Preparing for Heaven

WarInHeavenby Anniel3/25/16
And there was war in Heaven: Michael and his angels fought against the dragon; and the dragon fought and his angels, And prevailed not; neither was their place anymore found in heaven. Revelations 12:7-8 KJV.

When I was young and first heard about war in Heaven I tried to imagine what it was like. It seemed so exciting. Did Michael and his side win by throwing the largest lightning bolts, using the biggest swords, killing the most foes —

But we’re speaking of immortal beings here. They can’t be killed, can they? So just how IS a war fought in Heaven?

On earth war is bloody, grim, noisy, dirty and frightening. Terror and loss are always present. But Heaven? How could Heavenly Beings turn against their own? What is war there?

Apparently there were those who thought they were smarter and better at determining the best interests of others and so decided to strike out against the Great God of Creation and all who sided with Him. That seems like am eternal war.

There are always those who fight against agency and freedom and those weak followers who are unwilling to bear the burden of freedom. There are also those willing to use that fear of freedom to seize control. The struggle between liberty and bondage, between darkness and light, has been the same from the beginning and will be to the end. The rebels had to be evicted from the realms of truth. The scripture says they were cast down to earth. Scary thought if you believe the reality of scripture.

I have watched and considered the doings of nations, the history of brother against brother, and decided that the war in Heaven was one mainly of words, words used to hurt and to lie and persuade, to promise safety. Even in Heaven, as here in mortal existence, the war was one of deceit and hatred in order to gain power and glory, of what seems to be correct to cover the lies. Always power over others, to control and defeat them. To do that, some of the spirits of heaven were willing to walk away from truth, just as people here are willing to walk away. To embrace and believe the lies.

Watching this political campaign, hearing the obvious lies and ignorance, the pandering to greed, the twisting of truth . . . and then, the answer to war in Heaven comes. Politics were introduced into the Holy Realms and mankind became locked in the perpetual battle for the right to be free.

“I was never so free as when I was a prisoner.” Reading that statement by Alexander Solzhenitsyn shows that, as choices narrow, the final choice a man must make in order to remain human and free is to always be aware of righteousness and our individual responsibility to ACT well before God in whatever circumstances we find ourselves. To be willing to die, if necessary, to protect liberty.

I can’t remember who said that, “we often forget the essential humanness of God.” He does love His creatures and is very kind to those who love and serve Him. We are commanded to become as He is, completed and perfect. Hard, yes, but we are to do the best we can in the battle we face.

This is a very serious war for the souls of all men.

What is Heaven to you? I heard a joke the other day about a rich man who wanted to take his gold to Heaven so he paid the funeral director to place a large bar of gold in his hands to be buried with him when he died. Facing St. Peter at the Pearlie Gates Peter wanted to know why he had bothered bringing a paving stone to Heaven.

When I was a child with unformed (or uninformed) thoughts, I knew the streets of Heaven were paved with gold. Later I wondered how comfortable the hardness of gold would be. Were such descriptions somehow symbolic of heavenly glories? Was there no greenery or other colors to soothe the eye?

Pictures I saw of Heaven showed white clad angels with halos sitting on fluffy clouds and playing harps. Then I read Mark Twain’s question about why no one was taking harp lessons on earth in preparation for Heaven. Interesting thought: preparing for Heaven.

When my beloved grandfather died I was horrified by the idea of his not breathing and I could only see darkness where his journey would take him. How would he know where to go? Was he lost in eternity? Or was he seeing golden streets? My young mind could not grasp the complexities of dying and death.

I pondered often about God and, more particularly, about Heaven. Where was it and what would it be like? Even the white robes are questionable since white is the blending of all colors. Once in a great while there are indications that others have considered what one does there. The artist in Winston Churchhill pondered the prismatics involved in Heavenly colors:

. . . I cannot pretend to feel impartial about the colours. I rejoice with the brilliant ones, and am genuinely sorry for the poor browns. WHEN I GET TO HEAVEN I mean to spend a considerable portion of my first million years in painting, and so get to the bottom of the subject. But then I shall require a still gayer pallete than I get here below. I expect orange and vermillion will be the darkest, dullest colors upon it, and beyond them will be a whole range of wonderful new colours, which will delight the celestial eye. (Winston Churchhill, from Painting As A Pastime) Emphasis added.

Will the artists (like Churchhill) still paint, will the singers still sing, will there be concerts with new music by the likes of Beethoven, Handel and Bach, will scientists still learn and deal with science (maybe even learn from the Great Scientist Himself?), will you and I be able to write and read works by authors who continue their craft?

In my teens I finally earned enough baby-sitting money to buy skis and found a family friend to instruct me in the sport. I could no longer imagine a Heaven without snow so I could ski. Moving to Alaska kept that idea as a private joke in my mind for many years. I can only dream now how heavenly it would be to be able to bend over again, strap those boards on my feet and whiz down a mountain.

C. S. Lewis wrote a wonderful book called The Great Divorce about the residents of a vast and lonely Hell being able to make a bus trip to Heaven and stay there if they were able to do so. Most chose to return to hell because they were unable to give up their sins and cravings, their victimhood and certainties of being “correct”. Even with Heaven offered to them they could or would not stay. Lewis’ premise of Heaven is that it is not everywhere, but everywhere can be Heaven for those seeking it. At the end of the day the protagonist is shown the bus seemingly shrinking on its return to hell, which is really just a crack in the floor of Heaven.

My husband Bear and I were discussing how little we actually know about the place called Heaven, or about the place called Sheol, or Hell. One thing we agreed on was that politics belong in Hell.

We don’t know how much said about Heaven in the Bible, such as the golden streets or the jewels set in the walls, is symbolic. Is this because people are incapable of understanding how wonderful Heaven actually is? Or is the place more like this beautiful earth than we know?

Now that I am older, I begin to understand the importance of preparing for Heaven. That means I want to go there. I want to see the people I love, to hold them and know them again. The love forged here has to endure there, or it won’t be Heaven. I also want to meet new friends and other interesting people. The ability to laugh and love together and joy in our resurrected life must be part of Heaven. We might even go skiing together, who knows?

Our 5-year-old granddaughter, Andreina, asked her mother today how our beautiful dog, Leah, got to Heaven. She seemed to be asking about the process but her question reminded me of the loving animals I hope inherit any Heaven I would want to live in. Bear told Andreina that Leah took the big escalator going up. She seemed puzzled about his answer, and one has to wonder what picture of Heaven exists in her mind now.

The desire to go Heaven means I have to change my weaknesses and become the person God wants me to be. I don’t mean to become sanctimonious and fearful, here or there, but to be vibrant and full of life, worthy of the blessings of the REAL heaven, whatever and wherever that is.

May our Heaven have no politics involved, just those things we love. Maybe we have some say in the matter. I hope so. • (2068 views)

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108 Responses to Preparing for Heaven

  1. Kung Fu Zu Kung Fu Zu says:

    One thing we agreed on was that politics belong in Hell.

    Politics is the result of human imperfection. Heaven is, by definition, a place of perfection.

    The Left doesn’t believe in God so it can’t admit to a spiritual heaven. But it does believe in the perfectibility of humanity with a final goal of heaven on earth.

    Somehow, humanity cannot get away from the idea of heaven. However, if I had to bet on which heaven is more likely, I would have to put my money on the spiritual one as humanity has shown itself to be pretty rotten and without some sort of divine intervention, I don’t see how that is going to change.

    • Anniel says:

      I think of the spiritual one, too, if only because we see more and more of our families and children deliberately turning their backs on truth. In fact, I would say they have no concept of truth. What was it Obama said, paraphrasing here, “There’s no difference between capitalism and communism. Just do what works.” With that as the North Star of politics, sadly, no things will not change.

      • Kung Fu Zu Kung Fu Zu says:

        I said, look, you’ve made great progress in educating young people: Every child in Cuba gets a basic education — that’s a huge improvement from where it was. Medical care: the life expectancy of Cubans is equivalent to the United States, despite it being a very poor country, because they have access to healthcare. That’s a huge achievement, they should be congratulated.

        Quoth the Obamanation.

        I heard similar musings about the Soviet Union from people in Europe in the middle 1970’s. Oh the Soviet medical system was great. Oh, the life expectancy of Soviets has increased amazingly. Blah, blah, blah.

        Once the Soviet Union fell apart, the lies which the Soviets and their lackeys spread about the wonders of communism in the USSR were brutally displayed for all to see.

        Does Cuba look like it is working real well? Again, Leftists demand you believe them, not your lying eyes.

        By the way, I would like the Obamanation to compare Cuba’s progress to the progress made in other countries not under communism during the same period. South Korea, Singapore and Malaysia come immediately to mind. Of course he won’t because he is a lying Leftist.

        • Anniel says:

          When Bear was a boy he used a short-wave radio and often listened to Russian propaganda. Even when The politburo told the “truth,” it was a lie. “In 1950 the US increased its energy production by only 5%, while the glorious fatherland increased ours by 103%”. Well, yeah, but if the US was already at 95 % production and The USSR was only at 8% to start with, the stats were lies that hardly mattered.

          Bear’s aunt and uncle from Walnut Creek, CA, took in an exchange student from the USSR one year. He thought he had been sent to a Potemkin village where everything was staged as a lie to impress him. When Bear assured him that lots of kids his age had their own cars, the Russian kid called him a liar. No one knows what he thought at the end of his stay.

          • Kung Fu Zu Kung Fu Zu says:

            When Bear assured him that lots of kids his age had their own cars, the Russian kid called him a liar.

            Maybe he was a Trump supporter. Certainly sounds like he had the willful blindness and bad manners of many of those one encounters in the comments sections across the internet.

            Sorry, I couldn’t help myself.

            • Anniel says:

              Master KFZ: Your “mea culpas” shock me. Why bad manners are the order of the day. No one listens to good manners anymore.

              No, that’s not true. We went out to breakfast with friends the other morning and the young gentleman who seated us was just that, a gentleman. No tats, no earrings, no wires in the body. Kind. I said to him, “So, your mother raised you to be a gentleman? Or was it your father?” He blushed, grinned really big, leaned over and said, “It was my father.” Gave me great hopes for several reasons. I’d love to meet his father.

              • Kung Fu Zu Kung Fu Zu says:

                I do think it requires a father to pass down certain behavior to sons. There is something different in a man-to-man interchange than in man-to-woman one.

                A boy naturally wants to emulate his father.

                We must never despair. Hope springs eternal!

          • Kung Fu Zu Kung Fu Zu says:

            Even when The politburo told the “truth,” it was a lie

            Reminds me of the old joke in which an American and Soviet race car took part in a two car race.

            The American car soundly defeated the Soviet car.

            Next day in Pravda there was an article which stated,

            “A race took place yesterday in which the valiant car of the glorious Soviet Union performed magnificently taking the silver medal.

            The junk heap representing the degenerate capitalists of the United States could only claim the second to last position. “

            • Timothy Lane says:

              John Hackett used the same basic story (in this case involving an impromptu foot race between British and Soviet ambassadors) in one of his Third World War books.

              Eugene Lyons had a joke in Worker’s Paradise Lost that’s applicable to those (such as Barry the Red or Richard Dawahare) who cite the joys of Castro’s island paradise. A Party spokesliar was haranguing a crowd about how wonderful everything was, citing all sorts of glittering statistics. Finally, one citizen asked, “But comrade, if everything is so good, then why is everything so bad?”

              • Kung Fu Zu Kung Fu Zu says:

                Speaking of Castro and Cuba.

                There is the old story of Fidel giving one of his three hours speeches berating the Cubans for needing to increase productivity, being lazy and spending too much time dancing the Samba.

                In closing, Fidel said something like,

                “Comrades, we must think of the revolution. We must think of future generations. So let me close by saying,

                “Trabajo si’, Samba no.”

                After which there was a momentary silence followed by the following chant which grew in intensity,

                “Trabajo si’, Samba no, trabajo si’, sambo no, trabajo si’, samba no, etc ,etc, etc”.

                And swaying in the plaza, they all did their bit for the revolucion!”

  2. Timothy Lane says:

    The concept of the revolt of the angels is featured as a flashback in Paradise Lost, and forms the basis of Stephen Brust’s To Reign in Heaven. Brust noted that Satan couldn’t win, and was smart enough to know that. So why launch a doomed revolt? Perhaps the only answer came in Bedazzled, when the Devil gave Stanley Moon a bit of a demonstration of pre-revolt Heaven by having the latter dance around him singing his praises. After a minute or two Stanley suggested that they change places for a bit — which the Devil said was exactly his point.

    Politics might indeed belong in Hell, but one must realize that as long as men aren’t angels and also aren’t hermits, some means must be found for them to organize and run their societies. Politics is a lot better than having the local strong man beat everyone into submission, or hiring armed men to shoot anyone who resists. “If men were angels, no government would be necessary.” And if men were devils, the result might look like Lewis’s Hell from The Screwtape Letters (which bears more resemblance to Versailles-on-the-Potomac than some of us find comforting).

    • Anniel says:

      C. S. Lewis was one of the most prescient of writers. I decided to reread “The Great Divorce”, and I am again stunned by its power.

      Politics on earth is a necessity, but I suspect all of us would like to “go to bed and cover our head and not get up in the morning.” Which, come to think of it, a lot of citizens of a lot of countries have done.

  3. GHG says:

    I think the place to start is that God loves us and He wants His loved ones to be with Him. But we can choose, as could the angels, to reject His love, to turn away from Him. So in the simplest of terms, I believe Heaven is being with God and Hell is being not with God. It is God’s salvation plan for us to rely on Him in the person of Jesus and not on ourselves. It is the separation point from those who reject God and rely only on themselves. The consequences are that some will spend eternity with God, which is Heaven, and the others will spend eternity with only themselves, which is Hell.

    I sometimes find it difficult to differentiate literal Biblical teaching from metaphor so I don’t know if there is or will be a physical Heaven and Hell. But, it doesn’t really matter to me because I know God loves me and I will be with Him when I leave this earthly life.

    • Anniel says:

      Mr. Lesser, I sometimes find it difficult to know whether something is literal or metaphor, or a symbol for something else. In some societies symbolism is easier to understand. We have come away from symbolism in English so we’re at a disadvantage when we fail to understand it. I kind of like the pursuit of symbolism, but know most people don’t.

      I love your faith, it always gives me a handle on the bare bones of what is important at the core of following after God.

  4. Lucia says:

    I think Hell is being separated from God and knowing forever that we blew it and it’s too late for us. I’m relating to the parable of the rich man and the poor man.

    • GHG says:

      Yes.

      Being in Hell is depicted as being tormented by fire. Burning is the most excruciating pain so it is the most apt metaphor to describe hell. The eternal realization that you rejected the love of God and have nobody but yourself to blame is the fire that will torment you.

      I also believe that the damned will be alone. The idea that all the damned will be together in Hell so that there is some kind of shared experience doesn’t square with my belief, although I can’t cite a source for believing that.

      Conversely, I believe Heaven will be a “place” where all who relied on God for their salvation will be together in some fashion and it will be the opposite of being alone. We will be wrapped in Love and Truth and Beauty precisely because we will be in the presence of the Lord, who is Love and Truth and Beauty.

      Will we “see” our loved ones who have gone before us? I don’t know. It’s a nice thought and I hope so.

      • Kung Fu Zu Kung Fu Zu says:

        I have a big problem squaring the idea of a loving God with your and many other Christians’ idea of Hell.

        How could a loving God, who knows the weakness of mankind, condemn all those who do not accept Jesus to an eternity of damnation? What would be the point? To teach those people the error of their ways? I am sure they would have picked up on their mistake by the 100,000th year in Hell.

        Is the point to punish them for being either so stupid or so arrogant that they did not accept Jesus?

        I can understand the idea of God rewarding those who came to Christ, but why would God be so petty and vindictive as to punish the rest of mankind for eternity? Simple extinction would seem to be enough of a punishment or, is torture pleasant to him?

        Jesus said, love your enemy, but I really do see little love in this concept of Hell.

        I would appreciate it if a Christian could explain where and why I am wrong.

        • Timothy Lane says:

          Interestingly, the Jehovah’s Witnsesses apparently take that stance. (My mother flirted with that religion for a while back in the 1960s, so I learned a little about them.) They cite a Biblical verse that seems to indicate that the damned souls will simply be extinguished. Note that John’s gospel emphasizes that those who believe in Jesus will have eternal life, which implies everyone will else will truly die. (“For God so loved the world that He gave His only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish, but have eternal life.”)

        • GHG says:

          Many share your viewpoint and I’m sure you come to that point of view with a loving and compassionate heart, so I don’t intend to minimize or dismiss your opinion with a flippant answer, but I think the answer is so apparently simple that it is easily missed.

          I think your statements “How could a loving God, who knows the weakness of mankind, condemn all those …” and “Is the point to punish them … ?” shows your thought process starts in the wrong place. God wants all to be saved and has provided the means for salvation to all. So He doesn’t want to condemn or punish, but he honors the choice of those who reject him.

          God is Life and Truth. He who is apart from God has neither. So in essence the damned are not savable because they do not know the Truth and without the Truth they can not possibly be repentant nor want God’s Grace to be saved. They are without life – does that mean their soul no longer exists or it exists in some form of eternal death, and how is eternity measured outside our concept of time? I don’t know.

          I don’t have any more answers than anyone else, but I don’t hold God in contempt for being true to His nature which can sometimes seem unloving from our side of the veil. I trust that He is Love and Truth and Beauty and always is in every circumstance.

          For those who lived before Jesus died on the cross, or for those who lived in some land where the Gospel was never known or for those who died in the womb or before the age of understanding – I trust God loves them and has a plan for them. A Pastor friend of mine used a lesson where he put a dollar in my shirt pocket and said the dollar was a gift. I didn’t do anything to earn the dollar but it was mine because he put it there. He wouldn’t force me to keep the dollar though so if I didn’t want the gift for whatever reason, I was free to reject it. God’s Grace through Jesus is that gift. It’s ours unless we choose to reject it.

        • Anniel says:

          KFZ,
          I have been considering what Hell is and reading scriptures to try and get a handle on your questions. I have always believed that the notion of “burning forever in Hell”, is another of those symbolic things. Think of the millions upon millions of people who have only heard of the name of Jesus as a curse, and some have never heard it at all, even today. How could they be consigned to hell if they never had a chance? That would not seem to be justice in any way.

          In John 14:2 Jesus tells his Disciples that there are many mansions in His Father’s House, if it were not so He would have told them and he goes to prepare a place for them.

          I, personally, cannot fathom the “extinction” of souls, nor the complete isolation of souls from each other. Maybe those “mansions” are separations of sinners from those who have earned a greater glory. Jesus also told His Disciples that they would understand all things later, meaning after His death and resurrection.

          And tomorrow Christians celebrate the Resurrection of Jesus, known as the Christ. He loved everyone enough to die for them. That says His love will do what is best for us.

          • Kung Fu Zu Kung Fu Zu says:

            Annie,

            The thought about the many mansions in God’s house, is an interesting one. I have never looked on it they way you mentioned. I will have to think about it some more.

        • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

          How could a loving God, who knows the weakness of mankind, condemn all those who do not accept Jesus to an eternity of damnation? What would be the point? To teach those people the error of their ways? I am sure they would have picked up on their mistake by the 100,000th year in Hell.

          Mr. Kung, my own belief is that Hell is the creation of man. Most hope Hitler went to hell. But what if judgment itself is not the point of creation? What if it’s just the case that shit happens?

          One of the stories in the Bible that rings true is that of the prodigal son…if only because the story is complicated. If there is a Creator so involved in our lives, it seems more likely that he will go the extra mile (an idea also promoted in the New Testament) to bring us home. Although Catholics believe in purgatory, that idea certainly makes some sense as a sort of training ground as we prepare ourselves to be worthy of something better. Again, the point would be there would be far more thrill for God to bring home the prodigal son than to condemn him to eternal torment over what as so often little more than procedural infractions (not getting baptized, for instance).

          Or is God instead an EPA official with a heart of stone and a rulebook ready-made to screw your life over? If so, then one can forget one’s conception of God as some kind of benevolent and supreme master of the universe. Instead you get the petty dictator that Richard Dawkins and his ilk so often characterize him as.

          I suppose one can believe whatever one wants. But I’m always of the mind that things have to make at least a modicum of sense. Without reason entering the equation I believe we are prone to religious lunacy. And I certainly don’t want to join the ranks of Islam, for example.

          • Timothy Lane says:

            A character in Inferno (by Larry Niven and Jerry Pournelle, based on Dante’s version) refers to Hell as involving “infinite power and infinite sadism”.

            • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

              One of the things we humans have done to preserve a pristine image of God is to split things widely into heaven/hell. A cursory glance at nature shows that Darwin was not wrong when he said, “What a book a devil’s chaplain might write on the clumsy, wasteful, blundering low and horridly cruel works of nature!” We wouldn’t take red ants and black ants, give them their nature, and then send them all to hell because when we put them in the same jar, they fought to the death.

              I think coming to terms with the Creator is coming to terms with our often child-like orientation to that creator. I think Annie, in particular, weaves a mature, hopeful, but not naive outlook. Hers is a splendid essay.

              I don’t have a bone to pick with atheists because of the abundant evidence that this is an uncaring universe. The bone I pick is that their “atheism” isn’t atheism and is simply, somewhat like libertarianism, a personal “value” for license and, broadly speaking, little more than a political affiliation with the Left.

              I think a mature faith means “This is somehow all going to work out for the better despite how fucked up so many things are, and intrinsically so.”

        • Lucia says:

          KFZ, I’m not a theologian, I can only try to explain how I see things as a Christian. If anyone wants to correct me, be my guest. But I think that the point is not that God is angry or cruel to unbelievers, but it’s rather that God is a perfect Being who exists in a perfect place. Since he is perfect, nothing that is not perfect can live with him or come into his presence. That’s a problem for us because none of us is perfect and nobody can make themselves perfect even if they tried. We are naturally faulty.

          But God made it simple for us even before He made us. (That may bring in another debate about predestination which I won’t go into here.) His Son Jesus Christ, whom the Bible says was fully God as well as fully man, paid the price of admission for us into heaven, by sacrificing his life, of paying the price for our sins instead of us. (While he was 3 days in the grave, he went into the waiting place of the dead and preached the gospel so that many who died before he was on earth could be saved.)

          Jesus’s blood now “covers” our imperfection and allows us to come into the presence of God. All we need to do is accept that the price was paid for us. This is the amazing grace of God, that he wants us to be with him for eternity.

          I look forward to having a perfect life forever. A perfect body in perfect health, doing work that I love with people who are kind and loving, and being challenged to learn new things. I believe that God will restore mankind to what he was like in the Garden of Eden, intellectually, and physically with mental ability beyond anything in recorded history.

          But that’s my opinion. I have given a lot of thought to heaven since my parents and many friends passed away. As my remaining years dwindle, and I get closer to my own exit date, I get more excited. But I could just be crazy.

          • GHG says:

            Lucia, you have said what I believe and better than I could have.

          • Timothy Lane says:

            An interesting and lovely interpretation. I really wish I could get Elizabeth to read the religious discussions here. Incidentally, the Apostle’s Creed notes that “on the third day he rose again from dead.” From Good Friday afternoon to Easter morning would only have been about 36 hours, but included parts of 3 days (all of Saturday, parts of Friday and Sunday).

            • GHG says:

              The ancient Hebrew day began at sunset – the day didn’t begin at midnight. The math works either way – (1) part of the first day, (2) all of the second day, and (3) part of the third day, but what’s interesting is that the Last Supper is usually thought to have taken place the day before Good Friday, traditionally called Maundy Thursday, but with the Hebrew day starting at sunset the crucifixion was actually on the same day of the Last Supper. The Gospel says “when it was evening Jesus came to the twelve …” so Jesus and His disciples sat to eat the Passover meal at the beginning of the Hebrew day. After the meal Jesus went to Gethsemane and was taken into custody and the trials and crucifixion happened later that same day.

              Just a tidbit that I find interesting.

              • Timothy Lane says:

                A good point about Maundy Thursday. Note that, at least for religious purposes, Jews still start the day with the evening. (I remember getting some of these details explained when i visited Purdue once and stayed with a small group of guys that included an Orthodox Jew.)

          • Anniel says:

            Lucia, You make eminent sense and are not crazy at all. Do you by chance like skiing?

            • Lucia says:

              The only skiing of sorts that I do is when I slide down hill in the mud on the way to the dog yard. It rains more than snows here so we have grown webs between our toes.

          • Kung Fu Zu Kung Fu Zu says:

            Thanks Lucia. In the end, I suspect the only answer is related to what Annie mentioned God asked of Job,

            where were you when I laid the foundations of the earth?

            i.e. there are some things we are not to know.

            Tis a puzzle.

  5. Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

    Well, as the Psych Furs said:

    Heaven, is the whole of our hearts
    And Heaven don’t tear you apart
    Yeah, Heaven, is the whole of our hearts
    And Heaven don’t tear you apart

  6. Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

    I personally have little trust in Heaven. I don’t think we can eke out the parts of the Bible that are true from the parts that were put in there to facilitate a religion. And aside from 72 virgins, there is hardly a better inducement for joining a religion than avoiding hell. So, I frankly don’t trust the texts, nor does the idea of eternal torment make any sense at all, particularly when it includes mere technical formalities (missing baptism, missing the last rites, whatever).

    Separating out man’s stain on religion from God is very very difficult. But whatever the case may be, I do agree with C.S. Lewis who Annie quoted:

    Lewis’ premise of Heaven is that it is not everywhere, but everywhere can be Heaven for those seeking it.

    This does not have the ring of fear, nor does it sound like a cheap marketing trick to forward a religion. This is a deep philosophical truth, or at least a deep spiritual idea that crosses so many boundaries (religion and time) that it suggests there could be deep truth to it.

    How silly it would be to have heaven as we humans conceive it. My first question to God would be, “What the eff was all that about? Why all the pain, suffering, and confusion when we could have just started here?”

    Not to mention, how in the world can there be a heaven that I can take part in and me still be me? How is it that I (along with everyone else) will suddenly act and do nothing but heavenly things?

    Actually, it’s not a narcissistic part of me that desires for me to live eternally. I’ve very much in line with the idea of losing your life to find it, of your older parts dying away to be replenished by new ideas and ways of living. Put it this way, would you want to stay a 3-year-old forever? And, really, would you want to stay your adult self (still a relative juvenile in the scheme of things) forever? Not me.

    So I find it hard to see Heaven as a place for a reward, a final stop where we take ourselves and then live in peace and pleasure. Whatever Lewis’ motivation for writing what he did, I think he catches a more likely truth. And I extrapolate from that: Whatever comes before or after who we are, there is a journey we are on. We may be marching to perfection, but it’s not magic. And there’s no point postponing it. There’s no point in not dipping at least one toe in transcendence today.

    There’s a very Eastern-like thought in the Gospel of Thomas which says:

    77. Jesus said, “I am the light that is over all things. I am all: from me all came forth, and to me all attained.
    Split a piece of wood; I am there.

    Lift up the stone, and you will find me there.”

    I think that’s a way for us humans to wake up out of our temporal trance and grasp (buzzword coming) “the eternal now,” as it is often referred to. That is, every moment is a part of eternity. If you’re looking at life like going from Kindergarten, to elementary school, to high school, and then on to college, you may be missing the point that life isn’t about a paper-chase. It’s more like what Harry Chapin said in “Greyhound,”

    Stepping off this dirty bus first time I understood
    It’s got to be the going not the getting there that’s good

  7. GHG says:

    I was raised in the Lutheran Church Missouri Synod (LCMS), one of the more traditional “hard line” Churches. Was I indoctrinated? Yes, to the extent that I am to believe what I was taught even when my questions aren’t answered sufficiently for me to understand. I can’t claim a formal scholarly knowledge of the Bible nor the scriptural exegeses of trusted Church fathers through the past two thousand years. But, I have studied the Bible enough to have made sense of the teachings of the LCMS and if there is one thing that I would tell my fellow travelers, it’s this – this is God’s creation, He makes the rules and they are the rules regardless if we like them or not. I don’t believe God is capricious or unloving – I believe just the opposite and I love that He is just, even if it would make Him seem inconsistent and unloving to those who are relying on their own understanding. There has to be a foundation of faith. If there is not, then the whole notion of the Christian God collapses and anything goes.

  8. Anniel says:

    Brad and Mr. Lesser,
    One of the things that I note from your postings is the desire to make sense of this life, that it is not just something for nothing. One of the questions God asks Job is, “where were you when I laid the foundations of the earth?” and, “Did you sing with the morning stars when they shouted for joy?” He asks the same questions of us.

    This IS God’s creation and He made it the way it is for our benefit. That is the true foundation of faith. Brad, when you get there I think you will be more Brad than you ever were before, as will Mr. Lesser, Lucia, KFZ, and you, too, Timothy. I’m with Lucia, I want to be in a perfect, healthy body and doing things I love with people I love.

    A joyous Easter to you all.

    • GHG says:

      He is risen!

    • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

      I think what this comes down to, Annie, is “How does the universe work?” Although I find much wisdom in the stories of the Bible, it just never seemed plausible that this is how the universe literally works.

      I can take Adam and Eve in the Garden as metaphorical — perhaps touching on some deep truth that otherwise is impenetrable to us. But I don’t think the world is the result of one bad choice long ago.

      I acknowledge at least two mindsets. One is the “mythical” mindset. The other is the rational or “scientific” mindset. Both have their strengths and weaknesses. One problem with the scientific mindset is that not all that matters — or even the things that matter most — are amenable to scientific measurement. And one problem with the mythical mindset is that the imagination rules, unbound by reality. It can go anywhere, led only be desire.

      I like your slant that “politics belong in hell.” We might define politics as “the parsing of right and wrong as a means to power, with actual concerns of right and wrong being superficial, at best.” But one problem with the right/wrong paradigm of religion is that so much of reality doesn’t seem to exist or care about that dichotomy. Maybe religion, to some extent, belongs in hell as well.

      No, we weren’t there when the foundations of the earth were laid. But we are here now examining them. We are not blind. I personally do not think the definitive story of reality has been written or revealed. We have a bunch of spotty guesswork, in my opinion.

      • Timothy Lane says:

        Galileo, a good Catholic, argued that God gave him a brain and he was going to use God’s gift as best he could.

        David Rohl’s interpretation of the Garden in Eden is that Adam and Eve were the first people to become aware of God (as distinct from the nature spirits of primitive shamanism). He places Eden in the general area of Tabriz (and makes a good case). This does have the advantage of explaining where Cain got his wife (a question Darrow raised with Bryan in the Scopes trial).

      • Anniel says:

        I love the thought that we are here now examining the foundations of the earth, and for me we can extend that examination to space and time, the whole cosmos. I believe that God, in His wisdom, expects us to discover much Truth on our own, it’s part of the journey we are here for.

        Einstein said once that the incomprehensible thing about life is its comprehensibility. Here we are in the middle of a journey created by someone, God, whom I do believe cares about our search for truth, He makes knowledge available to us on two levels, science, which must be studied and sifted all the time, and that which He has chosen to reveal to us, primarily by scripture.

        Once in awhile I have a mind game I play. What would happen in the world if tomorrow irrefutable evidence was found for some scriptural story? Let’s suppose there is an earthquake on Mt. Ararat and the ark, perfectly preserved, comes sliding out of the glacier on the mountain. There’s frozen dung on the floor, maybe even a log kept by Noah. What would be mankind’s reaction? What would be yours? I think for believers it would be stunning and faith promoting. For unbelievers not much would change, ho-hum, that was a long time ago, let’s get on with what’s important. As for those who have never been sure, it could go either way.

        • Timothy Lane says:

          Note that the Bible doesn’t identify a particular mountain. It refers to the “mountains of Ararat” — a specific region in or near Armenia (also called Urartu). Mount Ararat is the highest mountain in the area, but hardly the only choice.

          • Anniel says:

            Bear didn’t speak enough Turkish when he lived there, but some of them believe it was Mt. Ararat itself. Getting too close to the mountain was not a welcome action. He picked up some of the language but not enough for a philosophical conversation. There are westerners who believe they have seen the Ark there, but their stories are not considered reliable.

        • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

          Let’s suppose there is an earthquake on Mt. Ararat and the ark, perfectly preserved, comes sliding out of the glacier on the mountain. There’s frozen dung on the floor, maybe even a log kept by Noah. What would be mankind’s reaction? What would be yours?

          I think that would be wondrous. But it’s another thing altogether to interpret who built the ark, what it was for, etc. Old stories about floods may be grounded in some truth. It’s thought, for example, that the Black Sea (or what occupied it) was land-locked at some time in the past but that the Dardanelles opened up and flooded the region. This flood would have been massive and ongoing for quite some time….enough time for someone to think about building a boat.

          But from a logical standpoint, it doesn’t make a whole lot of sense for the Creator of the universe to drown the entire planet. The maker of life could easily make a virus to do the same job…a virus that would not effect other animals, thus no flood needed. There are certainly many who say the Black Plague as god’s revenge on an immoral world.

          But to me these are just stories…rationalizations. Find an ark tomorrow and it might indeed be yesterday’s news to unbelievers. And yet what does “believer” really mean? Are we to say that myths don’t exist, that men never exaggerate, that men don’t ever fabricate stories?

          I’d love them to find a ginormous ark on Mount Ararat. I’d love every single archeological find that could come from it. But it is more likely that any such find would shrink the Bible stories. What if instead of finding on the bottom of the ark DNA from animals from all over the world that they found DNA from just animals you would expect in that region?

          But, indeed, if there was DNA evidence of tigers and lions and koalas and polar bear and penguins and panda bears…then you’d have something.

          • Timothy Lane says:

            There are several versions of what Noah’s flood might be. One version is the Black Sea flooding, which wasn’t worldwide but would have seemed so to those who lived there and had to flee or die. Another is some sort of Mesopotamian flood. I think Rohl uses this theory, but I don’t recall exactly (I had borrowed his books from a friend, so they’re no readily available).

            Another writer on the subject (whose books I also borrowed from that same friend) is Nick Thom, who suggests in The Great Flood that the melting of the North American icecap led to a series of events (I’d like to get a friend of mine, who has a BS in physics, to check this out) that resulted in several major floods covering most of the world (but not the higher areas — for example, he thinks Damascus was never flooded).

  9. GHG says:

    I think the starting point, although unproven in either case, is quite simple – either one believes in a Creator or not. That is to say believers in a Creator, be they Christian, Jewish, Muslim or others are in one camp and everyone else is in the other camp, including those who aren’t sure one way or the other. Both camps start their journey from that point.

    The “Believer camp” accept they will not know all the answers. That’s not to say they stop using reason and logic to explore the scientific data available, just that they’re more comfortable with being unable to make their beliefs fit nicely with the data available – essentially relying on faith.

    In juxtaposition to the “believers”, everyone else can’t bring themselves to put faith before what their own powers of reason tells them makes sense. There is a certain hubris backed by the affirmation that “even if there is a god and he gave me a mind, he would expect me to use it”.

    Both camps are secure in their thinking and neither camp will convince the other otherwise. One has faith in a power greater than themselves and the other has faith in their own intellect.

    • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

      In juxtaposition to the “believers”, everyone else can’t bring themselves to put faith before what their own powers of reason tells them makes sense. There is a certain hubris backed by the affirmation that “even if there is a god and he gave me a mind, he would expect me to use it”.

      I’d be the first to say that rationalism is a poison in pure form. That is because life itself is not a function of the rational. We use reason as a tool…but for things that themselves are inherently irrational or non-rational.

      This is a very hard lesson for atheists to learn. They’ve been taught that science (aka “reason”) has all the answers. But it doesn’t. It can’t even begin to address the most important and obvious questions. They’re also taught that “reason” is some self-evident moral that can unambiguously show us the right path at all moments. But this is just a fantasy.

      That said, neither does this mean that “belief” has a green light to reality. The nature of belief is that you can believe what you will without restraint. The “rational” part of mankind is a test, an anchor to make sure we don’t become too untethered from reality.

      The most amazing thing we know about in this entire universe is the human mind. It would be amazing if its Creator did not mean fur us to fully implement it with reason, discernment, proportionality, and discretion. It may not show us everything, but it has a way of paring out the baloney. Whatever belief or faith remains should, in principal, then be on a more solid foundation.

  10. Kung Fu Zu Kung Fu Zu says:

    I think the starting point, although unproven in either case, is quite simple – either one believes in a Creator or not.

    I think you oversimplify greatly, especially in light of your listing Christians, Jews and Muslims as believers in your next sentence.

    I, for example, believe in a Creator and I am neither Christian, Jew nor Muslim. My problem is discovering as much about the Creator’s true nature as possible. Just as important is the search for an explanation as to why we are here.

    I see no hubris in using one’s intelligence in the search for God. I don’t have any other tool with which to search. God has certainly not contacted me to bring me up-to-date on things.

    Both camps are secure in their thinking and neither camp will convince the other otherwise. One has faith in a power greater than themselves and the other has faith in their own intellect.

    Perhaps you are secure in your thinking, I am not. That is the whole point! I don’t know and I want to know.

    Faith is a wonderful thing, but it is not something one can simply turn on like a light switch.

    I find your dismissal of those who do not have your faith comes very close to the hubris you accuse others of having.

    • GHG says:

      KFZ, I apologize for offending. At times my rigidity is a little difficult for others to swallow and at other times my poor choice of words and phrase are … well … let’s just say a wordsmith I ain’t. Hubris is incendiary and in retrospect was a poor choice for what I tried to convey.

      I do want to point out an apparent misunderstanding though. I wrote “That is to say believers in a Creator, be they Christian, Jewish, Muslim or OTHERS are in one camp and everyone else is in the other camp” , so I think that would put you, as a believer in a Creator, into the “other” category and in the first camp (in my view of the world).

      As for the other issues with my post, I will say that I see things more in black and white than most people – there isn’t much grey area in my world. Course, that may be because there isn’t much grey area between my ears, but then how am I to know that?

      • Kung Fu Zu Kung Fu Zu says:

        GHG,

        Just want to let you know I was not mad or upset at your post. I just thought I should point out certain problems which I thought it contained.

        I got your point as to “others”, but thought, due to our concentration on “Abrahamic religions” in the West, that I should stress that one does not have to be a member of any of these to believe in a Creator.

        I think you are lucky in that you know what you believe and it gives you comfort. This is something to be happy about.

  11. Gibblet says:

    Brad: “…there is hardly a better inducement for joining a religion than avoiding hell. ”

    That thought was motivational for me when, on July 21, 1968, I asked Jesus into my heart! It took many years before I knew that, beyond mere fire insurance, a real and personal relationship with Christ is the ultimate point of “being saved”.

    Brad: “… nor does the idea of eternal torment make any sense at all, particularly when it includes mere technical formalities (missing baptism, missing the last rites, whatever).”

    I, too, believe that salvation does not hang on religious traditions. In Luke 23:42 and 43, Jesus has a (short) discussion with one of the two criminals being crucified beside Him. The man says, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom” (belief). And Jesus replies, “Truly, I say to you, today you will be with me in Paradise” (salvation). No water baptism or last rites, or whatevers. Though I have been Baptistized, I believe I was saved the moment I confessed my belief to God.

    It was simple, when I was six years old, to “become” a Christian (belief). It is much harder to “be Christian” (follow Christ). One must vacate the throne of one’s life and allow Christ to reign there. Which implies that one must be attentive to what pleases the King. It is easy folly to lapse into a game of musical chairs. The Christian walk is, at once, easy and difficult. Easy because we have instructions written on paper and on our hearts, and a spiritual guide! Difficult, because of that human weakness of wanting what is not good for us.

    What is Hell? A friend of mine explains that Hell is a separation from God (“Depart from me, I never knew you”). Since God is all things good, then Hell, he reasons, has no good thing in it, because good does not exist except in God. If one has not God, then one can expect no good to follow them come judgement day. We can ponder all day long what Hell is like, however, wouldn’t time be better spent ensuring one does not obtain first hand knowledge?

    • Anniel says:

      The sheer excitement of finding what God has to offer is what keeps me going sometimes.

      Our oldest son came to us when he was about 4 years old and announced he had “everything all figured out, except one thing.” Knowing that he was very bright meant we were in for an eye opening experience when Bear said, “About what?” “Well, God made the earth, and He made us to live on it, right?” “Yes.” ” So now all I need to know is, who made God?”

      We had a long discussion about philosophers and theologians who had wondered the same thing. He finally quietly accepted the fact that there are just some things we’re not to know yet. I have to accept that, too.

    • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

      Gibblet, I think you make some terrific points. In my view, a Christian needs to bear his cross. I, for one, don’t believe in Jesus Magic where you just “believe” and then that’s that. And I think many people approach it like that. Religion becomes like a lock you have to pick in just the right way. If you do this, you’ll get this. It can easily become little more than a cosmic retirement plan sanctified with the high-minded word, “faith.”

      Well, I love the stories of the various Catholics saints, many of them who lived difficult lives, to say the least. And I never got the impression from these saints that their belief in God was quid pro quo. Who doesn’t want relief from suffering? Who doesn’t want everything to make sense? And who, to some extent (given the imagined power of God) doesn’t find a few obsequious bones in ones body and grovel?

      But the conglomerate story I’ve read is of people who bear their suffering as an inherent, sometimes even edifying, part of life. They feel nearer God in their imperfection, even while, I suppose, imagining God as perfect. They want communion, not ownership or earned rewards.

      Evidence that Jesus has something special going (at least to my way of seeing things) is that he did not apparently expect everyone to grovel at his feet, to fear him, to be obsequious to him, to stop thinking, to just kneel down and that’s it, for he said “I came not to be served but to serve.” God-as-tyrant is instead the domain of Islam.

      I think with these really big questions, we just can’t know with much certainty. And for me, that’s okay. Life continues to be a mystery. Who can honestly say this isn’t so?

    • Gibblet says:

      “Though I have been (baptized), I believe I was saved the moment I confessed my belief to God.”

      Or, I could have said, “I believe I was saved the moment I confessed my need of God”. Flip-side of the same coin?

  12. Lucia says:

    Faith is a gift from God. It’s not something you can conjure up yourself. God will give it to those who sincerely ask for it.

    God describes what he thinks and what he expects from those who believe in him in the Bible. We have one written in plain modern English with plenty of commentary compiled by top theologians so we can trust their viewpoint, although sometimes I don’t agree, which is ok. Jesus said that after he went back to heaven that the Holy Spirit would come to help believers understand what God is like and to have the desire and ability to live in the way God wants us to. That doesn’t mean Christians are somehow better than non-Christians, it means that they are in the process of becoming changed people through trying to live every day in the manner that the Bible lays out.

    Suffering is part of surrendering one’s will to the will of God, according to C.S. Lewis in his book, the Problem of Pain. It’s a good read, one that I want to keep on my book shelf. Hell, heaven, eternity, Satan, are all covered within it’s pages too. I was so impressed with the authors understanding of these things that I plan to read his other books on the Christian faith.

    • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

      If God can give gifts, he can certainly seem to dispense random penalties as well. One of the ironies of faith is that if reality were not so haphazard, unfair, and even brutal, we wouldn’t need to have “faith” that things are really far better than they appear. It would just be self-evident that the world is good and its creators has us in his gentle hands.

      I remain softly cynical about the whole enterprise of religion. My plate if full enough where I just don’t have the mental energy to believe in something that just seems to have so little evidence for it. Deism makes more sense to me.

  13. GHG says:

    Admittedly my definition of Hell can seem harsh and inconsistent with a loving God, especially when my definition of Heaven is wonderful precisely because God is the very definition of love. So when the question is asked how can a loving God punish some of the creation he loves for all eternity?, it obscures the real answer to that question because it presupposes that God has a choice in the matter – to punish or to not punish (forgive). But I don’t think God does have a choice in the matter and in keeping with His consistent nature he must not. If one believes that God has truly given man a will of his own and that he will not override man’s will at any point or under any circumstance, then is it not inconsistent of God to allow men to eternally separate themselves from Him – separation from God being the definition of Hell. To presume to think God should have mercy on those who willfully separated themselves from Him is to expect Him to override the free will he gave man and that would be akin to Him lying to man that man’s free will was in fact “free”, that man could willfully choose the path he would take. He can not do that.

    I believe there is another aspect of this that bears discussion – that of those people who separated themselves from God (rejected Him) somehow seeing the error of their way at some point after they’ve been in Hell – be it a week or 1,000 years. The notion that they know they made a mistake and they’re sorry and now want God’s forgiveness and salvation – better late than never – is inconsistent with what we know of man’s nature. As an example, we’ve discussed the inability to use reason and logic to get through to those on the Left because they seem to be cut off from from that reasoning almost as if the neural pathways have been severed, it is the same for those who have rejected God – they have in essence severed the spiritual pathway. There is no longer a connection with which to reach them.

    Maybe I’m wrong – none of us know for sure. But I hope that better explains my reasoning for believing what I do regarding Heaven and Hell. I know my beliefs seem harsh and unloving to some, but I believe them to be consistent with the loving God I know.

    • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

      But I don’t think God does have a choice in the matter and in keeping with His consistent nature he must not.

      One of the problems Christianity has is reconciling an all-loving God with the same God who will damn some little old lady, who was always kind to her cats and neighbors but didn’t believe in Christ, to the same fate as Hitler and Stalin.

      Saying that God doesn’t have a choice in the matter reduces the Creator to a mere force of nature. Gravity, for instance, has no choice but to drop the stone on your foot.

      I believe that Hell is not a metaphor for separation from God. I believe it was a powerful marketing tool by the priestcraft. Nothing fills the seats like fear.

      • Kung Fu Zu Kung Fu Zu says:

        One of the problems Christianity has is reconciling an all-loving God with the same God who will damn some little old lady, who was always kind to her cats and neighbors but didn’t believe in Christ, to the same fate as Hitler and Stalin.

        I would guess the Catholic Church saw the dilemma you describe above, thus came up with purgatory. A sort of punishment commensurate with the crime, a measured and reasonable punishment, but not “cruel and unusual” punishment.

        • GHG says:

          Somehow I think the Catholic invented idea of Purgatory was more about keeping people dependent on the church for the souls of their lost loved ones and also a little money making scheme called indulgences.

          Also – with many things that appear to be a choice between two things, there is often a third choice which is essentially not choosing choice#1 or choice#2, like sometimes doing nothing. The Christian belief that one must believe in Jesus to be saved, I believe, is one of those things. Yes, for those have been blessed to know the story of Jesus, it is incumbent on them to not reject that belief. For them it is a matter of only two choices – either believe or not. But for the other billions of people throughout the history of the world who have not heard the story of Jesus, they can’t make that choice to either believe in Jesus or not because they simply don’t know about him – for those people I believe there is a different decision point, and I believe the passages in Romans 1 and 2 speak to the knowledge of God is seen in all of nature so no one has excuse and God has written his laws on the hearts and minds of all, so all know right from wrong in their conscience.

          Jesus paid the wages of sin for all – those who believe in Jesus and those who don’t know Jesus but seek forgiveness by way of their conscience.

      • GHG says:

        You didn’t address the 2 points of my argument that are the crux of it – (1) God gave us free will and can not override our choices without being inconsistent to His unchangeable nature, and (2) when the choice is to reject the spiritual connection with God – then there is no connection with God and that person can not achieve the understanding necessary to even want God’s forgiveness.

        God is not a mere force of nature but He is unchanging and therefore can not go against His nature to allow his creatures to choose the path they will take, even though it breaks His heart to lose so many of the ones He loves. To do anything different would be to violate who He is.

        As for nice little old lady who loves her cats and Hitler, I believe the damned soul remembers what they did in their earthly life as so does the saved soul. So my guess is that Hitler’s memories will torment him a whole lot more than the nice little old lady’s memories will torment her. So I do believe Hell’s torment will be proportional based on the life lived, but I don’t believe is some type of proportionality of separation from God – you are either with God in Heaven or apart from God in Hell and that applies equally for the little old lady and Hitler.

        • Kung Fu Zu Kung Fu Zu says:

          You didn’t address the 2 points of my argument that are the crux of it – (1) God gave us free will and can not override our choices without being inconsistent to His unchangeable nature, and (2) when the choice is to reject the spiritual connection with God – then there is no connection with God and that person can not achieve the understanding necessary to even want God’s forgiveness.

          In the broadest sense, Free Will means the ability to chose between right and wrong. That means the ability to chose between sinning and not sinning. In concrete terms this means controlling one’s actions which begins with controlling one’s thoughts.

          Let’s go back to where the concept of Free Will originated, i.e. in the Garden of Eden where God walked with Adam and Eve i.e. Adam and Eve had personal contact with God. They had perfect information yet they, of their Free Will, chose to disobey God. Again, the WALKED WITH GOD.

          Later, if one accepts God communicated directly with many people in the Old Testament, it is not surprising they believed in him and chose to obey his instructions. They had perfect information.

          If one accepts that the Apostles and others met Jesus, then it can be said they had perfect information and could exercise Free Will.

          Yet nobody around today, has such perfect information about God. Throughout history and across the world there have been many many different gods and claims by some who have said they have knowledge about god, who were not Christian.

          Without perfect knowledge (and I don’t accept that simply because someone claims to know who “God is and what he wants” even begins to bridge the knowledge gap which I am talking about), how are we expected to exercise our “Free Will” properly? There is no Free Will in the sense you are expressing it. There is simply Descartes’ gamble.

          I find the concept you are championing to be something like “Let’s Make a Deal”, i.e. the contestant is given three doors from which to choose, but two out of three lead to hell. How is he to know which leads to heaven? Luck? Gut feeling? Hope? How is he to KNOW God?

          • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

            My view of free will, Mr. Kung, is that, of course, we have it to some extent. But we don’t have unlimited will. I can’t will myself to dunk a basketball. I can’t (thinking of the Stan/Loretta Monty Python sketch) will myself to have babies if I am a man.

            But certainly we do not live in a deterministic universe. Small choices, like the relatively small rudder of an ocean liner, can have big effects. We don’t have to have complete will to have effective will.

            Having a will is one issue. Right/wrong is another. And I won’t usually be mistaken for a relativist, but even relativism has its merits. Unless life is a game of never-ending entrapment, our will exists so that we can make choices. And not all choices concern right/wrong. And even those that do have right/wrong components, very often it is not at all clear until after the fact. That is, the universe does not typically present us with the idealized scenarios as in the story of the Garden of Eden.

            So, to offer an obvious point, and one you make often, life is complicated. I would expect a Creator to be no less so. But so often he is reduced either to a simplistic force of nature or his personalty is a vanilla admixture of “all powerful/all knowing/all benevolent” which, in practice, leaves no room for personality at all. God then becomes just an unconscious force of nature who could do no other thing that what he did.

            The most astonishing thing we have is our minds. It’s arguable that without consciousness, what could ever matter to anyone? But we do have it. We are aware of things. We can think about things. We can learn things. We can ask questions. We can sometimes get reasonably clear answers. But the biggest answers are left unclear and muddy. That’s both frustrating and very interesting. This, too, might tell us something about the nature of the universe and its creator. Maybe there is something much more interesting and richer going on than a mere heaven/hell scenario. And I suspect there is.

            • Kung Fu Zu Kung Fu Zu says:

              But the biggest answers are left unclear and muddy. That’s both frustrating and very interesting. This, too, might tell us something about the nature of the universe and its creator. Maybe there is something much more interesting and richer than a mere heaven/hell scenario. And I suspect there is.

              One of the beliefs I have is that the Creator has us involved in a very big learning experience perhaps to help us come closer to him. Maybe he likes to see growth.

              • GHG says:

                One of the beliefs I have is that the Creator has us involved in a very big learning experience perhaps to help us come closer to him. Maybe he likes to see growth.

                I agree with this and believe it is the purpose of our earthly life. It is to be a learning experience with the objective of growing closer to Him, or to be more exact – to reduce our humanness and increase our godliness. This is accomplished by being more in tune with our spiritual connection to Him. This results in the same eternal proportionality that I described for the little old lady and Hitler in Hell – only this is our eternal Heavenly experience is proportional to the godliness with which we lived our earthly lives.

            • Kung Fu Zu Kung Fu Zu says:

              But certainly we do not live in a deterministic universe. Small choices, like the relatively small rudder of an ocean liner, can have big effects. We don’t have to have complete will to have effective will.

              I have the same view which you express here.

              We all have and made choices daily.

              One of my beliefs which irritates people is when I bore down to the bottom of things and get them to admit that we always have a choice in life, but that doesn’t mean one will always like the choices.

              I take the example of the young Jewish men who helped herd people into the showers at the Nazi’s death camps. They were given the choice to do this or walk into the showers themselves. Not a very nice choice, and you might not blame them for what they did, but they did have a choice.

              That is why I say the real saints are those we don’t know about. Those who lived up to the highest ideals while marching into the showers. Those who would not assist evil in any way.

            • Kung Fu Zu Kung Fu Zu says:

              So, to offer an obvious point, and one you make often, life is complicated.

              It is an obvious point, but bears frequent repeating. Humans have a knack for postulating simplistic answers/solutions to complex questions/problems.

          • GHG says:

            How is he to know which leads to heaven? Luck? Gut feeling? Hope? How is he to KNOW God?

            Faith. I know it when I see it – not based on my own intellect – but based on the faith I have that is a gift to me by God.

            To those without faith I can understand that sounds like a bunch of gobbledygook and worthy of ridicule, but for those who have faith it is just that. I trust in God because I have not rejected the gift of Faith available to all.

            • Kung Fu Zu Kung Fu Zu says:

              Faith. I know it when I see it – not based on my own intellect – but based on the faith I have that is a gift to me by God.

              If faith is a gift from God, why does he not give it to all equally? If it is simply a matter of giving some faith (rewarding them for it) and not giving it to others, why even bring the others into existence? So they can suffer? Sounds very close to predestination to me, which I find a very less-than-loving-Godlike concept.

              • GHG says:

                If faith is a gift from God, why does he not give it to all equally?

                It is available to all equally. It is not a matter of predestination or any form of favoritism. It’s a matter of each individual heart being contrite and REALLY relying on the Grace of God for whatever happens to you. Why do I have faith and not someone else – I can only offer a guess that I truly know I am nothing without God whereas maybe the other person either (1) doesn’t want God intruding on their life, or (2) relies so much on their own intellect that there isn’t room for God, or (3) who knows?

                Maybe those who have faith are just more trusting (naive) than others – but then why are they more trusting? We can kick the can down the road all day and we’ll never have a definitive answer.

                I have faith – that’s all I know. Maybe I believe in fairy tales – but I believe.

              • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

                If faith is a gift from God, why does he not give it to all equally?

                Clearly God believes in diversity. Like it or not, there are Darwinian elements to life that are inescapable. Some people, through no fault of their own, for example, are born with birth defects. Everything is not fair. Everything is not even. Not all circumstances can be judged the same.

                I don’t know if they still do this, but NASCAR use to have an event (IROC…International Race of Champions) where various top drivers would be invited to the event and they would all be given specially prepared automobiles that were made (supposedly) as exactingly similar to each other as humanly possible. The point was to see which driver, from a diverse collection of drivers and types (including Formula I drivers, for example), were the best. Driving skill alone would supposedly decide.

                Well, wouldn’t that make for an interesting way to do humanity. If it was done that way, with all elements perfectly the same (health, intelligence, access to good education, etc.), then I suppose a heaven/hell (winner loser) scenario would make more sense. Our choices would be everything, or certainly count for more than they do now.

                But life as it is is very messy. It’s far too messy, at least in my opinion, for simple rules to apply: You go to heaven for believing X, Y, and Z…you go to Hell for not. Someone born in the jungles of Borneo, for example, would likely have absolutely no opportunity to hear about Christ.

                And you can rationalize this stuff until the cows come home. But all the rationalizations just seem clearly to be so. Life is so big, messy, and complicated.

                If one choses to follow a certain way of life, then one should do so. And one should probably do so without the expectation that it’s going to make sense in the usual way we think of things making sense. At the end of the day, things do not add up anywhere near as tidily as we’d like. And pushing hard on either end of the belief scale — atheism or theism — doesn’t change this fact.

                But we might eke out some probabilities and some philosophical and moral truths. But the realm of religion is to set the parameters beforehand and then demand that everything make sense via those parameters. But I just don’t think this ever works out very tidily.

              • Kung Fu Zu Kung Fu Zu says:

                As I always say, Brad, “Life’s a bitch and then you die.”

                After that? Who knows?

              • Timothy Lane says:

                The key point to consider is this: If faith is needed to get into Heaven, but some people (like me) are incapable of genuine faith, then is that fair to those people? This wouldn’t be a matter of choice for them.

        • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

          God gave us free will and can not override our choices without being inconsistent to His unchangeable nature,

          I’m going to assume that God — the ultimate parent figure — has at least the powers that human parents do. And human parents override free will (for the benefit of their children) all the time.

          when the choice is to reject the spiritual connection with God – then there is no connection with God and that person can not achieve the understanding necessary to even want God’s forgiveness.

          It’s quite possible that my more rational line of inquiry toward God is an even better connection (or just different). Who knows?

          • GHG says:

            I’m going to assume that God — the ultimate parent figure — has at least the powers that human parents do. And human parents override free will (for the benefit of their children) all the time.

            Yes, and as a human parent I would agree. However, we, as humans, are imperfect – we’re incapable of being unchangeable the way God is. There isn’t better apples to oranges comparison than human to God.

            It’s quite possible that my more rational line of inquiry toward God is an even better connection (or just different). Who knows?

            Yes, it’s possible my beliefs are wrong. It’s all based on faith which is necessarily unprovable.

        • Timothy Lane says:

          Would Hitler be tormented by his acts — or by his failure to succeed completely? And if the latter, how can we be sure he would suffer worse than mostly decent people who simply failed to worship God?

          • GHG says:

            Would Hitler be tormented by his acts — or by his failure to succeed completely?

            In the end, I think they’re the same thing.

  14. GHG says:

    Did you ever look at something so beautiful that you heart welled up and tears fell from your eyes? That is what I experience when I have “God moments”. It’s nothing whacky like audible or visual manifestations, but I feel connected and in awe to where my emotions spill over and I’m incapable of doing anything other than just being still. Maybe that sounds weird – probably does – but I don’t know any better way to describe it. It happens infrequently but I think it doesn’t happen more often because I don’t still my life often enough for it to happen more. It could be anything – like seeing a cardinal outside my window and being hit with the realization of how beautifully made it is. I wish it happened more often but I feel blessed that it happens at all.

    I don’t think I would have those “God moments” without faith and I think those people who have “God moments” have at least a flicker of faith whether they know it or not.

    • Kung Fu Zu Kung Fu Zu says:

      http://www.stubbornthings.org/the-moment/

      I don’t know if you read this or not.

      • GHG says:

        Thanks KFZ, I hadn’t read that but it was beautiful and very similar to my experiences. I would say only that my experiences always involve the feeling of my heart in my throat and the release of tears of joy. I’m not one who get’s overly emotional and I’m sure I can count on one hand the times I’ve cried in sadness through the 40 some odd years of my adult life, but those God moments get me every time, although those are tears of awe and joy, not sadness. Maybe I’m just more emotionally strung than I think I am, but I have no doubt that those moments are somehow a connection with God.

        • Kung Fu Zu Kung Fu Zu says:

          I have had a few such experiences in my life, but they are not common.

          In my case, music can sometimes bring on extreme joy.

      • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

        Mr. Kung, I loved your moment. Profound insights are often gained in the moment. After all, that’s what living is about.

        I don’t discount intuition, religious or otherwise. But it is required to be massaged and cajoled by harder forms of evidence. But moments themselves are beyond evidence. Experience itself is beyond need for proof. However, what we say about those experiences — how we interpret them — is where it gets sticky. It’s when we usually begin to project.

        My own, I’ll call “spiritual,” experiences give me some appreciation for the hair shirt and other devices that priests, monks, and such, would wear for self-mortification. The flesh must be conquered so that the spirit can soar…..keeping in mind what Augustine said, “Lord, make me chaste—but not yet.”

        I’m not talking about suffering caused by other people. In fact, people tend to be a pain in the ass. I’m not sure I learn all that much humility or anything else good when I come across a jerk. But I realize part of my hiking and biking, which are quite rigorous, are a form of self-mortification. You can talk about “runner’s high” all you want. And there is a sliver of truth to that (for feeling healthy feels better than being a couch potato).

        But to purposely cause such suffering, as vigorous exercise is, is clarifying. It blows out the carbon. It blows out the cobwebs. I must confess, I have little time for those who complain about all their little aches and pains. And, frankly, perhaps my disbelief regarding Christianity has as much to do with the false and narcissistic ways that it is typically practiced.

        Again, I’ll come back to St. Francis. I think he got it right. If you believe, material comforts are not important. If your center of reality is not the earth, you perhaps don’t even mind a little suffering. There are various ways to understand it, some quite full of religion, voodoo, and myth, but find me a good Christian and I’ll show you someone who has learned to suffer well.

        Suffering cleanses. Yes, the hair shirts and other harsher forms of self-mortification are hard to justify. But the principle is sound. Think of all the horrible trouble people get into following their impulses. Suffering has the potential to deepen the soul. If this were not the case, and if Christianity is true, then no Redemption would ever have been found on the cross through suffering.

        Kumbaya Christianity is about as worthless as a piece of soggy toast. Real Christianity has balls. And it has a deep appreciation for suffering. It brings perspective to life like few other things can.

        • Kung Fu Zu Kung Fu Zu says:

          Mr. Kung, I loved your moment. Profound insights are often gained in the moment. After all, that’s what living is about.

          I glad you liked it.

          The problem with such moments is that they are very fleeting and difficult to interpret. In fact, I am not sure interpreting is the right way to go. Perhaps all one can really do is experience them and appreciate what happened.

          • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

            The problem with such moments is that they are very fleeting and difficult to interpret. In fact, I am not sure interpreting is the right way to go. Perhaps all one can really do is experience them and appreciate what happened.

            There are always exceptions to the rule. But this is most likely why men tend to be the great writers, poets, and priests of society. It is a very difficult task to synthesize emotion and intellect, intuition and experience, and fantasy and reality. Men have emotions but are not typically constrained by them. Stepping outside the emotional experience and looking back in (no easy task, obviously) is necessary.

            Also remember that nearly all good stand-up comics are men. And think of their typical shtick which is to point out experiences shared by us all but that have not quite yet been solidified to conscious awareness by having these experiences interpreted and verified. That comedians make good humor out of various experiences is just one thing you can do with these experiences. There are moral, intellectual, political, and all other kinds of points that can be made from them as well (and often still to humorous effect…see: Bob Hope). But a good comic shows just how unreflective most people are — men or women. We laugh at the sudden recognition of funny absurdities that were heretofore unknown to us in a meaningful way. Jerry Seinfeld was a master of this.

            And it’s the addition and solidification of meaning that is the work of the poet, the priest, the shaman, or the comedian. We don’t need people to think for us, per se, but we do need our shamans, priests, poets, and jesters for interpretation. Human experience without them is just Bubba and a beer can.

            • Kung Fu Zu Kung Fu Zu says:

              It is a very difficult task to synthesize emotion and intellect, intuition and experience, and fantasy and reality.

              Not only that, one has to have the desire to communicate to others something of one’s experience.

              It is much easier to keep it to oneself and the public be damned, because most will have no idea of what one is talking about and more than half of those who do will ridicule one for coming out and saying it. This can be particularly hard to take when dealing with something so personally important.

              Exposing oneself to the slings and arrows of misfortune is hard, especially if by keeping one’s head down, those projectiles pass far over one’s head.

              • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

                Yes, to some extent, the interpreter must be somewhat fearless. Of course, pandering to popular desires and conceptions is a way out of this. After all, whatever Socrates’ faults, it’s typical that society does not like hearing uncomfortable truths. Right now they’re still fining and arresting people in Europe for comment on the reality of Islam, for example.

                One of the remarkable facts is the selling out of the job of priest, shaman, poet, and comedian. Most of these people now simply pander. They pretend at being “cutting edge” but — as we were discussing regarding movies — do little but hold up a narcissistic mirror to a people who can’t be bothered to try to see outside of themselves.

  15. Anniel says:

    Wow! My head is spinning. I keep thinking of Jesus telling us we need to become perfect, even as His Father which is in Heaven is. How can we do that if we can’t know Who or What he is?

    Lucia mentioned in one of her postings that during His three days in the grave Jesus went to the waiting place of the spirits of the dead to preach to them. That seems to me that we all, at some time or other, get a chance to “hear.” That seems as though it would be part of Justice. Beyond that? I need to stop my head from spinning.

    • Kung Fu Zu Kung Fu Zu says:

      The big questions are very confusing and can be disconcerting. That is why we keep searching.

    • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

      Wow! My head is spinning. I keep thinking of Jesus telling us we need to become perfect, even as His Father which is in Heaven is. How can we do that if we can’t know Who or What he is?

      As if you can’t tell by now, Annie, I’m not a literalist. I think God is found in the poetry between the cracks of the penumbra of the shadow. God is a newborn baby. God is in the bazillion stars shining in a night sky. But God, codified and personified, tends to bring up lots and lots of difficulties.

      Most people should probably just pick a good faith, go with it, and not look back. And yet that is not for everyone. I don’t consider all persnickety atheists, scientists, or skeptics to simply have not “seen the light” or not having asked god for faith. I think there are many ways to experience this world and to respond to it authentically.

      But if Christ is 1/3 of the Trinity and if you don’t believe in him absolutely, you’re going to hell, then there isn’t much more to be discussed. And yet if all of creation is reduced to that formula, with all the other quandaries and remarkable things to be left outside, then some would say (I would say) we are the poorer for it.

    • Kung Fu Zu Kung Fu Zu says:

      Annie,

      I hope this discussion has helped your preparations. I am still groping around in the twilight.

      • Anniel says:

        GROPING AROUND IN THE TWILIGHT – Now there’s something I can relate to on many levels.

        • Kung Fu Zu Kung Fu Zu says:

          Yes, one of the major pains of getting older is the, sometimes not, so gradual loss of one’s vision.

          Another thing my ole daddy said is, “Aging is not for the weak of heart.”

  16. GHG says:

    You go to heaven for believing X, Y, and Z…you go to Hell for not. Someone born in the jungles of Borneo, for example, would likely have absolutely no opportunity to hear about Christ.

    Christ paid the ransom for all, including someone born in the jungles of Borneo who had no opportunity to hear about Christ. I don’t believe that person in Borneo is necessarily damned to Hell. I do believe one person from Borneo would be damned to Hell if they didn’t follow the dictates of their God given conscience, whereas his brother who knows there is a power greater than him who has given him the ability to choose right over wrong would be saved by the Grace of God through Christ because he chooses to not reject the small voice of his conscience.

    • Kung Fu Zu Kung Fu Zu says:

      I do believe one person from Borneo would be damned to Hell if they didn’t follow the dictates of their God given conscience

      GHG,

      Having lived in eight countries, I am not at all sure that the dictates of a Bornean conscience are the same as, or even near, the dictates of a Western, much less American conscience.

      One of the more tiring platitudes I often hear is that “We’re all alike.” No we aren’t. Stone Age people living on the edge of starvation do not think very much like we do.

      • Timothy Lane says:

        Within certain limits, it may be true that “people are alike all over” (to use a story title from The Twilight Zone). But their cultures most certainly are nowhere near alike, and in fact have different values in more ways than one. This is the flaw of multiculturalism.

        • Kung Fu Zu Kung Fu Zu says:

          Within certain limits, it may be true that “people are alike all over”

          Ah, but no one has ever prefaced their statement to me in such a manner. And I believe that is because they were not thinking in a precise way, rather were generalizing about a complicated place; the world. And they were doing this for “feel-good” reasons. Have you ever noticed that very often the same types (i.e. liberals) who say we are all alike also like to stress that everyone is unique.

          Precision makes life difficult. Or as they say, “The devil is in the details.”

      • GHG says:

        the dictates of a Bornean conscience are the same as, or even near, the dictates of a Western, much less American conscience.

        I agree the culture is different and therefore the cultural rights and wrongs would be different within each culture, but the basic human rights and wrongs are the same. It is wrong to murder in the true sense of the word no matter the culture. The laws of nature and nature’s God are written on every heart and known to every mind. In that respect every human being is born equal, even though there may be vast differences in their life’s circumstances.

        • Timothy Lane says:

          I see what you mean. Most tribes would punish unauthorized killing within the tribe, but not killing someone outside the tribe, and would even defend one who killed a member of a hostile tribe pretty much no matter the circumstances.

        • Kung Fu Zu Kung Fu Zu says:

          I think Tim’s observations are important. Primitive peoples function in a tribal setting and individual concerns, in action and thought, often take a back seat to tribal mores.

          The laws of nature and nature’s God are written on every heart and known to every mind

          This is a particularly Western concept. I do not know it to be true. But it is a one good base on which to build the beginnings of a culture. The belief in this idea is one of the reasons the West has been so great.

          • GHG says:

            I don’t think the example of a member of one Bornean tribe killing someone from a different Bornean tribe would be considered murder. If the tribes live in a constant state of hostility with each other, then it would be akin to killing the enemy in war and not against natural law.

            I don’t believe the Word of God was meant only for a subset of humanity and the passages regarding the law written on the heart and mind pertains to all people. To believe otherwise would be to ascribe a lower form of humanity to some. Lower and more primitive cultures and the effect it has on those people – yes, but not lower forms of people. A human being is a human being and at the very basic things that make him human are the same across all of humanity and that includes a conscience.

            I should just have this disclaimer as my signature as I have been using it often in this thread, but here it is again – But, maybe my beliefs are the loony tune ravings from the fever swamp between my ears. I’m not in a position to know.

            • Kung Fu Zu Kung Fu Zu says:

              I should just have this disclaimer as my signature as I have been using it often in this thread, but here it is again – But, maybe my beliefs are the loony tune ravings from the fever swamp between my ears. I’m not in a position to know.

              I would choose something like that line from the Beatles’ song, “I’m doing the best that I can.”

            • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

              I don’t believe the Word of God was meant only for a subset of humanity and the passages regarding the law written on the heart and mind pertains to all people.

              One of the laws written in the human heart is survival, gaining status, gaining power, and treating your own tribe with one set of rules with treating other tribes with another set.

              My position is that we are animals in need of taming. Deeply embedded on the human heart first and foremost is the law of the jungle. One could say that Christ’s sacrifice on the cross was to redeem for our sins. But I would say the game is pre-rigged for sin being a matter of course. It’s normal.

              And tribes kill members of other tribes for things quite apart from being at war with them (although it might put them at war with them). It was not just the Spartans who had a coming-of-age ritual to kill a member of another tribe.

              Written deeply into the human heart is treachery, deceit, and murder. And to blame this on “the devil” is forever to confuse ourselves and miss the big picture. And that big picture is full of all kinds of things. And one of those things is the survival of your own culture.

              This is where Christians have failed. They are no longer pushing the culture in any meaningful way. Typically they are surrendering to it by moving Left, by adopting Kumbaya Christianity as perhaps best evinced by the fraudulent pope, Francis, who recently made a big show of washing the feet of a couple Muslims. He’s the culmination of Catholicism becoming little more than Cultural Marxism. His is fortune cookie Christianity made up of the trite.

              Christians are no longer a potent cultural force for traditional Western Civilization. They have given themselves over to Kumbaya Christianity when they ought to be thinking “Onward Christian Soldier.” How some Christians can support Donald Trump, for example, boggles the mind, for this is not a good man.

              Christians have been so pummeled with non-stop criticism that it’s no wonder they no longer know how to defend the faith. If I was a Christian, I wouldn’t waffle on items of heaven or hell. I would go to the source, quote it, and be done with it. But to try to interpret why Mr. Jones, who was always nice to her neighbors and her cats is joining Hilter and Stalin in Hell, is an impossible task. “God only knows” is the best answer.

              And it’s probably a question quite beside the point because unless Christianity is an additive process — adding something above and beyond the law of the jungle that is written deeply in our hearts — then one is just ultimately shadow-boxing with Darwin. And the acid of Darwinism (philosophically, if not biologically) will always win because we do indeed live in a world which values survival, status, and power over all other things. The tangible is always going to undermine beliefs in something higher, better, transcendent, spiritual, whether imagined or true.

              Either one believes we are in the world, but not of the world, or one is some various type of Progressive or monstrous cult of one nutjob religion or another (Islam, for example) wherein we put fancy-smancy labels on a tribal “hedonism” but it is hedonism all the same. I have no objection, per se, with seeing god as Good. But I think “Good” is far more complicated than many Christians are commonly taught. I mean, look at how we interact with our children for their own good. Good parents do things all the time that are for the betterment of their children but the children hate. I wouldn’t expect this world to be inherently gentle all the time.

              On the other hand, what we ultimately have is an information gap between God and man. And we can wonder why this is so, but it does seem to be so. We know more about ancient China, with reliability, than we do of heaven or anything of that sort. This is not our fault. This is not our doing. So it’s logical to wonder why we are kept in the dark. John may say “The light shines in the darkness,” but give him credit. He has acknowledged the darkness.

              So at the end of the day, we’re left to either don a religious belief and say “God only knows” about the many conundrums any belief system faces or we face those questions and suppose it’s not only okay to draw conclusions from them but that it’s the right thing to do. God only knows why there is this information gap. But there is. And one may desire to close it through the leap of “faith” and if that works for a person, then fine. But in my experience, it doesn’t regarding the nitty gritty details.

              So it’s possible to have these discussions go on forever because, frankly, no religion is a perfect fit with the world’s facts.

            • Timothy Lane says:

              The Old Testament was meant for the Israelites and no one else, though other people could join the community. The New Testament was meant for everyone.

            • Gibblet says:

              Even with our religious freedom and a church on every corner, God can be hard to find against the wallpaper of western culture.

              I have heard a woman speak to whom God appeared in her room over a two or three day period. She was Muslim, born in the middle east. No one shared the Gospel with her. Yet, through that experience she (immediately) came to believe in God as her Savior, and now travels the eastern world sharing the Gospel.

              There has not been much discussion here about God’s Word, The Bible, being a method through which He has chosen to reveal Himself to man. The Word can be an active communications link between an individual and God. I have read elsewhere, however, that it is common for God to reveal Himself to Muslims through “appearances”, just as He did to the woman I heard speak. I wouldn’t be surprised if He has been even to Borneo!

              The woman said that when she does not have the liberty to share the Gospel message with those she encounters, she instructs them to go to their room and simply ask God to reveal Himself. It seems to me, that method could have universal application. If you try it, please share with us your experience.

    • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

      Christ paid the ransom for all, including someone born in the jungles of Borneo who had no opportunity to hear about Christ. I don’t believe that person in Borneo is necessarily damned to Hell.

      Well, then you and I are on the same page: All of this stuff is open to interpretation.

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