There is no Jehovah-Rophi, no Covenant

In Exodus 15:25-6, we are given a snapshot of the "covenant" idea of God -- one that involves God being the "all in all" for God's chosen/elect:
25 Then Moses cried out to the LORD, and the LORD showed him a piece of wood. He threw it into the water, and the water became sweet. There the LORD made a decree and a law for them, and there he tested them. 26 He said, "If you listen carefully to the voice of the LORD your God and do what is right in his eyes, if you pay attention to his commands and keep all his decrees, I will not bring on you any of the diseases I brought on the Egyptians, for I am the LORD, who heals you."
Jehovah-Rophi, the God who heals. But does God heal? Today?

Well, let's start with the easy stuff -- some recorded instances of healing that Jesus [supposedly] performed:
  1. Leper 1 (Matt 8:2-4, Mark 1:40-5, Luke 5:12-5 [ignore the contradiction in when the healing occurred -- before going into the house or after])
  2. Paralytic (Matt 9:2-8, Mark 2:3-12, Luke 5:18-26)
  3. Peter's Mother (Matt 8:14-7, Mark 1:29-31)
  4. Nobleman's son (John 4:46-53)
  5. Withered hand (Matt 12:9-13, Mark 3:1-6, Luke 6:6-11)
  6. Malchus's severed ear (Luke 22:47-51)
  7. Hemorrhage (Matt 9:20-2, Mark 5:25-34, Luke 8:43-8)
Now, many other supposed healings are recorded in the gospels, but these suffice to show as examples where a "teaching" was attached to the miracle. Griffith Thomas writes,
It is noteworthy that one of the words frequently used of these miracles in the Gospels is the ordinary term, works (erga). They were the natural and necessary outcome of His life, the expression in act of what He Himself was... (Christianity Is Christ, p. 50, 1965)
What does this really mean? Well, the idea that Christ ushers in the "new covenant", in a phrase. And so, we really ought to establish just what God promised in the covenant. If you numerically count the promises made in the Abrahamic covenant, as this fellow has done, you will find 60, give or take a couple, depending on how you compound the sentences. The Biblical basis for the covenant is:
Genesis 12:1-3; 13:14-17; 15:1-21; 17:1-27 -- promises to Abrham
Genesis 17:10, 11, 23-27 -- covenant made with circumcision
Genesis 22:16-18 -- covenant summarized, oath sworn by God
Genesis 26:1-5 -- reconfirmed to Isaac
Genesis 28:13-15; 35:9-12 -- reconfirmed to Jacob
I am not a theologian, and thus I will not attempt to expound at length as to the intricacies of the old and new testaments [covenants]. I will simply make a point, which I open for criticism, but I do not fear being shown wrong:
  • The Hebrews understood their covenant to be a holistic one -- God's promises of blessing were for their livestock, families, bodies, minds, hearts, behaviors...etc. Thus, they understood disease and sickness from the perspective that God could and would heal it, so long as they were in covenant with God. They did not believe that their healing would come in an afterlife only.
Many instances in the OT, the Jews' individual or collective faithfulness to God is juxtaposed against the fulfillment of God's covenant, insofar as healing, or as striking the unfaithful with plagues. Never is it implied that some "neutral, 3rd-party diseases" existed, nor that "neutral, 3rd-party health" existed.

Now, based upon this premise, the words of Griffith Thomas may become more clear -- if Jesus was to usher in a new covenant, with "better promises", what would we expect? We would expect for God to continue the blessings of Abraham, and to either extend them in scope of number, and/or in scope of persons they are offered to. From some of the claims of Jesus, by which Jesus promises the disciples new powers to cast out demons and heal the sick, and from the NT ministry of Paul et al, it is clear the blessings were increased, and offered to the Gentiles as never before. Furthermore, most Christians believe a part of Jesus' ministry had to have the indelible mark of the Messiah, from prophecies like Isa 32:3-4, 35:5-6, in which miracles and healings were promised as a sign.

Thus the healings of Jesus ought not have only represented individual discrete acts of benevolence [or at least, they shouldn't, since God is no respecter of persons], but signs and fulfillment of the era of the new covenant. Considering that the Bible claims that long after Jesus died, rose, and went back to heaven, the disciples were doing miracles of healing, there is no logical reason to suppose that this covenant was intended only for a short while. Why, then, are the miracles and healings absent in the so-called Body of Christ? Why is there so much sickness and disease in those within the supposed covenant?

The new covenant was made with perfect blood, offered by a perfect priest, according to the writer of Hebrews, and so its effect is greater. When God's people err, God no longer strikes them down with plagues. Conversely, there is a greater expectation of health and longevity, given that God's people now trust in the "better promises" of the new covenant. The blood of Jesus supposedly functions as a "sin filter", through which God sees the "new creature" (2 Cor 5:17) whose body and mind are being renewed with the indwelling of God's presence. Indeed, this supposed cohabitation of the body with the Holy Spirit, before the NT impossible, is the singular greatest reason to expect a holistic health -- mind, body, and spirit.

But...is God still Jehovah-Rophi?
The miracles are harmonious with the character and consciousness of Jesus; they are not external confirmations but internal constituents of the revelations of the Heavenly Father's love, mercy, and grace, given in Him, the beloved Son of God, and the compassionate Brother of men... (A.E. Garvie, Is Jesus God?, 4th ed., p. 51-2, 1966)
Indeed, the question must be posed as: has God, or God's character, or God's covenant, changed since the days of Paul, Peter, and James, when miracles of healing were still recorded? Furthermore, there is a greater expectation of healing through the covenant of Jesus than through the covenant of Abraham:
Isa 53:4-6 (NIV) 4 Surely he took up our infirmities and carried our sorrows, yet we considered him stricken by God, smitten by him, and afflicted.5 But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon him, and by his wounds we are healed. 6 We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to his own way; and the LORD has laid on him the iniquity of us all.

1 Pet 2:23-25 (NIV) 23When they hurled their insults at him, he did not retaliate; when he suffered, he made no threats. Instead, he entrusted himself to him who judges justly. 24He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness; by his wounds you have been healed. 25For you were like sheep going astray, but now you have returned to the Shepherd and Overseer of your souls.
Since the Bible clearly relates sin to physical death and physical illness throughout, and since the popular derivation of this teaching has resulted in numerous equivocations of sin with disease, Christians, doing their best to remain faithful to the covenant, and trusting in the blood of Christ for their righteousness, have a vexing problem: the prevalence of disease, and the lack of miracles and healings to alleviate it. After all, if there sins are "washed away" with the blood of Jesus, if they have been made righteous...where is the evidence thereof? If the Bible makes it clear that the effects of sin are done away with by the Cross, why do they linger on?

Does it require the physical presence of Christ, or one of the Apostles, to perform these miracles and healings? The Bible testifies to the contrary:
Matt 18:19-20 (NIV) 19"Again, I tell you that if two of you on earth agree about anything you ask for, it will be done for you by my Father in heaven. 20For where two or three come together in my name, there am I with them."

James 5:13-16 (NIV) 13Is any one of you in trouble? He should pray. Is anyone happy? Let him sing songs of praise. 14Is any one of you sick? He should call the elders of the church to pray over him and anoint him with oil in the name of the Lord. 15And the prayer offered in faith will make the sick person well; the Lord will raise him up. If he has sinned, he will be forgiven. 16Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective.
So, Christian [Evangelical/Fundamentalist, especially], is your Book wrong, or are you really saved? How many pastors have spent countless hours trying to defend God's promises in the face of evidence contrariwise? How many faithful, devout, obedient Christians have spent months or years trusting in God for a healing, repenting [blaming themselves], being anointed with oil, coming together with fellow believers to pray, in faith, believing Matt 18? How many died? How many slowly rotted away from cancer? [see also Matt 7:7, 17:20, 18:19, 21:21, Mark 11:24, John 14:12-14, James 5:15-16...and the list at the bottom]

As Aaron poignantly pointed out, all the words and doctrine mean little to those who are unsteeped in theology -- but the evidence and power of God in your lives mean everything. If you claim that you are in some sort of covenant with God, and you're keeping up your end, and you got a blood transfusion at a hospital that had Hepatitis C, HIV, whatever, 20 years ago, what are those watching to think? Paul supposedly got bitten by a poisonous snake, and it inspired faith in those around him. Had Paul fallen down and died, as you most surely will, there would be no inspiration of faith, no "power" to back up the words (c.f. 1 Cor 2, 1 Thess 1). Was God's faithfulness to Paul greater than to you? Do you maintain that God is no respecter of persons (2 Chron 19:7, Job 34:19, Acts 10:34-5, Rom 2:11-2, Gal 5:6, 1 Pet 1:17, 2 Pet 3:9)? Why then are so many left unhealed? So many who faithfully pray and cry out to God to fulfill the covenant oath? Semi-joking, why does God hate amputees?

I will close with a compilation of Scripture, put together from various sources, that I edited and rearranged, for you to consider. It is a long list, but it is quite essential for you to face the failed promises of your God before attempting to pretend that a plain reading doesn't render the failure of God's covenant:
  • Exodus 15:26 "I will put none of these diseases upon thee...for I am the LORD that healeth thee."
  • Deut 7:12-15 "12 If you pay attention to these laws and are careful to follow them, then the LORD your God will keep his covenant of love with you, as he swore to your forefathers. 13 He will love you and bless you and increase your numbers. He will bless the fruit of your womb, the crops of your land—your grain, new wine and oil—the calves of your herds and the lambs of your flocks in the land that he swore to your forefathers to give you. 14 You will be blessed more than any other people; none of your men or women will be childless, nor any of your livestock without young. 15 The LORD will keep you free from every disease. He will not inflict on you the horrible diseases you knew in Egypt, but he will inflict them on all who hate you." [emphasis mine]
  • Deut 32:39 "39 See now that I myself am He! There is no god besides me. I put to death and I bring to life, I have wounded and I will heal, and no one can deliver out of my hand."
  • Psalms 25:20 "O keep my soul, and deliver me: let me not be ashamed; for I put my trust in thee."
  • Psalms 34:10 "...they that seek the LORD shall not want any good thing."
  • Psalms 42:11 "Hope thou in God: for I shall yet praise him, who is the health of my countenance, and my God."
  • Psalms 46:1 "God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble."
  • Psalms 55:22 "Cast thy burden upon the LORD, and he shall sustain thee: he shall never suffer the righteous to be moved."
  • Psalms 91:3 "Surely he shall deliver thee from the snare of the fowler, and from the noisome pestilence."
  • Psalms 103:3 "Who forgiveth all thine iniquities; who healeth all thy diseases;"
  • Psalms 107:20 "He sent his word, and healed them, and delivered them from their destructions."
  • Psalms 119:93 "I will never forget thy precepts: for with them thou hast quickened me."
  • Proverbs 3:7-8 "Be not wise in thine own eyes: fear the LORD, and depart from evil. It shall be health to thy navel, and marrow to thy bones."
  • Proverbs 4:20-22 "My son, attend to my words; incline thine ear unto my sayings. Let them not depart from thine eyes; keep them in the midst of thine heart. For they are life unto those that find them, and health to all their flesh."
  • Isaiah 53:4 "Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows:"
  • Isaiah 53:5 "With his stripes we are healed."
  • Isaiah 40:29 "He giveth power to the faint; and to them that have no might he increaseth strength."
  • Isaiah 40:31 "They that wait upon the LORD shall renew their strength."
  • Isaiah 50:7 "For the Lord GOD will help me; therefore shall I not be confounded: therefore have I set my face like a flint, and I know that I shall not be ashamed."
  • Jeremiah 17:14 "Heal me, O LORD, and I shall be healed; save me, and I shall be saved: for thou art my praise."
  • Jeremiah 30:17 "I will restore health unto thee, and I will heal thee of thy wounds."
  • Jeremiah 33:6 "Behold, I will bring it health and cure, and I will cure them, and will reveal unto them the abundance of peace and truth.
  • Matthew 7:7 "Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you."
  • Matthew 7:17 "So every good tree bears good fruit, but the bad tree bears bad fruit."
  • Matthew 8:17 "Himself took our infirmities, and bare our sicknesses."
  • Matthew 15:13 "Every plant, which my heavenly Father hath not planted, shall be rooted up."
  • Matthew 17:20 "And He said to them, "Because of the littleness of your faith; for truly I say to you, if you have faith the size of a mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, 'Move from here to there,' and it will move; and nothing will be impossible to you."
  • Matthew 18:18-21 "8 Truly I say to you, whatever you bind on earth shall have been bound in heaven; and whatever you loose on earth shall have been loosed in heaven. 19 Again I say to you, that if two of you agree on earth about anything that they may ask, it shall be done for them by My Father who is in heaven. 20 For where two or three have gathered together in My name, I am there in their midst."
  • Matthew 21:21 "And Jesus answered and said to them, "Truly I say to you, if you have faith and do not doubt, you will not only do what was done to the fig tree, but even if you say to this mountain, 'Be taken up and cast into the sea,' it will happen."
  • Mark 5:23 "23and implored Him earnestly, saying, 'My little daughter is at the point of death; please come and lay Your hands on her, so that she will get well and live.'"
  • Mark 6:5 "5And He could do no miracle there except that He laid His hands on a few sick people and healed them."
  • Mark 11:24 "24 Therefore I say to you, all things for which you pray and ask, believe that you have received them, and they will be granted you."
  • Mark 16:18 "18 they [disciples of Jesus] will pick up serpents, and if they drink any deadly poison, it will not hurt them; they will lay hands on the sick, and they will recover."
  • Luke 10:19-20 "19 Behold, I have given you authority to tread on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy, and nothing will injure you. 20"Nevertheless do not rejoice in this, that the spirits are subject to you, but rejoice that your names are recorded in heaven.""
  • John 8:36 "If the Son therefore shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed."
  • John 14:12-14 "12 Truly, truly, I say to you, he who believes in Me, the works that I do, he will do also; and greater works than these he will do; because I go to the Father. 13 Whatever you ask in My name, that will I do, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son. 14If you ask Me anything in My name, I will do it."
  • Romans 8:2 "For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death."
  • Romans 8:11 "He that raised up Christ from the dead shall also quicken your mortal bodies by his Spirit that dwelleth in you."
  • Romans 8:26 "The Spirit also helpeth our infirmities."
  • Romans 8:32 "He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not with him also freely give us all things?"
  • 2 Cor 1:9-10 "9 Indeed, in our hearts we felt the sentence of death. But this happened that we might not rely on ourselves but on God, who raises the dead. 10 He has delivered us from such a deadly peril, and he will deliver us. On him we have set our hope that he will continue to deliver us,"
  • 2 Cor 1:18-22 "8 But as surely as God is faithful, our message to you is not "Yes" and "No." 19 For the Son of God, Jesus Christ, who was preached among you by me and Silas and Timothy, was not "Yes" and "No," but in him it has always been "Yes." 20 For no matter how many promises God has made, they are "Yes" in Christ. And so through him the "Amen" is spoken by us to the glory of God. 21 Now it is God who makes both us and you stand firm in Christ. He anointed us, 22 set his seal of ownership on us, and put his Spirit in our hearts as a deposit, guaranteeing what is to come." [emphasis mine]
  • 2 Corinthians 2:14 "Now thanks be unto God, which always causeth us to triumph in Christ."
  • 2 Thessalonians 3:3 "But the Lord is faithful, who shall stablish you, and keep you from evil."
  • 2 Timothy 1:7 "For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind."
  • Hebrews 13:8 "Jesus Christ the same yesterday, and to day, and for ever."
  • James 5:16 "Confess your faults one to another, and pray one for another, that ye may be healed. The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much."
  • 1 Peter 2:24 "By whose stripes ye were healed."
  • 1 John 3:8 "For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that he might destroy the works of the devil."
  • 3 John 1:2 "Beloved, I wish above all things that thou mayest prosper and be in health, even as thy soul prospereth."
In closing, I would simply ask what a believer, devout, doing their best to follow the commandments of the Jesus and Lord that they love, is supposed to make of God's failure to heal them? That God is trying to teach them something? That the devil is messing with God's promises? Perhaps a believer thinks these things, in order to retain some semblance of sanity and trust and faith in a good God of covenant. However, the clear and unequivocal statements above must be dealt with. Is the covenant simply true: "If X, then Y", where X = you are obedient, you are a Christian, you are in covenant, you trust in the blood of Christ, etc., and Y = God will keep you from disease, God has given you victory over sin and death, by Jesus' stripes, you are healed, etc.? Is it clear and simple and true?

Has your God separated your sins from you as far as east is from west? Has God cast them into the sea of forgetfulness? This should be reflected in how you live your life, the state of your mind...and that of your body. Are you "covered" with the blood? Are you redeemed? Are you made new? Are you made whole? Do you have evidence of a covenant between yourself and your Maker, wherein you are different, better, healthier than before, or than those without the covenant?

Ought reconciling the promises of God and the clear teaching of the Scriptures require a 4-year degree in theology? Do the Scriptures teach that the covenant is unreliable, its effects capricious, its possessors unsubstantiated? Should God's covenant and subsequent promises be so ambiguous and flippant? Does the lack of consistency speak to us of God's truth and faithfulness, or are we somehow to blame for not understanding the original languages of the Bible and having a Th.D. so that this all makes some semblance of sense?

The answer to all is clear and simple -- "No."

34 comments:

John W. Loftus said...

Danny, it's these promises which have led some preachers to preach a health and wealth gospel--God wants you healthy and rich. So you'll find some agreeing with your interpretation. What a hoot! They will agree with an atheist. The problem with this is trying to explain why God doesn't keep these promises.

Jonathan Erdman said...

Maybe God just works in a unique and different way in each person's life. God is a God for the individual. He is not a "here's-the-answer" one-size-fits-all Deity.

God's point is to engage each person in a relationship of faith and trust, not to dispense answers about why he may or may not heal a person or satisfy every single question that a person has about why bad things happen in the world. Getting answers is not the purpose of faith.

Daniel said...

Jonathan,

Indeed, I would say that faith is the opposite of "getting answers" -- we need not have faith in those things we have answers to. It's somewhat epistemically antithetical to "knowing" to "have faith", as Mark Twain poignantly wrote:
"Faith is believing what you know ain't so"

;)

I suppose this post is simply to clearly delineate the Scriptural precedent for "covenant" and, by proxy, "salvation". I think it serves to challenge those who lay claim to some special status/elect/covenant with God, to consider the claim and any evidence [lack thereof] for it. If you do not agree that the Bible promises the things that I listed above, feel free to engage and explain why. If you agree that it does, but doesn't "mete out", then explain that, if you wish.

I would poke a few holes in your "God of the individual" argument by pointing to Scripture making clear God isn't a "respecter of persons": 2 Chron 19:7, Job 34:19, Acts 10:34-5, Rom 2:11-2, Gal 5:6, 1 Pet 1:17, 2 Pet 3:9.

How do you reconcile "individual differences" with the idea that God is no respecter of persons?

John,

I recognize that some postmodern and liberal Xians, as well as some Reformed and Catholic Xians, would disagree with the interpretation of the Scriptures presented. However, since this site is about debunking Evangelical Xianity, and since (IMHO) those other interpretations require a goodish amount of hand-waving, I decided to focus on the plain reading / literal meaning of the passages.

I would love to hear from liberals and progressives who have another way to view these Scriptures, as well as the Scriptures of Jesus who promised to answer prayers, etc.

I think we all know at least one, if not more, "good Christian" who followed the Biblical principles and sought prayer and anointing with oil and everything they could do to prolong their lives, but met with a tragic, often long-suffered ending. As much as Christians swear they believe there's someone on the other end of the prayer line, and as much as they swear they believe there is a paradise on the other side of death...

...There sure aren't too many Xians with enough faith to trust God's healing power, or in the paradise they are about to enter, for them not to madly scrabble away from sickness and death towards the arms of science and medicine...

paul said...

Daniel...whew, very good. still, let me give this a shot.

"Righteous" belief is all about faith. Faith is believing in God for no reason, just exercising this substance he gave one (faith) in order to believe. Obvious miracles don't happen for two reasons. One: "When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with the wrong motives..."James 4:3. The 'wrong motive' being a desire for evidence that God is...which is unfaithful thus unrighteous (i.e."wrong). Two: God knows that faith pleases him, so he is giving people the ultimate opportunity to please him by not giving people any good reasons, one has to rely on faith.
..."All these people were still living by faith when they died. They did not receive the things promised; they only saw them and welcomed them from a distance. And they admitted that they were aliens and strangers on earth..." Hebrews 11:13-14.

Jonathan Erdman said...

Danny,

Faith is not without ANY answers, as you stated. Faith is not an either-or proposition when it comes to answers. Faith differs little in this regard than with other beliefs that we hold.

Allow me an epistemological regress here...You base the majority of your actions upon your belief that your memory is reliable. But why??? Certainly you have good reasons, but you don't base your reliance upon memory solely upon the reasons you have for trusting it. And even if you claimed that you did the fact is that 99.999% of the earth's population relies on their memory w/o a developed "reason." If I was epistemologically simplistic I would say that they did not have any reasons for this belief, but, as I say, this would be way too simplistic. Such is the case when you say that faith is believing something you know ain't so! Faith, like many of our beliefs has rational components as well as intangible components (i.e. relationally based, sensus divinitatis, etc.)

So, because I don't understand why God works this way or that way in a given situation would do little to undermine my faith in God which is based on a wide variety of things. It would be epistemically foolish of me to disregard my faith, which may have a high amount of warrant, based on the fact that in a given situation I don't understand what God is up to.

John W. Loftus said...

Correct Paul, Christians will not allow themselves to blame God for not keeping his promises, so they blame their own lack of faith. This is their same response to the problem of evil too--it's not God's fault, it's ours. But at some point thinking Christians may come to question God, and that's what Danny is getting at. At what point will a Christian say it is God's fault? I suspect they are just too fearful to doubt and that's it.

Jonathan Erdman said...

John,

What's wrong with a healthy fear of doubt??? If God is, in fact, real, then it would seem wise to have a healthy fear of doubting God.

John W. Loftus said...

Jon, good point, but whether this fear is healthy or not is the question. In my opinion the fear of exploring possibilities and inquiring into alternative ways of viewing things is unhealthy. It's precisely your fear to doubt that blinds you from the truth.

Daniel said...

Jonathan,

What kind of God would leave the universe to run on natural laws, with no evidence of Its existence, other than attempted inferences at Prime Movers, then want you to be *afraid* if you don't believe it exists?

Why does God get angry if you disbelieve God exists? Is God egotistical? Like a child?

Is God any more, or any less, whether an ant on some planet in the 3091220191301 galaxy in our universe acknowledges God? Why is it any different if we do, or don't?

The point is -- why think this God exists at all, and if it does, why would it need you to believe in it?

paul said...

Jon,
It is unhealthy to not doubt/question ones perception of who an unknowable God is.

Daniel said...

Paul,
Obvious miracles don't happen for two reasons. One: ...'wrong motive'
If you are in pain, suffering, and dying, rotting away of cancer, and you are crying out to the God who promised to save you, make you whole, restore you, etc., to fulfill Its promises...how can you call this the "wrong motive"? That's the point of this post -- a covenant is a reliable agreement entered into by two parties. God doesn't appear to be holding up God's end of the bargain.

Two: God knows that faith pleases him, so he is giving people the ultimate opportunity to please him by not giving people any good reasons, one has to rely on faith.
That's pretty damn selfish of God, now isn't it? Besides, it goes back to the covenant -- did God promise it, or not? IF God were as you said, more caring about self-pleasure [Divine masturbation?] than the well-being of Its creatures, then:
1) some "God" you worship, indeed
2) why did God even make a covenant?

paul said...

Bro Dan,
If I am in pain and suffering...how can I call this the wrong motive? "...the point of this post, a reliable covenant..." As to the suffering there is the example of Job, he was given the opportunity to question God and concluded: "I know you can do all things, no plan of yours can be thwarted. You asked, 'who is this that obscures my councel without knowledge?' Surly I spoke of things I did not understand, things too wonderful for me to know. You said,'Listen now, and I will speak; I will question you, and you will answer me.' My ears had heard of you, but now my eyes have seen you. Therefore I despise myself and repent in dust and ashes."Job 42:1-6 NIV. As to the covenant, it is broken by us not God. The fact that we are not utterly destroyed is mercy on the part of God. It's a matter of perspective...we don't have Gods.
The ultimate covenant is that of salvation, which won't be fully realized till death. Now we see as through a dark distorted piece of glass, then when face to face with God, just as with Job, it will all make sense. So now we continue on in faith, hope and love.

Daniel said...

Paul,

So that we don't get sidetracked, let's focus on the premises and conclusions:
p1: God made a covenant with mankind
p2: This covenant includes provisions for bodily (and mental health)
p3: The "old" covenant was given to Abraham, sealed with circumcision, and man's end was kept through the law
p4: The "new" covenant was given through Jesus, sealed with Jesus' blood sacrifice, and man's end is kept "by grace through faith"
p5: The "new" covenant supercedes, subsumes, and surpasses the "old", with "better promises"

c1: Those who are in the "new" covenant ought to be kept free from disease, but are not, thus the covenant is flawed and/or failed.
c2: For those who follow the prescribed conditions of the covenant, since a covenant is defined by conditions and clauses, entered into by two parties, the party at fault must be God if the covenant is not kept
c3: The presence of disease and sickness and the fact of death by horrible, long-suffering illnesses by those within the "body of Christ" evidences that the covenant is not kept
c4: There is no covenant between God and the parties who claim that there is one

Now, please point to the specific premises and conclusions with which you find fault, and detail why.

All you have done is retreat into the inscrutable divinity argument: "we can't know what God is doing".

This directly contradicts a revealed covenant. That is the major point, which you are moving all around -- either God made a promise or God didn't. The conclusion is either that God didn't make a promise [because God doesn't exist] or that God did, but didn't keep up God's end.

What both Job and Paul [Romans 8-9] give us is the same drivel: "how can you question God"..."will the clay say to the potter"...? But, there would be no basis for questioning, for doubting, if a specific contract had not been entered into

Paul said: The ultimate covenant is that of salvation, which won't be fully realized till death.

That isn't the point. The point is, both the old and new covenants included provisions, evidences, and specific, falsifiable promises in this life. Those promises are shown false by the evidence in reality: Christians [and Jews] die at the same rate of cancer and disease as everyone else. Contrary to the promises of the old and new covenant, contrary to the assertions of Scripture, contrary to the history of the Acts of the Apostles, God does not heal.

paul said...

Danny,
I hope I get some sort of prize for taking the christian side in this discussion!

Okeedokee. I'm taking my cues from Hebrews 11. There's this whole list of people who God covenanted with, who never got what the covenant promised (so apparently you're not the first to observe the failed covenants). Yet, they still believed, why? After listing all these unkept promises the conclusion is v.40 "God had planned something better for us so that only together with us would they be made perfect." As best I can tell, the perspective is eternal vs. temporal (aka bait and switch). i.e., you'll get your healing, God will keep his covenant, if you keep the faith, just not right now. It's all very esoteric you see (or don't of course. it's all true, you're just not part of the inner circle). Face it, "the 'way' is narrow and hard and few find it," you're simply not one of the few, the "chosen" of a loving God. You're "blinded by the wisdom of this age." Get over it, someone has to go to hell.
Sorry Danny, I cannot come up with better...I tried, I even prayed.

Daniel said...

Paul,

I almost pissed myself laughing at the next to last sentence. It deserves a highlight:
You're "blinded by the wisdom of this age." Get over it, someone has to go to hell.

Good stuff!!!

I read Hebrews 11, and at this verse I did a "say-wha???":
13 All these died in faith, without receiving the promises, but having seen them and having welcomed them from a distance, and having confessed that they were strangers and exiles on the earth.

Abraham saw his son born! He and his descendents were rich! Noah saw the flood and the rainbow! Enoch walked with God! Cain was murdered by his brother, long before an Abrahamic covenant or "new" one was around, so you can't use him!

I'm sorry, but these examples are awful! These people got to see God confirm his covenant (supposedly) again and again!!!

Anyway, it's not your fault that the covenant is so hard to defend. That's why most Christians don't even bother anymore, and just withdraw into the "in the afterlife" issue, and ignore the plethora of Scriptures about it.

paul said...

Danny,
I'm glad I made you laugh, life needs more laughter.

I admire how you (and some others on this site)address your topics so exhaustively. I write in dots, expecting others will connect them, doesn't always happen which is my fault. You make yourself very clear, you're an excellent communicator, you inspire me to be more attentive, which seems like a good thing.
cheers
paul

DagoodS said...

Brother Danny,

I finally had a chance to read through this entire blog. Very well done! I wish that Christians had responded and provided insight to this exact issue—why aren’t there massive healings today? The sad truth is that the only “healings” we see, like the ones mentioned in the New Testament, are unconfirmed testimonies.

Even today, as you aptly point out, we do not see amputee’s re-growing limbs. We do not observe blind people immediately seeing. What we see are people diagnosed with cancer, and then it disappears. Never suspecting a misdiagnosis. Or people with “bad backs” who are able to stand and jump for one evening, and the next day take their pain medication, and rest from the previous night’s exertion.

Think of the benefit to our health care system. And to other countries. Christian missionary healers would be welcome everywhere and by anyone. The spread of the Gospel would be like wildfire.

Why wouldn’t Christians want that? Why would their God require all this faith? Are they saying that the healings of the First Century made Christianity “too easy”? So God cut it out?

As to the New Covenant vs. the Old Covenant, this has always been tricky as to what is changed and what is not. All agree the food laws of Mosaic Law were abolished. Ask, “when?” and you get 12 different answers.

Anyway, good blog.

Alice said...

Danny - After looking at your biography, it seems that one of the things that contributed to you turning away from Christianity was your father becoming ill with cancer (and apparently dying). So your accusations of broken promises seem to be from a deep personal hurt.

(And thank you very much for the beautiful collection of verses - such an encouraging start to my day. :)

"The Hebrews understood disease and sickness from the perspective that God could and would heal it, if they were in covenant with God."

I think that's the first gap in your argument. Often God does bless his people. But the Bible clearly teaches that you cannot expect guaranteed health, wealth, and prosperity. Job is probably the arch-example of this. He suffered tremendously - almost unimaginably. And he had done absolutely nothing wrong. We, who have been looking behind the scenes, know that there was a much bigger story going on. Job was repeatedly tempted to curse God, since obviously God was no longer blessing his faithfulness. But Job persisted confidently: "For I know that my Redeemer lives, and that he shall stand at the latter day upon the earth: and though after my skin worms destroy this body, yet in my flesh shall I see God." (Job 19:25-26) You seem to regard the idea that some promises relate to life after death as ridiculous, and uncomforting. But if you intend to use some Bible verses, you have to pay attention to the others too. Paul clearly acknowledges, "If in this life only we have hope in God, we are of all men most miserable. But now is Christ risen from the dead. . ." (I Cor. 15:19ff)

Moreover, there are many examples in the Bible of people who were never healed - Paul, with his "thorn in the flesh" - or the man born blind, who had to wait dozens of years before the reason for his handicap was revealed.

I have been taught (or brainwashed, as you prefer :) that there are three possible reasons for any person's disease: 1) as a result of sin; 2) so that eventual healing can glorify God; 3) so that the individual and those around him/her can grow in faith and virtue.

So, in your X+Y equation, the Y is faulty: Faith does not necessarily equal complete freedom from disease (or poverty, etc).

And your last question: Does understanding of the Bible require a 4yr theology degree? I should say that you folks on this blog are a good example of why that might not be a good idea. God's thoughts are far above ours; no man has ever been God's adviser. Don't be so arrogant as to think that you are in a position to accuse your Maker of injustice. (Rom. 9)

wb said...

Alice,

Two things:

Frist,I think it is unfair to bring Br. Danny's personal experiences into a debate.

Second, I am Christian and I can have a conversation without continually quoting verses from the Bible. If you want to be taken seriously it might benefit you to start writing your own actual thoughts, not programed verses.

Daniel said...

WB,

I can take up for myself, I'm a big boy ;)

If Christians don't rely upon the authority of the Bible for their argumentation, they know there is nothing to argue about. This would be effectively the same as Alice demanding of me to ignore evidence that contradicts the Bible and only quote from and argue from evidence that supports the Bible. Sometimes, for this very reason, I ask myself, "why even try to reason with them?" That is why, in posts like these, I just focus on what God supposedly promises and contrast it with the reality of our universe, to give such Biblicists cognitive dissonance, in the hope they'll "see the light".

Daniel said...

Alice,

First, thank you for taking time out of your busy schedule to follow-up our prior conversations.

...it seems that one of the things that contributed to you turning away from Christianity was your father becoming ill with cancer (and apparently dying)....
Yes and no. He'll still kicking, thanks to modern medicine, and no thanks to any action on God's part. See in the post above that I was careful to point out that in the understanding of Covenant, the Hebrews had no concept of "3rd-party, neutral" disease or healing. Sure, they were given a prescribed "cure" for some diseases, using an analogous process to medical practice [ie cleansing lepers with bird blood and ceremony ;}]. However, it was understood that since God handed this down, it wasn't the bird blood itself, but God's method and approval and authority therein, which made it "work". And if they had moved away from the specifics of their prescribed "cures", not only is there no guarantee they would be healed, but it is guaranteed that this would no longer be a part of the "pact" that God made with them, whether or not it worked.

...So your accusations of broken promises seem to be from a deep personal hurt.

And this accusation means what? So what if you're right, or wrong? The argument has to be analyzed on its own merits, and cannot be refuted or made invalid by examining my motives. Classic logical fallacy.

(And thank you very much for the beautiful collection of verses - such an encouraging start to my day. :)

Funny, since your day is all about mopping up behind God's failed promises by practicing medicine and giving people relief from pain and suffering, which your God doesn't seem to care to do.

"The Hebrews understood disease and sickness from the perspective that God could and would heal it, if they were in covenant with God."
I think that's the first gap in your argument. Often God does bless his people. But the Bible clearly teaches that you cannot expect guaranteed health, wealth, and prosperity.

Let's not get sidetracked with wealth and prosperity. In these verses, I have laid out clear and unequivocal promises, from God, and Jesus, regarding keeping those in covenant with God in health, and healing them, and answering their prayers, etc. I have also made the explicit point that sin is invoked as a root cause of disease and sickness throughout the Bible, and so for those who claim God has "removed" their sins from them, and "imputed" them on Jesus, and "washed them in the blood of Jesus", the burden is on you to show how this reconciles with the incontrovertible coincidence of disease.

Job is probably the arch-example of this. He suffered tremendously - almost unimaginably. And he had done absolutely nothing wrong.
Job was allowed to get boils, and his entire family was killed, because of a bet between God and da Debbil'. If we are to take this story literally, rather than as an allegory [it has some pretty clear marks], we still see that God did not let Satan KILL Job...because they were in covenant!

So, if you want to go here, then we can just focus on those people who get cancer...and don't get "double for their trouble", as Job did, and survive the catastrophe. BTW, was God true to the promises made in those Scriptures for Job? Or was God's "answer" basically the same thing as, "don't question me boy, I'm bigger than you, and I could destroy you in a second!"

You seem to regard the idea that some promises relate to life after death as ridiculous, and uncomforting.

Question for you -- the Hebrews, given these promises, and given many promises that God is "no respecter of persons" [I quoted those above too], did not have the Book of Job, Alice. They also didn't have Paul's nearly-identical response [in Romans 9] to the question of how God could forsake people, after such concepts as God's promises and God's faithfulness and God's covenant were taken into consideration. They didn't have those books Alice. What were they to think? Who are we to believe? The writer of Job, Paul, or the writer(s) of the Torah and the Gospels?

But if you intend to use some Bible verses, you have to pay attention to the others too. Paul clearly acknowledges, "If in this life only we have hope in God, we are of all men most miserable. But now is Christ risen from the dead. . ." (I Cor. 15:19ff)
First, I used a lot more than "some" Bible verses. I quoted from Genesis to James. Indeed, I made the point that with some serious theology, one can attempt to defendsome aspect of the afterlife being the final fulfillment of the covenant. Of course, this clearly contradicts the plain words and meaning of the OT and NT Scriptures above, and takes those Scriptures completely out of context. This same practice of "twisting the words of the Bible" is probably why you are a YEC, isn't it, Alice? Why don't you just admit that a plain reading of these Scriptures indicates that God promises things that God doesn't fulfill?

Moreover, there are many examples in the Bible of people who were never healed - Paul, with his "thorn in the flesh" - or the man born blind, who had to wait dozens of years before the reason for his handicap was revealed.
Notice here that both men were healed, and Paul multiple times. Paul did not die of disease, and no one is sure what Paul's "thorn" was. Rampant speculation is all you can give me. Furthermore, and I assume you're referring to John 9, let's look closer at what Jesus said:
John 9:3-5 -- 3“It was not because of his sins or his parents’ sins,” Jesus answered. “He was born blind so the power of God could be seen in him. 4All of us must quickly carry out the tasks assigned us by the one who sent me, because there is little time left before the night falls and all work comes to an end. 5But while I am still here in the world, I am the light of the world.”

Is the power of God seen in some of your patients, Alice? Who die clutching some magic mantra, a Cross or rosary beads, or whatever, praying out to their God, patiently waiting? Indeed.

In v.4, how is it possible you can read that without seeing that Jesus told his disciples [supposedly] to go out and heal the sick? Yet we have no evidence, to this day, that disciples of Jesus are any more capable of healing people, or being healed themselves, than anyone else.

I have been taught (or brainwashed, as you prefer :)
I was brainwashed too. Don't feel bad about it.

that there are three possible reasons for any person's disease: 1) as a result of sin; 2) so that eventual healing can glorify God; 3) so that the individual and those around him/her can grow in faith and virtue.
Okay, so the question remains -- if 1-3 are true, let's say, how does it 1) demonstrate forgiveness and repentance, 2) glorify God, 3) induce faith and virtue...if someone rots away of cancer as a 9-year old leukemia patient who has been a Christian their entire lives? Let's look at that one simple case. The kid dies, believing God's promises about answered prayers in the NT and covenant promises to heal in the OT/NT. How do 1-3 apply in this case, Alice?

So, in your X+Y equation, the Y is faulty: Faith does not necessarily equal complete freedom from disease (or poverty, etc).
First, the argument of a covenant is an "if X, then Y", not an "X+Y". The understanding is that explicitly defined in Lev 26:40-2, 1 Ki 21:25-9, 2 Ki 22:18-20, 2 Chron 7:14, 2 Chron 12:5-12, 2 Chron 32:24-6, 2 Chron 33:9-13, 3 Chron 33:18-23, 2 Chron 32:26-8, Job 22:29, Psa 9:11-2, ,Psa 10:17-8, Psa 34:1-10, Isa 57:15, Jam 4:1-10, 1 Pet 5:5-7...where when people humble themselves, repent of their sins, ask forgiveness, and walk in covenant with God...that God restores them completely, just as God gave Job everything back that Job had lost.

Plus, I don't believe I ever said that faith is complete freedom from those things you said. I believe I quoted what God said, which clearly delineates that those in the covenant are free from disease. [it also speaks about poverty, etc., but that's for another day]

And your last question: Does understanding of the Bible require a 4yr theology degree? I should say that you folks on this blog are a good example of why that might not be a good idea. God's thoughts are far above ours; no man has ever been God's adviser. Don't be so arrogant as to think that you are in a position to accuse your Maker of injustice. (Rom. 9)
Ah, but don't you see, Alice, that retreating into the inscrutable will of God, all the while maintaining God is good, is like admitting defeat? It's saying, "I can't explain how God is still good...but...God still is!" It's saying, "yes, I can't explain that, but I still believe it,"

None of us here think that a fideist, or theonomist, like you admitted being, can ever be swayed from their clear commitment to the idea that God is good, that God's laws in the OT were good, etc. All we can do is show you that your standard of "good" is meaningless. You can't defend it, you can't define it, and you have to admit that stoning a girl who was raped [Deut 22:23-4] and ordering the killing of infants [1 Sam 15:3, Num 31:17-8, etc.] and other morally bankrupt actions...are somehow, someway, sometimes still good, just because God supposedly ordered them. That the action of killing a baby is not intrinsically and objectively evil, but that it only is, if God doesn't command it. In this way, you erase the boundaries of "good/bad" and simply substitute "God/not God". Every God = good, everything not God = not good. Therefore, you aren't allowed to use the word "good" as we do.

We think freedom is good. You think freedom is rebellion. We think rational thought is good. You think it is "arrogant" to "judge" the Bible.

What you do, Alice, is give the Bible the standing of unquestionable authority. You do that, then tell me I can't question it. In a way, you boil it down to dogmatic and blind acceptance of your doctrines.

The same with morality. The problem, as I linked to with the The Euthyphro Dilemma, is you need some objective standard to even describe GOD by. Otherwise, we lose the ability to give God adjectives: good, all-knowing, all-loving. We say that God is those things, and thus God deserves worship and our obedience, and etc.

If God is not those things, if those things are themselves defined by God (see premises 5,6 of link), we lose the ability to even objectively know what those words mean. It becomes no different than us saying, "God is God" as to say "God is good" or "God is loving"

Another issue that this brings up is -- is there "free moral agency"? By this, I don't mean "the ability to make free choices", since you already indicated your Reformed/Calvinist bent. I mean, instead, that though the Bible assures us [eg Psalm 53] that those without God do evil...do they even know that they are doing evil? If they don't know God, and if God is the measure of good/evil, and if there is no objective way otherwise to appraise these values but faith and revelation...how can God hold them culpable for "doing wrong"? In fact, this would render God unjust. How does Paul answer this vexing problem?

HE DOESN'T!

He begs it off by declaring us unfit to even pose the question! And that's what happens when your faith hits a brick wall -- it either shatters, or it says "there cannot be a brick wall here!"

Now, this is totally off-topic, because the point of this post is to contrast God's promises and covenant with reality. But, if you want to go further with this, read places that this very topic has been gone over before -- a critique of "divine command theory" [and/or God as some sort of absolute basis, apart from our ability to recognize, characterize, and know moral and logical truths without God]

As Kai Nelson said, in a debate with Craig Nelson [you ought to read the whole thing] here:
The first thing to see [about this is the fact] that something is commanded doesn’t make [it] good or bad. I could tell you if you were all smoking in here, "Stop smoking," or if none of you were smoking, I could say, "Light up." My command, even if I had the authority to make the command, doesn’t justify the command. There has to be some independent reason for doing the command. It’s not just my commanding it that does it. So [the fact] that something is commanded doesn’t make it desirable or undesirable, obligatory or non-obligatory. Someone will say, "But it’s God’s commanding it that makes all the difference." Fair enough, so far. But it isn’t because God is all-powerful that makes it desirable or good or bad. When God said to Job, "Where were you when I laid the foundations of the earth?" all that God shows there is his power. But power is compatible with evil. That a being is powerful doesn’t mean that you should obey that being except out of fear. It doesn’t give you a moral reason to obey the being.

"But God is all-knowing; he has perfect knowledge [whereas] we do not," which is true by definition. If there is such a God, this doesn’t give you any reason for doing it because perfect knowledge is compatible with perfect evil. "Well, it’s because God is all-good." Now I ask you Christians, "How do you know that God is all-good?" I know you believe it, you accept it, but how do you know it? Probably, the most common answer is this: "Well, you read the Scriptures, and you see the kind of exemplar that Jesus was, his death on the cross, and so on." You forget things like "He who is not with me is against me." But you selectively read the Bible, and there are plenty of passages in which Jesus shows himself to be an incredible exemplar. But notice that to see that he is an exemplar already presupposes that you have a prior understanding of what is good and bad. Because you have an understanding of what is good and bad, you see Jesus to be a desirable exemplar. So you have an independent moral understanding and knowledge which doesn’t rest on your belief in God.

Suppose somebody says, "Look, God is the perfect Good by definition." Some philosophers used to call this an analytic truth--like "Puppies are young dogs." But if you didn’t know what "young" meant, you couldn’t even know what "puppy" meant. If you didn’t know what "good" meant, you couldn’t even know what "God" meant. You have to have some understanding of "good" to judge that God is the perfect Good. So again, you need a moral criterion that is your own and doesn’t come from God. It may come causally from God, but it doesn’t come in a justificatory sense, which is the relevant thing in arguing about morality.

If you think this is too much logic-chopping--or quasi-logic chopping (and the thing is actually more complex than I’ve been able to show), let me give you a far more simple reason to see that belief in morality and making sense of morality is independent of belief in God. Suppose that you believe in God and that you have children; you recognize that your children depend on you, and there are certain things that you owe them--protection, care, and love. You love your children; you want to protect them and care for them. But you’re also a believer. Suppose that--for good or bad reasons--you lose your faith. Have you the slightest reason to stop loving your children, to stop caring for your children, to stop protecting your children? Not in the slightest. If you had reason to care for and love your children before, you’re going to have as much reason after you’ve lost your faith. And that’s a far simpler to show how morality is quite independent of religion.

Alice said...

Danny - Thanks for the lengthy response. I'm glad to hear your father is living. I have to wonder, what is his opinion about God and his sickness? And how can you know that God has nothing to do with his being alive?

I see medicine as a tool in God's hands, and I have tried to explain this to some patients who take way too fatalistic an approach. Just as God used the Pharaohs to bring Israel first into, and then out of Egypt; as he used Judas to bring about the crucifixion; he uses medicine as a means to accomplish healing (if that's his plan).

Job, Romans, and the Torah were all inspired by God. I don't see any conflict between them. The Old Testament saints were praised and blessed by God for their faith, when they believed in God's promises with even less evidence than the New Testament saints had. That's what the end of Hebrews 11 is talking about.

I haven't mentioned this before, because there are plenty of times when God doesn't heal people. But there are also lots of modern instances where he does heal, miraculously. Some faith healers are just quacks. But there are also genuine miracles still occurring. You can't summarily ignore all of them.

You want an objective, rational standard to judge God and his revelation by. It can't be done. By definition: if God is the highest authority, he does not need to be validated by any other authority, ie reason. He created reason, and he created our minds, which are now warped by the fall. Our minds are now no more reliable guides than a bent ruler is an accurate measuring stick. If I tried to use reason to justify God or prove his existence, I would be acknowledging as reason as an authority higher than God.

btw, you keep saying that you're just as moral after your atheistic decision as before. That's because you were ingrained with a cultural predisposition towards a certain type of morality, and that culture is based on the Judeo-Christian ethic.

Daniel said...

You want an objective, rational standard to judge God and his revelation by. It can't be done. By definition: if God is the highest authority, he does not need to be validated by any other authority, ie reason. He created reason, and he created our minds, which are now warped by the fall. Our minds are now no more reliable guides than a bent ruler is an accurate measuring stick. If I tried to use reason to justify God or prove his existence, I would be acknowledging as reason as an authority higher than God.

If what you say is true, you do realize that this implies that God need be neither reasonable nor moral, in the way that human beings perceive God, and thus defining God as "faithful to the covenant" and as "good" are both nullfied?

IOW, Alice, we can only use what we have. If our fundamental truth validation apparatus is flawed, then there is no hope for us to know the truth. But, even this statement is self-refuting. I am now not judging God, but judging your own logic [lack thereof]. If our brains are flawed, how can you even know that? If we can trust our minds, how can you trust that conclusion? You are saying, axiomatically almost, that the human mind is flawed and what it can trust are ancient dusty scrolls of completely uncertain origins. You are saying that those are our measure. Unfortunately, those scrolls were distinctly human, and so the minds attached to them were also fallen, and so how do you justify and support your fundamental premises? You can't.

We can all believe a number of things, Alice, that may be unprovable. Believing that your own mind is flawed, and that you cannot use it to its fullest capacity, is self-refuting, and in a way "disproves itself".

If reason or morality are contingent upon God, then in that sense, using words like "good" are useless. We cannot even identify what "good" is, because "good" precludes infanticide according to every moral and ethical principle in philosophy. According to you, we have to first establish what God does and does not do, in order to know if it was "okay" for the Israelites to carry it out [via divine command]. According to you, we can't use our own faculties to substantiate or predict God's character or actions. God could be flippant, a liar, etc., and it would matter not, according to you, because God can "get away with it".

If this is true, then your God is no God at all. Your God may be powerful, and may be all-knowing, but your God would certainly be unworthy of worship.

Rich said...

What an intreging post. How do we enter into this covenant with God? You have pointed out the terms of the covenant but maybe I missed where you pointed out how we enter into this covenant. If it is a contract entered in by two people then where did I sign?
I have a severly handicapped, from birth, 10 year old girl and has a long list of symptoms for which she takes daily medicine. My entering into the picture was in her 4th year of living and she had spent countless hours in the hospital from siezures(how do you spell that?) anyway she has taken the same medication for years. Acorrding to doctors she shouldn't still be alive but is. She shouldn't walk but does not well but can walk. She shouldn't be able to eat by herself but can, she uses new bits of food to force already chewed food down the hatch. After a box of wipes she is clean again and ready to play. If then Gods plan is to test us here and see if we will be faithful I have to ask you how can she be tested faithfull with no concept of that? When you look into the eyes of that child you see a soul, a apirit that defies logic and confounds the learned as to how she still lives. Is this Gods doing? Is it because we give her the medicine everyday as perscribed? Even doctors say that the medicine won't stop her death, Well what is she here to teach me? Have I learned enough yet? When I do will God take her from me? He took my dad as I have mentioned before. 1000s of people have massive heart attacks and live why not my dad? his brother had 4 heart attacks before he finally died. We have no answers for these questions, athiest and christian alike because there are truley some questions without answers. I only relate this story filled with questions to point out a difference. There are those who suffer without faith and those who suffer with faith and I think the most impoortant thing is the final destination. I mentioned this once before here and I will again, If at the end of this life there isn't a God will I have wasted my time? I will be in the same boat as the athiest. But if I am right and there is a God and he has eternal plans for us then I want to know what they are and how to get there.
By the way we enter into said covenant by baptism and then our goal is to endure to the end. Endure everything that comes our way. God won't keep me from cancer if I smoke or continually hang around smokers, he won't keep me from VD if I continue to have unprotected promiscuas sex, there are more examples but I think you get the idea. God has made the promises you list and he does always keep his end of the bargain, because it doesn't happen right away or on our terms doesn't mean it won't happen. My daughter mentioned could be completely healed in this life, its happened before so why not now, why not her? The answer I will honestly say is I don't have a clue. God has his eternal purposes and they are his, we will never in this life know why. If my daughter dies and is then ressurected to a perfect body without disease, pain and suffering would you say then that God didn't keep his promise? I don't believe he will always keep every single person free from illness in this life and that the promise has eternal purposes. The reason the Jews don't view Christ as their savior is because he didn't come and destroy all their enemies as promised in the prophisies of the old testament. They missed the part about that being the second coming, not the first. He first had to overcome physical and spritual death, when he comes to to reign then will al the disease and suffering come to an end and peace will reign.
Enduring to the end means having faith and good works, keeping the commandments and continually repenting and bettering yourself throughout this life. Keeping faith in spite of the horrors of this world. This world is full of it too.
I have to tell you I hate the word verification thing to post here, I can bearly spell and I have to recognize wierd looking letters before I can post? Thats the true problem with evil!:) I guess thats to keep idiots from posting? Well it ain't workin.

Daniel said...

Rich,

A truly touching entry. Thank you for sharing your questions and thoughts.

You asked about how you enter into the covenant. According to the anonymous writer of Hebrews 9 [as if the majority of the NT, aside from Paul, wasn't written anonymously], the new covenant
is administered analogously to the old -- Jesus functions as the High Priest, offering Jesus' own blood as the perfect sacrifice to appease God. Now, according to the OT, the promise was only given to the children of Abraham, and was kept by the following of the Law [to the greatest extent possible]. According to the NT, there are literally dozens of prescribed methods of "salvation", or of receiving the promise of the new covenant. Here is a smattering:
1) hear the gospel & believe in the Father [John 5:24]
2) baptism [John 3:5]
3) grace & faith, not works [Eph 2:8-9]
4) faith & works [James 2:17]
5) keeping commandments [Matt 19:17]
6) belief in the Christ [John 3:16]
7) belief & baptism [Mark 16:16]
8) by your words [Matt 12:37]
9) calling on the lord [Acts 2:21]
10) grace & baptism (possibly "washing" means with blood) [Titus 3:5]
11) god made the "wicked" for the "day of evil" [Prov 16:4] -- this would fall in line with predestination/calvinism [cf John 1:29,4:42, 1 Cor 15:29, Heb 2:9, 1 John 4:14]
12) Predestiny [Matt 7:14,22:14, Luke 12:32,13:24, John 6:37-65,15:16-19, Rom 8:29,9:11-23, Eph 1:4]
13) just desire it [Matt 7:7-8,11:28, John 3:16-17,5:30,7:37, Acts 2:21, Rev 3:20]

Sooooo...your guess as to how to "enter in" to the covenant is as good as mine.

;)

You said, "If at the end of this life there isn't a God will I have wasted my time? I will be in the same boat as the athiest. But if I am right and there is a God and he has eternal plans for us then I want to know what they are and how to get there."

This is a good question, and when posed with honest intentions [as I believe you have] is seriously worth considering. The question is basically identical to what is known as "Pascal's Wager" as a sort of "incentive" to believe in God: If I'm wrong [as a Christian], I lose nothing, if I'm right, you [atheist/non-Christians of all kinds] lose everything.

Of course, the immediate problem is that every single religion can say this same thing -- especially Islam and Hinduism and Judaism, in the sense that their religions are particularly exclusionary and have specific requirements for being "saved".

The other problem is that if people only have faith to give themselves a sort of "afterlife insurance", this is a weak and sad reason for faith, and their god may not be appeased.

I think that some people can have a full and happy life with their faith. I think that most of those people are like yourself, Rich, honest enough to admit to what you don't know, and to the problems that exist that you have no satisfactory answers for.

God has made the promises you list and he does always keep his end of the bargain, because it doesn't happen right away or on our terms doesn't mean it won't happen. My daughter mentioned could be completely healed in this life, its happened before so why not now, why not her? The answer I will honestly say is I don't have a clue. God has his eternal purposes and they are his, we will never in this life know why. If my daughter dies and is then ressurected to a perfect body without disease, pain and suffering would you say then that God didn't keep his promise?

I would indeed say that God did not keep the promises to heal your daughter's disease. I would indeed say that you have probably prayed for her healing...thousands of times? And according to all of the NT Scriptures I listed, and Jesus' own words, your prayers will be answered. Rich, when you say, "because it doesn't happen on our terms"...I listed God's own terms. I listed what GOd specifically said that God would do for you if you were in covenant with God.

I have to tell you I hate the word verification thing to post here, I can bearly spell and I have to recognize wierd looking letters before I can post? Thats the true problem with evil!:) I guess thats to keep idiots from posting? Well it ain't workin.
Hilarious!

No, Rich, it's to keep spambots from posting ads for viagra here. It's not meant to discourage our readers. There is a small handicapped icon beside the word verification box that I think makes it easier to see the letters.

Daniel said...

Alice,

Closing thought for you:

Man once surrendering his reason, has no remaining guard against absurdities the most monstrous, and like a ship without rudder, is the sport of every wind. With such persons, gullibility, which they call faith, takes the helm from the hand of reason, and the mind becomes a wreck. --Thomas Jefferson to James Smith, 1822. ME 15:409

Josh (joshster@epals.com) said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Rich said...

thank you Daniel,
I actually know how to enter into the covenant with God it is by baptism. The problem that I can't explain to you is why some are healed and some not. We are suppose to do things in faith and then whatever is ask of God in chrits name that is expedient will come to pass. I wish I had a better explaination but there just isn't one. God has his own purposes and they are eternal in nature whereas mine are carnal. If I had my way alot of things would be different, as I think alot of people here would agree. But since I'm not in charge I have to learn to accept the no answers to prayers as I do the yes answers. We are told it only thakes the faith of a mustard seed to move a mountain. I see alot of people who seem to have at least that much faith but no mountains move.
There truely are just some things we don't have answers for.

Daniel said...

Rich,
The problem that I can't explain to you is why some are healed and some not.
Indeed, and the reason it is so problematic is that the book says, multiple times, that God is no respecter of persons: 2 Chron 19:7, Job 34:19, Acts 10:34-5, Rom 2:11-2, Gal 5:6, 1 Pet 1:17, 2 Pet 3:9.

God has his own purposes and they are eternal in nature whereas mine are carnal.
And this is the heart of blind devotion to a God who refuses to heal your daughter from her suffering, when all it would take is less than a blink of God's omnipotent eye. Why think that this God exists at all, and that if this God does exist, that this God loves you, Rich?

If I had my way alot of things would be different, as I think alot of people here would agree.
Indeed, I would never have started in motion a world where children are abducted from their families, raped and tortured over the course of days, then buried alive only yards from their home. I would never sit on my thumbs and watch people rot of cancer and babies die of simple water-borne parasitic infestations and daughters of Christian men who pray suffer. If I had the power to change those things, I would. That is why I know that your God doesn't exist, Rich.

But since I'm not in charge I have to learn to accept the no answers to prayers as I do the yes answers.
What reason do you have for believing that there is a GOd on the other end of your prayers at all? How would your life be substantially different if you were just praying to the air? What would change?

I see alot of people who seem to have at least that much faith but no mountains move. There truely are just some things we don't have answers for.
Thank you for your candor. There are many things I don't have the answers for. And therefore, I don't build my entire worldview upon those things. Further, I would say that there is an answer--it's that this covenant is a farce, either because this God isn't there, or this God isn't worth believing in the first place.

Let's think about this God and the Abrahamic covenant for a moment: God promises Abe descendents that outnumber the sands of the sea, and in the next breath, tells Abe to take his only son and sacrifice him. Abe was like you, and said, "whatever God's reasons, they are good." I would not have done this, realizing "if this God meant it before, when it promised something, it wouldn't turn around and ask me to kill the only way that its promise could come true."

In the same sense, the promises that your God made, and you now blindly trust will come true, have been killed by reality--people suffer and their prayers are bouncing off of the firmament. Wake up. There is no covenant, Rich.

Josh said...

Isn't that interesting how you chose to rid the forum of my posts. Interesting. What are you afraid of . . . people actually learning that a God exists and that He really does desire to lavish His love on them?

Really! If I am so worng in what I right, then there really is no good reason to feel such an urgency to remove my posts.
But since you choose to remain as you are--proud and wise in your own eyes but foolish in the eyes of God(to whom it matters most), you will therefore die in your sins and suddenly sickness will come upon you that will not be removed unless you have a change of heart and seek God wholeheartedly in prayer.

The next time I write to you. This sicknes will be upon you.

This note also goes out to Edward T Babinski, you are to increase and increase in cancerous disease until you acknowledge God for who He is, humble your heart and seek His face.

Be it unto as I have said.

Daniel said...

Josh,

Your curses are as impotent as your faith. Go grow a brain.

Be that unto you as I have said, peckerwood.

Henwhisperer said...

I am a random vistor, having googled up Jehovah-Rophi and found a link to your blog. Just want to say how sorry I am that you have gone so far away from the peace of Christ. Without Him I would still be in terrible shape. He has healed me in numerous ways, I can testify to miracles that He has done, including healing from sickness, especially when He was trying to call me back to Himself.

You make too much of study. Jesus said there are only two laws (NT): Love your neighbor..., love the Lord..., and all laws are found in these two.

Living with God and Jesus isn't meant to be a high intellectual pursuit. His ways are higher than ours. Can you out think him? Just live it. Breath in, God is there, breath out, God is there.

Daniel said...

Henwhisperer,

I am a random vistor, having googled up Jehovah-Rophi and found a link to your blog.

Thanks for visiting. Look around, ask questions, join in the dialogue!

Just want to say how sorry I am that you have gone so far away from the peace of Christ.

Well, I'm actually more peaceful now that I don't have to deal with so many nagging questions, concerns, doubts, etc. For instance, I don't believe in heaven or hell, so I don't spend all my time chewing my fingernails about whether I'll be in one or the other, or whether those I love will be.

Without Him I would still be in terrible shape. He has healed me in numerous ways, I can testify to miracles that He has done, including healing from sickness, especially when He was trying to call me back to Himself.

Do you wish to give details? If you really think miracles occurred, I'd love to hear about them.

You make too much of study. Jesus said there are only two laws (NT): Love your neighbor..., love the Lord..., and all laws are found in these two.

But, I can pick out many verses (study to show thyself approved...i have meditated on your word day and night...etc) that say I ought to concern myself with study. Further, I really want to understand what it is that the Bible says, and teaches, so that I can rationally either accept it as concurring with reality, or reject it as disjointed with reality.

Living with God and Jesus isn't meant to be a high intellectual pursuit. His ways are higher than ours.

Appealing to the divine inscrutability only works in those cases where we just can't understand, such as how something can come from nothing. It doesn't apply to obvious contradictions, such as the above.

Can you out think him? Just live it.

Ah, but see, according to the Bible, God didn't create us just to live. We have to concern ourselves constantly with whether or not we've lavished enough praise upon God, and repented sincerely enough, to make God accept us and give us grace.

Breath in, God is there, breath out, God is there.

When I breathe in and out, all I know is there is air. Sorry.

Keith said...

Wow, your explanations all have very well-developed trains of logic, and are able to articulate your messages clearly. You never arrived at faith, for then you would have seen. You only ever arrived at "mental ascent" of the Truth; as is evidenced by the stronghold of your hardness: your intellect, which is now used to hate God, and hate others. You never knew God, for had you known Him, you would choose to die before denying His sweet love. There's so much hurt in your words, you wanted Him so badly, but He didn't prove Himself to your satisfaction. And now you hate Him, because its easier to deny Him, then to suffer the pain of humbling yourself to Him, and the rest of the world.

Regardless of what your words try to say, they still cry out for hope, and your desperation for Him. Don't just try Jesus this time. Leave it all at the cross.

Love,
K