God’s “Silence”

freewillby Glenn Fairman   1/25/14
Earlier today, a man on Facebook queried me as to why the Creator would allow evil to occur, if he is as good as we deem Him to be. If the great panorama of: wars, murders, thefts, rapes, and the entire host of human-manufactured horrors, both great and small, occur under the watchful eye of a loving God, then how can we possibly conclude that He loves us and desires justice, let alone exists? In light of mankind’s historical bloodbath, does this muted voice from the heavens translate either to a cosmic aloofness, or lead us to the conclusion of a divine culpability for our myriad pains and sufferings? For indeed, the mystery of suffering provides the greatest roadblock to faith; and to many it stands as the most serious indictment offered to savage the Christian God – a Being, of whom it is written, cares for even the tiniest of sparrows?

This position would seem to reflect a certain double-mindedness, since the man’s sincere but self-satisfied anti-theism is, on one hand, wedded to a confirmed state of denial about the very existence of God. And yet at the same instant, he is armed and ready to level his accusation as a means to somehow absolve or diminish Man’s responsibility for his own choices and actions – all the while kicking the bloody dagger to the foot of the Throne. “Where is the divine thunderbolt of Justice,” he seemed to say? To demand “Justice Now” and imply that the fact of suffering and evil is therefore proof positive that there is no God, or that He is not great – or that He is perhaps evil Himself, is a bold statement. Nevertheless, I believe that our agitated anti-theist was perhaps a tad forgetful of his own exhaustive catalogue of personal injustices, or he would not have opened the door to the Divine Entity for such an accelerated “squaring of the books.” For if the Lord began allocating Instantaneous Justice as payment for our iniquities, why shouldn’t He begin with our non-believing friend, or with us for that matter?

Having heard the non-believer’s line of reasoning many times before, my query to him was directed towards the very value of justice itself. Why does it mean so much to us; especially since, by virtue of his materialist philosophy, we are the meaningless products of a deadened amoral cosmos that ultimately can promise us nothing, nor offer us any expectation of hope, consolation, purpose — or that pesky quality of just desert that makes us feel so offended when we are deprived of its psychic warmth? Moreover, those indispensable ideas that we cherish and maintain concerning good and evil – which are in essence descriptive measuring rods, must themselves rely upon an authoritative lodestone that is itself superior to human law and convention. What is this ever-abiding standard that informs us when we pass judgment on man’s ethical systems, and why are these judgments more or less consistent with those niggling ideas of good or evil that are ensconced so deeply in the marrow of our minds? Indeed, what is it that enshrines the legitimacy of the Hebrew Decalogue over Nazi or Shar’ia justice, since all are the considered products from mankind’s moral-intellectual horizon to the confirmed relativist? In short, are we not utilizing a greater standard, albeit hidden but of greater lasting importance, when we render our judgments of equity and fairness? Just why should we expect, along with the billions of our brethren interspersed throughout the islands of the earth, to be granted that elusive justice, unless its anticipation is interwoven in the very quintessence of our hungered souls?

Perhaps the existence of human evil is inextricably linked to a nature that is in essence free, yet twisted by sin. If God were to have withheld from us that priceless capacity for making the wrong choice, he would have had to deny us those discerning mental/moral qualities, that when rightly oriented, make existence as we know it so wonderful. A world comprised of pre-determined machines is ontologically worthless. Such a life is certainly not worth living and definitely not worth dying for — since it would be bereft of what is beautiful and most preciously borne from the nature of God Himself. Could it not be that even with its mixture of fleeting joy, tragedy and death, that very character of the world in which we live is the best possible He could have created — given the formidable variables of freedom and sin? And given the realities of what we as a race were intended to be and what we have become through the exacted curse of our own hands, are not those unquenchable longings we feel for: the good, the true, the beautiful, and yes, that elusive call to justice – even when accompanied by those rank evils and sufferings, merely the stick-figure foreshadowings which herald our thirst for being’s greatest awakening?

But this point would be lost upon our anti-theist, who is only instrumentally concerned with justice—a justice framed only by the accusation that places God in the Dock as the world casts its own rancid incarnation of judgment upon His alleged motives: as lice would render their verdict upon a lion. If the Lord instantly struck down every evil that had ever proceeded from the blackened heart of men, then our anti-theist would have invariably turned the tables and accused Him of harboring a tyrannical heart — that is, if our non-believing friend survived the utterance. In all truth, the anti-theist’s indictment is as old as the Dream of Nimrod’s Tower – and just as desolate. God desires free moral creatures because he knows that man could never offer genuine love or enjoy the full measure of joy without the prerequisite of freedom: the necessary unconstrained condition for the highest apprehension of the Good Life–and God had meditated on this long before the hearts of men were woven together in divine expectation.

God is all powerful, but He cannot accomplish what is logically impossible – like devising the proverbial one ended stick. And since it is logically impossible for God to create beings who are both free and who must act solely from perfect love or altruism, it became necessary to plan for the contingency of evil – and this ultimately is interwoven into the profound message of the cross, which will in the fullness of time make evil itself a by-word that no man will ever again embrace.

That God does not render immediate justice to humanity as the just wages for our freely chosen evils does not mean that He has abandoned us to our calumnies or our wretchedness, for He is at this very minute preparing for either that judgment or that paradise which we shall all one day partake in. Nor does His silence make God complicit in our evil; because by granting us full moral autonomy, He has in reality turned over to us the “keys to the car”– and hence, the full measure of responsibility for our actions. God can grant no greater gift to His creation than to imbue them with free moral agency, and this is what is spoken of when the scripture says “and He breathed into their nostrils the breath of life.” Indeed, He gave to us what was most precious to Himself, viewed through His own infinite eyes.

As the inhabitants of the earth will one day viscerally and unmistakably come to terms with, God has not forsaken the earth so much as stood back as a wise Father and revealed to us, through our suicidal chain of troubles, wickedness, and sufferings, what the character of ”freedom” unhinged from Man’s rightful purpose looks like and invariably leads us to. We would do better to consider God’s silence as a way to extend grace, mercy and the patient opportunity for humanity to come individually to their senses; and not interpret His longsuffering as blank apathy or a callous disinterest in our sufferings: the same sufferings He bore upon His own Person a billion fold. Heaven forbid that we should receive the full measure of the justice we firmly merit. Were it so, planet earth would be as devoid of life as the sterile countenance of Mars.
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Glenn Fairman writes from Highland, Ca. He can be reached at arete5000@dslextreme.com. • (3473 views)

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56 Responses to God’s “Silence”

  1. Timothy Lane says:

    It is indeed amusing how much hatred militant atheists expend on someone whose existence they deny. If they discussed natural disasters they might have a case that there’s something wrong with the notion that God is omnipotent, omniscient, and omnibehevolent. But as you point out, he created us and gave us the choice between good and evil. Anthony Boucher had an interesting explanation at the end of his long story “We Print the Truth”: that we love our children even when they disobey us, but not (e.g.) a chess piece that does what we make it do. And so it is with God.

    • faba calculo says:

      You don’t think that atheists ever point to disasters? That seems to be the implication of your statement “[i]f they discussed natural disasters…”

  2. faba calculo says:

    The part of God’s silent I, as an ex-Christian, find the most telling is the simple fact that it’s entirely possible to honestly consider the issue of whether or not Christianity is true and come to either conclusion. It would hardly be impossible for Him to leave us able to verify His existence through face to face conversation and yet not take our choice of whether or not to follow Him away.

    What truly loving father would do any less?

  3. Glenn Fairman says:

    As a man who says that he has once spoken face to face, and now denies having made that communication, this is in itself puzzling.

    I am not one that people would define as a religious man, and yet His presence is ever before me. I see Him in nature, philosophy and physics. I see Him amidst the beauty and the depravity of the world—that still small voice bellowing to me even when I am wallowing in my sin. His profile is unmistakable against the relief of the horizon. This unifying and organizing principle of the universe is a veritable sea that we are bathing in, and perhaps He is not so much hidden, but so close that our myopic eyes cannot discern His Presence writ large.

    • faba calculo says:

      “I see Him in nature, philosophy and physics. I see Him amidst the beauty and the depravity of the world—that still small voice bellowing to me even when I am wallowing in my sin. His profile is unmistakable against the relief of the horizon.”

      That’s the whole problem. YOU see him in nature. YOU see him amidst the beauty of the world. And His “unmistakeable” profile is very much “mistaken” by others.

      Where you see God as described in one creed, others see Him as He is described in others and still others see nothing supernatural at all. But were we to see Him and converse with Him as some do with, say, their pastor (i.e., ways that leave no more room for doubt in the existence of that pastor and what he espouses to the random man standing next to us as they do to you yourself), the free will decision of whether or not to follow Him would still exist without the possibility (or, at very least, nearly as much possibility) left for errors in judgement about whether He exists or not to make that decision for us.

  4. LibertyMark says:

    I hear this cry from atheists, and shake my head: “Prove Yourself to me, so I can believe in You!” And when silence ensues, the atheist concludes, “there you have it.” This seems so very anthropocentric to me, and so filled with metaphysical hubris.

    Just for grins, let’s throw this quote into the conversation. From Dietrich Bonhoeffer, “A God who let us prove his existence would be an idol”. I won’t sermonize on this aphorism, but it seems fitting at this juncture in the dialog.

    • steve lancaster says:

      Voltaire, said in his proof of God, “If God did not exist, man would have to invent Him”.

      Bonheoffer lived and died for his principles, something that few, if any, atheists would do.

      • faba calculo says:

        Even if what you say is true about atheists being (all but) universally unwilling to die for what they believe it, that has no bearing on whether or not it’s true. This is mere ad hominem.

  5. faba calculo says:

    “This seems so very anthropocentric to me, and so filled with metaphysical hubris.”

    Well, pretty much any reasoning about whether or not God exists has to be anthropocentric, as it’s human’s using human logic to figure things out. To use (this or that) God’s logic would be circular reasoning. By Allah’s logic, Allah exists. By Jehovah’s logic, Jehovah is top dot. Etcetera.

    And your Bonhoeffer quote is itself illogical. Assuming the Bible is true, did Jehovah convert himself into an idol when he appeared before the Children of Israel at Mount Sinai? Did He convert Himself into an idol when He repeatedly performed miracles before them on their way to the Promised Land? Did He convert Himself into an idol when He so visibly sided with Moses over Korah, with Elijah over the priests of Baal, or with Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego over Nebuchadnezzar?

    • LibertyMark says:

      Let me ask you a question before we go much further on this thread. Does your self-proclaimed ex-Christianity mean you are also an ex-theist (i.e. atheist)?

      If yes, are you attempting to argue those of faith out of faith? If so, why? You’ve already come to your own conclusion. Why bother? For you, the “science is settled”. No?

      If no, what do you seek? Proof-of-faith, kind of like proof-of-life? Or what?

      • Kung Fu Zu Kung Fu Zu says:

        ” are you attempting to argue those of faith out of faith? If so, why?”

        Thanks for asking that question Mark. I often ask it when I run up against such types.

        Have you noticed that many ex-Christians are like many ex-smokers in that both have a zealotry about them when it comes to anyone else not agreeing with them about the thing they have stopped? It’s like both, being miserable, want others to share the misery. There is a saying in German, “shared pain is halved pain”.

        Or maybe, they want to show they are just smarter than the Rubes who still believe.

        In any case, I believe most of their motivations are self serving.

        • faba calculo says:

          “In any case, I believe most of their motivations are self serving.”

          And that’s SOP for more than yourself around here.

      • faba calculo says:

        “Does your self-proclaimed ex-Christianity mean you are also an ex-theist (i.e. atheist)?”

        I generally consider myself atheistic on the Abrahamic God and agnostic on god.

        “If yes, are you attempting to argue those of faith out of faith? If so, why? You’ve already come to your own conclusion. Why bother? For you, the “science is settled”. No?”

        I believe I have stated in either other threads here, or on NRO, or at both places, that I don’t seek to talk anyone who is a Christian out of believing in God. Where’s the upside for them or for me? If you raise issues that I think would be interesting to discuss, I will sometimes participate in the discussion, which inevitably means arguing in favor of the agnostic/atheistic position, but given how fixed most people’s minds are on this topic, I don’t see much danger of actually winning a convert.

        “If no, what do you seek? Proof-of-faith, kind of like proof-of-life? Or what?”

        I’m not sure I understand your comparison of proof of faith and proof of life. What I am seeking is that which has the highest probability, in my own judgement, of being the truth in this matter.

        • LibertyMark says:

          Thanks for the insight, and fair enough. I too like a good debate/discussion, which was how I interpreted your response. That’s why we are at this website, I suppose.

          On the proof-of-faith, it was as much a turn of phrase as a play on words. In a way, those of your position kind of hold their willingness to have faith as a sort of hostage, saying, “show me, and I will believe.” Maybe I push the metaphor a little too far, but that’s where that as going.

          • faba calculo says:

            Making up ones mind based on the verifiable evidence isn’t “holding faith hostage”. It’s not having the verifiable facts point towards anything to have faith in.

            • LibertyMark says:

              No, but making up one’s mind ONLY on verifiable evidence is in some cases tantamount to a refusal to acknowledge that there are realities beyond verifiable facts. Often this is used or misused to try to hold the intellectual – and to a lessor extent, moral – high ground.

              Hence, the imagery of “holding faith hostage”. Not only have I repudiated my faith, but I by inference repudiate faith in general, until God proves me wrong.

              Kinda evokes a “them’s fightin’ words” reaction in some.

              • faba calculo says:

                There is no repudiation of faith here, except as a means of coming to new knowledge. Other knowledge (i.e., verifiable facts, well-supported hypotheses, etc.) may create and environment in which it’s appropriate to act on faith, but having faith in something isn’t evidence for it.

        • LibertyMark says:

          Another thought. Your response reminded me of a story.

          The chicken and the pig are walking through town, when they see a sign on the church saying there is a donation drive for the community’s needy.

          The chicken says, we’ve been part of this community, let’s make a donation. Pig says good idea, what shall we donate? Chicken says, how about a bacon and egg breakfast?

          Pig hesitates, then says, for you it’s a donation, for me it’s total commitment.

          Your arguments are like the chicken: for you this dialog is an intellectual exercise. For some, the question of faith is total commitment.

          Maybe this explains the passion, and, if present, any rancor or angst therein.

          Just a thought.

          • faba calculo says:

            Maybe the (over?) investment people have in this question on both sides explains the rancor that flies back and forth both directions.

  6. Glenn Fairman says:

    The running thread throughout the bible is that God is pleased by faith–the evidence of things not seen with the carnal eye. Why this is so will one day be revealed fully, but I take it on faith that it is for my own good.

    One can see in the materialists, empiricists, naturalists, and even in the language of the Pharisees to Christ the words: “Just show me plainly.” Even after a host of miracles and rock shattering wisdom came from the Nazarene who spoke most plainly, they refused to believe and relied upon what seemed right in their own eyes.

    “If you have seen me, you have seen the Father—I and the Father are One.” You have heard and have rejected, and so are without excuse. The question of why you have turned you hand away is known only in the secrets of your heart.

    Would a pillar of fire, a cloud by day, manna from heaven, or water from a flinty rock really cause you to bend your knee and acknowledge Him, or is that just the stock excuse of the walking dead who recognize no sovereignty but their own? One fine day, if the Lord tarries, I will be dead in my carnal body, but alive to face whatever judgment I have merited. For the sake of the unbeliever who has turned their back on The Father, I sincerely pray that ego does not allow them from becoming acquainted with beauty incarnate. Only a fool thinks that by placing his thumb over his eye, he is blocking out the sun.

    • Kung Fu Zu Kung Fu Zu says:

      I have often wondered at the whingeings of those who expect God to manifest himself for their doubting vacant souls. I suspect many of them are simply irritated that He hasn’t come down and had a heart-to-heart with them. You know, special treatment because they are special.These poor souls want 100% proof that they are correct otherwise they don’t wish to invest the spiritual time, emotion and effort in a belief. Sort of like asking for an eternal annuity without making the investment in the first place.

      Perhaps they haven’t figured out the rest of humanity also has problems and must grapple with “the meaning of life”. And it is often noticeable that these doubters resent those who believe they have found the meaning to life and the love of God, in whatever shape.

      A huge part of the mystery in life is making the choice of what one believes. If one spends serious thought on the question there is some hope that one will achieve some sort of wisdom whatever conclusion one reaches, but expecting to be led around like a child is, well, childish.

      • Timothy Lane says:

        Thomas doubted, but is considered a saint anyway because he was willing to be persuaded. Such proof can take many forms, but the fact remains that not all of us have the capacity for absolute faith in anything. I’m basically a materialist and skeptic — but unlike most who call themselves skeptics, I’m not an absolutist in not accepting the transcendent. It could be true; I just haven’t YET been persuaded.

    • faba calculo says:

      “Why this is so will one day be revealed fully, but I take it on faith that it is for my own good.”

      And well you should. Once you’ve decided that Christianity is the truth, there are ample reasons to have faith in God. But that’s AFTER you decide this. But what I really notice is that you made no effort to answer my question: when God behaved in a public (sometimes VERY public) and miraculous manner, that is, when He effective proved His existence and intent objectively, did that in any meaningful way transform Him into an idol?

      “One can see in the materialists, empiricists, naturalists, and even in the language of the Pharisees to Christ the words: ‘Just show me plainly'”.

      That is the general request. But while the Pharisees were generally doing it out of an effort to trap Jesus and get Him arrested, I think empiricists are not, again, in general, so ill-willed.

      “Even after a host of miracles and rock shattering wisdom came from the Nazarene who spoke most plainly, they refused to believe and relied upon what seemed right in their own eyes.”

      If nothing else, the Pharisees saw the torn curtain the Holy of Holies, right? And the risen dead who walked down into the city after the crucifixion. I’d say that they were without excuse. Modern empiricists generally haven’t had such opportunities.

      “Would a pillar of fire, a cloud by day, manna from heaven, or water from a flinty rock really cause you to bend your knee and acknowledge Him, or is that just the stock excuse of the walking dead who recognize no sovereignty but their own?”

      The former, I would think (maybe not the water from rocks…it’s got to be something that no magician can fool people with).

      “Only a fool thinks that by placing his thumb over his eye, he is blocking out the sun.”

      But, once again, that’s the whole issue: either side can honestly come to conclusion that they aren’t do this when they conclude this is/isn’t a god.

      • Pokey Possum says:

        I BELIEVE that Jesus Christ is the Son of the living God. That you, Faba (and others) have acknowledged here that you are still undecided is cause for hope! Please keep that open mind, and furthermore, try to open your heart to the quiet voice of the Holy Spirit. If you do, you WILL hear Him when He speaks to you. I pray that will be proof enough for you to answer Him and decide to believe in Jesus, to confess that you are a sinner in need of a Redeemer, and then be welcomed into a real, loving, personal, purposeful, and everlasting relationship with the triune God. Nothing could be more joyful for me (and I’m sure Glenn, Deanna, and others here would agree) than to welcome you as a Brother in Christ – not that we need affirmation, we have that positive affirmation by the presence of the Holy Spirit in our changed hearts and lives – because your soul will be redeemed from an eternity of separation from the goodness that is God. Continue to seek Him while He may be found.

        • Timothy Lane says:

          You sound very much like the messages my housemate Elizabeth (a Southern Baptist) occasionally leaves me. So far it hasn’t happened.

          • faba calculo says:

            Yes, but it is interesting (and reassuring) that the most many Christians will ever do “against” you is to fervently attempt to call down good things upon you.

            Not that there aren’t some very low characters indeed (pretending to be) in Christianity. But I’m still surprised at how many people get really worked up into a lather when Christians say they’ll pray for them.

            • Timothy Lane says:

              Not me. Too many friends and relatives have done that for me to react that way. Who knows? It may even have done some good. Stranger things have happened.

  7. Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

    Whatever the nature of God, at least we are under no obligation to be on the side of anything objectively good. We must, according to Pope Francis, simply follow our feelings:

    “Each one has his idea of good and evil and must choose to follow the good and fight the evil as he understands them.”

    I take it as a given that there is a god, this world being the evidence for something of the sort. But one doesn’t have to be a snarky atheist or share the conceit of being on the side of scientific “reason” to ask the question of how to separate God from our human opinions, emotions, and desires.

    I just assume that God is bigger than us…and bigger than our apologetics as well.

  8. Glenn Fairman says:

    Although there is a species of anti-theist that I suppose is concerned with an open-ended honest inquiry into the First Things of Being, the many more strident advocates I come across are “Dog in the Manger” types that receive a bitter sense of psychic remuneration at the possibility of crushing another’s faith. If these interlocutors contained a sincere streak of benevolence within themselves, they would elect to enjoy their own philosophical fantasy and allow others of unlike vision to continue without the pejorative venom that is more indicative of the antitheist than the acolyte.

    Instead, we are left with the benighted spectacle of a dog who is content only to bark, dishearten, and saturate the hay with its acrid piss, rather than allowing the oxen to feed, be nourished, and to be content in the tranquility of its being.

    • Faba Calculo says:

      Maybe it only seems this ways because those atheists who are not bothered by your superstitious beliefs, such as myself, are less likely to wind up in arguments with you.

    • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

      What Glenn says is true. It is no illusion.

      Maybe not all fence-sitters are bad. I have one foot in belief and one foot in unbelief. I think I understand both sides of the equation. And one aspect is that peace and contentment are not left wing values. It’s just the opposite. The standard operating procedures of the left is to whip up hate, angst, and grievance. To fall into a state of contentment or thankfulness is to be considered shirking your task of striving for “social justice” wherein the status quo must always be challenged, the waters must always be stirred up (and therefore muddied).

      I keep that one foot in belief because it’s quite apparent that people can be corrupted. Anyone who has lived through the 60’s (including myself) has been at least partially corrupted by the Left. It’s only gotten worse since then.

      And if something can be corrupted (which is so self-evidently true), then the state of un-corruption must then also be possible.

      Not everyone who resents those who find peace in their faith have necessarily been corrupted by the Left. But there is a very good chance that this is a big part of the explanation. And certainly having both those feet in place in the two different areas, I have not been immune to reacting in just the way toward religion that Glenn has articulated. I know it well. I know the motivations. I know the very breath of self-hatred and discontent that breeds it.

      One thing I self-consciously noted when starting this site was that it was not going to be oriented around simply a bitch-fest. Yes, there are plenty of things to complain about. But a bitch-fest-oriented site (as many are) is soul destroying. Nor can it be the answer to what ails America.

      To know an atheist generally means to come into contact with acrid piss. Atheism, in practice, is not anchored in science or “reason.” It is the flip side of Christian faith. It is an anti-faith, and you see all the fruits of this anti-faith in that typical acrid piss.

      • Faba Calculo says:

        “To know an atheist generally means to come into contact with acrid piss.”

        This is NOT a general truth, and I’m sorry you think it is.

        • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

          It has been my experience.

          • Kung Fu Zu Kung Fu Zu says:

            A small example of this is the reaction to my earlier article.

            http://www.stubbornthings.org/atheistic-fundamentalists/

          • Faba Calculo says:

            I will say this as many times as I need to: “everyone you know” isn’t a random sample. Ditto for the groups and subgroups you’ve met.

            A meme I see raised by some conservatives fairly frequently (e.g., Thomas Sowell) is that, while conservatives disagree with liberals, liberals hate conservatives.

            The best proof that this is not the case is the stuff I frequently read here.

            • Timothy Lane says:

              You have a point, but I will note that liberals hate conservatives because the latter disagree with them, whereas many conservatives (like me) hate many liberals because of how they behave toward those they disagree with. That does make a difference.

              • Faba Calculo says:

                So, what you’re saying is that “they started it”?

              • LibertyMark says:

                Sir Calculo, No, he’s saying ad hominem attacks from the left degenerate conversation to a visceral, atavistic self-preservation reaction, esp. when the original dialog was supposed to be about ideas.

                It is truly that simple.

              • faba calculo says:

                Thing is, it works the same in the other direction as well.

  9. Timothy Lane says:

    No, faba, I’m not saying that “they started it” even though I could make a case for it (as no doubt so could they, given Mr. Dooley’s observation that “Politics ain’t beanbag” a century ago). I’m saying that there’s a difference between hating someone because he disagrees with you and hating someone for his gross misbehavior (and even more so when you’re the target of that misbehavior). As I point out in the upcoming (eventually) issue of FOSFAX, anyone who hates conservatives like Rush Limbaugh, Dan Cathy, or Wayne LaPierre for their views also hates me. And as someone who is NOT a Christian, I believe that the proper response to someone who hates you is to hate them back tenfold. It may not be very nice, but people noticed that I was a hothead 50 years ago. (Hence my extremely angry response today to John Boehner, Paul Ryan, and their fellow vermin.)

    • Faba Calculo says:

      ” And as someone who is NOT a Christian, I believe that the proper response to someone who hates you is to hate them back tenfold”

      We have never been so in disagreement. Even as an ex-Christian, I still have to look back and think that there were and are many fine things about it, and perhaps the foremost example was the emphasis on NOT hating ones enemies.

      I won’t deny that, in a few rare instances, hatred of ones enemies is all but unavoidable and, perhaps, necessary for the job (though all I can really think of is serving in times of war, especially on the front lines). Outside of that…

      Hardcore hatred and rational thinking are simply not friends. Quite the opposite.

      • Timothy Lane says:

        I don’t exactly disagree with you. Hugh Thomas in his The Spanish Civil War mentions the case of a priest who told a group of leftist militiamen that he wanted to “suffer for Christ” — so they tortured him in ways reminiscent of the Passion before finally shooting him. His last request was to be shot from in front so he could die blessing them. I appreciate that; I’ll even agree that I would be a better person if I were that way. But for various reasons that I have no intention of discussing since they would require explaining in detail why I once complained about “six years in a torture chamber” (almost purely psychological abuse from my brother, but that was enough to mark me), I’m not that way and never can be (though I have mellowed a lot in recent decades).

        • Faba Calculo says:

          Hmm, our usual swordplay of words set aside for the moment, I am truly sorry to hear about your brother.

        • LibertyMark says:

          “Thing is, it works the same in the other direction as well.”

          Sir Calculo, so that’s your argument, tu qouque?

          • faba calculo says:

            Yes. Because, inexplicably, it escapes so many on the right (left) that, while the left (right) definitely hurls a lot of ad hominem at them, a lot is also flying in the opposite direction. Or, if they do, excuses are offered to the effect that they do it more, they started it, or they had it coming.

            And, in individual fights, I’m sure that the left (right) did start it, do it more, or have it coming. But this then gets turned into a general rule to be applied universally, even as the opening shot in the next round of arguing.

  10. Most fuzzy thinking in Christendom is based on mistranslations. Jesus said, in prayer to His Father, “Thy word is truth.” Mistranslations simultaneously add to and take away from that truth; ergo, we all need the most accurate English translation, and that is without question (check it for yourself), the Concordant Literal NT with Keyword Concordance.
    What’s missing in this discussion is knowledge of the five eons and God’s “purpose of the eons” (Ephesians 3:11). We are living in “the present wicked eon,” an eon, along with all the others, created through Christ (Hebrews 1:2). The question of evil is resolved when we see the end God has in view – that through Christ, God “will reconcile all to Him (making peace through the blood of His cross), through Him, whether those on the earth or those in the heavens” (Colossians 1:20). Ultimately, Jesus is the “Saviour of the whole world.” He “is the Saviour of all mankind, especially of believers” (I Timothy 4:10), thus we have a special place, not an exclusive one in God’s ultimate purpose. God is “operating all in accord with the counsel of His will” (Ephesians 1:11), and “Our Saviour, God, wills that all mankind be saved and come into a realization of the truth” (I Timothy 2:4). Now, you tell me, who is there who can withstand the Creator’s will? If all are not ultimately conciliated to God and granted immortal life, then God is a failure, being unable to accomplish His own will and purpose. For more on the five eons, I suggest my book “A Truer God: The Supreme Spirit of Light and Love in the Hebrew and Greek Scriptures.”

    • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

      If all are not ultimately conciliated to God and granted immortal life, then God is a failure, being unable to accomplish His own will and purpose.

      My favorite line from the movie, “Rudy,” is when the Catholic priest says to Rudy: “I’ve come up with only two hard, incontrovertible facts: There is a God, and I’m not Him.”

      To turn God into a formula whereby he must stick to a plan (because we say so) seems very odd to me. The guy who made the universe would seem capable enough of coming up with his own plan and even improvising if need be.

      And, really, who wants to live forever? Even in this life, we see constant change. We are by no means who or what we are at 50 compared to when we were 5. We are, for all intents and purposes, different people. We grew, in more ways than one.

      Therefore I don’t cast my hopes on being Brad Nelson for eternity. That would be monstrously boring. To me, the idea – the very purpose of Christianity – is to become one with God, to set aside our small and trivial selves and touch the Eternal.

      What that means in another life, if any, I don’t know. But it just seems to be a strange thing to all but demand that God give everyone eternal life. He’s God, not Obama handing out entitlements.

  11. I should add that God creates evil (Isaiah 45:7) and that he chooses some vessels for honor and some for dishonor. Free will is a myth originally concocted to justify Roman Catholic eternal torment.

    • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

      I should add that God creates evil (Isaiah 45:7) and that he chooses some vessels for honor and some for dishonor. Free will is a myth originally concocted to justify Roman Catholic eternal torment.

      Keeping in mind that I am a fairly free-thinking heretic, free will itself is a complicated matter. But surely we do have some. And even if it seems comparatively small compared to how much of our personality and other attributes are hard-wired and thus not of our making, the apt analogy might be of the relatively small rudder on an ocean liner. Small adjustments can mean either clear sailing or grounding on the rocks.

      Regarding evil (the theodicy problem), this question has been mulled over for millennia. One is certainly free to come up with one’s own point of view. A bit of perspective can perhaps be glimpsed from the Buddhist notion of opposites (hot/cold, black/white, love/hate). The one necessitates the other; the attribute of hot necessitates the existence of cold or you could have neither (or nothing at all in this physical world).

      Therefore one way to view the theodicy issue is that in order to have good, this inherently creates the possibility of evil much like any light will caste a shadow (distance from the light, distance from the good). It’s not created as much as it simply logically exists when good is made a possibility. There’s a very real possibility that if we were all automatons, without the ability to learn or make choices, we would live in a world where good wasn’t even possible. It would all just be a pre-determined blah.

  12. Glenn Fairman says:

    the god you apparently worship is a monster.

  13. Kung Fu Zu Kung Fu Zu says:

    “the Buddhist notion of opposites”

    I would say the Taoist notion of opposites Yin/Yang, masculine and feminine, positive/negative. And it is not just that they are opposites, they are in constant flux.

    • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

      Yes, Mr. Kung. I’m sure you’re right that Taoism has that too.

      Buddhism is an interesting case. It’s practiced as a philosophy by some, but probably as a religion by the vast majority. And like many religions in the West, it has also in places become the worship of Leftism, for all intents and purposes.

      There’s nothing particular profound about the Buddhist philosophical point of opposites. Hot/cold. Black/white. Republican/Democrat. Okay, we get it. But I think the real purpose of that emphasis is sort of like the biblical idea of “To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven.” That is, don’t stress out because things at the moment aren’t perfectly to your liking. As we say in the Northwest, if you don’t like the weather, wait five minutes. Rain/Sun.

      Buddhism is also a case, in my opinion, of postmodernism-gone-wild. There are certainly many esoteric topics and realities that can only be experienced and are difficult to describe in words. But pin-headed postmodern college professors have nothing on Buddhists in terms of regurgitation pre-fabricated gobbledygook that means something only because everyone has agree that it means something — all inside an atmosphere where no one is willing to say that the emperor has no clothes.

      I ultimately found Buddhism to be empty calories. That’s not to say that there aren’t some good ideas involved. But I just found it to be a gigantic ball of conceit and well-practiced gibberish.

      I don’t know much about Taoism other than it could be a bit more philosophically rigorous if only because (to my understanding) it makes fewer supernatural claims. There is no belief in revelation. “God” is just a big, amorphous ball of unrealized potential. So “Taoism,” as far as I can see, is the worship of nothing in particular.

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