Confused?

Congratulations to Dagoods for the following post of the week at Atheist Blogs Aggregated!

I was once involved in a frantic litigation with numerous attorneys, including claims, and cross-claims and counter-claims of a variety of sorts. Due to the urgency of the matter, it seemed we were in court almost every day on some new emergency problem or petition. At one of yet another hearing, a fellow counselor mentioned how the case was a chaotic mess.

An older, more veteran attorney nodded, and said in a solemn voice, “Ahhh. But where there is chaos, there is profit.”

I have since reflected on how true that is. When people hear of a “claimed” shortage, whether it is gasoline, or flu shots, or even Cabbage Patch Dolls, a sort of chaotic panic ensues in which retailers may charge more, and items they could not move off their shelves a week ago, they cannot keep in stock.

If things are stable and calm, people have time to contemplate and compare, becoming conservative consumers. If chaotic and confused, people react and respond, rather than reflect and review.

So why would God want confusion? Why would God want various forms of Christianity to spring forward almost immediately, causing confusion and strife? What benefit is there, when Jesus could have cleared this up so easily with but a few words?


Believe it or not, I got to thinking about this when reviewing the Bible’s position on polygamy. A discussion was on-going, and as I reviewed both positions, it struck me—“How simple this would have been if Jesus had cleared it up with a single sentence of ‘God once allowed you to have more than one wife, but now desires one man to marry one woman.’” In fact, this would also go a long way toward the Christian battle-cry for a U.S. Constitutional Amendment to define marriage as “one man, one woman (at a time).”

As I was thinking on this, I began to reflect on all the other, brief statements Jesus could have made to clear up much confusion:

“Abortion is immoral.”
“Baptize by full dipping, and no kids.”
”Sola Scriptura.”
“God pre-selects some for Heaven, some for Hell.”
“Oh, and Hell is a terrible place with lots of fire.”

Instead what do we see in the development of Christianity?

Jesus is so unclear about food becoming unclean (Mark 7:14-23 ) that he has to tell Peter again in a vision. (Acts. 10:15) Even then, the issue of food (clean or unclean) offered to idols remains a problem. (I Cor. 8:10) Or vegetarians. (Rom. 14:2)

Within the very decades of Jesus’ death, the Christian mandate regarding circumcision raged on. Did new converts need to be circumcised? (Acts 15:24, 16:3, Rom. 2:25, Gal. 2:3)

In the letters of Paul, we see him attempting to clear up confusion in the areas of marriage (1 Cor. 7, Rom. 7:3), resurrection of the dead (1 Cor. 15:12), the Eucharist (1 Cor. 12:30), spiritual gifts (1 Cor. 12:1) and even salvation through grace. (Rom. 5:15017) In fact, some were even confusing Apollo with Paul with Cephas with Christ! (1 Cor. 1:12)

Historically, we begin to see the church schism and fragment almost immediately. We have the Jerusalem church as compared to the Galilean Church. Judaizers vs. Gentile Missionaries. The Johannine school as compared to the Snynoptic Gospels. Gnostics and Marcion. We eventually have docetic and Arianism.

And yes, even arguments over polygamy!

As time has progressed, more schisms and fractures and confusion have continued. It has not become less, but rather has become more. We have Charismatic Catholics and Arminian Baptists. And within each group, more groups fracture off with their various peccadilloes, over Baptism, or election, or lifting hands, or covering heads, or singing songs, or offerings, or blood transfusions, or homosexuality, or divorce, or drinking or mixed bathing, or Robert’s Rules of Order or just about any possible concoction one can dream up.

And the Christian God saw this confusion develop, and did nothing to stop it. At the Tower of Babel, YHWH confused the languages. At the cross, Jesus confused the religions. Apparently there is something about unity that God abhors. He did, after all, create calamity (Isa. 45:7) why not use it?

Many Christians, reading this, may be thinking to themselves, “But all those other beliefs are wrong. I hold the true belief. It is the human involvement that has caused the confusion, making the others lose the truth I hold.”

First of all, I would ask that you at least recognize that there ARE other beliefs, also stemming from the same original core. I don’t have to ask very hard, your words and actions proclaim that you recognize these other beliefs.

I read Christian forums and blogs. I see the fights. In fact, I tend to find Christians fight with other Christian beliefs more vehemently and more venomously than they do with atheists! We are considered the enemy, but a “wrong belief” is considered a traitor. An enemy is simply doing their job, but a traitor is a treasonous apostate, and should be handled with less respect than any other.

Secondly, I would ask that you recognize that you desire those other beliefs to conform (even partially) to your own. You do not desire this confusion. You would prefer conformity. Again, your words and actions proclaim that you desire this, as evidenced by the intensive arguing in support of your position.

You know what we all find funny? In a forum, seeing a poster proclaim “I don’t have time to respond to this, but….” And they respond. And again, “I REALLY don’t have time, but…” and respond again and again and again. After a bit, I wish they would stop wasting time, constantly telling me they don’t have time to write they don’t have time!

Look, if you weren’t interested, you wouldn’t be posting all the time about how other beliefs are incorrect. You wouldn’t be researching it. You wouldn’t be here. Your actions belay your words. You would like the confusion to end.

Now, if you don’t want this confusion, why does God?

I see four possible solutions (but there could always be more):

1. God doesn’t care.
2. God actively needs this confusion.
3. God does not want it, but is unable to stop it.
4. There is no God involved at all.

God may not care, because it is a deistic God, or it is the Christian God, but this is not an area in which He has concern. It would be surprising, but perhaps there is a Christian that takes this view. If so, I would presume the Christian does not care if there is confusion, either. If God doesn’t care, why should they?

Although that raises a problem with why God would get involved at all. If God doesn’t care whether this confusion reigns, then what would be the basis of Jesus appearing at all? If His death, for some reason, was necessary, that could have happened with no communication at all. No ministry. No Sermons. No Parables. No Epistles. No Gospels.

To say God doesn’t care about the resulting confusion, but cares enough to communicate some creates a difficult methodology. Why did Jesus talk about foods being clean or unclean if he doesn’t care? Apparently He cared about that. So much he said it twice! Yet he doesn’t “care” under this methodology to make a mention about abortion.

I would think that a Christian would therefore be left in the position of following a God that cares for having a slice of bacon with breakfast, and doesn’t care about many of the issues Christians face now—such as homosexuality, abortion, or even election and salvation.

If God needs this confusion, then why would a Christian ever debate against it? Or is part of the need to have the debate itself? Are we just some large cock-fight for God in which he watches us spin and fight and fret, and even kill over the confusion, and he has some “need” to have this happen?

Of course, the question I will ask is “Why? Why does God need this confusion?” To which we receive the perpetual reply, “We don’t know, except if it happens, then God must need it.” But then, we could say that about everything that happens, whether we desire it or not.

God must need Tsunamis. God must need atheists. God must need fundamentalists that kill in His name. (And NO, that is NOT limited to Muslims.) And equally, God must also need thousands of different offshoots and sects arising out of Christianity for another “unknown purpose.”

If God needs confusion, then there is nothing humanity can do about it, eh? Wonder why the ingrained sense of reducing confusion, then? Is that part of the fall? We became evil AND orderly?

Or perhaps God does not want confusion (1 Cor. 14:33) yet is unable to stop it. This creates a very interesting God, indeed! Even, as humans, we can see how to at least reduce confusion. We do it all the time—communicate effectively. If God did not want confusion between the Arminian and the Calvinist over the issue of election, lay out the concept in simple terms. If God did not want the Great schism, explain whether church doctrines have authority alongside scripture.

Anyone who has ever debated anything regarding Christianity has bemoaned the lack of a simple verse explaining God’s position. The trinity comes readily to mind. And yes, I know that to YOU it is clear. How do you resolve those billions of other folks that it is not? Did God desire their confusion?

The Christian is left with the unenviable position of a God that either desires confusion, or lacks the ability to do anything about it. The classic Epicurean problem in the sense of confusion, instead of evil.

Notice the intriguing part of the first three solutions. We are just as well-off acting as if there is no God, if these are true. If God doesn’t care, why should we? If God wants confusion, we should as well. No more Godlike mandate to reduce confusion and enlighten our fellow humans. If even a God cannot stop confusion, how can we?

In each of these scenarios, we may as well not have a God at all.

There is the fourth possibility, though.

Just like my court case, getting a group of humans together, with different motivations, different purposes, and different goals, ends up in chaos. Confusion. While some sense can be honed down, and directed, simply due to the fact that humans are different will always result in some confusion.

Without a God, it is not only unsurprisingly, but it is natural that confusion would come about. The various books of the Bible were put together by a variety of human authors, each with differing concepts about God. Rather than struggle with attempting to align the Synoptics, or worse, aligning the Synoptics with John, we can relax in the idea that these were written by separate humans, and by virtue of their dissimilarities, will provide dissimilar ideas. Only when cohesiveness is sought does confusion step in.

If God wanted to stop the confusion, he could have. Perhaps, though, he felt where there was chaos, there was profit. I just don’t see any.

39 comments:

paul said...

DagoodS,

"Is it part of the fall? We became evil AND orderly?"
Bless you, I needed a good laugh this morning.

Re: your comment of "I don't have time to respond to this, but..." I would imagine you encounter this more than many. It can be another way of saying, "I have nothing to say, but want to participate." To me, you do tend to exhaust a subject when you write, leaving little to be said other than "wow, yeah"...it just doesn't polish ones image to say such things. Then there are those on the opposite side who will write tons with ounces of content.

As to "confusion"...Paul explains to all of us that God is not a God of confusion: "For God is not a God of confusion but of peace." ICor. 14:33. He also gives us the solution in I Cor. 1:10 NIV (and, apparently Rodney King plagarized this one): "I appeal to you, brothers, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree with one another so that there may be no divisions among you and that you may be perfectly united in mind and thought."
So, though I am concise, there's your scriptural answer. No, God isn't a God of confusion, and the solution is for us to all just get along. Frankly, I'm surprised someone of your caliber missed this.

DagoodS said...

paul, I will let YOU open the can of worms that is 1 Cor. 14:33. Paul (the other one) is talking about order in church service, and how people should not all be speaking at once. He is talking about confusion in worship. But read carefully the next two verses (34 & 35) as to a way in which Paul recommends to reduce confusion.

If you want to go THERE, you are a braver person than I! *wink*

And Paul’s solution as to how to “get along” with divisions in the church has been the same old human solution for 10’s of 1000’s of years—“Agree with me.”

Jeremy said...

My first thought after reading your article was freedom. Christ died in order for us to be free. Free from the limitations and guidelines under the Jewish religious rules, the Old Law. You are right that Christ could have said a few phrases and cleared up any contention that has occurred on any number of issues. So why didn’t he? In my opinion it was because he wanted to give every person the opportunity to make up their own mind on how to live their lives to further the Kingdom of Christ. Christianity is about love, faith, and hope not about edicts and an exact blueprint to run our lives.

Everyone has different abilities and under Christianity we have the opportunity to use our abilities unhindered by doctrinal rules and regulations. Many Christians interpret the absence of Christ’s rules and regulations as an opportunity to create their own. Christ chastised the Pharisees for doing exactly that with the Jewish law. Just because Christians fail to live in peace and harmony with other Christians with slightly different views doesn’t mean that it is God’s fault.

As you mentioned with your example humanity is full of confusion. One merely needs to look at the United States political system to find another excellent example of this in action. Most humans have always been and always will be confused. It is a choice that God allows us to make.

Jason said...

Jeremy:

You are right that Christ could have said a few phrases and cleared up any contention that has occurred on any number of issues. So why didn’t he? In my opinion it was because he wanted to give every person the opportunity to make up their own mind on how to live their lives to further the Kingdom of Christ.

Clearly there are good and bad ways to do this, however, and that is what Christ could have clarified. For example, if someone wants to kill an abortion doctor because he thinks that doing so will further the kingdom of Christ, how will we stop him on one hand, or justify his actions on the other, if Christ doesn't speak clearly about the issue?

Jeremy:

Christianity is about love, faith, and hope not about edicts and an exact blueprint to run our lives.

What about the ten commandments? Clearly Christianity does provide us with some edicts and blueprints for our lives, and expects us to live according to them since we are threatened with hellfire if we do otherwise. Not enough information is supplied, however.

Jeremy:

Just because Christians fail to live in peace and harmony with other Christians with slightly different views doesn’t mean that it is God’s fault.

According to Ephesians 1:11, God works out everything in accordance with his will, so it is God's fault, just as everything else is.

paul said...

Hi Jeremy,
That's a thoughtful response.

You state: "Christianity is about love, faith and hope, not about edicts and an exact blueprint to run our lives."

In the absence of a "blueprint" we still have decisions to make that effect our course of action. Take Jasons example of the abortion doctor. If one believes abortion is murdering babies, an argument can certainly be made for killing doctors who have taken out more lives than Hitlers SS did. What would love dictate in this case?

Faith...which one? The faith that one has because they see Jesus heal a blind man, or see Elijah call fire down from heaven. Or, the faith that believes "having not seen?"

Hope. Hope or expectation. For this life or only for the hereafter?

Jeremy said...

Jason – I agree with you that there are good and bad ways to “further the Kingdom of Christ”. I think he was very clear about those good and bad ways of going about his business. In Matthew 5-7 he clearly outlines the way we should live. The fact that some of the principals in these three chapters are talked about in generalities points out in my mind that Christians have an element of freedom in the way that they practice their faith.

As far as the abortion clinic doctor is concerned I think someone would be hard pressed to find justification in the New Testament to murder someone because they disagree with their philosophy (see again Matthew 5-7). If a Christian or Muslim or whoever decides to do this then thankfully we have laws that will bring that person to justice, see Eric Rudolph.

I don’t believe I’m necessarily bound by the Ten Commandments. Portions of them sure, but not as a rule of law that I must follow with strict guidance. I agree with you that there are certain commandments if you will in the New Testament but even those seem to have some leeway in their implementation. Take for instance the commandment to help out a brother in need. This can be done in any number of ways. I can give them a bed to sleep in my home, I can buy them groceries, or any number of other things.

In my opinion, I believe there is more than ample guidance outlined in the New Testament that points Christians towards living a life according to the principals of Christ. I am not a Catholic, but in my opinion Mother Theresa exemplifies the essence of Christianity. To my knowledge she didn’t sit around and debate the ‘letter of the law’ she went into the world and picked up the sick and hurt children off the street and helped them. She cared for her fellow human and I’m willing to bet they weren’t all Christians. She lived a life of service that was based on Christian free will and principals. There wasn’t a book, chapter, verse outline for exactly how she should go about her day. There were principals outlined that she applied to her individual life.

As I previously stated, some Christians use the New Testament as an opportunity to slander, libel, and ostracize fellow Christians and fellow humans. I think it is anti-Christian teachings to act in such a way. I am basically saying that we can agree to disagree without claiming that anyone is going to damned.

With respect to Ephesians 1:11 I need to study that specific passage further. I will say that I believe that the idea of human free will is outlined in the New Testament. I do not believe that we are ‘predestined’ in the sense that our whole lives have already been determined by God. The passage may simply mean that God will find a way to do his bidding with or without my help.

Jeremy said...

Paul – I think there is a blueprint I just don’t believe there is one that details how I should live my life in every situation I may face. I agree that some Christians will try to argue that abortion is murder and the murderer must be stopped with force, but I’m not one of those people. In my opinion love would dictate that you simply go about your life telling people what you believe and why you believe it. Jesus didn’t start killing people because they wouldn’t follow him so why should modern day Christians?

For me personally (and I believe Christianity is a very personal belief) my faith is a faith in God and Jesus Christ. I could write quite a bit about what this faith means to me personally and just as JH wrote in his article above I think people have to find their own faith or truth.

The hope to me is a hope that after all is said and done I will be alleviated from the stresses of this life. A hope that this life isn’t all there is to our existence.

Acts 24:15-16 is especially interesting to me. It states: 15) I have hope in God, which they themselves also accept, that there will be a resurrection of the dead, both of the just and the unjust. 16) This being so, I myself always strive to have a conscience without offense toward God and men.

Notice how Paul states that he doesn’t wish to offend God or man. For those that wish to murder another human I think they should take this to heart.

Hey guys thanks for your comments. I apologize for the lengthy responses.

Jason said...

Jeremy:

In Matthew 5-7 he clearly outlines the way we should live.

You mean he clearly outlines some of the ways we should live. One can, for example, meekly have an abortion. This fits the guidelines of the sermon on the mount. Another problem is that some of what Jesus says in the sermon is apparently contradicted by what he says elsewhere. For example, his position on divorce is tenuous. This is the confusion that Dagoods was talking about, and that you seem to claim isn't really an issue.

Even if the NT claims that humans have free will in one place, that doesn't mean that Ephesians 1:11 must be compatible with that claim. To assume the contrary would be ad hoc. Interpret Ephesians 1:11 on its own merits - not with a mind to keeping the Bible consistent. The latter is poor interpretive method.

We don't need Ephesians 1:11 to tell us that God is responsible for everything; we can determine that via other means. If we assume that God is omniscient, omnipotent and the creator of the universe, then we have enough to pin responsibility for anything whatsoever on God. Knowing in advance what consequences the creation of the universe will have including the choices that human actors will make, God cannot wash his almighty hands of those consequences any more than I could, were I to make a robot that acts randomly but whose decisions I supernaturally am already aware of.

Indigo Black said...

Very interesting post. If I were still a theist, I would be inclined to believe as the Gnostics and that is that this world was created by an imperfect being and therefore defective. But I'm not and therefore I attribute the confusion to good old fashioned humanity trying to control the sheeple.

One thing that I wanted to throw in here is that, from what I understand, in the centuries following Christ's death there was several sects of Christianity. In fact, it was so bad that, even then, they were killing each other. Finally, the leaders of the time came together to decide what was going to be the "official religion". This became known as the Nicene Creed.

It is interesting that the "inerrant" word of God would divide its followers so much. You would think that if it was the truth, then not only would everyone would recognize it as such, everyone would agree that it all meant the same thing. Maybe that's just infantile thinking on my part.

Jeremy said...

I don’t think it is necessarily wrong to have an abortion. It is possible for a drug addict woman who is pregnant, who live on the street, sells her body for money and has no realistic way to care for a child to meekly have an abortion. Thankfully I’m not a woman so I’ll never have to make that decision, but I don’t believe it is murder therefore I see no reason for Jesus to talk about it.

I spent some time studying Eph. 1:1-11 last night and in my opinion this text seems to have reference to the idea that God pre-determined at the beginning of time that there would be a need for a plan of salvation. I don’t think this passage is saying that God controls everything and predestines every individual’s life.

If I understand the argument that we’re discussing basically it is that God is at fault because all things work through his will and if he “is omniscient, omnipotent and the creator of the universe” then all fault lies with him.

I think one problem with this argument is that it completely leaves out free will. I think God created the laws that govern our lives (whether that be the laws of nations or nature) and I think he confines himself to those laws because he wants us to freely choose him or not choose him. Saying God is at fault for everything wrong in the World is like saying that the parents of a child molester are at fault for not physically preventing their child from committing atrocities against other children. The parent or creator must allow the child access to free will. It’s natural.

Jeremy said...

Indigo Black: I think the reason there are so many sects and interpretations of Christianity is because none of us has lived in another person’s shoes. Take any other hot topic that people are debating right now and even though we may fall down on the same side of abortion I doubt we would have the exact feelings on the subject. One reason is because I’m a man and you’re a woman (from your profile I assume you’re a woman).

Free will allows us the ability to decide what we believe and how to live our lives. Since everyone’s life experiences are different we will all have a different take on the things we read, the Bible included. The Bible isn’t going to magically produce a robot-like conformity among the people that believe in it. In my opinion this isn’t the unity described in the New Testament.

Jason said...

Jeremy:

I don’t think it is necessarily wrong to have an abortion.

A lot of Christians disagree with you, as you know, and quite strongly. Hence the confusion. The Bible does not instruct particularly well on this subject.

I don’t believe it is murder therefore I see no reason for Jesus to talk about it.

The reason for Jesus to talk about it is because of the differences within the Christian community about this subject, differences which are strongly divisive.

I spent some time studying Eph. 1:1-11 last night and...I don’t think this passage is saying that God controls everything and predestines every individual’s life.

The context of Eph. 1:11 may be, as you say, a reference to "the idea that God pre-determined at the beginning of time that there would be a need for a plan of salvation." This does not mean, however, that Eph. 1:11 does not entail that God controls everything. Note that who accomplishes all things according to his counsel and will (NOAB) is a predicate, with the referrent being God. The context of the passage does not impact a predicate unless the predicate's referrent just is the context. Consider the following neutral example:

We chose to exclude Jason who has blonde hair and blue eyes on the grounds that he lacks the requisite qualifications.

Can you spot the predicate? Note that the contextual meaning does not change the predicate's meaning. Why do you consider Eph. 1:11 to be any different? It seems ad hoc to do so.

I think one problem with this argument is that it completely leaves out free will.

Free will changes nothing. Free will, if we assume for the sake of argument that it exists, acts something like a randomization program. I took this into account already in my preceeding post, can you spot where?

Saying God is at fault for everything wrong in the World is like saying that the parents of a child molester are at fault for not physically preventing their child from committing atrocities against other children.

Patently false and a false analogy. If the parents knew for certain in advance that their child would behave in that way, then they would be at fault.

Jeremy said...

If you take the passage to mean that God pre-determined a need for salvation the passage lends itself to mean that God has made up his own mind on how that is to be accomplished. This passage is in no way saying that God controls everything. It is saying in my opinion that he controls everything with regard to the way that he rolled out the plan of salvation. How can you apply “accomplishes all things according to his counsel and will” to everything that has ever happened and will happen? In my opinion, you can’t take a single phrase out of the context of the passage and make it state something it isn’t. You also keep mentioning ad hoc, but I just don’t see it.

If you knew that someone was going to commit murder 20 years from now you’re telling me that it is your duty to kill that person today even though they have not committed the crime nor made any reference to doing so? That is anti-free will. Ever see the movie The Minority Report? If humans can see that it wouldn’t be a good idea to start doing that sort of thing then why wouldn’t God?

Jason said...

How can you apply “accomplishes all things according to his counsel and will” to everything that has ever happened and will happen?

How can you not? The passage clearly states that God works out all things in accordance with his will, regardless of the subject matter of the passage's context. I already explained this in my previous message where I discussed predicates and scope. Do you have a comment on that line of thought?

If you knew that someone was going to commit murder 20 years from now you’re telling me that it is your duty to kill that person today even though they have not committed the crime nor made any reference to doing so?

No need to forge an effigy. I did not say anything about killing someone to prevent a crime. My comments have been about responsibility for the forseeable actions of one's creation. This is a very cut-and-dried ethical matter, with plenty of legal case examples to support the notion that my position is consonant with common sense.

DagoodS said...

Jeremy, I did not want you to feel “ganged up” on, so I let this ride a bit.

You only prove my original point. If the Bible was God’s communication, he has left us in a state of quandary, in which you can only give YOUR opinion, and not what God actually communicated.

You repeatedly use the words, “I think,” “I don’t believe,” and “In my opinion.” I strongly recommend you go back and read your posts, and you will see how many times you state these words, sometimes in the same sentence!

Yet on each one, there are Christians you “think, believe and opine” completely differently than you do. And God could clear this up at any time, and chooses to not.

Don’t confuse “free will” and confusion. We all KNOW what the speed limit is on our street. But we all have the free will to obey it or not. God could have indicated what was accurate, and what was inaccurate, yet we still have the ability to choose to obey or not.

I am taking it one step back—God didn’t even tell us what was accurate in the first place!

And finally, there is a catch in everything you claim. I appreciate what you are saying, but even by being more open to different interpretations, you are STILL saying another Christian is wrong in their depiction of God, because they are NOT open to different interpretations. The confusion reigns.

When I first started discussing theism with liberal Christians, I thought, “Hey, these people are more open. More in tune. More tolerant.” But after a bit, I came to the realization—they are just as limited in their God as anyone else.

Fundamentalists do not tolerate homosexuals. Liberals do not tolerate fundamentalists. Fundamentalists say, “A God with universal Salvation is WRONG.” Liberals say, “A God with a Hell of Fire is WRONG.” They both were equally pointing a finger at the other person’s God as being the “wrong” depiction of what God actually is.

There was no difference.

Don’t get me wrong, I have enjoyed the discussion, and do not want it to end. But there is a catch to responding to this blog. The instant a Christians says, “The Bible teaches…” or “Christians can not state…..” it only demonstrates the continued confusion. Because no matter what a Christian states, anymore there is another Christian that states something different on the same subject. You can’t BOTH be right. God could have cleared this up.

Humans wouldn’t. Now--which is more likely?

paul said...

Jeremy,
Your posts are not "to long," I appreciate your taking the time and making the effort to be open here.

You do seem less rigid than many, so I wonder, how do you determine what Gods will is? Since you can observe that three people can and will interpret the same scripture four different ways, how do you determine what God is really saying? If you believe the bible to be Gods word, I referenced a scripture above (ICor. 1:10) in response to DagoodS where Paul directs the Corinthians to be "perfectly united in mind and thought" and that there be no division among them. Was Paul just being unreasonable, or is this possible? Again, it goes back to how you interpret, how you determine what God is saying. Many Christians speak of having a relationship with God or Jesus, yet why would God tell you something that directly contradicts what he told another? Someone is not 'hearing' correctly? Which one?
I am being honest here, no offense intended. It seems to me that the "relationship" is with an imaginary friend. That friend can be whatever ones imagination wishes. Since such a relationship doesn't involve the usual stuff of relationship like seeing you, hearing you, touching, etc., i.e., something (someone) you can substantiate. If the relationship takes place in the imagination, how do you know you are not deluded?

Jeremy said...

Jason – Predicate, subject and scope. I can’t believe that I have been reading and rereading Eph. 1:11 for three days now and I think I’m finally getting closer to understanding what your talking about and what the passage is referring to.

You said that, “The passage clearly states that God works out all things in accordance with his will, regardless of the subject matter of the passage's context.”

If I understand you correctly you are basically stating that this phrase may be taken out of context because it is not bound by the context when it refers to God working things out according to his will. So the question becomes what is the “counsel of his will” or what is the will of God?

I believe the “counsel of his will” (his will being the plan of salvation and accepting anyone that accepts Christ as Lord) is not only referencing the context but the thesis of the entire Bible which is the predetermined need for a plan of salvation. It was his will from the beginning of time to have a plan of salvation and he has ensured that his plan is accomplished by regulating the events of and leading up to the plan being implemented.

Is it God’s will to prevent every rape, murder, or other atrocity we can imagine? No. It was not his will to create this world and prevent every evil thing from happening. According to Genesis, Satan (the serpent) with the help of humans (Adam and Eve) introduced evil into the world. I believe your assertion that since he created all of this it is inherently his fault for all the evil things that have happened including the confusion that Dagoods talks about in his article is wrong. God didn’t introduce evil, but yes he did know that it would happen because he knew Satan was lingering around and he knew that humans were not perfect creatures. According to your argument the only logical (ethical) thing for God to do would have been to either create a world he had total control over or scrap the whole idea and not allow all the billions of humans the opportunity to exist with him.

I didn’t mean to offend you with my earlier statement regarding murdering someone 20 years prior to their crime. I used it as an example and should have chosen different wording. My apologies.

Jeremy said...

DagoodS – The reason that I choose to use words and phrases such as in my opinion, I think, I believe, I don’t think, etc is because of something I learned a few years ago from reading the works of Benjamin Franklin. He taught that people should use these phrases (or similar ones) in our discourses in order to make sure that we don’t come across as stating a fact what we know to be an opinion. These words also ensure that I promote dialogue rather than hinder it. If you were to go back and take out all the times I wrote these words I would have come across much differently to the group. I also use the technique to keep myself humble. I know there is a possibility that I may be wrong.

This discussion has been good for me personally because it reiterates to me what it means to be a Christian. I think (LOL) it boils down to one simple belief that God is seemingly clear and accurate on. “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life (John 3:16). One other passage that comes to mind is the one where the man asks what he must do to be saved and they said “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you will be saved, you and your household” (Acts 16:31). I believe that all the other things that Christians get consumed with are peripheral issues that may not really be that big of a deal in the grand scheme of things. Don’t get me wrong they may be big issues in their lives, but when you think about life after death most issues can’t be resolved with a yes or no.

Fundamentalist, liberal, or any other category of Christian. I think your example of these groups is the main reason organized Christianity has failed. Rather than putting aside the petty differences and accepting one another as fellow followers of Christ we continually fight and argue about issues that have no bearing on our salvation.

Let me end this post by reiterating that I believe there would be no confusion if all Christians would put aside their differences and come together on the one thing that all of us have in common. We all believe that Jesus is the Christ. It seems to me that the only confusion surrounding the New Testament and Christianity is man made and the only reason it exists is because Christians don’t take the time to really think about the simplicity of God’s plan for salvation.

Jeremy said...

Paul – How do I determine God’s will? Read the Bible and look at the external evidence for myself without the interference of outside influences (as much as is possible). As I stated to Jason I believe the will of God revolves around the plan of salvation (the implementation of it) and God’s desire to give as many people as possible the opportunity to choose to live with him at the end of their physical lives. If you read the entire chapter of 1 Cor. 1 it is interesting that the unity discussed revolves around Christ, his sacrifice and his resurrection (see verses 13, 18, 21, 30-31). As I stated in my last response to DagoodS in my opinion this belief is the one and only thing that Christians should be concerned about in establishing their unified groups. Now that is rarely if ever seen in our society and I believe it is because some Christians get hung up on their sects traditions. These traditions have little bearing on their salvation. The confusion in Christianity is man made.

Does this mean that I am claiming that I have the right answer and 90+% of the other Christians have it all wrong? I don’t know, maybe or maybe not. During my lifetime of meeting with various groups and denominations I have asked the believers in those groups if they believe Christianity really is as simple as I have been presenting it to you three. The majority of them have said yes and then they go on to list some exceptions. It seems to me that most Christians know deep down inside that the underlying theme that binds all Christians together is Jesus Christ.

My imaginary friend. For me it started with one question. Is there a God? For those that say yes based on our interpretation of the evidence (like nature) we then ask which God should we should follow? Do we follow the God of the Jews, Christians, Muslims, etc.? As I walked through all of the evidence that I have come into contact with I have ended up at Christianity.

Is my relationship something that I feel, hear, touch, etc.? Yes it is. I see God’s presence in nature, I read some of his thoughts in the Bible (specifically the New Testament), etc. In case you’re wondering no I don’t hear voices in my head.

How do I know I’m not deluded? Faith. I freely admit that I can not prove beyond a shadow of a doubt that God exists. So I keep searching for the hard concrete proof that God exists or God doesn’t exist. That is what attracted me to this website. I wanted to know what you (and the group here) believe in case I am being deluded.

How do you know you’re not being deluded? Surely you have some belief, right? If yes, can you prove to me with 100% certainty that your beliefs are the truth?

Well enough for now I suppose. Thanks to all of you for making me think and question my own beliefs. I look forward to reading your responses.

Troy from TODC said...

TO ALL: I think that Christianity (What Jesus wanted) can really be summed up with Jesus conversation from beggining to end with the Lady at the well.

After reading this do you see that maybe Christ wants us to just 'do good'? We can do 'bad' but if we don't repent will we goto heaven?

I think alot of you jump all over the place from looking at speed limits being broken, to abortions, killing abortion doctors, etc... Do you believe the Jesus operated outside the realms of a physical state (government)? He did! We may be bound by laws, but it doesn't mean we cant get arrested and still goto Heaven.

What I find funny, for my amusement, is that Christians (apostles) in the first century were arrested for doing God's word. Today, I believe few truly Gods word, therefore they don't get arrested.

anyways, I hope I added something to ponder. Good luck in your search for the truth!

paul said...

Jeremy,

I can appreciate your view that Christianity is simple and revolves around Gods plan of salvation. I think where the confusion comes in is that life isn't that simple. I asked how you determine Gods will, let give you a specific 21st century question to determine Gods will, rather than general.

Your a member of a large church with a large music ministry. One day, it's discovered that the music minister is gay. He's decided to come out of the closet, has a lover (one of the members of the choir). The choir member is married and has two kids. He says that he's always been gay, but because of his Christianity married knowing that homosexuality is sin and believing that God would change him (God didn't change him). Your on a commitee chosen to deal with this, what's God's will? This happened in a church I was part of, so it's not really made up. Life throws us so many curve balls, it's hard to keep it simple.

Jeremy said...

Paul – You are right. My previous post about my determination of God’s will was made in general terms. Sometimes life is not black and white. There are definitely gray areas and everyone should keep that in mind.

Your example about the homosexual male music teacher is sad. Though I don’t know the details of your example I assume these two guys really cared about each other and they felt like they were deceiving people by keeping things a secret, etc. I know how bad it makes me feel when I hide things from people I care about so I can only imagine how awkward it was to face the whole church.

It reminds me of a situation that arose from one of the churches that we attended some years back. A minister had an affair with the daughter of one of the leaders (we call them elders in my denomination) of the church. The minister’s wife kicked him out, but the daughter’s husband wanted to work things out. Both couples had children. About six months after everything exploded the leader’s daughter and the minister ended up getting back together. They got married and they started attending a congregation of the same denomination across town. Needless to say since they were accepted at the second congregation the two congregations had some tense feelings towards each other.

So the debate really isn’t about homosexuality is it? It’s about our personal desires. Whether it was the homosexual couple you referenced or the heterosexual couple that had the affair and later got married both couples hurt a lot of people because of their own desires. It’s not just these couples that are guilty of it. I can be guilty of it too with the way I treat my wife or other family members. In the end we all had/have a choice.

Your original point was about the messy situations that humans create for themselves and the seemingly lack of clarity in the New Testament. I’ll assume that you think the Bible is unclear on how to handle the situation in your example. I don’t want to throw a bunch of scripture at you, but if you would like me to provide a more thorough explanation I would be happy to do so. Suffice it to say that its not like the Bible is quite on the subject just like the Bible is clear on adultery and other sins of the flesh. If people don’t want to change their ways and the congregation is uncomfortable or feels like it is wrong then don’t associate with them in the worship setting. I understand that it can be uncomfortable to confront people you disagree with or don’t understand, but it has to be done. By confront I mean to say that if people are unwilling to change or work on their habits then the congregation must talk with them about it and ask them to leave. You and I both know that this still won’t be a smooth transition. Some members of the group are going to sympathize with the gay or hetro couple and they will want them to stay with the church. I think it is normal to sympathize with people that are hurting, but it doesn’t make it right to use that sympathy and assist the couples in their lifestyles. My point is that the problem again goes back to being a man made problem. God is clear about how to handle messy situations and if we choose not to listen to him it’s not his fault, in my opinion.

Rich said...

I have to agree with Jeremy here about the plan of salvation. God does have some simplicity. There are many messy situations for sure. There does seem to be a tendancy to blame God for human "made probelms. This is a general comment and in general we don't want to have consequences to our actions. While we like rules and laws we don't like punishment. We have the freedom to make our own choices and we also must accept the bad consequences along with the good ones. Its about progression, we are to learn from our mistakes, ask for forgivness, and not repeat the mistake. That is a basic repentance process. There is alot of confusion about Gods will for us, all human caused with the differing opinions about "Gods word". It is Satans work to cause confusion among us becasue he wants to thwart Gods plan for our salvation and make as many of us as miserable as he is. The confusion exsists becasue of satans influance and not because of Gods lack of desire that we know the truth. For God to be the perfect being that christianity holds him to be, he cannot be a God of confusion. God always worked through a prophet in the biblical times, excluding the new testament which christ himself was here to run his church. A prophet is one who recieves revelation from God for his church as a whole. This is how we kow of the plan of salvation and other truths. For clarity on what God thinks of current issues it would stand to reason that he would speak through a prophet to reveal he will concerning current issues. The Bible is his revelations to prophets of the time concerning their current issues.Many of those things apply to us today but if he is the God that christianity claims then he must speak through a prophet now to bring clarity to these issues.
Paul said:
"Your a member of a large church with a large music ministry. One day, it's discovered that the music minister is gay. He's decided to come out of the closet, has a lover (one of the members of the choir). The choir member is married and has two kids. He says that he's always been gay, but because of his Christianity married knowing that homosexuality is sin and believing that God would change him (God didn't change him). Your on a commitee chosen to deal with this, what's God's will? This happened in a church I was part of, so it's not really made up. Life throws us so many curve balls, it's hard to keep it simple."
It is a curve ball. I know for my religion the two would be excommunicated from the church unless they would not continue their homosexual activities. I know this is a real tough situation. As for God is is a sin, homosexuality and while people may be born with that tendancy it was never meant to be acted upon.

DagoodS said...

Jeremy, it is not very remarkable, nor even divine that the Bible (or Christianity) was able to come up with “Do not murder, do not commit adultery, do not steal, do not lie, do not defraud.” Societies were able to figure out those codes of conduct long before the Bible was introduced, long before Judaism, (let alone Christianity) or in societies removed from Christianity.

So the unity in that area is unremarkable. How does one handle an immoral person in a congregation?

Love your enemies. Matt 5:44, Luke 6:35
Love your neighbor. Mark 12:31

Which is the “immoral person”?

If a person sins against you, eventually you can take it to the church. If he refuses to hear the church, you can treat him like a heathen or a tax collector. Matt. 18:17 But even the tax collectors treat only those they like with love, which Christ condemns. Matt. 5 again.

How did Jesus treat tax collectors? He ate with them, because he had called sinners to righteousness. Matt. 9:13.

If I have this right, if there is an immoral person, you should treat them like a tax collector. Which means to love them and associate with them. Is that what your congregation did?

In fact, tax collectors and harlots will inherit the kingdom of God before many so-called Christians! Matt. 21:31.

Jesus was constantly involved and encouraging tax collectors. Mark 2:15, Luke 5:29, Luke 15:1. Frankly, it would seem to me that being treated like a tax collector means I would have a better shot at being near Jesus!

Paul says to not keep company with the “sexually immoral.” Not unsaved sexually immoral, but saved sexually immoral. 1 Cor. 5:9-10. I presume that the first congregation in your example, by not keeping company with the pastor is confirming that he must be saved? Or is it far more likely they think he was not.

And if you are to associate with sexually immoral non-believers, and Jesus says to treat sexually moral believers the same as “heathens” or sexually immoral non-believers, then shouldn’t one associate with both?

But then Paul goes on to encompass more than just sexual sin, and says to not keep company with anyone who covets, is an idolater, or reviler (what the heck IS that?), or a drunkard, or an extortioner—not even eat with such a person. 1 Cor. 5:11. If people actually followed that as well, how empty would your churches be?

However, you will dismiss that, as not being what the focus of Christianity should be. How are you able to pick what the focus should be, and impose it on others, yet reject what they attempt to impose on you?

What one congregation dismisses based on one scripture, another congregation can embrace. And God could foresee that happening. All it would have taken was a few words, brief instructions, and none of this confusion would continue.

paul said...

Jeremy,
ditto DagoodS.
in addition...The sample I gave is one of many really, no? There are several confusing angles to this (i'm trying to stick to the theme "confused"). I don't think you answered my question,(I may have missed it) i.e., "what's Gods will?" There's several people you have to deal with, the two guys, a wife, kids, the church, all want to know what God wants. One guy is single and tired of living a lie, living in secret, so he outs himself and his partner (as it turns out they were in agreement about opening up). Both guys need to know definitively, is homosexuality a sin? This is the way they are. Both have actually been through programs to change thier orientation, didn't work. One, the married guy, married with the faith that God would change him since he believed scripture taught homosexuality to be a sin, believing surely God would deliver him since God doesn't want him to sin.
Rich says: "it's not to be acted on." Paul stated it is "better to be married than to burn" (with desire?). Gee Paul, ya think? Most Christians I've talked to believe celebacy to be a 'gift' (i disagree), as implied by Paul. So what does the gay guy do when he isn't so gifted? And on and on. The point isn't whether this might be a smooth transition or not, but knowing the will of God. Sincere people fell on all different sides with this one, with scripture to support them. Who's right? We need a decision that we can all agree is God. Instead, confusion.

paul said...

Jeremy,
I'm to often guilty of expecting people to read between lines, so a little more here in an attempt to be clear. The married guy would never have married and created his part of the confused mess had he not believed what he did about God (he had his scriptures). This was a conservative church, no real openness towards gays. The music minister was trying to toe the conservative line and would not have been in this church had it not been for his sincere belief that he was wrong and God would "deliver" him. "Whom the Son sets free is free indeed." (he had his scriptures, that being one of them). So, you might say the bible is clear on this, these guys thought so also, but it just didn't bear out for them in real life.

Jeremy said...

DagoodS - To your examples regarding the tax collectors (immoral and moral sinners) I think there is a difference in eating a meal with someone and keeping company with them. “Evil companions corrupt good morals.” I don’t take a companion to mean someone that I may have a meal with on one or two occasions.

Mt. 18:17: “let him be to you like a heathen and a tax collector.” This doesn’t say that you treat the man/woman with disrespect. It means that you recognize that the person isn’t going to change. People that refuse to change (live their lives according to their desires rather than the principals of Christ) should be let go. Deciding to no longer associate with them doesn’t mean you treat them like dirt. See Thessalonians 3:15, “Yet do not count him as an enemy, but admonish him as a brother.”

You reference Mt. 21:31 stating that tax collectors and harlots would enter the kingdom of God before the Jewish leaders. Verse 32 explains why. They believed, which can be inferred to mean that they changed their bad habits (prostitution and stealing from people). Jesus treated all sinners the same. If they accepted his words and teachings, changed their habits, and followed him then he considered them part of his “fold”.

As far as Paul (Bible) talking about the sexually immoral he is discussing how to treat people that believed the teachings of Jesus and then rejected them out right. He isn’t discussing about how to treat men/women that make mistakes. He’s talking about someone that could careless about the principals and teachings and doesn’t even try to make an effort.

DagoodS says: However, you will dismiss that, as not being what the focus of Christianity should be. How are you able to pick what the focus should be, and impose it on others, yet reject what they attempt to impose on you?

See I didn’t dismiss it. Give me a little bit more credit than that. These are important issues (adultery, homosexuality, etc.).

I don’t try to impose anything on anybody except myself. With respect to the earlier example of the gay guys I explained my understanding of how it should be handled. If the group doesn’t want to listen to my opinion then they don’t have to. The lack of agreement on an issue doesn’t prove that there is a confusion issue with respect to God. Where you attribute the confusion with God, I attribute it to differences in humans (emotional, physical, or otherwise).

DagoodS said: And God could foresee that happening. All it would have taken was a few words, brief instructions, and none of this confusion would continue.

God did give us a few words on the issues and look what happened we still interpret the meanings differently. Perhaps this is an indication that more isn’t always better. Again I return to the notion that if God wanted us to do everything a certain way with no variations he could have established a religion similar to the Jewish religion, but even they had different sects that interpreted God’s words differently didn’t they. So perhaps the only solution to this problem would have been for God to create every human exactly like every other human. Everyone would have to live the same lives with the same experiences and in essence we would all be emotional clones of one another. Short of that I don’t see how you can get any two people to agree on every single issue the exact same way. In my opinion Christianity was established as an opportunity for believers to think for themselves and have the liberty to make decisions that they think “furthers Christ’s Kingdom” depending on any number of variables. People analyze the situation they’re in and make a decision to the best of their abilities based upon the principals laid out in the New Testament. It’s not always easy to do but it can be done.

Jeremy said...

Paul - Here was what I wrote in a previous post about my understanding of God’s will:
“How do I determine God’s will? Read the Bible and look at the external evidence for myself without the interference of outside influences (as much as is possible). As I stated to Jason I believe the will of God revolves around the plan of salvation (the implementation of it) and God’s desire to give as many people as possible the opportunity to choose to live with him at the end of their physical lives.”

I know that this is a general statement as I’ve admitted before so I’ll reference you to my last post to DagoodS where I say this: “So perhaps the only solution to this problem would have been for God to create every human exactly like every other human. Everyone would have to live the same lives with the same experiences and in essence we would all be emotional clones of one another. Short of that I don’t see how you can get any two people to agree on every single issue the exact same way. In my opinion Christianity was established as an opportunity for believers to think for themselves and have the liberty to make decisions that they think “furthers Christ’s Kingdom” depending on any number of variables. People analyze the situation they’re in and make a decision to the best of their abilities based upon the principals laid out in the New Testament. It’s not always easy to do but it can be done.”

In my opinion, modern day churches exacerbate the problem for a variety of reasons. Some are very large and most have a hard time handling problems like the examples we used because of traditions. If you had a smaller group environment the problem would be smaller and it could be handled easier. A disagreement between one or two people is much easier to control and work through than a disagreement between 100 people.

paul said...

Jeremy,

I understand (and understood) how you ascertain the will of God (i.e., "read the Bible and look at external evidence..."). My question was (and is), using your method, what is Gods will in the case that I posed? As you say, it should be "simple." God wants people to know His will, so if everyone involved uses this method everyone should be able to agree, no? Wouldn't this superceed the differences among us, all that's required is a desire for the truth? You and I don't have to have any similarities between us to agree that a horse is a horse. We can probably even get a majority to agree that it's not a good idea to walk up to a stranger and punch him in the nose, none of this would require cloning.
I'm going to guess that in your belief you don't actually believe God "creat(ed) every human," only Adam and Eve? So, how would you see things happening if Adam and Eve hadn't sinned? Would everyone be clones, or different and sinless, but all capable of agreeing on the truth? Doesn't rebirth, God within, once again give us that ability? What does ascertaining independent truth have to do with opinion? You seem like a really nice person, sincere, and I believe you when you say you want to know Gods will. So that's why I ask you specifically to tell me what Gods will is in this case (which is really only one of many such cases). The problem is, don't you believe that others, equally sincere and using your method will come up with a different answer? Or no? So then, how do you know who's right? The ten commandments were pretty straight up, why would God deem it necessary to give us only ten and leave the rest up to an "opportunity to think for ourselves?" Especially since God knows "there is none righteous,no not one, none who seeks God."

So far your answer seems to be that confusion is Gods way of promoting free thought. (there really is no sarcasm in that, it honestly looks that way to me).

p.s. your answer to DagoodS re there being a difference between eating with a sinner and having them as a companion seems a real stretch to me. When you read the portions of scripture in question, the pharisees were noting that Jesus was eating with sinners. These people were following Him around. Jesus' reply was that's who He came to be with, the "well don't need a physician."

Rich said...

Paul I think you are on to something here, God didn't just want to leave such things up to opinion. In the old and new testament he was speaking to prophets to let us know of his will. Many times the prophet would go before God to ask him what to do in certain situations. The 10 commandments were given in this fashion as well as the law of moses. This is the method of knowing GOds will, he reveals it to a prophet who holds special rights and keys in this life to speak for God. For God to retain all the qualities christianity claims he has this would have to continue today. There are many new problems and situations to be dealt with that are not given solutions in the bible. The bible is not the complete end all be all words from God. These problems including the one you outlined here would be answered through a living prophet. That is how God directed his people before. We are too subjective and opinionated to be left to are own to figure things out. This being the case there would be thousands of different religions and ideas on every aspect of the gospel. So in answer to your quetion
"My question was (and is), using your method, what is Gods will in the case that I posed?"
it can't be done that way and be the will of God. Not entirely anyway. The should be some guidlines set up to deal with situations in general and then each case studied nad decided one at a time as all situations are unique. As is each persons trials that are faced.
A person who engages in homosexuality would be disfellowshipped or excommnicated from my faith. But then that still doesn't release anyone in that faith of their responsability to befriend and give whatever help they can to that person. It is up to the person to decide if they want to reinstate their membership and continue, that is their choice. If they want to try again then it is up to me to accept them for who they are and offer help, if not it is still up to me to accept them for who the are and offer help. And I mean any help needed just as I would a neighbor.
As for Adam and Eve, if they hadn't sinned we wouldn't be here. Think about it they were wlking around naked and it never occured to them that this might be a problem until the ate the fruit. They didn't know right from wrong, good from evil, they were innocent and would have remained that way indefinitly.

Jeremy said...

I can answer your question about the gay guys, but I wasn’t there. There are so many factors that go into that type of a situation I’m not sure I would be qualified to give an opinion. The people that were involved with the situation (the two men, wife, children, church, etc) have a front row seat and can better understand if these two guys are sincere or not. I don’t have that luxury.

I don’t think there is a set way to deal with every situation in other words I don’t think I could make a definitive statement like in every gay relationship this is exactly what God expects you to do. I think I agree with Rich on that point. As Jesus and Paul (Bible) point out on several occasions a part of Christianity takes place in the mind. What are our motives in any given situation that we may experience? It is impossible for me to truly know the motives of anyone other than myself and sometimes that’s even a little sketchy.

If Adam and Eve hadn’t have sinned what would life have been like? I think God knew what was going to happen before he created the earth so that scenario isn’t even a possibility.

Paul asked, “What does ascertaining independent truth have to do with opinion?”

My opinion is that the truth that is discussed in the New Testament is referring to the truth of Jesus. It isn’t talking about the truth on every single issue that may affect our lives. I believe we have to pay for the mistakes of others. Even if I didn’t believe in the Bible I would agree with that statement. My daughter gets pregnant at 15 and has no education, the boyfriend took off so who is stuck with her mistake? There is no right or wrong answer to solving this problem. It just is what it is.

I could almost guarantee that others would come up with different answers than I would. Does this mean that it is God’s fault for not laying before us an exact step-by-step process to deal with this mess? You say yes and I say no. You say God should provide us with every possible answer to every possible question. I say that God has given us enough answers to do a little bit of work on our own to come up with our own answers based on the foundation given to us.

It’s not so much that I think God uses confusion to promote free thought, but if God were to give us exact guidelines on how to proceed with every situation his Bible would fill libraries. Even if God provided us a set pattern to interpret the Bible and all the answers to deal with any situation that might come up humans would still disagree with one another as situations arose. God sending a modern day prophet or providing us with more answers isn’t going to solve our problems because there will always be this human factor. And we are all fallible.

paul said...

Jeremy and Rich,

I'm trying to answer this from home, I usually do this from work....thus the weekend lag. I have an Apple computer, so the display part of this is a little weird , hope what I put out isn't equally so.

Jeremy, I'm not sure you do agree with Rich (again, not sure). At one point Rich does sort of answer the question, but even still, not as an individual, rather he attributes the answer as being from his "faith."
'A person who engages in homosexual behavior would be disfellowshipped or excommunicated from my faith."

It does seem to me that by the way you (Jeremy) are answering, you are saying that homosexuality may be okay in some situations? Depending on whether "these guys are sincere?"

Rich, you don't seem to have that option in your faith, since apparently somewhere/somehow the conclusion has been reached that "homosexual behavior" is wrong meriting "excommunication." Still, that doesn't mean you are realeased from "responsability to befriend and help...", which does seem to contradict the scripture that DagoodS noted above (I Cor. 5:9-10) directing one not to keep company with the "sexually immoral."

So, trying to keep it simple. Rich seems to believe that homosexuality is wrong, shouldn't be "acted on," and doing so is cause for "excommunication." Rich, you seem to indicate that a prophet might be necessary to determine this, but I'm not sure. You did say the Bible isn't the "end all," so, how did you get your answer on this one?

Jeremy, you seem to believe that one determines Gods will by "reading the Bible and looking at the external evidence?" You seem to believe the answer to this particular question can go either way? i.e., there is no definitive answer from God that homosexual acts are wrong but the "sincerity" of those in such a relationship is part of the equation? You don't seem to think that unity, outside of salvation, is important or possible? That does seem to condradict the idea of you being a part of a body that's supposed to work in conjunction (unity?) with other members of a body? That is, Christians are not stand alone units but members of one another carrying out Gods will?
Jeremy and Rich are the two Christians responding to this post. Two people, and just two people, cannot agree on Gods will. Wasn't DagoodS original point that God could have cleared this up by giving clear guidance? One way or another? God doesn't have to put it all in a book, He's God after all, He can come up with any way He wants.

With no way to substantiate and define that what you say or believe is indeed God, how can you say you believe in God?

Jeremy said...

Have you ever looked in the eyes of a pet? Have you ever studied a flower? Have you ever watched and studied the habits of any of the wide variety of birds that cover our little planet? Have you ever thought about the insignificance of a human in comparison to the universe?

Well Paul this is how I see it. We disagree that there is even remotely any evidence that might point towards the possibility of a God. We also disagree whether or not difference of opinion constitutes a God problem or man problem.

I asked something a few days ago and I wonder now how you would respond.

“How do I know I’m not deluded? Faith. I freely admit that I can not prove beyond a shadow of a doubt that God exists. So I keep searching for the hard concrete proof that God exists or God doesn’t exist. That is what attracted me to this website. I wanted to know what you (and the group here) believe in case I am being deluded.

How do you know you’re not being deluded? Surely you have some belief, right? If yes, can you prove to me with 100% certainty that your beliefs are the truth?”

I would also like to take this series of thoughts one step further if I may. Do you agree with every belief that JH or John Lotus believes? Do you think there is any confusion with the interpretation of your belief system? Does every person that is honestly and sincerely searching for the truth end up at the same conclusion?

paul said...

Hi Jeremy,

Sure I've looked into the eyes of a pet and studied the flower, but I didn't honestly see Jesus in my dogs eyes. So have Buddhists, Hindus, Mormons, Baptists, the list goes on forever. Each one will draw you a different picture of who God is. It's the process of connecting these things to a Judeo-Christian God, how you specifically define who God is, this is where it gets confusing, for you and anyone else. No one can agree on who God is or how it's known who He is or how one knows what God thinks and feels on a given subject (like the one I gave for instance). Even if you try to simplify this and say it's only about salvation, you'll get different opinions on that one: once saved always saved vs. losing ones salvation. Is baptism necessary for salvation? Some say yes, some say no. It is your duty as a Christian to preach the gospel and make disciples of all people, so how does one know which one of you to believe? My dogs eyes don't tell me these things.

I never said there isn't "any evidence that might point towards the possibility of a God." I don't know enough one way or the other to reach such a conclusion...i.e., my eyes are open. Remember, this site is about "Debunking Christianity" and even more specifically fundamentalism. So it's a pretty specific God we're talking about here. So far here, I do see a "God problem." Christians seem to think their God wants them to follow Him, yet no one seems to be able to find Him so they can follow. Christianity seems more a game of hide and seek.

You know you are not deluded because of faith? Which kind of faith? There are two kinds that I see in the Bible. There's the faith where you believe because Jesus appears to you and says touch my hands and side that were pierced, or then there's the other faith that says blessed are those who believe having not seen. It seems to me there is more opportunity for delusion with the second type of faith, especially when you start defining who God is.
Jeremy, this blog is about debunking christianity, not about debunking pauls beliefs...that's a whole different subject. However, it doesn't alter the problems with christianity to say "oh yeah, you have problems to." No doubt it's true, but we're occupied with discovering the problems with christianity on this blog, no? Not chosing the lesser or two evils.

Jeremy said...

Paul – I understand that this blog is primarily devoted to “debunking Christianity” however I have seen posts on this site regarding Islam, Judaism, reincarnation, etc. and I assumed from these posts that any belief system was open for the chopping block.

You mention “I don't know enough one way or the other to reach such a conclusion...i.e., my eyes are open.” Your eyes can be open while still accepting certain evidences as pieces of the truth. Simply because people presume that there is a God (a God regardless of religious affiliation) based on external Biblical (or any other religious text) evidence doesn’t mean their eyes are closed.

My point about asking you about your beliefs was twofold. One I really want to know what you believe. What kind of faith do you have? Perhaps there is truth in some other belief (faith) rather than a belief (faith) in God. It is easy for a website to claim that God is non existent, but what alternative(s) do you provide (I realize now that this isn’t the point of this website)?

Secondly I find it interesting that people blame God, in this case the Christian God, for confusion when outside of any religion there is confusion everywhere. Confusion seems to go hand in hand with humanity regardless if God is involved or not. It’s a valid argument to say hey look at those non-Christians. They’re just as confused as we seem to be over here. Is their confusion also God’s fault? Or could it be because each individual has the ability to think and rationalize for themselves?

Debunk Christianity or any other faith that you want, but at some point it seems reasonable to draw some conclusions about something. It is important to look at the world around us and make a determination from all the evidence. It is also important not to rip out a piece of the puzzle and say ok this element stands by itself. We aren’t going to look at this element in the context of life and all the other evidence that we have collected. The truth is that if you are going to honestly search for the truth you have to open your mind to any possibility. I understand that this isn’t the point of “Debunking Christianity” and perhaps my expectations were set to high. I thought that if the site was going to debunk anything it would at least offer an alternative (I did find an alternative faith on Joe Holeman’s personal website, http://www.ministerturnsatheist.org/ and perhaps I need to read more of his writings there). That’s my fault for assuming. I understand that there are inconsistencies in every religion ever known to man and I knew that before I started reading the articles submitted to this site. I was just looking for another piece of the puzzle. I read the following post and now I better understand the purpose of this site. Thanks for reiterating that.

http://debunkingchristianity.blogspot.com/2006/05/what-is-my-motivation-in-debunking.html

Thanks for your comments and as always I look forward to reading your thoughts.

paul said...

Jeremy,
Good point about seeing subjects other than fundamental christianity. I have no problem discussing my beliefs, just not sure this is the forum, i.e., I do try to keep to the subject the original poster submits. Feel free to email me if you'd like.

My comments ending with the statement "my eyes are open" were a response to your presumption that "we disagree that there is even remotely any evidence that might point towards the possibility of a God." (whew, that was a mouthful). There was no implication that your eyes are closed.

Re: "my beliefs," again, feel free to email me. I'm here to consider, question and expose what may be false about christianity, esp. fundamental christianity. It's to easy to go off on rabbit trails otherwise.

I don't think most of the posters here actually "blame the christian God" for confusion or anything else. I think most here don't believe in God that they should or could blame HIm. The point they make is the contradictions in the belief...i.e., "if the christian God is this, then why this." If God is a God of order, then why the confusion, etc.

Jeremy, on this particular post, I believe the subject was confusion in christianity. I think DagoodS did a great job (as usual) laying out the different angles, many of the responses have been a tautology. I know I tried to use a specific example to demonstrate the confusion that results in when christians determine Gods will, thoughts. That was the point of this exercise and I think it has been amply demonstrated.

Jeremy said...

DagoodS – Thanks again for the thought provoking article.

Paul – I couldn’t find your email address under your profile but thanks for the discussion.

All of you here that disagree with me kept your comments above board and free from personal attacks. I appreciate that and it speaks highly of your integrity and honesty. I look forward to other discussions.

Rich said...

Thanks for the good discussion. The most important point here to me is that if God wantred to clear up confusion among his followers wouldn't he just speak to someone, a prophet, to achieve this goal? He did that throughout the bible except for when Christ himself was here. I will agree though that even that alone won't completely clear up confusion because not everyone would accept this prophet as the single God mouthpiece to us. This is evident even from the bible writings and contadictions there.
So for as to where I get my info on how to handle this situation posted here is from my church president or prophet.
I was answering this post as to what my religion does to handle the posted scenario and I am not in a position in my church to deal with these things so I answered as to what these people who are dealing with them would do. You did seem to understand my beliefs on homosexuality.
I know alot of people don't believe we need a prphet anymore. If God is everything christianity claims him to be he should still be as concerned with us as he was with biblical people. He has a plan for our salvation and wants all to succeed in returning to him and not end up in hell. This being true he should still be concerned enough with our well being to instruct us on current issues. To me if this isn't true then what is said by athiest would be true. An uncaring God would just let the confusion reign and hope that somehow people would figure things out, if not to hell for eternity of burning and suffering. It really doesn't sound like the God I believe in.

Anonymous said...

I stumbled on this site. Or maybe God led me here. I will pray for you non believers. You are all lost souls