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Source: (consider it) Thread: Purgatory: Will God allow anyone to go to hell?
Marvin the Martian

Interplanetary
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quote:
Originally posted by IngoB:
Unfortunately, and as mentioned, the analogy is faulty in that moral decisions in real life often involve (seemingly) positive experiences for the wrong choice.

That is indeed a problem.

The natural instinct to duck is based on the certainty of pain if one doesn't. When 'ducking' results not in the avoidance of pain but of pleasure, it becomes something far from instinctive. Very far indeed.

In fact, it becomes a matter of faith and belief. Namely the belief that in 'ducking' pleasure now, one is in fact 'ducking' a far worse pain in the future.

But that belief is, in itself, very far from instinctive...

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Hail Gallaxhar

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Freddy
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quote:
Originally posted by IngoB:
Now you are suggesting the following "credit" scheme:

Maybe this is the real issue here. [Paranoid]

We know that there is no such thing as "credit". Therefore it is a mistake to accept a scheme that appears to give credit to anyone except God.

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"Consequently nothing is of greater importance to a person than knowing what the truth is." Swedenborg

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Marvin the Martian

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quote:
Originally posted by Freddy:
We know that there is no such thing as "credit". Therefore it is a mistake to accept a scheme that appears to give credit to anyone except God.

The trouble with such an approach is, there are some of us who hear that there's nothing we can do to effect our own Salvation, and so we do nothing. If no amount of trying can force open the Pearly Gates, why try at all?

If we poor humans are completely and totally incapable of effecting our Salvation, then nothing we do on Earth matters and we can do what we like.

Tell me what's wrong with that theory, without saying that something we do on Earth affects our Salvation. If you can.

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Hail Gallaxhar

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Freddy
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quote:
Originally posted by Marvin the Martian:
quote:
Originally posted by Freddy:
We know that there is no such thing as "credit". Therefore it is a mistake to accept a scheme that appears to give credit to anyone except God.

The trouble with such an approach is, there are some of us who hear that there's nothing we can do to effect our own Salvation, and so we do nothing. If no amount of trying can force open the Pearly Gates, why try at all?

If we poor humans are completely and totally incapable of effecting our Salvation, then nothing we do on Earth matters and we can do what we like.

Tell me what's wrong with that theory, without saying that something we do on Earth affects our Salvation. If you can.

I agree with you completely. I think that this has been protestant Christianity's huge error. We have not been able to see our way out of the concept of an all-encompassing divine omnipotence.

The trouble is that the Bible everywhere speaks as if what we do affects our salvation.

To me, as I have said above, it seems like an easy thing to assign our freedom of choice to God's grace.

This, then, makes us responsible for our life choices without assigning ourselves credit.

Another way to put this is that claiming merit is an act of theft from God, since only He has merit and all power is His. So salvation necessarily involves this acknowledgment.

By contrast the refusal to make this acknowledgment, and seeing ourselves as agents rather than recipients, is inconsistent with the joy of heaven and places true happiness outside of our reach.

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"Consequently nothing is of greater importance to a person than knowing what the truth is." Swedenborg

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GreyFace
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quote:
Originally posted by Marvin the Martian:
The trouble with such an approach is, there are some of us who hear that there's nothing we can do to effect our own Salvation, and so we do nothing. If no amount of trying can force open the Pearly Gates, why try at all?

There's your problem, if you don't mind me saying, and IngoB's earlier posts offer a way out.

We don't have to force open the Gates. That's what it means to say we can't effect our own salvation (note the difference between effect and affect).

However, it would seem sensible to ring the doorbell, or failing that, to walk through the Gates once God's opened them. And I don't really understand, to get all sola scriptura on you, how the more fatalist traditions can be reconciled with Scripture.

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Marvin the Martian

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quote:
Originally posted by Freddy:
This, then, makes us responsible for our life choices without assigning ourselves credit.

Another way to put this is that claiming merit is an act of theft from God, since only He has merit and all power is His. So salvation necessarily involves this acknowledgment.

This (to me) sounds too much like the idea of God as a Managing Director sitting in his office all day and taking the credit for the work his employees (ie us) have done...

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Hail Gallaxhar

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Marvin the Martian

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quote:
Originally posted by GreyFace:
However, it would seem sensible to ring the doorbell, or failing that, to walk through the Gates once God's opened them.

I couldn't agree more, provided that everyone who rings that doorbell is admitted.

But there's that whole passage of Scripture that says "not all who call 'Lord, Lord'" (paraphrased) which seems to indicate that that's not true...

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Hail Gallaxhar

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GreyFace
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quote:
Originally posted by Marvin the Martian:
But there's that whole passage of Scripture that says "not all who call 'Lord, Lord'" (paraphrased) which seems to indicate that that's not true...

Not really. I've always taken that as being more likely to mean people who thought it was a load of crap but pretended to be Christian to improve their social status* or who talked the talk but were actually only interested in exploiting the faithful**. The former would be pretending to ring the doorbell but actually doing it so they could say "Look at me, I'm ringing the doorbell!" and the latter saying "You're not tall enough to reach. Give me all your cash and I'll do it for you."

In short, it means you and I can't tell with any certainty who's actually ringing the bell.

* not likely these days.
** I'm not thinking of any televangelist in particular.

Doubtless this is all an obscure heresy [Biased]

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IngoB

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quote:
Originally posted by GreyFace:
IngoB, I agree with your position but I think it moves the point of difficulty away from the personal to the universal and you're either ducking this, or more likely I've just failed to grasp what you're saying.

What is it that ultimately determines whether a person will resist God's will or not? What is choice?

Well, it's much easier to say what choice is not, namely freedom and the root of salvation...

I would suggest, and mind you it's mere speculation, that "choice" is the dark side of self-reflection. It's the price we pay for knowing ourselves. (You can work out the Genesis references yourself... Damned apples.) Basically, to make a choice I have to stand apart from myself, I have to see myself from the outside separate from all else, and I have to attribute importance to the so constructed (entirely virtual) me. I have to construct "I want this over that" out of the reality I experience. This motion of the mind hence naturally lead to sin, to putting created things and in particular myself ahead of God. The bit I struggle with is rather what the good side of self-reflection is. Why is it not enough for us as humans to be a kind of super-smart animal? You see, all of Buddhism essentially goes on about becoming just that. In losing the "ego" center we basically abandon choice and thus sin, and function just as an intregrated (not dispersed by self-reflection) "stream of self" flowing on. But I instinctively know that this is not quite it. It misses the truth by an inch, though I don't quite know in what way.

So let me ask the counter-question: What is the necessary good of the human "self"? If you can answer that, then I think we can wrap things up. The good you will identify is what was intended, choice is what the fall corrupted it into. [Smile]

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They’ll have me whipp’d for speaking true; thou’lt have me whipp’d for lying; and sometimes I am whipp’d for holding my peace. - The Fool in King Lear

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Freddy
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quote:
Originally posted by Marvin the Martian:
quote:
Originally posted by Freddy:
This, then, makes us responsible for our life choices without assigning ourselves credit.

Another way to put this is that claiming merit is an act of theft from God, since only He has merit and all power is His. So salvation necessarily involves this acknowledgment.

This (to me) sounds too much like the idea of God as a Managing Director sitting in his office all day and taking the credit for the work his employees (ie us) have done...
No. God does the work. We only seem to ourselves to do the work. He is present in the effort itself, and this, therefore, is where being born again happens.

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"Consequently nothing is of greater importance to a person than knowing what the truth is." Swedenborg

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Jason™

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quote:
Originally posted by GreyFace:
quote:
Originally posted by Marvin the Martian:
The trouble with such an approach is, there are some of us who hear that there's nothing we can do to effect our own Salvation, and so we do nothing. If no amount of trying can force open the Pearly Gates, why try at all?

There's your problem, if you don't mind me saying, and IngoB's earlier posts offer a way out.

We don't have to force open the Gates. That's what it means to say we can't effect our own salvation (note the difference between effect and affect).

However, it would seem sensible to ring the doorbell, or failing that, to walk through the Gates once God's opened them. And I don't really understand, to get all sola scriptura on you, how the more fatalist traditions can be reconciled with Scripture.

We don't have to open the gates ourselves, but we do have to ring the doorbell. That's simple substitution. Annnnnnd we're back to works-based modified Arminianism.

Either you do something, or you don't.

If you do, we had better devote our lives to figuring out what this "DO" is and then do it, because that is all life will be about. It is the sole priority of life, in this case, to determine the act that brings salvation and commit wholeheartedly to completing this act.

If you don't, then you're left with Marvin's question--why worry about doing anything then? The question makes sense when you approach it from the Modern Christian perspective, which overemphasizes that the value of doing good things is to gain salvation or to prove salvation. With this understanding, if everyone makes it to heaven then good works become meaningless/valueless. Do what you want.

However, if you understand the value of doing good things as being intrinsic to the present life we live, and to enacting and bringing about visible manifestations of God's grace, and to helping others realize more fully their true inheritance so that they may begin to enjoy it immediately to some extent, then we have a new motivation. (To me, it's a better one, too.)

-Digory

PS Ingo, did we lose the conversation about choice from the last page? It seems to have shifted away from the core discussion we were having. But maybe I'm just too dense to follow along. [Biased]

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Freddy
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quote:
Originally posted by professorkirke:
However, if you understand the value of doing good things as being intrinsic to the present life we live, and to enacting and bringing about visible manifestations of God's grace, and to helping others realize more fully their true inheritance so that they may begin to enjoy it immediately to some extent, then we have a new motivation. (To me, it's a better one, too.)

It is most certainly a better one.

Life is not divided into present and future. It is always the present. Living as God teaches, to the best of your ability, is the way to improve the present, both for yourself and for others.

I don't know that there is that much more to it.

Does anyone think that this is impossible? Or that it wouldn't improve life? [Confused]

--------------------
"Consequently nothing is of greater importance to a person than knowing what the truth is." Swedenborg

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PaulTH*
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Origianlly posted by Freddie:

quote:
No. God does the work. We only seem to ourselves to do the work. He is present in the effort itself, and this, therefore, is where being born again happens .
Dear Freddie

I think you could have run the Boston Marathon with the energy you have put into this thread!! If you believe that "God does the work" why aren't you a universalist. If you believe that we have to respond to that work, you are Pelagian. As someone way back whose name I can't remember said, the Bible can prove works righteousness, it can prove salvation by creed and it can prove universal salvation. Take your pick as to which one best suits your temprament.

36 years ago, as a 15 year old, I was condemned to hell by the elders of an Evangelical Church because I could no longer suffer their loveless shit. It preyed on my mind and, to a degree, doen now after all those years. That was why I pledged that I would never belong to a religion which taught eternal damnation. My mother always thought the Evangelicals as a bit whacky and they told me that she was hell bound for saying that. My mother sent to hell over a bunch of religious freaks. Ask yourself if I would ever have accepted that or any other self-aggrandised guru with a promise of a passport to heaven?

St Augustine believes that it was right to torture dissidents into conversion because it is better for the body to suffer in this life than for the soul to perish eternally. The doctrine of eternal punishment has been used as an excuse for psychological abuse, which I experienced myself as a teenager and for physical and mental abuse in Inquisitions, witch burnings and even in anathemas and excommunications in which people cut off from the church had no hope of salvation. This is the downside of a sick and distorted religion. But the sickness is human. It is about power and control over people's minds and livelihoods and their ability to feed their children. Jesus wouldn't have wanted it. He said we should all be one.

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Yours in Christ
Paul

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Freddy
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quote:
Originally posted by PaulTH*:
If you believe that "God does the work" why aren't you a universalist. If you believe that we have to respond to that work, you are Pelagian.

It is not Pelagian to accept free will in spiritual things. If we have free will then we also have its effects.
quote:
Originally posted by PaulTH*:
As someone way back whose name I can't remember said, the Bible can prove works righteousness, it can prove salvation by creed and it can prove universal salvation. Take your pick as to which one best suits your temprament.

True. This doesn't mean that all positions based on the Bible are equally consistent with its overall message.
quote:
Originally posted by PaulTH*:
The doctrine of eternal punishment has been used as an excuse for psychological abuse, which I experienced myself as a teenager and for physical and mental abuse in Inquisitions, witch burnings and even in anathemas and excommunications in which people cut off from the church had no hope of salvation.

This rings very true and I am extremely sorry to know this. I have not experienced this, but I know others who have.

This is a reason why it is important to move as far as possible away from the idea of a vengeful, punishing God.

All I am saying is that a life of kindness, morality, and service is a happier life than its opposite. This is true in the present and will also be true in any future present.

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"Consequently nothing is of greater importance to a person than knowing what the truth is." Swedenborg

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mousethief

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quote:
Originally posted by IngoB:
Well, it's much easier to say what choice is not, namely freedom and the root of salvation...

I don't know about the "root of salvation" bit, but how can choice not be freedom? If one isn't free, one isn't choosing; the "choice" is being made for one by some other person or force or agency. There can be no choice without freedom, unless you redefine one or other of the words to be quite unlike what they mean in everyday life.

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This is the last sig I'll ever write for you...

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Marvin the Martian

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quote:
Originally posted by Freddy:
Living as God teaches, to the best of your ability, is the way to improve the present, both for yourself and for others.

Does anyone think that this is impossible? Or that it wouldn't improve life? [Confused]

Depends what you mean by "the best of your ability".

I mean, I could sell everything I own and use the money to fly to some hideous war-torn little country, where I would help poor people with their struggle to survive until my inevitable untimely death in a random missile attack. Would that be my best? Coz I'd hate every second of it, and certainly wouldn't see it as an improvement to my life.

Thing is, unless any of us goes to such lengths, can we truly be said to be giving all we have? What does "doing our best" really mean?

--------------------
Hail Gallaxhar

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Freddy
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quote:
Originally posted by Marvin the Martian:
Thing is, unless any of us goes to such lengths, can we truly be said to be giving all we have? What does "doing our best" really mean?

Good point. I guess it's not a precise term. We could probably make it mean whatever we like.

I'm quite sure that it is not an all-or-nothing concept though - so that you are either selling all your possessions and saving lives in desparate places, or you are doing nothing.

"Doingyourbest" is usually used as a weasel-word to indicate putting out an amount of effort that seems to you to be within the limits of your circumstances and abilities. Teachers use it to recognize that every student has differing strengths, to allay their fears, and to prevent them from irritating everyone around them with hopeless flailing or anxious complaints.

I don't think that it is an impractical, or completely subjective concept, though. Students can get graded on a teacher's perception of it, people keep or lose jobs based on it, and reationships can often hang on this kind of thing. If people don't appear to be producing within their capabilities, or to be putting out honest effort, they often have trouble.

Of course, often your best is not good enough. And probably just as often you can goof off and do just fine.

Maybe this is what we mean when we say that life is not fair. I think, though, that a central religious concept is that in the long run it actually is fair.

I know that some people say that "fair" means that we are all deserving of eternal suffering. I disagree. That doesn't seem fair to me, nor is it the fairness that Jesus taught. He said:
quote:
“Judge not, and you shall not be judged. Condemn not, and you shall not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven. 38 Give, and it will be given to you: good measure, pressed down, shaken together, and running over will be put into your bosom. For with the same measure that you use, it will be measured back to you.” (Luke 6.37-38)
Maybe this is all that "doing your best" means.

--------------------
"Consequently nothing is of greater importance to a person than knowing what the truth is." Swedenborg

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GreyFace
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quote:
Originally posted by PaulTH*:
If you believe that we have to respond to that work, you are Pelagian.

This is nonsense.

The Pelagian heresy (which Pelagius probably didn't believe) is that we can earn our way into Heaven by living totally righteous lives.

The most widely-held Christian position, as far as I can determine, is rather something like this:
1. Nobody can earn their way into Heaven by right.
2. Christ by (insert view of atonement here) has opened the way for everyone, as a gift.
3. It is theoretically possible to reject this gift.

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GreyFace
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quote:
Originally posted by professorkirke:
We don't have to open the gates ourselves, but we do have to ring the doorbell. That's simple substitution. Annnnnnd we're back to works-based modified Arminianism.

Not really. What I'm suggesting here is that kicking down the gates of Heaven is impossible, but nobody will be dragged kicking and screaming inside.

I'm curious, Digory. If what we do in this life has no eternal consequences, how do you reconcile God's omnipotence with the existence of suffering?

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CrookedCucumber
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I'm amazed at how long this debate has been running. I think it is because there is a very serious problem at the root of it -- a problem that most Christians don't want to face. Here is my summary of the various arguments, and where I think they lead. Comments welcome.

The following argument is essentially the logic of universal salvationism:

1. God wants all to be saved
2. God is omnipotent
3. (Therefore) What God wants, God gets
4. (Therefore) all will be saved

This seems a logically sound argument. However, if I replace (4) with

(4') Some will not be saved

I have a logical contradiction. If God wants all to be saved, and God is omnipotent, then it cannot be the case that some will not be saved.

So we have to get to work on those predicates. Suppose I change (1) to

1'. God wants some to be saved

Then we can accomodate 4' -- Some will not be saved -- without contradiction. This, I think, gives us the kind of predestination favoured by Augustine and Luther -- that some are not saved is because God elects certain people, and not others, to salvation. It's logically consistent, but I don't like it.

Or we can replace (1) with

1''. God wants all to be saved who freely do X

Logically it doesn't matter what X is -- accepts Jesus as his Lord and Saviour, handles snakes, is nice to small furry animals, whatever.

But that either gives us Pelagianism or Arminianism, depending on how extensive the X is. If X is `does good works' then we have Pelagianism. If X is (say) `does not actively refuse the freely-offered grace of God' then we have Arminiamism. There are positions between these two of course, but all require that people
freely do something.

The problem with this stance is that it may not be logically coherent. If the argument is written out in full, we have something like this:

1''. God wants all to be saved who freely do X
2. God is omnipotent
3. (Therefore) What God wants, God gets
3a. But God will not override a person's free will
3b. (Therefore) some people will not freely do X
4'. (Therefore) not all will be saved

But the problem here, it seems to me, is that if (3b) is true, it is only by virtue of following from (3a), and I'm not sure it does follow from (3a) at all. If God is omnipotent, can he not arrange matters so that everybody freely does X?

The way out of this problem is to argue that even being omnipotent does not mean that God can create a state of affairs that is logically impossible (e.g., that there is no God, or that 1+1=3).

But even if that is true, what is so marvellous about free will anyway? Why would a benevolent God put free will above salvation?

The only other approach, it seems to me, is to say:

2' God is very powerful, but not omnipotent.

This also makes the problem disappear, but at a considerable cost.

In short, it seems to me that we must logically accept at least one of the following:

A. All will be saved. Even Hitler, even the Devil
B. God wishes that only some be saved
C. God is not omnipotent

I can't see any error in my logic (although I'm happy to have it pointed out if there is), so we must accept A, B, or C.

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Jason™

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quote:
Originally posted by GreyFace:
What I'm suggesting here is that kicking down the gates of Heaven is impossible, but nobody will be dragged kicking and screaming inside.

I know, I know. And I understand the difference that you're driving at. God allows us to come in rather than us forcing our way inside. I don't want to seem like I can't see the difference.

What I AM suggesting, however, is that the difference may not be consequential. Like I said before, if salvation rests, ultimately, on whether or not I "ring a doorbell" or "get up and walk through a gate," then my whole life's goal is simply to determine what it is that I must do and to do it. I have to figure out how to make sure I've gotten myself saved so that I don't end up being turned away at the end for not ringing right or walking right. Most people answer that with, "Well if you want to be saved, that already shows your willingness to walk through the gate, and thus you will be saved then." I couldn't agree more. But the way I see it, everybody wants to be saved.


quote:
I'm curious, Digory. If what we do in this life has no eternal consequences, how do you reconcile God's omnipotence with the existence of suffering?
I'm not 100% sure I know exactly what your asking, but I think you mean why would God allow suffering on earth if it's not to be used for convincing us about trying to get to heaven over hell?

I think that's precisely the wrong reason that Christianity has been pushing for the existence of suffering. Instead, I think suffering is used as a shaper and a molder as it brings about feelings, situations, scenarios etc. that affect us and who we become along the way. I can't explain it entirely, obviously, but it seems to me that something about suffering, no matter how bad it is, is always doing a job preparing either the sufferer or people surrounding the sufferer for some situation down the road.

Also, it allows people to find the joy of supporting those in suffering--to be manifestations of the Grace God gives to us all.

Did I miss the point of that question, GF?

-Digory

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Jason™

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CC, when I first saw the length and complication of your latest post, I admit I didn't feel like reading it. [Biased] But I started, and it was actually quite well written and easy to follow. Good job.

Anyway, there is one option you forget--competing desires. You set up this base argument:

quote:
Originally posted by CrookedCucumber:
1. God wants all to be saved
2. God is omnipotent
3. (Therefore) What God wants, God gets
4. (Therefore) all will be saved

with these final alternatives

quote:
A. All will be saved. Even Hitler, even the Devil
B. God wishes that only some be saved
C. God is not omnipotent

However, God can want/desire all to be saved and still only some will be saved IF his desire for some other circumstance is greater than his desire for all to be saved. Namely, his desire to allow creatures to freely choose him. You ask what is so great about free will, but the answer is well-rehearsed: no love is true love that is not freely chosen by the lover.

I, on the other hand, disagree. Free choice is great when it is based on facts and clear understanding. Being that this world is based on an imperfect perception of God and an unclear understanding of how God works, with thousands of differing options to choose from in how we all believe, I cannot assert that God will put his desire for our free choice based on the very little that we know or understand above his desire to save us all at any cost, knowing our heart's desires and knowing that we all would choose him if we truly understood him.

So though I don't agree with the alternate option I've provided, we must at least agree that it exists. Especially since it is the most widely held position in Christianity today.

(Also, I am perfectly prepared to accept that the evilest of evil people will be in Heaven. I can't sacrifice the power and scope of God's love for my grievances.)

-Digory

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CrookedCucumber
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quote:
However, God can want/desire all to be saved and still only some will be saved IF his desire for some other circumstance is greater than his desire for all to be saved. Namely, his desire to allow creatures to freely choose him. You ask what is so great about free will, but the answer is well-rehearsed: no love is true love that is not freely chosen by the lover.
Sure. I accept the logic, I just don't like it. My children love me, I believe; but I don't allow them the freedom to reject me by playing in the traffic. If God's power and knowledge compared to mine is even as great as mine is compared to a couple of kids, I would expect the same of Him.
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Dave Marshall

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quote:
Originally posted by CrookedCucumber:
it seems to me that we must logically accept at least one of the following:

A. All will be saved. Even Hitler, even the Devil
B. God wishes that only some be saved
C. God is not omnipotent

I think you're right. Although for me talking as this thread does in terms of salvation does not seem helpful. I don't see why people insist that God must be omnipotent.
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Jason™

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quote:
Originally posted by CrookedCucumber:
Sure. I accept the logic, I just don't like it. My children love me, I believe; but I don't allow them the freedom to reject me by playing in the traffic. If God's power and knowledge compared to mine is even as great as mine is compared to a couple of kids, I would expect the same of Him.

Yes, I totally agree. The thing about the whole situation is--you know your kids love you even when they act like they don't by disobeying you, etc. Even if they ran off and never talked to you, deep down you'd still know they loved you. And if they (God forbid) happened to pass away before reconciling with you, STILL you would trust and know that they loved you.

Surely God must know the same of us, in spite of all of our actions that may "prove" otherwise.

-Digory

(Added: This goes along with my idea of suffering, too. Parents discipline their children, not because they don't love them or because they won't save them or help them if they get in trouble for bad decisions, but simply because they want their kids to do the right thing. Not to get them any parental reward, but just because it's the best thing for them and for others. Couldn't God use suffering to teach us about how to LIVE, rather than to scare us into figuring out how to DIE? Couldn't he do this, all the while knowing he will save us all in the end just like any good parent would?)

[ 18. January 2006, 13:36: Message edited by: professorkirke ]

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GreyFace
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quote:
Originally posted by professorkirke:
What I AM suggesting, however, is that the difference may not be consequential. Like I said before, if salvation rests, ultimately, on whether or not I "ring a doorbell" or "get up and walk through a gate," then my whole life's goal is simply to determine what it is that I must do and to do it.

Yes, I'm speculating that that's the case, but it's not that I have to do action X, or a small set of actions Xn, but rather that in every choice there is a good and a bad.

quote:
I have to figure out how to make sure I've gotten myself saved so that I don't end up being turned away at the end for not ringing right or walking right. Most people answer that with, "Well if you want to be saved, that already shows your willingness to walk through the gate, and thus you will be saved then." I couldn't agree more.
I couldn't disagree more. I don't think it's possible to know with certainty that you will be saved, nor is it a particularly useful position to take spiritually. But that doesn't mean that you might not have some confidence.

quote:
But the way I see it, everybody wants to be saved.
I'm not sure this is the case. People have told me they don't - they just want this life and that's enough. Perhaps it's a failure of imagination.

quote:
quote:
I'm curious, Digory. If what we do in this life has no eternal consequences, how do you reconcile God's omnipotence with the existence of suffering?
I'm not 100% sure I know exactly what your asking, but I think you mean why would God allow suffering on earth if it's not to be used for convincing us about trying to get to heaven over hell?
Half right. I mean why would God allow suffering on earth if it's not a necessary part of his design. Not necessarily a stick with which to beat the ungodly but rather an unavoidable consequence of sin (or freedom, if you like).

quote:
I think that's precisely the wrong reason that Christianity has been pushing for the existence of suffering. Instead, I think suffering is used as a shaper and a molder as it brings about feelings, situations, scenarios etc. that affect us and who we become along the way.
I agree with your answer. Yet why bother if at death all are made perfect without anything that happened on earth having a consequence? God could have avoided all the suffering by just skipping the earth bit.

See, my current soteriological position (and it might change tomorrow, I'm like that) is that one of the things this life provides is space for us to begin to grow into Heavenly creatures and so our actions have eternal consequences.

quote:
I can't explain it entirely, obviously, but it seems to me that something about suffering, no matter how bad it is, is always doing a job preparing either the sufferer or people surrounding the sufferer for some situation down the road.
I agree again, but I'm sure you see the consequence of this for someone dying alone and isolated. The only down the road is the next life.
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GreyFace
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quote:
Originally posted by CrookedCucumber:
In short, it seems to me that we must logically accept at least one of the following:

A. All will be saved. Even Hitler, even the Devil
B. God wishes that only some be saved
C. God is not omnipotent

I can't see any error in my logic (although I'm happy to have it pointed out if there is), so we must accept A, B, or C.

You've already pointed out the error in the logic. It's that omnipotence does not imply the ability to do something that is nonsense.

This may or may not be the case, but if a) to be saved ultimately means to be made into someone that can actually keep the greatest of the commandments and b) love cannot be forced, then there is a logical contradiction in the idea of God saving someone who permanently refuses to love him. I think this argument has merit - would we not be uneasy at the idea of drugging unhappy people into a contented state?

A hopeful universalist like me then comes along and asks how likely it is that someone could hold out for ever, but I'm in a different place to someone who asserts that on death we all go straight to Heaven without passing Purgatory and without collecting two hundred pounds.

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CrookedCucumber
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quote:
You've already pointed out the error in the logic. It's that omnipotence does not imply the ability to do something that is nonsense.
Well, it may be the case that the following two statements lead to a logical contradiction:

1. People have absolute free will
2. God will save everyone in his own time

But I don't think that it is necessarily the case. Arguably, an omnipotent God could so constrain the environment that a person freely chose his own salvation. Whether this makes a nonsense of free will is arguable -- people like William Lane Craig have argued at immense length that it doesn't. I agree that it certainly doesn't sound like free will if you will inevitably choose to act as someone else has planned.

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Jason™

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quote:
Originally posted by GreyFace:
…it's not that I have to do action X, or a small set of actions Xn, but rather that in every choice there is a good and a bad.

And salvation rests in choosing good every time? In choosing good most times? In choosing good enough times so as to create a condition of the heart that would enjoy heaven (That’s out of Freddy’s book, no credit to me)? But all of these seem cumbersome and legal-based.


quote:
I don't think it's possible to know with certainty that you will be saved, nor is it a particularly useful position to take spiritually. But that doesn't mean that you might not have some confidence.
Okay, so then how do you answer the proposition? “I have to figure out how to make sure I’ve gotten myself saved so that I don’t end up being turned away at the end for (x reason).” Or is it, “Do your best, live your best, hope for the best”?


quote:
quote:
But the way I see it, everybody wants to be saved.
I'm not sure this is the case. People have told me they don't - they just want this life and that's enough. Perhaps it's a failure of imagination.
People say a lot of things. They want this life and that’s enough, not this life and then eternal torment. Not this life and then a series of scenarios like this life in which they are never truly happy. When faced with the real choices, everybody picks the best one. If you pick less than the best, you don’t have all the facts, or you don’t understand the choices.


quote:
quote:
I'm not 100% sure I know exactly what your asking, but I think you mean why would God allow suffering on earth if it's not to be used for convincing us about trying to get to heaven over hell?
Half right. I mean why would God allow suffering on earth if it's not a necessary part of his design. Not necessarily a stick with which to beat the ungodly but rather an unavoidable consequence of sin (or freedom, if you like).
That’s just the thing—it can be a necessary part of his design without resulting in eternal torment. It makes more sense that way. When suffering is rehabilitative, its purpose is clear and can be aligned with good. When suffering is simply an outpouring of wrath and vengeance, it creates the root of the problem of evil. Hell, as eternal torment, has no rehabilitative value. It doesn’t, therefore, align itself with any good.


quote:
Yet why bother if at death all are made perfect without anything that happened on earth having a consequence? God could have avoided all the suffering by just skipping the earth bit.

See, my current soteriological position (and it might change tomorrow, I'm like that) is that one of the things this life provides is space for us to begin to grow into Heavenly creatures and so our actions have eternal consequences.

You have answered your own question two sentences later. This life provides space for us to grow into heavenly creatures. Suffering, through some process we do not fully understand, readies us for the differences between life now and life after death. It doesn’t provide us a place to find out if we make the team. It is part of the training camp before the actual season begins. (That’s a terrible analogy, I apologize. [Biased] )


quote:
quote:
I can't explain it entirely, obviously, but it seems to me that something about suffering, no matter how bad it is, is always doing a job preparing either the sufferer or people surrounding the sufferer for some situation down the road.
I agree again, but I'm sure you see the consequence of this for someone dying alone and isolated. The only down the road is the next life.
Again, I agree. It is preparing the person for a life in heaven, whatever that actually is or means.

-Digory

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Niënna

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quote:
If you pick less than the best, you don’t have all the facts, or you don’t understand the choices.
I think this is our fundamental difference on this thread. I disagree with this.
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Niënna

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quote:
Originally posted by CrookedCucumber:
quote:
You've already pointed out the error in the logic. It's that omnipotence does not imply the ability to do something that is nonsense.
Well, it may be the case that the following two statements lead to a logical contradiction:

1. People have absolute free will
2. God will save everyone in his own time

But I don't think that it is necessarily the case. Arguably, an omnipotent God could so constrain the environment that a person freely chose his own salvation. Whether this makes a nonsense of free will is arguable -- people like William Lane Craig have argued at immense length that it doesn't. I agree that it certainly doesn't sound like free will if you will inevitably choose to act as someone else has planned.

Free will means the potential that someone can make a choice that has meaningful and distinct consequences. If no matter what you choose, there is the same outcome - that's not really reflecting free will or free choice at all.

Hence, as I see it. Free will means the potential for people to end up in hell.

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Niënna

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quote:
Originally posted by professorkirke:
Free choice is great when it is based on facts and clear understanding. Being that this world is based on an imperfect perception of God and an unclear understanding of how God works, with thousands of differing options to choose from in how we all believe <snip>

I hear you on this. I am in agreement that it would be fundamentally unjust for God (IMHO) to judge people if they don't know wrong from right. Paul in Romans said as much as well. I guess it then becomes a matter of how much people know...

quote:
Originally posted by professorkirke:
I cannot assert that God will put his desire for our free choice based on the very little that we know or understand above his desire to save us all at any cost, knowing our heart's desires and knowing that we all would choose him if we truly understood him.

Ok, again, this is where we diverge. I believe that choice means that even if we really understand God fully, we can make the choice not to want him.
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da_musicman
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Slight Tangent/

I think many of the people arguing a Universalist point of view are saying they can't imagine this happening.

Slight Tangent done/

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GreyFace
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quote:
Originally posted by professorkirke:
And salvation rests in choosing good every time? In choosing good most times? In choosing good enough times so as to create a condition of the heart that would enjoy heaven (That’s out of Freddy’s book, no credit to me)? But all of these seem cumbersome and legal-based.

Nevertheless I think later you basically agree with the idea, but I'll come to that in a minute.

I think the fear of legalism goes too far, into waters that are unbiblical and unreasonable. Is St Paul being legalistic when he says that murderers will not inherit the kingdom? Surely he's speaking of a work. What about when he warns people not to condem themselves at the eucharist?

St James isn't just wriggling on the idea of faith without works being dead. If works flow from faith then it must be the case that in the end it could be possible for God to judge a person's faith by what they have done - and to me that's the only consistent way of handling the message of the New Testament. Note that to do it fairly (and we believe God is at the very least, fair) requires a perfect knowledge of what a person had to work with.

It's fairly easy to see from this that if we are judged according to how we did with what we had, then this is the same as being judged on whether we have made choices that lead towards or away from Heavenliness. Tie in the biblical and reasonable assertion that God wants all to be saved and yet it is possible that some may not be, and the only conclusion I can come to is that salvation requires choice and a consistent series of wrong choices leads inevitably to not-Heaven.

Even Calvinism has it that works and faith are tied into each other. If sanctification does not proceed from saving faith, it was an illusion and so on. Now, from this framework I agree that you have a very difficult problem with reconciling God's character as loving if any end up in Hell. I think double predestination is wrong though.

quote:
People say a lot of things. They want this life and that’s enough, not this life and then eternal torment.
One could speculate (and those who believe in conditional immortality are pinning their colours to this particular mast) that the fires of Hell are actually a metaphor for what these people are choosing, that Hell is annihilation, and that in comparison to Heaven these people are missing, well, everything.

quote:
When faced with the real choices, everybody picks the best one.
I disagree. This is exactly what people do not do, and that's the problem. Nobody would ever deliberately sin if you're right and many people have done so - including me many times, before anyone asks.

quote:
If you pick less than the best, you don’t have all the facts, or you don’t understand the choices.
My experience has been that this is not the case. I have been known to do what I hate - what I know is wrong, unhealthy, has bad consequences and so on. My reading of St Paul tells me that I'm not alone.

quote:
It is preparing the person for a life in heaven, whatever that actually is or means.
I think we agree then on a soteriological process by which we are being led into being heavenly, but the question is whether the will (free or not, it doesn't matter) has a role to play, and I say that it must. If our will (free or not) is such that I reject the opportunities to grow, where do I end up? Obviously I hope nobody does this, but it is a mistake to think that even in a fully-determined worldview we either cannot choose or our choices are inconsequential.

This is what Marvin's argument is, and he's wrong because if even if free choice is an illusion, choice due to nature is the key by which the outcome is predetermined, if you see what I mean.

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CrookedCucumber
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quote:
Free will means the potential that someone can make a choice that has meaningful and distinct consequences. If no matter what you choose, there is the same outcome - that's not really reflecting free will or free choice at all.

Hence, as I see it. Free will means the potential for people to end up in hell

That, in a nutshell, is what Craig argues, except that he takes 15 pages to come to the same conclusion. I don't think either he nor you are necessarily right, but I concede that you might me.

But, in the end, I don't think it makes the problem go away. If I concede that, logically, free will is a defence to the notion that some people end up condemned, that doesn't explain why free will is such a big deal.

If God is omnipotent and benevolent, why does he think that free will is important enough for people to be damned? As I argued above, I don't allow my children sufficient free will that they are likely to kill themselves; why should expect less of God?

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GreyFace
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quote:
Originally posted by CrookedCucumber:
But, in the end, I don't think it makes the problem go away. If I concede that, logically, free will is a defence to the notion that some people end up condemned, that doesn't explain why free will is such a big deal.

If God is omnipotent and benevolent, why does he think that free will is important enough for people to be damned? As I argued above, I don't allow my children sufficient free will that they are likely to kill themselves; why should expect less of God?

But you probably will allow your children sufficient free will to do this, when they're adults.

If ultimately salvation is to come to love God with all our hearts, minds, etc and if this can't happen without free assent (because forced love isn't love) your question is answered. Are you certain this is wrong?

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Marvin the Martian

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quote:
Originally posted by GreyFace:
This is what Marvin's argument is...

Only if Salvation is purely down to God. If it's not, as you seem to be claiming, then that argument is indeed wrong.

--------------------
Hail Gallaxhar

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Jason™

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quote:
Originally posted by GreyFace:
I think the fear of legalism goes too far, into waters that are unbiblical and unreasonable. Is St Paul being legalistic when he says that murderers will not inherit the kingdom? Surely he's speaking of a work. What about when he warns people not to condem themselves at the eucharist?

St James isn't just wriggling on the idea of faith without works being dead. If works flow from faith then it must be the case that in the end it could be possible for God to judge a person's faith by what they have done - and to me that's the only consistent way of handling the message of the New Testament. Note that to do it fairly (and we believe God is at the very least, fair) requires a perfect knowledge of what a person had to work with.

Well, I actually specifically avoided using the word “legalistic” because I understand the loaded context that word brings with it. To avoid legalism at all costs is to eliminate any way of being practical and realistic about what life is. I absolutely agree with that.

However, my problem was that the ideas of salvation I outlined were all incredibly “legal-based,” claiming that God runs his universe in a courtroom-style fashion. I’m not convinced that the God I know and think about and read about and pray to works like that. In fact, JollyJape’s great explanation of the Healing Model as opposed to this Judge/Legal Model seems far more convincing, though I doubt it’s flawless either (what here could be?).


quote:
It's fairly easy to see from this that if we are judged according to how we did with what we had, then this is the same as being judged on whether we have made choices that lead towards or away from Heavenliness. Tie in the biblical and reasonable assertion that God wants all to be saved and yet it is possible that some may not be, and the only conclusion I can come to is that salvation requires choice and a consistent series of wrong choices leads inevitably to not-Heaven.
I think you lost me with this string of assumptions and premises on the very first one. Being judged on choices that lead towards or away from Heavenliness may be how God will do things in the end (or is currently, or whatever), but the only way to reconcile this with “being judged according to how we did with what he had” is to say that our choices here really can’t lead away from Heavenliness. How many people on this Ship use the “we see through a glass darkly” to explain away thousands of unintelligible concepts about God, and yet we think we have enough information to make solid enough choices about our eternal destinies?

quote:
quote:
When faced with the real choices, everybody picks the best one.
I disagree. This is exactly what people do not do, and that's the problem. Nobody would ever deliberately sin if you're right and many people have done so - including me many times, before anyone asks.
But nobody has ever experienced eternity. Nobody has gone beyond death and then written back to tell us about it. We can’t fully understand or appreciate eternal consequences without a complete concept of what eternity really is. We can’t fully understand the gravity of sinning against God when we don’t fully understand who God is. Which is why I then say:

quote:
quote:
If you pick less than the best, you don’t have all the facts, or you don’t understand the choices.
My experience has been that this is not the case. I have been known to do what I hate - what I know is wrong, unhealthy, has bad consequences and so on. My reading of St Paul tells me that I'm not alone.
Of course we do things we don’t want to do. But that’s just it, isn’t it? We don’t really want to do them. Recognizing that fact is proof in itself that when we pull back from our immediate desires and gratification-driven impulses, we see what we really truly want.

quote:
If our will (free or not) is such that I reject the opportunities to grow, where do I end up? Obviously I hope nobody does this, but it is a mistake to think that even in a fully-determined worldview we either cannot choose or our choices are inconsequential.
This assumes what people misunderstand about me often on this thread. What I think I believe, for now, is this:

We CAN choose.
Our choices ARE consequential.
God will save us all.

We make choices every day, all of which carry consequences. We learn and we grow and we struggle and we are affected by choices, all of the time. Just because they won’t be used to condemn us to some sort of eternal punishment doesn’t mean that we are robbed of choice (we may all choose heaven) or that the choices aren’t consequential (all choices carry consequences).

-Digory

[fixed code]

[ 20. January 2006, 04:45: Message edited by: RuthW ]

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Niënna

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Ok. I just want to briefly recap where we are right now. Please feel free to correct me because this is the way I see it and I kind of simplified things:

Are people ultimately responsible for their actions?

Answer 1: Yes, and so some might end up in hell
Answer 2: Yes, sin and rebellion is truly hell-worthy - but God will take the _____(punishment, condemnation, consequences) and so no hell for them
Answer 3: No, because life is so mysterious and vague, there’s not really a free choice, we are slaves to sin so no one really understands what he or she is doing so they can’t be held accountable, so no hell

Can people ultimately choose against God?

Answer 1: Maybe in this life but its just one big misunderstanding so not the next when all will be revealed
Answer 2: Yes, it is possible both in this life and the next.

--------------------
[Nino points a gun at Chiki]
Nino: Now... tell me. Who started the war?
Chiki: [long pause] We did.
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sharkshooter

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quote:
Originally posted by professorkirke:
... What I think I believe, for now, is this:

We CAN choose.
Our choices ARE consequential.
God will save us all.

...

I'm with you for 2 out of 3.

--------------------
Let the words of my mouth, and the meditation of my heart, be acceptable in thy sight, O LORD, my strength, and my redeemer. [Psalm 19:14]

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Jason™

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quote:
Originally posted by sharkshooter:
I'm with you for 2 out of 3.

Really? No kidding, which two? [Roll Eyes]

Care to elaborate on why?

-Digory

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Jason™

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Perhaps a different vein, jumping off of Joyful's concise summary a few posts back, is in order:

Let's for a moment assume that people are held repsonsible for their earthly actions, and they receive eternal consequences for such actions. So, in this way, free will is upheld and free choice is given to all.

What choice or choices did I make that allow me some confidence that I will go to heaven? If the question is "are people held responsible for their actions" and the answer is "Yes, so some will end up in hell," then the inverse answer is "Yes, so some end up in heaven" which implies that we end up in heaven because our actions were good. Fine, the Bible can definitely be understood that way. But we draw a line around actions that lead to Hell and actions that don't, always conveniently around the things we don't do vs. the things we do.

Some things, or some ways of life, lead to hell. But not the one I do (but probably the one I used to do before I saw the light).

Where does God's grace come into this view? I don't believe or understand the misconstrual of God's grace as "power to do good things." Grace is the exact definition of "not getting what you deserve" which goes completely against the idea that "you are held responsible for your actions."

It's an interesting twist-up.

-Digory

[Fixing some grammar, d'oh]

[ 19. January 2006, 18:56: Message edited by: professorkirke ]

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Niënna

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quote:
Originally posted by professorkirke:
What choice or choices did I make that allow me some confidence that I will go to heaven?

Heaven starts now, though. I am not found of this type of question (what can I do go to heaven?) because it misses the point that life is actually continuous. So, maybe the answer is:

quote:
To those who by persistence in doing good seek glory, honor and immortality, he will give eternal life.

(Romans 2:7, NIV, bold mine)

quote:
Originally posted by professorkirke:
Grace is the exact definition of "not getting what you deserve" which goes completely against the idea that "you are held responsible for your actions."

It would be great to hear from LutheranChik, but as far as I was taught mercy and grace are different things. As far as I've been taught, mercy is not receiving due punishment. And grace is about receiving something additional, undeserved.

quote:
Originally posted by professorkirke:
Where does God's grace come into this view? I don't believe or understand the misconstrual of God's grace as "power to do good things."

Well, I do. The invitation to know God now and the ability to repent and to walk in a newness and re-birth, is an amazing testimony of God's grace and receving power from God "to do good things."

[Confused]

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GreyFace
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I can give a classical answer to this one, Digory.

Nobody deserves Heaven, because to deserve it you'd have to be perfect. Perfection is the standard that earns it. Nobody's perfect (excepting our Lord of course - and ignoring the interesting but irrelevant debate about Blessed Mary).

So, if anyone makes it to Heaven it's grace in action. Now, I think that what we've been promised, participation in the life of God, eternal life or however you want to put it, requires us to become perfect in the end. Experimental evidence suggests that we can refuse to grow spiritually, indeed that we can actively resist it. I'm sure you see where this is going...

...but I want to emphasise again that I hope universalism is true. I just think both scripture and reason reject it as a certain and necessary outcome.

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Jason™

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To GF:

First off, I don't see it as a necessary outcome, either. It just seems to be where reason and what I know about God all point to, for me.

But to say that only perfection earns heaven makes a mockery out of everything we've been discussing for days. If only perfection earns heaven, then no action can be responsible for getting there besides perfection. Grace given to those who do the right thing or set of things or who live the right life makes no sense---did God simply use grace to lower his entry requirements? "Okay, I know none of you can be perfect, so I'll give grace to any of you who can be, say, 20%. We'll see how that goes, and if that's still not low enough, we'll revisit and perhaps lower it to 10% in a few centuries."

Or could grace be God's way of saying, "I know you all can't be perfect, that was obvious in how I made you. But the point is that you don't need to be--let me do it for you because I want to. Stop trying to do it yourself, because I understand you enough to know that the best way for you to live your life now is to stop trying to be perfect and start living in the grace I've already granted you."

I mean, let me say--I have no clue, really. We could ALL end up in hell for all I know. Any one of you all could be right. I trust God enough to believe that whatever IS the case, I'll be okay with it knowing that God has it under control. [Smile]


To JS:

The only reason I phrased the question, "What do we do to get to heaven" is because we have been talking about how some people "go to hell." I agree--heaven and hell in some ways start right now. But I think you and I would also agree that after death things have to be different in a lot of ways. If after death you head more solidly into a hell-like substance, what is it that causes that to happen to a person? Is that a better way to word it?

I also have to say that the Romans verse you quoted actually sounds quite terrible to me! Whoever is persistent about doing good things for the purpose of seeking his own glory, honor and immortality will receive eternal life? Weird.

What I was always taught about grace vs. mercy was that MERCY = not getting what you deserve to get, while GRACE = getting something else that you didn't deserve to get. So mercy is the idea that you get off without punishment, but grace is the idea that you actually get a reward instead, or something along those lines. I'm not sure I totally go along with those definitions, but it's a framework. And yes, I think I quoted mercy rather than grace before. Apologies.

Still, I think equating grace to power is wrong. True, I think the fact that we are given grace energizes us to do good things, just like when your parents don't ground you when you come home late on Friday night, you are suddenly very willing to help around the house on Saturday. But that doesn't mean the grace WAS the power to do good things--it was simply part of the catalyst/motivation. Grace isn't some sort of super power that is bestowed on humans that allows them to rise from their sinful lives and do good things. Grace is when God takes our sinful selves and says, "I don't care about what you've done or who you've been, I accept you as my own." The "ability to walk in newness and re-birth," one might even say. [Biased]

-Digory

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Niënna

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quote:
Originally posted by professorkirke:
The only reason I phrased the question, "What do we do to get to heaven" is because we have been talking about how some people "go to hell." I agree--heaven and hell in some ways start right now. But I think you and I would also agree that after death things have to be different in a lot of ways. If after death you head more solidly into a hell-like substance, what is it that causes that to happen to a person? Is that a better way to word it?

Thank you for the clarification. That was helpful.

The answer is that I don't know.

All I know is that somehow dying to oneself's enables life and the knowledge of God (according to my (mis?)interpretation of JC). But being soley self-seeking and without love or compassion can lead to death.

I just want to add a little caveat about this self-seeking/without love leads to hell/death thought.

I wouldn't put people in this category who have been so traumatized by horrible experiences in their lives to the point that they can only think of their own survival and because of such experiences, they have been stripped of faith/love/compassion. One of my favorite verses is Isaiah 42:3
quote:
"A bruised reed he will not break and a smoldering wick he will not snuff out. In faithfulness he will bring forth justice."
The idea is that God cares about broken people and he knows the pain and trouble in their lives. I don't think he holds it against them that they have been robbed/stripped of imago dei.

One of things that I noticed in Lazarus & the Rich Man story that Jesus tells - is strangely there is no mention of Lazarus's personal goodness or faith. (There is, however, a clear judgement on the Rich Man's, though.) Only that Lazarus is really poor and dogs lick his wounds. So I think that God has a special heart for people that have been broken and trampled by this world.

Another example that I can think of where God doesn't put demands on people who are cruelly oppressed by life is:

quote:
But when Moses delivered this message to the Israelites, they didn't even hear him--they were that beaten down in spirit by the harsh slave conditions. (exodus 6:9, message)
The following verses in the context seem to me to indicate an absense of judgement on the people's lack of faith. Hence I've come to a conclusion (perhaps erroneously) that God is compassionate and knows each individual's limitations and stories.

quote:
Originally posted by professorkirke:
I also have to say that the Romans verse you quoted actually sounds quite terrible to me! Whoever is persistent about doing good things for the purpose of seeking his own glory, honor and immortality will receive eternal life? Weird.

[Hot and Hormonal] [Hot and Hormonal] Ok. I must admit that the first time I read that verse in Romans, I was like WTF??? What about Jesus? Doesn't this verse totally contradict the GOSPEL? But then I remembered what Lewis said in the Great Divorce. He said something about how actually our desires and passions are actually too weak and they are often not strong enough for the real things.

Now, I actually like the ideas in these verses:

"God 'will give to each person according to what he has done.' To those who by persistence in doing good seek glory, honor and immortality, he will give eternal life. But for those who are self-seeking and who reject the truth and follow evil, there will be wrath and anger." (romans 2:6-8, niv)

I think a good question is what is pursuing glory, honor, and immortality? And if Jesus is our Leader - then glory, honor, and immortality is really about washing people's feet, hanging out with losers, being really patient, suffering a lot, and dying the most gruesome death for the sake of love. I don't think its wrong to want immortality - meaning, living a life without suffering, destruction, malaise, and death.

I also think if you put Paul's verse in the cultural context - people in those days were all about honour and immortality. It was like a big thing in Rome in those days.

I also like that verse because it gives me hope that many athiests and/or other religious (non-Christians) might be saved as well because they want good in life and they do the best they can to pursue goodness. Perhaps they are too participating in bringing God's kingdom on earth as it is in heaven?

All in all, I am most disappointed with the teachings I got when I was younger about how God's judgement was all bad, bad, bad. While reading more of the bible, I think sometimes scripture may indicate that God's judgement often brings reward, not just punishment.

quote:
Originally posted by professorkirke:
Still, I think equating grace to power is wrong. True, I think the fact that we are given grace energizes us to do good things, just like when your parents don't ground you when you come home late on Friday night, you are suddenly very willing to help around the house on Saturday. But that doesn't mean the grace WAS the power to do good things--it was simply part of the catalyst/motivation. Grace isn't some sort of super power that is bestowed on humans that allows them to rise from their sinful lives and do good things. Grace is when God takes our sinful selves and says, "I don't care about what you've done or who you've been, I accept you as my own." The "ability to walk in newness and re-birth," one might even say.

Having just finished philip yancey's "what's so amazing about grace" a mere month ago- all I can say is that grace is many things. I don't have a problem with grace being a catalyst or being a super-power that motivates to rise above our sinful lives and do good things.

Or maybe a new thread could be opened for further insight and discovery and discussion, "What is God's grace?" (j/k) heh.

I just pulled some (negative) verses about grace from a search on biblegateway [Two face] :

"Though grace is shown to the wicked, they do not learn righteousness; even in a land of uprightness they go on doing evil and regard not the majesty of the LORD." (Isaiah 26:10)

"Those who cling to worthless idols forfeit the grace that could be theirs." (Jonah 2:8)

But -- just to add - I do agree that redemption is grace-based:

"In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God's grace" (Ephesians 1:7, NIV).

--------------------
[Nino points a gun at Chiki]
Nino: Now... tell me. Who started the war?
Chiki: [long pause] We did.
~No Man's Land

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Niënna

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quote:
Originally posted by professorkirke:
Grace is when God takes our sinful selves and says, "I don't care about what you've done or who you've been, I accept you as my own." The "ability to walk in newness and re-birth," one might even say.

Ok, I just had one more thing to add about grace.

Yes, I agree that God extravagantly bestows grace on us and accepts us and says "I don't care about what you've done or who you've been."

It's like the father of the prodigal son - God wants to throw a party for us. And we, just like that son, cannot enjoy it unless we get out of the pig pen and humble ourselves and turn towards the father, that is God.

It's like God love us no matter where we are or what we have done but we have to receive it. And we can't receive it if our backs are towards God.

It's like if someone wants to dance with you --you have to be willing to go along and dance.

--------------------
[Nino points a gun at Chiki]
Nino: Now... tell me. Who started the war?
Chiki: [long pause] We did.
~No Man's Land

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Marvin the Martian

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quote:
Originally posted by Joyfulsoul:
It's like if someone wants to dance with you --you have to be willing to go along and dance.

You have to be able to dance as well...

--------------------
Hail Gallaxhar

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Jason™

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quote:
Originally posted by Marvin the Martian:
quote:
Originally posted by Joyfulsoul:
It's like if someone wants to dance with you --you have to be willing to go along and dance.

You have to be able to dance as well...
Have you ever seen a white guy get dragged out onto the dance floor, and finally "let loose" and give in? I mean, the guy can't dance. At all. But as soon as he becomes willing to give it his best, everyone has a pretty good time. [Biased]

-Digory

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sugar mouse
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I recently read on a Christian Website that the only Unforgivable Sin was blaspheming against the Holy Spirit. Upon reading this I was immediately overcome by the urge to shout out "the Holy Spirit is a bastard!"

Am i now damned for eternity?

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