“Blasphemy? Oh, no—I’ll have the other dish.”


Wandering on the limited world of the internet, one can stumble across The Blasphemy Challenge where a person is invited to “damn yourself to hell” by uttering certain guttural sounds. Specifically “I deny the Holy Spirit.” (This challenge claims to be based on Mark 3:29, although a reading of the context would indicate that is an inaccurate reading of what constitutes blasphemy of the Holy Spirit.)

Be that as it may, Evangelical Christianity certainly holds to the proposition that a person can perform an act that will damn them to hell. Whether saying a certain phrase is enough is up for debate.

I ponder the opposite end of the spectrum. Could Christians develop a video site in which people utter a certain guttural sound and “propel yourself to heaven”?

Or are words enough to damn us, but not enough to save us?


My brother hit a deer last fall. Although he had never done so in his life, he decided to butcher out the meat. What to do? Simple—download the instructions from the internet. And by carefully following those directions he was successful.

The other day I was reading how to tear apart and fix my television. Apparently if one is willing to pay a spy enough money, they can obtain the directions on how to build a nuclear bomb. We can find instructions for about anything.

But, what Christianity claims is the single most important decision of our earthly lives, we are left fumbling for directions on how to do it correctly.

Starting slow and simple…

“If you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.” Rom. 10:9-10

Two straightforward steps: 1) Believe God raised Jesus from the dead and 2) acknowledge it out loud. Clearly it cannot mean an oral proclamation. Any person who was mute could therefore never be saved. I have never met (although there is bound to be one!) a person that claimed that the inability to speak would bar a person from being a Christian.

It is unfathomable to me that someone would be convinced to the point of belief that God raised Jesus from the dead, but then refuse to acknowledge it. And if they had the ability to speak, it seems even more unlikely that they would believe, but refuse to utter the words. (Kinda the point of the Blasphemy Challenge, isn’t it? That atheists believe enough to the point that saying the words is meaningless? To continue…)

Yet it says what it says, so let’s take it at face value. Two steps. Speak and believe.

Is speaking really that significant? “Jesus is God, Lord, and Savior.” There. I said it. But I didn’t really mean it, and everyone probably knows that. Just saying it is not enough. “Jesus had an unclean spirit from Satan.” (Which is closer to Blasphemy of the Holy Spirit.) Did I cancel out my previous statement? Again, the words are not enough; again I didn’t mean it.

The focus on the necessary steps is belief—not proper enunciation. The author of Acts also focuses on belief as being the prerequisite of being saved. Acts. 16:30-31

According to Christianity, we already believe there is a God. Rom. 1:18-21. In fact, we don’t just believe it, we know it! Looks as if we are halfway home. Already knowing there is a God certainly helps—the only thing left to do is figure out which human portrayal of god(s) is the correct one.

Honestly—growing up in America—how hard is it to believe in a Jesus that was raised from the dead? We have churches on every corner. Jesus on bumper stickers, billboards, boxes, bags, bandages, bed sheets, books, beads, bottles, bracelets, and bandwagons. We have Good Friday, Easter and Christmas. Everywhere we are bombarded with the image and story of Jesus.

To believe in a God but NOT Jesus would take a minor miracle. For many, we were raised in an environment that Jesus being raised from the dead was such a basic fact, we hardly had to process the fact. Like being asked “What is 2+2?” our brains didn’t even have to blink to produce the answer. “Was Jesus raised from the dead by God?” “Sure! Ask me a tougher question, like the square root of 25.”

We believed, we confessed. We’re in, right? Shoot the scene, record the sound and that’s a wrap.

Well…not quite.

Now we start to get caveats. Exceptions. Further requirements. In the legal world we have a saying, “What the large print giveth, the small print taketh away.” We’ve just read the large print. Apparently the small print makes this instructions more complicated.

For some, they add the caveat of election. One must be predestined to be saved. Oh, they create fancy explanations and long words about how only the predestined have the ability to believe in the first place, and some attempt to maintain freewill by the one-two punch of “paradox” and “God is mysterious” but in the end this exception; this requirement says that God had to pre-select the believers first. (Rom. 8:29, Eph. 1:5) Apparently belief and speaking is only a part of the process.

Others claim we must continue to believe. Endure to the end. (Mrk. 13:13, Mt. 10:22; 24:13) If we become unconvinced, then our previous statements are for naught. Which raises the same question as to the unpardonable sin. If speaking, and believing something at one point condemns a person, regardless if they later change their mind, why can’t speaking and believing save someone, regardless if they change their mind?

“I believe God Raised Jesus from the dead”
”You’re O.K.”

“I do not believe Jesus existed, but there is a God.”
“Well, you are not O.K. Try to believe back in Jesus.

“I do not believe in a God.”
“You have some issues. Try to believe back in a God”

“I believe back in Jesus.”
“Good thing, we were worried.”

“Ulp. Nope. After further study, back to no god.”
“We still will pray for you.”

“Hey. Did you notice that Jesus had the spirit of Satan?”
“Oh, NO! Up ‘till now we had hope. But now that you have uttered those immortal immoral words, you are doomed! DOOMED, I say!”

(Oddly, if belief is a prerequisite of committing Blasphemy of the Holy Spirit, an atheist couldn’t do it. Since they don’t believe in a Holy Spirit. Unless one claims under Romans 1 they secretly do, which means they have completed ½ of Romans 10. Which is it? Do we believe or not?)

Still others put the prerequisite of baptism as an additional instruction on being saved. (Mark 16:16) Or must show a sign of being baptized by the spirit. (1 Cor. 12:13) I’ve debated a fellow that claimed a person who is saved never sins. (1 John 3:6)

Jesus put an interesting spin on how a person obtains eternal life in Matt. 25:31-46. Doesn’t say a thing about belief. All he talked about was feeding and clothing the poor as well as encouraging the lonely. (See Also Mt. 19:21 and Luke 19:8) Of course, in the later Gospel of John, with a more advanced view of Christ, we slip back to the idea of belief. (John 3:15-17) And that those who believe would receive the Holy Spirit. (John 7:18)

Which leaves us back at the beginning—is belief, with acknowledgement enough? After reviewing the Blasphemy Challenge, I wonder this—what would Christians propose we video in order to demonstrate the opposite—that a person is saved?

It seems the infidel has it easy—all we have to do is record the right words. Specifically, “I do not believe in a god” and this is enough to condemn us. But if we could record anything, even some measurement of “belief”—is there anything a person could record that would be sufficient to say they are saved?

24 comments:

Prup (aka Jim Benton) said...

DagoodS:
Your posts are usually among the best here, but this one pushed my pedantry button, hard.
You say "To believe in a God but NOT Jesus would take a minor miracle." There are many groups of Americans who do just that. The largest group is called "Jews." However there are also Muslims born in America -- often of Christian parents -- who believe that Jesus was a prophet, but not Divine. There are also many other religions who have American adherents. (And of course there are many Unitarians here.)

I also point out that some Christian, non-Evangelical groups, most specifically Catholics, who do not believe that belief in Jesus is sufficient to save oneself, but that one's works are equally important -- this after all was one of the key points causing the Reformation. Whether 'works alone' is sufficient to save one -- from this point of view -- is debatable. Some Catholics retain the idea of 'Outside the Church there is no salvation,' though most of them would argue that this implies that the person has been exposed to Christianity, and would accept the likelihood of pre-Christians being saved. (The early Church, in many cases even accepted a "Saint Aristotle" for example.)
Others would argue it is only a deliberate rejection of the Church that would damn you, not a sincere disbelief in it.
(In fact, the final step in my deconversion was a Priest, in fact my religion teacher in a Catholic High School, saying "We are Catholics for one reason only, because we believe Catholicism is true. If you don't believe it, you are wrong, and even sinful, in calling yourself a Catholic."

DagoodS said...

Prup (aka Jim Benton),

I was being a bit facetious about it being a “minor miracle.” You are quite correct that there are a variety of religions that do not hold to Jesus being God. As this particular blog focuses on Evangelical Christianity, I tend to equally focus on that particular group.

And, there are non-Evangelical groups that hold to a variety of positions on salvation. (Even within Evangelical groups, there are a variety of positions.)

What interests me, is how one can never be quite explicit as to a person that is saved. People are quite definite as to those who are not (your Priest being a good example.) But a little gray as to those who are.

I wondered, among the variety of theistic beliefs, what posters would say “qualifies” a person as being saved? What happens that at 12:02 a.m. they are not, but 12:03 they are? What did they expect to happen, and did it?

If it was childish…well…the only thing I can say in my defense is that I am human. I (and this is just my personal opinion) have a hard time taking both the Blasphemy Challenge, or the resulting broo ha ha very seriously, and perhaps that came through inadvertently.

SocietyVs said...

I think this is a great discussion since I am wrestling with a lot of the same issues. To be honest, I haven't taken a great long look at the idea of blasphemy in the teachings of Jesus - but I get what is being said by Dagoods - and I have to agree with quite a bit of it.

"But if we could record anything, even some measurement of “belief”—is there anything a person could record that would be sufficient to say they are saved?" (Dagoods)

True. Even the Christian communties wrestle with this issue (as you have pointed out in this blog). As a Christian I gave up wrestling with it - assurance or not - whatev's - there is just no concensus out there.

But I dig the point about it being so easy for an atheist to condemn himself - and why is this even fair - since he could very well change his mind later on - even after a 'blasphemy challenge'. I think no one can judge anyone on these issues - who can speak of the measure of someone's intentions? We can question those intentions but to know the depth of another person's intentions - would be a lie on anyone's part. Top that off - why exclude someone from a belief system if they so want to choose it?

I actually chat on the RRS site and talk with many an atheist about life in general - and I like their brutal honesty - which is hard to find in Christian circles. I like the focus on logic also since this is something also hard to find in church circles. I appreciate the atheist contribution personally - and the dialogue. Thanks Dagoods, excellent blog.

jdlongmire said...

I ponder the opposite end of the spectrum. Could Christians develop a video site in which people utter a certain guttural sound and “propel yourself to heaven”?

Or are words enough to damn us, but not enough to save us?


Excepting the "guttural sound", by which I suppose you are characterizing language - You do realize that this exactly what Christians do?

"If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart God raised him from the dead, then you shall be saved."

"Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand."

"propel" is a temporally subjective term - in the context of Eternity - we do...

http://www.challengetheblasphemy.com/

-JD

paul said...

Hi Dagoods,

I don't know if we can get (salvation) on video. I think salvation is another one of those "mysteries" you mention. I can't get away from Romans 10:10: "For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified...." But then, any good christian knows that "the heart is deceitful above all things, desperately wicked, who can know it." So, how can any christian even know they are saved, let alone video it for the rest of us?

Kyle said...

Paul said -
"So, how can any christian even know they are saved, let alone video it for the rest of us?"

As a Christian I have an answer for this. Salvation is allegedly, by us, a Divine act that involves a transformational change at the level of the spirit of man. This supposed change is the turning of the dipsosition of the heart from rebellion against God to love and worship of the same. I am a drop in an ocean of folks who will claim this happened in their lives. The following scripture may be helpful for you to understand this claim.

"These things I have written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, so that you may know that you have eternal life." 1 John 5:13

The tests given by John throughout his first letter are for the purpose of helping new believers become sure of their salvation. To "know" that they have eternal life. The scriptures give a number of tests which I will summarize here:
1) Orthodox belief about Jesus and the resurrection (which was already mentioned)
2) Faith without trust in personal works to add to salvation (Eph. 2:8-10)
3) Works demonstrating true faith such as James mentions in chapter 2 of his epistle.

These works, aka fruit, are the evidence that someone is truly a saved person. These can be imitated so someone who appears outwardly good is not a guaranteed saved person. The true test is inside the person in terms of their motives. The motive of the true Christian for charity is to show who God is and honor him for it and not for earning salvation or showcasing one's own 'holiness'.

God's best to you,
Kyle

DagoodS said...

Kyle,

Thanks for your comment.

Kyle: This supposed change is the turning of the dipsosition of the heart from rebellion against God to love and worship of the same.

These are nice Christian sentiments, but what do they really mean? What, exactly, is a “heart” that is rebellious toward God?

I presume you would state I am currently in that condition by being an atheist. (Don’t worry, absolutely no offense taken.) But investigating myself, with the best of my ability, I do not find myself in any rebellion toward any God.

First, I would have to know what God I am rebelling against. I would have to believe it existed. For example, would you consider yourself in rebellion against the Greek pantheon of Gods? Of course not! Those were merely tales of humans portraying god(s) in stories. You do think they exist, and therefore the thought of rebelling against them is laughable.

In the same way, I would need to know a certain God existed, before I could accept or reject it. It is possible, if I became convinced of a certain type of God, one that required human sacrifice, that I would rebel against it to the best of my ability. It is possible if I became convinced of another type of God, I would love and worship it. The key is finding that right God.

Hard to rebel, without even knowing which God concept of the multitude that humans portray, is correct.

Secondly, what exactly is “rebel.”? Is it violating its commandments? Well…no…Christians do that. Is it refusing to submit to its authority? That one puzzles me, because I am uncertain how a mere human could NOT submit to the authority of a God. Further, it puzzles me that a God would be so thin-skinned that it gave a cat’s whisker over a human’s rebel or worship of it.

And how does one “love” a God? The Bible clearly states this is done by keeping God’s commandments. It is interesting you cited 1 John 5:13. If you continue to 5:18, it says, “Whoever is born of God does not sin.” In line with 1 John 3:6-8. It would seem that loving God entails not sinning. Do you sin? If you do, then you do not love God.

Kyle: These works, aka fruit, are the evidence that someone is truly a saved person. These can be imitated so someone who appears outwardly good is not a guaranteed saved person. The true test is inside the person in terms of their motives. The motive of the true Christian for charity is to show who God is and honor him for it and not for earning salvation or showcasing one's own 'holiness'.

They may be “evidence” but are you saying they are a requirement as well? Is Rom. 10:9-10 not enough? One must then go out and do good works to demonstrate it as well?

And how long? See, the contributors of this blog (I’ll bet) fulfilled all these requirements. We assented with our minds and mouths. We had resulting love and worship for what we thought was God. We performed good works with the full motivation of doing it for God.

Now, looking back, we see it was not true. Did all that not count? It is only what you do at the end, not in the middle?

paul said...

Hi Kyle,

You wrote:
___________________________________
"The true test is inside the person in terms of their motives."
___________________________________


This seems to take us full circle back to the scripture that the "heart is deceitful above all things, desperately wicked, who can 'know' it?"

I imagine the Haggards and Swaggarts and even King Davids of the world were/are pretty convinced of their salvation. I'm not picking on these guys, they're just a point of reference, I consider them regular people like you and me. "Transformational change...?" I see no indication of a transformed life. Nor, would it seem, could they site a transformed life to demonstrate salvation to their own self. Yet, these are a drop in an ocean of folks who will claim this happened in their lives.

My question was: "how can any christian know they are saved, let alone video it for the rest of us?"

You site 1 John 5:13. Belief and knowledge are two different things. Yet, people of most faiths will equate their own particular belief with knowledge while pointing out the fallacy of someone else who does this. It depends on the belief and who's arguing it.

1)"Orthodox belief about Jesus" is not "knowing" that one is saved, it's believing.
2)"Faith without trust in personal works to add to salvation" is still "faith" and not knowledge.
3)"Works demonstrating true faith" are still works demonstrating faith, not knowledge.

"Works, aka fruit" can be evidence that a person truly believes. Flying a passenger jet into a building can be evidence of true belief but it's not evidence that the belief is true.

Kyle said...

Let me lay out what appears to be the disagreement. Sorry if my post is long, it takes more words to respond to an argument than to offer a challenge.

My claim:
The bible and people who follow it testify it is possible to have a high degree of certainty (aka "know") that one is saved. God grants this knowledge as part of salvation so that saved people will know who they are.

Opposing claim:
There are unsaved people who "think" they are saved but are not. Therefore, no one can be truly sure and so the biblical claim is inconsistent.

My response:
False assurance is a phenomenon that needs to be explained to establish the consistency of the Christian claim. Consistency is required for something to be true, but not all consistent beliefs are true. How is it possible for one to be misled and another sure of their salvation? There is something ontologically different (born again spirit) in a saved person that results in the kind of life that bears fruit. All truly saved people will produce some of this fruit: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, and self control (Gal. 5:22-23). These things do not come about from trying harder to be good but from God who imparts these virtues through his Spirit which he places inside the believer. The saved person will find that even when they sin and fail to follow God there is a hunger to return to him and live a holy life. The end result is that no one should presume to be saved. Those who have received the grace of God in salvation will demonstrate these things. This concern ought to motivate a genuine believer to repent of their sin and follow Jesus and a non-believer to not be complacent and think they are OK when they are still under God's judgement.

John 8:31-32 So Jesus was saying to those Jews who had believed Him, "If you continue in My word, then you are truly disciples of Mine; and you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free."

But this is a side issue of the main claim. Jesus is God and was resurrected. If this holds true then God is capable of allowing a saved person to know with certainty their status with him.

Kyle said...

About the issue of rebellion...

A definitive passage comes from Pauls definition of the Gospel in Romans 1. The whole chapter is relevant to this discussion but I will be brief.
Romans 1:18-19 "For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men who suppress the truth in unrighteousness. For that which is known about God is evident within them, for God made it evident to them."
If I may restate in my own words: All human beings have an inborn knowledge of God that includes knowledge of the law. They choose to violate their conscience with regard to the law. They feel guilty and suppress the knowledge they have. Eventually they lose the fact they ever had true knowledge. This is what is frightening because people come to a point where they are totally blinded to this truth and sin freely not realizing the coming judgement. I was at that point of totally denying God and sinning freely before I ever repented and believed. I am amazed looking back how I could not see it but I recognize that the devil uses sin to keeps us from seeing the truth.

It is rebellion for a Christian to break the law. But to understand the use of the language in the bible one must distinguish between someone who commits a sin versus someone who is characterized by that sin. A Christian can rebel but will never be a rebel by nature again because they are born again. A Christian can lie or steal without being a liar or thief by nature. These behaviors in the bible are attributed to the 'old man' or sinful flesh which remains within the mortal humanity of the Christian. This is the heart that is deceitful above all else and desperately wicked. At death, the flesh is removed and a new body is given. Only then is the newly born spirit and body in perfect harmony with the law of God resulting in sinlessness. The bible makes plain that Christians sin but it should not dominate them to the point that they stop trying to overcome it altogether. If they quit wholesale, they were a false professor.

If you accuse this as being liable for license to sin then I am in good company. Paul receieved the same accusation.

Kyle said...

My recommendation for examing the truth of Christianity is to focus on Jesus himself. Also, asking God for help in believing if it is true is a good thing to do. Looking at Jesus' weak and sinful disciples to see if they seem holy will not tell you if Christianity is true or false. Christians ought to be loving and kind but God help us we fail a whole lot.

Mark 2:17 And hearing this, Jesus said to them, "It is not those who are healthy who need a physician, but those who are sick; I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners."

Peace and joy to you,
Kyle

Shygetz said...

Kyle,

Perhaps I am misreading you, but your claim about salvation and "fruit" (man, that just sounds weird saying it) seems to be interpretable in only two ways.

A.) That only saved people can consistently exhibit the traits of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, and self control, or

B.) That these fruits can be exhibited regardless of religious beliefs, but if they occur in someone who thinks they are saved, they are indicative of true salvation.

Interpretation (A) is just false. I know many people who are not Christian who demonstrate all of these traits. On the average, Jews, Hindus, and Muslims I've known have borne more "fruit" than the self-identified Christians. Your statement that there is something ontologically different in "saved" people suggest that this is the interpretation you believe in (but I hope I'm wrong). So, if this is the interpretation you mean, I suggest you get out more and cure your ignorance of other cultures.

I think you meant something closer to interpretation (B). But to me, this interpretation is inconsistent. See, first there is the idea that "fruit" is not dependent on the "spiritual" state of a person (i.e. a person who is not saved can exhibit "fruit"). But then, if you think you are saved, and you exhibit "fruit", then you are really saved. What if a pagan person who exhibited "fruit" then underwent a false conversion to Christianity? According to interpretation (B), he would then cease producing "fruit", and become an asshole, indicating that he (and society in general) was better off when he thought he was a pagan.

My recommendation for examing the truth of Christianity is to focus on Jesus himself.

This would be a lot easier if you and your co-religionists would stop quoting Paul and other people guilty of varying amounts of literary assholery. You want to focus on Jesus, pull a partial Jefferson and throw the other crap out of your Bible.

DagoodS said...

Kyle,

I think you are saying that Rom. 10:9-10 is NOT enough. That it is a combination of belief AND fruits of the spirit. Is that correct?

Frankly, much of what you say continues to be nice sentiments, but are definitions without distinctions. There is not meat on the bones; just bare claims. For example, you state:

Kyle: A Christian can rebel but will never be a rebel by nature again because they are born again. A Christian can lie or steal without being a liar or thief by nature.

Can you explain (not merely assert) the difference between a Christian who lies and a non-Christian who lies? Why is the first “not by nature” and the second is? How do we determine the “nature” of something? By what it does!

The nature of a cat is that it meows. The nature of a dog is that it barks. The nature of a thief is that they steal. Simply making the claim, “Oh, no—that person is a Christian, so when they steal, it is not part of their nature, but when a non-believer steals it is,” frankly is not very compelling.

Worse, what do you do about a non-believer that does not steal as compared to a believer that does? Whose nature is that of a thief?

You claim a Christian can rebel, but not be a rebel by nature. I am not rebelling. Whose nature is that of a rebel?

I hope you see that these are nice phrases, but once we unpack them, they lose their teeth.

Kyle: I was at that point of totally denying God and sinning freely before I ever repented and believed. I am amazed looking back how I could not see it but I recognize that the devil uses sin to keeps us from seeing the truth.

O.K. But can you recognize that everyone is not like you? That there are people that come to the conclusion there is no God without even considering sin?

I hate to disappoint you, but I am not living the hedonistic lifestyle that apparently Romans 1 tells me I should. No orgies. No gay sex. No heartlessness. None of it.

Let me ask you something about Romans 1. On the one hand you have what you believe is a God telling you that I know there is a God. On the other, you have me telling you that I have searched the recesses of my mind, and there is no God-belief there.

Which one do you believe? Now, when I was in your shoes, I would have believed God over the non-believer, so I would expect you to as well. Which means I am either lying or deluding myself. (Again, no fear of offending me)

Taking that I am lying to myself or deluding myself—how do you propose to persuade me that I am? Or do you shrug and walk away? I reviewed the list of Romans 1. There is no indication there that I have fall headlong into non-god-belief to commit some acts. I have reviewed the fruits of the spirit. Even without the god-belief, I am able to exhibit them. (And you rightly recognize that non-believers do.)

So…how do you convince me that I am lying to myself or deluding myself?

Kyle said...

Shygetz said...

A.) That only saved people can consistently exhibit the traits of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, and self control, or

You miss the fact that I made it paramount that motives determine the goodness of an action, not the external appearance of some good. I did not say Christians are the only ones who exhibit the traits but rather have a motive to glorify Jesus.

Kyle said...

dagoods said-

I think you are saying that Rom. 10:9-10 is NOT enough. That it is a combination of belief AND fruits of the spirit. Is that correct?

Faith saves, period. But only faith of a certain kind. Genuine, lasting, faith that RESULTS in good works (fruits of the Spirit) that are performed with the motive to glorify Jesus. If someone says they have faith but have no good works they do not have true faith (see James 2).

dagoods said-

Can you explain (not merely assert) the difference between a Christian who lies and a non-Christian who lies? Why is the first “not by nature” and the second is? How do we determine the “nature” of something? By what it does!

The Christian's nature was changed by God at salvation so they are a new creation. 2 Cor. 5:17 "Therefore if any man is in Christ he is a new creation, the old things passed away, behold new things have come." The Christian still has the 'flesh' which is the remaining fallenness that stays with them until death. Sins originate in the fallen part of the Christian. They commit it but their spirit remains undefiled and constantly yearns for holiness and the glory of God. The non-Christian's sin comes from their fallen spirit and fallen humanity. No part of them yearns for holiness and the glory God.

Can I give you the detailed workings of the Christian mind so that you know precisely all the details of how the new spirit and the sinful flesh interact? No. The bible describes it as a war between the new soul and the old fallen humanity. I personally have experienced lots of conflicts because I have two sets of strong desires: one to obey Jesus which involves self sacrifice, pain at times, humiliation, and the other to satisfy some immediate selfish pleasure. Sinning is usually easier than following Jesus. When I sin I feel conviction to repent and ask God for forgiveness. Before I was saved I never felt strong desires to follow Jesus, worship him, or obey him. This is a new experience to me but it is real and I could never deny it.


O.K. But can you recognize that everyone is not like you? That there are people that come to the conclusion there is no God without even considering sin?

Except that disbelieving in the God who is evident to you from birth is a sin. Convincing oneself that God does not exist is driven by the sin to be autonomous from God. Did you notice the 'professing to be wise' part? That is the first part of becoming a 'fool'. The rest of the sins occur in different people in different ways but the rejection of God as ruler over your life is universal to sinners.

dagoods said-

So…how do you convince me that I am lying to myself or deluding myself?

My goal is modest. I want to point out the flaws in the attacks offered and clarify the Christian position. Also, interacting with people helps me to know them better and love them as individuals. I am praying for you. I leave the convincing up to the Holy Spirit.

DagoodS said...

Kyle,

I am sorry. It’s the Big Lie. First they convince you that you are worthless by using words such as “fallen” and “old flesh” and “depraved.” Then you are told the only way out of your predicament is to believe in Jesus. But not just any belief—REAL belief. Faith so strong that all you do is strive to do good works. If you aren’t doing good works, then the faith is not the right kind.

And, it is recognized that at times you will fail. You are told that you are warring with the old sin nature that lurks within. When the heathen sin, they do it because of their sin nature. When you sin, it is…well…hmm…because of a sin nature, but you have an additional nature. The “new creature” to which you referred.

So, as you point out, you work hard at having the right faith and demonstrating you have the right faith by performing fruits of the spirit. And, when you sin, you work hard at not sinning anymore.

Do you see who is doing all the work?

Then, if you dare step back and question as to the viability of some of the claims of Christianity—THAT is a sin. As you put it, the sin of being “autonomous from God.” Doubting or questioning as to the strength of your faith—THAT becomes a sin.

I hope your interaction here helps you know us better. Because everything you have described us as heathens is not quite right, yet.

Kyle said...

Dagoods said -(Oh I just got it. Da Goods, you have the goods! Clever)

Faith so strong that all you do is strive to do good works. If you aren’t doing good works, then the faith is not the right kind.

Sometimes it is striving, sometimes it just comes naturally. For me I became immediately sensitive to any cursing or blasphemy right after salvation (odd since I used to do both). I quit cussing and there was no work involved. Now it may bother me some when others do it but I can deal with it. Some Christians, such as my wife, seem to excel in the areas of mercy and charity whereas I'm usually as tender as a brick without lots of effort. While there are immediate changes following salvation the rest of live is a process of becoming more holy.

The desire to be holy is critical because no Christian continuously does good works. But I have a peace that I am saved. I don't feel it's necessary to do my 'good work' today to prove to myself I'm saved. I trust that faith in Jesus has settled that. Now I want to please Him because that brings me joy. I see in myself the change and know that I am a new person.

Dagoods said -

Then, if you dare step back and question as to the viability of some of the claims of Christianity—THAT is a sin. As you put it, the sin of being “autonomous from God.” Doubting or questioning as to the strength of your faith—THAT becomes a sin.

I don't think it is a sin to carefully examing Christianity. Certain methods of picking at points of contention to find an excuse to reject it is sin. I think it all comes down to the will.

John 7:17 Jesus said, "If anyone is willing to do His will, he will know of the teaching, whether it is of God or whether I speak from Myself."

By the way, I like heathens! I want them all to be in heaven.

Kyle

punkatheistcomedian said...

Last night, Jesus came over, and ate my whole bag of Doritos. Then he laid on my couch and belched a lot. What a drag.

Heather said...

Hi, Kyle.

Just a few comments, pulled from some of your posts.

**Except that disbelieving in the God who is evident to you from birth is a sin. Convincing oneself that God does not exist is driven by the sin to be autonomous from God. ** What about the people who have never believed in God, period? It wasn't a matter of convincing themselves.

There are also those, and quite a few of them are the creators of this website, who found themselves losing faith, and flat-out pleaded with God to somehow show that He existed. They received no answer. They weren't trying to convince themselves that there was no God. It was the exact opposite.

**Faith saves, period** This is something that has always confused me, because that comes across as your faith in God saves you, not God Himself. The *only* way you are saved is by confessing your sins and asking Jesus to be your savior -- which means it is something you have to do to be saved.

**Genuine, lasting, faith that RESULTS in good works (fruits of the Spirit) that are performed with the motive to glorify Jesus** You realize that this can be seen as you aren't doing good works just b/c it's the right thing to do, but the motive is only to glorify God. Why can't the motive be just because it's the right thing to do?

Kyle said...

Heather,
Thanks for you comments.

>>What about the people who have never believed in God, period?

This is the crux of the issue. Did they or didn't they? The bible teaches that people know something about God from within themselves. Specifically they know (from Rom. 1:20):
1) His invisible attributes
2) His eternal power
3) divine nature
Now not all people know the same particulars of who God is. This is obvious. However, given these things about God a correct understanding in part can be formed about Him. This is commonly called General Revelation and does not contain the details of Special Revelation (the Bible, the Gospel). Men are accountable from General Revelation to obey the Law written on their hearts (Rom. 2:14-15). This is by the way the Christian explanation for all other conceptions of God. Humans suppress the true knowledge of God by sinful thinking and behavior and create God into a form of the creation: birds, animals, men, etc. (Rom 1:23) According to the bible we all sin, without exception, and it is from those sins which we must flee to Jesus for forgiveness and mercy instead of God's wrath and judgement. In addition to believing God's Word, one thing I see that convinces me that all people know about God and his Law is their sense of justice and feeling of guilt when they do something against their conscience. I don't believe morality comes from a 'social contract' and not God because children always cry for fairness when they are wronged. Atheists are outraged when someone 'wrongs' them and want justice just like everyone else. If there is no God, morality is relative and yours does not bind others' consciences, without force anyway.

>>**Faith saves, period** This is something that has always confused me...

I think the biblical definition may help clear up the confusion. Faith is trust in Jesus who saves you. Implicit in my statement that faith saves is that faith is placed in the proper object. Not anything defined as J-E-S-U-S but the real being who revealed himself as the Son of God in the Bible. But the kind of faith that saves is always accompanied by other activities: repentance, discipleship, obedience to God, etc. The important distinction is that while many activities accompany salvation, the only element that God considers in forgiving them is faith. Faith is an activity that involves the mind, will, and emotions but it is not a WORK in the biblical sense of satisfying the righteousness of the Law of God. All punishments due the sinner for violating the Law were taken humbly by Jesus in his death on the cross. Now by faith in Jesus and his works (not one's own) a person will be declared righteous (not guilty of sin) in the day of Judgement. Jesus is a wonderful God and Savior!

Kyle said...

In response to Heather's question:

>>You realize that this can be seen as you aren't doing good works just b/c it's the right thing to do, but the motive is only to glorify God. Why can't the motive be just because it's the right thing to do?

This is a great question that has profound implications about the nature of God and the Law. God created us and our desires to do good (from the image of God in us). When we do good things we are reflecting God's good nature. When a person denies God is the source of their goodness and claims it as their own then they are not being holy. This self righteousnes is called 'filthy rags' by God in the bible.

Anonymous said...

Kyle,

The reason why the motive can't be just because it's the right thing to do is because it doesn't glorify God when you do that. It's BETTER if your motive is to glorify God instead of "just because it's the right thing to do"

Heather said...

Hi, Kyle.

Thank you for your responses.

You and I are probably approaching 'sin' in a different way. The original meaning of the word was 'to miss the mark.' It's an archery term. When you take that in context of Paul saying we're all sinners, it can easily mean that until Jesus came, all were 'missing the mark' as to the true nature of God, and who God really is. Not that we're all horrible people.

**All punishments due the sinner for violating the Law were taken humbly by Jesus in his death on the cross.** Why is the sinner punished for following his/her nature? The Bible states that man is conceived in sin. Is it just to allow someone to be born to inherently sin, and then eternally punish that person? Even if you say that Jesus is the way out -- you're still left with people wondering why they're held accountable for behaving in a sinful way, if they were born to do so. You could argue that God wanted us to have free will -- but you're again left with people wondering why they were born inherently sinful. Never does evangelical Christianity say that we're born inherently good, or equally good or evil.

**and it is from those sins which we must flee to Jesus for forgiveness and mercy instead of God's wrath and judgement** Hmm. You and I would approach this differently, then. I don't see God's mercy and justice as opposing one another. Rather, I view God's 'wrath' as love. To a person who is unwilling to let go of something such as lust or greed, God's love would come across as wrath, because God hates those characteristics. If a parent punishes a five year old for stealing, the five year old may see the parent as wrathful. But the parent is acting out of love, in order to show wrong actions have consequences, and in order to correct the wrong behavior.

**According to the bible we all sin, without exception** Have you ever looked up the Old Testament verses that Paul uses to support that claim? Also, how would you account for John the Baptist's parents?

** When we do good things we are reflecting God's good nature. When a person denies God is the source of their goodness and claims it as their own then they are not being holy** So are you referring to this as an active denial of God? It also seems like you say here that one can only say they're good if saying, "I'm doing good works because God is good." Can someone ever say, "I do good works because I'm made in the image and likeness of God, and since He is good, I have goodness, too?"

**Faith is an activity that involves the mind, will, and emotions but it is not a WORK in the biblical sense of satisfying the righteousness of the Law of God.** This still seems like a contradiction to me, because the fundamental aspect that saves you is faith in Jesus -- which is something you do. Not 'work' on your part in terms of following the law,

To Anon --
**The reason why the motive can't be just because it's the right thing to do is because it doesn't glorify God when you do that**
Why? Why wouldn't doing a good work just because it's the right thing to do not glorify God, if God is your Creator? Wouldn't He design you to have good elements, such as doing the right thing because it's the right thing to do?

Shygetz said...

The bible teaches that people know something about God from within themselves. Specifically they know (from Rom. 1:20):
1) His invisible attributes
2) His eternal power
3) divine nature


And yet, people come up with so many different answers to the question of God. God only rewards the correct answer and visciously and eternally punishes the wrong ones, but he gives really crappy clues. Is this justice and mercy? Rigteous wrath? Is your idea of existence a metaphysical game of three card monte?

If a parent punishes a five year old for stealing, the five year old may see the parent as wrathful. But the parent is acting out of love, in order to show wrong actions have consequences, and in order to correct the wrong behavior.

Yes, but if that parent punishes his child by eternally burning him in a lake of fire, I would say that's going a smidgen too far.

The brand of theology that Kyle is repeating really burns me up, and did even before my deconversion. In it, God gets credit for EVERYTHING good, and people get the blame for EVERYTHING bad. If the something bad was obviously from God, then we must have deserved it somehow. If the person who was smitten obviously didn't deserve it (e.g. birth defects), then he is being punished for man's sinful nature (although why God decided to smite a baby with only a sinful nature and not an adult with both the sinful nature and real sin of his own remains a "mystery".)

For more on this topic, I refer you to this stunning documentary.