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Author Topic:   The Tension of Faith
Faith 
Suspended Member (Idle past 1562 days)
Posts: 35298
From: Nevada, USA
Joined: 10-06-2001


Message 1 of 1540 (820315)
09-19-2017 3:16 AM


I was intrigued by this article that a friend sent me:
The Tension of Faith: Why I Appreciate Christians Who Believe I’m Going to Hell
My friend has found it offensive that Christians believe people of other beliefs are going to Hell, but this article gave her a more understanding take on it. Here's how it starts out:
He didn’t want this conversation, and he hadn’t started it.
Neil and I had been friends and college classmates for about a year. He was a religious Christian, and I a secular Jew, but he never preached to me. Out of nowhere, I asked him whether he thought I was going to hell, and he demurred, saying it wasn’t up to him. But I couldn’t accept that dodge. I pressed and prodded until he had to admit that, yes, if his theology was correct, and I didn’t believe in Jesus, and maintained that non-belief until death, then I was, tragically, hell-bound.
Since then, I’d been grilling him for hours, even more doggedly than before. Surely he would see how cruel his belief was. Surely he’d never stopped to think about his good friend burning in eternal fire, and if he only would consider that, surely he’d stop believing something so monstrous.
He told me, If I get to heaven, and find out I’m wrong, and see all my Jewish and atheist friends there I will cry tears of joy. I will shout, ‘Thank you God!’ I will be so happy.
Then, he paused:
What I believe isn’t the same as what I want.
I didn’t know what to say. Neil’s sympathy his genuine love didn’t fit into the only story I knew how to tell about people who believed in hell: that they were judgmental and hateful. It had never occurred to me that someone could believe something other than what he wanted.
The article made things somewhat easier between me and my friend, since in these cases I usually have to avoid saying much about my beliefs, so it was a big relief to have a less conflictful frame of reference. It's SO true, I don't WANT anybody to go to Hell, but if I believe God has decreed it I can't argue with God, and all I can do is pray that God will save those I care about.
Later the writer of the article becomes a practicing orthodox Jew who encounters some things in his religion he has trouble accepting (much the same things GDR for instance has trouble accepting in the Old Testament), and he remembers Neil's statement in his new context.
An example: every man, woman and child of the nation of Amalek had to be killed even the infants. To be clear, this commandment applied only in antiquity, and never applies today, but even in distant history, a commandment of genocide is appalling.
Another: children born of incest or adultery, who have done nothing wrong themselves, are classified as mamzerim forever, forbidden to marry anyone except other mamzerim.
The article is then about how one comes to accept things that bother us about our religion if we are going to be true to the revelation and not impose our own feelings on it (which is what liberal believers do).
Religion’s finest moments in history have starred zealots who refused to bow to common sense whether the common sense of Seleucid imperialism, or the common sense of American slavery. Religion must be uncomfortable and unusual, or it will be tautological. It must be authoritative and binding, or it will be a sham.
To put it another way: if I can decide to change the law of the mamzer because I don’t like it, how shall I answer my fellow Jew who decides to change the laws of giving charity? Beautifully demanding laws they are, but utterly useless if any Jew can suddenly change them because he’s just read Ayn Rand and decided hand-outs are immoral. No. Cries Deuteronomy 15:11:
You shall open your hand to your brother, to your poor, and to your needy in your land.
Yes, I could change the system. I could join one of the liberal denominations that have conveniently done away with the law of the mamzer, but only if I’m willing to let Deuteronomy 15:11, and every other sacred commandment, be similarly defanged.
He goes on to discuss the Biblical story of Abraham's being called by God to sacrifice his son Isaac, in one of the loveliest presentations of that event I've ever read. It's one of the severest examples of the conflict God puts us all through in various forms, between what we want and what He wants, to test our faith and mortify our self-will, and this is even emblematic of the conflict we are all put into in giving the gospel to people who reject it.
I found a lot of depth in this essay and many angles that could be discussed.
Edited by Faith, : No reason given.
Edited by Faith, : No reason given.
Edited by Faith, : No reason given.

Replies to this message:
 Message 3 by PaulK, posted 09-19-2017 8:20 AM Faith has replied
 Message 4 by Phat, posted 09-19-2017 8:47 AM Faith has not replied
 Message 5 by Phat, posted 09-19-2017 9:10 AM Faith has replied
 Message 10 by Tangle, posted 09-19-2017 9:38 AM Faith has replied
 Message 15 by GDR, posted 09-19-2017 12:04 PM Faith has not replied
 Message 16 by ringo, posted 09-19-2017 12:04 PM Faith has not replied
 Message 32 by Stile, posted 09-20-2017 9:28 AM Faith has not replied
 Message 58 by kbertsche, posted 09-21-2017 5:42 PM Faith has replied
 Message 142 by Phat, posted 10-05-2017 12:41 PM Faith has replied

  
Faith 
Suspended Member (Idle past 1562 days)
Posts: 35298
From: Nevada, USA
Joined: 10-06-2001


Message 6 of 1540 (820327)
09-19-2017 9:19 AM
Reply to: Message 5 by Phat
09-19-2017 9:10 AM


Re: One More Thing For The Record
I haven't the slightest cognitive dissonance about the Flood or the inerrancy of the Bible. There's no point in "entertaining" a contradiction of either notion when I know it is false. It has nothing to do with being "threatened," or even to do with anything I WANT to be true, it's just that I know what I know.
My beliefs regarding Islam are also a matter of objective truth and have nothing to do with any personal attitude toward Muslims, except that I see them as victims of that miserable ideology.
Edited by Faith, : No reason given.
Edited by Faith, : No reason given.

This message is a reply to:
 Message 5 by Phat, posted 09-19-2017 9:10 AM Phat has replied

Replies to this message:
 Message 8 by RAZD, posted 09-19-2017 9:23 AM Faith has not replied
 Message 107 by LamarkNewAge, posted 09-27-2017 5:40 PM Faith has not replied
 Message 199 by Phat, posted 10-08-2017 3:15 PM Faith has replied
 Message 203 by Percy, posted 10-08-2017 4:16 PM Faith has not replied

  
Faith 
Suspended Member (Idle past 1562 days)
Posts: 35298
From: Nevada, USA
Joined: 10-06-2001


Message 11 of 1540 (820333)
09-19-2017 9:56 AM
Reply to: Message 3 by PaulK
09-19-2017 8:20 AM


So presumably you should be equally glad when Islamists follow their religion - as you understand it - and persecute and kill non-Muslims ?
It is certainly the same mindset, uncompromising devotion to their religion, and I wish the writer of the essay had addressed it. But of course there is nothing actually dangerous in either Judaism or Christianity as there is in Islam, just offended feelings and moral indignation, whereas Islam does prescribe killing people and despite all the liberal denials is doing it quite frequently these days.
So my agreement with the essay is only partial. I'm glad he appreciates the unwillingness to compromise on a point of doctrine that is painful to hold, and take from that the recognition that it's not personal, nobody is wishing Hell on friends and family, but he is unable to go quite to the point of recognizing that the things we find difficult are in fact important truths. As he discusses it they come off as more undigested lumps we can never swallow or truly accept. Although he can grant that Neil believes in Hell, it sounds like he can't accept at all that God's judgment of the Amalekites and "mamsers" is truly just. It continues to violate his conscience.
I think we all go through stages of accepting some of the tenets of our religion, I know I did. There was a lot that got my hackles up in the beginning. But I did grow into it as I learned more. Perhaps he will grow into an appreciation of God's justice even in those things he still rejects. Until he does they remain those undigested lumps he refuses to accept. (I'd consider that the "mamser" represents a threat to the community. There are some sins that seem to be treated as undermining the social fabric and if allowed to go unpunished would contribute to its unraveling. To punish such things seems unjust to us because we are individualists, but ancient Israel was a cohesive theocracy. If one person picked up firewood on the Sabbath without being punished for instance, the whole sacred concept of the Sabbath would be undermined for all other members of the community. Death seems extreme to us, but it isn't as if there hadn't been sufficient warning and it's no doubt the only way the commandment could have kept the people's reverence and obedience. It certainly strikes us as extremely unjust to punish the "mamsers" but I'd suppose there is some similar motivation involved, to protect the integrity of the society. It also seems to me that there may be a hidden spiritual dimension to some of this: demonic influence that keeps alive a certain mental set even in an infant of the Amalekites, that would grow up to threaten God's people just as its parents did. The commandment tells us that God "fisits the sins of the fathers unto the third and fourth generations" of those who hate Him, which suggests to me a factor of inheritance that isn't stated but probably the reason for it. If we all inherit the sin nature from our first parent Adam it seems to follow that there is a principle of the inheritance of sin that we often overlook.
I find that the essay seems to be an example of intellectual dissonance, a rationalisation of the moral flaws of religion. Evil is seen as a necessary part, and submission to that evil a worthy sacrifice. An idea I find quite chilling.
And that is where I think the writer's thinking breaks down because to this point he is unable to accept that he is pitting himself against God just as liberals do, and failing to grasp that God's actions are always right and true and for our good, and that he needs to grow to the point where he can understand how.

This message is a reply to:
 Message 3 by PaulK, posted 09-19-2017 8:20 AM PaulK has replied

Replies to this message:
 Message 14 by Phat, posted 09-19-2017 10:51 AM Faith has not replied
 Message 17 by PaulK, posted 09-19-2017 2:08 PM Faith has replied

  
Faith 
Suspended Member (Idle past 1562 days)
Posts: 35298
From: Nevada, USA
Joined: 10-06-2001


Message 12 of 1540 (820335)
09-19-2017 10:10 AM
Reply to: Message 10 by Tangle
09-19-2017 9:38 AM


Another topic I felt needed addressing in the essay when I first read it is the idea that people go to Hell for failing to accept Jesus. The reality is that people go to Hell for their sins, and Hell is NOT a Christian concept, it's universal, held by probably the majority of religions throughout the world. When the Bible refers to Hell it is not by way of instructing us that there is a Hell, it's by way of referring to something taken for granted that it is expected most readers will recognize. There are variations on the idea but they all are about a place of punishment for one's personal moral failures after death.
The thing that is truly different about Christianity is that we have a Savior, a solution ot the universal problem of moral failure that makes death frightening. Some may fear the doctrine of reincarnation because of the idea they might come back as an animal (I know of someone who has this fear), but everybody knows at some level that they have sin in their history that they have no ability to erase.
This is the problem that Christ came to solve, and no other religion offers any such solution to it. "Come unto me all ye who are heavy ladn and I will give you rest." Other religions teach good behavior and hope that God "grades on the curve" but in many there remains a nagging suspicion that He doesn't. Buddhism offers the solution of an adept in meditation such that if you become a master you reach "nirvana" and are freed from the endless round of karmic suffering. But such mastery is rare; the average person has no access to it.
But Christ gives salvation to us if we believe in Him. Freedom from the punishment we all know we deserve. This is how the situation should be presented. It's far from the idea that you are going to Hell because you refuse to believe in Christ since you'd go to Hell even if you'd never heard of Him and your own religion would lead you to that conclusion.
Neil has the feelings I think most Christians have: we wouldn't send anybody to Hell if we'd written the Bible, we'd be a lot nicer than God, and very happy to see all our unsaved friends in heaven with us.* But if we believe the Bible we must believe that there is a Hell, and that is what the essay rightly recognizes as the tension of faith, the basic conflict, the reflection of Abraham's choice to obey God or his own feelings.
*I'm not sure what you think is so crazy about praying for our friends and family since we are limited creatures. But that's just a way of expressing the limitation because in fact we all pray for strangers as well.
Edited by Faith, : No reason given.
Edited by Faith, : No reason given.

This message is a reply to:
 Message 10 by Tangle, posted 09-19-2017 9:38 AM Tangle has replied

Replies to this message:
 Message 13 by Tangle, posted 09-19-2017 10:48 AM Faith has not replied
 Message 108 by Dr Adequate, posted 09-30-2017 11:42 AM Faith has replied

  
Faith 
Suspended Member (Idle past 1562 days)
Posts: 35298
From: Nevada, USA
Joined: 10-06-2001


Message 19 of 1540 (820376)
09-19-2017 5:28 PM
Reply to: Message 17 by PaulK
09-19-2017 2:08 PM


As the author says, there is no violence in today's Judaism, it's all part of the ancient historical context. Fake Christianity has done a lot of killing, not true Christianity.
Edited by Faith, : No reason given.

This message is a reply to:
 Message 17 by PaulK, posted 09-19-2017 2:08 PM PaulK has replied

Replies to this message:
 Message 21 by PaulK, posted 09-20-2017 2:05 AM Faith has replied

  
Faith 
Suspended Member (Idle past 1562 days)
Posts: 35298
From: Nevada, USA
Joined: 10-06-2001


(1)
Message 20 of 1540 (820377)
09-19-2017 5:30 PM
Reply to: Message 18 by Percy
09-19-2017 2:19 PM


Re: Religion Isn't Necessary for Morality
Nobody has said that to be moral requires religion. The Bible tells us that we were all made in the image of God and that means we were all born with a moral sense. Nevertheless we don't get it right a lot of the time and that's why the Bible gives us the written Moral Law.

This message is a reply to:
 Message 18 by Percy, posted 09-19-2017 2:19 PM Percy has seen this message but not replied

Replies to this message:
 Message 22 by Tangle, posted 09-20-2017 2:49 AM Faith has replied

  
Faith 
Suspended Member (Idle past 1562 days)
Posts: 35298
From: Nevada, USA
Joined: 10-06-2001


Message 23 of 1540 (820393)
09-20-2017 3:58 AM
Reply to: Message 22 by Tangle
09-20-2017 2:49 AM


Re: Religion Isn't Necessary for Morality
You didn't answer my question, do you believe that people that don't believe the same things as you are going to hell?
I believe you have to put all your trust in Jesus as the only salvation from Hell. No other religion offers a Savior or salvation from Hell. They believe in various versions of hell but they have no salvation from them.
Edited by Faith, : No reason given.
Edited by Faith, : No reason given.
Edited by Faith, : No reason given.

This message is a reply to:
 Message 22 by Tangle, posted 09-20-2017 2:49 AM Tangle has replied

Replies to this message:
 Message 25 by Tangle, posted 09-20-2017 4:10 AM Faith has replied

  
Faith 
Suspended Member (Idle past 1562 days)
Posts: 35298
From: Nevada, USA
Joined: 10-06-2001


Message 24 of 1540 (820394)
09-20-2017 3:59 AM
Reply to: Message 21 by PaulK
09-20-2017 2:05 AM


The fact remains that the Bible glorifies genocide, and you seek to praise that rather than reject it. That attitude tended to encourage future acts.
The Bible teaches the severity of God's Justice.
And if the Bible is the truth what good would it do anyone to refuse to believe it? That isn't going to stop God's justice from operating whether you like it or not.
Edited by Faith, : No reason given.
Edited by Faith, : No reason given.

This message is a reply to:
 Message 21 by PaulK, posted 09-20-2017 2:05 AM PaulK has not replied

  
Faith 
Suspended Member (Idle past 1562 days)
Posts: 35298
From: Nevada, USA
Joined: 10-06-2001


Message 26 of 1540 (820396)
09-20-2017 4:13 AM
Reply to: Message 25 by Tangle
09-20-2017 4:10 AM


Salvation from Hell comes only through Jesus Christ
Whoever trusts in Jesus as your salvation from Hell will be saved from Hell. That includes Catholics who trust in Jesus for salvation. Many of them trust in their membership in the Roman Church instead, but that won't save anybody, nor will being baptized. Jesus is the Savior, not the Church or the rituals.
"For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. "
Edited by Faith, : No reason given.
Edited by Faith, : No reason given.

This message is a reply to:
 Message 25 by Tangle, posted 09-20-2017 4:10 AM Tangle has replied

Replies to this message:
 Message 27 by Tangle, posted 09-20-2017 4:35 AM Faith has replied
 Message 34 by ringo, posted 09-20-2017 3:23 PM Faith has replied

  
Faith 
Suspended Member (Idle past 1562 days)
Posts: 35298
From: Nevada, USA
Joined: 10-06-2001


Message 28 of 1540 (820401)
09-20-2017 4:47 AM
Reply to: Message 27 by Tangle
09-20-2017 4:35 AM


Salvation from Hell comes by Jesus Christ
Jesus didn't come to send people to Hell but to save them from Hell. If He hadn't come people would have been going to Hell all over the world because there was no Savior. Now there is a Savior, and thanks to Christian missionaries and now worldwide communication methods people all over the world have heard the gospel, which Christ taught us to spread to everybody so they could be saved.
But people like you condemn us for telling people about Him so they can be saved. You know the gospel yet here you are complaining that there is a Savior from Hell though until He came there was no way to be saved from Hell.
As I understand the character of God from the Bible those who know the most have the most responsibility, so that wherever people have truly not heard the gospel I expect a lot more mercy from God than toward those who have heard it and reject it. And the Bible also teaches that there are people everywhere who intuitively understand the Moral Law and obey it, so they will certainly receive mercy.

This message is a reply to:
 Message 27 by Tangle, posted 09-20-2017 4:35 AM Tangle has replied

Replies to this message:
 Message 30 by Tangle, posted 09-20-2017 5:31 AM Faith has replied
 Message 37 by Tangle, posted 09-20-2017 5:30 PM Faith has replied
 Message 858 by Phat, posted 11-22-2017 4:28 PM Faith has not replied

  
Faith 
Suspended Member (Idle past 1562 days)
Posts: 35298
From: Nevada, USA
Joined: 10-06-2001


Message 29 of 1540 (820403)
09-20-2017 5:23 AM
Reply to: Message 27 by Tangle
09-20-2017 4:35 AM


Salvation is by Christ
John 3:17:
17For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved.

This message is a reply to:
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Faith 
Suspended Member (Idle past 1562 days)
Posts: 35298
From: Nevada, USA
Joined: 10-06-2001


Message 31 of 1540 (820407)
09-20-2017 5:46 AM
Reply to: Message 30 by Tangle
09-20-2017 5:31 AM


Re: Salvation from Hell comes by Jesus Christ
Right so now there are grades of hell? Some of the eternal torture is less than for others?
You wouldn't be making stuff up again would you?
The religions that recognize Hell may recognize many Hells which represent degrees of punishment or different kinds of punishment for different sins. The Bible refers to different degrees of punishment:
Will There Be Degrees of Judgment in Hell?
Such as:
Woe to you, Chorazin! Woe to you, Bethsaida! For if the mighty works which were done in you had been done in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented long ago in sackcloth and ashes. But I say unto you, It will be more tolerable for Tyre and Sidon in the day of judgment than for you (Matthew 11:20-22).
[and]
And you, Capernaum, will you be lifted up to the skies? No, you will go down to the depths. If the miracles that were performed in you had been performed in Sodom, it would have remained to this day. But I tell you that it will be more bearable for Sodom on the day of judgment than for you (Matthew 11:23,24).
...How much worse punishment do you think will be deserved by those who have spurned the Son of God, profaned the blood of the covenant by which they were sanctified, and outraged the Spirit of grace? (Hebrews 10:29).

This message is a reply to:
 Message 30 by Tangle, posted 09-20-2017 5:31 AM Tangle has not replied

  
Faith 
Suspended Member (Idle past 1562 days)
Posts: 35298
From: Nevada, USA
Joined: 10-06-2001


Message 35 of 1540 (820434)
09-20-2017 3:30 PM
Reply to: Message 34 by ringo
09-20-2017 3:23 PM


Re: Salvation from Hell comes only through Jesus Christ
Neither.
It means to consciously put all your trust in Him for salvation.

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 Message 34 by ringo, posted 09-20-2017 3:23 PM ringo has replied

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Faith 
Suspended Member (Idle past 1562 days)
Posts: 35298
From: Nevada, USA
Joined: 10-06-2001


Message 41 of 1540 (820454)
09-21-2017 1:06 AM
Reply to: Message 37 by Tangle
09-20-2017 5:30 PM


Re: Salvation from Hell comes by Jesus Christ
Faith writes:
Jesus didn't come to send people to Hell but to save them from Hell. If He hadn't come people would have been going to Hell all over the world because there was no Savior.
And you don't think that this is the most bizarre and evil idea that has ever been thought?
God creates man to live a short and brutal life ending in eternal torture. After a few thousand years of hell filling up he has second thoughts and sends his son to earth to be killed in order to save a small percentage of the population allowing the remaining billions to enjoy eternal torture regardless of how decently they live their lives.
As I've said many times, and NN said the same above, God did not CREATE the current condition of mankind, it is the result of our disobedience of God.
And sending Jesus to be our Savior was no "second thought," it was planned from the beginning. The problems you are complaining about are due to our free will and our habit of choosing sin which gets us even deeper into our pain and suffering. God OFFERS the gospel of salvation to everyone, Christians try to make sure it reaches everyone. Then they have the choice to accept or reject.

This message is a reply to:
 Message 37 by Tangle, posted 09-20-2017 5:30 PM Tangle has replied

Replies to this message:
 Message 44 by Tangle, posted 09-21-2017 2:26 AM Faith has replied

  
Faith 
Suspended Member (Idle past 1562 days)
Posts: 35298
From: Nevada, USA
Joined: 10-06-2001


Message 45 of 1540 (820459)
09-21-2017 3:28 AM
Reply to: Message 44 by Tangle
09-21-2017 2:26 AM


Re: Salvation from Hell comes by Jesus Christ
Scripture tells us Jesus came to "give beauty for ashes" (Isaiah 61:3), while over and over people here turn all the beauty into ashes, the uglier the ashes and the words used to describe them the better it seems. It never fails.

This message is a reply to:
 Message 44 by Tangle, posted 09-21-2017 2:26 AM Tangle has replied

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