Where Does Your Faith Really Lie?

When you have a heart attack, do you go to church first or to the hospital? When your house is on fire with your family trapped inside, do you kneel and pray before or after you call the fire department? Most people, evangelicals and otherwise, answer these questions the same; those who don’t often see the ugly side of natural selection.

Here on Debunking Christianity, we spend hours and hours of our lives (cumulatively) debating and discussing the various ideas, values, and personal experiences that our faith (or lack thereof) imply. We craft our words with both art and craft, honing our arguments to fine points of logic or beautiful strokes of emotional appeal.

But talk is cheap.

When it comes to the truly important, urgent, and practical things in life, do you trust God to be your “very present help in trouble” (Psalm 46), or when you need present help in times of trouble do you go to your fellow humans?

The answer is obvious; when you need “very present help in trouble”, the number you call is 911, not the local church. Why? Is God unable to help you in your time of urgent need? Is He unwilling?

Or is it that, when the stakes are high, the matter urgent, and most importantly the consequences something you can actually see, is your faith in humankind greater than your faith in God?

I would argue that the answer is self-evident; you have faith in humankind, because you trust your experiences. Regardless of how many poetic Bible verses you read that promise God’s help in times of need, no matter how fervently you argue against atheists and heretics of all flavors, no matter how enthusiastically you knock on doors and witness to your fellow humans, when it comes to something urgent and real, you rely upon sinful, imperfect, and (in your view) downright impotent humankind.

Does this say something negative about the evangelical believer? I don’t think so; I think it says something very real about God. When it comes to manipulating anything we can see, hear, touch, taste, or smell, God does not live up to His advertising, and all but the craziest theists know it deep down no matter what their cheap words may say.

(Note: I am NOT encouraging evangelicals to try faith healing, faith firefighting, or any other faith-based manipulation of emergency situations. Please don’t try to pray out a stroke. Call 911.)


34 comments:

Jennifer said...

What is God's advertising? And does faith in God mean we bypass the obvious means of help when they are available? What if no one is there to help and there is no 911? I think faith in God is not faith in His desire for my physical self preservation, but faith in His motives in allowing suffering.

This is what the first Christians believed:

John 16:33
"These things I have spoken to you, so that in Me you may have peace. In the world you have tribulation, but take courage; I have overcome the world."

I think of Stephen, Polycarp, Blandina, Monica (Augustine's mother)...and more recently...Richard Wurmbrand. Have you heard of him? He didn't have 911 to call when he was in distess. After years of torture he is still alive and is the founder of The Voice of the Martyrs. (Toture at the hands of Stalin's men who truly believed they were helping to make a better world by ridding it of all the superstitious people.)

zilch said...

jennifer said:

I think of Stephen, Polycarp, Blandina, Monica (Augustine's mother)...and more recently...Richard Wurmbrand. Have you heard of him? He didn't have 911 to call when he was in distess. After years of torture he is still alive and is the founder of The Voice of the Martyrs.

Of course we all know of people who say that faith in God has helped them through times of trouble. But this is no proof that God exists, or that faith in God is more effective than love of life, or desire to follow some other ideal.

Moreover, what about all those others who believed just as fervently, but were drowned, murdered, or buried alive? As some ancient Greek said (I can't find the quote- does anyone know who said this?): "we only hear stories from sailors who prayed to the gods and were saved from the shipwreck- those who prayed and were drowned are silent."

So while faith in God may well be a comfort and a strength to those in need, that does not mean that it necessarily helps them materially, or that it is not a delusion.

Patti said...

Let me play devil's advocate for a moment, Shygetz. Your post reminds me of the story of the man who's sitting on his roof with his family after a flood, praying his little heart out for god to save them. A man in a boat comes along and offers to save them but he is turned away. "God will save us," the fellow says. This happens three times and finally the floodwaters rise and the whole family drowns. In heaven, the man asks god "why did you let us die?" God answers, "hey, don't look at me...I sent three rescue boats for you and you just sat there and kept praying."

My point in relating this is to suggest that believers will probably tell you that 9-1-1 and firetrucks and doctors are all put there by god to help us and we should take advantage of those gifts and thank god for them later when conditions allow.

I'm an atheist, so I am not defending belief in god or the wisdom, or lack thereof, of praying for deliverance when the phone is at your elbow. Maybe some people really would do that...and we'll see their stories in the Darwin Awards. But most would take advantage of "god's gifts" of healers and rescuers wherever they can.

Shygetz said...

patti says: My point in relating this is to suggest that believers will probably tell you that 9-1-1 and firetrucks and doctors are all put there by god to help us and we should take advantage of those gifts and thank god for them later when conditions allow.

And yet I can show you where the emergency response system was planned, staffed, and executed wholly by people. So, if when the believer says "put there by god" he really means "wholly invented and implemented by humans" then we can agree. But then, what does that make God?

jennifer says:What is God's advertising?

To be your "very present help in trouble", that you can "call to God, and the LORD saves (me)" from your enemies, that he will "ransom (you) unharmed from the battle waged against (you)", etc., etc., ad nauseum.

And does faith in God mean we bypass the obvious means of help when they are available?

But God IS your obvious means of help, always available. The phone lines never go out with God; you never have to wait for God to arrive; you never have to worry if God is up to the task. Why go to humans first, when they are surely a poor substitute?

What if no one is there to help and there is no 911?

Ah, but you make my point for me...God is someone you go to first only when there is no real person there to help! He is not your first refuge, He is your last. So what does that say about where you TRULY put your faith?

I think of...Richard Wurmbrand. Have you heard of him? He didn't have 911 to call when he was in distess.

You're RIGHT! He relied upon God (because he had no other choice), and God was his "very present help in trouble!" God "ransomed him unharmed from the battle waged against him!" Hallelujah!

After years of torture he is still alive and is the founder of The Voice of the Martyrs.

Oh, wait, you mean that God left him to be tortured for 14 years? That he had to wait to be released from prison, not by God, but by a general amnesty issued by Janos Kadar that released all political prisoners (not just religous ones)? Well, that's somewhat...unimpressive. In fact, it's almost like Wurmbrand just WAITED in that jail cell until he was released by a human being. Where am I supposed to see God in this story again?

And unfortunately, Richard Wurmbrand passed away in 2001. He is not "still alive".

Toture at the hands of Stalin's men who truly believed they were helping to make a better world by ridding it of all the superstitious people.

This shows your incredible ignorance about communism. The Communists of Stalin's era did not round up religious people because they wanted to stamp out superstition. The rounded up religious people for the same reason they rounded up intellectuals, teachers, and non-communist politicians (even those whose views were allied with Communism); they wanted to eliminate anyone who could serve as a focal point for an anti-communist movement. Religious people who believe in a judgemental God are, by definition, authoritarians who follow a power they place higher than the Communist Party. Such people can be easily mobilized by the church against communist rule. People who were merely superstitious were left (relatively) unmolested.

Joseph said...

Good post, shygetz. When I read it I was reminded of the first convert I "scored" for Christ. I baptized this buy (big, burly) and he was so excited to be a Christian. He read the Bible every day and really ate up every word it said. That was a problem because he took things, well, a bit too seriously. You would have loved this guy because he was the living embodiment of his article. He refused to get a life insurance policy because he believed Jesus would take care of him and that holding any kind of insurance showed lack of faith. He was very critical of his pastor (my Dad) for being an insurance salesman on the side. The deeper he got into his Christian walk, the more "fanatical" he got (really he just took the promises of Scripture at face value). He stopped seeing doctors and took his girls out of school. Before long he even stopped coming to church. Last I heard he had quit his job and was following the harvest (in an effort to live the "simple" lifestyle that Christ taught).

Bertsura said...

A lot of religious people support atheism in the sense that they understand that you actually have to do something and not just pray to God for something to happen. I guess it depends whether you trust your health to a doctor or a faith healer but unfortunately, many people also choose the latter.

Manifesting Mini Me (MMM) said...

Shygetz said, "Oh wait, that god left him to be tortured for 14 years?"

Shy, do you believe God infected people with torture or that He allows time - grace - for them to awaken and turn from their ways??? Do you believe He desires people to be tortured helplessly by others or do you believe that He allows us time - grace- to awaken and turn towards courage and perseverence in order to overcome and inherit peace even when confronted with death??

The gospel is difficult when we view it this way, unless we recognize and embrace the grace that we have been given for ourselves.

Cole said...

If God didn't desire torture He wouldn't allow it. The best thing to do in those cases would be to violate the free will of the one torturing and restrain him.

God doesn't do that.

Brother Crow said...

mmm, my guess about Shy is that he does not believe in a god, period. Do you get that? The argument here is not that god is a bad guy who tortures people - or, in your position, allows (?????) torture so that people can grow in grace and find peace in the face of death...funny, I thought that somewhere in that bible I read that grace was a gift...given not by our merits by a loving god who paid for our indebtedness to him by dying on the cross for us and gave us "charis" free of charge. Anyway, I digress.

Dude, there is no god. The point is...you as Christians turn to other points of help because, deep down inside...YOU KNOW THIS!! Your true belief system is manifested in what you turn to first!

Manifesting Mini Me (MMM) said...

Brother Crow said "your position allows torture" - did I say God allowed torture or that He allowed grace???? I believe the latter... acknowledging the existance of torture is not the same thing as exacting, demanding or promoting it. Do you love people more than God? Do you care about the people who might fall into torturing others? If that offends you, you wouldn't be the first.

As far as "turning to first" as a demonstration of faithfulness - I have increasingly grown to turn to belief - faith is a growing breathing practice - I do not always possess the faith to love the way God does but I do not have to pretend or posture or scold others if I am impotent nor do I have to resort to dishonesty in expressing my lack of faith. If I do not have faith, I confess it as a weakness and grow from there.

Brother Crow said...

mmm, "do you love people more than God?" I would answer that question by saying - yes, I do. First, I would say there is no God, so...:) Secondly, I would say that my track record with people is infinitely more amazingly demonstrative of love than Bible God's. I know that sounds incredibly presumptuous...so I will give a simple example. I have never, ever ever ever broken a promise I made to one of my three children. Ever. I never told them I would do something for them, or give them something, or respond to them in any way...that I did not do. I have never tested them. (OK - uhm, in home school which we did for a while). I have not allowed them to be murdered, tortured, raped, plundered, or otherwise inflicted insanity upon by others. I did beat the shit out of a young man who pushed my eight year old son to the ground in an arcade, calling my little boy a "motherf--ker." I was a pastor at the time...and I came up behind him and hit him so hard in the back of his head that he was unconscious, at which time I broke two of his teeth before someone pulled me off. The manager saw the whole thing and told me I was in the clear with him, and told us to leave, he would deal with it. Which we did.

Any guilt? None at all. How I wish the so-called Heavenly Father of the Bible would have done that for me a few times. Even once. (Oh wait - I hear the response...maybe He did and you just did not see...vengeance is mine saith the LORD). Yeh, cuz he keeps his word so well.

I am only dealing with how I have treated my own children. Which - for over 30 years, I thought was one of His children. Adopted. Loved. Name engraved in the hand. All of that shit.

Mind me asking? How old are you?

Yes, I think I can demonstrably prove that I do a better job of loving people than God.

Manifesting Mini Me (MMM) said...

Brother Crow - I know this may fall beyond your understanding right now but have you considered how God views a young man who feels the need to push an 8 year old to the floor and call him a m**thf****???? Have you ever considered that God's definition of family goes beyond the scope of yours?? Perhaps family refers to all of mankind?? Again, grace is offensive I know.

Your deconversion story gave me some insight along with your comments here and remind me of what commonly happens to people in all stations of authority (whether it be parenthood or politician or religious leader) (Luke 7:31-33)

"To what then, can I compare the people of this generation? What are they like? They are like children sitting in the marketplace and calling out to each other:

"We played the flute for you, and you did not dance
we sang a dirge
and you did not cry."

For John the Baptist came neither eating bread nor drinking wine and you say, "He has a demon," The sone of Man cam eating and drinking and you say, "Here is a glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and "sinners"."

It is not uncommon for those in a position of power to decide (independently) upon what should be an acceptable standard for membership and should be served to those under their charge and then complain, reject and punish those who vomit it up or are unable to conform. Most people fall into eogcentrism and accept only those who who can squeeze into their standard of acceptability rather than drawing close to learn and understand and serve according to their ability. It becomes like a marketplace of humanity - only those who are the fittest according to the current standard need apply.

We apply insensitive and unrealistic expectations towards one another and misunderstand God in the process.

Thanks for commenting here.

Jennifer said...

Shygetz,
There are so many layers to peel through in this topic, but the one I think is most important is that God always had conditions with His promises. He didn't make those promises to ME, He made them to David and to the Israelites.

His promise to ME and everyone else is that He will never leave us or forsake us in this world and that He will abide in us ifwe abide in Him.

Changing direction...just to be clear, I didn't say that ALL of the Communists of Stalin's era rounded up Christians because they were superstitious. I did say that the men involved in Wurmbrand's experience were trying to rid the world of superstitious people.
Can you show how superstitious people were left alone? In the same vein, God did not leave Wurmbrand. According to his own testimony and that of others in the prisons with him, God was with them in the midst of their suffering. THAT is the promise.

You are right, it was late and I just made a mistake about Richard Wurmbrand still being alive. Probably what I meant to say was that he lived through it...unlike Blandina, Stephen and Polycarp. Sorry.

Can you write a visual of what you think this faith should look like?


You sound like a great parent. I just wonder if you have ever told your children that if they don't obey you, you may not be able to keep them safe?..and do you ever allow them to help each other instead of running to you every time? If they go to their sibling does it mean they don't trust you, or does it mean you are family and you should help each other until the problems become too big for just you to handle?

Joseph said...

"His promise to ME and everyone else is that He will never leave us or forsake us in this world and that He will abide in us ifwe abide in Him."

Jennifer, doesn't that undermine the notion of God's unconditional love and unmerited favor (grace)?

Brother Crow said...

mmm, I am pretty dumb, apparently, and unable to grasp the obviously deeper implications of commentary...but I have no idea what your scripture quotation means or your following paragraph. My deconversion story was not meant to share any real "insights" about me...other than the harsh reality of my own life that I have given permission to myself to examine. Self-examination, I have observed, is a ruse with Christians...they hide under the blood.

I still don't think you get it. There is no God. However, if the God of the Bible is real (tragically), then yes, I do a much better job of loving people than he does...especially his own children.

But, I don't blow flutes, and I don't ask anyone to dance.

And nobody acts the way they are supposed to. You know nothing of me, so do not attempt to figure me out.

Manifesting Mini Me (MMM) said...

Brother Crow, what makes you believe I am trying to "figure you out"? Your words reveal plenty without any delving whatsoever. You do not understand, but that isn't to say that you never will.

At any rate, thanks for conversing.

GordonBlood said...

I have finally realized why it is I am getting sick of visiting this blog. Is it because it "debunks" (il throw the blog a bone) my Christian theism? Nope. Is it because it offers unanswerable objections to the Christian faith? Nope. Its because of straw-man arguments like this. Only the most fundamentalist reading of scripture would lead one to conclude, once one reads a certain passage in its full context, that God intends to constantly heal, protect and guard us. Again, a quick history of the early church (which existed before the gospels themselves were finally copied in their final form) will lead one to realize that the martyrs did not believe that God would save them in a blink of light or some other issue such as that.

zilch said...

gordonblood says:

Only the most fundamentalist reading of scripture would lead one to conclude, once one reads a certain passage in its full context, that God intends to constantly heal, protect and guard us.

First- that is certainly part of the problem with the Bible, that so much of it can be plausibly interpreted to mean different things. Just look at the disagreements here between Christians about what they think the "true" meaning of Scripture is.

Second- if God is not constantly healing, protecting, and guiding us, just when and how often is He doing these things? How can we tell when He has helped, and when we just lucked out?

Looking at the lives of Christians, non-Christian believers, and atheists, it seems like His help is indistinguishable from pure chance.

Jennifer said...

Joseph,
I don't think so.

Can you be more specific? Were you referring to the "if"?

Joseph said...

Jennifer, I don't know how specific I can get--I quoted you directly. Yes, I was referring to the if.

Joseph said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Joseph said...

Gordon: "Again, a quick history of the early church (which existed before the gospels themselves were finally copied in their final form) will lead one to realize that the martyrs did not believe that God would save them in a blink of light or some other issue such as that."

Gordon, what "history of the church" are you referring to? The book of Acts? The writings of the church Fathers? The tradition of the Roman Catholic church?

I'm not so sure that the Christian martyrs didn't expect God to rescue them, at least initially. When it became apparent that God wasn't going to deliver them, they simply re-interpreted the promises of God to better fit with their reality. Some of them may have even believed (like the suicide bombers today) that their death would bring them instant immortality and sainthood.

Gordon: "Its because of straw-man arguments like this. Only the most fundamentalist reading of scripture would lead one to conclude, once one reads a certain passage in its full context, that God intends to constantly heal, protect and guard us."

As far as straw men are concerned, I'm beginning to loathe the term because it has been thrown out so often over the last two weeks as a red herring. There is no straw man at work in this article. Just because you are a liberal Christian doesn't mean that everyone is. My city has at least five Christian radio stations, every one of which fights against the liberal perspective and encourages a fundamentalist interpretation of Scripture (think such popular teachers as Swindoll, Stanley, MacArthur, Sproul, etc).

Fundamentalists are hardly on the fringes of Christianity. Again, I bring up Benny Hinn's Miracle Crusades which attracts hundreds of thousands around the world. Then there's the entire TBN phenomena, which is huge. I invite you to watch one full viewing of Praise the Lord (especially during a Praise-a-thon) or an hour of Pat Robinson's 700 club. Do some reading about the Toronto blessing and the Vineyard Movement (which Robertson periodically does reports on) and you'll see how widespread this sort of teaching is. Every one of our cities has at least one church that believes in the "second blessing" of the Holy Spirit, which is said to include tongues, healing, prosperity, and other miraculous signs & wonders (the FourSquare movement is a part of this and, at least in my city, it has the biggest church attendance of any other denomination).

Beyonnd that, I think Shygetz's point was that no Christian takes the teachings of Scripture completely seriously or follows Jesus' prescription of faith to the tee. Such a faith cannot be sustained because (once again) it does not correspond with reality.

Jennifer said...

"His promise to ME and everyone else is that He will never leave us or forsake us in this world and that He will abide in us if we abide in Him."

Jennifer, doesn't that undermine the notion of God's unconditional love and unmerited favor (grace)?


No.

What does unconditional love have to do with promises? I unconditionally love all of the kids on our street, but they will not be the beneficiary of any promises I make to my children unless they are living in my house.

Unmerited favor. All through the Bible, faith is counted as righteousness. Favor is not unmerited, it is a result of faith. Favor is not earned, but it is the result of a credit due to faith.

You didn't address this to me, but I would like to comment on the history of the Church.

I am reading a book called, "The Codes of Hammurabi and Moses" which is an old book, but worth reading just for the perspective and it is the whole Code in print. The author makes an important observation about the Code. In order for the Code to be in written form, the civilization was most likely already governed by those articles within it. In other words....every civilization operates in fundamental ways. Laws are not usually what define the civilization as much as express how they are already operating.

The early Church may have been very much the same. They were already operating and they made formal declarations as needed. The creeds were a response to the need to put in writing what they had already been practicing so they could better be identified.

And...I agree with you about the martyrs. They may have believed that God would deliver them, but the Church grew in spite of them not being miraculously saved.
Isn't it odd that people kept believing even after they witnessed the death of saints without resurrection? Do you really think that they went back to the drawing board and tried to make sense out of it all? For sure there was a lot of discussion and going over the words of Jesus, but I think the most common conversation was similar to Polycarp's last words, ""Eighty-six years I have served Christ, and He never did me any wrong. How can I blaspheme my King who saved me?" He knew he would not be saved physically.

You'd think it would be like the LDS who get a new revelation every time they need to change to fit the culture. Why didn't "Christians" simply change their religion a little bit and conform to be more comfortable?

Shygetz said...

jennifer said: He didn't make those promises to ME, He made them to David and to the Israelites.

Christians are very fond of claiming promises made to the Israelites; for example, the promise to send a Messiah. They are very fond of quoting the Psalms, which were all about the Israelites. Do you disavow the applicability of the OT to you?

Regardless, do you claim that YHWH has been a "very present help in trouble" to the Jews? Even to the Messianic Jews? I hope not.

Favor is not earned, but it is the result of a credit due to faith.

So when I get my paycheck, I didn't earn it, it is the result of a credit due to my work? Isn't that kind of the definition of "earn"?

Laws are not usually what define the civilization as much as express how they are already operating.

Reread Exodus. The Jews and Christians claim that God himself dictated new laws to Moses due to the Israelites' inequity. The laws obviously weren't already followed.

Isn't it odd that people kept believing even after they witnessed the death of saints without resurrection?

I have long ago ceased being" amazed by peoples' gullibility.

For sure there was a lot of discussion and going over the words of Jesus, but I think the most common conversation was similar to Polycarp's last words, "Eighty-six years I have served Christ, and He never did me any wrong."

I can honsetly say that, for many years I have NOT served Christ, and He never did me any wrong either. Neither did Thor, or Wotan, or the Flying Spaghetti Monster. I have not been wronged by unicorns, fairies, leprachauns, gremlins, dragons, angels, or demons. I do find Polycarp's words telling, but probably not in the way that you would hope; if all you require of a god is the it not wrong you, then I have an encyclopedia full of ones for you to choose from.

gordonblood said:Only the most fundamentalist reading of scripture would lead one to conclude, once one reads a certain passage in its full context, that God intends to constantly heal, protect and guard us.

I love it when someone claims I am taking the Bible out of context, but declines to point out how and what the real context is. Check out the context; God makes real promises to deliver His faithful from real trouble in the real world.

Again, a quick history of the early church (which existed before the gospels themselves were finally copied in their final form) will lead one to realize that the martyrs did not believe that God would save them in a blink of light or some other issue such as that.

False yet again, gordonblood. The Book of Acts (which to a Christian is THE history of the early church) is one of the most miracle-filled book of the Bible, with the Holy Spirit swooshing around, giving God's faithful the ability to speak and understand foreign tongues, raise the dead, read minds, kill people with words,
and predict the future.
But you're partially right; the church that survived didn't really believe this stuff. You can thank natural selection for that, and it just goes to prove my point; you do not believe the Bible when it clearly says that God provides tangible, material help in the real world because you know that simply ain't so. The interesting question is why do you believe the untestable promises if the testable ones are so clearly false?

Joseph said...

Sigh! Jennifer, I see now why John gets so frustrated with you. Please read again the statement I quoted and my question in response to it. We even clarified what I was responding to (remember the whole "if" exchange?).

Jennifer said...

Joseph,
I answered the "if". Like I said...I love all of the kids on my street (God loves all of the people in the world), but I do not abide with all of them (they don't live in my house or know me well). We do not know each other intimately. Isn't that what it means to abide?

Is that clear enough? You asked if God's unconditional love and unmerited favor are undermined if there is a condition to abide. NO. God loves everyone, and He does not ever claim to give unmerited favor. Grace is not dependent on a list of rules, but it is dependent on faith. Do you see something different in Scripture?

Maybe one of the reasons John gets frustrated is because he is the one who cannot understand what I am communicating. I appreciate being allowed to exchange here, but if I am not up to par I'll bow out.

John W. Loftus said...

Jennifer...Maybe one of the reasons John gets frustrated is because he is the one who cannot understand what I am communicating.

Maybe! ;-)

Joseph said...

Jennifer, why is it that Christians say that God is a God of unconditional love and unmerited favor (grace), if he puts a condition on his love and grace. Like in John 15 (the same chapter you quoted from earlier), verse 9, "As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love. IF you obey my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have obeyed my Father's commands and remain in his love."

Ray said...

That's because the Bible doesn't teach that God's love is unconditional. It's undeserved.

Shygetz said...

jennifer said: You asked if God's unconditional love and unmerited favor are undermined if there is a condition to abide. NO.

Ummm, unconditional love that has conditions is an oxymoron. Ray is closer to the truth as far as I know; it seems only man was required to love unconditionally (how much more unconditional can you get than love those who seek to do you harm?). God was above such feeble morality--you had to earn his love. But, his grace was beyond your power to earn, which clearly indicates that there either there are people who gain God's grace whom He does not love, or people who God loves who do not receive His grace (or both).

"God, isn't God a shit!" --Randolph Churchill

Cole said...

The preacher who smiles saying God loves you just the way you are tells a monstrous lie.

God does not accept the arrogant...He maintains love towards his fallen creatures, but strings are securely attatched for we must come on bended knee.

R.C. Sproul.

I think ray is right.

Joseph said...

The fact that there are competing views of God's love and grace in the evangelical community should send up a huge, fluttering red flag that the Bible is not itself clear and consistent on the matter.

Manifesting Mini Me (MMM) said...

Joseph said, "the fact that there are competing views of God's love and grace should be a huge, fluttering red flag that the Bible is nt clear..."

This understanding and viewpoint is consistant with one of nonbelief.

To me, as a believer, I am learning that grace is exemplified in inward peace in the midst of diversity and yes, misunderstanding. The fact that there are so many diverse understandings is a very real portrayal of grace.

I am learning that grace allows time to form conviction and faith without demanding that we become clones of one another. I am learning when I am a light in the dark and when I am part of the suffering in darkness - if I awaken to my own darkness I know I have an invitation to become enlightened and compassionate there.

As always, good to converse with you. MMM

Shygetz said...

The fact that there are so many diverse understandings is a very real portrayal of grace.

How do you figure? Seems to me that it is a very real portrayal of a God who can't get his message to His people.

I'm willing to wager you a large sum of money that, if the Christian faith were monolithic and everyone believed the same thing, you would find that as a very real portrayal of grace or some other facet of your God.