Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Sovereignty

A man had a beautiful estate, with magnificent trees on it. But he had a bitter enemy, who said, “I will cut down one of his trees; that will hurt him.” In the dark of the night the enemy slipped over the fence and went to the most beautiful of the trees, and with saws and axes he began to work. In the first light of morning he saw in the distance two men coming over the hill on horseback, and recognized one of them as the owner of the estate. Hurriedly he pushed the wedges out and let the tree fall; but one of the branches caught him and pinned him to the ground, injuring him so badly that he died. Before he died he screeched out, “Well, I have cut down your beautiful tree,” and the estate owner looked at him with pity and said, “This is the architect I have brought with me. We had planned to build a house, and it was necessary to cut down one tree to make room for the house; and it is the one you have been working on all night.”

Donald Grey Barnhouse

46 comments:

Lori said...

Hey Gary,

You don't know me but I stumbled upon your blog and just wanted to say how impressed I am. I will be checking back regularly for your inspiring words. I am a new believer and it helps to have people like you with such spiritual wisdom to help me in my journey and growth in the Lord.

Lori Robbins
www.iamlorirobbins.blogspot.com

Anonymous said...

Gary,

The shallowness of some of your posts is ... well, amazing would be a polite term. The depth of your theology is somewhere up there on the Brittany Spears scal of lyrical content.

But then I guess staying away from "the depths" is necesary when you have no capacity to deal with reality on it's own terms.

If you want to challenge yourself - think (yes, think) about what the lesson would be if the tree had fallen on the architect?

Does god intervene in himan affairs Gary? Does he EVER directly change events to bring about a desired result?

Could Mary have refused to bear Jesus?

Gary Kirkham said...

Ahh, you are back...with your usual condescending tone. Let's talk about depth. Firstly, the very fact that you asked the question, "think (yes, think) about what the lesson would be if the tree had fallen on the architect?" shows that you are not going very deep. Secondly, it is not about human affairs. So think, yes think, about it a little more, then come back.

Oh, and God still loves you and wants nothing more than for you to receive eternal life through His son Jesus Christ.

Toby Norris said...

Gary,

I think your “sovereignty” post about the man with the beautiful estate is a wonderful illustration of an important fact of life that perhaps our friendly athiest, Mr. Anonymous, is unable to grasp. The moral of the story is that if you spend your time trying to tear someone else down or hurt them then you really only end up hurting yourself. The corrolary to the moral of that story is that we as Christians should spend our time building each other up instead of tearing each other down, complimenting each other instead of insulting each other, reminding each other of God’s infinite glory through our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ instead of dwelling on our many weaknesses and flaws as human beings. Its so amazing to me that when we learn to find and focus on the good in our fellowman and in the world in general then we also seem to become stronger in our faith, more generous and tolerant, more caring and respectful, and also more able to resist sin in our own lives.

I would like to offer the following humble response to Mr. Anonymous and his reply to your post. First, let me make one thing perfectly clear: Yes, I fervently admit my total shallowness and ignorance when compared to God, my Creator, and the Creator of the entire universe. Even if Mr. Anonymous is much smarter than a dummy like me, I guarantee that he is no match for God. If Mr. Anonymous thinks that his brain powers are so much greater than yours, if Mr. Anonymous thinks he is so much “deeper” and more thoughtful than dumb Christians like you and I, if Mr. Anonymous thinks he has found Nirvana through his Godless harassment of Christians, if he takes pleasure in belittling his fellowman and challenging their faith, if he thinks that Christianity and faith have something to do with God "intervening" to grant our wishes like a magical genie in a bottle ... then that just reveals to us the stage he is at in his own spiritual growth. It would be interesting to ask him one question: If your blog is so shallow and empty of substance, then why is he reading it? Maybe you should suggest to him that he find a deeper blog to read that is more comensurate with his vast intellectual abilities.

I'd also let him know that his “thought process” that he is so proud of, all this “deep” “thinking” that he does so well and that he urges you to do more of, is only possible because of God. He likes to point out how shallow and thoughtless your blog is. I would like him to explain to us exactly what a thought is, where it comes from, and why—exactly—using his vast engineering knowledge. I would also let him know that I will pray for him and his loved ones that one day he might see the light of God's saving grace in this world. Then he would know the answers to his specific questions about the tree falling on the architect and whether or not God ever intervenes in the world of man or if Mary could refuse to bear Jesus. I would call creating the Universe and all life on this planet a pretty big intervention!! Inspiring the ancient prophets to write our Old Testament, then sending the Messiah, Jesus Christ, into our world to show us the path to true salvation, then inspiring Christ's disciples to write the New Testament --- those are all pretty big interventions in my mind. I know that I may not be that smart, but I sure am glad that I can see and feels God’s presence in my life, in the world, and even in the life of our athiest friend. Who knows, one day he will probably be a priest or minister himself once he sees the light.

A lot of times the best response to a loaded or insincere question is another question. In reference to his question about Mary refusing to bear Jesus I would just ask Mr. Anonymous if God came to him and asked him to love God with all his heart and mind and to love his neighbors as God loves him, would he refuse? Would he refuse the love of someone who would die for him? Would he refuse the love of his own Creator? Does he refuse the love of his own mother, father, or family? How smart, logical, and intellectually "deep" is that? Maybe Mr. Anonymous, with all his wisdom and knowledge of the facts, would tell his Creator to get lost or to take a hike; maybe Mr. Anonymous would prefer to live in the absence of love, thinking only of himself and his wants, hating instead of loving his fellow man. His position, if he opposes Christianity, puts him in the position of embracing hatred. For if he is opposed to Christ then he is opposed to love, eternal love. And the opposite of love is hate. So Mr. Anonymous, by denying God’s love, has proven by his own statements in your blog that he embraces hatred instead of love and furthermore that he seeks to convince others that a faithless life based on hatred is superior and "deeper" than a life based on Christianity (faith, hope, and love).

The words of Mr. Anonymous in his response to your “sovereignty” post are just like the efforts of the man trying to cut down the beautiful tree. You, Gary, are the man with the faith and the beautiful tree and Mr. Anonymous is the man who just wants to cut down the tree to hurt you. He thinks he is so smart, but yet he fails to see that his response to your story is a reinactment of the story itself. His hatred blinds him to the the love of God, and just like the story says, as long as he spends his time trying to hurt other people he is really sewing the seeds of his own destruction. The good news is that as we Christians accept not only God’s eternal love but His forgiveness as well. Maybe one day Mr. Anonymous will learn for himself how it feels to need forgiveness and then how it feels to truly forgive others. When that day comes he will start to see the light of God’s loving grace. Hopefully, one day he will bow down with us in humble gratitude to our Father in heaven, as a brother in Christ.

Thanks for sharing your faith. I think your blog is truly inspiritational.

Anonymous said...

toby,

Thanks for the responses. If god didn't want you to think then why did he give you a brain and free will? Use them...

A few comments.

"The moral of the story is that if you spend your time trying to tear someone else down or hurt them then you really only end up hurting yourself."

I suspect you need to consider why the title is 'sovereignty' if you wish to grasp the depth here.

"perhaps our friendly athiest, Mr. Anonymous"

(Side-note : Please, please learn to spell 'atheist'. For some reason christians have so much trouble with that word)

The assumption of atheism again reflects a narrow thought band. You reject Zeus and Odin (presumably) ... why? You reject Allah ... why?

Are you protestant or catholic? Why? Why not the other? Why are there two main streams of christian?

"when we learn to find and focus on the good in our fellowman and in the world in general then we also seem to become stronger in our faith, more generous and tolerant, more caring and respectful, and also more able to resist sin in our own lives."

The christian presumption here is so clearly stated - that the cause and effect chain is obvious. It's not. Non christians find the same effects from different causes. That's the whole point - you're experiencing an effect, and attributing it to a cause because you want it to be. But some time spent examining the world around you will show the effect is NOT - and never has been - exclusive to christians.

"If Mr. Anonymous thinks that his brain powers are so much greater than yours, if Mr. Anonymous thinks he is so much “deeper” and more thoughtful than dumb Christians like you and I".

Let me say this as plain as possible - I have no opinion on your intelligence. I don't think you're dumb, most likely just afraid. For most, the christian herd mentality they've been raised in gives them a safe, warm, fuzzy mindset to live in, and thinking beyond simplistic little analogies like Garys' opening post is avoided. Looking at the world as it is threatens to reveal the inherent contradictions in christian theology.

Look at "Theodicy" as a topic if you want to see some discussion of what 'god' might mean as a concept.

Be honest - if you question your god, if you start to think "what if...", you get scared - right? A world of dark possibilities seems to lurk, the safe worldview starts to give way to an 'unbounded' and 'dangerously unknownable' world. Stop the questions, slam the door, retreat to the safety of 'faith' - that how it works and feels???

"...his Godless..."

Well, yes, there's certainly a lack of dogmatic slavery to the proto-typical christian god in my comments. But this of course is simply conceding you more ground than you deserve. You can't even define 'christian god' in any detail that would be acceptable to most 'christians', so we should probably back up and examine what this god you believe in actually means. Care to take that trip?

" harassment of Christians,"

Regarding harassment ... it's very much a two-edged sword in modern America. Care to comment on the actions of various christian organisations in relation to the teaching of Intelligent Design in schools? Are you for or against this behaviour?

"...if he takes pleasure in belittling his fellowman and challenging their faith,..."

I do not belittle you, but I do challenge your 'faith' - but not for pleasure. I find it the height of contradiction that christian Americans so depise Osama Bin Laden when it is clear he is acting totally out of respect for his 'faith' - yet these same christians proclaim their own 'faith' as being 'right'. 'Faith' justifies anything you want, refuses to submit to examination, and has by definition no basis in reality. It's also unnecessary - a questioning christian is not an impossibility you know!

"if he thinks that Christianity and faith have something to do with God "intervening" to grant our wishes like a magical genie in a bottle "

But this is your belief, even if you refuse to acknowledge it! In what way is the death of your child anything other than an intervention from god into your world, to effect a change on you? Free will, or intervention? Choose your explanation and stick to it. You can't have both.

"A lot of times the best response to a loaded or insincere question is another question."

Tne question is not insincere. It refers to the 'Immaculate Conception'. Look it up, try to see where it leads. The question remains - Could Mary have refused?

"In reference to his question about Mary refusing to bear Jesus I would just ask Mr. Anonymous if God came to him and asked him to love God with all his heart and mind and to love his neighbors as God loves him, would he refuse?"

If god came to me would I refuse to love him? Well, god doesn't come to people because we have to come to him - isn't ath right? So it's a theoretical question and best. But I suspect that if god popped over to my place for a quick of tea I'd probably end up loving him, yes. But since this is 'begging the quesiton" in extreme I fail to see the relevance. Would you "love Zeus" if he 'came to you' (in some form that left you no doubt as to who he was)?

"Would he refuse the love of someone who would die for him?"

Presumably this is a reference to Jesus? Or is this a general comment about any ordinary human being prepared to die for a fellow man?

God did not 'die', Jesus did not 'die'. You need to define 'die'. A typical christian language game - overload a common term with two different meanings, then swap between them interchangeably.

1. 'Die' - (as applied to you and me). A physical state in which the consciousness associated (and/or derived from) an human brain has permanently ended.

2. 'Die' - (as applied to Jesus of Nazareth). A physical state in which the consciousness associated (and/or derived from) an human brain has temporarily ended.

Now, any idea why the same term cannot be interchanged - yet is implicitly in most christian writings. That's just intellectual dishonesty.

"Does he refuse the love of his own mother, father, or family?"

Love is never unconditional. If my father was a drunken, violent man who physically abused myself, my mother and my siblings then yes, I would refuse to love him - for as long as he remained an A$$$hole (he wasn't any of those, by the way - he's a lovely man).

The love of your god is not unconditional - he requires my servitude as payment.

"His hatred blinds him to the the love of God, and just like the story says, as long as he spends his time trying to hurt other people he is really sewing the seeds of his own destruction"

It is not hatred that brings about this posts - it's a desire to see the world grow. To see humanity advance beyond the veil of a 2000 year old mythology. I'm not spending my time trying to hurt you - it's telling that you see an exchange of ideas as 'hate' and 'hurting'. I try to choose my tone carefully, but as an imperfect human (as we all are - we agree on that!) I fail on occasion. I'm not sowing hate here - look at yourself to see if perhaps you can understand why you feel anger, feel defensive, perhaps even feel a little hate, towards me. Now look at that kernal of understanding you just discovered about yourself, and try to see if you can unlock the 'faith cage' you've allowed your mind to become.

Go on, try....ask a hard question of your faith; try walking in another's shoes when examining the possible answers; don't retreat at the first sign of 'fear' and 'doubt' - push on and see what lies beyond.

"I would also let him know that I will pray for him and his loved ones that one day he might see the light of God's saving grace in this world."

You ask something of god? Is he more or less likely to do this because you ask?

"Who knows, one day he will probably be a priest or minister himself once he sees the light."

All things are possible - especially in your world, where god can chose to 'nudge' me in this direction if it's his will - as opposed to my will. Gee... how about that, perhaps my will only applies sometimes? So god wil punish me for eternity for exercising a will he gave me, yet at other times he will manipulate things to bring my will into line with his needs. "Mysterious" is one way to describe it...

"Maybe one day Mr. Anonymous will learn for himself how it feels to need forgiveness and then how it feels to truly forgive others."

See, now you confuse effect and cause yet again. Please explain how you know that only a christian can 'truly forgive others'. You don't see the implicit arrogance in this, do you?

Anonymous said...

Gary,

"Ahh, you are back...with your usual condescending tone."

Well, the tone gets away from me sometimes. But really, it's hard not to get frustrated with the simplicity of some of your comments. But I'll try, ok...

"Let's talk about depth."

Then do it. Show some depth. I notice you haven't even offerd a single word of waht you foudn in this little story.

"Firstly, the very fact that you asked the question, "think (yes, think) about what the lesson would be if the tree had fallen on the architect?" shows that you are not going very deep."

But why is the architect in the story? Just for 'color'? To 'prove' the owner really was planning to build? or...

"Secondly, it is not about human affairs. So think, yes think, about it a little more, then come back."

Ah .. so you disagree with Toby, who thinks it IS about human affairs. Guess what .. I agree with you. Perhaps Toby needs to read a little closer.

Anyway, the story makes a trite and self evident point. But what does it tell us if we change the details slightly? Can thew moral sustain it's integrity? What if the tree hit the architect?

"Oh, and God still loves you and wants nothing more than for you to receive eternal life through His son Jesus Christ."

Pure propaganda Gary. Your god wants only one thing from me - subservience.

You have kids. Lets Assume that god decides to let them live to be adults (you never know ... he's mysterious like that Gary). If your adult son refuses to acknowledge your existence, do you still love him? If you found out that your estranged son (who has rejected you for years) is dying in a nearby hospital from a rare blood disease, and you are the only compatible donor, would you donate your blood - without his knowledge or consent? Or would you refuse to help until he acknowledged you again?

Do you give unasked for, because you love him? Or do you 'play hard ball', demanding an apology from him first before agreeing to help?

Guess which choice the christian god would take...

Gary Kirkham said...

Hi, Mr. Anonymous. Since you won’t identify yourself, for brevity sake, I will begin referring to you as MA. I hope you don’t take offense. Firstly, I chose not to comment on the story in order to, hopefully, get some comments about what it meant to others and engender discussion. I am not sure why the “simplicity” of my posts should affect you so much. Maybe that is something that you need to work out for yourself. So, on to the story.

In my mind it is a parable about the sovereignty of God. There are several ways to look at the parable and Toby chose another way. His interpretation is probably just as correct as mine and certainly goes a lot deeper than asking the question, “what if the tree had fell on the architect?” One of the ways that you can look at the parable is from the perspective of God’s redemptive plan for mankind. God had a plan to restore fallen mankind into a love relationship with Himself. He sent is son Jesus, the Tree of Life, to live on earth in human flesh in order to fulfill that plan. Satan wanted nothing more than to foil the plans of God. He wants to keep as many of us for himself as he can. He wants to be worshipped as god. Satan did everything he could to stop Jesus. He tempted Him, he incited people to persecute Him, and he had Him tortured. Finally, Satan had Him nailed to a cross and He suffered until He died. Satan, working through men, cut down the Tree of Life. What Satan didn’t know was that by cutting down that tree he was fulfilling the plans of God. It was God’s plan from the foundation of the world for that tree to be cut down. God raised Jesus from the dead and built a “house” for all of His children to dwell in. He provided the way for us to come into the presence of God and dwell with Him forever. God wants you to dwell with Him also. But, what about Satan? He thought that he was “hurting” God by cutting down His tree, but in doing so he sealed his fate. Satan has been defeated by the very thing he thought would hurt God and God, through His sovereignty, used Satan to provide the way for you and me to come to Him.

Satan wants you for himself and he will do anything to get you. He seems to have filled your head with some serious misconceptions about God. God loves you and what He desires from you is to love Him back. It is about choice; you can chose to accept the light of God’s love and receive His son Jesus as your Lord and Savior or you can reject Him. If you reject Jesus, who died on a cross to pay the penalty for your sins, then by default you chose the ruler of this world, Satan. Don’t believe the lies of Satan, God hasn’t rejected you, as your analogy implies, you have rejected Him…and it grieves God greatly.

Anonymous said...

MA here....

You're nearly there Gary. Think of what the architect represents in the story.

Oh, and nice attempt to defend Toby, but he either gets what you mean, or doesn't. Oh, wait, but that's part of the skill of being christian isn't it! Interpretation! Find what you want from anything!

Is Noah's Ark a true story, Gary? Your opinion please ...

"Don’t believe the lies of Satan,..."

How do you know the bible is NOT a creation of Satan? Don't the best conmen seem the most believeable? Don't they tell you what you want to hear? Don'tt they come to you appearing to be a source of comfort and safety?

Please explain why the bible cannot be a work of Satan? I understand you don't beleive that it is. I understand that you find it ridiculous to even make such a suggestion. But explain to me why the bible CAN'T be a work of Satan?

"God hasn’t rejected you, as your analogy implies, you have rejected Him…and it grieves God greatly."

And yet all things happen as god plans. Nothing I do can be against his needs and desires. Should I turn to him, and 'please' him, it is as he wants it. Should I turn from him and 'cause him grief', it as he knew it would be, and must be.

And my analogy did not imply that god rejected me. It stated clearly your belief - that if I reject god, he will withhold from me the key to eternal life. His love is conditional, not absolute. Please, make up your mind. You talk about his endless unconditional love, then happily agree that he places a condition on it. And I ask again, would you place the same condition on your own son? Despite his rejection of you, would you still grant him the gift of life unasked for, or would you demand his acknowledgement BEFORE helping him?

And since you seem willing to think a little today about your beliefs, care to answer the question I've asked ... could Mary have refused to bare Jesus?

Anonymous said...

"... could Mary have refused to bare Jesus?"

Yes, despite being an somewhat amusing slip, the question should in fact be :

"could Mary have refused to bear Jesus? "

Gary Kirkham said...

Hello MA, so nice of you to drop by. I am not too sure of where you think I am when you make the comment “you are almost there,” but I can assure you that nothing has changed. I want to address one aspect of your post because it is important. You seem to have a fundamental problem with the concept of free will. I thought of an illustration that may help you:

A man, with symptoms of an illness, goes to the doctor to find out what is wrong him. The doctor examines him and determines that the man has a condition that was passed down to him from his father and furthermore the condition, left untreated, is always fatal. The doctor gives the man the bad news first and then tells him the good news that a treatment exists that will cure him of the disease. Much to the doctor’s shock and dismay, the man turns down the treatment. The doctor, at this point, thinks that the man just didn’t understand. So, he puts it more forcefully, “If you don’t receive this treatment you will surely die.” The man again refuses treatment, and walks out of the doctor’s office.

So, MA I guess that in your world the doctor is wrong, and probably evil, because he didn’t force the man to take the treatment that would have kept him from dying. But don’t you see that in doing so the doctor would have violated the man’s free will. No, he honored the man’s choice by letting him walk away.

MA, you are that man. You have a condition that you inherited from your father who, in turn, inherited it from his father and so on. The condition is called sin and it came about when the first man sinned after he listened to the lies of Satan. Adam chose, by his free will, to believe the lies of Satan instead the promises and provision of a loving God. That condition is always fatal leading to eternal death if left untreated. You have chosen, by your free will, not to accept God’s provision of a treatment. You have chosen not to accept His son Jesus as your Lord and Savior. God isn’t withholding anything from you; He is simply honoring your choice by not violating your free will. He will not violate your free will.

Concerning the comments Toby made about my post. I assigned the title of the original post based on what the posted piece meant to me. So, I wasn’t defending Toby I was acknowledging that his interpretation of the Barnhouse piece was probably just as valid as mine. He chose to see it in terms of man’s relationship to man and I chose to see it in a different light…both equally valid…both go much deeper than any comment you have made. You can also look at the piece in terms of Satan's relationship to man.

Anonymous said...

"You seem to have a fundamental problem with the concept of free will."

No, it is you who fails to understand what 'will' does to your conception of god.

"So, MA I guess that in your world the doctor is wrong, and probably evil, because he didn’t force the man to take the treatment that would have kept him from dying."

Well, if the Doctor was the person responsible for creating the disease that infected the man's father then yes, I'd see it as being fairly clear that the doctor carries ultimate responsibility. Your god created ALL things Gary - that includes satan and sin. Both these things serve god's purposes. He created them, he allows them, he needs them. He created a disease (sin), infected humanity, then dangles a 'cure' in front of us. Nice guy.

"You have a condition that you inherited from your father who, in turn, inherited it from his father and so on."

We'll have to disagree here. Were Australian aborigines prior to 1778 born in sin? Then where was their 'free will' choice for the first 18 centuries after Christ died?

"The condition is called sin and it came about when the first man sinned after he listened to the lies of Satan."

The bible does not mention Satan in the context of Adam and Eve - this is an interpretation by you.

But more importantly if you look closely you should - just concentrate - see the flaw in your argument here. What does the bible say :

"2:17 But of the [b]tree of the knowledge of good and evil,[/b] thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die"

"3:5 For God doth know that in the day ye eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as gods, [b]knowing good and evil[/b]."

"3:7 [b]And the eyes of them both were opened[/b], and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together, and made themselves aprons"

Read that closely Gary. Prior to eating the forbidden fruit, they [b]had no knowledge of good and evil![/b]. Is it 'good' to obey god? Is it 'evil' to disobey him? They couldn't tell! They did not know what the consequences were, and god had deliberately created them with childlike naivity and innocence.

You like to draw the comparison that god treats adult humans in a similar fashion to the way adults treat children - nuturing, making decision on behalf of children who lack the capacity to understand the consequences. Yet here god deliberately gives them NO capacity to understand the consequences, leaves them to it (since he controls everything the presence of the serpent was not without god's consent), then punishes them [b]and all humanity[b] for one poor choice.

Please, just stop for one second and think about this...would you punish your children for a choice they made if you KNEW they did not understand the decision, and had no capacity to weigh the consequences?

In your house, sitting on the floor, is a small box with a large red button on it. You have an eight month old baby. You tell the baby "don't press the button, bad things will happen". You deliver this message in a neutral tone, so that the baby has no clues as to the 'good' or 'bad' aspect of what you say. You leave the room, the baby presses the button as part of it's normal inquisitiveness. You return to the room and in a fit of rage at being disobeyed, you infect the baby with a lethal disease that will be passed on to all following generations. You then offer an antidote - but only on the condition that each and every decendant of that baby must individually come to you and apologise for pressing the red button. And you do this because you love the baby. Sure.

"Adam chose, by his free will, to believe the lies of Satan instead the promises and provision of a loving God."

You're a programmer. Any decision is only as good as the data feed to it. Give even the best algorithm crap data and you'll get crap decisions. Adam was denied critical data, and was given a defective 'decision algorithm' (it had no knowledge of 'good' and 'evil'). God stacked the deck against him, then punished him for failing to get it right.

What does it mean to make the 'right' decision? If your worldview had no such concept as 'good' and 'eveil' - ie, all decision are morally equivalent, there is no such thing as immoral - then what does 'right' mean? This is the worldview you accept that Adam and Eve shared. Try to picture yourself as having absolutely no concept of morality at all. None. Now try to imagine what it would mean to 'disobey' something, or 'break a rule' when there is no 'moral' dimension to that action.

"That condition is always fatal leading to eternal death if left untreated."

And who gave this condition the attributes of 'fatal' and 'eternal'? God, of course.

"You have chosen, by your free will, not to accept God’s provision of a treatment."

Could I do something that god does not want? Can I change the future in a way that frustrates god's plans? If so, then you live in a world Gary where (sometimes at least) things happen that are against god's ultimate intent. If not, then my acceptance or rejection is REQUIRED by god to achieve his aims. I appear to have 'free will', but in fact my final choice has been mandated before I was even born.

So which is it? Do you live in a world where god's will is only sometimes done? Or is your 'will' a human illusion brought about by your limited perception of the universe in which you live?

"He will not violate your free will."

How nice of him. Yet he will deny a dying child access to 'free will' because.... well, you haven't actually answered that one have you! Want to try answering it now?

Care to offer ANY reason at all that the bible could not possibly be a work of satan? Designed to deceive?

Anonymous said...

Oh, and it seems you don't want to touch this one ... (but it goes to the heart of any discussion of 'free will')

Could Mary have chosen not to bear Jesus?

Gary Kirkham said...

I don't really have time to address your first comment, maybe in the next couple of days. I will address your second comment. I am not sure why this is so difficult to follow, I guess I just figured that it would be easy for someone of your intellect to follow. So I will put it into bold type with no other words that might confuse you.

"He will not violate your free will."

Anonymous said...

"I don't really have time to address your first comment, maybe in the next couple of days."

Take your time...I'm not going anywhere.

"I will address your second comment....He will not violate your free will."

I assume this is your reply to the question 'Could Mary have refused to bear Jesus?'.

Since the mother of god/Jesus MUST be untainted by original sin (else Jesus would have been born a sinner!!!), then her role as Jesus mother was determined at the moment of her birth. So much for her ability to refuse!

Regarding god's inability/unwillingness to 'violate' (interesting choice of word) a human will. Does this apply to mentally handicapped adults? Where is the line drawn between 'adult' and 'child' for a 30 year old with mental disabilities? Does this apply to those able-minded adults who have never heard the gospels?

While you think (please) about that, here's a little data for you showing some correlations between immoral behaviour and religious belief.

http://moses.creighton.edu/JRS/pdf/2005-11.pdf

Now, this doesn't by any means sshow that religion causes immoral behaviour. But it firmly dismantles the idea that morallity requires religious convinction.

Think about that Gary - that you can live a moral live in a non-religious environment. And many many people can, and do, exactly that. Seems to point towards the determining factor being the quality of person rather than their religious convictions. Gosh, what a concept - humans as the biggest factor in determining human quality of life. Love thy neighbour indeed!

Gary Kirkham said...

Hello MA, I am so glad that you chose to push what, to me, was an irrelevant non-issue. It seems that your whole argument is based on a false premise stemming from false theology. Mary was a human just like you and me; therefore she was a sinner just like you and me. You seem to be confusing the notion of body and soul with the notion of spirit. The natural man’s spiritual father is Adam; Jesus had a different spiritual father…God.

Unlike all other forms of life that God created, He imparted to man of His own Divine Life (Genesis 2:7). That is, God’s Life (Spirit) was united (infused) with man’s human spirit. Therefore, man was both physically alive (body in union with soul/spirit) and spiritually alive (spirit in union with God). Man bore a full visible expression of the invisible God who lived in them and was dependent upon God for his spiritual life. He was our spiritual father. In the same way He was the spiritual Father of Jesus.

God wanted His relationship with man to be a love relationship, received and expressed back to Him through the agency of faith. Therefore, man had to be given a free will, because love can only be possible where it is given freely. There had to be a point of decision where Adam and Eve demonstrated that their love of God was truly of their own free will. Therefore they were offered a chance to step out of their dependent relationship with God and to assume independent status - to be their own gods (Genesis 3:4-5).

Even though God had said, “for when you eat of it you will surely die” (Genesis 2:17), they did not die physically that day. In fact they lived 930 years. However, they did die spiritually that day. God honored their choice to live independently from Himself and withdrew His Life from them, leaving them dead spiritually, and on their own. As a result of Adam’s choice, every person is born into this world a sinner by nature and spiritually dead (Ephesians 2:1-3 and 4:18). Adam is our spiritual father and we are said to be “in Adam.”

Natural man "in Adam" was in a hopeless and helpless condition. He was alienated from God (not by God’s choice), and without the indwelling presence of God could not be man as God intended man to be. There was nothing man could do to escape from his spiritual predicament of estrangement from God and behavioral dysfunction. Resolutions, renunciations, reason nor religion could remedy his condition.

The only one who could remedy man's fallen situation was God. God would have to take the initiative if there was to be a remedy to man's problem and a restoration of functional humanity, though He was not necessarily obliged to do so. When God acts He cannot act "out of character." He always acts in accord with His character. He does what He does because He is who He is.

God is a just God. He is righteous and true. He must keep His word; He cannot lie (Titus 1:2), and He had said that the consequences of sin would be death. "In the day that you eat thereof, you shall surely die" (Gen. 2:17). Paul also explained this connection of sin and death when he wrote, "the wages of sin is death" (Rom. 6:23), and "the sting of death is sin" (I Cor. 15:56). God's justice demanded death for sin, and He cannot act contrary to any facet of His character.

God is also a loving God. "God is love" (I John 4:8,16). God is gracious and merciful and desires to act in the highest good of the other, i.e. His creatures, and particularly mankind. God's love and mercy and graciousness prompted His desire to forgive man.

How could God act consistently with His character of justice and gracious mercy at the same time?

Only God could act to counteract that which Satan had done in man. Only by His omnipotence could He overcome him who has the "power of death, that is the devil" (Heb. 2:14), and set aside the "power of our iniquities" (Isa. 64:7). Only God can forgive sin, because sin is a violation of His character. Only God can set men free to once again be man as God intended man to be. Only God can "save" man.

Only man could take the death consequences of sin. The living God cannot die (spiritual death). The just consequences of death for sin must be taken by mortal man. Only God can deal with sin. Only man can die.

So to express both His justice and His grace at the same time in remedying man's dilemma, the mediator, the savior, would of necessity have to be a God-man. As God he could administer His power in overcoming the "works of the devil" (I John 3:8) from whom sin is derived, and thus forgive mankind their sin by His grace. As man the mediatorial savior could be the recipient of the death consequences of sin and satisfy God just demands.

God's remedial and restorative action on man's behalf required a God-man; one who was both God and man at the same time. The paradoxical antinomy of this is soon recognized, for the attributes of deity and the attributes of humanity are mutually exclusive in reference to their functionality.

God sent His Son, the second person of the Godhead, to be the savior and mediator. "God so loved the world that He sent His only begotten Son" (John 3:16). "The Word, who was God, became flesh" (John 1:1,14). God, the Son, who from eternity was the One who expressed God as the "Word," and revealed God visibly as the Divine "image" (Col. 1:15; II Cor. 4:4), became man. "There is one mediator between God and man, the man Christ Jesus" (I Tim. 2:5).

So, do you see? Jesus was born into this world as God intended for man to be from the beginning. He was spiritually united with His father in Heaven; God was His spiritual father. You will notice that I haven’t mentioned Mary at all. Why? Because none of this has anything to do with her. When you are born the first time you are born into sin because Adam is your spiritual father. When you accept Jesus as your Lord and Savior, you are born again; this time with God as your spiritual father and you are united with God spiritually as God intended from the start. He wants to be joined with you. So, what are you waiting for?

With credits to Dave Lewinski and Jim Fowler

Anonymous said...

Gary,

"I am so glad that you chose to push what, to me, was an irrelevant non-issue. It seems that your whole argument is based on a false premise stemming from false theology"

and

"You will notice that I haven’t mentioned Mary at all. Why? Because none of this has anything to do with her."

Nice try - and I'm not surprised that you've taken the Baptist 'party line' (of course, why wouldn't you...) Now since you take christianity so seriously you'd be well aware that the Catholic (you know, the christian organisation claiming one billion adherents) disagrees with you on this. I'm going to go out on a limb here and guess that you don't read much Catholic theology, do you? How about Morman theology? Embraced much Pentecostal teaching recently? Strange how christians can't even work out their own beliefs. What might that tell us about the quality of the 34,000 various interpretations of "the christian faith".

But enough of Mary - it's a simple question that took you a long time to address, and even then you simply stayed inside you own litle box and failed to catch the bigger picture. Perhaps a pattern there?

I guess everything is easy to answer if you simply refuse to acknowledge there might be more to story than you thought.

"Therefore, man had to be given a free will, because love can only be possible where it is given freely. There had to be a point of decision where Adam and Eve demonstrated that their love of God was truly of their own free will."

Ah, but again you want to avoid the issue entirely. Adam and Eve's 'free will' was amoral. The story tells us it is not the 'free will' that you and I enjoy. We live in a world of good and evil. They did not. They had no knowledge of morality. Yet god let them sin, when they had no knowledge of what sin was. Why won't you address this key issue - how can you define 'right' and 'wrong' in the absence of 'good' and 'evil'?

The rest of you post is a sermon. You're certainly free spread 'the word' as you see fit. But hearing you explain the underlying principles makes for a better discussion.

Since you failed the Mary issue so disasterously, here's another for you ... care to explain the Trinity? Go on, have a go.

Still waiting to hear why god 'violates' the free will of children by allowing them to die slow and painful deaths before they can choose or reject Jesus.

Still waiting to hear how mentally disabled adults exercise their 'free will'.

Still waiting to hear what became of the Australian Aborigines' inviolate "free will" prior to 1800.

Still waiting to hear even one tiny little argument why it is impossible for the bible to have been written by satan to deceive the world.

Still waiting to hear whether you'd offer your blood to help a estranged son who was dying, even though he still refused to acknowledge you. Would you really insist on his 'acceptance' of you before you gave?

Still waiting to hear if you can exercise your will to bring about an outcome that is not in accordance with god's plan for humanity.

Imagine the universe is a Movie Gary. God is the writer, director and producer. You and I are the actors. God writes the script - but let's assume he only rights the opening and closing scenes, leaving the middle open to 'improvisation' by you and I. If you and I are able to truly choose our behaviours, then god CANNOT force the end of the movie to be his preferred ending. If god CAN and DOES act to ensure his ending, then he must at some stage violate our free will.

You can keep telling yourself that he doesn't do this. You can keep telling yourself it will all come out according to his plan. You are telling yourself contradictory nonsense. Whether you ever realise that is up to you.

Gary Kirkham said...

Well MA, you certainly do make a lot of assumptions about people you don't know. I have, in fact, studied Catholic doctrine and find that some of it is contrary to the Word of God. The fact that one billion people believe something doesn't make the belief correct. The fact that a nation of Germans followed Hitler doesn't validate millions of exterminated Jews.

I am not sure what turn of events led to the lack of civility in your nature. Somehow you have got this notion that it is acceptable to walk into someone’s "house" and start making demands. Well I hate to disappoint you, but I get to set the tone for what goes on in my “house.”

I really don't have the time to spoon feed you by specifically answering each of your demands. I chose to give you broad answers hoping you would have the intelligence to see that the answers to your specific questions lie within those answers. For example, you asked the question about the free will of Mary. I felt it reasonable to assume that are person of your professed intelligence would be able to see the answer in the statement, "He will not violate your free will." I guess that I was hoping for too much, but if it makes you feel better continue to accuse me of not answering your demands or answering them slowly.

Re-read the "sermon" and my other posts (in both threads) and think about it some more; the answers too many of your questions are there. You, either, don't see them or are unwilling to accept them. Why don’t you come out of hiding? I have asked you several times, but for some reason you are afraid. Having a civil conversation with someone I know is much better than getting interrogated by a shadow.

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Public Internet Forum Reader said...

Anonymous, Your unwillingness to reveal yourself is getting old. What are you afraid of? Why do you have to hide? Do you make the rules up as you go to accomodate your fear of being found out? The interest now isn't in the conversation you are having it is in the fact that you have been called out to reveal yourself? Readers will Mr.A reveal himself? Does Mr.A have what it takes to converse with someone who knows who he or she is or will Mr.A stay hidden in darkness? Stay tuned.
Public Internet Forum Reader

Gary Kirkham said...

MA said: "Nope. Not until you pay. You post, I post, others read."

MA,

It seems that you have so much arrogant knowledge yet so little comprehension. This is indeed my house and I do get to decide what goes on in my house. What I mean by that, obviously, is that I get to frame the discussion here any way I choose. Don't worry, your deleted post is attached.

The purpose of this blog is to share the truth's of God's Word in a way that might be helpful to others. I don't claim that I am always right, but I do know that the Word of God is always right. It is also a place for people to have civil discussions about things I have written in my blog.

The more you study the Bible, the more you find out that everything in the Bible points to Jesus and what He did on the cross. I have also taken the same approach in my writing, especially in my "conversation" with you. Perhaps your keen intellect has picked up on that fact. So, I choose the parts of your posts I respond to in order to both, generically answer your question and to illustrate the good news that is found in Jesus Christ. If you wish to have a discussion on your own terms then start your own blog...be sure you post a link.

I really do hate to disappoint you, but I will continue to respond to your posts in this manner. My purpose here isn't to have an argument, it is to share Jesus.

MA, what you need is Jesus. Only then will all of your questions be answered.




The rest of MA's deleted post:

"I have, in fact, studied Catholic doctrine ..."

If I've made a poor assumption it's because your grasp of the various topics seems to, somehow, lag behind the questions. You don't suppose this 'study' of Catholic theology is made up of occasional internet searches in response to questions I ask? Hmmmm ...

"...and find that some of it is contrary to the Word of God."

And this 'word of god' comes to you from ... the bible. And Catholic theology comes from ... the bible.

You freely admit that at least one of you is wrong. I suggest that both are wrong. Think about what that might mean Gary. You versus 2,000 years of Popes, tracing their lineage back to Peter and the Great Commission.

Now you're both trying to determine the 'intent' of god, which for some reason he has seen fit to confusingly encode into the bible in such a way that 1 billion people who CHOOSE to believe and follow him are, somehow, lead astray. Why wouldn't he be more clear? These billion seem to want the same thing as you, but can't agree on the exact details. Why make it so confusing for those who have (apparently) used their free will to choose Christ? Confusion, Deception... there's something here isn't there??

Why can't the Bible be a work of Satan, intended to deceive?

"The fact that one billion people believe something doesn't make the belief correct. "

You seem to believe that these poor 1 billion are mistaken. And yet they are so sure they are not deceived. They see you as the confused one.

Their personal conviction of being right, their internal evidence and feeling of the presense of god, all match yours. Yet one of you (at least) is wrong, despite identical experiences and 'faith-based' conviction. Gee, this faith stuff sure does seem a little resistant to reason doesn't it!

Let me repeat this comment of yours ...

"The fact that one billion people believe something doesn't make the belief correct. "

You know the main reason this is true? Because 'belief' fails against evidence, every time. Read up on Galileo's persecution at the hands of the church to see what happens when 'belief' tries to outrun 'evidence'.

Hey, you even say this yourself! Your belief is driven by your 'personal experience' (ie, evidence) of god's presence. Belief trails evidence Gary - faith is no defense against reality.

"I am not sure what turn of events led to the lack of civility in your nature."

An overdose of Baptist sermonising certainly doesn't help the civility level...

"Somehow you have got this notion that it is acceptable to walk into someone’s "house" and start making demands."

Somehow you have got this notion that a PUBLIC INTERNET FORUM is your house. Well, when you're paying the bills I'll play by your rules. When you're taking a free ride like everyone else we make the rules as we go.

"Well I hate to disappoint you, but I get to set the tone for what goes on in my “house.”"

Nope. Not until you pay. You post, I post, others read.

"I really don't have the time to spoon feed you by specifically answering each of your demands."

I wondered how long before you played the 'time' card. Sure, Just too hard to answer simple questions, especially when you've replied more than 20 times to my posts, and filled most with scripture. I guess all that time quoting and typing scrupture left you no time to actually answer the issues.

"Re-read the "sermon" and my other posts (in both threads) and think about it some more; the answers too many of your questions are there."

Hey, here's an idea. Say what you mean, in your own words. Don't throw scripture and quotes from others at me, then try to tell me "the meaning is in there - you find it". You've already agreed that interpretation is king when dealing with scripture. I'm asking simple questions here ... just answer them. I want YOUR interpretation, not mine.

Your answer to the Mary question does not address the contradictions in her birth. It is a simple statement of your belief. Now test your belief by seeing where it leads to. If you have the strength to travel the road ahead you'll find a world of wonder ahead. Or drop back into the "Me and my buddies are right - everyone else is wrong!" mentality that currently rules you. It's safe in there, isn't it Gary! Trying stepping out for a moment ... it's not that bad, really, once you try it.

"Having a civil conversation with someone I know is much better than getting interrogated by a shadow"

Perhaps you should try just having a conversation rather than avoiding the tough questions repeatedly?

Anonymous said...

"This is indeed my house and I do get to decide what goes on in my house."

Censorship Gary???? I'm shocked! But why should I be ... your use of a free public service to push an agenda is a common theme in many christian movements - and to retreat behind the walls of censorship when challenged. I suspect this is an empty threat by you, but hey, you've surprised me before.

I just hope you treat your kids a little gentler when you're challenged by their 'tone' in years to come.

Seems that when you ask for comments you mean "from those who say what I want them to say".

"I really do hate to disappoint you, but I will continue to respond to your posts in this manner."

Well, I'm disappointed then, you're correct. I had hoped to entice some thought from you, but you seem content to hide behind quotes.

'Gray Kirkham's recycled Scripture'.

"My purpose here isn't to have an argument, it is to share Jesus."

My purpose here is to ask you to understand the assumptions behind your belief, and see the dangers that lurk there. To reveal the myth that this Jesus figure is.

"It is also a place for people to have civil discussions about things I have written in my blog."

Then discuss things! Hell, stop hiding behind scripture and put - in your own words - some answers to the questions you've been asked.

"The more you study the Bible, the more you find out that everything in the Bible points to Jesus and what He did on the cross."

Ok - here's an easy one (ha!) for you. What does "Jesus died for our sins mean" Gary? To you. In your own words. Would it surprise you to learn that christian theologians are not in agreement on the exact meaning of this? But give me your version of what you think it means.

"I have also taken the same approach in my writing, especially in my "conversation" with you. Perhaps your keen intellect has picked up on that fact."

The sarcasm you inject at times (a) undermines your whole 'tone' argument totally - perhaps you've missed the fact that you give as good as you get? - and (b) it misses the point. I have never claimed "superior intelligence" - go back a reread the posts. I ask, now and always, for you to use your intelligence, to think, to reason. I'm not saying "I'm smarter than you. You are not smart enough to figure this out". I'm saying "think closer, deeper, longer about the dark corners - it's scary at first, but rewarding in the end". I'm challenging you to use the intellect you have, not accusing you of having an inferior intellect.

Anonymous said...

Dear Public Internet Forum Reader,

Thank you for your insightful contributions to the discussion. I'm sure your willingness to ignore ALL topics and focus on the irrelevant subject of identity contributes greatly to everyone's understanding of the issues.

"Anonymous, Your unwillingness to reveal yourself is getting old."

Well, it ain't going to change just 'cos you're tired of it.

"What are you afraid of?"

What makes you think fear is the motive?

"Why do you have to hide?"

Why do you call it hiding? What is the meaning of 'identity' anyway?

"Do you make the rules up as you go to accomodate your fear of being found out?"

Nice attempt at projection, but hey, I'll pass on the crappy attempt at psychology.

"The interest now isn't in the conversation you are having it is in the fact that you have been called out to reveal yourself?"

Then I suggest anyone who finds the "interest" to lie in my identity had best stop reading, 'cos they're going to get bored. Hopefully there are others who might like to hear Gary address some of the questions.

"Readers will Mr.A reveal himself?"

Nope.

"Does Mr.A have what it takes to converse with someone who knows who he or she is.."

Yes he/she does. But context has relevence in most things in life, so your assumption falls flat.

" or will Mr.A stay hidden in darkness?"

Well, as the Prince of Darkness I don't like light ... oops! Nearly gave myself away then!

"Stay tuned."

I'd suggest we need Gary to come to the party and start really talking before this can get interesting. Care to share Gary?

"Public Internet Forum Reader"

I could make some comment here about identity and ... well, why bother really. This isn't all that subtle a point...

Gary Kirkham said...

Hello MA,

If I was truly censoring your post, then I would not have reposted it. Perhaps you need to look up the word censorship in the dictionary. It was not a threat, I was simply countering your claims that you have free reign in my house. You only have what I allow you to have.

Maybe you would like to reconsider the last paragraph of your post in light of this little jewel:


The shallowness of some of your posts is ... well, amazing would be a polite term. The depth of your theology is somewhere up there on the Brittany Spears scal of lyrical content.

But then I guess staying away from "the depths" is necesary when you have no capacity to deal with reality on it's own terms.


????????????????????

Ok - here's an easy one (ha!) for you. What does "Jesus died for our sins mean"

MA, once again you are asking me a question I have already answered. Read the "sermon" again. I have answered quite a few of your questions, but on my own terms as indicated in my previous post.

Think! Closer, Deeper, Longer


I will continue to "recycle" scriptures, because God's word is the word of life, eternal, flawless and pure. God's word is true and is settled forever. I guess that you will have to get used to it.

Anonymous said...

"Perhaps you need to look up the word censorship in the dictionary. .... You only have what I allow you to have."

And that's not a threat of censorship? Word games I guess.

"Maybe you would like to reconsider the last paragraph of your post in light of this little jewel:"

No need to reconsider. My initial comment referred to the lack of depth of your opening post. It in no way inferred that you lacked a physical ability to think - just that you clearly choose NOT to think too deep.

(I've asked you to expand on : )"Jesus died for our sins mean"

"once again you are asking me a question I have already answered. ... but on my own terms as indicated in my previous post."

Well, this is tiring and futile. THe current conversatoin amousnt to :

me : "Gary, answer this in your own words".

You : "No, I won't. I'll reprint to you what others have said - you see if you can figure out what it might mean"

me : "But I'm trying to understand what YOU think it means"

you : "Well I refuse to answer. Read what others have said."

"Think! Closer, Deeper, Longer"

Then give me something to think about - give me YOUR answer, not the 'offical party line'.

"I will continue to "recycle" scriptures,"

Sure beats answering in any depth, doesn't it!

"... because God's word is the word of life, eternal, flawless and pure."

Would this be the Hebrew words as spoken by Jesus and translated into Greek by the authors of the gospel? You speak Ancient Hebrew or Greek, Gary?

"God's word is true and is settled forever."

Except, of course, the meaning of 'settled' in this sentence is completely contrary to any sensible, normal use.

You mean, of course, that god's word is 'settled' in that it has these clear attributes : (a) beyond the comprehension of mortal man in it's details, (b) open to interpretation and reinterpretation by anyone who reads it, and (c) is currently disputed by over 34,000 separate organisations who all proclaim it 'clear and settled'.

Give me one argument as to why it is impossible for the bible to be a work of Satan, created to deceive humanity?

Can you explain how to remove a moral debt Gary? Not a physical or legal debt, but a moral one?

Gary Kirkham said...

Hello MA,

You may be right; I have probably been less than civil in some of my posts. It is probably due to frustration arising from my inability to communicate to you concepts, which, to me, are so simple. Another thing that probably affected my tone was my perception or interpretation of your tone. You are right, I can give as good as I get. For that, I apologize. The Holy Spirit convicted me over the weekend that here lately, in my correspondence with you, I haven’t been walking in the Spirit.

Why did Jesus die for our sins? You want this in my own words. What you fail to understand is that my words only have value to the extent that they reflect or express the truth. So, what is the truth? I can’t express it better than the Apostles Paul and Peter. Why don’t you read this…no, don’t just skim it. Try to read it with the desire to understand it. It is very simple and clear. You don’t need anyone to interpret it for you, it speaks for itself.

For while we were still helpless, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. For one will hardly die for a righteous man; though perhaps for the good man someone would dare even to die. But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from the wrath of God through Him. For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more, having been reconciled, we shall be saved by His life. (Romans 5:6-10)

For Christ also died for sins once for all, the just for the unjust, so that He might bring us to God… (1 Peter 3:18)


What do these verses mean to you MA? Tell me in your own words. They mean exactly what they say. There is no need to read any more into them than that.

I have already covered some of this before, but man cannot truly know about God except through divine revelation. It is not possible for the finite human mind to understand the nature of the infinite God. Therefore, it was necessary that God reveal Himself to us through divinely inspired writings, and that He protect and guard them from any attempt to change even one word or one letter. It is certain that God's Word abides forever, as the prophet had said long ago: "Forever, O Lord, your word is settled in heaven" (Psalm 119:89). And the New Testament declares that "The word of God ... lives and abides forever" (1 Peter 1:23).

Do you really believe that a sovereign God would allow Satan to alter His word or allow Satan to attribute to God something that he has written? No, Satan’s attack is much more subtle than that. He operates by inspiring confusion and misinterpretation of the Word of God. He did so in the Garden of Eden:

Now the serpent was more crafty than any beast of the field which the LORD God had made. And he said to the woman, "Indeed, has God said, 'You shall not eat from any tree of the garden'?" The woman said to the serpent, "From the fruit of the trees of the garden we may eat; but from the fruit of the tree which is in the middle of the garden, God has said, 'You shall not eat from it or touch it, or you will die.'" The serpent said to the woman, "You surely will not die! "For God knows that in the day you eat from it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil." (Genesis 3:1-5)

That is what Satan is doing to you MA. He seems to be confusing you. He has you convinced that you can somehow divine everything you need to know about God and Christianity by observing the world around you. You see Christians with different beliefs about the same lines of scripture and Satan leads you to make the assumption that the problem lies in the fact that there is no God. You are looking for God in the wrong place. Sadly, you can’t look at many people that profess to be Christians and see God in their behavior. There are some who profess to be Christians who are not really Christians. There are others who are Christians who are not walking in the Spirit, which means that they are not allowing God to guide their thoughts and actions.

Too many Christians place too much trust and emphasis on their traditions and have hardly any consideration for the Spirit of God which lives in them. So you can see how someone who is not being guided by God, but by Satan, can decide that something is from God and influence people, through church tradition, for many generations. Traditions die hard. Can you think of a church where tradition carries equal, if not more, weight with the Word of God?

You have labeled me as a Baptist several times and to a certain extent you are correct, but it might surprise you to know that there are several things that I differ on from your average Baptist. Why? Because the Holy Spirit has convinced me in my heart that what I believed before was not accurate and that I only believed those things because of tradition. This change in heart only came when I was willing break with tradition and to let the Word of God speak to me directly; not what I read in a book or what someone behind a pulpit was telling me.

MA, God is not a God of confusion. He is willing to speak to you directly. Set aside what you believe, set aside observations of disagreeing Christians, set aside the lies that Satan has told you, and read the Bible. Say this prayer as you read, “God, if you really do exist then reveal yourself to me as I read this book.” Like I suggested to you before, read the Gospel of John and see where it leads you. Be prepared for a wonderful ride into the heart of God.

Anonymous said...

Gary,

[Now we finally get somewhere!]

"Do you really believe that a sovereign God would allow Satan to alter His word or allow Satan to attribute to God something that he has written?"

At last you answer the question - thanks! Any idea why I've been asking this particular question? Think about how it might relate to your opening post.

I'll leave it with you before I add more - can you connect the two topics (your 'sovereignty' post and the satan/bible question)?

"No, Satan’s attack is much more subtle than that."

But this is simply an assumption on your behalf. Only hindsight reveals the depths.

"MA, God is not a God of confusion. He is willing to speak to you directly."

Nope. Born and raised a christian. Been there, done that, God chooses silence obviously in some cases.

Quite simple really, only a few alternatives :

1. If god speaks to you, then you have truly reached the correct 'state' as defined by god and layed out in his 'word'

-OR-

2. If god speaks to you, it is actually your own kmind creating the feelings in response to your desires.

And :

3. If god refuses to speak to you, you have not yet truly reached the correct 'state'.

4. If god refuses to speak to you. he doesn't exist.

Now, the thing to note Gary is that "god speaks to you", variously phrased at times in words like "feeling god's presence" or "being moved by god" - this is a common feature of religious people of all sects! Yet none agree on what constitutes the 'correct state'. So #1 and #3 can only be true for ONE religion, yet are claimed by each in turn. On the other ahnd, #2 and #4 are compatible with ALL religions. Which explanation better fits the facts of the world as experienced by 6 billion humans?

Now, you asked a question :

"What do these verses mean to you MA?"

(Romans 5:6-10) - Key words here 'died' and 'justified'. I'll deal with this as part of looking at your second quote.

(1 Peter 3:18) - This is meaningless gibberish once you peel back the 'feel good' intent and study the words themselves. It could just as easily have said 'For Christ also painted his house blue once for all, the just for the unjust, so that He might bring us to God…'.

There are four problems here - the first (and least) is what action exactly did Christ take?

The second is how do you transfer a moral obligation?

The third is is there a debt anyway?

The fourth(and biggest) is where lies the moral obligation?

Lets look at the first. We've already discussed that the use of the word 'died' is a deceit - that the meaning of this collection of letters is different in this context that when applied to 'normal humans'.

Let's assume you wish to 'die' in place of your child who has committed some terrible crime and is to be punished. You offer yourself instead. You 'die', but do so in the knowledge that you will be successfully revived 3 days later. This is not 'death' as faced by humans. Christ did NOT die a human death, despite the use of the word. The sacrifice is a shallow gesture. Now without the resurrection you might have a case. But you don't. But I imagine you'll continue to misuse the word 'died' because it's what you want the system to be like...

The second issue - transference of moral obligation. If you incurr a moral debt through your own free actions, how can that debt be moved to another? Can they 'choose' to take your debt without you permission? Can you force your debt onto them without their permission? Even if both of you agree, can your moral debt ever truly be moved to another? If moral consequences ARE transferable, then in what sense do they ever really belong to you? Are you just 'minding' them until later? If they truly are a aspect of your own self, then how can they be moved to another?

The third issue - Is there even a debt to transfer. As discussed before, it's abundantly clear that Adam and Eve cannot have commited a immoral act, since they were created without knowledge of good and evil. Morality doesn't exist in such a state, therefore there was no crime worth punishing.

This is essentially why the early chritian writers created the concept of "Original Sin" - it's a 'special type' of sin that is genetically transferable, and can be created in a moral vaccumn. The fact that neither of these 'attributes' makes any sense is ignored simply because the concept is necessary to drive the resulting theology. Classic 'cart before the horse' stuff (same philosophy drives the "Trinity" - we can get onto that if you like eventually).

Can you show me the part of the bible that mentions the phrase "Original Sin"? How about the writings of the 4 Gospels -the most relevant of all the words attributed to god via Jesus? Any idea which book introduces the concept of a genetic 'taint' on humanity?

Got a quote from Genesis where god mentions the genetic taint?

Anyway, you wouldn't want to be relying on 'traditional writings' to derive this concept would you? Surely the clear and unchanging word of god would UNAMIGUOUSLY identify the central point of all humanity's existence - to decide via free will our own individual reaction to Original Sin.

Can you point out where in the old testament or the gospels there is a mention of this taint? Leave Paul out of it - build a case for Original Sin without reference to Paul. Not as an implied concept, but as a central aspect of the theology. Hard, isn't it! Now, ask yourself why the entire bible is NOT riddled though and through with this fundamental aspect of god's relationship with man? One answer might be ... because it was added by a later writer - perhaps to resolve potential ambiguities in the underlying theology?

Finally, the fourth issue - who's debt would it be anyway? God created Adam, the world, Sin and Satan. Any debt created by the behaviour of man cannot be absolved from god.

You create a sandpit in your backyard. You place a 2 year child in that sand pit, and a yound kitten. You watch from a distance. The child digs a hole and buries the kitten, killing it. The moral debt is yours, not the child. Simply arguing that the "child had free will - it could have acted differently if it chose to" is invalid. Any debt incurred by Adam and Eve is god's moral debt, not humanities. With great power comes great resonsibility Peter Parker!

"They mean exactly what they say. There is no need to read any more into them than that."

Well, we disagree. They mean whatever YOU want them to mean, since you provide the interpretive, contextual, meanings for so many of the words.

"Like I suggested to you before, read the Gospel of John and see where it leads you."

Have read the entire bible, including some of the books that failed to 'make the cut', and including those removed by Luther - can you say the same Gary? You rail against 'tradition', and yet it is simply 'tradition' that defines the bible itself.

"Be prepared for a wonderful ride into the heart of God."

Try reading the Quran, or the Book of Morman, or the Bhagavad Vita. Adds a vastly new perspective - which I think you'd enjoy! And leads to a wonderful ride into the heart of the gods of man. And if you find the courage to walk the distance, it leads to a wonderful realisation of the creativity of humanity.

Gary Kirkham said...

Hello MA,
I am not sure where you think we are getting, but it will be interesting to see.

Born and raised a christian.

The fact that you make this statement shows that you have no concept of what it means to be a Christian. Until we can nail this down, then whatever else we discuss is of little consequence. So, please tell me about yourself...give my your testimony. Please tell me when and how you became a Christian and how it affected your life.

correct 'state'.

Meaning what? Once again you are showing some serious misconceptions about what it means to be a Christian.

I am trying to help you with all of these misconceptions you have, but you continue to try and cloud the issue with arguments that amount to nothing.

Gary Kirkham said...

MA,

I did want to say one more thing. Why would I want to leave Paul out of anything? His writings are just as true as that of any other of the writers of the Bible. They, as a whole, are the revealed Word of the Living God. God chose to reveal Himself at different times to different people. He revealed Himself through the prophets and in the fullness of time He revealed Himself through His Son, Jesus Christ. He continued to reveal Himself through the inspired writings of the Apostles. Each of those pieces fit together to make the whole. Each is revealed at the proper time to serve the purposes of God.

Paul seems to be a popular Apostle to pick on. It is probably because His writings are so difficult to understand, especially to observant Jews and people who have a lot of pride (but, I repeat myself). Listen to what the Apostle Peter had to say about Paul:

Therefore, beloved, since you look for these things, be diligent to be found by Him in peace, spotless and blameless, and regard the patience of our Lord as salvation; just as also our beloved brother Paul, according to the wisdom given him, wrote to you, as also in all his letters, speaking in them of these things, in which are some things hard to understand, which the untaught and unstable distort, as they do also the rest of the Scriptures, to their own destruction. 2 Peter 3:14-16

It doesn't seem that Peter had too much problem with any of Paul's teachings. But, again, all of this stuff is just a smoke screen which avoids the real issue.

MA, you need a savior. You can believe the distortions of scripture perpetrated by unstable men under the influence of Satan. But it can only end with your own eternal destruction. Consider what David wrote:

Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity, and in sin my mother conceived me. Behold, You desire truth in the innermost being, and in the hidden part You will make me know wisdom. Psalm 51:5-6

MA, you were conceived in sin and in your sins you will die. If you will only turn your heart toward Jesus, and trust Him as your Lord and Savior, He will make you know wisdom deep inside your heart.

Anonymous said...

Nice way to avoid everything I said Gary!

How about anseering the quesitons I raised, since I spent the time to answer yours.

Let me repeat it :

(you said) "Do you really believe that a sovereign God would allow Satan to alter His word or allow Satan to attribute to God something that he has written?"

( I ask ) Any idea why I've been asking this particular question? Think about how it might relate to your opening post.

Care to try and answer this?

"The fact that you make this statement shows that you have no concept of what it means to be a Christian."

It seems the only way you can address anything I say is by assuming I'm an atheist who "doesn't get it". I guess that's why it's so weasy for you to dismisis taht 1 billoin Catholics as "not really christians" - they don't get it either, do they!

"MA, you need a savior."

Oh, but which one! So many to chose... Allah preserve us!

"You can believe the distortions of scripture perpetrated by unstable men under the influence of Satan."

Can you offer any reason at all for why the bible CANNOT be a creation of satan?

"But it can only end with your own eternal destruction."

Physically, yes. We agree. Now about the soul - you know, that thing you can't define, measure or experience in any way...

"MA, you were conceived in sin and in your sins you will die."
I was conceived in lust ... is that your point?

Sorry, but I have children, and they are not born tainted. They, and we, will make our mistakes and pay our dues, but the slate starts clean. Care to address any of teh 4 points I raised as to why this is so?

"If you will only turn your heart toward Jesus, and trust Him as your Lord and Savior, He will make you know wisdom deep inside your heart."

Gee ... now where have I heard this before. Oh wait, now I remember - the last time I spoke with a Mormon! He "knew wisdom in his heart". Of course, he also knew that the Book of Mormon was true scripture. Explain why your truth beats his?

About Paul ...

"Why would I want to leave Paul out of anything?"

It's call a 'thought experiment'. You take a hypothetical situation, think about what it tells you about something, then reappraise the original.

It doesn;t bother you at all the it is only something written after the death of Jesus that introduces the central concept of your faith? For some reason god thought it a 'good idea' to have Jesus forget to mention Original Sin in any shape or form?

Of course you are right - god may have decided, for purposes known only to him, to make Paul the messenger for this most vital of all christian concepts. Seems an odd way of doing things, but then your god has never been a model of consistency or reason. Kind of convenient to just say 'he works in mysterious ways' whenever it starts getting a little illogical (speaking of illogical - care to try and explain the trinity?). But then you seem to ahve no problem in decalring that (a) you can clearly see at least some of the details of god's plan and (b) you admit your finite comprehension cannot understand an infinite god. (nice word game there again by the way - 'infinite' is a mathematical concept, not a theological one. But hey, you often seem willing to apply 'appropriate' meanings to words to make the context work).

Let's try another tack, since you seem unwilling to move away from scripture in any answer you give. When good christians die, they will ... what? What is heaven? What does scripture tell us about what awaits the righteous? Got any idea what heaven actually is?

Jimmy said...

Gary, Anonymous & others,
I'm new to this blog although I have followed the the dialogue between Gary & Anonymous to some extent. Anonymous, bottom line is, God loves you in Christ and calls on you to respond to His invitation. Obcession with Mary, the immaculate conception, Heaven and whatever other issues the spirit in you compells you to chase will never change the bottom line, core issue. God has loved you in Christ and calls you to Himself. Nothing will ever change that issue. We are people and don't define the central subject of our lives. God does. The absurdity of our supposed wisdom is revealed when we make arguments like yours that since there are so many different interpretations of the Christian faith that none of them can be true. If a class of 30 students give 30 different answers to a test question does that lead us to conclude that none of the answers are correct. That is one of dozens of ridiculous leaps of logic which you have made. The irony is your inability to see your own irrationality in the midst of pointing out what you see as illogical in Gary and the others. And get this, it's not just you. Gary, the others, and myself are all prone to the same kind of pride-filled judgements and blindness. These ridiculous debates only reveal our insufficiency and God's total sufficiency. The correct response to this realization is humility that results in faith. Reason will never take you where revelation has taken those who you are attacking. May the Spirit of God illuminate the truth of the Word of God so that you might see Jesus Christ as He really is.

Anonymous said...

Jimmy,

thanks for joining in ... perhaps you'll make more of an effort to respond that Gary does.

A couple of quick points. You say :

"If a class of 30 students give 30 different answers to a test question does that lead us to conclude that none of the answers are correct. That is one of dozens of ridiculous leaps of logic which you have made."

No, you misunderstand. We don't conclude that ALL 30 are wrong. But we know immediately that AT LEAST 29 are wrong. So we have to try and determine which one, IF ANY, is correct. So we look at the process by which the answer has been arrived at by each student. And we discover that all 30 have used exactly the same process! But they go further - each of the 30 claims that their answer is correct BECAUSE the method they used cannot fail.

See now why "scripture" and "faith" cannot be relied upon as the keystones of truth? In your exsmple, at least 29 people have tried to do this and have failed. I'm suggesting that perhaps you, the 30th to try the same approach, have also failed. You believe that you haven't failed, that you have found the answer. Same claim as the other 29.

Doesn't that worry you even a little?

"The irony is your inability to see your own irrationality in the midst of pointing out what you see as illogical in Gary and the others."

That's not irony anyway, but it's also not what I'm doing. Just trying to point out that your personal conviction of truth is not more reliable that the other 29 - which you agree with me are incorrect.

Hey, both of us think 29 are wrong - I just happen to add one more to the wrong list than you do!

"And get this, it's not just you. Gary, the others, and myself are all prone to the same kind of pride-filled judgements and blindness. These ridiculous debates only reveal our insufficiency and God's total sufficiency."

*sigh* - you make judgements, big and small, all day every day. It's what separates you from animals. It's the very core of what you call 'free will'. The NEED to make judgemenst is clear. It's the WAY you make judgements that matters.

You are called all the time to determine, via whatever method you choose, to make judgements on what the scriptures truly tell us. The fact that you choose to label some of these judgements "so obvious there's no need to question it" (such as, for example, the existence of Jesus), and to label others as "prideful" is simply assuming your conclusion.

"The correct response to this realization is humility that results in faith."

Humility is a nice trait - America could use a little more of it now and then. Faith - without reason - however is the realm of the fundamentalist, and we all know what they are capable of.

trent@ gracehead.com said...

I like that. I'm syndicating your feed, because I think that you must be a fellow gracehead!

Jimmy said...

Mr. Anonymous, I am very tempted to be drawn into your relentless strategy of diversion to point out that, yes, that is "irony" (I am about 100% confident of this as a former English/Literature teacher). I will, though, resist. I notice that you chose a number of my comments to respond to and question, but I find it interesting that you didn't respond to my conclusion. You have spent much time trying to pick apart the methods of Gary and others while continuing to try to avoid the central issue. The 3 sentences pasted below are the last 3 sentences of my comment to you and all 3 are vital. You quoted the first, but please consider all 3, especially the 2nd and 3rd. Thanks! Here are the closing 3 sentences:

"The correct response to this realization is humility that results in faith. Reason will never take you where revelation has taken those who you are attacking. May the Spirit of God illuminate the truth of the Word of God so that you might see Jesus Christ as He really is."

You will no doubt feel I have ignored your questions about my post. That's okay. We will never reason ourselves to agreement. The truth is, there is not one question that you have asked Gary, others or myself that cannot be easily and reasonably answered. But reason will never take you where only revelation can. That is why, although it is very tempting, believers will not be drawn into chasing and explaining diversionary questions. We choose not to be a part of contributing to your moving away from the central issue of your need for Christ. Only God can convince you of this. So, I choose to stay with those 3 sentences and leave you, for today, with them and the drawing and convicting power of the Spirit of God. Praying God's best for you. Jimmy

Anonymous said...

Jimmy,

"Mr. Anonymous, I am very tempted to be drawn into your relentless strategy of diversion...

How ironic that you level an accusation of 'diversion' at me in the midst of Gary's constant refusal to enter into a discussion ... oh, never mind.

".. to point out that, yes, that is "irony""

Hmmm ... perhaps you're right. Let me look at it again.

"(I am about 100% confident of this as a former English/Literature teacher)."

Appeal to authority noted (Relevence of auhority noted also!)

"I will, though, resist."

Perhaps I should resist too. But best way to learn is to listen to others ... so lets see.

A trip to the American Heritage Dictionary offers the following (editing to reduce it to the relevant parts) -

Irony :

1a. The use of words to express something different from and often opposite to their literal meaning.

1b. An expression or utterance marked by a deliberate contrast between apparent and intended meaning.

1c. A literary style employing such contrasts for humorous or rhetorical effect.

2a. Incongruity between what might be expected and what actually occurs

2b. An occurrence, result, or circumstance notable for such incongruity.

Now, hopefully we can can agree that none of (a), (b) or (c) of the first definition readily applies. So you're obviously going for definition 2 - that my (alleged) use of illogical reasoning to accuse others of illogical reasoning is an "incongruity".

If a third person was to watch a discussion, and note that I'm attemping to question someone's 'logic' but I do so by using an illogical process, then would they percieve this as 'incongruent'?

Yes, I think you're right! My apologies, that is indeed a form of irony.

Of course, I deny that is what I was doing (and hopefully explained why previously). But I (now) agree it would be ironic if I did so!

But you asked a more relevent question (or two ) :

"You have spent much time trying to pick apart the methods of Gary and others while continuing to try to avoid the central issue."

Not surprisingly, I disagree.

"You quoted the first, but please consider all 3,..."

I consider the second and third to be largely irrelevant (ha!), but since you ask;

1. "The correct response to this realization is humility that results in faith."

Humility = good. Reasonable faith = necessary. Unreasoned faith = bad. Do I need to explain why?

2. "Reason will never take you where revelation has taken those who you are attacking."

Define 'revelation'. Please explain how two men can experience 'truth through revelation', yet each knows the other is completely and utterly wrong?

3. "May the Spirit of God illuminate the truth of the Word of God so that you might see Jesus Christ as He really is."

This has no meaning that I can discern - it's essentially a unsupported argument containing numerous undefined concepts. Perhaps more importantly, it's essentially nothing more than a personal expectation (better yet, a 'wish') that you need to be true. You need this sentence to be true so much that you fear to question it's validity. Its an axiom you've chosen for yourself. Fair enough, we all rest our worldviews on one foundation or other. Hopefully it's been clear that my questions here are attempts to have people examine their axioms.

"The truth is, there is not one question that you have asked Gary, others or myself that cannot be easily and reasonably answered."

Well, I'd find this asssertion more believeable if someone made an effort to actually provide these "easy answers", rather than just repeatedly tell me 'sure they exist'.

Anyway, the central point I'm getting from you is probably best captured in this quote :

"But reason will never take you where only revelation can."

Perhaps I'll understand you a little better (or perhaps you'll udnerstand me?) if you could explain why that sentence of yours has more 'truth' that any of these :

1. "But reason will never take you where only Allah can."

2. "But reason will never take you where only schizophrenia can."

3. "But reason will never take you where only gurnifstication can."

Care to tackle that one?

Jimmy said...

Mr. Anonymous,
Thanks for your reply. Yes, you are correct. A large part of my point is that reason will never take you where only revelation can. Your responses to Gary and myself often come back to the argument that since other views exist and believe themselves to be true, then our belief in Christ being the truth is somehow invalidated. Do you see the weakness of that argument? Bottom line question: Do you believe there is truth? It appears that you do not. If there is truth, how can the argument that since many people hold many opposing views prove that they are all equally wrong? As I said, you did nail a large part of what I am saying in my statement about revelation taking you where reason cannot. Please don't miss the related part. It has to do with your response to the claim of Jesus Christ on your life. He is the truth. He can be your Truth. When you do come to Him by faith, you will know truths about the spiritual world with as much certainty as your reason allows you to know truths in the physical world. So, the central issue always is and always will be this: Will you submit to God through Jesus Christ on His terms? It is, at its root, a question of authority and submission. Will you?

Anonymous said...

jimmy,

[More to say, but have to be quick]

"Your responses to Gary and myself often come back to the argument that since other views exist and believe themselves to be true, then our belief in Christ being the truth is somehow invalidated."

That is not the argument. I seem to be failing to be clear.

"If there is truth, how can the argument that since many people hold many opposing views prove that they are all equally wrong?"

Again, not what I mean. I'll try to restate the issue better ... will on this post when I get more time.

"So, the central issue always is and always will be this: Will you submit to God through Jesus Christ on His terms?"

See, I can't even agree on this ... what does "on His Terms" mean? There are over 34,000 different sects of christianity ... the largest, Catholicism, has recently offered the premise that salvation "may" be available to those who do not know Christ. Would you agree to this? If you and the Catholic church cannot agree on what "His Terms" are, then what are you submitting to?

Why would god require 'submission' anyway? What moral purpose is served by threatening retribution until 'submission'?

And since you're being more responsive, care to try and connect the dots between Gary's opening post in this thread, and the question "why can't the bible be a work of Satan?"

[By the way, I'm still troubled by the irony debate! There's something unsatisfying about the definition that we've applied. It may be incogruent for the heavily favored Colts to lose to the 49ers for example, but it doesn't feel ironic. Incongruency seems insufficient for irony. Perhaps irony is proof of christian salvation - they both seem equally resistant to precise definition).

Jimmy said...

Mr. Anonymous,

You are mistaken to conclude that Gary has been unresponsive. What you have interpreted as being unresponsive is simply the result of your being unable to understand someone with a worldview radically different from your own. I find you unresponsive as well, but I must remember that you may not be so intentionally. You simply have a different worldview and absolutely cannot understand a perspective that you do not have now and have never had. The difference is, Gary and myself once lived life from your rationalistic worldview. So we can understand where you're coming from... at least enough to know that we could never fill in enough blanks to satsify you. Only God's Spirit can convince you of spiritual truths. Yes, there are many very prominent authors, etc. who have come to faith in Christ who first set out to attack the faith because they held a different worldview. They did eventually have to humble themselves and come by simple faith in Christ, but God did seem to use reasonable answers to their questions as a first step along the road to them taking that step. However, with you, the worldview problem is complicated by the fact that I don't sense you really have any desire to know the truth. Thus, my hesitation to enter into the time it would take to answer your questions (I do find it IRONIC that what you seem to think are "gotcha questions" are actually not very challenging) and contribute to your diversion from the central issue (and you know what that is). For now, I'd like to get out of the way so that you and Gary can go forward without my interruptions. You were right in turning attention back to Gary's original post. If I am mistaken and you are open to finding the truth even if it would totally decimate your current worldview, I would consider a dialogue on a forum that would not distract from Gary's blog. Gotta go...have a great Christmas

Anonymous said...

jimmy,

"You are mistaken to conclude that Gary has been unresponsive."

Then I'm afraid you must be using some other definition of 'responsive'.

"...simply the result of your being unable to understand someone with a worldview radically different from your own."

You're wrong, and your assumption is probably based on a failure by you to ask any relevant questions before launching into

I spend a lot of my time 'walking in other's shoes' in order to experience different worldviews. I find it particularly intriguing to watch christian worldviews collide, as each 'christian' explains why they are the 'real holders of truth.

"I find you unresponsive as well"

Please point to a question you've asked that I've failed to respond to. I'll correct the ommission.

"You simply have a different worldview and absolutely cannot understand a perspective that you do not have now and have never had."

Imagine my surprise that you are playing the "true scotsman" card at this point.

"The difference is, Gary and myself once lived life from your rationalistic worldview."

You still do. If I tried to convince you I could fly, you'd use reason to counter my arguments.

Your premise is that rationality has limits. You add a further aasumption that 'truth' lives outside these limits. When we start to talk about how you define these limits, which parts of life and knowledge live on which side of the line, you stop discussing and retreat to the position that "thre's a limit, you know". This limit is apparently clear, yet undefined. WHen I prod you to the limit, the converstin dies. I find this significant, even if you find it uncomfortable.

"So we can understand where you're coming from... at least enough to know that we could never fill in enough blanks to satsify you."


"Only God's Spirit can convince you of spiritual truths."

Define 'Spiritual truths'.

"Yes, there are many very prominent authors, etc. who have come to faith in Christ who first set out to attack the faith because they held a different worldview. They did eventually have to humble themselves and come by simple faith in Christ, but God did seem to use reasonable answers to their questions as a first step along the road to them taking that step."

There are also many such people who have set out to challenge but ultimately come to a belief in Allah. Of course, you'd rather believe that 'humble' people find the real turth in your version of god, and anyone who finds some other 'truth' simply isn't 'humble' enough.

"However, with you, the worldview problem is complicated by the fact that I don't sense you really have any desire to know the truth."

Jimmy, I hope you are/were a better teacher than you are

"Thus, my hesitation to enter into the time it would take to answer your questions"

Well we agree here - I find very little time being spent by you or Gary in the answer you offer.

"(I do find it IRONIC that what you seem to think are "gotcha questions" are actually not very challenging)"

I'll pass on any further discussion of irony, and simply restate that just repeatedly telling me "these questions are easy" is far less enlightening that actually GIVING AN ANSWER.

This is the third time you'd declared that each and every question I've asked is simnple to address - and the third time you've failed to address any of the questions at all.

Perhaps I should take a moment to add that reason cannot defeat faith - we both know this. Faith is a concept held either without supporting evidence, or in contradiction to evidence. Therefore, it's immune by definition to reason.

"For now, I'd like to get out of the way so that you and Gary can go forward without my interruptions."

Fine. If you're not actually going to offer anything more detailed that than "it all makes sense to you once you stop thinking about it" then I guess we're both better off ny you dropping out.

"You were right in turning attention back to Gary's original post."

Call it a mistaken belief that you (or Gary) might actually finally address the questions.

"If I am mistaken and you are open to finding the truth even if it would totally decimate your current worldview,"

*sigh* - my world view is tolerant of change. It's changed more than once. You need to understand that "finding the truth" does not mean "Agreeing with Jimmy" - think you can manage that?

Could you be wrong Jimmy? Could it be that Christ is a construction of men, not gods? Any chance of that being true? If the answer is "No - no chance at all" then in what way does this inner conviction that you feel differ from a Morman's conviction?

Can you explain the difference?

"I would consider a dialogue on a forum that would not distract from Gary's blog."

Perhaps, although I doubt you'd consider 'neutral ground'. Have anything in mind?

Anonymous said...

Jimmy and Gary,

"Gotta go...have a great Christmas"

Thanks guys. May you and your families both have a great festive period.

I've tried various styles and approaches over the past months to try and tease responses from you, and to introduce concepts to you. It's been both fun and enlightening at times. It truly is fascinating probing the various flavours of American Christianity, something the web has made far more accessible.

Despite appeareances, we agree on far more than we disagree. Take comfort in the facts of our existence - we are alive, we are human. The solutions to the problems we face here and now lie within the resources available to us here and now. The knowledge of any 'truth' of what lies beyond your death is forever denied to you while you live, despite either presence or lack of faith.

Perhaps we'll resume this next year, perhaps not. I hope your god decides to grant you more time to explore this world - you add value IMHO! Look after those around you, and don't forget to think about things!

Gary Kirkham said...

Hello Jimmy. Thank you for taking the time to drop by and share your thoughts. Feel free to come back anytime and write whatever the Lord puts on your heart.

MA, I believe that Jimmy is correct in his assertion that you really don’t want answers. You have you purpose for being here and I have mine. I have shared with you my purpose, which is to share the good news of Jesus Christ and what it means to live in His grace. That purpose is not served by entering into an endless debate with you or anyone else.

MA, you are like a man who has a condition, such as kidney disease, and you have been told that you must drive across town in order to receive treatment, in this case, dialysis. Without dialysis, you will die. Knowing that you don’t know the location of the dialysis clinic, those who prescribed the treatment give you detailed directions to the clinic. For whatever reason, you ignore the directions and, in return, ask questions such as, “Why are the street signs painted green?” or “Why are the curbs on Elm Street two inches taller than the curbs on Maple Avenue?” or “Why are the manhole covers round?”.

All of these questions have answers, but they are ancillary to your most important need. You need the treatment that will save your life and I, and others, have been trying to show you the way to get well. The questions you have asked here are really no different in relevancy than the ones asked in the example above. They only focus on things that are not central to your primary need…your need for a Savior.

Have a merry and safe Christmas and, at some point, try to think about the reason for this season, His name is Jesus Christ.

Anonymous said...

Gary/Jimmy,

I could say so much more, but really you've covered it all here :

"The questions you have asked here are really no different in relevancy than the ones asked in the example above. They only focus on things that are not central to your primary need…your need for a Savior."

Again, you simply assume the conclusion, then use the conclusion to justify the premise.

IF I need a savoiur you might ahve a point - but were' supposedly trying to see just how we know we need saving. That requires you to put aside, even just for the time it takes to have this conversation, for you to put aside your conclusion. You seem unable - or unwillingly - to do so. That kills the conversation right there, and has repeatly. If you're unable to step outside your box, even momentarily, then I'm afraid you probably can't even see the box!

If you're up for it, try a little reading :

http://forums.randi.org/showthread.php?t=45321

Jimmy said...

Mr. Anonymous,
You have no idea to what degree you are right about your conclusion concerning the futility of having the kind of dialogue you desire. You mentioned a box, so let me try to illustrate with a box...Two men search for a box. One finds the box. The other wants to discuss where the box might be or even whether there is actually a box to find. He asks the finder of the box to pretend he does not have it so that they may discuss evidence that the box exists and how he knows what the box is like. To do this would be the most irrational act imaginable. Your desire that Gary and I "put aside our conclusion" is never going to happen --- because that conclusion is an experiencing and knowing of truth of such certainty that to lay it aside would be as irrational as having debates about the existence of a box, where it may be found, and what it is like...while all the time possessing the box being debated. Hey, no hard feelings. In fact, praying for you. No, not the holier than thou kind of praying. Rather, the kind that knows that I was once exactly where you are, that I did nothing to merit the peace and certainty of the truth that I now have in Christ, and that my heart's desire is that you come to know Him and that one day I meet you in eternity. God bless.

Gary Kirkham said...

Jimmy,
Thanks for dropping by again and sharing your thoughts. It has been a while since I have felt like writing anything because of the holidays and an illness. I will continue to pray for MA as well.

MA, once again you state that I have assumed a conclusion, so once again I must state that I have not done so. I have started with the truth and have done nothing more than to agree with the truth. The truth stands on its own. Truth can often be arrived at by logic, but it can never be invalidated by logic. You ask me to set aside my conclusion, but what you are really asking me is to set aside the truth. How hard would it be for you to set aside the truth? But then why would you want to?

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." John 8: 31, 32

There is freedom in the truth, freedom from the guilt of sin and the power of sin. That is what Jesus is offering you MA. I pray that you take Him up on His offer of forgiveness and eternal life. He is waiting patiently for you to come to Him. Turn your heart to Him and He will save you.

Anonymous said...

Jimmy and Gary,

[dropped by to see if either had offered a comment on my link ... nope, and not all that surprised]

...I'm at a loss as to what else to say. Both of you are continuing to offer the same argument - Here's how I'd phrase your words : "we KNOW we have found truth. We feel it, experience it, see it every day. Once you have that, you can't go back. You can't even imagine being wrong about it".

The single biggest point I'm trying to get you to acknowledge, and which you continually refuse to do so, is that this is NOT UNIQUE TO CHRISTIANITY. Do this, please - find a Scientologist. Sit with them, and listen to their tale of exprience, of euphoria, of the moment of revelation when they finally understanding the benefits that auditing brings.

Discuss with a Muslim the relationship they share with Allah. Try asking a Hindu about the peace and beauty of the Vedas.

In each of these humans, they speak of their personal knowledge of "the box". They have found it, it is real, it shapes their life. They cannot understand questioning of "the box". And they each feel that "the others" are mistaken.

You only experience this world through a single perspective, ever. Jimmy CAN NEVER experiecen Gary's "box", or vice versa. But they can talk,a nd agree that since their experiences of "the box" are so similar, that in fact they are the same experiences. The conclusion then follows that the are the same "box".

I see shared experiences everywhere. I don't doubt your experience, your personal 'knowledge' of "the box", the influece you feel "the box" has on your life. I think we all have a "box". Even athiests have a version of "the box" as well.

Where does all this lead? 3 points :

1. The "experience" is real, and shared, amongst all mankind - we all sense and work within "the box" (some better than otehrs, orf course!).

2. The "box" is a different shape and colour for so many people.

3. Since you can only ever 'see' the colour and shape of your own "box", you cannot (easily) imagine another other "box".

You guys are stuck at #3.

[jimmy wrote:] "Your desire that Gary and I "put aside our conclusion" is never going to happen"

Yes, you're probably right. That's the nature of these conversations. The 'believer' cannot imagine what lies beyond the box. It's a pity, because althought he box gives you boundaries, it limits your sight as well. There's more to see thatn you realise. And only this life to see it in.

[jimmy wrote:] "Rather, the kind that knows that I was once exactly where you are,"

Oh, I doubt it. It's the presumption of all believers to assume that "everyone else" is missing out, and lacking, and desparately searching - even if denying that they are.

You think there are two states to the spirtual journey :

A. Looking/searching/feeling lost/trying..

B. Finding/accepting/believeing...

Most people - you guys included - stop at 'B'. Many people even bypass 'A', simply by never quesitoning their cultural heritage.

But there is a 'C', and it awaits those who have the courage to see the world, and their place in it, as it really is. 'C' takes a lot more work that you might think sometimes, but the rewards are there for the taking.

Humans are pack animals - most seek to follow, few seek to lead. Most find 'B' is the state that works best for them. A few push on to 'C'. Jimmy, I doubt you've ever been near 'C', and from your comments perhaps that's for the best.

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Gary Kirkham said...

Hello MA, thank you for dropping by. I have tried on several occasions to communicate to you a basic truth, but you have either failed to comprehend it or have failed to acknowledge it. Truth exists regardless or whether I can feel it, experience it, or see it. My acceptance of truth does not validate that truth and your rejection of truth does not invalidate that truth. Truth stands on its own. It requires nothing from us other than a choice…acceptance or rejection.

You specify two states for a person’s spiritual journey. Then you try to add a third state, which is not really a state at all. Why? Because states B and C are not mutually exclusive conditions. It comes down to where you place your faith; in what you accept and believe. You have chosen to place your faith in what you can see and reason for yourself. If your reasoning is faulty, then your faith is misplaced and the “C” you believe in will have to change to reflect your newest reasoned position.

Maybe you will try to tell me that the things that you have reasoned for yourself have never been proven wrong by yourself or by others. Good luck with that. Maybe you will be honest. The truth I have placed my faith in never changes and has never been proven wrong. My own human reasoning about that truth may convince me that the truth is a lie. My own human reasoning about that truth may convince me that there are many different truths and that it doesn’t really matter which one I choose. But does any of that change the truth? Absolutely not! The problem is not with the truth, the problem lies in human reasoning…yes, that thing that you place so much of your faith in.

I have chosen to place my faith in the truth, His name is Jesus Christ. He is the “C” that deserves the “B”

And Jesus came up and spoke to them, saying, "All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth.” (Matthew 28:18)

And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death— even death on a cross! Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. (Philippians 2:8-11)

That if you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved; for with the heart a person believes, resulting in righteousness, and with the mouth he confesses, resulting in salvation. (Romans 10:9,10)