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Source: (consider it) Thread: An abhorrent doctrine
LeRoc

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quote:
seekingsister: Do you believe good works done by someone who has not faith in God, have any impact on how God views that person?
Yes.

quote:
seekingsister: Why did Jesus come if all we had to do was just do good works, to be in good standing with God?
It's not about what we have to do to be in good standing with God. That's not why we need to do good things. Like Evensong said, that would be selfish. To ask "what must I do to be in good standing with God?" is starting out with the wrong question.

I believe that Jesus came because God wanted to experience in the flesh that doing good things isn't always easy.

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seekingsister
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quote:
Originally posted by Evensong:
To "have faith" or "believe" in the Lord Jesus Christ only so as to go to heaven when you die is as surely a "work displeasing to God" as any other work that tries to buy itself into heaven. It derives from selfish motives.

I guess...although that's not what I'm talking about.

I would say our ability to have faith in the first place is a result of God's grace, therefore responding to that grace is not a work, it's a gift.

The question is still - is God pleased by works we do that are done without faith in Him? Perhaps on a "it's nice that my children are treating each other well" level (assuming God thinks like that), but those works are not going to go into some register or account of how good X person was versus Y.

For some reason people seem to think I am arguing that God hates good works done for human reasons. Article 13 is saying that those works are not going to provide salvation if they are not accompanied by faith.

A more interesting counter to my argument - which no one has made yet - would be that doing good works has a spiritual impact on the person doing them, such that it makes them more open to God's grace and therefore leads them towards faith.

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Evensong
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Selfless good works are IMV, well pleasing to God (be they people of faith or none).

But faith ( or trust in God) does more than produce good works. It transforms, it enlightens, it encourages, it gives hope when there is none.

So yes good works are well pleasing to God but they are only part of the story. Trust in God (faith) provides the bigger picture and the more expansive one leading to a more abundant life. It leads to a bigger salvation (wholeness).

Would God prefer a selfless atheist to a completely selfish bastard asshole of a Christian that did not love others?

I reckon.

[ 03. September 2014, 11:09: Message edited by: Evensong ]

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Dafyd
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quote:
Originally posted by Evensong:
Would God prefer a selfless atheist to a completely selfish bastard asshole of a Christian that did not love others?

God loves them both equally without reservation. God loved them both before the foundation of the world. All God has is equally theirs.

To imply that God prefers one is to imply that God could love the other one more.

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Karl: Liberal Backslider
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quote:
Originally posted by Dafyd:
quote:
Originally posted by Evensong:
Would God prefer a selfless atheist to a completely selfish bastard asshole of a Christian that did not love others?

God loves them both equally without reservation. God loved them both before the foundation of the world. All God has is equally theirs.

To imply that God prefers one is to imply that God could love the other one more.

Would that be the God who said "Jacob I loved, but Esau I hated?" or the one who said (my paraphrase) "could I squash you the way I did in those other countries I didn't love as much as I did you?" (it's in one of the prophets somewhere)

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LeRoc

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quote:
seekingsister: The question is still - is God pleased by works we do that are done without faith in Him? Perhaps on a "it's nice that my children are treating each other well" level (assuming God thinks like that), but those works are not going to go into some register or account of how good X person was versus Y.
I find this two-tier system very weird. It's like God saying "Yeah I'm pleased with that but I'm not pleased-pleased with that. It doesn't really count." [Ultra confused]

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I know why God made the rhinoceros, it's because He couldn't see the rhinoceros, so He made the rhinoceros to be able to see it. (Clarice Lispector)

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Dafyd
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quote:
Originally posted by seekingsister:
They aren't worthless to you and me as humans, but they are worthless to God because we do not please Him by works.

I wouldn't say worthless, as that runs the risk of implying that something else (works done with faith?) would be worth something to please God. But the point is rather that we don't need to please God; God is already pleased before the question even arises.

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Evensong
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quote:
Originally posted by Dafyd:
quote:
Originally posted by Evensong:
Would God prefer a selfless atheist to a completely selfish bastard asshole of a Christian that did not love others?

God loves them both equally without reservation. God loved them both before the foundation of the world. All God has is equally theirs.

Agreed. God loves all simply by virtue of being God's creation.

quote:
Originally posted by Dafyd:

To imply that God prefers one is to imply that God could love the other one more.

Not so. But God does prefer that God's will is done on earth as it is in heaven so that all may have abundant life.

If there was no preference, God would have left us entirely alone.

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seekingsister
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quote:
Originally posted by LeRoc:
It's not about what we have to do to be in good standing with God. That's not why we need to do good things.

But you seem to be missing my point.

I believe God's grace can cover everyone, regardless of their works or lack thereof.

To be assured of salvation, we are called to have faith.

What happens to those with no faith, I cannot say. But what I can say, is that the God I believe in is not going to split them up and say "OK you did lots of good works, take my grace" and to the others "Tsk tsk you should have done more, no grace for you."

I'm saying that works are irrelevant to God in the grand scheme of things, but that they obviously have an impact on life here on Earth.

Atheists or whoever may be saved regardless of their works or not - but their salvation will be by God's grace and not by what they did.

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LeRoc

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quote:
seekingsister: But you seem to be missing my point.
And you're missing mine. I'm not talking about who is saved or who isn't. That's not the question here. I'd even say it's the wrong question.

Suppose I risk my life to go into a burning orphanage and save a hundred children. I'm not claiming to have such bravery, but for argument's sake. The question I'm asking is: will this be pleasing to God?

You are substituting this for another question. You seem to think the question I'm asking here is: will this get me into Heaven? That's not the important question here. That question is all about memememe!

The important thing here is: a hundred orphan children didn't die! And I can't believe anything else than that this is immensely pleasing to God. It's about them, it isn't about me.

Whether or not this will contribute to me being saved is completely irrelevant. That's not the point.

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I know why God made the rhinoceros, it's because He couldn't see the rhinoceros, so He made the rhinoceros to be able to see it. (Clarice Lispector)

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seekingsister
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quote:
Originally posted by LeRoc:
And you're missing mine. I'm not talking about who is saved or who isn't. That's not the question here. I'd even say it's the wrong question.

Doesn't God save those who please Him?

It would be pretty messed up if someone did lots of things that pleased God and then found out at the end that because they never committed to Jesus they were SOL.

In which case I'm not clear what you mean when you say individual human actions please God, if we are not talking about them having a spiritual impact.

[ 03. September 2014, 12:21: Message edited by: seekingsister ]

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LeRoc

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quote:
seekingsister: Doesn't God save those who please Him?
Yes, He does. He also saves those who don't please Him. Scratch that, everyone pleases Him.

quote:
seekingsister: In which case I'm not clear what you mean when you say individual human actions please God, if we are not talking about them having a spiritual impact.
But they do. If I enter a burning orphanage, saving a hundred children, I'm sure it will have a tremendous spiritual inpact on me. 'Spriritual impact' doesn't mean 'I'll go to Heaven'.

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I know why God made the rhinoceros, it's because He couldn't see the rhinoceros, so He made the rhinoceros to be able to see it. (Clarice Lispector)

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Moo

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quote:
Originally posted by seekingsister:
What if by circumstances, mental illness, other struggles you cannot do good works? Tough luck? That stinks in my opinion.

This reminds me of the last stanza of Robert Burns' poem Address to the Unco' Guid.

The stanza goes

Who made the heart, 'tis He alone
Decidedly can try us;
He knows each chord, its various tone,
Each spring, its various bias:
Then at the balance let's be mute,
We never can adjust it;
What's done we partly may compute,
But know not what's resisted.

Moo

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Alex Cockell

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quote:
Originally posted by seekingsister:
quote:
Originally posted by LeRoc:
And you're missing mine. I'm not talking about who is saved or who isn't. That's not the question here. I'd even say it's the wrong question.

Doesn't God save those who please Him?

It would be pretty messed up if someone did lots of things that pleased God and then found out at the end that because they never committed to Jesus they were SOL.

In which case I'm not clear what you mean when you say individual human actions please God, if we are not talking about them having a spiritual impact.

That is EXACTLY what Jesus said...

https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Matthew+7%3A21-23&version=NIV

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seekingsister
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quote:
Originally posted by Alex Cockell:
quote:
Originally posted by seekingsister:
quote:
Originally posted by LeRoc:
And you're missing mine. I'm not talking about who is saved or who isn't. That's not the question here. I'd even say it's the wrong question.

Doesn't God save those who please Him?

It would be pretty messed up if someone did lots of things that pleased God and then found out at the end that because they never committed to Jesus they were SOL.

In which case I'm not clear what you mean when you say individual human actions please God, if we are not talking about them having a spiritual impact.

That is EXACTLY what Jesus said...

https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Matthew+7%3A21-23&version=NIV

Thanks for this. If God was pleased by good actions in and of themselves then Jesus would not have made this statement.

What pleases God is faith, not works. That's all I've been trying to say.

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LeRoc

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quote:
seekingsister: What pleases God is faith, not works. That's all I've been trying to say.
LOL, it's funny how you can get that from "Not everyone who says to me, 'Lord, Lord,' will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven." Works seem to be winning from faith here.

And it still leaves the question mark of what "entering the kingdom of heaven" means.

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I know why God made the rhinoceros, it's because He couldn't see the rhinoceros, so He made the rhinoceros to be able to see it. (Clarice Lispector)

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seekingsister
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quote:
Originally posted by LeRoc:
LOL, it's funny how you can get that from "Not everyone who says to me, 'Lord, Lord,' will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven." Works seem to be winning from faith here.

And it still leaves the question mark of what "entering the kingdom of heaven" means.

Saying "Lord lord" counts as faith? And how can this be a pro-works statement if the works these people are listing as evidence of their worthiness are tossed aside immediately?

Wouldn't you think that perhaps "God's will" is not based on actions?

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Stejjie
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quote:
Originally posted by LeRoc:
quote:
seekingsister: What pleases God is faith, not works. That's all I've been trying to say.
LOL, it's funny how you can get that from "Not everyone who says to me, 'Lord, Lord,' will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven." Works seem to be winning from faith here.

And it still leaves the question mark of what "entering the kingdom of heaven" means.

Well, if we're going to throw proof texts around, I could mention Hebrews 11:6:

quote:
And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.
Which seems to say exactly what seekingsister is saying.

I honestly don't think the point is "Just doing good", whether or not we pay any attention to God. I think the reason we (collective "we" meaning the whole of humanity, ever) is in the mess we're in is because we've stopped thinking of ourselves as God's creations, as people made to enjoy relationship with God that will lead us to doing good in His world. Like the Westminster thingummy says, we were made to glorify God and enjoy him forever; we were made for relationship with God.

So, I'd say that our standing before God is important and can't be regained just by doing good works without faith (in both the believing and trusting senses of that word). Our fundamental problems as humans isn't that we don't do enough good things, it's that we turned away from God and put up barriers that only He can pull down - and has done, through Jesus. God loves us madly and doesn't think us despicable at all; but until we turn back to Him and acknowledge Him and do the good that He calls us to do, we're still snookered.

And for me, that's not abhorrent; it's the most beautiful, amazing thing there could be (and this thread has reminded me of that).

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Evensong
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quote:
Originally posted by seekingsister:

What pleases God is faith, not works. That's all I've been trying to say.

That is simply not true. Both please God. The two are not separate things. Faith without works is dead. Works without faith is half a glass.

That Matthew quote is about those that call Jesus Lord ( have "faith" in him ) but do not do the will of God.

It is usually used as proof text against the idea that only belief and faith in Jesus saves.

As for "salvation"; it relates to both the here and now and the resurrection after death. It is both. You can't separate the two anymore than you can separate faith vs works.

Just like the Kingdom of Heaven is both here and now and fulfilled in the age to come.

[ 03. September 2014, 13:02: Message edited by: Evensong ]

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Adeodatus
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Has nobody noticed that it would never cross an atheist's mind to ask whether the good they did pleased God? The point of my OP is that Augustine seems to be saying that the good that (for example) an atheist does is positively displeasing to God - and that's what I'm calling abhorrent.

I'm a Christian, and I couldn't care less whether the good I do gets me heavenly brownie-points or not. But a God who actively condemns good works (Augustine's word again), just because those works don't smell of Jesus-deodorant, is a monster.

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seekingsister
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quote:
Originally posted by Stejjie:
So, I'd say that our standing before God is important and can't be regained just by doing good works without faith (in both the believing and trusting senses of that word). Our fundamental problems as humans isn't that we don't do enough good things, it's that we turned away from God and put up barriers that only He can pull down - and has done, through Jesus. God loves us madly and doesn't think us despicable at all; but until we turn back to Him and acknowledge Him and do the good that He calls us to do, we're still snookered.

And for me, that's not abhorrent; it's the most beautiful, amazing thing there could be (and this thread has reminded me of that).

Well said [Smile]
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LeRoc

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quote:
Stejjie: So, I'd say that our standing before God is important and can't be regained just by doing good works without faith (in both the believing and trusting senses of that word).
But that's not the point when I do good works. It isn't about whether I'll regain my standing before God. It isn't about me.

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Stejjie
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quote:
Originally posted by LeRoc:
quote:
Stejjie: So, I'd say that our standing before God is important and can't be regained just by doing good works without faith (in both the believing and trusting senses of that word).
But that's not the point when I do good works. It isn't about whether I'll regain my standing before God. It isn't about me.
Yes, I see what you're saying and I would totally agree that doing good works just to get Brownie points before God is a perversion of the Gospel and that God doesn't approve of that.

My point is that our standing before God is important and is at the root of the problem (and, from what Elephenor says here is at the heart of what Augustine's saying in this sermon). We're supposed to pay attention to it, because God always intended for us to have right standing - the very best standing - before him.

It's a bit like... if I did loads of good things in my house for my family - worked hard to earn money we need, did all the cooking and cleaning, did the shopping etc. - but never actually paid any attention to them, never listened to them, talked to them, never even particularly acknowledged their existence, especially when they were trying to tell me there was a problem with me, then it wouldn't be beneficial to anyone. In fact, for all the good I was doing, I could actually be destroying my relationship with them. They'd probably want me to do the good stuff, but also to pay attention to them so our relationships could be right.

I think that's a bit (sort of, if you squint hard enough) like how it's supposed to be with God: our relationship with him matters, it's what we were made for and it's not inherently selfish to pursue that. In fact, it's that that's supposed to spur us on to do even more good works - but they're not enough on their own.

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LeRoc

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quote:
Stejjie: My point is that our standing before God is important and is at the root of the problem
I don't believe it is.

quote:
Stejjie: It's a bit like... if I did loads of good things in my house for my family - worked hard to earn money we need, did all the cooking and cleaning, did the shopping etc. - but never actually paid any attention to them, never listened to them, talked to them, never even particularly acknowledged their existence, especially when they were trying to tell me there was a problem with me, then it wouldn't be beneficial to anyone. In fact, for all the good I was doing, I could actually be destroying my relationship with them. They'd probably want me to do the good stuff, but also to pay attention to them so our relationships could be right.
But what if your family made itself invisible? What if you couldn't be sure they existed? But you'd still cook and clean the house? I'd say that is a good thing.

quote:
Stejjie: In fact, it's that that's supposed to spur us on to do even more good works - but they're not enough on their own.
Enough for what?

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Evensong
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quote:
Originally posted by Adeodatus:
Has nobody noticed that it would never cross an atheist's mind to ask whether the good they did pleased God? The point of my OP is that Augustine seems to be saying that the good that (for example) an atheist does is positively displeasing to God - and that's what I'm calling abhorrent.

And you'd be quite right. [Big Grin]

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mousethief

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quote:
Originally posted by seekingsister:
quote:
Originally posted by Adeodatus:
And because of all the bad things happening, any good that's done is worthless?

They aren't worthless to you and me as humans, but they are worthless to God because we do not please Him by works.

There are many reasons to do good deeds to each other while on Earth but "because God will love me more" is not one of them.

There's an unstated premise here. If I please God, he will love me more. Where does this premise come from? I reject it, and therefore keep the top half. Good works are pleasing to God, simpliciter.

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mousethief

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quote:
Originally posted by Stejjie:
It's a bit like... if I did loads of good things in my house for my family - worked hard to earn money we need, did all the cooking and cleaning, did the shopping etc. - but never actually paid any attention to them, never listened to them, talked to them, never even particularly acknowledged their existence, especially when they were trying to tell me there was a problem with me, then it wouldn't be beneficial to anyone.

But this is absurd. Of course it's beneficial to them. Having a roof over one's head and food in one's belly is beneficial. Having a crappy relationship with them doesn't change that.

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seekingsister
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quote:
Originally posted by mousethief:
But this is absurd. Of course it's beneficial to them. Having a roof over one's head and food in one's belly is beneficial. Having a crappy relationship with them doesn't change that.

And yet there's an entire industry of counselling for people whose well-off parents met their material needs but didn't actually love them.

As I said before - good works are beneficial to other people while on Earth, that is not the same as saying that to God they have some intrinsic value as well.

Given that Christianity also teaches that good works flow from faith, the works clearly are important but the faith is what matters more. Therefore, someone with faith who does not or cannot do lots of good works is justified, someone without faith who cures cancer is not - from a spiritual perspective.

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LeRoc

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quote:
seekingsister: And yet there's an entire industry of counselling for people whose well-off parents met their material needs but didn't actually love them.
That doesn't make meeting their material needs a bad thing.

quote:
seekingsister: Therefore, someone with faith who does not or cannot do lots of good works is justified, someone without faith who cures cancer is not - from a spiritual perspective.
Yup, abhorrent.

[ 03. September 2014, 14:17: Message edited by: LeRoc ]

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I know why God made the rhinoceros, it's because He couldn't see the rhinoceros, so He made the rhinoceros to be able to see it. (Clarice Lispector)

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Ikkyu
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quote:
Originally posted by seekingsister:

someone without faith who cures cancer is not - from a spiritual perspective.

So Gandhi is going to hell?
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seekingsister
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quote:
Originally posted by LeRoc:
quote:
seekingsister: Therefore, someone with faith who does not or cannot do lots of good works is justified, someone without faith who cures cancer is not - from a spiritual perspective.
Yup, abhorrent.
I've already said that I believe God can (and hopefully will) save anyone by HIS grace. But not by THEIR works.

Can you see the difference? If so, please tell me what is abhorrent about that.

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seekingsister
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quote:
Originally posted by Ikkyu:
quote:
Originally posted by seekingsister:

someone without faith who cures cancer is not - from a spiritual perspective.

So Gandhi is going to hell?
How would I know?

All I know is that if we have faith we are assured of salvation by grace. That means for those outside of this - it's a mystery. Some will claim they know, but I'm not one of them.

I have no idea what happens to those without faith but I do not follow a God who would choose to bestow His grace only on unbelievers who do X amount of good works (and who is counting?) and not on unbelievers who do not.

Why is Gandhi's work better than that of the drug-addicted homeless person? Are you OK that Gandhi goes to heaven because he fought for political independence, but the drug addict who was too mired in problems to achieve much in Earthly standards does not?

THIS is abhorrent to me!

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Lyda*Rose

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And you are okay with Gandhi going to Hell because he didn't meet the Biblical belief standards although he acted very lovingly to his fellow human beings, loving his neighbors as himself and even seeming to love his enemies much more greatly than most of us could manage?

ETA: As I understand it, grace is God's freely given gift. If it is based on our works OR faith, I don't see how one can call it "free". Calvinists would call it election. Universalists would call it everybody-comes-to-party-together.

[ 03. September 2014, 15:12: Message edited by: Lyda*Rose ]

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LeRoc

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quote:
Ikkyu: So Gandhi is going to hell?
No. He's in Heaven right now, giving a meditation session.

quote:
seekingsister: How would I know?
Don't you care?

quote:
seekingsister: I've already said that I believe God can (and hopefully will) save anyone by HIS grace. But not by THEIR works.
Yes He can, and He already has. Including those who do good works and who don't have faith.

quote:
Lyda*Rose: Universalists would call it everybody-comes-to-party-together.
Yup. I'll bring some beer!

[ 03. September 2014, 15:14: Message edited by: LeRoc ]

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I know why God made the rhinoceros, it's because He couldn't see the rhinoceros, so He made the rhinoceros to be able to see it. (Clarice Lispector)

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IngoB

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quote:
Originally posted by Adeodatus:
But a God who actively condemns good works (Augustine's word again), just because those works don't smell of Jesus-deodorant, is a monster.

Except these are neither St Augustine's words, nor an accurate paraphrase of his words. St Augustine believes that (in one sense or the other) all human good flows from God into human agency, and all human evil arises from human resistance to this flow and consequently human agency left to its own devices. You can critique this view, of course, but as it stands you are blatantly misrepresenting what St Augustine is saying. God is not displeased with human good, according to St Augustine; rather God is displeased with the evil that people cannot avoid doing without (some form of) Divine assistance. To use your own quote from the OP, but with correct emphasis:
quote:
Our life was displeasing to him; everything in us that was of our doing was displeasing to him, but what he himself did in us was not displeasing. So he will condemn what we did but save his own work in us.
As shown above by a direct quote from St Augustine, God's work in us includes the (partial) restoration of uncorrupted human nature, which allows non-Christians to do natural human good.

Basically, you are ripping part of St Augustine's out of context, and interpret it to his detriment according to your rather different outlook on good and evil. This simply doesn't do St Augustine justice, and so no matter whether St Augustine is right or wrong in what he says. He deserves to be judged on his own terms, in context.

[ 03. September 2014, 15:17: Message edited by: IngoB ]

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Adeodatus
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quote:
Originally posted by IngoB:
quote:
Originally posted by Adeodatus:
But a God who actively condemns good works (Augustine's word again), just because those works don't smell of Jesus-deodorant, is a monster.

Except these are neither St Augustine's words, nor an accurate paraphrase of his words. St Augustine believes that (in one sense or the other) all human good flows from God into human agency, and all human evil arises from human resistance to this flow and consequently human agency left to its own devices. You can critique this view, of course, but as it stands you are blatantly misrepresenting what St Augustine is saying. God is not displeased with human good, according to St Augustine; rather God is displeased with the evil that people cannot avoid doing without (some form of) Divine assistance. To use your own quote from the OP, but with correct emphasis:
quote:
Our life was displeasing to him; everything in us that was of our doing was displeasing to him, but what he himself did in us was not displeasing. So he will condemn what we did but save his own work in us.
As shown above by a direct quote from St Augustine, God's work in us includes the (partial) restoration of uncorrupted human nature, which allows non-Christians to do natural human good.

Basically, you are ripping part of St Augustine's out of context, and interpret it to his detriment according to your rather different outlook on good and evil. This simply doesn't do St Augustine justice, and so no matter whether St Augustine is right or wrong in what he says. He deserves to be judged on his own terms, in context.

The options in that passage from Augustine are:

(a) Human beings are capable of good things (maybe not perfect things, but good things), but any good thing done by the faithless is hated by God, or

(b) Human beings are incapable of good, therefore any good we seem to do is really being done by God, so we're back to being nothing more than God's glove puppet.

Pretty bloody awful either way, if you ask me.

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"What is broken, repair with gold."

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seekingsister
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quote:
Originally posted by Lyda*Rose:
And you are okay with Gandhi going to Hell because he didn't meet the Biblical belief standards although he acted very lovingly to his fellow human beings, loving his neighbors as himself and even seeming to love his enemies much more greatly than most of us could manage?

ETA: As I understand it, grace is God's freely given gift. If it is based on our works OR faith, I don't see how one can call it "free". Calvinists would call it election. Universalists would call it everybody-comes-to-party-together.

I don't spend any time thinking about who is in heaven or hell (and I'm an annihilationist if pressed). But if Gandhi has given His account to God I leave it to God to decide based on what He knows, if Gandhi is to be with Him or not.

It's impossible for any human to know what is behind the good works that we see, so to say that you are confident God is pleased with and somehow records these works for each person's spiritual profit-and-loss account strikes me as presumptuous in the extreme.

Assurance of salvation for those with faith does not inherently mean those without faith are not saved. It means we cannot be sure what happens to them.

Again - to say that works without faith please God leads to legalism. It justifies Christian theocracy, for a start.

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LeRoc

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quote:
seekingsister: Again - to say that works without faith please God leads to legalism.
No, it doesn't.

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I know why God made the rhinoceros, it's because He couldn't see the rhinoceros, so He made the rhinoceros to be able to see it. (Clarice Lispector)

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seekingsister
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quote:
Originally posted by LeRoc:
quote:
seekingsister: Again - to say that works without faith please God leads to legalism.
No, it doesn't.
When taken to its extreme, faith before works leads to a "just say a Jesus prayer and you're all good" type of religion.

When taken to its extreme, works before faith leads to a "do these works and you're all good" type of religion.

Only the latter can be described correctly as legalism: "adherence to moral law rather than to personal religious faith"

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orfeo

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A former church Minister of mine used to say that if you end up with a theological answer that's paradoxical, you've probably hit the mark.

He'd probably put faith/works/both/neither in that category.

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LeRoc

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quote:
Originally posted by seekingsister:
quote:
Originally posted by LeRoc:
quote:
seekingsister: Again - to say that works without faith please God leads to legalism.
No, it doesn't.
When taken to its extreme, faith before works leads to a "just say a Jesus prayer and you're all good" type of religion.

When taken to its extreme, works before faith leads to a "do these works and you're all good" type of religion.

Only the latter can be described correctly as legalism: "adherence to moral law rather than to personal religious faith"

I wasn't talking about faith before works, or works before faith. I wasn't saying anything about that. I just said that good works please God.

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I know why God made the rhinoceros, it's because He couldn't see the rhinoceros, so He made the rhinoceros to be able to see it. (Clarice Lispector)

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Dafyd
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quote:
Originally posted by Adeodatus:
(b) Human beings are incapable of good, therefore any good we seem to do is really being done by God, so we're back to being nothing more than God's glove puppet.

Let's try another analogy. Which is true: creation or evolution? The answer is both. Life evolves through Darwinian evolution, and also God creates it. The two are not exclusive alternatives. That doesn't mean God set everything in motion, and then let Darwinian evolution go on its merry way; that doesn't even mean God micromanages Darwinian evolution nudging it along now and then. It means that 'God did it' and 'it evolved as a result of random mutation' are both true. It depends on the level of explanation at which you are working.

Likewise, if somebody recovers from illness, should we give thanks to God? Yes. But does that mean modern medicine wasn't responsible? No. Again, God did it and modern medicine did it are both valid explanations depending on the level of explanation at which you are working.
I think this goes for any doctrine of providence. If we thank God for our food at grace before meals, we are not implying that the farmers and food carriers and supermarkets and cook had nothing to do with it, or were merely sockpuppets.

Now: for Augustine any good deed falls into the same category: we did it, and God did it through the Holy Spirit are not competing explanations either. It's not the case that God did it reduces our role to a sock puppet, any more than thanking God at grace reduces the farmer to a stage show.

(For that matter, if the relation between God and humanity were such that God did it excluded humans did it, it becomes a bit difficult to hold any orthodox doctrine of the incarnation.)

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we remain, thanks to original sin, much in love with talking about, rather than with, one another. Rowan Williams

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Stejjie
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quote:
Originally posted by LeRoc:
quote:
Stejjie: My point is that our standing before God is important and is at the root of the problem
I don't believe it is.

Which is going to make things trickyt discussing this much further, because I do... and I think, from what's been said on this thread, it's something of what Augustine's getting at.

quote:
quote:
Stejjie: It's a bit like... if I did loads of good things in my house for my family - worked hard to earn money we need, did all the cooking and cleaning, did the shopping etc. - but never actually paid any attention to them, never listened to them, talked to them, never even particularly acknowledged their existence, especially when they were trying to tell me there was a problem with me, then it wouldn't be beneficial to anyone. In fact, for all the good I was doing, I could actually be destroying my relationship with them. They'd probably want me to do the good stuff, but also to pay attention to them so our relationships could be right.
But what if your family made itself invisible? What if you couldn't be sure they existed? But you'd still cook and clean the house? I'd say that is a good thing.
Yes, it would be. The comparison isn't exact though, because I believe God has made himself visible/revealed himself in Jesus Christ.

quote:
quote:
Stejjie: In fact, it's that that's supposed to spur us on to do even more good works - but they're not enough on their own.
Enough for what?
To correct that thing that's gone wrong between us and God which, as I've said, is what I believe to be the ultimate root of our problems - not just doing enough or not enough good things.

quote:
Originally posted by mousethief:
But this is absurd. Of course it's beneficial to them. Having a roof over one's head and food in one's belly is beneficial. Having a crappy relationship with them doesn't change that.

OK, maybe I was over-egging the pudding by suggesting there'd be no benefit for anyone - yes, those things are beneficial. But the relationships would suffer and it may be that that might counteract and undo the good that was being done by the good things I was doing.

--------------------
A not particularly-alt-worshippy, fairly mainstream, mildly evangelical, vaguely post-modern-ish Baptist

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Ikkyu
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quote:
Originally posted by seekingsister:


Why is Gandhi's work better than that of the drug-addicted homeless person? Are you OK that Gandhi goes to heaven because he fought for political independence, but the drug addict who was too mired in problems to achieve much in Earthly standards does not?

THIS is abhorrent to me!

Who says this is a competition? I admire Gandhi for his methods not his "achievements" . In my view even if his side had "lost", he would still be a great person.
Any "good" deeds done by the unbelieving addict are still good. Anything Gandhi ever did does not change that.

I believe our Ego sometimes tells us something like this:

I want do do good but the OCD part of me "knows" that if I am not perfect so it is not good enough. So since I can't be perfect I must be the worst person in the world. (Total depravity) And since I am bad everyone else must be as well because they can't be better than me. (Theological total depravity).
(Remember this is the Ego talking).

The alternative to this as has been mentioned before in the thread is selfless action. Doing good "for goodness sake" without any thought of reward. Or any belief that doing good somehow means that I am good. Its getting me out of the way and to see whats really there. If someone is hungry you feed them because they are hungry it has nothing to do with me.

Making life a "competition" for salvation misses the point.

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IngoB

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quote:
Originally posted by Adeodatus:
(b) Human beings are incapable of good, therefore any good we seem to do is really being done by God, so we're back to being nothing more than God's glove puppet.

If you maintain that "nothing more than God's glove puppet" is a good description in spite of the analogies proposed by me (electricity and vacuum cleaner, donors and charity workers), Dafyd (author and story character, creation and evolution) and Gildas (inspired painting spree, child's hand guided by mother in writing), then I would say that you have correctly identified your disagreement with St Augustine.

Once more, I think your key problem there is that you think of God as of another human person (just obviously super-powered). Hence with all due respect to all these analogies, while the one about electricity and the vacuum cleaner may have least emotional appeal, I think it isolates the problem most accurately.

If I ask you how you cleaned the hallway, you would not answer "with electricity" - though that would be a correct statement. You would answer "with the vacuum cleaner". Why? Because the vacuum cleaner clearly is the specific device that makes things happen, it is the entity responsible for any cleaning going on (rather than say blowdrying or screening images). Whereas electricity is just an unspecific driving force. Admittedly, it makes many good things happen, it is kind of universally beneficial to your life, but just for that reason the concrete benefit of cleaning attaches to the thing that actually cleans even if driven by electricity. It is true that without electricity, the vacuum cleaner would have been so much dead metal and plastic, but once powered up it is the thing responsible for cleaning.

However, let's assume I now ask something else, namely what entity did the cleaning? Suddenly you may see yourself come into focus, and the picture shifts. Of course it is you who cleaned that hallway. Yes, with the aid specifically of the vacuum cleaner (and electricity), but that vacuum cleaner would have done nothing without you. Now you think of the vacuum cleaner as a mere machine, and all the responsibility for the cleaning becomes yours. The device you employed is really just secondary, a mere function of you choosing the right tool for the job.

My point is this: if you primarily think of God as another man (if infinitely powerful), then in your mind God will become like you and you will become like the vacuum cleaner. You will be a mere tool of His will. Whereas if you primarily think of God as a kind of impersonal force, then in your mind God will become like electricity and you will become like the vacuum cleaner. You are the entity responsible for what is happening.

This is not to deny that God actually is a Person, in a suitably analogical sense. It is also obviously not to deny that unlike a vacuum cleaner you are a person, and hence can be responsible in the full sense of the word. However, it is to say that you are being misled in your evaluation of the situation by anthropomorphism. God is not a competitor for your agency, as another human agent would be. God is the enabler of your agency. The problem is that none of the other enablers of your agency are persons, but all of your competitors are. Think about it, your cardiovascular system is an enabler of your agency. If it fails, you will cease doing good (or anything else). But you don't see your cardiovascular system as stealing the limelight from you. It is just a thing that enables you to do what you do. Well, God is just a Person that enables you to do what you do. There is a real conceptual strain in thinking that, because in our experience other human agents always compete in the same action space somehow, rather than having a supporting role to our actions. But God's action space is creation and first motion, it is not our action space. As far as your "gut feeling" about action goes, God is hence better thought of as a driving force that enables you to do certain actions, namely good actions.

Obviously, if you do something without "switching on" the driving force that enables you to do good things, then the result will be nothing or bad. Just like a vacuum cleaner without electricity does nothing to clean a carpet, except perhaps to wear it thin if rolled over it vigorously. So you really should "switch on" God's grace in what you do. At this point you can slowly ease God's Personhood back into things. Obviously, since God actually loves good and hates evil (for suitably analogical senses of those words), God will be displeased if you have "switched off" His grace and ended up doing nothing or bad things. But His role in your doing does not change just because as a Person He can have value judgements.

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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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LeRoc

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quote:
Stejjie: The comparison isn't exact though, because I believe God has made himself visible/revealed himself in Jesus Christ.
I believe He did too. But still, I'm not sure that we can blame humans of having a bad relationship with Him if He's only shown Himself clearly (if that) 2000 years ago.

quote:
Stejjie: To correct that thing that's gone wrong between us and God which, as I've said, is what I believe to be the ultimate root of our problems - not just doing enough or not enough good things.
You're right, the fact that I don't necessarily belief that this is the root of the problem does make our discussion more difficult.

--------------------
I know why God made the rhinoceros, it's because He couldn't see the rhinoceros, so He made the rhinoceros to be able to see it. (Clarice Lispector)

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shamwari
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His grace and ended up doing nothing or bad things. But His role in your doing does not change just because as a Person He can have value judgements.

posted by Ingo B

Ingo is suitably informed. Which means he ought to recognise that God is personal, not a person.

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IngoB

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quote:
Originally posted by shamwari:
Ingo is suitably informed. Which means he ought to recognise that God is personal, not a person.

Whether I agree or disagree with this depends on how you define "personal" and "person"...

FWIW, when I say that God is a Person, I am asserting the philosophical definition of Boethius, as it was understood by Aquinas:

A person is a complete substance of rational nature subsisting of itself and separate from all else. (ST IIIa q16 a12 ad 2,3)

This is explained further in the
quote:
Catholic Encyclopedia
[W]e have [there] a definition comprising the five notes that go to make up a person: (a) substantia - this excludes accident; (b) completa - it must form a complete nature; that which is a part, either actually or "aptitudinally" does not satisfy the definition; (c) per se subsistens - the person exists in himself and for himself; he is sui juris, the ultimate possessor of his nature and all its acts, the ultimate subject of predication of all his attributes; that which exists in another is not a person; (d) separata ab aliis - this excludes the universal, substantia secunda, which has no existence apart from the individual; (e) rationalis naturae - excludes all non-intellectual supposita.

To a person therefore belongs a threefold incommunicability, expressed in notes (b), (c), and (d). The human soul belongs to the nature as a part of it, and is therefore not a person, even when existing separately. The human nature of Christ does not exist per se seorsum, but in alio, in the Divine Personality of the Word. It is therefore communicated by assumption and so is not a person. Lastly the Divine Essence, though subsisting per se, is so communicated to the Three Persons that it does not exist apart from them; it is therefore not a person.



[ 03. September 2014, 18:55: Message edited by: IngoB ]

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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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itsarumdo
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There is some difficulty with that definition. If you grind up any random human being in a petri dish and analyse the DNA, you will find that the human DNA only comprises about 10% of your goo - the rest is bacterial DNA, from the skin, the gut and various other surfaces and orifices. Only 10%.

If you take away all that bacteria, I would give the human max about 2 hours lifespan, because of all the useful things that the bacteria do. We are in a physical sense an ecosystem, NOT a distinctly separate or separable entity. The same goes for the macro ecology we live in - one human on its own is not viable.

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Dafyd
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quote:
Originally posted by Lyda*Rose:
And you are okay with Gandhi going to Hell because he didn't meet the Biblical belief standards although he acted very lovingly to his fellow human beings, loving his neighbors as himself and even seeming to love his enemies much more greatly than most of us could manage?

Gandhi royally screwed up his oldest son.

Not that there are many Christian saints without feet of clay.

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we remain, thanks to original sin, much in love with talking about, rather than with, one another. Rowan Williams

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