It is my understanding that, except for the most calvanistic of folks, most are willing to allow for the fact that children who die, die in innocence and do not spend eternity in Hell. Perhaps for the reasons you outline here.

    BR: “The question, in its most succinct form is “what happens if a person dies before they commit a sin”…the chronological age is unimportant….if we are not being punished for Adam’s sin, but only inherit a sinful nature as a result of the fall…then is it possible to die before committing a sin…and if so, then that individual…dies sinless and not in need of salvation.

    I guess if one allows for children to die innocent and go to heaven, then this would clearly be the case. If one dies before sinning, one does not go to Hell. The scriptural implication though is that childhood ends when one becomes aware of sin. And one of the lessons of Genesis I believe is that the awareness of sin and the first sin are, in fact, the same event. In that case, there is no ‘intermediate period’ of innocence in which one can die aware of sin but sinless.

    Zeta

  42. Zeta,

    Do you believe that someone goes to Hell for eternity if they die after they commit just one sin? Even if they have not heard nor understood the Gospel yet?

  43. The entire concept of free-will vs. predestination of course defines the Arminian/Calvanist debate. I personally feel this is not an ‘either/or’ theological issue, but more of a mysterious ‘both’. Our finite minds have trouble with this kind of thing, but nature is full of seemingly contradictory dualities. Light is a particle, but also a wave. It behaves like whatever you happen to measure. It is both. The quantum world is full of such contradictory realities. Even matter is subject to wave particle duality, and electrons in wires that are too close can effectively be in both wires at the same time, even though the gap should present an impenetrable barrier to the electron. This results in an effect called quantum tunneling where which wire the electron decides to be in is defined not by the originating wire but by chance. The fact this happens limits how small we can make computer chips.

    If nature which God created can have paradoxes like this in it yet still work itself out to be ordered and predictable on some levels, then I see no reason why God could not both give us free will and predestine us to be conformed to His image. This is only a paradox because we have limited understanding.

    Scripture indicates both exist, with free will hitting the stage in Genesis 1 with Adam and Eve being allowed to be alone in the Garden with the serpent and chose between obedience and death. And predestination cropping up at least by Esau and Jacob if not before (I have never done a study to see what the first reference is in scripture to God knowing what we will be before we are born).

    Zeta

  44. Blah. After reading most of the “promos” of all the amazing speakers, i felt nauseated. I believe i was developing ptsd symptoms, because it reminded me so much of a Gothard seminar… This thing is loaded with steps, keys, principles, strategies, models, tools, etc. Oh my, one even mentions “secrets to developing healthy family identity.” Good thing we have Mr.Dunn to fill us in, so we won’t be so clueless from only having the Bible.

    A Mr.Eggerich also discovered a hidden truth. Where? In Ephesians 5:33! He said “it was hidden in plain sight before me.” (Now i’m alarmed…is it hidden from me when i read it? Will i ever find the hidden truth if i don’t go to this conference?) Oh, and he was so excited when he found the hidden truth, that he took this message on the road with his wife! LOL.

    SO much is promised/guaranteed if you apply the plethora of recommended principles: being able to point families to the root of their problems, faithfulness in families, a growing family ministry, the involvement of men in ministry, profound impact, etc. But my favorite one: How to Rebellion-Proof Your Children!!! WOW. (Too bad St Augustine’s mother Monica did not get to attend this seminar. She could have avoided a lot of grief…)

    I noticed several times that the words “new” and “innovative” are used to describe tools or methods. Hmm, does this pique your interest, or set off alarm bells?

    I feel so sad that i have parented a large family for 27 years without having a “MY FAITH BOX” or tools for heart change. I even had no idea what a parent’s 10 most important words are! The Turanksy-Miller heart-based approach was unknown to me.

    In addition to all of the above, it was quite annoying on the Conference site, to keep seeing the plural form using an apostrophe. I hope their editor’s will correct these error’s.

    bridget

  45. bridget,

    Thanks for checking out the D6 website so thoroughly and sharing your findings with us.

    Where does the Holy Spirit fit into the methodologies of these so-called experts?

  46. Hi Eagle,

    I would agree with you on points 1-4 being a cheapened and misguided view of forgiveness. What come to mind is a statement repeated every year during the Jewish day of atonement (Yom Kippur). –

    Yom Kippur atones only for sins between man and God, not for sins against another person. To atone for sins against another person, you must first seek reconciliation with that person, righting the wrongs you committed against them if possible. That must all be done before Yom Kippur.

    This is amplified by the words of Jesus:

    “If you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there in front of the altar. First go and be reconciled to your brother; then come and offer your gift”

    In one sense, I am not sure forgiveness exists without the repentance of the offending party, and I am not sure repentance exists without a real effort to right the wrong done.

    However, the holding of bitterness or anger towards one who has sinned against us tends to be self-destructive.

    What we often get is a conflation of the two. We must let go of our anger and bitterness in evil situations, because we ultimately hurt ourselves and often those around us who truly love us. But is will also keep us from being able to forgive IF the offending party truly repents. But I don’t think forgiveness itself can actually be given until that happens. And our modern society brings all manner of evil in the innocent victim by telling them they should forgive some unrepentant fellow of what they did.

    Working through the bitterness and anger, however, is never easy. Especially when the sin is grotesque. And again, we often see Christians focus on the ‘sin’ of the innocent victim as they struggle with bitterness and anger – creating yet more hurt – rather than offering compassion and understanding which can help the victim work through that aspect of their pain.

    Sometimes it can take a lot of work to reach a place where one can let go of the bitterness. I have a situation in my own life where the individual who wronged me committed suicide before I was ever able to get over my anger for what they did to me. Believe me, that is an awkward mix of guilt, bitterness, and anger.

    But ultimately, I think we have to work towards forgiveness (being able to forgive if the perpetrator repents) even in the hardest of situations, if for no other reason than the story Jesus told of the slave forgiven the great debt who would not forgive another slave a much lesser debt.

    Zeta

  47. Eagle,

    I thought I knew what forgiveness looked like, but it took several years for me to come to terms with what forgiveness meant in this situation. We had stopped all contact with my husband’s parents and some of his extended family because they were defending the man that had done this and insinuating that something was wrong with our daughter for making this accusation. We had also found out that my husband’s sister had been molested by her father all of her childhood. She was married to a minister and had kept a normal relationship with her parents all this time.

    We did not make a trip to see his parents at Christmas that year (it was about 9 months after writing a letter to confront his father). We received a letter from my husband’s sister admonishing us for not forgiving their father and “making things right”, which I assumed meant having things return to normal.

    I was livid after reading that letter. It took several days to prepare a thoughtful response to her. It took several years to come to terms with what forgiveness means to me.

    It seems that forgiveness is defined in so many different ways, depending on whom you ask or read. We looked at the primary example of forgiveness from scripture. Often God’s forgiveness was given when people confessed their sins. (I am aware that not all of scripture takes this position.) I came to the conclusion that forgiveness is possible when the perpetuator takes responsibility for what happened, when there is true remorse, when the person tries to repair any damage done and when the person takes steps to make sure that the offense doesn’t happen again.

    In our case, there was only denial. So, we struggled with what forgiveness meant when there was no accountability. I have come to see forgiveness as “not letting something consume my life”. To do that, we concentrated on all that was good in our lives – our immediate family, our work, our other relationships. That doesn’t mean that we were never angry again. If you were to ask me outright if I have forgiven this person, I would probably not be able to use the word forgive, but would indicate that we have moved on.

    I do not necessarily feel free to share these beliefs, even in a smaller group setting in our church. I realize that these views may be uncomfortable to others. However, I do finally have peace with my relationship to God.

  48. There is an appropriate pattern of response for situations involving sexual abuse of a child, or a minister involved in any sexual impropriety. This pattern is time-tested and works, and portions should be applied whenever there is suspicion or apparent vulnerability to sin.

    First, determine the facts to the best of ones ability. Second, confront the offender or potential offender. Third, the offender must admit the offense (a potential offender recognize that there is a risk or appearance of risk). Fourth, the offender must accept responsibility. Fifth, the offender and those in the household must agree to steps to prevent another offense (e.g., we do not let Grandpa be alone with a child). Sixth, the offender agrees to restitution — e.g., paying for medical and psychological care for the victim. Seventh, where the act was criminal, the offender must be reported and accept consequences (yes, even if that means jail time). Eighth, the victim, at their option may offer forgiveness. Ninth, the offender must be rehabilitated prior to being restored to a good relationship with the victims — in the case of a minister, that may mean at least two years of counseling by a counselor with experience in sexual offenses and clearance by that counselor, prior to restoration.

    With ministerial staff, prevention of offenses and suspicion of offenses is the proper approach. No one-on-one interactions between the minister and a vulnerable person, or none that cannot be easily monitored by a third person. (open doors or glass walls work). An accountability team not selected by the minister (3-4 couples). For children’s programs, there are extensive guidelines published elsewhere.

    Pastoral counseling should be limited to two or three sessions with any individual, then referral. The pastor is NEVER the BEST person to counsel any particular person, other than to share the Gospel when someone is seeking to make a commitment to Christ or to ministry.

  49. Zeta,

    Wow, that’s got to be the most convenient spin ever 🙂

    (A) So, while most of us can manage to not sin for short periods of time (some longer than others), God has conveniently arranged it so that a young child, who is not held accountable for sin…reaches a certain age and then, poof!, manages to both understand sin (hence be held accountable) and commits a sin in that same instant…are we stretching here or what?

    (B) Secondly, to the question of the necessity of evil and free will…explain Adam please…since evil did not exist in the world prior to the fall (at least the sinful nature of man didn’t), and yet Adam still chose to disobey God…are you saying that either it IS possible to have free will and disobey God WITHOUT the need for evil to be in the world (implies that God, like Lucy, has lots of splainin’ to do!)…or are you saying that Adam DID have a sinful nature before the fall?

    (C) Thirdly, and less important, but still fun…since we “inherit” a sinful nature…which gene carries that nature…maybe we can design a drug to cure it, or maybe we can do some genetic screening in the hospital and make all those sinners wear an ankle bracelet.

    I mean, we use the phrase “inherit a sinful nature” like it’s a medical condition when what I suspect we really mean is that God got his nose bent out of shape over Adam and decided to burden all of us with Adam’s nature…really…how exactly do we “get” this sinful nature without God being responsible for giving it to us.

    ok, enough questions for this morning.

  50. “But can I ask you another question if I may. I think forgiveness is oversold and made cheap in evangelicalism today. Regardless of the offense it’s made to feel like your apologizing for eating that maple frosted donut in the kitchen that Dad told you not to eat. It’s made to be simple, easy and not at all difficult. Reality has taught me otherwise and that’s another area I struggle with.”

    Amen! You are right! I know you did not ask me but you have hit on something that is a real problem out there. The “Forgiveness” issue is simply a tool in their arsenal to control people (and control the image of their organization) and they teach it wrong for that reason. The sgmsuvivors blog is a perfect example of this on steriods at sgm. They teach that you are just as bad a sinner as the child molester who professes Christ and you need to forgive him immediately. This is nothing less than malpractice that causes great harm to people for decades.

    Forgiveness does not always mean the relationship is restored.
    Forgiveness does not automatically mean you have fellowship.

    Think about it, God does not forgive us unless we repent. Jesus’ first sermon was: Repent and believe.

    Yet we hand out cheap forgiveness like candy kisses.

    Forgiveness DOES mean you give up your right to revenge or retaliation. And revenge is not calling the police if need be. You call them. You call them because you have a responsibility to care about other people, too, if someone is an abuser of any kind. Forgiveness means you help put them behind bars if need be. Forgiveness means you might keep your children away from them if they are just evil people.

    People have lost their minds and all common sense when they listen to some of these preachers. And they do not read 1 Corin 5. Was Paul being unforgiving in that passage with his advice? No. He was protecting the Body and actually said it would help save the person by kicking him out.

    Oh, and repentence is not just saying ‘sorry’. It is a long time deal to see if they really “turned away”. Scripture also says to “flee from evil” and sometimes that is what you have to do with some people….even when the church welcomes them.

  51. to Bounded:

    the sinful condition we inherit from Adam is a spiritual condition there is no gene to be fixed

  52. “A Mr.Eggerich also discovered a hidden truth. Where? In Ephesians 5:33! He said “it was hidden in plain sight before me.” (Now i’m alarmed…is it hidden from me when i read it? Will i ever find the hidden truth if i don’t go to this conference?) Oh, and he was so excited when he found the hidden truth, that he took this message on the road with his wife! LOL”

    Oh, Mr. Eggerich has made a fortune telling women they do not want to be “respected” only “loved”. I disagree with him, of course.

    Wonder if that is the hidden truth he discovered that God showed only him? All I know is that he charges a monthly fee on his site to be a part of the very “in group” who get his valued insights.

  53. psr,

    I completely agree with how you handled your incredibly painful situation. Shame on your sister-in-law for trying to make you feel guilty for not quickly forgiving your child’s molester — her own grandfather!

    I am thankful you and your family have been able to move on. I think there is a tremendous misunderstanding about what forgiveness looks like, and I believe the topic deserves a post.

    May God continue to bless you and your loved ones.

  54. BR:”Wow, that’s got to be the most convenient spin ever 🙂

    There are times BR, when I think you would blame God for anything and everything you find annoying!

    BR:”(A) So, while most of us can manage to not sin for short periods of time (some longer than others), God has conveniently arranged it so that a young child, who is not held accountable for sin…reaches a certain age and then, poof!, manages to both understand sin (hence be held accountable) and commits a sin in that same instant…are we stretching here or what?

    No BR. Do you try to find the most sinister possible rendering of everything I say, or is it something you just can’t help 🙂

    An innocent has no understanding of good and evil. There are two ways such an innocent can come to understand good and evil as contrasting moral options. One involves committing evil, the other, I believe, involves choosing good. Why do I say “I believe”. Because the second option is the option Adam and Eve never took, and likewise we never take, so I’m not really sure what that looks like. But my point was that we can’t know good and evil without experiencing it, and in experiencing it we become one or the other. It’s not that God played some kind of evil trick, it’s just the way it is.

    BR:“(B) Secondly, to the question of the necessity of evil and free will…explain Adam please…since evil did not exist in the world prior to the fall (at least the sinful nature of man didn’t), and yet Adam still chose to disobey God…are you saying that either it IS possible to have free will and disobey God WITHOUT the need for evil to be in the world (implies that God, like Lucy, has lots of splainin’ to do!)…or are you saying that Adam DID have a sinful nature before the fall?

    Neither. And again, you seem to want to blame God for things that are our responsibility. In the setting as described in scripture, evil did indeed exist prior to the fall in the form of the serpent. Adam himself was innocent and through the presence of God and His commands Adam was presented with the opportunity to know good and evil. Consider now that to ‘know’ in scripture is often used in terms of sexual relations with a woman, so ‘knowing’ here is not some intellectual exercise but rather become intimately familiar with. These ‘trees’ of ‘knowledge of good and evil’ and ‘life’ where there in the garden. Clearly they were both part of God’s ultimate plan, yet – Adam and Eve chose to follow the path toward ‘knowing’ through intimacy with evil instead of intimacy with good, by choosing to listen to the serpent’s twisting of God’s words and yield to the temptation to ‘be as God, knowing Good and Evil’.

    It is my speculation that the knowledge of good and evil with an innocent involves a clear and difficult choice between good and evil, where the ‘temptation’ is to choose evil. That by choosing good in such a situation we can know good and evil through turning from temptation, by intimacy with good. Or by yielding to temptation, intimacy with evil. In either case, we become ‘one’ with what we choose.

    This is ‘the way it is’. This is not some nasty configuration God made in the sense of it being trickery or itself evil. It is how a an innocent sentient being makes the transition to knowing good and evil. And I would guess that though God wants us to chose good, He must allow for the possibility of either choice for this transition to actually come about.

    BR:”(C) Thirdly, and less important, but still fun…since we “inherit” a sinful nature…which gene carries that nature…maybe we can design a drug to cure it, or maybe we can do some genetic screening in the hospital and make all those sinners wear an ankle bracelet.

    Yeah, this is typical YEC like thinking. There is nothing in scripture that tells us how we ‘inherit’ the sinful nature. The implication is that it comes through both parents (or the father) since the virgin birth is considered critical to Christ NOT having that same nature. But the mechanism of transmission is unknown. Assuming it’s in our DNA is just that, an assumption. It may not have anything to do with the inheritence mechanism that we find in DNA.

    BR:”I mean, we use the phrase “inherit a sinful nature” like it’s a medical condition when what I suspect we really mean is that God got his nose bent out of shape over Adam and decided to burden all of us with Adam’s nature…really…how exactly do we “get” this sinful nature without God being responsible for giving it to us.

    That is why I believe in free will. God didn’t give us a sinful nature. We chose it. We choose it. It’s not God’s ‘fault’, it’s God’s permission to allow us to choose. And as I said earlier, why it is more important that we be allowed the possibility of going the way we have gone than that evil be prevented, I do not know, but preventing evil and autonomy are mutually exclusive concepts.

    My guess is that for us to become fulling independent, yet good, eternal beings God must allow for the possibility we will become what we have become.

    Zeta

  55. Deb: I was wondering that same thing about the Holy Spirit. Perhaps they are like the disciples of John the Baptist in Acts 19: “And they said, ‘No, we have not even heard that there is a Holy Spirit.’ ”

    Lin: “Oh, Mr. Eggerich has made a fortune telling women they do not want to be “respected” only “loved”. ” Well, i hope that’s not his special insight; that has been going around for years.
    I also loved your previous comment about the ages of one of the “expert’s” children. This jumped out at me as i was reading all the blurbs. I even thought about commenting on that as well. The overall average age of children was VERY young. THere is a reason for that. Most parents that have had, say, 3 or more children, and are over the age of 45, usually admit that they don’t know much any more, and would shudder at the thought of going around speaking and teaching on parenting how-to’s. LOL. My good friend Joan made the astute comment that you could read all the verses in the NT addressed specifically to parents in about 5 minutes. Thus, when you see long seminars and popular road-shows on this topic, you can know for sure most of the information is extra-Biblical. 😉

  56. These D6 people are really onto something — and I’m willing to jump on their bandwagon. Dee and Deb — let’s host a conference!! This could be the end of my personal recession. We could invite Jim & Kris and Guy to speak, and all the people at refuge and survivors to participate, and man,could we rake in the dough, oops, I mean doughnations. Call it B3 — as in 3 Blogs.

  57. Bounded Reality asked, “Thirdly, and less important, but still fun…since we “inherit” a sinful nature…which gene carries that nature…maybe we can design a drug to cure it, or maybe we can do some genetic screening in the hospital and make all those sinners wear an ankle bracelet.”

    Planting tongue firmly in cheek…….

    My theory is that people inherit their sinful nature on the sex chromosome that is given to them by their father.

    Some rationale for this (remember tongue in cheek.)

    Jesus was conceived of the Holy Spirit therefore, He had no earthly father but a very human mother, Mary.

    Jesus was without sin in spite of getting all of his DNA from Mary and whatever the Holy Spirit contributed (no sin there.)

    Some bumps in this road, there are people with an extra Y chromosome. Are these people twice as sinful as the average bear?

    Some other people have just an X chromosome but no second X or Y (Turner’s Syndrome.) About half the time, the X is from the mom and the other half of the time, it is from dad. Are half the people with Turner’s Syndrome without original sin?

    Finally, a thought to support the theory, one of the two X chromosomes in every female’s cell is inactivated in a process wittily called, “X Chromosome Inactivation.” Apparently, the X chromosome that is silenced is random but most females have about half of the paternal X and half the maternal X inactivated. This would render the average female half as sinful as her brothers.

    Ducking for cover.

  58. Nickname,

    Yep, the D6 people are onto something all right.

    I take comfort in knowing that Almighty God knows our hearts.

  59. Eagle, I was only using sgm has an example on steriods. I know exactly what you are talking about. In fact, I have witnessed much of what you describe, myself. It is ALL over the place in Christianity and it all has a root in pride, power and position. The LAST person I would share intimate information with is a random professing Christian. I would trust my agnostic therapist before them. I have had my share of such situtions, myself.

    The problem we have is that so many want to call this Christianity and it isn’t. That is one reason I questioned Dee a few threads ago about her saying “we can never be good”. I don’t think she meant it in that way, but I fear we have redefined sin to the point that people walk around thinking they can behave in evil ways that go against all scriptural teaching and believe they are saved. And I am speaking of leaders, too! yes, we can be strive to be “good” if we are being sanctified because the indwelling Holy Spirit convicts us constantly when we are not. We can choose to ignore that convicting or not. We are never perfect but we can be “pure of heart”.

    Here is something I learned the hard way: Christians do not harm other Christians (and non Christians) and never repent of it or offer restitution. They can disagree just like Paul and Baranabas did but they do not HARM one another and never deal with it. They deal fairly and justly with people. That does not mean they never disagree! I am talking about harming people in various ways.

    So why are we running around calling them Christians?

    Here is what they do with “forgiveness”. They paint the victim evil by claiming they are not completely forgiving a wrong. (sometimes even a crime!). The perp gets by with an “I am sorry” but no real change and on it goes. There is a reason we feel this injustice deeply. Because it is wrong. And we instinctively know it because the “law” is written on our hearts.

    We simply have to stop looking to our institutions to be the face of Christianity.They are not. For the most part, they are corrupted by worldy pursuits and image. They need money to operate. There are some very decent people within these institutions. I wish they would stop supporting them.

    I realize my thinking is radical for so many. But I am weary of saying “Christians are not perfect just forgiven” which too many times means we simply turn a blind eye to real evil done in the Name of Christ…which is the worst kind. Let’s call it what it is: Evil and not of Christ.

    When is the last time YOU harmed someone who confided in you with that information? When is the last time you used somebody for personal gain? When is the last time you molested a child? The fact you may not have done these things does not mean you are superior to the person who has done them. But it does mean something….what? Why can’t Christians differentiate these things?

  60. “Some rationale for this (remember tongue in cheek.)

    Jesus was conceived of the Holy Spirit therefore, He had no earthly father but a very human mother, Mary.

    Jesus was without sin in spite of getting all of his DNA from Mary and whatever the Holy Spirit contributed (no sin there.)

    DB, This is not far out at all. Look at what God told Eve after they sinned. Remember, Eve ADMITTED she was deceived. Adam just blamed God and Eve. She was not cursed at all. (Neither was Adam) but the ground and serpent were cursed. God promised the “seed” would come through her…but Adam was not mentioned in this. WHY?

    Cheryl Schatz has addressd this on her blog: Strivetoenter. Women in Ministry.

  61. Junkster
    Could you please expand on your thinking regarding children. If we are held accountable, even as children, for the sin of Adam, what happens with small children and salvation?

  62. Bridget

    I enjoyed you comment’s. Especially the part about the apostrophe’s. “How to Rebellion- Proof Your Children.” Wow, maybe the Almighty should attend. He had that problem with Adam and Eve.

  63. psr

    i really liked what you said “I have come to see forgiveness as “not letting something consume my life”. To do that, we concentrated on all that was good in our lives – our immediate family, our work, our other relationships. That doesn’t mean that we were never angry again. If you were to ask me outright if I have forgiven this person, I would probably not be able to use the word forgive, but would indicate that we have moved on.”

    As you know, Jesus did not forgive everyone-He merely offered forgiveness to all who asked. True forgiveness is a two way street. Not letting the event/person consume your life is insightful and amazing. So many people talk about forgiveness but are consumed with anger that permeates their while life. This means the perpetrator still has power. By releasing that, you are free to live your life without that awful thing ruining the rest of your life. It takes a strong person to do such a thing. I admire you for your strength.

  64. Arce
    Your nine step program for appropriateness of response to a sexual offense is very, very helpful. I might like to do a post on this at some point. Can I quote from this comment?

  65. Lin

    Awesome and heartfelt assessment on cheap forgiveness. In my area, one pastor wanted a guy who amassed a large amount of child pornography to get some perks in sentencing because, are you ready for this, he had become a Christian!

  66. Abraham

    I like you answer. In some respects, there is a spiritual inheritance which affects us just as much as our gene pool.

  67. Lin

    So many charlatans make a living explaining “secrets” that others have overlooked in the Bible. The trick is as old as The Scriptures. The real secret is the marketing of the idea in order to make bank selling T-shirts, books, music, conferences, and Sunday school curriculum. Someone benefits but not the consumer.

  68. Eagle

    You were around deceived and deceptive people who used the name of Christ to conceal their innate jerkiness. “was that he was a Baptist and that Baptists don’t have problems with lust.” What a pile of hooey-he is lying to himself and others. Every man on this planet has had to deal with lust. It is a universal issue. i think you are right. That man was liar and I am so, so sorry you were abused by these dorks. Let me encourage you. There are some wonderful Christians out there and I pray you will find a few.

  69. Nickname

    The way things are going, I think we will need to have medical tent to give all participants IV Valium.

  70. Eagle

    So many times, we like to point our fingers at other people groups as the harbingers of evil. It is difficult to accept that all people are afflicted by this sin nature. There is a story here in NC about little Zahra Baker. This poor little girl had suffered from cancer and had an amputated leg.She had hearing aids and was weak, but a fighter. Her stepmother killed her and chopped her into bits and tried to hide the crime. Evil is present and real. Some days, i can barely stand to read the news.

  71. Lin

    You said” When is the last time you used somebody for personal gain.” How many people do you know who use their church friendships for multilevel marketing schemes, business contacts, candle parties, etc.? I know a lot. I know people who will not leave a church in which abuse occurs because they will loose out on all the people they sign up for insurance.

  72. Zeta,

    Christians espouse a certain set of premises that define their world view and belief system. It is those premises that I am calling into question. One would assume that regardless of whether the ultimate belief in the supernatural pans out to be true or false…I think it is a fair request to insist that the belief system itself be self-consistent.

    Each time Christians propose an “answer” for something which causes a logical or theological concern…they inadvertently create 10 more consistency issues on other topics.

    The fact that every Christian has a slightly different answer, with different implications does not make the non-believer’s job any easier when trying to point them out and have a discussion about them.

    Let’s see if you and I can agree or clarify some points…tell me which of these statements you view as incorrect and we’ll go from there.

    1. Prior to Adam’s fall the universe was without evil…God’s creation was completely good.

    2. Prior to the fall neither Adam nor Eve had a sinful nature (based on #1).

    3. When Adam chose to disobey God death and decay in all its forms entered the universe and subsequent generations were born with an inability to consistently chose righteousness (sinful nature)

    4. Man is not currently judged or in need of salvation to atone for Adam’s sin or because he has a sinful nature, only to atone for one’s own sin (choosing to rebel against God, in some fashion)

    5. A choice is required here….

    (a) – A child is not held accountable for it’s sins (although it can commit sin) until a certain unknown age of accountability. Until that age Christ’s sacrifice atones for it’s sins and thus it goes to heaven should it die prior to aforementioned age of accountability.

    (b) – Until a child reaches the age of accountability it is incapable of sinning and therefore is innocent and should it die before reaching the age of accountability, goes to heaven without the need for atonement or salvation.

    (c) – You don’t agree with item #4 and instead believe we ARE punished and in need of atonement for Adam’s original sin, whether we ourselves commit additional sinful acts is irrelevant.

    6. The concept of free will refers to the idea that a human being is at liberty to make personal choices without being programmed or compelled to make a choice by an outside influence.

    7. Need a choice again –

    (a) – Free will does not require an infinite number of choices at any particular junction, it only requires that the individual be able to freely choose between whatever options are available at a given time.

    (b) – If a particular option is not on the table at any particular junction, then “free will”, has effectively been negated since the person or entity responsible for removing one of the options has effectively forced a direction that might not otherwise have been taken.

    That’s a good place to stop … I’d be interested to see how others respond as well…sort of a mini survey.

    Enjoy Zeta!

  73. “You said” When is the last time you used somebody for personal gain.” How many people do you know who use their church friendships for multilevel marketing schemes, business contacts, candle parties, etc.? I know a lot. I know people who will not leave a church in which abuse occurs because they will loose out on all the people they sign up for insurance”

    I know a ton of people like this especially in the mega church world. However, I know 2 people who walked away from such evil and lost entire businesses or jobs because they would not support such things or look the other way. No, they were not rewarded in time finanacially for doing so. They still struggle and their reputations tarnished by those they confronted who are still worshiped by the folk who follow them. But they are free from that bondage of evil in the Name of Jesus and I respect them enormously. They will get their reward later…not necessarily now. (Matthew 6) So few have the courage of their convictions anymore when there is a lot to lose.

  74. Dee said:
    Arce
    Your nine step program for appropriateness of response to a sexual offense is very, very helpful. I might like to do a post on this at some point. Can I quote from this comment?

    You betcha! Keep in mind that a lawyer with an interest in theology is really someone for whom you should watch out.

  75. I personally do not believe that God would leave our eternal destiny dependent on something so flimsy as our “free will” after sending His only Son to die for us.

  76. RE: DB on Sun, Sep 18 at 01:21 pm:

    No need to duck for cover at all DB. I too have wondered about this very thing (others have also).

    You wrote: “…My theory is that people inherit their sinful nature on the sex chromosome that is given to them by their father…”
    I tend to agree, except I don’t call it sin nature. I view it as a bodily expiration (physical death) date passed on from Adam. The coding sequence for aging, decrepitude, and ultimately death, is carried by human male DNA. So in this model, the idea of sin nature is not some disembodied concept from Neo-Platonism, but a very real and concrete phenomena.

    Since Yeshua was conceived sans human male DNA, is it possible that the female genome carries the divine nature (immortality) in humans? After all, God did choose the seed of the woman to bring Messiah into the world. Is the long genealogy in Holy Writ a carefully controlled breeding program designed to retrieve the least damaged ovum from humankind?

  77. Hi BR, I recognize that consistency in Christendom IS an issue. And when one asks for a consistent Christian world view that at least attempts to be reconciled with what we know about the natural world, it gets substantially worse. I have been trying to work through this for a good many years now, with the assumption that is in fact possible to do so. And assumption we probably do not share. However, I will answer these based on where I am at the current time. It will be a good test, if you can be objective.

    Other readers that are Christians, if you feel my answers violate some basic theological need (not tradition) feel free to ask me about that side of it as well. There is not a system that reconciles all these issues I know of yet. Most systems either toss basic Christian precepts or basic scientific knowledge or principles.

    BR: “
    Let’s see if you and I can agree or clarify some points…tell me which of these statements you view as incorrect and we’ll go from there.

    This is fine. But you have made some implicit assumptions that reveal themselves even in the asking of these questions that are themselves flawed. I will point them out as I answer them where they are obvious, and ask clarifying questions where they are not.

    BR: “1. Prior to Adam’s fall the universe was without evil…God’s creation was completely good.”

    This one is obvious – Satan was in the Garden. So no, the universe was not free of evil prior to Adam’s fall. However, God said the creation was ‘good’, even ‘very good’ in spite of that fact, so while question 1 implies a conflict between a ‘good creation’ and a creation that has evil in it, obviously there is no such contradiction. The Bible does not claim the initial creation was perfect. It claims it was good. I believe this distinction is important, because it means the creation was good for God’s purpose, which I believe was to create a situation where mankind could become and act out the necessary choice between good and evil.

    2. Prior to the fall neither Adam nor Eve had a sinful nature (based on #1).”

    Yes, this I agree with. The sinful nature came as a result of the situation described in Genesis chapter 3. How literal this is though is a tricky to ascertain, and an important caveat if one is to reconcile what is known about the natural world with what the story tells us about how human nature came to be sinful. So when I say I agree with this, you must be careful not to make assumptions about what that means in terms of the mechanics of how it actually played out in history.

    BR: “3. When Adam chose to disobey God death and decay in all its forms entered the universe and subsequent generations were born with an inability to consistently chose righteousness (sinful nature)

    BZZT! Implicit assumption alert! No, death and decay in all its forms did not just suddenly appear in the creation at the fall. Death for Mankind is all the scripture directly declares, and there are even some caveats for that!

    Consider that Adam and Eve could eat. This means that the things they ate died. (I doubt the pre-fall Adam ate dirt). Further, they could reproduce – reproduction involves death, some cells die while other cells do not. And finally, unless every predatory species suddenly was created at the fall, predation and death in animals existed before the fall. Take, for example, the Spider and its web, the Shark, and the Jellyfish as examples of creatures whose sole means and purpose is defined in predation.

    BR: “4. Man is not currently judged or in need of salvation to atone for Adam’s sin or because he has a sinful nature, only to atone for one’s own sin (choosing to rebel against God, in some fashion)

    This is not one I am able to give an absolute answer to, because I have questions about this myself that I have not resolved. I don’t agree with the idea that babies go to Hell solely due to an inherited sin nature, or that some fellow who has never heard the Gospel in deepest darkest whatever goes to Hell based solely on having inherited a sin nature. Yet I do agree whole heartedly with the statement the “Jesus Christ is the only name under heaven by which man must be saved.” So sorry, I’m not up to a ‘yes or no’ response to this one – still working on it.

    BR: “5. A choice is required here….

    (a) – A child is not held accountable for it’s sins (although it can commit sin) until a certain unknown age of accountability. Until that age Christ’s sacrifice atones for it’s sins and thus it goes to heaven should it die prior to aforementioned age of accountability.

    (b) – Until a child reaches the age of accountability it is incapable of sinning and therefore is innocent and should it die before reaching the age of accountability, goes to heaven without the need for atonement or salvation.

    (c) – You don’t agree with item #4 and instead believe we ARE punished and in need of atonement for Adam’s original sin, whether we ourselves commit additional sinful acts is irrelevant.

    Or I’m still working on this, though I can tell you I lean towards (b), with the caveat that such a child never is actually a free moral agent. It is saved from Hell, which is good, but I’m not sure it’s in quite the same kind of position as someone who has been saved by the grace of God through Christ.

    4 and 5 both represent statements about salvation and grace that are too rigid for where I am right now. I recognize they are part of certain ‘standard’ theological systems, but I know of not one ‘standard’ theological system that doesn’t leave something out or explain some passage away along the way to it’s neat, tidy little package.

    BR:”6. The concept of free will refers to the idea that a human being is at liberty to make personal choices without being programmed or compelled to make a choice by an outside influence.

    To broad a statement. There are no choices that are not at least partially constrained by circumstances. Those circumstance can be considered ‘outside influences’. I would reign it in a bit and say free will refers the the idea that a human being is at liberty to make personal choices without being forced to limit the available choices by God. That is, free will refers to a particular relationship between man and God, not necessarily a particular relationship between mankind and nature.

    BR:”7. Need a choice again –

    (a) – Free will does not require an infinite number of choices at any particular junction, it only requires that the individual be able to freely choose between whatever options are available at a given time.

    (b) – If a particular option is not on the table at any particular junction, then “free will”, has effectively been negated since the person or entity responsible for removing one of the options has effectively forced a direction that might not otherwise have been taken.

    A. As I mentioned above, I think free will refers to a relationship between God and man, not mankind and nature. This means that when we have a moral choice to make, God does not force our hand. That does not mean the set of choices themselves are not limited by circumstances or cultural programming etc.

    BR:”
    That’s a good place to stop … I’d be interested to see how others respond as well…sort of a mini survey.

    Enjoy Zeta!

    I’ve answered them as honestly as I can. This usually means someone will slam me for something or another, but hopefully this will help you on to the next step in where ever it is you are headed with this line of questioning.

    I will not claim I sat around and tried to figure out if you’d laid some trap for me somewhere. If you did, it’s on your own conscience.

    Zeta

  78. dee said: Junkster, Could you please expand on your thinking regarding children. If we are held accountable, even as children, for the sin of Adam, what happens with small children and salvation?

    I didn’t say children are held accountable, only that I’m not keen on the “age of accountability” concept. It’s one of those ideas that appears to be a logical inference people can make, depending on their theological assumptions, but not something I see taught directly in Scripture. Without a definitive statement in the Bible either for or against the age of accountability concept I prefer not to be dogmatic about it either way.

    I believe that all humans are born with a sinful nature and also under the just condemnation of God for the sin of Adam as the representative (head) of the human race. So if anyone goes to heaven, including children, it is not because they are innocent of sin, for, even without their own sin to contend with, they still have Adam’s sin counted against them. Rather, if they go to heaven, it is because their sin (including Adam’s sin imputed to them) is forgiven and they are not held accountable for it.

    I won’t go into all the theological variations I’ve heard about how God deals with children who die before coming to their own personal awareness of sinning against God, as that would make an already too long comment into an amaranthine one. Suffice it to say, that I believe there are sufficient Scriptural statements and examples to support the belief that such childrem do indeed receive the forgiveness needed to enter heaven. I just do not think that the age of accountabilty concept is the only basis for that belief. In the end, I am satisfied that it is sufficient to say that God is gracious and will always do what is right.

  79. If Southwest and Hertz are the “preferred travel partners” does that mean they are getting cut from them too?

  80. Has no-one informed these folk that our kids disciple us and not we them!

    Kids must individuate and that’s better happening earlier rather than later in life. It can be extremely dangerous being brought up in a Christian home – just ask my wife Zan!

    As an ex conference junkie, I can say that it all usually comes down to ‘sales’ and PR. As an author myself I realize there may be a place for them but not dressed up in the guise of a spiritual conference.

    I reckon most religious/spiritual conferences have the Publisher’s hands pulling their author/speaker’s strings from on high.

  81. Zeta,

    Thanks for the answers. I actually am not hoping to ever find consistency among all Christians, but I do think it is reasonable to expect internal consistency in the belief set of any one single individual.

    #1 – you answered, in part “So no, the universe was not free of evil prior to Adam’s fall. However, God said the creation was ‘good’, even ‘very good’ in spite of that fact, so while question 1 implies a conflict between a ‘good creation’ and a creation that has evil in it, obviously there is no such contradiction.”

    I would maintain that the God of Christianity, who is perfect and holy can not at the same time have attributed to Him a creation that is anything less than perfect…can a perfect being create that which is not perfect?

    #3 – I think Lin might disagree with you, based on some statements she made earlier..I’ll let her take you to task on that one. 🙂

    #4 – Take you time…

    #5 – How are children not free moral agents?

    #7 – But do you believe that God limits our choices in certain circumstances…and if so, doesn’t this constitute an abrogation of free will, since God is, by eliminating choices, exerting some level of control over the resulting direction…If limiting the choices does NOT impact free will, then couldn’t we have had free will without the existence of evil?

  82. BR: “Thanks for the answers. I actually am not hoping to ever find consistency among all Christians, but I do think it is reasonable to expect internal consistency in the belief set of any one single individual.

    I think even that is too much given the complexity of Scripture. Most of us do not have the time to work out a fully consistent understanding even of our our own faith. And many of us do not have the intellectual capacity to do so, even if we had the time. One of the fundamental aspects of the Gospel is at the most basic level its simplicity. John 3:16 can serve as a sufficient summary for the most basic of salvation. Yet it is also complex enough to challenge the most astute mind for a lifetime. You are a thinking man of more than average intelligence. As a result, most Christians you deal with will have internal inconsistencies in their faith relative to your own capacity to reason. You need to make allowances for that.

    BR:”#1 – you answered, in part “So no, the universe was not free of evil prior to Adam’s fall. However, God said the creation was ‘good’, even ‘very good’ in spite of that fact, so while question 1 implies a conflict between a ‘good creation’ and a creation that has evil in it, obviously there is no such contradiction.”

    I would maintain that the God of Christianity, who is perfect and holy can not at the same time have attributed to Him a creation that is anything less than perfect…can a perfect being create that which is not perfect?[/QUOTE]

    There is a certain simplistic logic to you statement, perhaps a holdover from you ‘fungelical’ days, but it is ignoring the fact that God clearly intended for mankind to be faced with evil and the temptation to do evil. “Perfection” is not an absolute term. The universe can be ‘perfect’ for the task, while not at the same time conforming to a definition of ‘perfection’ that is oriented at zero conflict, zero pain. The goal in creating this universe was clearly not to make ‘heaven’ or some utopia, but to create free moral agents who could chose to follow or reject God. Such a place can’t be a utopia. The possibility for evil must exist.

    BR:”#3 – I think Lin might disagree with you, based on some statements she made earlier..I’ll let her take you to task on that one. 🙂

    I know lots of folks will disagree with me. I know what the standard answers are, I just haven’t been able to fully reconcile them with other factors. I don’t know that I’m ‘right either, and will entertain any logical argument or discussion of the issue. Fortunately, my salvation does not depend on a perfect understanding of what God does with babies, or bushmen in the outback, or exactly how each individual arrives at the place they are ‘sinners in need of Christ’.

    BR:”
    #4 – Take you time…

    #5 – How are children not free moral agents?

    I’m talking about a baby or child who dies and goes to heaven due to the fact they have not in fact become fully aware of good and evil or fully capable of making a choice to follow or reject Christ. You realize this issue is why most of the Christian church baptizes babies – right? They (the parents) appropriate the grace of Christ on the child as a kind of ‘proxy’ moral agent until the child is capable of deciding on their own if they chose to follow Christ.

    BR:”#7 – But do you believe that God limits our choices in certain circumstances…and if so, doesn’t this constitute an abrogation of free will, since God is, by eliminating choices, exerting some level of control over the resulting direction…If limiting the choices does NOT impact free will, then couldn’t we have had free will without the existence of evil?

    Whoever you want to attribute it to, our choices are often limited. It does not constitute an abrogation of free will as long as free will is defined as God allowing us to make the moral choices that present themselves to us. We still function as free moral agents. If a man points a gun at my child – I have a very limited number of choices. I absolutely to note have the ability to chose whether he will pull the trigger. But withing the set of choices available, If there is free will, I function as a free moral agent.

    There is another caveat. Free will as described in scripture does not even mean I will always in every situation be left alone by God in my choices. Consider Pharaoh in Egypt. It is rather clear that God hardened his heart, implying in that particular situation he had already been judged to a certain extent and God did not give him full free will in dealing with Moses. Sometimes in our lives if we continue to reject God, we may well loose elements of or even the entirety of our free will, becoming true slaves of evil. Hitler was likely such a man. In such cases, if it is even possible, a true miracle is required to set such a one free from that bondage which is in fact an almost complete lose of free will, save perhaps the ability to chose or reject Christ.

    Zeta

  83. If one believes that God created the universe to have laws of physics, chemistry, etc., then very good things, like rain, like our biological systems, will naturally result in some things which are not good, like thunderstorms with lightning and flooding. That God is perfect and created a universe that operates under perfect natural laws, called that universe “good” or “very good”, means that he did not call it “perfect” or without natural consequences that humans may call “evil”.

    Evil is the willful or intentional harming of someone or something or the willful taking advantage of someone or something to their likely detriment. In can include the effect of neglect, as in when resources are mined without thought to the management of the spoils (actually the technical word, but also an interesting moral comment) of mining (google Leadville).

    When God created moral actors, that is people (and angels?) with freedom to choose, he opened the possibility of evil. Sin is the moral choice to do the immoral.

    WRT children and accountability. A child is not morally accountable for actions which the child does not have the capacity to understand as moral choices. What we call the “age of accountability” is less chronological than intellectually developmental in meaning. Some, those with limited capacity, may never reach that level of ability to think in moral terms. Our legal system has protections where moral incapability can be shown. Surely God is more moral than our legal system, including what I refer to as our criminal INjustice system that makes terrible errors incarcerating innocent people for years and executing some of them.

  84. Lin

    I took a stand back in Dallas. We were constantly getting approached from “friends” who were trying to push this stuff on us. When I asked one person to stop pushing it on us, she said that I was not being supportive of her being independent. I said that my relationships were based on love. I never wanted anyone to feel that I was spending time with them in order to enhance my personal pocketbook. I lost two friends in the Amway business because I rejected their sales pitch, their focus on wealth and their insistence that Amway was a mission-just like missionaries who go to other countries. I heard that Charles Stanley pushed something like this at one time. I find it repugnant.

  85. Abraham
    What is God created us for this choice? What if we have been programmed with this ability?

  86. Arce,

    By your definition, “Evil is the willful or intentional harming of someone or something or the willful taking advantage of someone or something to their likely detriment”, God is then evil by His own actions as recorded in the Bible. I think you made my case for me 🙂

    If God Himself is the essence of perfection, then the only definition that makes sense in terms of God is that “evil” is anything which is in a state of rebellion against God or which exists or happens against His express will.

    Unfortunately, that brings us full circle, since nothing that does exists, could exist, without God’s express permission.

    The same is true when you look at things like free will. From our perspective the choosing of evil is only a possibility (maybe it won’t occur) and so God isn’t responsible for our choice. However, the fact that he knows what will occur (omniscience), and creates the universe in such a way that His foreknowledge is a virtual self-fulfilling prophecy, makes Him culpable.

    To try and wash His hands for Him, Pontius Pilate by proxy, if you will, cannot cleanse Him of the act of creating a universe where He knows the that the result of His actions will cause some to choose evil and for evil itself to flourish.

    If I know with absolute certainty that if my wife had a gun, she’d shoot our neighbor, and then I give her a Gun for a birthday present, and she goes out and shoots our neighbor, how do I not share the responsibility of evil?

    Remember, responsibility can be shared, just because my wife is responsible because she, of her own free will, pulled the trigger (I didn’t make her do it), I still share the responsibility if I had absolute foreknowledge of what her action would be, and I gave her the gun anyway. How can it be any other way?

    There is simply no way to extricate God from the existence of evil. Trying to justify it by claiming it is required in order for us to have free will, is neither relevant to the definition of free will, nor does it remove the responsibility for it’s existence from the maker of the system.

  87. dee,

    People cannot make this choice. The carnal man cannot accept the things of the Spirit. That is why Jesus said “You must be born again.” No one can choose to be born again. They do not even know what that means until after it happens. I understand the doctrine of election (is that your question?), but that is not where I am going with this.

    Our so called “free will” is deceived, proud, sinful, lustful, angry, resentful, obstinate, belligerent, etc etc. We have broken and sinful wills, not free will. Only God can set us free and that is what Jesus came to do – to set the captives free.

    Jesus Christ is called the “Last Adam” for a very important reason – to set us free from the sin, bondage, decay, evil, and death, that the first Adam brought to mankind. So we must be born again, we do not choose to be born again. And by saying that, I want to be very clear that I do not believe in limited atonement, nor the way that the doctrine of election is taught by most Calvinists. But I do not want to muddy the water by going there right now.

    Someone quoted a verse earlier about it was not about him who wills, but it is about God who shows mercy. I think that is crucial to this discussion. This is about God’s mercy, not about our wills.

  88. If God chose to give us free will, which is the ability to choose what be believe and do, which the constraints of the natural laws of the universe and with consequences which exist by virtue of those laws and by the laws humanity has created as well as those set forth by God, the how is God the author of evil?

    We do not hold the doctor who does everything correctly within the limits of standard medical practice and knowledge that is available, yet the patient does not survive the operation. That is not malpractice (mal = bad = evil?), but the result of the condition of that patient and the natural laws of the universe.

    God is all powerful, sovereign, creative, loving, merciful, just, etc. All of those characteristics co-exist, which means we must be careful not to overstate any one of them to the contradiction of the other. God knows everything that can be known, which does not include a script for the future, but does include how he will respond to whatever choices we may make. God could have made us without free will, in which case we would be automata, doing what is programmed, and without the capability of choosing to love and serve him. (Love without choice is not truly love, but programming made to appear to be love. The difference is between the natural affection a child has for an abusive parent versus the love that arises between two people who share mutual interest in the well-being of the other as well as time together and other mutual interests. It is the “we love God because he first loved us”, not “we love God because we have no choice but to do so”.

    Without free will, a creator God who punishes is not merciful, just, loving, etc., but an evil monster who created for the purpose of torturing those who carry out his pre-planned acts. He is like the author of a horror movie, scripting evil outcomes that are undeserved. That is why I believe that the hyper-Calvinists, who deny free will, worship a man-designed Ogre of a god, rather than a God of love, mercy and justice.

    Without free will, there is no God I can worship and serve.

  89. Bounded Reality

    I think it is somewhat obvious that God allows evil and is in that sense ‘responsible’ for it. That does not make God evil. It means that God allows free moral agents to chose. Again, it means there is a reason why the creation of free moral agency is worth the subsequent potential for evil. The allowance of free moral agency and the prevention of evil are mutually exclusive. What you are up against in the equivalent of “Can God make a rock too big for Him to move”. Can God create a free moral agency in an sentient being without allowing that being to chose evil. The simple answer is NO.

    Zeta

  90. Arce,

    As I stated in the example with the gun…knowing how an individual will respond to a particular environment and then providing that environment makes both parties responsible…make the maker of the environment even more.

    Zeta,

    It is more than a case of passively allowing evil, God knows full well how the universe will respond to what He does…He “set up” the evil that occurs by creating an environment where He is fully aware of what will transpire in response to His actions…yet does it anyway. To say that He sits back and “allows” it, is like saying that a playwright who sits back and watches the actors on stage can dismiss the accusation that he bears any responsibility for what the actors do. Not a perfect analogy, I like my gun analogy better.

    It certainly does make God evil, in exactly the same same it make me evil if I give my wife a gun for her birthday and she shoots the neighbor with it, assuming I know in advance that she will commit murder if I give her the gun!

    I think we get hung up on trying to pin the “evilness” or “blame” on only one being…just because my wife is guilty because she shot the neighbor of her own free will, that fact in NO WAY, relieves me of my responsibility for giving her the weapon if I KNEW in advance how she would use it.

    You could let me off the hook by claiming I didn’t really “know” how she would use it, just that I thought she might…but that’s my exact point…God DOES KNOW for certain..and yet He creates a universe where people will rebel…both God and the people have committed an evil.

    This is just one reason why the concept of a perfect, omniscient, omnipotent God is at odds with itself.

  91. @Lise
    “If Southwest and Hertz are the “preferred travel partners” does that mean they are getting cut from them too?”

    Yes. No big deal. Anytime you want to get together a group of more than a few people travel groups will put together a deal for you. The coordinator will know the details of when and where and will be able to make sure your arrangements work with the event and then the event gets a cut. No extra money involved.

    The reason they do this is to keep the seats and rooms full. Even if they don’t get full price it helps them by keeping things full. Profits come from the one off travelers.

  92. Below is the classic formulation about God and his pre-ordaining the Fall of mankind:

    The almighty power, unsearchable wisdom, and infinite goodness of God, so far manifest themselves in his providence, that it extendeth itself even to the first Fall, and all other sins of angels and men, and that not by a bare permission, but such as hath joined with it a most wise and powerful bounding, and otherwise ordering and governing of them, in a manifold dispensation, to his own holy ends; yet so, as the sinfulness thereof proceedeth only from the creature, and not from God; who being most holy and righteous, neither is nor can be the author or approver of sin (Westminster Confession of Faith 5:4).

  93. I do not believe that God knows how we will choose, just that sometimes we will choose other than he would have us choose. To me, that is less responsibility for what we do than if we had no free will and were basically living out his prewritten script. In that case, he would have dictated the evil, and be its “but for” cause (a legal term, btw). In the case were we have free will, God is the but for cause of our existence, but we are the but for cause of the evil we do, since we have choice to do it or not. We are the last causative agent, and unless we have conspired willfully with a willing partner in crime, no one is responsible for our behavior but us, either morally or legally.

    Now in someone’s warped theology or philosophy, maybe God can be called to account for creating us with free will. But that path is, quite frankly, the route to nihilism or insanity.

  94. Unbounded foolishness:

    Your whole argument is that God has perfect foreknowledge of exactly what each and every human will do in every circumstance of life. Please provide a detailed scriptural basis for that.

    I do not believe it. I think it is a gross misinterpretation of the scripture, and makes God a Calvinist Ogre who created you for the purpose of you being an ass.

  95. God knows everything that can be known, which does not include a script for the future, but does include how he will respond to whatever choices we may make.

    If I’m not mistaken, this is a primary tenet of open theism. If I were the type to cry “heresy” at every doctrine which I believed was contrary to Scripture, this would be a good time to do so. In lieu of that, I will simply state this is a seriouly defective and deficient view of God in comparison to what He has revealed of Himself in Scripture.

    Open theists can keep their rationalistic attempts to explain away the Bible’s teaching about God’s absolute sovereignty and absolute foreknowledge. I’d rather believe in God as He has revealed Himself (even if some people mistakenly consider the way the Bible describes Him as an ogre and an evil monster) than worhip an idol created by the minds of men.

  96. Junkster,

    I agree with you, as far as open theism goes, but that still leaves my argument on the table..how to you rationalize God as being good and perfect with the idea of someone creating a universe, knowing that the way it is created will result in great pain and evil (as well as goodness). If you understand the repercussions of your actions, then you are responsible for what transpires…even if you are God, aren’t you?

  97. Bounded Reality

    Sorry, It just doesn’t wash with me. At all. It simply is not possible for a finite, bounded being such as you or I to pass some kind of absolute judgement on a being that is unbounded and infinite such as God. The best we can do is say we don’t understand how such a thing can be and leave it at that.

    But in specific, I just don’t agree. Again, we are not dealing with a simple linear problem with a small number of variables. You can’t simplify the moral complexities of the entire universe, even universes, down to if God lets evil happen, he is evil. And we can come up with all sorts of scenarios where even as humans we have to make choices to allow evil and we are not ourselves evil. You would argue that God is omnipotent and thus ought to be able to do whatever is required to fix things, but that is very narrow and simplistic way of thinking. If God is just, then he must follow the rules of justice. As such anything that can be done that is unjust is something He can’t do. So right there we see there ARE limits to what a just but omnipotent being can do.

    What you are not allowing for is that even an infinite, omnipotent being is limited by who He is unless He is Loki. If a judge arbitrarily let’s his friend off but sends his enemy to jail, he is a corrupt judge. If God is not to become Satan, He can’t do things that violate the basic principles that make Him God and Satan Satan.

    And we simply can’t know enough about what God’s obligations are as regards this universe, his nature, Satan’s desire to dethrone Him, to JUDGE whether or not the situation as it is is ‘right’ or ‘wrong’.

    The Bible does indicate that Satan has certain rights over aspects of this world. Do you know enough to be able to guarantee that you have taken into account all those variables? Consider that Satan complained to God about how He protected Job, and asked for, and got, permission to decimate Job’s world. God had a purpose in all that, as did Satan and Satan had certain rights in all that. Are YOU privy to all the information and variables that allow you to take any given situation and compute the ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ thing for God to do? And judging from the very materialistic and limited position you judge from, no allowance can be made for that at all.

    I think you need to think a little deeper, a little less ‘black and white’, probe a little further, and be a bit more humble in your own assessment of what you are able to judge or figure out.

    Zeta

  98. Junkster,
    Please cite some scripture.
    Why did Jesus teach us to pray “thy will be done on earth as in heaven” if it were already so?
    Why does the Bible say that the fervent prayer of a righteous man is useful.

  99. Arce on Mon, Sep 19 2011 at 02:08 pm
    Your comment is awaiting moderation.

    I do not believe that God knows how we will choose, just that sometimes we will choose other than he would have us choose. To me, that is less responsibility for what we do than if we had no free will and were basically living out his prewritten script. In that case, he would have dictated the evil, and be its “but for” cause (a legal term, btw). In the case were we have free will, God is the but for cause of our existence, but we are the but for cause of the evil we do, since we have choice to do it or not. We are the last causative agent, and unless we have conspired willfully with a willing partner in crime, no one is responsible for our behavior but us, either morally or legally.

    Now in someone’s warped theology or philosophy, maybe God can be called to account for creating us with free will. But that path is, quite frankly, the route to nihilism or insanity.

  100. Arce on Mon, Sep 19 2011 at 02:12 pm
    Your comment is awaiting moderation.

    Unbounded foolishness:

    Your whole argument is that God has perfect foreknowledge of exactly what each and every human will do in every circumstance of life. Please provide a detailed scriptural basis for that.

    I do not believe it. I think it is a gross misinterpretation of the scripture, and makes God a Calvinist Ogre who created you for the purpose of you being an ass.

  101. Bounded reality and others:
    I am a nurse. I have held the dying and seen people suffer. What is the point of the overwhelming suffering of many if there is no hope? If this world is all there is? It is precisely hope from God in the midst of a troubled world that allowed me to function and do my job. I would do and have done what I do because of the hope that lives inside of me. It is this hope that makes me have compassion on those who are suffering. I had a measure of this mercy before Christ was in my life-but it was really all about me. Now it is because of God’s transforming love to me that gives me the love and compassion for others. He gave me the mercy–it is his nature. Yes we may struggle with why does evil happen, ?why is there death How could God allow it?-but life is just too short to stop there. We go on and live as best we can-caring for others and enjoying life if we can. Maybe these questions are best answered by those who have experienced the depths of suffering and found magnificent hope through God’s love and a relationship with him. Or maybe by those who had demonstrated evil that you could understand as evil and then had His love to transform them. This goes beyond what our mind can explain or really understand. God’s love will change us and do for us what we cannot do for ourselves. So start maybe by rereading some about people you have heard about -Corrie Ten Boom for instance comes to mind. Read how real people suffered,some died, and struggled and why they kept the faith. I will try to think of others and then post the challenge for you, me, and others to consider their lives and experience of the transforming power of God to give hope for now and the future and of the real relationship with a loving God.
    Mel

  102. We could go on and on with conditional if’s, if and only if’s, and’s, or’s & not’s, a chain of statements 100 parsecs long, and still wind up right back where we started.

    Whether or not God is morally culpable for the problem of evil in my opinion has no real solution. I see it as much like tiny brush stroke representations of seagulls in a painting. Whether they are flying toward the viewer or away from the viewer depends solely on the viewer’s vantage point.

  103. Zeta,

    Lot’s of flowery language, that simply skirts the issue. You simply protest that it couldn’t be so…and that surely there must be mitigating factors. But how is that an answer? How does that reconcile the issue.

    To say it doesn’t have an answer and so go merrily on our way isn’t an answer either.

    Being “a little more humble” does not require that I pretend to be ignorant. To me, that’s just “spin” for I don’t like the implications of your argument, so I should just, in the name of humility, “admit” that my argument isn’t a good one. I suppose that would make it easier.

    The argument is a valid one, I didn’t create God’s attributes, but I know a conflict when I see one.

    1. God is all-knowing and all-powerful
    2. God has foreknowledge of how everything in his universe reacts to stimuli
    3. God, in full command of His faculties, creates a universe and populates it.
    4. God then holds accountable for their reactions the very beings He created along with the environment in which they exist.

    Please tell me how God can be without evil and omniscient and omnipotent without just spinning a thread that says “well we don’t know everything so it could be true”.

    I may not know everything, but what I DO know is a conflict. I’m not saying there is only one response either, maybe God isn’t omnipotent (problem solved), maybe He isn’t omniscient (problem solved) and so on….but omniscient, omnipotent and without evil don’t mesh

  104. BR,
    All I can do is point to what I believe to be true, which is summed up well in the quote from the Westminster Confession that Matt posted at 1:56 pm. I believe that God is good, and not evil, and that He is not the source of evil and He does not approve of it. I also believe that God is omnipotent and omniscient, knowing all that is to come, and able to cause whatever He deems right to come to pass. I can see where these things are not necessarily fully comprehensible with human reason alone. But, as a Christian, human reason, as valuable as it is, is not the ultimate standard of truth; rather, divine revelation is. Like Zeta, I am quite comfortable with saying that there are facts and variables which are outside of my scope of knowledge, including some which are outside the capabilities of my (or anyone human’s) knowledge. I realize that seems like a cop out to you, but that’s probably because you place a higher value on reason than I do.

  105. Ok, what about these questions: Why was there a “tree of the knowledge of good and evil” planted in the midst of the garden? What exactly was that tree, and what was the “tree of life”? Why were Eve’s eyes not opened until Adam also ate? What if Adam had not eaten and only Eve had? What then? If this is all metaphoric or symbolic, what is it describing and how do we know for sure?

  106. Question posed that I have spent time pondering,

    “Ok, what about these questions: Why was there a “tree of the knowledge of good and evil” planted in the midst of the garden? What exactly was that tree, and what was the “tree of life”? Why were Eve’s eyes not opened until Adam also ate? What if Adam had not eaten and only Eve had? What then? If this is all metaphoric or symbolic, what is it describing and how do we know for sure?”

    What if there is some point in evolution that we get to the point where we are able to be in God’s image and likeness therefore partake of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil? What if we ate it before we were ready to handle the knowledge of good and evil and *that* is why people can be so evil but we’re also in the image and likeness of God and have the capacity for so much good as well.

    What if it is a metaphor for having accelerated our evolution prematurely.

  107. asachild –
    Love your name 🙂 and your reply. Been thinking about Heb. 11, the issue of faith l, and my own personal testimony all day. For me, someone could argue a whole lifetime with me about God and what we might not understand of him because of the limits of our mortal minds, but the testimony of my life and what He has spoken and done in me . . . NOthing can come against that. Knowledge did not lead me to God – faith like a child sent me to a world previously unkn

  108. Hi DB – I am sorry, but I am not concerned with the evolution debate, so that does not even enter into my thinking. Plus, I do not see anything relating to that in the text.

  109. Arce,
    Responses to your questions have been around long before the modern notion of open theism came about, so I consider it very likely you know which passages of Scripture I would cite in support of my views, just as I know which ones open theists cite in support of theirs. I really don’t want to play dueling verses.

    I am persuaded that the historic, orthodox theological statements on God’s nature and attributes correctly reflect the Bible’s teachings. Apparently you are persuaded otherwise.

    I will try to refrain from saying that you worship a limp-wristed pansy of an impotent god if you will try to refain from saying the God I worship is an evil monster and an ogre. Deal?

  110. God is omnipotent. God is sovereign. God is just. God is merciful. God is loving. God is omniscient. But none of that says that God has not chosen to give us free will. It does not say that God knows in detail the future.

    If you cannot cite the scripture, then admit defeat and retract.

    Otherwise, provide the citations. Cite or retract.

  111. Bounded Reality:”
    Lot’s of flowery language, that simply skirts the issue. You simply protest that it couldn’t be so…and that surely there must be mitigating factors. But how is that an answer? How does that reconcile the issue.

    It is interesting how you can accuse me of ‘flowery language’ and ‘spin’ and then turn around and ‘spin’ my words to say what they did not say. You accuse God of being evil, and I am merely pointing out that you simply do not have enough information to make that judgement.

    Bounded Reality:”To say it doesn’t have an answer and so go merrily on our way isn’t an answer either.

    I did not say it did not have an answer. You do realize that exaggerating or distorting the words of another is an immoral thing – right? Do you suppose that as you prance about claiming a certain mental acuity that perhaps you could apply that acuity to my worlds and try to understand them and their subtleties, to try to grasp exactly what I am saying and not simply force fit it into whatever 3 boxes that define you want me to have said?

    What I said was that YOU do not have enough information to make the judgment. And then I gave examples of the kinds of information you don’t have access to which may well change the character of the situation sufficiently to completely reverse your judgment.

    Bounded Reality: “Being “a little more humble” does not require that I pretend to be ignorant. To me, that’s just “spin” for I don’t like the implications of your argument, so I should just, in the name of humility, “admit” that my argument isn’t a good one. I suppose that would make it easier.

    No, it’s just a fact that your argument is incomplete, horribly so. And the application of humility would be to simply recognize that. It’s not that the question you ask are not good questions. It’s that you claim the answers you give to them are only the only likely solution, when in reality they are only one possible solution, and the worst possible solution at that. You should at least be able to admit that.

    Bounded Reality:The argument is a valid one, I didn’t create God’s attributes, but I know a conflict when I see one.

    1. God is all-knowing and all-powerful
    2. God has foreknowledge of how everything in his universe reacts to stimuli
    3. God, in full command of His faculties, creates a universe and populates it.
    4. God then holds accountable for their reactions the very beings He created along with the environment in which they exist.

    Please tell me how God can be without evil and omniscient and omnipotent without just spinning a thread that says “well we don’t know everything so it could be true”.

    I did that, and you called it flowery language and spin. I didn’t just say we don’t know everything, I gave you examples of the kinds of things we don’t know, and pointed out that even an omnipotent being is limited if He is committed to principles. It is a self-imposed limit, but a limit nevertheless. God can’t do that which would make him Satan, and so He is obligated.

    But here is a scenario since you are unwilling to consider you could possibly be wrong on this. Let us suppose that somewhere down the line part of Satan’s rebellion involved the claim that no sentient being, given a life that was not in any way controlled by God and access to the full choice to be like Satan or to be like God, would chose to be like God. Now God, being a God of truth, can’t just whisk this claim away, or by any means simply claim it is false. A God of truth, just like any honest person, must allow the truth to be manifest. And so it was agreed that a place would be created where God would not in any way be able to impose himself on the sentient beings that lived there. That He and Satan would be given equal rights to persuade, but neither in such a way as to unambiguously announce their presence, know that such a thing would immediately remove the possibility of free will (no free will when there is a fellow with a gun in the room making ‘suggestions’)

    The upshot of this is, for Satan’s wager to be shown false, and God’s righteousness to be shown righteous, God simply MUST allow things to play out in this universe of their own accord. As must Satan. And sure enough, when the choice to follow God was given, Satan won the first round. He now essentially owns the souls of these beings, and their world. But honesty, integrity, justice does allow God to make an ultimate sacrifice to buy back these souls – but He still is not allowed to do it in such a way that in any way imposes Himself upon them. The rest is the story of Christ.

    But in ALL of this, God is constrained by righteousness, by holiness, by justice, by truth, to ALLOW this scenario to play out. Otherwise the truth or falsity of Satan’s claim to God’s position will not be shown to be false.

    And what that means is that we, those given the choice to follow God or Satan, must chose to follow Him of our own free will, based not on demonstrations of power, or freedom from the effects of evil from multiple sources, but based simply on what is good and right and true.

    Bounded Reality:”I may not know everything, but what I DO know is a conflict. I’m not saying there is only one response either, maybe God isn’t omnipotent (problem solved), maybe He isn’t omniscient (problem solved) and so on….but omniscient, omnipotent and without evil don’t mesh

    But that just is not so BR. Your concept of omnipotence is flawed. You concept of omnisicence is flawed. They do not mean God is free to do whatever He likes and at the same time remain Good, Just, and Truthful. These are not just flowery words, they are reality. God chooses to be good and just. And you should be very thankful He does that. Because the very same aspects of God that cause him to allow evil cause Him to allow you and I to continue to live even though we violate the laws of true righteousness and love on a daily basis. His MERCY constrains Him as well, allowing us all just that many more chances to try to get things right.

    God is a God of mercy. A God of Justice. A God of Love. A God who willingly suffered and died for us in Human form. This is who He is. And that is not evil. That is love. Whatever arguments you have with Him, they are based on a distorted view of Him given you by Satan himself, perhaps through events in this world, perhaps through events in your own life. But in this messed up world we live in Good and Love and Mercy are here because of God and His influence on the universe. And He offers them to us freely. I pray God will open your eyes so you can see Him for who He really is.

    Zeta

    [Mod Edit to fix broken end of italics tag. Let’s be careful.]

  112. Open theism says that God responds to prayer. And Jesus taught that, and you cannot refute that. Calvinism says that God does not respond to prayer, because all is a script. Cite or retract.

  113. Considering that a good portion of this comment thread has been dealing with good vs evil, and why God allows evil, I’d like to point to a series that CNN has been running on a situation that developed in the 70’s in a small community in NC that resulted in the death of a pastors wife and the permanent disability of the father, and how the children dealt with the evil that caused this, and how they continued their parents legacy of love and forgiveness in Christ’s name even though such unspeakable horror. I paints a picture of what Christ can do in the lives of people even in the most horrible of situations.

    A little girls memories

    Zeta

  114. Concerning free will. I can freely choose which shirt to put on. But my will is not as free when it comes to loving my enemies. That is a major struggle. I want to obey the Lord and live with my wife in an understanding way. That is also very difficult at times, and I find that my will is not as free as I would like it to be.

    Jesus never sinned. Not one single time. How is that possible? Was His will stronger than ours? I cannot even go one whole day without some type of “missing the mark”. I have never had a perfect day. I even sin in my dreams. My mind has many sinful thought during the day. Did I will for those thoughts? Do I will to be tempted?

    I do not want to be selfish, but I am. I do not like getting angry, but I do. I want to trust the Lord at all times, but I struggle with doubt and fear. Is this all part of my “free” will?
    Perhaps Jesus had free will, but I do not. My will is far from being free. My will is heavy laden and in tangles. If getting to Heaven is dependent upon my “free will” choices, then I am doomed.

  115. Arce said: Citr or retract.
    No, Arce. You’re not the boss of me.

    But it is clear that you don’t know as much about Calvinism as you think you do, since you make assertaions about what Calvinism means and teaches that no Calvinist would affirm.

    The teaching that God knows every future event, including every human choice, has been held, taught, and defended throughout most of church history. It is standard orthodoxy and the Scriptural arguments for it are readily available in thousands of books and articles. If you really aren’t familiar with them, it would only take a Google search to find more than you could read in a lifetime.

    I believe that the burden of proof for any other doctrine falls on those who would deny the well defined and well defended historical position. But you need not bother on my account, as I’m familiar with the arguments of open theism and find them wanting.

  116. Just heard Bach’s “Prelude and Fugue Nr. 7” from Book One of “The Well Tempered Klavier”, it describes God’s unknowable majesty. “Jesu, Joy of Man’s Desiring”, proclaims the good news, and “Sheep May Safely Graze” lets me know that I am loved and wanted.

  117. Junkster,
    Strong Calvinism is a heresy in that it postulates that God creates large numbers of people that he has already condemned to hell for eternal punishment because he has predetermined that they will not be saved, and he gives them no choice in the matter, because the script was written before the universe was created. Even your entry here was scripted by God prior to creation according the the strong Calvinsists. That makes God an Ogre that no one with a bit of sense would worship.

    BTW, if the Calvinists get to say what open theism is, open theists get to say what Calvinism is. Either that, or stop citing Calvinists regarding what open theists believe.

    BTW, Calvinists believe that prayer is useless because it will not change anything, because the script is already written. That contradicts what Jesus taught.

  118. Zeta,

    The comment that it has no real solution…was directed at Muff who DID say that, it was not directed at you. (I should have noted that..sorry)

    Your answer misses the point, you are assuming a God exists with these qualities and then asserting that, because He has those qualities and is beyond our comprehension that we cannot pass judgement on His character. You have the cart before the horse.

    If God knows how His creatures will respond to a certain stimulus (let’s say by rebelling against Him) and then He goes on to provide that stimulus anyway, then how can you say He does not bear any responsibility?

    You are taking an assumed nature of God and then saying well there MUST be a way otherwise what I assume about His nature wouldn’t be true…that’s circular reasoning, you are assuming the thing that you want to prove. I am asking you to take the logic and evidence and derive a personality from what we DO know…it doesn’t make any sense the other way around.

  119. Hi Arce,

    I am not a Calvinist, and neither do I believe in open theism.

    Question: How did Jesus know that He was going to die for our sins and then be raised from the dead in 3 days? How did Jesus know that Judas would betray Him?

  120. Bounded Reality,

    I think one of the more basic elements of Christian faith is the inherent necessity of Revelation in order to know God. It was learned a good while ago that the God of scripture as revealed in scripture simply can’t be derived from nature. So looking for some objective evidence that will yield an inherent understanding of God, or validating the nature of God by some ‘scientific’ analysis of nature, beyond the most basic of His characteristics, is going to fail. God is revealed primarily through Christ and scripture. It is in Him and through them that we come to know God.

    Zeta

  121. Arce,
    There are several untruths in what you have said. I will assume you speak them in ignorance rather than intentionally.

    I’m not here to defend Calvinism, so you can cease with your acrimony and hostility. I never cited any Calvinist regarding what open theists believe. The only citation I made was what you said.

  122. Hi all

    Seems The Gospel Coalition is at it again today.

    “Can Jackie O Teach Us to Be Good Complementarians?”

    What???

    Here’s the link in case anyone cares to comment.
    You never know who’s lurking and questioning this stuff. 🙁

    http://thegospelcoalition.org/blogs/tgc/2011/09/20/can-jackie-o-teach-us-to-be-good-complementarians/?comments#comments

    Oh Yea – They have banned me from this site – I’ve gone thru three cyber names.
    I’m running out of email addresses. 😉

  123. Zeta,

    So then, would you say that your belief in God is not so much a search for the truth, as it is a presumption that you already posses the truth…where logic and reason are the intellectual weapons in your battles against the heretical ideas and leanings of others, but which are abandoned at the first sign of conflict with your own cherished ideas, as you beat a retreat into the nearest dark cave of faith?

  124. This got stuck in moderation at 10:25AM, so I am posting it again if that is ok.

    One more question for open theism and also for the free will crowd: Jesus told Peter he would deny Him three times. Peter “free willed” never to deny Jesus and that he would die for Him. How did Jesus know the truth ahead of time, even though Peter was willing and determined to never deny Christ?

  125. A Amos Love

    Jackie O? Good night! This I have to read. They ban you because they do not know how to converse with those who have a logical opinion that differs from theirs.

  126. Abraham Solic,

    RE: “Concerning free will. I can freely choose which shirt… But my will is not as free when it comes to loving my enemies….Is this all part of my “free” will?…My will is far from being free…

    Just had a thought. We are subject to how the wind blows, so to speak. When God is not in the wind, we can bend in that direction. When God is in the wind, we can bend in that direction.

    So, it’s like this: I yield to and bend all the time to the urge to hold on to wrongs and injustices against me and others, as well as the urge to not be discliplined in my tasks (just to name a few). However, knowing that as I move in toward God He also in response moves in toward me, when God’s influence is “in my midst” (around me, within me, however it works) it is much easier to yield to and bend in that direction.

    Perhaps we can think of “free will” (& what can seem like the complete lack of it) in terms of us as “reeds in the wind” that can bend according to what influences are around us.

    And also not to get too introspective about it. It’s life-giving and good for our physical, mental, and emotional health to enjoy as much in life as we can.

  127. Thanks Amos. I watched the Jackie-O program last week and came away with different conclusions than Courtney. I am so tired of the worn-out message of the complementarians regarding women. B-O-R-I-N-G…

  128. Amos

    Here is my response that I left at the site. . Do these guys study history? I will do a post on this soon. Thank you.

    “I am confused. Are you referring to the Jackie O who had multiple affairs and lived with a man she was not married to in her later years? Is this the Jackie O who married Onassis for his money and then lived apart from him until his death, not even coming home to him as he was sick and dying?
    The Kennedy marriage was a not marriage in the Biblical sense. They lived lives that included the option of affairs. So, as long as someone says they believe something, it is assumed that they do, even if their lives show blatant disregard for everything that we, as Christians, would consider part of the marriage commitment?”

  129. Arce–

    This: “BTW, Calvinists believe that prayer is useless because it will not change anything, because the script is already written. That contradicts what Jesus taught.”

    The other day as I was mapping out my post that Dee is encouraging me to do, I was wondering about this because it is EXACTLY why I don’t pray anymore. I sat down the other evening and realized that (1) I never pray before bed anymore (as was tradition in my family), (2) I dont pray much during the day either, (3) I hardly pray for myself (4) I hardly pray for others, but I pray for them more than I do (3).

    Further thinking and pondering as to why, I first began to recollect when I stopped praying as much and it was the constant teachings at my church about God’s Sovereignty. Now, there is prayer at CHBC, lots of it. It’s a great deal part of SUnday morning’s service and Bible studies end in prayer. They DO pray. But it’s how they pray and how they teach about God’s Sovereingty, election and other things that make prayer a chore more than a necessity–a source of hope, relationship and intimacy with a loving, tender and kind Dad.

    You’ve been here awhile, long before me, and so I hope you remember at least some of my story and the issues that I have with it all. But God’s Sovereignty, as was taught and understood, and even practiced, is why I have resolved myself to resignation. I have resigned to believe that prayer changes things and because it’s apparently not God’s will (because “it”–the subject variable–isn’t happening and doesn’t look like there’s a snowballs chance in hell that it will), then praying is just a waste of my time, but moreso, it makes me feel helpless. It makes me feel defeated and helpless against a powerful God who rules over me and forces me to live a life that I am dissatisfied with. I am helpless against him. And yes, it’s me and Him at odds with each other. We cannot communicate clearly or effectively. Half the time, I dont think he’s listening. And if he is, I imagine that he’s not moved to compassion for me. I have to beg him to that place and he might inch a little closer, but he’s still far. It beckons me to beg for mercy in a way that mercy shall never come for I am weary and hopeless of it because this God can’t change anything because of my affectual prayers– because he is more sovereign than he’ll ever be loving.

    This, my dears, is how Calvinista-ism/neo-Reformed teachings have left me: the hopeless worshipper of a God who’s unchangeable, unmovable nature looks nothing like what I thought that to mean. And the only prayer that I need to pray is to thank Him for making me the elect and not creating me to go to hell. To thank Him for saving my sorry, depraved ass. Afterall, why would I pray for more, ask more, when I don’t deserve it. And the constant forcus nad teaching on my sin reminds me every Sunday that I am unworthy and undeserving. This God, this Father, the apple of His eye I am not. He’s stingy and unyielding. Calculating and is random as ever–with his blessings, his time, his focus, his plans.

    And so I have not prayed much, not asked much, because God’s mercy, kindness and enduring love have evaded me and has been replaced with his stern rule and headship over me, unwavering and unmoved by my heart which once was tender towards him but is now tough and ambivalent.

    I had no idea that I had stopped praying. I had no idea that this is what I have come to think about God. I dont feel that he thinks much of me or thinks about me much. He has set the course for my life and there is nothing I can do, and since he put me on autopilot, there’s not much he’s going to do either.

  130. I plead earnestly, let there be another god than this god who is completely knowable and understandable in the mind’s of men. A true God, unsearchable, with enduring mercy, love and kindness beyond compare. A God who will reveal Himself to me–untainted, unchanged by man’s lies and deceptions. Let there be another god than this god of a loveless jacked-up religion. Let there be antoehr god who is the true God–a God who indwells the hearts of His people, who creates praise on the lips of those who mourn, who dwells with those who are contrite and lowly in spirit. Let it be THIS God who is true and may He lift up the burdened and downcast and those who seek Him in Spirit and in truth.

  131. NLR

    I do not know how much of my story you have read or remember. But I was married before, to someone who changed during the 6 years or so we were together and became a “player”, breaking my heart. She wanted out and I let her go. After 15 months of dating and not finding anyone with whom I would want to spend a lot of time, and having undergone a bit of a reformation in my own life, I began praying again. I prayed that, if it were God’s will that I be single, then I would strive, with his help, to be a faithful single, and seek ways to serve him. And if I were to be married again, there would be pink and green spots on the fleece, some with stripes: shared background, shared interests, shared faith and values, and she would propose. Six or seven weeks later, a young woman entered the single adults Sunday School class I was in. During the discussion, she disagreed with a comment I had made and she was right. Her family was life-long SBCers, but not radical fundamentalist, matching my background; her politics were moderate like my own, but including the value of public education, research, etc.; and her values were much like my own; her Dad had grown up about 40 miles from where my parents were raised, and her Mom in a similar part of the country and small ag lifestyle like my parents.

    On the evening of our second “date”, after dinner at her place and before we went to the movie, she proposed. It was the 26th day, counting that first day we met. That was almost 33 years ago.

    I do believe that God hears and answers prayer. I believe that he does not have a completed script for our lives, but does act to make changes in the world. My spouse had received a last minute graduate fellowship that brought her that fall to the city where I had come to work on a political campaign, planning to go back to DC to a job and circle of friends there after the election. God had intervened to put us in the same place at the same time.

    BTW, on the 15th day of our acquaintance, I was in the choir singing the invitation, eyes closed and praying, when a voice inside my head said “Open your eyes to your future”. She was shaking the pastor’s hand, joining the church.

    I had told no one about the fleece, and I never mentioned to her, until much later, hearing that voice. But I did manage the next time we were at an event together to leave when she did and walk her to her car and ask her out.

    So, three key ingredients to me. Prayer that includes a willingness to live as God would have you live, whether your specific request is granted. Living as you believe he would have you live, and when things go otherwise, asking forgiveness and strength to get back on the path and stay there. Doing your part (in my case, being in a place where that request could be more easily fulfilled in a way would help me to continue to live as he would have me live, and following up on his apparent answer.)

    Whatever your situation, I believe God is glorified if we pray, confess, seek his help, live as we believe he would have us to live, concede to his will in our lives whatever that is, ask for his help with our specific desire, and do our part when the opportunity arises.

  132. Bounded Reality: “So then, would you say that your belief in God is not so much a search for the truth, as it is a presumption that you already posses the truth…where logic and reason are the intellectual weapons in your battles against the heretical ideas and leanings of others, but which are abandoned at the first sign of conflict with your own cherished ideas, as you beat a retreat into the nearest dark cave of faith?

    No I would not say that at all. But it does appear you are not only determined to, but blindly committed to, interpreting each and every word I write to fit into that little box.

    God’s Revelation through Christ is established in truth through the Resurrection. If the resurrection did not happen, then there is no reason to believe that Revelation is true. If, OTOH, it did happen, then there is every reason to believe that Revelation is true.

    This is the ‘crux’ of the Gospel. I do believe Christ Rose from the dead, and so I do believe His Revelation of God. He said “If you have seen Me, you have seen the Father”.

    But as to the issues we’ve been talking about, I have already pointed out where intellectually, irrespective of revelation, your conclusions falter. I have done it at least twice. Your conclusions presume 2 things that are categorically false: A) that God is free to do whatever he would suit you, B) that you know enough about this universe and any other universes that may exist to determine what God’s correct course of action should be.

    While This can’t bridge the gap between a general understanding of God and the specific understanding of God revealed in Scripture, it most certainly shows that you are choosing to see God as evil, it is not a logical necessity, nor even the primary implication from what we do know.

    Zeta

  133. That she is my partner in life and in love is a gift that shows God’s grace, mercy and forgiveness to me.

  134. No Longer Reformed,

    I can see where the Calvanista Teachings could lead to where you are. But I am not a Calvanista. And I am sorry you have been tormented by that view of God.

    I believe God does answer prayer, and I could care less if I was predistined to pray, and He was predistined to answer. And I don’t really believe that’s all there is to it anyway.

    Here is a simple example. My young daughter was very sad concerning the fact we had to get rid of our first dog over allergy issues. So one night I overheard her pray and ask God for a dog that we were not allergic to and that would “fetch a ball forever and never get tired of it”. Well, that warmed my heart and I determined to see if there was a dog that we could own. And we searched and found a few breeds that were good for folks with allergies, that have hair instead of fur. The dog we settled on was a poodle. What we did not know is that poodles are actually retrievers. And they are basically one of the best retrieving dogs their are.

    This particular poodle, as opposed even to others from her own litter, will literally fetch a ball till she simply kills herself from exhaustion. She will not stop until stopped.

    Now clearly, part of God’s answer to prayer was me and my wife doing some work. But the other part, the ball fetching part. Well, that was not a part of the prayer I could answer.

    I have many experiences of God’s answer to prayer. And don’t get me wrong, there have been times I’ve prayed and God seemed not to answer. But there is more to this than God’s sovereignty, and more to this than our wants and desires. I would encourage you to start praying again, but also to trust that what God does is best. I believe He IS motivated by our prayers, but loves us too much to just give us everything we ask for. Many times God has answered my prayers differently from what I asked, but in the end I have recognized His answer was better than my own. And sometimes, and this is the hard part of course, there are other factors we can’t understand that cause us to have to defer to Him. But don’t let that reality steal from you the joy of a living, vital, and real relationship with Him. Christ did not come to steal life, but to give it. So many times the kinds of answers to prayer that have meant the most to me are those answers that are quiet, the kinds of things we recognize no just as a huge ‘witness to the world’ of Gods greatness, but a ‘witness to me’ of Gods personal, gentle, compassionate and merciful hand in my life.

    Zeta

  135. Arce–

    Of course I wouldn’t forget THAT story! LOL! It’s so anti-Calvanista/neo-Reformed/Authoritarian/Complementarian. I can’t argue with what you’ve said, although I would try to. I want to be clear though that I am not presenting my feelings as one who rejects prayer because she’s not getting what she wants. But rather, the need for prayer coupled with the belief that God is Sovereign in the way that has been presented to me, has discouraged me to pray. Such that, I would no longer pray for various things because if this is the script that God has written, why even bother. Yes, it has left me hopeless and sad at times, afraid or angry. But my point was that the way God is being preached to the masses really causes some to loose faith in God and struggle and grapple with trying to maintain it. For example, if your church teaches that we are elected, why pray for anybody to be saved? If God has already chosen who he will save and who he will not, then why pray?

    The problem is that they don’t see that their theology contradicts what they do. Why pray then if God’s Sovereignty outreaches his love. Why pray if we have already been elected. Why pray if our future and everything else has been decided. Why pray if none of it can be changed. But it can’t be both, can it?

    I like your story, but unfortunately it doesn’t give me hope. It just seems to me that you were lucky and maybe it was a miracle. But what has happened to you, specifically concerning the area of marriage, isn’t happening to most. I wish taht I could be comforted by that story, and even believe that God would answer a specific prayer I have for marriage in that way–but I am afraid he won’t or isn’t, or isn’t willing.

    It is true, that whatever God chooses for me is his best for me. Marriage isn’t the ultimate good thing that I am lacking. And for many, it’s as tough being married as it is single. But that’s not my point. My experience has been such that I have sat in a congregation full of a majority, particularly white congregation, and have seen a tremendous imbalance in who God chooses to bless in various significant ways. For some, who you will spend the rest of your life with, where you’ll spend it, what you’ll do, what children you may or may not have–it’s a big deal. To be preached at regarding these situations as a matter of God choosing to bless some and not others, and all because of his Sovereignty and forethought and decisions, well, it makes the person who is suffering quite hopeless and sad. Because no matter how much my heart is broken or saddened, it can’t change God.

    from an African-American female perspective, today’s Christianity is full of bigotry, cultural insensitivity, and isn’t necessarily a place of hope for a future that includes marriage and family. But these same feelings even seemed to be applied to those who were sick or dying. It’s rare that you’d hear people praying and pleading with God for their healing. It was more about accepting what has happened and about how much God is Sovereign over the sitautions.

    Anyways, I could go on. BUt my point was to bring out that the very strong teachings on Sovreignty and election can affect a believer’s spiritual health in a way that makes you loose hope in the things you would normally pray for. I rarely pray anymore because of it. And like those in my church who prayed in ways that you have and had it work out for them, it was just never a source of hope for me. Because it became clear that God did not desire the same things for most, particularly African-American Christians in my congregation. And with that huge disconnect and obvious inequality, it has made me seriously wonder why.

    Anyways, I will try and start to pray again. In my head, I know that I should. But in my heart, it’s still believing why even bother.

  136. NLR

    You thoughts in this comment are worthy enough for their own blog post. I would love to see some of our strong Reformed readers answer you perspective on prayer. It is this very issue that causes many people despair. Of course, no Christian thinks of God as a gum ball machine, dispensing gum balls after each insertion of a quarter. In fact, I become very irritated when people state the obvious.

    Yet, Scripture is clear-God does answer prayer. The Neo-Calvinists would have us believe that God only answers our prayer when we are concert with His desires. Yet God tells us to bring everything to Him in prayer. When my daughter was sick, I prayed for her healing-how could I not? But I also prayed for the strength to walk through this valley with my faith intact. I came to realize over time, that prayer in that circumstance was encouraging me to go on and to see God more clearly in the midst.

    I think we should discuss this issue more. It is one of those paradoxes of the faith that is not easily understandable for people like myself.

  137. NLR

    The bible contradicts the Calvinist teaching that God has a predetermined script for your life down to the nitty gritty. There are many scriptures on prayer that are clear in the implication that much can be accomplished through prayer.

    I am truly sorry for the inherent racism in much of American Evangelical life. It is a carry over that should have been shed long ago. Meg and I have many, many minority friends, and some family members (I have a black niece and nephew, Meg has Asian, Native American, Hawaiian and Hispanic relatives). We understand the struggle, but not as viscerally as those toward whom the prejudice is directed, and yes, it even comes from the pulpit in cloaked words.

    BTW, I am not a complementarian. I shared my side of our story. Meg’s is a bit different but they intersect and overlap a great deal. We strive to be an egalitarian household, and have swapped roles many times — I even did the Mr. Mom thing for a few years while starting my own business while she taught school, and I do 95% of the laundry, 75% of the grocery shopping, and (currently, but not always in our relationship) most of the money management. She does 60-70 percent of the cooking and dishes, and generally keeps the bathrooms neat and clean. These things swap around periodically, depending on work loads and the like.

  138. NLR

    I think you get it much more deeply than many. You want a God who is mysterious yet available and loving. Many want a God who is completely understood and can be defined by manmade terms and “perfect” doctrine which defines the way we put on our pants in the morning.

  139. Arce
    Your story gave me goosebumps. Thank you for demonstrating how God answered prayer so specifically in your life.

  140. Zeta

    Thanks for pointing to the Resurrection as the basic necessity. JA at church emphasizes that point. He consistently points out that the Epistles rarely discuss Jesus’ ministry but have a laser focus on the meaning of the Cross and Resurrection. Through the Resurrection, all things are possible and through the Resurrection we see the glory of God and His plan. Without it, as Paul said, we would be fools. Well said!!

  141. Zeta,

    I give up, you are basing your conclusions on an a prior assumption of the nature of God as good, it’s circular reasoning. You cannot allow caveats which may exist but for which you have no knowledge to change the outcome of a set of observations.

    If I see a man with a gun shoot and kill an apparently innocent bystander on a street corner, with no more knowledge than that, I must logically conclude he is an evil person. The truth might be otherwise (maybe the person he shot was on his way to blow up a train station and kill hundreds and the man shot him in order to save innocent lives), but it is illogical to make that assumption simply because there may be mitigating circumstances.

    The only way to believe he is not evil is to start with a presumption that he is a good man and then look for unknown factors which justify his actions. Doing that is the precise definition of circular reasoning, assuming what you are trying to prove.

  142. Arce–

    …and I don’t mean that your story isn’t encouraging. In normal circumstances, it would be. It’s just that from my view and the seat that I have sat in, stories like that were for a select few of a certain variety. I don’t mean to come across as cynical. I hope that I am not. It’s just that from where I am, it’s like okay, that’s you, but THIS is me. This is what’s happened to me. This is what is happening to countless others. Your story is the exception and simply not the rule.

    I think also that my background with a pretty difficult childhood and growing up doesn’t help my views in that way. I’m not sure that there are many prayers in my life where God has answered so specifically as you laid out to Him and then he answered specifically as you asked, but then he also did it quite swiftly (at least that’s the perspective that I get).

    Whereas, I (including some dear friends of mine) have prayed specifically and for a very long time on some very specific things in our lives and it just hasn’t been that way–at all.

    But part of my view and struggle is also perspective. Take me out of my situation and put me smack middle in Somalia with the suffering hungry, dying and in terrible need and my entire perspective changes. I see God in a very different light. Adn so part of the problem is not only that I am an African-American with unique cultural struggles, but I also am an American with unique cultural struggles. You put all that together and stuff it in a white congregation, upper middle class, with a HUGE sense of entitlement and self-aggrandizement which they try and down play by self flogging on the humility and sin front–and you have a person really confused about God adn how he works. Much of this clouds how good and wonderful God really is.

    Adding to it all the shock of the perfect church and social situation becoming the very thing that you’d never want to be part of–a high demand control group. What you thought was God, was not. Who you thought God’s people would be, were not.

    Right now, I’m struggling to “rediscover” and “redefine” God in terms of who God reveals himself to be, rather than who the “church” says he is. I hope that makes sense.

    You see, I know in my head that God answers prayers and that prayers are needed. I know that God is not a monster, a bigot, a hard-to-please jerk. But in my heart, I’ve been shown that’s who God is for the past two years, to the deepest levels EVER, and I’m trying to fight and get rid of all that stinkin’ mess that crowded up my heart as “the Gospel” and “Biblical truth”. For me, this is going to be a lot tougher than leaving it all behind. But each day, I realize how my thoughts need reshaping, my trust needing reform, and my beliefs needing to be regrounded all over again.

    I guess I can pray God, please undo what has been done.

    BTW: I really like the way your marriage works. I hope to find someone on which I could share a similar life. that’s very much what I want. Although! I dont know about asking him to marry me. Not because it’s unorthodox, but because of my own issues of needing that security to know that this person has asked me.

    * * *

    Dee–

    EXACTLY! And the good of this experience was needed to teach me that. These views have caused exactly that, and that is dispair. I would have never thought coming here, attending this church and searching for knowledge and wisdom would end where it has–and that was utter despair. The sad thing is that I have friends there who are feeling the same thing–despair. Yet, they cannot see the source of their despair. They still blame themselves. Or if they have recognized it’s the teachings, they dont have yet the courage to say it for what it is. There was a time I’d pray for just about any and every situation, and give God thanks a lot too. Now I’m all worried that if I don’t follow the ACTS model of prayer, that I’m not doing it right. I miss the times where I’d just break out and talk to God. And now, i wouldn’t do that because I am not approaching him in reverence. WHAT?!!!

    I thought before that I wanted a God with whom I could know any and all things about Him that Scripture says. I could have all the right answers. Keen apologetics, you know. But what has resulted is hurt, pride, anger, foolishness, brokeness, divisiveness, imaturity and the like. Making Scripture and knowledge of it central to the faith is such a huge mistake when who Christ is dims in the midst of it. Forgetting Christ and putting our pursuit of knowledge before Him really screws up who God is.

    You are right, I want a mysterious God who is THAT big! But I want him available and loving. I want that so much.

  143. Bounded,

    Let’s be frank. If everything can be reduced to an Aristotelian box of linear propositions either true or false, then yes, you win hands down. In your proof by contradiction of something we assumed to be true (God’s goodness and lack of evil), it was found to have a case that proved to be false.

    When I said that there were no real solutions to the problem, I meant that sometimes things do not turn out to be strictly linear. Sometimes non-linear factors come into play which do not have real solutions in the sense that no real numbers will satisfy certain conditions. This is not circular reasoning but rather a fact of life in some areas of Mathematics.

    It really doesn’t matter whether or not you believe in God, he believes in you, as Mother Abigail told Nick Andros in Stephen King’s “The Stand”.

    Pax,
    Muff

  144. Bounded
    What if the exception is the rule? Like your man firing into a crowd who is in reality stopping a terrorist, could not God be that exception? You seem to say that exceptions cannot be granted when it comes to God. I say that God is the exception and can be considered good.

  145. Muff
    I liked that book. There is a French saying-Bidden or not, God is present. It seems to fit well with Mother Abigail’s quote.

  146. My view is that God is co-extensive with the universe, and fills it entirely, inhabiting all the space that is not occupied by the nuclei and electrons, and then inhabiting the components of the nucleai and inhabiting the electrons as well. He is ALWAYS (t)here and everywhere. He is spirit and not limited by the physical constraints of the world he created. And BTW, our male personal pronoun is an unreasonable limit on our ability to communicate his personality, but we have no convenient other way to discourse.

    There was a popular (but erroneous) song that said that God is watching us from a distance. Instead, God is experiencing us from within and around us, every second of every day. Only in eternity will he not be co-present with SOME of us, who will be separated from him for eternity.

  147. BoundedReality: “I give up, you are basing your conclusions on an a prior assumption of the nature of God as good, it’s circular reasoning.

    I am basing my conclusion God is good on the Cross and the Resurrection. It is not circular reasoning. It is a logical conclusion that hinges on whether or not the Resurrection is a real event in History.

    Your conclusion is based in insufficient evidence coupled with flawed conclusions about what omnipotence and omniscience necessarily imply about evil in the world.

    BR:” You cannot allow caveats which may exist but for which you have no knowledge to change the outcome of a set of observations.

    This is true in a scientific investigation, but does not characterize the situation we are dealing with here from several avenues, not the least of which is the claim God became a man and Rose from the dead. This claim is part of the evidence and knowledge which MUST be factored into any conclusion about the nature of God.

    BR: “If I see a man with a gun shoot and kill an apparently innocent bystander on a street corner, with no more knowledge than that, I must logically conclude he is an evil person.

    No BR, actually you must conclude he is potentially an evil person. And until you know WHY he shot that person you should not conclude anything moral. If you know the person shot is a terrorist, and you know the man doing the shooting is an truly upstanding individual, all the more so. (This situation is a horrendously poor example for what we are dealing with in this discussion, but is consistent with the tendency so far for you to push concepts to one extreme or another and not allow for a nuanced position that takes into account multiple factors).

    BR:” The truth might be otherwise (maybe the person he shot was on his way to blow up a train station and kill hundreds and the man shot him in order to save innocent lives), but it is illogical to make that assumption simply because there may be mitigating circumstances.

    Then you have just called the American system of justice illogical, for the accused is always ASSUMED innocent until PROVEN guilty in a court of law.

    To bad you are not willing to give God the same grace you are a potential criminal.

    BR: “The only way to believe he is not evil is to start with a presumption that he is a good man and then look for unknown factors which justify his actions.

    Ridiculous! The only way to believe he is not evil is to find evidence that shows he is not evil! Justice demands we do that lest we convict an innocent man! And we (theoretically) do this for every murderer in this country. We start with the assumption of innocence. We investigate the crime, we give them their day in court and we look at all the available evidence before we reach a conclusion, taking into account even such factors as prior history and testimony from people who know the person.

    BR:”Doing that is the precise definition of circular reasoning, assuming what you are trying to prove.

    Only in the mathematical sense of assume and prove. We are not engaging in circular reasoning when we presume innocence and then let the evidence guide us to the truth. You are abusing language here. Language has nuances. In this case, and in technical terms, ‘assumption of innocence’ implies we do not allow a subset of the evidence to drive us to an irrevocable conclusion. If we know we have data we have not accounted for, then we can only reach at best a tentative conclusion. An intellectually honest person will not make any kind of strong claims about such a conclusion. If we are reaching a tentative conclusion about something incredibly important, like a mans’s freedom, or the existence or goodness of God, then we are OBLIGATED to go beyond that subset of the evidence.

    If we know our presumptions are themselves false (as in your assumed implications concerning omniscience and omnipotence), then all the more are we obligated to reformulate our hypothesis based on better data.

    Now I’m going to close by asking you to try your best not to conflate two different avenues we have been down in this discussion. The first is the purely intellectual topic can we conclude God is evil, where you use incomplete evaluations of omnipotence and omniscience to accuse God of being evil because He allows evil. I gave you several problems with your conclusion. Keep in mind BR that you know as well as I do that a conclusion based on false premises can’t be expected to be correct, even if the logic is perfect.

    The second issue is can we conclude God is good, over you accused me of being circular in my thinking, and to which I have pointed out it is based on the evidence of the Resurrection, and therefore is not circular.

    Two different lines of thought: A) Can we conclude God is EVIL, and B) Can we conclude God is GOOD.

    Zeta

  148. Zeta,

    The resurrection has nothing to do with whether the concepts of omnipotence, omniscience and whether are in conflict with the idea of God’s goodness unless, once again, you are going to presume a trait then scour the landscape looking for support.

    If you must wait before saying that any being is purely good and not responsible for any evil until you have not only all the information available but also all the potential information then you could never make a determination at all, because no matter the situation or who we are talking about you will never have all the information…you’d be forever paralyzed by indecision

    Even in a court case, since you made that comparison, whether or not there exists a mitigating factor, if it is not presented at trial, and what IS presented demonstrates guilt, the person still goes to jail. No jury or judge would behave the way that your are thinking.

    Can you seriously imagine a jury or judge, who, after being presented clear evidence of guilt, would say “well he appears guilty of wrongdoing, but let’s let him go free anyway because there might be circumstances out there somewhere that we don’t know about”…of course not.

    The idea that there “may” be mitigating circumstance, or to say it is “beyond our understanding”, is a pretty lame and certainly not a logical reason for proclaiming that the apparent conflict is hereby resolved.

    Finally, please remember that in order to conclude God is wholly good I would need to examine every action of His through all eternity…BUT, to prove that He is NOT pure goodness all I need do is find Him responsible for one evil (however slight).

    It’s like trying to prove that all crows are black. It’s an impossible task…I have to examine every crow in the world, but to prove that not all crows are black I only need to find one of a different color. So when considering God, it is you that has the impossible burden (proving He is pure goodness), and therefore it is you, that should be far more careful in making that proclamation, to show He is not without evil, I only need to demonstrate one example.

  149. @ NLR: You know what? I have real difficulty praying, too. Because I can’t do what I used to do, which included long, wordy, supposedly “Spirit-led intercessory” prayers for… just about anything and anyone.

    To be honest, I’ve always been baffled by the notion of doing prayer vigils, etc. – I mean, people spend an hour or more praying for – what, exactly? and what do they find so absorbing?

    I always fell asleep during things like that; ditto for my daily, dreaded private “prayer time.” My mind always drifted; I couldn’t stay awake, etc. etc. I felt like such a HUGE failure. People would show up at church and at bible studies and have these insights (or so I thought) from reading stuff and… that didn’t happen to me.

    Now, I’m definitely not saying that I’ve never been absorbed in reading Scripture, or in prayer. But when it starts to feel like it’s grinding away at you and undermining you, well…

    I felt very bad for years that I somehow did not get “it” – whatever “it” is.

    And on top of that, I felt SO chained and bound to that daily “prayer time.”

    I can’t do it anymore. Not by rote, not ever again.

    but… surprise! This past weekend, I spent a fair chunk of time reading through some psalms. What struck me: how David (or whoever wrote them, in what had come to be accepted as a Davidic style) was constantly railing against people who were conspiring against him. It’s an incredibly adversarial view of other people, and even though I have no doubt that the enemies did exist, I have to wonder LOTS about how people – today, in the here and now – interpret such passages. (I was in the 20s and 30s re. Psalms.)

    If there is not a balanced perspective on the totality of Scripture, well… I think there is great danger that one (anyone!) might just get bogged down in a view (like this adversarial thing) that does not reflect a broader reality.

    In other words: if you don’t get past the “I’m being persecuted” thing as presented in those particular passages, you’ll never get to see “Love your enemies, and pray for those who persecute you” as the overriding thing.

    (I could pull out a lot more examples, but I think that’ll do for now.)

    *

    About prayer again: I truly believe that God does NOT want people to feel forced or in any way constrained to have to pray. I lived under such a crushing weight of legalism for so long; it’s only now that I’m starting to do certain things (like read the bible) NOT because someone is haranguing me to do so, but because the desire is there.

  150. Numo,
    Good words on prayer. I’m reminded of a poem that captures the struggle it can be to pray, even though the heart’s desire it to connect with God:

    Distractions In Prayer
    by Frederick William Faber (1814-1863)

    Ah dearest Lord! I cannot pray,
    My fancy is not free;
    Unmannerly distractions come,
    And force my thoughts from Thee.

    The world that looks so dull all day
    Glows bright on me at prayer,
    And plans that ask no thought but then
    Wake up and meet me there.

    All nature one full fountain seems
    Of dreamy sight and sound,
    Which, when I kneel, breaks up its deeps,
    And makes a deluge round.

    Old voices murmur in my ear,
    New hopes start to life,
    And past and future gaily blend
    In one bewitching strife.

    My very flesh has restless fits;
    My changeful limbs conspire
    With all these phantoms of the mind
    My inner self to tire.

    I cannot pray; yet, Lord! Thou knowst
    The pain it is to me
    To have my vainly struggling thoughts
    Thus torn away from Thee.

    Sweet Jesus! teach me how to prize
    These tedious hours when I,
    Foolish and mute before Thy Face,
    In helpless worship lie.

    Prayer was not meant for luxury,
    Or selfish pastime sweet;
    It is the prostrate creature’s place
    At his Creator’s Feet.

    Had I, dear Lord! no pleasure found
    But in the thought of Thee,
    Prayer would have come unsought, and been
    A truer liberty.

    Yet Thou art oft most present, Lord!
    In weak distracted prayer:
    A sinner out of heart with self
    Most often finds Thee there.

    For prayer that humbles sets the soul
    From all illusions free,
    And teaches it how utterly,
    Dear Lord! it hangs on Thee.

    The heart, that on self-sacrifice
    Is covetously bent,
    Will bless Thy chastening hand that makes
    Its prayer its punishment.

    My Saviour! why should I complain
    And why fear aught but sin?
    Distractions are but outward things;
    Thy peace dwells far within.

    These surface-troubles come and go,
    Like rufflings of the sea;
    The deeper depth is out of reach
    To all, my God, but Thee.

  151. Bounded Reality, you’ve managed to twist all this into a pretzel. So I’m going to back up a bit and deal directly with your supposed proof from a different tack and see if we can make any progress.

    Your argument goes basically like this:

    1) God allows evil
    2) God is omnipotent
    3) A being that is omnipotent can prevent evil
    4) A being that allows evil when it can be prevented is evil
    5) God is therefore evil.

    Point 4 is where you argument fails. You left out a critical truth:

    A being that is good can’t be evil to prevent evil.

    So if the omnipotent being is good yet must be evil to prevent evil, he is not then able to prevent evil in spite of being omnipotent and good, unless He in turn becomes evil.

    This then is the single counter example which is necessary to nullify your proof.

    And it points out an interesting paradox. A being that will stop at nothing to stop evil is, in fact, not good.

    Zeta

  152. Bounded,

    Remember this is all just lively parlour talk. You stood up for all of us as a friend of the blog when the Templars started to besiege our little Andalus so to speak. May we all stand and be true.

    Always be welcome friend!

    Muff

  153. Bounded,

    I echo Muff’s sentiment. There is nothing personal here. I may get frustrated with what I perceive as you not understanding me, or arriving at invalid conclusions based on what I thought I said.

    We are especially hacking at some very hard stuff, and to top it off we have a stake in the results. I am trying to hear you, and respect you, and argue for my point of view.

    But there is nothing personal here. I’m thankful you are pushing on me. It helps me think about things I’d normally not tackle.

    Do not take anything I say or have said as personal. Again, I’m glad you are here and willing to debate this with me.

    Zeta

  154. Junkster, thanks for that poem!

    You know, I think there are times when it’s probably better to just get up and go take a walk than be sitting, trying so hard to pray. It can clear the mind, and for me, at least, being out where I can see sky and sun and plants and whatnot is actually more conducive to worship than sitting inside, feeling… constrained.

  155. Maybe this goes without saying, but I feel that I want to make note of something re. my earlier post (above) on prayer, etc. – that I’m in the process of unlearning what I believe were some very unhealthy approaches to God – and prayer.

    Continuing to batter one’s head against a wall isn’t going to solve the problem of how to get past, around or over said wall. backing off, taking a break – and doing whatever needs to happen in order to gain perspective – is a far better thing to do, imo.

    and if that means not consciously praying for a while – because the whole approach you’ve been taught goes nowhere and comes from bad theology – then my take is, set it aside. Leave it alone.

    I have a hunch that a lot of things that we don’t recognize as prayer count as such with God, and that maybe a lot of things that we believe are prayer are not exactly what we perceive them to be. 😉

  156. Numo

    I often laugh when I see pictures of the “leaders” at public events kneeling and making big showy prayers like they are the prayer warriors. I am thinking of one photo in particular on Tom Rich’s blog of Mac Brunson and a couple of other SBC leaders.

    They remind me of the Pharisees whom Jesus condemned from making a spectacle out of their prayers and service. If it was so easy, then why did Jesus give us the Holy Spirit who intercedes for us? I have found my most effective prayers are said in the middle of trials, sometimes through tears. Nothing fancy and nothing long-just pain. In fact, I believe that it is pain that drives most of us into His presence and that is why David’s prayers often involved painful circumstances.

    We live in a fallen world and we are surrounded by forces that drive us away from the Father. That is why i find short, frequent prayers quite helpful. Historically, the liturgical churches have a set prayers to be said during different times of the day. I have a couple of books that pray through the day and have found it very helpful. One is called The LIttle Book of Hours and another is The Divine Hours. Both help me to focus on God during the day. What I then find is that I pray even more in between these set times of prayer. And for those who think I have gone Catholic on them, I haven’t. I just find these prayers of help.

  157. Zeta,

    There’s never anything personal in my comments I respect all the regulars I’ve come to know on the board….that doesn’t prevent me from being frustrated when I seem to unable to make a point though 🙂

    I see what part of the issue is…in your point by point summation above you made some points that are not in sync with what I am saying…got to work for a bit..but will address them a bit later.

  158. Numo
    When my daughter was so sick, I used to go out for a run around the neighborhood and bawl my eyes out and pray. The neighbors who were empathetic to my situation kindly pretended not to see me. God was truly present in those tears.

  159. I lay in the back of the ER for four hours, checked on about once an hour. Sang my way through most of the hymnal (by heart) and prayed for Meg and the children, not knowing other than she was alive and they were relatively unhurt. With a piece of glass between my head and the backboard. Pain makes prayer a lot easier than does joy.

  160. “…I have a hunch that a lot of things that we don’t recognize as prayer count as such with God, and that maybe a lot of things that we believe are prayer are not exactly what we perceive them to be…”

    I’m with ya on that one numo. Just when we think we got God all boxed up neat and tidy, he folds the very space we know of and is gone. I think Ecclesiastes 5:1-3 puts it all into focus.