William P. Young’s “The Shack”

September 8, 2008 at 3:06 am 186 comments

While I was still working as a pastor, I brought my doubts to my bishop and he started the process of finding me a spiritual mentor. The process of my leaving licenced ministry for an indefinite period of time went faster than the process of finding a spiritual mentor, and by the time I first met the pastor who would be my mentor, I was already unemployed. We agreed to meet anyway, and see how things worked out. I was very unsecure in my de-conversion and was hoping there was something obvious I had overlooked.

One of the first things my mentor asked me to do was read a book called The Shack, written by William P. Young. The tagline on the front cover reads, “Where tragedy confronts eternity” and on the back cover is the claim that in Young’s story, he wrestles with the question, “Where is God in a world so filled with unspeakable pain?” Young wrestles with this question through the fictional character Mackenzie Allen Phillips (or Mack, for short), who suffers some horrible tragedies in his life, then one day receives an invitation in his mailbox which may or may not be from God.

Please be aware that this article contains SPOILERS and that if you want to be surprised by anything in the book, you should read the book before finishing this article. You may still find nothing in the book to be surprising, but at least that won’t be my fault.

Much of my realization that there either is no God or that the Christian portrayal of God is horribly wrong stems from the immense suffering in this world. My mentor hoped that this book would help me see that suffering- and God- in a different light. A little more than a week ago, my mother wanted to lend me the same book for the same reason. They both really enjoyed this book and the images of God portrayed within.  The first person of the Trinity, God the Creator, is presented as an earthy, African woman called Papa. The second person of the Trinity, God the Intercessor, is portrayed as a male, Jewish carpenter called Jesus. The third person of the Trinity, God the Holy Spirit, is portrayed as a mystic oriental woman called Sarayu. Sophia, a personification of God’s wisdom, also makes an appearance before the novel is over.

Much of the novel, and much of the online response to this novel, is spent dealing with these portrayals of God. If your problem with God is that you picture Him as an angry, bearded white man in the sky looking for an excuse to smite you, this novel may help you find a healthier image to keep in mind. Alternatively, you can read Good Goats: Healing our Image of God where the Linns do a better job of the same thing. Finding healthy images of God is important for theists to do, because if we believe in a God, we will often find ourselves acting in the manner we believe God acts (creating, condemning, forgiving, hiding, killing, or whatever). If, however, you hoped The Shack would address what it says it will and talk about how any conception of a compassionate and powerful God can co-exist with the slightest comprehension of how much suffering there is in the world, you are likely to be disappointed as I was.

Actually, I was disappointed, insulted, and deeply angered.

The main message of The Shack is that all suffering is the result of choosing to live independently from God, rather than in a relationship of mutual submission with God. That’s right, mutual submission. God wants us to submit to God, while God submits to us. God is already submitting to us, giving us the independence we have chosen, despite how painful the consequences of that independence are (to us, at least). Because we have chosen independence from God, we have felt a need to impose certainty where there isn’t any and create religion, politics and economics, “the man-created trinity of terrors that ravages the earth and deceives those [God] care[s] about” (179). Any suffering that does not result from man-made religion, politics, or economics is said to result from the rest of Creation being dragged from it’s proper place by man (the pinnacle of Creation)’s choosing the “ravaged path of independence” (132). Thus, all suffering is our fault: the results of our choice to be independent from God.

God has all the power and all the knowledge, but suffering is all our fault and God loves us so much that God lets us suffer out of submission to our will. Thanks, God.

But wait, there’s more!

Because all shame, humiliation, guilt and condemnation were nailed into Jesus at the cross, we are free now to choose to reconcile ourselves to God, entering into a relationship of mutual submission which will incrementally lead to a redemption of suffering. Maybe not soon enough to do anyone any good, but still, doesn’t God deserve an A for effort?

No. For while all suffering is our fault for not choosing to trust God and submit to God’s will, the story of The Shack slowly shows how it is impossible for any of us to choose God. We are doomed to suffer, unless God does anything about it, and God will not do anything about it, because God respects our “choice” though at the same time God has stacked the deck so that we can not choose otherwise. As Sarayu (the Holy Spirit) tells us through her words to Mack:

Mackenzie, you cannot produce trust just like you cannot ‘do’ humility. It either is or is not. Trust is the fruit of a relationship in which you know you are loved. Because you do not know that I love you, you cannot trust me (126).

Personally, I’d say that trust comes from knowledge of character and capability, not just knowledge of love, but either way there is a problem. A problem beyond the sheer absurdity of describing humanity as the pinnacle and point of Creation or blaming natural disasters on human independence. In order to trust God, love God, submit to God, and choose to depend on God instead of acting independently, we need to know something about God. We do not need to know everything about God, but we need to at least know we can find God and distinguish God from, say, random chance, drunken hallucinations or a slight case of indigention. Otherwise, what we put our trust in may not be God. Again, as Sarayu says, we need to constantly check the accuracy our perceptions and the truthfulness of our paradigms (197).

Why is this a problem? Young does not mention explicitly what we are to compare our perceptions and paradigms to in order to check their accuracy, and throughout the story takes away everything we could compare our perceptions and paradigm to, if we were to reach a point where we could trust God and enter into a relationship of mutual submission with God.  Young tries to tell us that the only thing we can compare our paradigms and perceptions to is God’s self. That’s the only way we can truly understand God, anything in God’s creation, or the suffering in God’s creation.

Young demonstrates this in an intellectually insulting and emotionally manipulative scene where Mack is called, against his will, to sit in judgement. When doing so, Mack comes to the sudden and startling realization that all the many judgements he had made in his life “had been superficial, based on appearance and actions, things easily interpreted by whatever state of mind or prejudice that supported the need to exalt himself, or to feel safe, or to belong” (160). It might be useful to point out right now, that Mack, who is suddenly realizing his human understandings of good and evil are no more than self-centred ideas of pleasant and unpleasant, or convenient and inconvenient, was tied to a tree when he was thirteen. His father tied him there and beat him over a period of two days, whenever he woke from his drunken stupor and put down his bottle. It took two weeks before he recovered enough to walk under his own power. Later on, as an adult, Mack’s youngest daughter is kidnapped by a serial killer who expertly killed her and hid her body, as he had four other little girls beforehand. These are among the actions Mack suddenly dismisses as personally unpleasant or inconvenient, instead of judging them as evil.

Young’s Sophia, a personification of God’s wisdom, confuses the issue further by not allowing Mack to judge actions, but demanding he judge people. Sophia asks who is really to blame for these evil actions, the ones who acted, the parents of those who acted, or God who started it all. Mack blamed God, and Sophia told him that if he could judge God, surely he could judge humanity, and ordered Mack to choose three of his five children to be condemned eternally to hell. After all, this is what Mack believes God does.

Seriously, this is how Young tries to set up God as the only possible objective source of morality and touchstone for understanding reality: telling Mack he can’t judge God’s actions, but only God, and cannot judge God unless he can choose three of his own children to condemn to hell. This somehow passes as wisdom. My problem with this is that you can judge actions without condemning those who act, and you can judge God without having to condemn your own children. After all, Mack was not, at that time, judging God for condemning most of God’s children to hell, just for the hell on earth so many people suffer through. And just because Mack would not choose for his children to suffer does not mean God would not choose the same thing. By looking at the suffering that does exist, it is obvious that God has chosen to allow it, and can be judged accordingly.

But let’s pretend that Young’s little judgement scene convinced us that God is the only source of objective morality, or a proper understanding of reality. We still have the problem that we can not perceive God outside of God’s self-revelations to us. The Bible, creation, and personal revelations are typically how God is understood as revealing God’s self to us, and thus are all we can look at to learn about God (and thus choose to lovingly trust God and submit ourselves to God).

Sarayu says she will speak to Mack in the Bible, as well as art, music, silence, through people and in Creation (198). The Bible is given no real place of honour in the list. Later, she tells Mack that the biblical commandments (at least the infamous “ten”) were not given for us to follow to know how to live righteously, but to convince us of the impossibility of living righteously independent of God (202). Reminds me of my grade ten algebra teacher who put grade twelve geo-trig questions on one of our exams to prove to us that we would fail if we didn’t listen silently in class. Now, most of the bible is made up of commandments. If the commandments are not to be followed, or even trusted, as signs of God’s will for us, what is?

Creation is even more problematic in Young’s Shack. Humans (according to Young’s portrayal of the Holy Spirit) were created as the pinnacle of creation. When we chose the “ravaged path of independence” we dragged all of Creation with us (132). How can we seek God’s revelation in God’s Creation, if we have made it all into something other than it was intended to be?

There are (according to Sarayu) still signs of what God intended within creation. Think of all those poisonous plants that, if treated properly, can provide much-needed medicines. God intended those, and hid them on purpose because all children love hide and seek and we are God’s children (132). I could almost feel my heart break when I read those words.

I am surprised Young doesn’t notice how callous and cruel his portrayal of God is. Perhaps we could make it clearer by asking him to pretend someone he cares for is suffering terribly and the medicine that will ease that suffering is in a pharmacy we have access to and will let him take all the pills he wants, free of charge. The pills are not labelled; too few of the correct pills will do nothing; too many will act as poison; the wrong pills may ease a symptom, but will not cure the illness, or they may poison the sufferer. Still, if he thinks of it as a game of hide and seek, then it’s all good. Isn’t it?

If God wants to hide things to encourage us to have fun exploring, there are many wonders that can be found with effort. Purposefully hiding medicines that someone needs to survive, is evil.

As for personal revelation, I already mentioned that Young’s Holy Spirit is willing to communicate in many ways. She will not speak loudly or clearly, and expects us to make mistakes trying to listen to her as that’s part of life (195-6). Not being able to tell what God’s will is so that we can choose to submit to it is a part of life. We are forced to independently reason and choose and make mistakes, because no revelation will be made clearly and unmistakably to us. Never mind that all suffering is the result of us choosing independence rather than submission. Never mind that we can not trust or submit to God if we can’t tell what is or isn’t God, let alone what is God’s will for us. Young’s God has cheerfully set us up to suffer and take the blame for our own suffering at the same time. But she assures us that when it is all made right (somehow, somewhere, sometime, presumably after we’re all dead), we will agree that it was worth the pain (125). Isn’t that nice to know?

In Young’s defence, his stated purpose for the book (according to his blog) was to write something for his children so that they could see how he has come to view God. He may have succeeded in that purpose. There’s no way I can know. Sadly, he chose to publish this book and it was published with a cover claiming this book would tell us where God is “in a world so filled with unspeakable pain”.

Apparently, God’s in a shack.

- Quester

Entry filed under: Quester. Tags: , , , , , , , .

Fear: A justifiable foundation for belief? What are the best arguments, and what are the strawmen?

186 Comments Add your own

  • 1. The Nerd  |  September 8, 2008 at 9:00 am

    Wow, I get the feeling that this book was never intended for public viewing, but rather was a very personal journey of one man to come to terms with the turmoil within himself. As my husband is fond of saying “this guy has Stockholm Syndrome written all over him!” Good analysis, Quester. I personally would be insulted by whomever recommended this book to me, that I would be patched by such a far-out allegory.

  • 2. Alice  |  September 8, 2008 at 11:16 am

    Well done on the review.

    I was told to read this book, too, when I asked my pastor about the so-called Problem of Evil. One of the first arguments he made was, “You don’t think we came from monkeys, do you??” and then when I put the subject back on track, he said I have to read this book. Not only did I have to read it, “We have it in our bookstore.” (Jerk.) Luckily, someone lent my husband the book. I read it and I was not impressed. It was a sad story but God kept annoying me. You could make yourself crazy trying to use this God to make sense of the world. Why not just cut out the middle man.

  • 3. orDover  |  September 8, 2008 at 11:38 am

    “Original sin” is such a disgustingly useful doctrine.

  • 4. Digital Dame  |  September 8, 2008 at 11:42 am

    Think of all those poisonous plants that, if treated properly, can provide much-needed medicines. God intended those, and hid them on purpose because all children love hide and seek and we are God’s children (132).

    This is so patently ridiculous… “hide and seek” involves finding something (generally someone), having fun, it does most emphatically not involve having to have knowledge of toxic substances, botany, herbology, read “Gray’s Anatomy”, or anything else.

    Judging by the descriptions of God in this book, he’s a psychopath.

  • 5. mjenkins30  |  September 8, 2008 at 12:28 pm

    I’ve been looking for a forum of intelligent people to ask this question to and it seems like this is the place. Please note, this is a question, not an argument, claim, defense, etc. I’m just looking for what the intelligent response from either an atheist or agnostic would be.

    The problem of evil and the immense suffering that goes on in the world is often cited as a reason to either not believe in God or to believe that he’s there, but he’s just plain mean. I haven’t read this book and it doesn’t seem like I’d like it, but one point that I think I agree with is that pain and suffering are generally a result of people’s bad choices (I know things like hurricanes or tsunamis wouldn’t fit into this, but there are plenty of things that would). However, if we didn’t have to suffer for ours and other people’s mistakes, it seems like we would simply be puppets that God is playing with. We would want God to give us the freedom to act independently, but we don’t want to deal with the consequences. This doesn’t seem to make sense. If you don’t want pain and suffering, it seems like you’d want God to just be a puppeteer up in the sky that makes sure everything goes ok no matter the awful decisions we make.

    Like I said, this is really a question. I want to hear it explained because I could be missing something. Obviously this argument is functioning under the assumption that God is out there. It obviously isn’t proof for God, but in my mind it seems to nullify the argument that he doesn’t exist simply because there is pain. Thoughts?

  • 6. Digital Dame  |  September 8, 2008 at 12:40 pm

    @mjenkins30

    If I make a bad choice, I do in fact expect to suffer whatever consequences that may entail. I do not expect any divine/supernatural/mythological entity to save my sorry butt if I run out of gas 500 miles from nowhere.

    However, when a tiny child is beaten, raped, murdered, mutilated through no fault of its own, when thousands of innocent people are murdered in some genocidal conflict, then yes, I would most emphatically question where a supposedly loving, benevolent god is.

  • 7. mjenkins30  |  September 8, 2008 at 12:47 pm

    Digital Dame

    I know what you’re saying, but I guess that doesn’t clear it up in my mind. Is God supposed to intervene over the rapist or murderers freedom to commit these acts or should he have created us without the capacity to commit these offenses?

  • 8. Barbara  |  September 8, 2008 at 12:49 pm

    I read this when it first came out – long before it was sold on Amazon or made the bestsellers list. I read it with an open mind hoping that somehow this story would impact me as it had so many others who claimed it was “life changing”. At the time I was in the process of walking away from Christianity but, honestly, was hoping something would change my mind. I think the author is a well-meaning, humble man but other than that, the book turned me off for some of the reasons you mentioned. I could never have articulated it as well as you did here, so thanks for clarifying some of the issues that nagged at me as I read it.

  • 9. Ubi Dubium  |  September 8, 2008 at 1:30 pm

    mjenkins30

    The problem of evil and the immense suffering that goes on in the world is often cited as a reason to either not believe in God or to believe that he’s there, but he’s just plain mean.

    For me, the effectiveness of the problem of evil hinges on whether we are considering it to argue against the existence of any god, or specifically against the christian god. Most of the evangelists out there preach that the christian god is loving and benevolent. Yet this “benevolent” god allows enomous suffering in the world. The true followers of a “benevolent” god might expect that god would spare them from some of the evils of the world, at least if they pray hard enough. But we don’t see that. Bad things happen to them, and they do bad things, just as much as anybody else (Sometimes more!). Also, they proclaim that this “benevolent” god will send his beloved children to eternal torment if they don’t pick exactly the right interpretation of the right version of the right ancient book. Doesn’t sound very “loving” to me.

    The “problem of evil” doesn’t really come into it if we are arguing about the possibility of the existence of a god who is malevolent or indifferent, or about one who is not all-powerful. But it’s a strong argument against the christian image of a “benevolent onmipotent omniscient god”

  • 10. Rover  |  September 8, 2008 at 1:37 pm

    mjenkins30,

    As a christian I agree with you that their should be consequences for choosing to live apart from God, but I think, for me, the question is should there be so much “useless” suffering? So much undending pain? So much unfettered brutality? Why does God allow our sins to cause young children to slowly starve to death. Why does he allow evil men to kick babies to death with steel toed boots? Why does He allow a man to be burned over 90 percent of his body and never have a moments relieve from the pain. Why does He design us to not desire Him and then choose to torment us for etnernity? Couldn’t a loving God merely allow us to be punished in a limited fashion? My son rebeles but I don’t stone him. I may discipline, but I don’t torment him. It is a difficult question you are asking. I think you may have to see real purposeless suffering before you can understand the answer. Perhaps you have, I suppose I shouldn’t assume…

  • 11. mjenkins30  |  September 8, 2008 at 1:51 pm

    I suppose the question for me would boil down to freedom vs. the absence of pain. They almost seem mutually exclusive in my mind, even for a benevolent God. Wouldn’t the benevolent God still have to choose between giving people freedom and giving them a life absent of pain. I agree that a lot of the pain seems useless, but in order for God to stop a person from doing unspeakable things to a child, wouldn’t that involve his freedom being usurped?

  • 12. Rover  |  September 8, 2008 at 1:59 pm

    Doesn’t he already “hinder” the full extend of man’s sin? Isn’t that part of the Restrainer’s role? If he hinders some sin then why not just a little bit more?

  • 13. Digital Dame  |  September 8, 2008 at 2:42 pm

    @mjenkins30

    Yes, yes he should intervene. According to the bible, he intervened in many ways, on many occasions thousands of years ago (Sodom and Gomorrah, Noah and the flood, etc.). He intervened in BIG ways, according to the Bible. I notice he’s big on smiting, not so much on the mercy part. Why should he protect the child-murderer’s free will, but not the murdered child’s free will? Might is right? It’s so absurd, it’s obscene.

  • 14. Ubi Dubium  |  September 8, 2008 at 2:49 pm

    mjenkins30

    Wouldn’t the benevolent God still have to choose between giving people freedom and giving them a life absent of pain. I agree that a lot of the pain seems useless, but in order for God to stop a person from doing unspeakable things to a child, wouldn’t that involve his freedom being usurped?

    Well, I could see using that argument about acts we do to each other. But what about all the suffering that is not caused by human activity? Things like natural disasters, famines, and diseases. OK, maybe a benevolent god would allow people to be cruel to each other, but how does a benevolent god allow millions to die in earthquakes, tsunamis and hurricanes? How does a benevolent god allow an innocent child to die in pain from a birth defect or childhood cancer? Why would a benevolent creator create botflies and guinea worms? He could have left those out! (Or he could at least spare his true believers from those.) I certainly see no evidence for the existence of a benevolent god.

  • 15. Quester  |  September 8, 2008 at 3:21 pm

    Mjenkins,

    I’m going to agree with Ubi Dubium, and I think with you as well. If there were no diseases, natural disasters, parasites, predators, natural poisons, allergens, birth defects, dangers to giving birth, or simple degeneration due to age, but instead only consequences to people’s actions, the “problem of evil” could be easily dismissed.

    In that hypothetical universe, that has so little in common with this one, I might be able to believe in a loving God.

  • 16. Big Dan  |  September 8, 2008 at 3:48 pm

    To me, if the following are true:

    1. there is a benevolent omnipotent God,
    2. there is non-human-made suffering in the world (see 15 & 16),

    then the logical conclusion is that there must be something more to the universe that makes up for all of the suffering. Perhaps the tortured child enters eternal life, is granted full understanding of the universe, and then sees those few years of terrible suffering as much less terrible.

    Personally I think this explanation is unlikely, so I think that item 1 is unlikely to be true. But it is at least a possible explanation (in fact, the only one that I can think of).

  • 17. SnugglyBuffalo  |  September 8, 2008 at 4:38 pm

    Wouldn’t the benevolent God still have to choose between giving people freedom and giving them a life absent of pain.

    Didn’t God already interfere with our freedoms by tying all of Adam and Eve’s offspring to their sin? I never got the choice to eat the fruit, I’m just automatically a sinner from birth through no choice of mine. I didn’t have the freedom to choose whether to sin.

    And then there’s heaven, where supposedly there’s no suffering. Do we have freedom there?

    I agree that a lot of the pain seems useless, but in order for God to stop a person from doing unspeakable things to a child, wouldn’t that involve his freedom being usurped?

    Sure, a person has the freedom to try to do unspeakable things, but why doesn’t God have the freedom to stop him? Any human can try to stop such a person, and would be expected to if it was within his power. If a man was beating a child to death and I just stood there and watched because I didn’t want to interfere with his freedom, I’d be a pretty despicable person. But if God does that, it’s OK?

  • 18. Big Dan  |  September 8, 2008 at 4:41 pm

    BTW, Nicky Gumbel, who I thnk is a handy reference for mainstream evangelical theology, states “Theologians and philosophers have wrestled for centuries with the problem of suffering and no-one has ever come up with a simple and complete solution. The Bible is primarily a practical book and it never addresses this issue systematically in a philosophical way.”

    I take it he doesn’t include athiest philosophers.

  • 19. Obi  |  September 8, 2008 at 5:41 pm

    Seems like someone (jenkins) is assuming that humans have contra-causal or Libertarian free will, and thus that they can “choose”, to completely act against their internal/external influences. Sorry, but human cognition and behaviour is just as deterministic and follows the same causal laws as the rest of the Universe. It’s more akin to complex chaotic (fully deterministic but very sensitive to small perturbances) systems than a simple “billiard ball” causal chain, but humans are not ultimately responsible for their actions. As humans we can hold the most proximate causes of behaviour (the individual themself) “accountable” or “responsible” for their action simply because we cannot deal with the ultimate causes of their behaviour, but for a god there is no such problem. Determinism pretty much invalidates any religious system of reward/punishment, but that’s a discussion for another time.

    Furthermore, even if humans did have contra-causal or Libertarian free will, the evil in the world still wouldn’t be due to our mistakes. Studies in the biological, geological, and chemical sciences (among others) show us that humans and all other species of organisms have evolved from much simpler past origins. Thus, there was a time, a little over 200,000 years ago, when humans didn’t exist. For comparison, life has been on the Earth for around 2.5 billion years. Death, pain, and suffering are integral parts of the evolutionary process and thus life itself, and they needed to be in place for humans to even arrive on this planet. Thus, saying that humans caused something that was required for them to exist is a little…illogical?

  • 20. LeoPardus  |  September 8, 2008 at 6:46 pm

    Some thoughts on all this. First off, the book sounds like yet another redressing of the same old, tired, stupid, thoughtless apologetics we’ve all heard 1000+ times. Sheesh. How many times can you trot out the same, lame, old horse and expect him to run?
    ——————–
    Oh the issue summed up more or less in the query, “in order for God to stop a person from doing unspeakable things to a child, wouldn’t that involve his freedom being usurped?”

    (I assume that “his freedom” refers to the rapist here.) Someone already pointed out that the Bible is chock full of God violating/usurping free will. Balaam wasn’t allowed beat his donkey; Annanias and Saphira weren’t allowed a little fib on their selling price; Saul of Tarsus got zapped big time in the pursuit of his duties; etc…..

    Then there’s the problem that any definition of “benevolent” or “good” or “loving” that we care to use, simply won’t fit when applied to the monstrous deity depicted in the Bible. E.g. there is NOTHING loving about killing an innocent baby just because he is the product of a kingly adultery. (Try going to your next pro-life meeting and suggesting that you should kill the out of wedlock offspring of Willow Palin. See if they think you’re loving and forgiving like God.)
    ————
    Big Dan: (post 16)
    the logical conclusion is that there must be something more to the universe that makes up for all of the suffering.

    Huh? Says who/what? How about there is nothing that “makes up” for the suffering. We don’t go looking for something to “make up” for the antelope who gets caught by a cheetah. ……… I know, I know. We humans are special, better, more important, beloved of God, etc. Sorry, that’s pure suppositionalism, i.e. circular illogic.

  • 21. silentj  |  September 8, 2008 at 6:51 pm

    This has already been mentioned, but I really think that cancer is a pretty huge problem for the existence of a God making a perfect creation.

    There was a pretty laughable debate with Kirk Cameron and a pastor versus two people from an atheist organization. An audience member asked about cancer and the pastor basically responded that this was a fallen world.

    As others have stated, I get that people might not treat each other the same in a fallen world. But, why would original sin lead to cellular growths that kill you, especially if the cancer is inherited or a genetic abnormality rather than something like lung cancer from smoking? We may say, well, that’s only one thing in the world. What does it matter?

    Well, the World Health Organization says that cancer was the cause of 13% of deaths in 2007. Given a pretty fair +/-, that’s still a pretty large percentage in the context of a “perfect” creation. Cancer certainly isn’t a choice for most, yet causes tremendous suffering.

    Why?

  • 22. Big Dan  |  September 9, 2008 at 4:24 am

    LeoPardus @ 20,

    If as you say “How about there is nothing that ‘makes up’ for the suffering” then I think my statement #1 can’t be true. Which I believe to be the case. I think we agree on the belief. Do you disagree with my logic?

    Re your comments about the monstrous deity of the Bible – the logical conclusion that I can draw is that the writers of the OT were very mistaken about the nature of God. The God presented in the OT is just not credible, and if he exists, he just can’t be like that.

  • 23. LeoPardus  |  September 9, 2008 at 10:10 am

    Big Dan:

    Given your statements about the OT, you clearly don’t hold to standard, Christian views of the Bible or God. OOC how do you derive your ideas about what God is like?

    Re your logic: You set up a simple argument with just two premises; to wit:
    if the following are true:
    1. there is a benevolent omnipotent God,
    2. there is non-human-made suffering in the world (see 15 & 16),
    then the logical conclusion is that there must be something more to the universe that makes up for all of the suffering.

    Where I disagree is that I think you’d need a lot more premises and possible conclusions. Of course people have been discussing this stuff since time out of mind, so the argument would get pretty big, pretty fast.

  • 24. Babs  |  September 9, 2008 at 11:11 am

    I only made it half way through “The Shack” before I started to feel my intelligence being insulted. I have begged God to reveal himself to me for years. If God would only send me an invitation by mail to meet with him at a “shack” (or anywhere else for that matter) to explain how it all works with him, I most certainly would believe. Problem is, this only happens in fiction books. Why don’t we all just make up our own version about what we want God to be like so we can easily love and understand him?

  • 25. Alice  |  September 9, 2008 at 1:16 pm

    If God had asked me what to do about this whole evil and free will problem, I would have suggested the following:

    Make every individual feel the effects of what he or she does to others. We wouldn’t feel an effect from what others do to us, only what we do to others. It’s the Golden Rule enforced with a REAL intelligent design.

    And even if you get the random individual who likes pain, well, no problem. The person she inflicts pain on won’t feel it. Only the perpetrator would.

    Why doesn’t God ask me??

  • 26. LeoPardus  |  September 9, 2008 at 1:16 pm

    Why don’t we all just make up our own version about what we want God to be like so we can easily love and understand him?

    THAT is precisely what EVERYONE is doing! And thus that explains why you can go into any church on the planet and find massive disagreements on what God is like, what their holy book says, etc.

    As I say, “Everyone makes it up as they go along.”

  • 27. ubi dubium  |  September 9, 2008 at 1:58 pm

    Alice-
    If “god” asked me, I would institute a program of “non-linear payback reincarnation”. In your next life, you have to come back as the specific person to whom you caused the most suffering in this life. You’d have to be nice to everybody, just in case. And it woudn’t matter if it actually happened, so long as everybody thought it did.

  • 28. Big Dan  |  September 9, 2008 at 4:08 pm

    LeoPardus,

    Given your statements about the OT, you clearly don’t hold to standard, Christian views of the Bible or God. OOC how do you derive your ideas about what God is like?

    Indeed I don’t; I strongly suspect that God doesn’t exist. If God were like some of the bits of Jesus (but of course even in the gospels there are bits that we don’t like, or that have been distorted by humans, or just don’t make sense) then I’d quite like to follow him. So when it’s convenient or helpful for me to hope (believe is too strong a word) that God exists, I do exactly what you say in #26.

    Where I disagree is that I think you’d need a lot more premises and possible conclusions. Of course people have been discussing this stuff since time out of mind, so the argument would get pretty big, pretty fast.

    I think I’ve caused confusion by presenting the opposite argument to what I personally believe. I could / should have said “there is suffering in the world that is of no benefit to anyone, therefore there cannot be a benevolent and omnipotent God”. However, I still maintain that the only way that this logic cannot be true is if there is some larger picture that we can’t see, that (as you say) somehow makes up for the suffering.

    Can you give me any examples of the more premises and possible conclusions that you are suggesting?

  • 29. Big Dan  |  September 9, 2008 at 4:12 pm

    Alice @25,

    Great suggestion. Reminds me of the short story “Altruizine” by Stanislaw Lem, where the population is given a drug that makes them feel the emotions of anyone nearby (not quite the same as your suggestion). Most people start hanging around near where anyone is having sex.

  • 30. SnugglyBuffalo  |  September 9, 2008 at 4:23 pm

    Big Dan-

    Great suggestion. Reminds me of the short story “Altruizine” by Stanislaw Lem, where the population is given a drug that makes them feel the emotions of anyone nearby (not quite the same as your suggestion). Most people start hanging around near where anyone is having sex.

    Just hope Marvin the Paranoid Android never shows up!

  • 31. Big Dan  |  September 9, 2008 at 4:38 pm

    SnugglyBuffalo,

    You’ve grasped the story pretty quickly – depressed people get hounded away from civilisation. As you can see, it’s a morality tale of good intentions going wrong. Great writer IMHO.

  • 32. twoclayfeet  |  September 10, 2008 at 12:31 am

    Death, decay and disease are all part of the fall of man (Genesis 3). Our disobedience to the Lord’s command also warped all of creation.

    Satan is called “the prince of this world” in Scripture. 1 John 5:19 says: that “the whole world lies in the power of the Evil one.”
    In Destined to Overcome Paul E. Billheimer suggests that the reason for this is that when man sinned, it gave control of the world to satan, it was a legal transaction. I won’t attempt to explain it, but i believe this to be true, that this was insight given to him from the Lord. This would explain why when Adam and Eve sinned, everyone born thereafter was born into sin.
    The fall of man unleashed on the world all of those who chose to follow satan (fallen angels) — we call them demons. (Matthew 25:41; 2 Peter 2:4; Jude 1:6) They and their leader (in large part) are what’s wrong with the world. Whether it be acting in and through humans, or without us. And when you add them to our sins (which cause alot of suffering), you’ve got double trouble.

    Many years ago while reading Psalms 107, the Lord impressed upon me that verses 10 and 11 applied to me. I had rebelled against Him and was not living a life, but having a miserable existence. So i confessed it, and repented of it, and the Lord brought me out of deepest gloom, and in obeying Him, filled me with His joy.
    Perhaps some of you are where i was then. Please read Psalms 107:10-32 and 43 preferably in the Living Bible (paraphrased), or the Amplified.

    Satan is the father of lies, he wants you to believe that the Lord is responsible for what he has done.
    Psalms 147:11 (also in the Living Bible, or Amplified) is one we need to be reminded of often. The Lord’s joy is in those who expect the best from the Him.

    The Lord loves you very, very much, and His children care about you and where you will spend eternity.

    I heard an old, old story, how a Saviour came from glory, How He gave His life on Calvary to save a wretch like me. I heard about His groaning, of His precious blood’s atoning. Then I repented of my sins and won the victory.
    Oh, victory in Jesus, my Saviour, forever! He sought me and bought me with His redeeming blood. He loved me ere I knew Him, and all my love is due Him. He plunged me to victory beneath the cleansing flood.
    E.M. Bartlett

  • 33. Big Dan  |  September 10, 2008 at 4:45 am

    twoclayfeet,

    In Destined to Overcome Paul E. Billheimer suggests that the reason for this is that when man sinned, it gave control of the world to satan, it was a legal transaction.

    Do you believe that God has the power to defeat Satan? Do you think that God was forced into this transaction? Don’t you think God could have decided to retain control of the world?

    You say “I won’t attempt to explain it” – does this mean that you can’t? Can you summarise Billheimer’s explanation? This might help me see where you’re coming from.

  • 34. BigHouse  |  September 10, 2008 at 8:36 am

    This would explain why when Adam and Eve sinned, everyone born thereafter was born into sin.

    I can’t see how ONE foible of the first man condemend AN ENTIRE RACE TO COME to damnation. It sounds vindictive, petty, and frankly NOT free will inducing.

  • 35. twoclayfeet  |  September 10, 2008 at 7:07 pm

    Sadly, i don’t have a copy of the book at hand (it’s loaned out), so i’m not able to explain further what Mr. Billheimer wrote.

    Because the Lord gave man free will, when man chose to disobey the Lord’s command (sinned), we incurred the punishment for that (death). The Lord determined at the beginning to allow the world to continue on in the direction that man took it. But He loves us so much that He planned to rescue us from sin and damnation by sending His Son to die for our sins so that we could be set free — all those who will obey Him.
    Jesus taught us that we must repent (Luke 13:3), and be born again (John 3:3) to be allowed into his Kingdom.

    But God proves His love for us by the fact that Christ died for us while we were still sinners (Romans 5:8)

    You would benefit greatly by reading Destined to Overcome.

    But the most important Book remains the Bible. Please let the Lord tell you through His word how much He loves you.

    Ask Him to show you how much He loves you.

  • 36. silentj  |  September 10, 2008 at 9:49 pm

    “Ask Him to show you how much He loves you.”

    I think most of us have done that.

    [crickets]

    As for the explanation of the fall, it’s still a mouse trap (the apple tree) that God created with severe consequences. A person ate a piece of fruit and thus the world is handed over to Satan.

    Nothing will explain that. It simply doesn’t make sense unless read as a piece of literature.

  • 37. hopevotes  |  September 11, 2008 at 1:25 am

    Adam and Eve disobeyed God because they wanted to be like Him. They wanted to control; they wanted knowledge that He had put off-limits (for their own good). Admittedly, I’m not a theologian, but I do know that if it would have been me in the garden, I would have done the same thing. We all want control and power and knowledge. Isn’t that the same thing that’s going on here? We want to know everything that God knows; we want all the answers. We want control.

    Bottom line for me: searching for Truth while questioning traditions is both good and necessary. But, it hurts my heart that the Gospel has been twisted into a weapon here. God is a god of justice, love, mercy, compassion and righteousness. You can never make God love you less or more. He made you and He loves you and you are valuable to Him. Through Jesus, God offers grace, not condemnation.

  • 38. silentj  |  September 11, 2008 at 6:29 am

    Through Jesus he may have offered grace, but through creation he offered condemnation.

    That is your choice: live as you are and suffer in torment, or choose Jesus and live in perfection.

    However, the evidence offered to believe in Jesus is virtually non-existent.

    I’m sorry that your heart is hurt because the Gospel was turned into a weapon, but that’s precisely what much of it is, despite the “good news.” To put it another way, it hurts my heart to see all of the broken relationships and hatred caused by people putting too much faith in the Bible.

  • 39. silentj  |  September 11, 2008 at 6:32 am

    About wanting to know, I don’t think people want to be like gods. They just want to know what life is and why we are here, both unsatisfactorily answered by the bible and in complete contradiction to other “sacred” texts.

    These are pretty legitimate questions that hardly turn people into wanting to become omnipotent creators of the universe.

  • 40. SnugglyBuffalo  |  September 11, 2008 at 12:22 pm

    hopevotes-

    they wanted knowledge that He had put off-limits (for their own good).

    I like how God made it off-limits, and then put it in the Garden, right in front of Adam and Eve, and then said, “don’t eat this delicious, tantalizing fruit of knowledge” (I imagine he said this while nudging the tree towards them, while opening the clouds to shine a shaft of sunlight directly on it). Then he condemns Adam and Eve and all their future offspring (who had no say in the matter) to eternal damnation for eating it.

  • 41. twoclayfeet  |  September 11, 2008 at 7:59 pm

    Choosing Jesus and obeying Him doesn’t make any of us perfect, as in unable to sin, or without defects or faults; it does (when we’ve repented and asked) cleanses us of our sin so that if we remain faithful to Him we will be able to spend eternity with Him in His Kingdom. Having Jesus as our Lord and Savior gives us life, a reason to get up in the morning. Like the song says: I have found a wondrous Saviour, Jesus Christ, the Soul’s Delight; Every blessing of His favor Fills my heart with hope so bright.

    Hopevotes could you please explain what you mean by “it hurts my heart that the Gospel has been twisted into a weapon here.”

    The Bible is most of the proof offered about Jesus. And as the hymn says:
    I serve a risen Saviour; He’s in the world today. I know that He is living, whatever men may say. I see His hand of mercy; I hear His voice of cheer; And just the time I need Him, He’s always near. He lives, He lives! Christ Jesus lives today! He walks with me and talks with me along life’s narrow way. He lives, He lives, salvation to impart! You ask me how I know He lives? He lives within my heart.

  • 42. silentj  |  September 11, 2008 at 8:20 pm

    Therefore:

    I serve a risen Gumby Guy; He’s in the world today. I know that He is living, whatever men may say. I see His hand of mercy; I hear His voice of cheer; And just the time I need Him, He’s always near. He lives, He lives! Gumby Guy lives today! He walks with me and talks with me along life’s narrow way. He lives, He lives, salvation to impart! You ask me how I know He lives? He lives within my heart.

    Gumby Guy must be real. He lives within my heart.

  • 43. SnugglyBuffalo  |  September 11, 2008 at 8:43 pm

    Only people who are deceived by the Blockheads don’t accept Gumby as their savior.

  • 44. Marianne Lordi  |  September 17, 2008 at 10:51 pm

    Hope Gumby helps you when you have lost everything including your eternity with God. You sad, lost people.

  • 45. The de-Convert  |  September 18, 2008 at 12:20 am

    LOL! Not sad here. Not lost either even though I do tend to get lost often (since I refuse to use a GPS or read maps or ask for directions).

  • 46. Digital Dame  |  September 19, 2008 at 11:25 am

    All I can say to Marianne is, ‘Oy vey”.

  • 47. Marianne Lordi  |  September 19, 2008 at 10:34 pm

    Digital Dame: It doesn’t matter what you day to me, worry about what you will say to God one day.

  • 48. Digital Dame  |  September 19, 2008 at 10:57 pm

    Typical sanctimonious rubbish, desperate for attention. They hear and see only what they want to hear and see. Ramp up your meds, hon.

  • 49. john t.  |  September 19, 2008 at 11:19 pm

    Hope Gumby helps you when you have lost everything including your eternity with God. You sad, lost people.(Marianne lordi)

    Explain something to me, is this Christian speak for Love?

  • 50. Marianne Lordi  |  September 21, 2008 at 11:43 am

    Digital Dame, I am not scantimonious nor desperate for attention. Not on any meds either. Just in love with Jesus and the truth. And I wish that you were also.

    John T, the Gumby statement was made IN LOVE to those who are perishing with their statements that Gumby is the Savior. If it is a joke, it is not funny. I cannot open the eyes of those who will not see, but the truth will always be the truth. Jesus Christ is the only way to eternity in heaven. Sorry if it offends you.

  • 51. Marianne Lordi  |  September 21, 2008 at 11:44 am

    Of course I know it is sanctimonious. I won’t reason anymore with this group. Just will pray for you. God bless.

  • 52. silentj  |  September 21, 2008 at 1:23 pm

    Marianne,

    You should read the statements with the giant exclamation point on the right side of the screen. I wasn’t trying to make Gumby a god. I was trying point out that saying that Jesus is truth because a paragraph in a book says so does not justify that Jesus is the truth. I demonstrated that by how easily you can replace the name and have an equal claim that Gumby is a god, which is obviously not intended to be true.

    I believe you when you say you are in love with Jesus. However, I do not believe you love the truth. If you did love the truth, then I think you would appreciate the attempts by many people on this board to find it rather than simply bash them for not believing in what you believe to be true, especially since there is no reason to believe that Jesus is God other than a questionable book and the collected feelings of those who feel him their hearts, the exact evidence that every other religion claims (and evidence you would have to reject to believe in Jesus.)

  • 53. Marianne Lordi  |  September 21, 2008 at 3:36 pm

    silentj,

    I did not think I was bashing you but only expressing my ideas also which obviously conflict with yours. There is nothing to be gained by bashing another person. I only came to reason. Sorry if I stepped over the line. If you want to see what I know in my heart to be true about Jesus Christ and his power in my life, visit my blog.

    By the way, I never intend for my remarks to be offensive. I guess I know what Christ has done for me and for so many that I just want everyone to know him too. It was never about me being right, but about me loving you all enough to want what will bring you to the saving knowledge of what Christ did for us on the cross.

    Even if you don’t agree or believe, please know my heart.

  • 54. Quester  |  September 21, 2008 at 3:58 pm

    Marianne,

    Hope Gumby helps you when you have lost everything including your eternity with God. You sad, lost people.

    With what definition of the word do you consider the above to be an attempt to “reason” with anyone?

  • 55. LeoPardus  |  September 21, 2008 at 5:08 pm

    From Marianne’s first post:
    Hope Gumby helps you when you have lost everything including your eternity with God. You sad, lost people.

    From Marianne’s second post:
    It doesn’t matter what you day to me, worry about what you will say to God one day.

    From Marianne’s fourth post:
    I won’t reason anymore with this group.

    From Marianne’s fifth post:
    I only came to reason.

    Anyone besides me think Marianne has an odd idea of “reasoning”?:

  • 56. Quester  |  September 21, 2008 at 5:12 pm

    Over and above that, Leo, she seems to believe that the only reason we might find her comments offensive is that her ideas “obviously conflict” with ours. This, apparently is the only thing keeping us from knowing her heart.

    Does anyone actually read what they type anymore?

  • 57. LeoPardus  |  September 21, 2008 at 5:18 pm

    twoclayfeet in your mouth:

    UP near the top of the page, on the right side, you’ll find a big, read exclamation mark. There are two articles linked there. Read them.

  • 58. john t.  |  September 21, 2008 at 5:26 pm

    Even if you don’t agree or believe, please know my heart.(marianne)

    Its not your heart were worried about, its your brain.

  • 59. Marianne Lordi  |  September 21, 2008 at 5:32 pm

    Quester: The gumby remark was made to reason that when you die, if Jesus Christ is who he says he is, will Gumby help you?
    Oh, and yes, I read what I write. If it is not our conflicting ideas that keep you from knowing my motives, what is it?

    Leo: Does it bother you that I leave comments? I am only saying that God’s ways are higher than man’s. If you are willing to bet eternity that there is no God and no Savior, Jesus Christ, than you do not need to respond to my comments. Just wondering what you think will happen if you are wrong? Any thoughts there? There is one truth whether you will admit it or not. You have made your choice not to accept the gift of salvation. So be it.

    Still praying for you all!

  • 60. Marianne Lordi  |  September 21, 2008 at 5:34 pm

    And to John: Don’t worry about my brain. (How old are you anyway?) You just need to focus on what you will do if you are wrong, dead wrong.

  • 61. Quester  |  September 21, 2008 at 5:37 pm

    If it is not our conflicting ideas that keep you from knowing my motives, what is it?

    Marianne, you say you read what you type. Read the following:

    “You sad, lost people.”

    Read it again. Maybe a third time. Now, see if you can understand why I might assume your motive is to bash people and not reason with them. If you can’t, I’ll just step away from this conversation.

  • 62. silentj  |  September 21, 2008 at 5:47 pm

    Marianne,

    Let’s assume there is a God. What if the real God is the Hebrew God, but Jesus is a false prophet? What if the prophet hasn’t come yet? What if Muhammad is the real prophet? What if the Hindu gods are actually the real ones? So, if there is a god, atheists are going to go out poorly. Meanwhile, you’ve got a 25% chance or less of being right. Have you studied with your heart all of those other faiths to make sure you’re right? What if you’re wrong?

    I’m guessing that you know you are right and will not need to study those other faiths in detail or pray to their gods. Well, many people on here HAVE studied and prayed to many gods, including the Christian God. Many have been submerged, witnessed, and prayed. However, in the end, they simply concluded that Christianity was another form of the religions and gods you reject.

    The bottom line: most atheists are not scared of hell, as we do not believe it exists. For the same reason you do not live your life for Muhammed or Zeus, we do not live it for Christ.

  • 63. SnugglyBuffalo  |  September 21, 2008 at 7:41 pm

    If the Christian God turns out to be real when I die, I will ask why the hell he hid himself from me when I desperately sought him.

    Of course, at this point, I think this is as likely as dying and finding out the Flying Spaghetti Monster is real.

  • 64. silentj  |  September 21, 2008 at 7:46 pm

    “Of course, at this point, I think this is as likely as dying and finding out the Flying Spaghetti Monster is real.”

    I think he has a posse.

  • 65. john t.  |  September 21, 2008 at 8:41 pm

    Marianne
    “You just need to focus on what you will do if you are wrong, dead wrong.”

    Dont you see how your viewpoint is based on the fear of the consequence of being wrong. How loving is that? And by the way, Im old enough to have experienced more than my fair share of pain, and guess what, the fear of more doesnt motivate me towards your view of your God.

  • 66. john t.  |  September 21, 2008 at 8:47 pm

    LOL..you know the one bummer of some of these conversations is, I actually believe in a creator, just never imagined it the way most people seem to. Wow.

  • 67. Marianne Lordi  |  September 21, 2008 at 10:50 pm

    Quester: I did not intend to “bash” you by the sad, lost people remark. I was just saying that if you find out too late that Jesus Christ is the Savior of the world and you chose to reject him-it will be sad because you will be lost!! There will be no second chance! And I wasn’t calling names just stating a fact the word of God says in 1Cor.1:18 that “The message of the cross is follishness to those who are perishing”. It also goes on to say”for since in the wisdom of the God the world through its wisdom did not know him, God was pleased through the foolishness of what was preached to save those who believe”. I know I cannot convince you because you have already rejected the truth.

    Snuggly: You I have great compassion for. I believe you went through a bad time and the enemy convinced you that God didn’t care or that he wouldn’t help you. That was a lie from the pit of hell. I pray you will trust that God has a plan for your life that won’t fail.

    Johnt: My viewpoint is not based on the fear of being wrong. I just asked you what paln you had IF you were wrong and Jesus Christ is who he says he is? Are you willing to bet eternity without God on your beliefs? (Which I really don’t know what they are) If you are, that is your choice. I don’t want the fear of pain to motivate you to Christ, I want his love to motivate you. But that is your choice.

    silentj: I have studied other religions. I have even lived a large part of my life in rebelllion to God. I am just grateful the the love of Jesus Christ never gave up on me.
    I do not advocate religion. Religion is man’s way to get to God. I take Jesus at his word when he said that he is the Way, theTruth and the Life. No one comes to the Father except through Christ. Jesus said in John 14:7, “if you really knew me, you would know my Father as well”. The Hebrew word “know” means to be as one, in a personal way. In order to have Jesus as my Savior, I must know him in a personal way. It is a heart knowledge not a head knowledge. All you have to do is to ask him to reveal himself to you and he will! Atheists may not be afraid but they should be. They are blinded to the truth by the Ruler of darkness.

    But I am still praying for all of you!!!

  • 68. SnugglyBuffalo  |  September 22, 2008 at 2:03 am

    First off, regardless of what you meant, “sad, lost people” comes across as very condescending.

    Secondly, you don’t know my whole story, and your belief about what I went through is pretty far off the mark. I didn’t go through a bad time, at all. In fact, things were pretty good. Problem is, I stopped shielding my faith from critical thinking. And when I thought critically about my faith, I realized that the only reason I believed it was because it was what I was taught, along with maybe some “emotional moments” that I attributed to God. When I look at the evidence beyond that, Christianity starts to look pretty ridiculous.

    It was about this time that I started to go through the “what if I’m wrong?” phase that you’re bringing up here. And so, I sought after God quite desperately; if I’m going to stop believing, I want to be damn sure I’m not wrong. But there was no God to be found by my seeking.

    So, if I die and find out I’m wrong, I’m going to ask God why he made the world look exactly as I would expect it to if he didn’t exist, and then hid himself from me when I tried to find him just in case he really did.

    But like I said, I find that about as likely as dying and finding myself face-to-meatballs with the FSM.

  • 69. BigHouse  |  September 22, 2008 at 8:07 am

    I take Jesus at his word when he said that he is the Way, theTruth and the Life.

    How do you know you are taking him at his word? You rely on 2nd hand accounts at best, written over 2000 yrs ago and many decades after Jesus.

  • 70. Big Dan  |  September 22, 2008 at 8:44 am

    Marianne,

    “All you have to do is to ask him to reveal himself to you and he will! “

    There are many people here (myself included) who have done so, but he hasn’t.

    My conclusion is that the revelation is in the eye of the beholder. For those in whom the desire to receive outweighs the doubts, they receive. For those in who the doubts hold sway, they don’t receive. God doesn’t seem to want to do anything to remove those doubts.

  • 71. LeoPardus  |  September 22, 2008 at 10:51 am

    Marianne:

    Does it bother you that I leave comments?

    No. When you leave barbs and then say you’re trying to reason with us though, I find that very silly. To give you credit though, you have been trying to put some more reasoning into your posts today.

    Just wondering what you think will happen if you are wrong? Any thoughts there?

    Yes. My thoughts are that we put up a big, red exclamation point near the top of this blog site with “Attention Christian Readers” by it and you ignore it. We also put the “De-conversion wager” up there and you missed that. So is there anyway at all to get people like you to look around a little first before you spew? …. Those are my first thoughts.

    There is one truth whether you will admit it or not.

    Or maybe you’re wrong, whether you like it or not.

  • 72. Marianne Lordi  |  September 22, 2008 at 11:37 am

    Snuggly: I do believe you went through a trial and feel that God failed you. You said at first–“I will ask why the hell he hid himself from me when I desperately sought him.”
    What made you depserately seek him? And I will tell you, that if you did seek him with all of your heart, not doubting, he absolutely would reveal himself to you. Forget what you were taught or emotionally what you feel. I am telling you for a fact, that Jesus himself wants a relationship with you. For that reason he came and died! He is still there for you. The enemy of your soul is just blinding you from seeing it.
    And if you are wrong, when you die it will be too late. The world is as it is now because man rebelled and allowed sin in the world. This is not heaven. But to those who put their trust in the work of the cross, God has promised a reward that far outweighs what you have gone through. That is truth!

    BigHouse: I do take God at his word. While it is true, the total compilation of the bible was assembled after Christ died, the first books of the bible, the Torah, was there thousands of years before Christ. And in all of those first five books, Jesus is there. It was the pre-incarnate Jesus who lead the Israelites by a pillar of cloud by day and a pillar of fire by night. He is in every book! Further in Scripture, read Isaiah 53 and you will see a total description of Jesus about 1000 years before he was born. If you will only open your eyes to the truth, you will see that it could not just be second hand writings but totally written under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit. Read again this time asking the Spirit of God to reveal it to you. I am telling you, he will not fail you.

    Big Dan: I began reading the bible to show those “born again” Christians how wrong they were. I was not seeking to make something happen. What happened is that in the course of me trying to show how right I was, I found out what a fool I was. My eyes were opened to the truth and that can happen to you. Jesus said he came to earth to pay the price so that none should perish. He said in John 10, “I have come that they may have life, and have it abundantly”. He has a plan to give a future to all who call on his name. I hope you will reconsider.

    I AM STILL PRAYING FOR ALL OF YOU!!

  • 73. Digital Dame  |  September 22, 2008 at 12:06 pm

    Didn’t we get the Big Diva Exit (BDE) a few days ago from Marianne? I see she’s still here.

    I’ll make a blood sacrifice to Odin for you, Marianne.

  • 74. BigHouse  |  September 22, 2008 at 12:10 pm

    Marianne, how do you know that the stories in the Torah are true?
    It really befuddles me how iron-clad sure people can be that the Bible is true.

    Marianne, I turn your questions around on you, what if YOU’RE wrong? What if Islam is right? Or Hindusim? What will YOU say to those gods as to why you are a non-believer?

  • 75. Digital Dame  |  September 22, 2008 at 12:43 pm

    Here I think we have it in a nutshell:

    From Marianne: “I began reading the bible to show those “born again” Christians how wrong they were. I was not seeking to make something happen. What happened is that in the course of me trying to show how right I was…”

    I think she just likes to be “right”, because here she is, trying to show us how “right” she is. And yes, you certainly are trying to “make something happen”, you’re trying to make us all see things your way.

  • 76. ubi dubium  |  September 22, 2008 at 12:47 pm

    Marianne, you are claiming that the god in your OT is one and the same as the Jesus in your NT. Are you reading the same bible I am? (And I’ve read two different translations.) The OT is full of smiting, murder, rape, pillage, and all manner of atrocities, all done on “god’s orders”. It says you should beat your children and stone those who work on the sabbath. It says slavery is fine, and that it’s OK to slaughter pregnant women and children if they happen to be living in an enemy city. There is little resemblance to the “benevolent savior” of the NT. When I went to church, they tended to skip over those parts, and I can see why. The OT is full of anger, vengenace, and bloodshed. Actually reading the bible is one of the reasons I no longer believe it.

    The Gnostics thought that the OT and NT gods were different entities, that the world was created by an imperfect demi-god, which explains all the evil and imperfections in it, and that the NT brought the truth of the real god. While I don’t believe this version either, at least it’s more consistent with what’s actually in your books. Your version makes my head ache from the contradictions.

    (May you be touched by His Noodly Appendage.)

  • 77. SnugglyBuffalo  |  September 22, 2008 at 12:54 pm

    And I will tell you, that if you did seek him with all of your heart, not doubting, he absolutely would reveal himself to you.

    Where does this “not doubting” crap come from? Doesn’t every person still have doubts when they make their first attempt to seek God? Didn’t Saul doubt Christ when he was allegedly blindsided by him on the road? There’s no biblical support for the notion that you must have no doubts when you seek God; “seek and ye shall find” not “seek without doubt and ye shall find”.

    I do believe you went through a trial and feel that God failed you.

    Well, to paraphrase what you’ve said earlier, the truth doesn’t care what you believe. There was no trial, God did not fail me. I took a critical look at my faith, and realized how ridiculous it is. Then, to be safe, I sought after God. But there was nothing there. That’s not “God failing me,” it’s God failing to exist. It’s me looking at the world rationally, and realizing that God isn’t real.

    And I know it will be too late after I die. You’re preaching to the de-converted choir, here. The purpose of my question to God after I die and discover I’m wrong is to illustrate how ludicrous the whole concept is. My observations of reality directly contradict the existence of a Christian God. So your question as to what I’ll do if I die and find out I’m wrong is about as effective as asking what I’ll do when I die and discover Islam is the truth.

  • 78. SnugglyBuffalo  |  September 22, 2008 at 1:02 pm

    (May you be touched by His Noodly Appendage.)

    RAmen.

  • 79. BigHouse  |  September 22, 2008 at 1:02 pm

    So your question as to what I’ll do if I die and find out I’m wrong is about as effective as asking what I’ll do when I die and discover Islam is the truth.

    I actually have a notecard with what my response to god will be on it with a “insert deity name here” for me to quickly scribble in before my judgement. I’ll be dammned if I could fill it in with ceratinty now..

  • 80. LeoPardus  |  September 22, 2008 at 2:51 pm

    I’ll be dammned if I could fill it in with ceratinty now..

    One of the more ironically humorous statements around here in a while. :)

  • 81. LeoPardus  |  September 22, 2008 at 3:04 pm

    Marianne:

    <iAnd I will tell you, that if you did seek him with all of your heart, not doubting, he absolutely would reveal himself to you.

    Uh huh. Never mind most of us here were seeking him for decades. Never mind that the faith was the most important thing in our lives and defined our very existence. Never mind the screams and tears and terrors we felt, and the pleas and prayers we cried out begging our Heavenly Father to give us some assurance when we felt our faith slipping away. We just didn’t seek with all our hearts. … Or did we doubt? Ah, that must have been it.

    I am telling you for a fact, that Jesus himself wants a relationship with you.

    See archives for “A Personal Relationship With Jesus?”

    I do take God at his word.

    Shall we all quiz her on this? I’ll start with, do you then accept that the church is the arbiter of what theological truth is, as per I Tim 3:15 “If I am delayed, you will know how people ought to conduct themselves in God’s household, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and foundation of the truth.”? [I rather expect a fine tour of exegesis here. ;) ]

  • 82. Marianne Lordi  |  September 22, 2008 at 3:49 pm

    Leo: There is nothing humorous in these comments at all.

    Digital Dame: I am not trying to make you see how “right” I am. I can only hope you will see the truth of Jesus Christ. Nothing good lives in me but Christ.
    Save your blood sacrifice for me Digital, Christ already sacrificed his blood to give us all life. That is all I need.

    Big House: How do you reconcile the fact that the prophecies in the Old Testament have all been fulfilled through Jesus Christ?
    Islam and Hinduism all have rules to work your way to eternal rewards. Jesus alone offers it as a free gift to those who will believe. Would you even want to be in eternity with a god who espouses that you kill the unbeliever? Jesus tells us to love our enemies. Who do you want to serve? And where are the prophecies of the Qu’ran that have been fulfilled?
    I know that the Bible is God’s word. You will too if you open your mind to find out.

    snuggly: Saul did not have doubts, he was at first blinded to the truth. He accepted after the truth of Jesus Christ as the Messiah. James 1:6 says, “But when he asks, he must blieve and not doubt because he who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind. That man should not think he will recieve anything from the Lord; he is a double-minded mand, unstable in all he does”.
    If you need help believing, ask as the man who cried out to Jesus when he needed help and said,” I believe Lord; help my unbelief!”

    ubi-dubium:The New Teatament is a fulfillment of the Old Testament. In the OT the people were under the law. God needed to keep his people pure and show them the need of a Savior which was to be given them. If he did not give them the rules to live by, they also would have become like the rest of the world and therefore would not be open to have a lineage for which God would send his Son to save us.
    They did stone people as a consequence for violating the law. It did not condone “beating” children. Spare the rod does not say cruelly beat your children. There is a big difference betwwen discipline and battering. It is for a child’s own good that you teach them right and wrong. If you believe that to occassionally paddle your disobedient child is child abuse then you need to take a close look at the kids today and what is happening to them because of people who believe that also. Hebrews 12 tells us that “God disciplins us for our good, that we may share in his holiness”. Also v7, “Endure hardship as discpline; God is treating you as sons. For what son is not disciplined by his father?”
    There is nowhere in the bible that condones slavery. It was a practice at the time, but nowhere was it condoned. There were a lot of practices that were not directly addressed but were not in keeping with the will of God. Including the practice that Moses allowed of divorce. God allowed it but never condoned it. God also had his people at times dereat their enemies leaving no one to live including women and children and sometimes the animals. It is described in the Hebrew term which refers to the irrevocable giving over of things or persons to the Lord, often by totally destroying them.
    If he did not have them do this at specific times, those left would grow up, rise up and try to destroy the people of God in vengence. God had a plan! He knew what he had to do to make ready the path that from which would come the Savior of the world. I don’t know what church you went to, but a bible teaching church should go into all areas of the Scriptures and explain. Jesus is the fulfillment of the law. Hie came so that we can have victory over the bondages of sin and this world. The Gnostics were wrong. A perfect God created this world. Man gave into sin and allowed evil into this world. (Satan and his fallen angels). But you no longer have to give in to your sin and doubt because you do have a risen Savior who lives to give you a future with hope.

    By the way my friends, I read all your exclamation mark points and your De-conversion wager and I love you all anyway!

    Sripture says in John 8:32 “You will know the truth and the truth will set you free”. Come over to my blog if you want to hear the real truth.
    STILL PRAYING FOR ALL OF YOU!

  • 83. john t.  |  September 22, 2008 at 4:03 pm

    Give up guys……..I think Marianne swallowed a whole bottle of the Kool Aid.

  • 84. BigHouse  |  September 22, 2008 at 4:04 pm

    Big House: How do you reconcile the fact that the prophecies in the Old Testament have all been fulfilled through Jesus Christ?

    I reconcile it by the fact that if those who wrote the book wanted Jesus to fulfill those prophecies for effect, they would have written it that way. And even so, they did a hacky job of doing so convincingly as it is.

    Would you even want to be in eternity with a god who espouses that you kill the unbeliever?

    Why would I want to spend eternity with the God who created my sinful nature and set me in this cruel game of needing to believe an ancient book or else I burn in fire forever?

    Who do you want to serve?

    This is really what it boils down to isn’t it? You like the God that is posited in the Bible so you follow him. It has nothing to do with belief or evidence or faith. It’s HOPE. Hope that the God YOU think is ‘rational’ or worthy of you attention is the right one.

  • 85. Cooper  |  September 22, 2008 at 4:42 pm

    The OT is full of smiting, murder, rape, pillage, and all manner of atrocities, all done on “god’s orders”. It says you should beat your children and stone those who work on the sabbath. It says slavery is fine, and that it’s OK to slaughter pregnant women and children if they happen to be living in an enemy city. There is little resemblance to the “benevolent savior” of the NT

    Ubi—

    If you “selectively” choose passages from the OT you can make God appear to be a monster. But there are a vast amount of scriptures in the OT that show God to be the complete opposite—here is one from Psalm 103:

    2
    Bless the LORD, my soul; do not forget all the gifts of God,
    3
    Who pardons all your sins, heals all your ills,
    4
    Delivers your life from the pit, surrounds you with love and compassion,
    5
    2 Fills your days with good things; your youth is renewed like the eagle’s.
    6
    The LORD does righteous deeds, brings justice to all the oppressed.
    7
    His ways were revealed to Moses, mighty deeds to the people of Israel.
    8
    Merciful and gracious is the LORD, slow to anger, abounding in kindness.
    9
    God does not always rebuke, nurses no lasting anger,
    10
    Has not dealt with us as our sins merit, nor requited us as our deeds deserve.
    11
    As the heavens tower over the earth, so God’s love towers over the faithful.
    12
    As far as the east is from the west, so far have our sins been removed from us.
    13
    As a father has compassion on his children, so the LORD has compassion on the faithful.
    14
    For he knows how we are formed, remembers that we are dust.

  • 86. BigHouse  |  September 22, 2008 at 4:46 pm

    If you “selectively” choose passages from the OT you can make God appear to be a monster. But there are a vast amount of scriptures in the OT that show God to be the complete opposite

    And this is a point in FAVOR of the Bible not being a self-contradicting storybook? Sounds like you are just choosing to “selectively” read the stuff that paints God in a good light. Ironic.

  • 87. Cooper  |  September 22, 2008 at 4:46 pm

    By the way—I do not deny that there are things in the OT that are hard to understand. But one has to remember that there are different “dispensations” in the Bible. But even through this earlier dispensation of “The Law”, which was strict, and where everyone had to pay “eye for eye and tooth for tooth” God shows through in numerous places with great mercy and compassion. Read the book of Jonah–especially the last chapter as a very good example of this.

  • 88. Brad Feaker  |  September 22, 2008 at 4:54 pm

    Cooper,

    But even through this earlier dispensation of “The Law”, which was strict, and where everyone had to pay “eye for eye and tooth for tooth” God shows through in numerous places with great mercy and compassion.

    You mean mercy like sending bears to kill children for making fun of a prophet’s bald head? Boy – that’s an eye for an eye there…and compassionate too.

  • 89. BigHouse  |  September 22, 2008 at 5:08 pm

    Brad, you’re supposed to ignore those passages. Look over here at this shiny passage about how much God loves you!

    It’s a shell game.

  • 90. Cooper  |  September 22, 2008 at 5:32 pm

    And this is a point in FAVOR of the Bible not being a self-contradicting storybook? Sounds like you are just choosing to “selectively” read the stuff that paints God in a good light. Ironic.

    BigHouse—

    What I am saying is that one needs to show the whole picture when referring to the Old Testament–not base a concept of God on a few passages where he “appears” to be some kind of monster. Ubi makes statements that God condones slavery, beating children, etc. etc.—which are taken way out of context–one needs an even balance when using statements from the OT because it is an entirely different dispensation than we are living in.

  • 91. Cooper  |  September 22, 2008 at 5:39 pm

    You mean mercy like sending bears to kill children for making fun of a prophet’s bald head? Boy – that’s an eye for an eye there…and compassionate too.

    Brad—-

    If you recall it was Elisha, not God, who sent the bears after the children. I agree, this is a very hard passage to understand–I personally have not read commentary on it, but would like too. There are other examples where people did things –as Abraham and then his son Isaac, where they both lied saying their wives were their sisters, that God never says he approves of at all.

    I am not saying BigHouse that one should ONLY read the shining examples of God’s mercy—-I am saying that one should not ignore them and only concentrate on those passages that are hard to be understood, as Elisha and the bears.

    One could concentrate on Jesus cursing the fig tree, and totally ignore all the amazing acts of healing and mercy he showed throughout the NT. Do I ignore the wonderful things Jesus did, just because he did one or two things I do not understand? Likewise, does one call the OT God a monster because of things hard to be understood, when there are also many examples of his extreme mercy also?

  • 92. SnugglyBuffalo  |  September 22, 2008 at 5:43 pm

    Saul did not have doubts…? Seriously? You’re going to try to make that claim? The man who slaughtered Christians because he didn’t believe the claims made about Jesus, didn’t have doubts about Jesus?

    What about all the people today who claim to have set out to disprove God, and end up finding him instead? Are you going to say that they didn’t really have doubts, and that’s why God revealed himself to them, even though they pretty clearly didn’t start out believing? What about Thomas doubting that Jesus had risen, and then being given his own personal revelation of its truth?

    Your position on this is unsupported and irrational.

  • 93. Marianne Lordi  |  September 22, 2008 at 6:01 pm

    Hi Leo, the church is not a building or a religion as you appear tho inimate. The church is the body of believers who live in Christ. When you accept Christ as your Savior, he lives in you and you become part of the body of Christ which is the church.
    The word church is from the Greek words meaning belonging to the Lord and ekklesia which denotes assembly. Wherever a group of believers gather, that is the church! With Crhist as the head as the pillar and foundation of the truth. :)
    Also, I don’t know why you felt that God did not hear or chose to ingnore your tears and pleas but I the truth is that he did hear you. You need to wait on his perfect timing though and it sounded like you did not want to. I don’t know the situation you are speaking of in your life, but if you could be so easily led away from the truth, did you really believe that he would help you? Is it worth asking God to help you to help you understand his ways now?
    The Apostle Paul says in 2 Tim.1:12, “For I know whom I have believed and I am convinced that he is able to guard that which I trust to him for today”. This was said despite that fact that he was beaten, stoned, falsely imprisoned and left for dead! He had a thorn in his side which he pleaded for God to remove BUT trusted him when he said that his grace was sufficient! Wow, now that is faith that overcomes everything!
    Even Job whose children were killed, lost his home, his riches, and his health still cried out “I KNOW my Redeemer lives!” The God who understands what you go through also knows what it will take to bring you to him.

    Brad: You don’t understand the holiness of God. The prophet Elisha was carrying God’s holy word when the guys felt the need to heckle him. The same thing happened when Uzzah tried to stop the Ark of the Covenant from falling from the cart and was struck dead. God is holy! But by the sacrifice of Jesus Christ we now have access to the throne of God. We no longer need a high priest because Jesus has become our mediator between God and man. Galations 6:7 says, “Do not be deceived; God cannot be mocked.” It was because of the great holiness of God that Jesus had to leave heaven to pay the price for our salvation. Nothing else would suffice.
    I think that as our Creator, he might know a little more than we do.
    Big House: The bible does not contradict itself. I believe what Cooper was saying is that you can take anything out of context and change the meaning to fit your point. It is only in applying the entire world of God to the situation that you can have an understanding of the truth.
    Also, you said in response to a question I asked:
    Big House: How do you reconcile the fact that the prophecies in the Old Testament have all been fulfilled through Jesus Christ?

    I reconcile it by the fact that if those who wrote the book wanted Jesus to fulfill those prophecies for effect, they would have written it that way. And even so, they did a hacky job of doing so convincingly as it is.

    I don’t understand your answer. The ratio is 1 in an anstronomical number that anyone but Jesus could have fulfilled the prophecies that Isaiah made 1000 years before Christ came to earth. How did they do that? And what was hacky about it? You’re not clear on this at all!

    By the way, the sin nature was created because God gave man free will and he chose to rebel. That was not God’s plan for us. But he so loved us that he sent his Son to give us life if we choose to accept his death for our punishment. How hard is that? Is there someone else you know that woudl die for a people just to give them an eternal reward in heaven?
    You just have to want to believe but I don’t think you do.

    STILL PRAYING FOR ALL OF YOU!

  • 94. Cooper  |  September 22, 2008 at 6:06 pm

    Saul did not have doubts…? Seriously? You’re going to try to make that claim? The man who slaughtered Christians because he didn’t believe the claims made about Jesus, didn’t have doubts about Jesus?

    Snuggly—

    Not sure what you’re saying here. Saul, when he killed Christians was not filled with doubt—he was filled with rage because he was so SURE that Pharisaical Judaism was correct. He was not seeking Jesus, and having doubts about it at all.

    When Marianne is saying we pray to God without doubting, I don’t think she means we won’t experience unsure feelings–that is natural. She means that if you sincerely pray to God—not in a “challenge”, but in humble faith, God will hear and answer——BUT not necessarily the way WE WANT him to. If we think God has to kowtow to our demands or challenges, we are asking amiss for sure, and will not receive an answer.

  • 95. ubi dubium  |  September 22, 2008 at 6:11 pm

    Marianne –
    So somehow you can look at all the atrocities commited in the OT in “god’s name” and see “god’s plan”. No matter how horrible or unacceptable an action is, it’s OK as long as it’s “god’s plan”. Slaughter a city full of innocents, forcibly take conquered women as wives, sacrifice your daughter because you promised god you would? (Judges 11, look it up) How about flying a jetliner into a skyscraper? Those men totally believed it was part of “god’s plan” too.

    And go read your bible again about slavery. Leviticus specifically allows it. (Lev 25:44-46) and Exodus (Ch.21) also specifies that there is no punishment for beating a slave unless the slave dies on the spot. Nowhere in the bible does it ever say “slavery is a sin, thou shalt not own slaves”. Eating shellfish is a sin, wearing blended fibers is a sin, but slavery is apparently fine.

    You are reading your bible with uncritical eyes. You believe the OT is 100% good, so goodness is all you see. I read it with the same attitude I bring to any other book, and I see the myths and chronicles of a warlike ancient tribe who were trying to make their violent squabbles look righteous. As long as you have 100% devotion to the perfection of this one book, I think that further conversation with you will be unproductive, so I will stop.

    Cooper/Echo/Oleander/Joe/etc… – All I will say to you in response to your psalm is: go read Ps. 137:9. Even a book full of some lovely poetry is not immune to the everyday violence of that place and time.

    And now I have pasta to go prepare. (…and lead us not into vegetarianism, but deliver us some pizza…)

  • 96. SnugglyBuffalo  |  September 22, 2008 at 6:37 pm

    She means that if you sincerely pray to God—not in a “challenge”, but in humble faith, God will hear and answer——BUT not necessarily the way WE WANT him to.

    Frankly, I don’t know why I’m even bothering to defend myself on this issue anymore. I can tell you I was sincere, and non-challenging in my prayers but God still didn’t answer till I’m blue in the face, but you people won’t believe it; you can’t believe it, because that means you’re wrong about God. There’s no point in discussing this with you.

    Seriously, I’m getting really tired of telling people that I’ve sought God and found he isn’t there only to have them respond that I must have sought him in the wrong way.

  • 97. Cooper  |  September 22, 2008 at 6:41 pm

    Ubi—

    We need to ask ourselves the question why God in the OT would tell one group of people to utterly wipe out everyone in one city, then completely spare another city (see book of Jonah) in great mercy, even mentioning the value of the cattle there. Same God—-two different outcomes. Why?

    If you read the first five books of the OT, the chilren of Israel enter a land that has Canaanites, Hittites, etc. living there. It says that these people are extremely wicked, sacrificing their own children to Molech, and commiitting extremely horrific acts. The same could be said of Sodom and Gomarrah whom God utterly destroyed accept for Lot. Abraham begged God that if there were “10 righteous men there” would he spare them? And God said he would spare them if there were 10. He didn’t find them—-in fact the whole city was so wicked, that they wanted to rape two angels who came to visit Lot!!

    So, in one case we have God telling Joshua to utterly destroy a people who are so wicked that they daily sacrifice their own children, but then he asks Jonah to proclaim to the Ninevites a mesage of mercy—that if they repent he will not judge them. Jonah runs because he doesn’t want God to be merciful to them. But God is, sparing the people, and saying how valuable even there cattle is in his eyes.

    We can call God cruel for destroying all the people in the city—that’s very easy. But God knows the hearts. And it was OT times—-under the LAW. But even under that strict LAW God would often show extreme mercy.

    We truly need to read the WHOLE OT if we are going to try to pin the name of “monster” on God. There are a massive amount of verses that proclaim the love and mercy of God in the OT—-we need to weigh these before we label God.

  • 98. writerdd  |  September 22, 2008 at 6:43 pm

    SnugglyBuffalo, I believe you. I was just the same and in the end, I also decided it was all bunk. There was no baby in the bath water.

    Yeah, I could be wrong but oh well. I have to be true to myself and not just accept what any religion says just because I am afraid. Christians could be wrong too, but many are ruled by the fear and those are the ones who can’t admit that we had a genuine experience.

    Donna

  • 99. Marianne Lordi  |  September 22, 2008 at 7:16 pm

    Ubi, sorry to see that you will stop the conversation. Just want to make one last comment. The Mosaic law permitted slaves for those who owed a debt, for those captured in war, etc. The Mosaic law also permitted divorce. God allowed these things but did not condone them. Jesus said in Matthew 19 that Moses permitted divorce because the peoples hearts were hard. Jesus also said in John 8 that anyone who sins is a slave to sin. We all were slaves to the bondage of sin. But those who have Christ have the power over that which comes against them and are now free.
    The OT laws on fabrics and food were to keep the Jewish people set apart from the rest of the world. For that reason also circumcision was ordered. They were set apart. This was all leading to the Messiah who would come from this people. Praise the Lord!
    How was the pasta?

    Snuggly: When you turned away from God, who did you turn to? Although the father of lies has convinced you otherwise, Jesus is still waiting for you to return to him.

    Donna; Those who have a new life in Christ just surrendered to him. There was no fear. No one comes to the saving grace of Jesus Christ afraid but humbled that he would love a sinner like me! Whatever your experience was, it doesn’t have to end your belief that there is a God who breathed life into you and wants you to share in eternity with him. What keeps you from trusting his love for you? I am not talking about religion. I am talking about trusting in Jesus alone. Religion has nothing to do with it.

  • 100. Marianne Lordi  |  September 22, 2008 at 7:17 pm

    STILL PRAYING FOR YOU ALL!

  • 101. silentj  |  September 22, 2008 at 7:29 pm

    Marianne,

    This is neutral criticism, not any kind of attack.

    When you are addressing people here, most have heard the Gospel. If you’re going to convince people here (which I doubt you will), you’re going to have to come up with something better than “Jesus loves you” or any such ploy that presupposes Jesus was a god as man, was a savior, and actually produced miracles. Stating Bible verses, which most people here reject, and telling people to open their hearts isn’t going to get you very far.

  • 102. SnugglyBuffalo  |  September 22, 2008 at 7:44 pm

    I’m willing to “return to Jesus” as soon as I see a good reason to; i.e. as soon as I see something that is clear evidence of God. I’m done looking for it though. I’ve done my part, the ball’s in God’s non-existent court now.

    As for “who did I turn to,” I didn’t turn to anything. I’ve given up belief in God, why do I have to start believing in some other nonsensical, unsupported view?

  • 103. Cooper  |  September 22, 2008 at 7:46 pm

    She means that if you sincerely pray to God—not in a “challenge”, but in humble faith, God will hear and answer——BUT not necessarily the way WE WANT him to.

    Frankly, I don’t know why I’m even bothering to defend myself on this issue anymore. I can tell you I was sincere, and non-challenging in my prayers but God still didn’t answer till I’m blue in the face, but you people won’t believe it; you can’t believe it, because that means you’re wrong about God. There’s no point in discussing this with you.

    Snuggly—

    I wasn’t referring to your search for God. I was explaining where I thought Marianne was coming from when she said “not doubting”. I wasn’t referring to you personally at all.

  • 104. silentj  |  September 22, 2008 at 7:47 pm

    Snuggly,

    If you’re like me, it was more a fade away than a turn.

  • 105. Marianne Lordi  |  September 22, 2008 at 7:47 pm

    SILENTJ: There is no power in any words that I have to say. The only thing that has power is the word of God and that is why I quote his word. And the good news is that it is the love of Jesus that draws sinners to him. I know that I cannot convince anyone of the truth of Jesus Christ, but maybe HIS light will pierce just one of you. Whether you believe it or not, Jesus does love all of you. I think that is why some said that they cried out for God to answer them. Sadly, none of them would wait. In all prayer requests, the wait is part of the answer. The wait is what defines a true son of the Living God. It is funny that those who reject the miracles and love that is written in scripture are the ones who believe and criticize the laws and judgments that are written in the bible.
    If you don’t believe all of the Bible, you can’t believe any of it.
    If you don’t believe any of it, why criticize the wars and stoning that was written of in the Old Testament.

    Do you pray silentj?

  • 106. SnugglyBuffalo  |  September 22, 2008 at 7:48 pm

    Ah, my apologies, then, Cooper.

  • 107. silentj  |  September 22, 2008 at 7:55 pm

    Cooper,

    Do you feel the need to defend yourself? Just curious, as a believer, why are you here?

    Also, I don’t think people here want to believe or don’t want to believe. The point is to be right or wrong about God. The point is that there is no evidence for God other than the feeling that some people get while doing the exact same things as others do in attempting to be in communion with God. The fact that there is no physical evidence for God (other than the fact there is stuff and some say that implies a creator) greatly challenges the belief in God. Couple that with an explicable method of revelation, and you have a belief that many people have simply given up on.

    Cooper, remember this: the site is for people to share experiences, not convert the religious to atheists. There’s nothing to be gained here from being right or wrong about God. In fact, a lot of people on here would love to have a God. I know I would love if there was a truly interceding God who showed up occasionally and performed miracles. I’d spend my last waking breath worshiping. However, there appears to be no god, and so we can not believe in it.

  • 108. Cooper  |  September 22, 2008 at 8:00 pm

    I’m willing to “return to Jesus” as soon as I see a good reason to; i.e. as soon as I see something that is clear evidence of God. I’m done looking for it though. I’ve done my part, the ball’s in God’s non-existent court now.

    As for “who did I turn to,” I didn’t turn to anything. I’ve given up belief in God, why do I have to start believing in some other nonsensical, unsupported view?

    Snuggly–

    Now I will be personal on this one though. You say “I’m willing to return to Jesus as soon as I see a good reason to”, but then you say “the ball’s in his non-existent court now”. Heb. 11:6 says “without faith it is impossible to please him, for he who comes to God must believe that He exists, and that he is a rewarder of those who diligently seek him”.

    As long as you think he is “non-existent” how do you expect him to answer you?? It is contrary to his own Word to do so. How can you ask a God whom you call “non-existent” to prove himself to you? That is what Marianne meant when she said “coming to him without doubting”.

    Also, take note of your statement “I’m willing to return to Jesus as soon as I see good reason to”. Don’t youi see how you are making God YOUR servant? It isn’t “Whenever you’re ready Snuggly”—-it’s “Today is the day of salvation”. Jesus loves you and cares for you—but we all need to make sure we don’t reject it to the place where it becomes impossible to return to Him—and that is because we ourselves have hardened our hearts to a place where we cannot hear his voice any more. I’m beating a dead horse saying that I’m sure—but it is the absolute truth.

  • 109. silentj  |  September 22, 2008 at 8:02 pm

    No, I do not pray, other than the occasional “if you’re up there, holla at ya boy!” I do not believe in the power of prayer, the inspired scripture, or miracles. The entire idea of an eternal, all powerful god allowing evil in Heaven, creating people he knew would be damned, and using only a book and the word of men to spread his word seems completely ridiculous. So, I can’t believe in any of it. Now, you might say that I’m focusing on the wrong things and just need to open my heart. Yet, the only reason I would open my heart is because all of the above were true.

    I have been baptized, prayed, witnessed to others, done mission work here and abroad, and led Bible studies. After I got past the happy part about salvation and joy and started to really understand my faith, I finally concluded that it was senseless.

  • 110. silentj  |  September 22, 2008 at 8:08 pm

    Cooper,

    I don’t think many folks started out seeking God with the “I don’t believe it; prove it to me” attitude. Rather, after faithfully serving and praying, yet not being fulfilled, many concluded that there simply was no God.

    Again, this idea that people fail to serve god because they are selfish makes little sense. You have to admit that you are aren’t any blip on the cosmic radar, not a chosen one, not created by a supreme being, not cared for by an omnipotent being who will help you in your time of need. Yet, most of still feel the obligation to live a moral life, all while being alienated by many of our communities. Giving up faith isn’t a matter of throwing away rules or authority for carnal desires. There’s little to be gained in saying or concluding you don’t believe other than the sanity of mind and end of cognitive dissonance.

  • 111. writerdd  |  September 22, 2008 at 8:15 pm

    I’m willing to “return to Jesus” as soon as I see a good reason to

    I’m not. After reading the Bible without the rose-colored glasses, I’ve come to the conclusion that the God depicted therein is mean and vindictive and cruel. I hope that I would not worship him even to stay out of hell. To me that would be the same as following Hitler to stay out of Auschwitz. I would not worship or serve the God of the Bible, even if I found out with 100% certainty that he was real.

  • 112. writerdd  |  September 22, 2008 at 8:16 pm

    There is no power in any words that I have to say. The only thing that has power is the word of God and that is why I quote his word.

    Sorry but that’s a great copout for not having to think for yourself.

  • 113. silentj  |  September 22, 2008 at 8:22 pm

    Writerdd,

    I think explaining the copout about thinking for one’s self is the equivalent of her telling us to open our hearts. I don’t think she has any problem not thinking for herself. After all, isn’t one of the main reasons people proclaim the importance of religion is divine authority? Most Christians proclaim that humans are flawed and need an omnipotent being to be moral.

    Don’t get me wrong, I agree with what you’re saying. But does telling her that produce anything?

  • 114. john t.  |  September 22, 2008 at 8:30 pm

    HELLO

    Did Aliens kidnap all the De Cons I have come to know and take them far far away. What happened to the Troll Hunters of the not so near past??

  • 115. silentj  |  September 22, 2008 at 8:38 pm

    John,

    I’m still a relative noob. Perhaps I should keep my mouth shut… err… keyboard quiet… mmm….posts unposted.

  • 116. writerdd  |  September 22, 2008 at 8:47 pm

    I think explaining the copout about thinking for one’s self is the equivalent of her telling us to open our hearts

    I don’t think so. I really hate it when people just regurgitate stuff they read in the Bible or that they heard in church without even taking the time to figure out how to say it in their own words. I think that is a major copout, however you look at it. If you really feel passionately about something, then it should come from your heart and you should be able to express it yourself, not just quote some authority figure, beit a person or a god.

    So, I’ll rephrase my statement. Marianne Lordi, what do YOU think. Really, in your own words. I have read the Bible cover to cover many times in several translations. I have sat in thousands of church services and had thousands of discussions with Christians. I know what the Bible says and what preachers say. I might be interested in having a discussion with YOU if you were willing to tell me your own ideas in your own words. But I am not interested in reading quotes from the Bible. I have a Bible and I read it when I feel like it. I have no need for people to quote it to me.

  • 117. Marianne Lordi  |  September 22, 2008 at 8:55 pm

    There is no power in any words that I have to say. The only thing that has power is the word of God and that is why I quote his word.

    Sorry but that’s a great copout for not having to think for yourself.

    Writer: What I have said is not a copout for not having to think for myself. On the contrary, it is just showing the POWER of the word of God to save me. When I was trying to save myself, I was hopelessly lost. It was not a person who opened my eyes, it was the Spirit ofGod who unveiled the truth. With that, I CHOSE from my own freewill to accept and follow. God deos not have a bunch of robots following him. He gave mankind freewill and man chose to rebel and bring sin into this world. I received the knowledge and I made the decision. You, on the other hand, are guilty of not wanting to think for yourself. Since God didn’t show up the way you thought he should, you just morphed into a non-believing don’t tell me cause i don’t wanna hear and have to accept God’s way instead of mine kind of person.

  • 118. john t.  |  September 22, 2008 at 8:59 pm

    KOOL AID and Mariannes still drinking……………………Wowoowow………oh Lordi

  • 119. silentj  |  September 22, 2008 at 9:00 pm

    Writer,

    Maybe you’re right. However, you find reason useful. (As I do.) Christian belief does not. (Martin Luther even condemned rational thought.) So, why try to explain the Bible in your own words? Why would you assume your knowledge trumps the inspired word of God?

    That’s the biggest problem in atheist/theist debates: what justifies a legitimate statement? Rationalists think that people need to think and reflect about an issue. People of faith simply require faith; there’s no use for rational thought. And when it does poke up, it’s usually in the form of Pascal’s wager.

    Again, I’d like to hear what you’re asking for from Marianne. But the more I think about it, the less I expect it to occur.

  • 120. silentj  |  September 22, 2008 at 9:04 pm

    “You, on the other hand, are guilty of not wanting to think for yourself. Since God didn’t show up the way you thought he should, you just morphed into a non-believing don’t tell me cause i don’t wanna hear and have to accept God’s way instead of mine kind of person.”

    That’s ridiculous. Your assumption is that someone told Writer what God would look like and then she did not see it. I think that’s hardly the case for any de-cons.

    You might have chosen faith out of free will, but there was nothing rational about your decision. Acceptance of Christ is an act of faith, not reason. Please don’t try to turn your acceptance into an expression of intellectual scrutiny.

  • 121. orDover  |  September 22, 2008 at 9:11 pm

    HELLO

    Did Aliens kidnap all the De Cons I have come to know and take them far far away. What happened to the Troll Hunters of the not so near past??

    We’re trying really hard to pick our battles and not engage in fruitless arguments that run in circles. They’re no good. We’re trying not to hunt, nor feed, the trolls. (Or even the well-meaning Christians who are too set in their ways to actually carry out a dialog.)

  • 122. Marianne Lordi  |  September 22, 2008 at 9:45 pm

    silentj: Intellectual Scrutiny?? Really?

    orDover: What changed your beliefs from as an evanglical Christian? Were you right then, or now?

  • 123. SnugglyBuffalo  |  September 22, 2008 at 11:19 pm

    Cooper, you know better. We’ve had this discussion before. I was describing my view now, not the view I held while seeking God.

  • 124. Quester  |  September 23, 2008 at 12:35 am

    HELLO

    Did Aliens kidnap all the De Cons I have come to know and take them far far away. What happened to the Troll Hunters of the not so near past??

    KOOL AID and Mariannes still drinking……………………Wowoowow………oh Lordi

    John T,

    Is there something particular about Marianne’s theism that makes it in any way less rational than your deism?

  • 125. BigHouse  |  September 23, 2008 at 8:01 am

    Big House: How do you reconcile the fact that the prophecies in the Old Testament have all been fulfilled through Jesus Christ?

    I reconcile it by the fact that if those who wrote the book wanted Jesus to fulfill those prophecies for effect, they would have written it that way. And even so, they did a hacky job of doing so convincingly as it is.

    I don’t understand your answer. The ratio is 1 in an anstronomical number that anyone but Jesus could have fulfilled the prophecies that Isaiah made 1000 years before Christ came to earth. How did they do that? And what was hacky about it? You’re not clear on this at all!

    It’s quite simple. You pre-suppose the Bible is true and inerrant, so no matter what it says, it’s truth to you. It’s just a book, why is it to be believed without questioning? Do you trust all thousands’ year old books of second and third hand accounts that don’t agree? Read the gospels, they describe the same events differently.

    It’s a moot point because you won’t understand this as you don’t WANT to.

  • 126. john t.  |  September 23, 2008 at 8:22 am

    Quester
    “Is there something particular about Marianne’s theism that makes it in any way less rational than your deism?”

    Well, as far as being more or less rational I will let you decide that. But let me ask you this, have I ever said that I have the absolute truth? Have I ever stated that you and the other De Cons are sad and lost people? Have I ever said that you need to be saved and that when you were Christian you werent a “real” Christian. Have I ever threatened you with the idea of Eternal torment in “Hell”. My position is that there is a driving force/creator for the world that I see. I am not able to quantify what that is but my intuition tells me its so, I dont need to have that taught in school nor do I think I have it totally figured out. So maybe I will answer your question. I believe my belief is slightly more rational than Marianne. By the my belief includes Evolution as a part of that design.

  • 127. ubi dubium  |  September 23, 2008 at 8:29 am

    Yes, listening to john t., he is certainly on the more rational side. Instead of just accepting what he was told, he worked out a worldview that works for him, but doesn’t try to push it on the rest of us. Although I don’t agree with his conclusions, he has certainly shown himself to be more rational than any evangelist..

  • 128. john t.  |  September 23, 2008 at 8:30 am

    Quester

    I think its very “rational” to believe that the Universe has some sort of driving force or “creator”. I think its totally “irrational” to believe you have the absolute answer for that belief.

  • 129. VorJack  |  September 23, 2008 at 9:15 am

    BihHouse, Cooper – “And even so, they did a hacky job of doing so convincingly as it is.”

    My favorite has to be Matthew 21:2-8, referencing back to Zechariah 9:9:
    “Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion; shout, O daughter of Jerusalem: behold, thy King cometh unto thee: he is just, and having salvation; lowly, and riding upon an ass, and upon a colt the foal of an ass.”

    The repetition of similar lines there – colt and ass – is one of the hallmarks of Hebraic poetry. The point is pretty clear, Zechariah is saying that the liberator of Jerusalem will enter peaceably, humbly. Three of the Gospels get the point, but Matthew literalizes it in a very stupid way:
    “And brought the ass, and the colt, and put on them their clothes, and they set him thereon.”

    So Jesus is sitting on two animals. Tricky. THIS is hacky.

  • 130. BigHouse  |  September 23, 2008 at 9:22 am

    And this is EVIDENCE of Matthew just writing what was prophsesized to match it up, not recounting what actually happened when Jesus arrives. Not proof mind you, but evidence that points me to say the Bible isn’t the divinely inspired and inerrant word of god.

    But the apologists will just wave it away.

  • 131. writerdd  |  September 23, 2008 at 10:51 am

    Again, I’d like to hear what you’re asking for from Marianne. But the more I think about it, the less I expect it to occur.

    I’m asking for honest, personal reflection. I like to talk to Christians who are able to discuss their ideas in their own words and to infuse their own personality and individuality into the discussion. I like to hear people’s ideas. As I said, I’ve read the Bible, probably more times than Marianne has, so I don’t need to be told what it says.

    I’m also not interested in talking to anyone who is only interested in converting me. Been there, done that. I am not interested in de-converting anyone else (although I am interested in moving people away from fundamentalism and the “I am right and everyone else is wrong” attitude), and I am not interested in listening to anyone who doesn’t want to listen to me. That’s not a discussion. It’s a lecture. I can take a class or go to church if I want to be lectured.

    I like to have discussions. I don’t like to be talked at, which is exactly what is happening when someone quotes scripture instead of engaging in an honest dialog.

    So, I’m asking Marianne to talk to me like a human being instead of like a walking Bible.

  • 132. Cooper  |  September 23, 2008 at 11:33 am

    Three of the Gospels get the point, but Matthew literalizes it in a very stupid way:
    “And brought the ass, and the colt, and put on them their clothes, and they set him thereon.”

    So Jesus is sitting on two animals. Tricky. THIS is hacky.

    Come on VorJack. It is not saying that they sat Jesus on two animals. NO ONE who reads that verse is going to picture Jesus sitting on both animals. It is obvious he is sitting on the one, with the other in tow. You are the one being ridiculous, not Matthew. :)

  • 133. Cooper  |  September 23, 2008 at 11:41 am

    Cooper, you know better. We’ve had this discussion before. I was describing my view now, not the view I held while seeking God.

    Snuggly—

    Not sure what you mean. You stated that NOW you will “return to Jesus when you have good reason to”—-not THEN. And I re-assert that by saying that you are inferring God serves you (even if now he is an imaginary one whom you might return to if he proves himself), rather than your serving God. And as long as one has an attitude of God being your servant, needing to kow-tow to your “needs”, you will never have a prayer answered—because it is contrary to his own word. That’s all I was saying.

    HELLO

    Did Aliens kidnap all the De Cons I have come to know and take them far far away. What happened to the Troll Hunters of the not so near past??

    John T.—

    This is a form of thinking I don’t understand. There is a dialogue going back and forth. It may be strongly opinionated–both on the Christian and the De-con side—but it is not disruptive. Why the call for “troll-hunters”? Or do you consider anyone who has an opinion far from your own a troll? Just curious.

  • 134. SnugglyBuffalo  |  September 23, 2008 at 12:41 pm

    OK, I got a little confused as to what you were talking about when you asked me how I can expect God to answer me if I don’t think he exists. I don’t expect him to answer me anymore, I thought that was clear. The only time I expected an answer was when I still believed. So you’ll have to excuse me for getting a little mixed up there.

    I’m not making God my servant. What the hell does that even mean? I don’t expect God to do anything for me, to kow-tow to anyone’s needs. It’s not about whether God can do something for me, but whether he can do anything at all. I’m not going to give God a pass on my critical analysis; he gets held to the same standard as any supernatural nonsense. I’ll accept God when he proves to be more real than psychics and astrology.

    This is not contrary to God’s word: there are many points where God goes out of his way to prove that he is the only God. I’m not looking for anything God hasn’t allegedly done before.

  • 135. Marianne Lordi  |  September 23, 2008 at 12:44 pm

    writerdd: I am prepared to talk to you from my own experiences as a human being. I don’t know if you have read the bible more than I did but that is not germaine to this discussion.

    How would you like this conversation to begin? I can see that you are very intelligent and gifted. Let’t start a new conversation We both know where we stand on our beliefs. Should be start by saying how we each arrived at our beliefs?

  • 136. VorJack  |  September 23, 2008 at 12:45 pm

    Cooper –

    “And brought the ass, and the colt, and put on them their clothes, and they set him thereon.”

    I’m sorry, Cooper, but the most obvious reading of the text is that the disciples covered the backs of the animals with cloaks and then set him upon both their backs. You can read into it what you like, but you’d have to abandon any pretense of literal reading of the text.

    If Matthew meant that one followed along behind, why this tortured use of the plural? “Put on them their clothes …” He is obviously using Mark here:

    “And they brought the colt to Jesus, and cast their garments on him; and he sat upon him.”

    Mark is drawing from Zechariah as well, but he’s smart enough to recognize the nature of the quote. Matthew is cleaving to Zechariah so tightly that he has to have both animals. He makes the passage plural, deliberately implying both animals were mounted. Why cover both with clothing otherwise? Was one getting cold? Mark has Jesus mount up on his own. But Matthew has the disciples “set him thereon.” Why? Could he not climb a pony on his own? No, because Matthew has in mind some odd position that leaves Jesus sitting on both. Side saddle, I guess.

    No, the only way to make sense of the text as it is rather that as we want it to be, is to accept that Matthew is making such a literal reference to Zechariah that he feels Jesus must be sitting on both animals.

  • 137. Cooper  |  September 23, 2008 at 1:12 pm

    V

  • 138. Cooper  |  September 23, 2008 at 1:18 pm

    Vorjack—

    I actually made an error above when I said that Jesus sat on the ass with the colt in tow. He actually at on the colt itself. See Mark 11:7, Luke 19:35, John 12:14 which say he sat on the colt—one of them says a “young ass”. Matthew’s Gospel all the way through stresses fulfillment of prophecy—–so he is SURE to show that the prophecy from Zechariah was fultilled. The other Gospel writers simply state that upon which Jesus sat—-a colt–it wasn’t important to them that there were actually two animals—all they were concerned with was upon what he sat and his entry.

    Matthew though, to stress the prophecy has indeed been fulfilled mentions BOTH animals just as Zechariah had predicted. But if we listen to (4) witnesses tell a story, and (3) of them said he sat on the colt, while the fourth says there were two animals and he was “set thereon”, we can be assured he was riding the colt. See below link which explains that other such examples can be found in the Bible using Hebraic poetry.

    http://www.housetohouse.com/hth/biblequestions/archive/question0079.htm

  • 139. writerdd  |  September 23, 2008 at 1:24 pm

    Marianne, thank you. That sounds like a great start. I am busy at work today and have an appointment tonight, so I won’t be able to post much myself until tomorrow. But I’d love to hear your personal story, not as a way to convince me of anything, but just to share your experiences. I’m writing a whole book at how I’ve come to my current beliefs, so I will have to pare it down to post some part of my story here! :-) I won’t try to convince you of anything either, except that I have chosen a good path for me and I’d like you to respect that instead of thinking that I am a poor lost soul who is ignorant of the belief choices that are available to me.

  • 140. john t.  |  September 23, 2008 at 1:24 pm

    Cooper
    There is a dialogue going back and forth. It may be strongly opinionated–both on the Christian and the De-con side—but it is not disruptive. Why the call for “troll-hunters”?

    I intended it as humour, I just forgot the smiley face. I am a little surprised at how cordial many of the De Cons have been with you lately though. ;).

    Cooper
    “Or do you consider anyone who has an opinion far from your own a troll? Just curious.”

    I dont see you as a Troll. Let me be clear though, I believe we have different reasons for being on this site. I come from a Non religious household, so I am curious about people who come from a completely different enviroment. I have gone from an upbringing of No belief to a life of belief in some kind of “creator” or driving force, and the De Cons have gone the other way. Its very intriquing to me. Plus most on this site are very knowledgeable about Biblical material which I also find fascinating. I also believe most on here to be well spoken, cordial and pretty funny. I would hope that some would see the same from me. Now if I take you at face value your reasons arent similar at all. If you are truly a Born Again, Bible believing Christian then I would assume these as some of your reasons.

    1. The world is a fallen place and the people in it are in need of saving.
    2.You truly believe that you are right and Love them so much you’ll do anything to save the souls.
    3. You have the absolute truth(Bible), everyone else is wrong.
    4. Youre not here for discourse, because you have the truth and that would mean everyone else doesnt. So learning from others is a moot point. UNLESS.
    5. You are actually not so sure about your belief system and youre here for another reason than wanting to convert everyone.( I suspect this one may be closer to the truth than you would care to admit)

  • 141. BigHouse  |  September 23, 2008 at 1:39 pm

    Matthew though, to stress the prophecy has indeed been fulfilled mentions BOTH animals just as Zechariah had predicted

    See, Cooper, THIS RIGHT HERE, is EXACTLY why people are skeptical of the Bible. It looks like Matthew is trying to write what the prophesy called for, to be most convincing, not the record of what he actually heard. You almost come out and say it directly yourself!

  • 142. Quester  |  September 23, 2008 at 2:05 pm

    John T,

    I concede you every point in #126. As for 128, I see no reason to posit a Creator, besides your intuition. That doesn’t mean there isn’t one. I just see no reason to think there is.

    But on the weight of your response in 126, I concede your point of view is much more rational than I had characterized it. My apologies.

  • 143. Cooper  |  September 23, 2008 at 2:21 pm

    BigHouse—-

    Each Gospel writer was given by the Holy Spirit a certain insight and direction with which to write their Gospels. The way a lot of commentators put it is this (the Gospels actually correspond to the 4 “living creatures” before the throne of God who have the head of a Lion, a Man, an Ox and an Eagle)

    Matthew: The Lion. The King from the tribe of Judah who fulfills all prophecy foretold about him. Matthew quotes many OT scriptures showing how Jesus fulfilled the prophecies.

    Mark: The Ox—Mark is very different in that it immediately begins with Jesus’ ministry and shows forth his works—it uses the word “straightway” or “immediately” many times.

    Luke: The Man—The “son of man” is mentioned over and over again, and Christ’s humanity is stressed over and over again throughout the Gospel.

    John: The Eagle. This Gospel is far different than the others and stresses Christ’s divinity.

    Matthew is considered the “Jewish” Gospel, and was written primarily to confirm to the Jews that Jesus was indeed the messiah. Therefore, Matthew shows often in the Gospel how Jesus fulfilled the prophecies concerning himself over and over again. H eis not writing to try to make Jesus appear to have fulfilled the prophets—–he is writing because he DID fulfill the prophets, and wants the jewish people to realize that.

  • 144. john t.  |  September 23, 2008 at 2:21 pm

    Quester

    Thanks. Now if I could pump a few pints in you maybe youd come my way on the “intuition” thing. ;)

  • 145. Cooper  |  September 23, 2008 at 2:34 pm

    john t—-

    Sorry if you were joking and I did not realize it. I get a bit touchy about “trolls”, because I posted here before and at one point was accused of being one, though I never came to this place to disrupt or shock. So, if you were kidding, I apologize.

    To be completely honest, this site intrigues me. When I was a young Christian I went through a time of deep struggle. I thought I had committed the “Unpardonable Sin”, and verses such as Hebrews 6:4-6, 10:26 and Matt. 12:30-31 scared the hell out of me.

    As a result, I have investigated those verses tremendously, and have asked myself over and over “what is an apostate”?
    I had a pretty good idea. I remember one night, out witnessing the Gospel with my church (which is hilarious considering I truly believed I was an apostate without hope) we came upon a crowd of people.

    Someone began preaching as this one guy in the crowd yelled out “I used to be into that shit !!!!” The thought struck me immediately—–THAT IS AN APOSTATE. Because I KNEW in my heart, no matter how condemned I felt, that I could never call the Gospel “that shit”. Nor, I realized could I ever say “I used to be into…” I knew I was a Christian for the rest of my life. And truly, I have never left the faith—-and believe just as strongly as I did back then—-minus the fear and doubt about committing that sin :)

    So, John T, when I come here, it’s because I still find myself in amazement that there are people who say “I used to believe that” (not that all think it is crap now–I think some still hold the belief in Jesus in reverence)–It is very hard for me to believe that someone could genuinely accept and believe in Jesus as savior, and then apostasize. I think some here THINK they accepted him—-but there are others I really now believe were Christians, and then turned back. I come here to debate at times—-but also to learn how this could truly be the case? How could one love someone like I love Jesus, then turn around and say he doesn’t exist? It intrigues me beyond measure—–so I am drawn here by that. If I preach I cannot help myself at times—-but the reason I come is to try to understand how this is all possible. I still find it very confusing, disheartening, but interesting just the same.

  • 146. BigHouse  |  September 23, 2008 at 2:39 pm

    Matthew is considered the “Jewish” Gospel, and was written primarily to confirm to the Jews that Jesus was indeed the messiah. Therefore, Matthew shows often in the Gospel how Jesus fulfilled the prophecies concerning himself over and over again. H eis not writing to try to make Jesus appear to have fulfilled the prophets—–he is writing because he DID fulfill the prophets, and wants the jewish people to realize that.

    This is claptrap and wishful thinking at best. You’re happy to take John 3:16 literally without interpretaion but need to twist the 4 Gospels into pretzels to make them consistent. It’s absurd when viewed objectively.

  • 147. john t.  |  September 23, 2008 at 2:45 pm

    Cooper

    Explain something to me. What would make you want to believe in a God that would create all of this(evil too, that is Biblical). Give people one option out and if they dont take it, he will allow them to suffer forever and ever and ever…….Regardless of how you view the Loving nature of Jesus, how do you reconcile the other aspect of God to make you believe???

  • 148. VorJack  |  September 23, 2008 at 2:49 pm

    “Matthew is considered the “Jewish” Gospel,”

    Maybe. If Matthew had really wanted to reach out to the Jews, he wouldn’t have quoted from the Septiguent. Some of the Rabbis held funerals for the Torah when the Septiguent got translated.

  • 149. Cooper  |  September 23, 2008 at 3:06 pm

    This is claptrap and wishful thinking at best. You’re happy to take John 3:16 literally without interpretaion but need to twist the 4 Gospels into pretzels to make them consistent. It’s absurd when viewed objectively.

    No sure where you’re coming from BigHouse. John 3:16 IS easily understandable. I’m not “twisting” the Gospels at all. If you read them you will see that each of them is written in a different style, with a different emphasis. It is very obvious. There is a reason there are (4) of them—I don’t know what that is—but God has his purpose in using (4) different authors to tell the story about one person.

    It is truly interesting that there are (4) “living beasts” before the throne in Revelation and each of them has a different appearance (lion, ox, man, eagle), and that there are (4) Gospels all showing a different side of Jesus. I find it to be very intriguing myself.

  • 150. Cooper  |  September 23, 2008 at 3:15 pm

    Cooper
    Explain something to me. What would make you want to believe in a God that would create all of this(evil too, that is Biblical). Give people one option out and if they dont take it, he will allow them to suffer forever and ever and ever…….Regardless of how you view the Loving nature of Jesus, how do you reconcile the other aspect of God to make you believe???

    John T—

    I have said often that I do not understand hell at all. I do believe it exists though because the Bible says it does. The question I always ask though is this: Have you been given the opportunity to escape that place? Have you heard the Gospel. Usually the answer is “yes”, but the person has not accepted it, or has for a time, and then rejected it.

    I believe in God because I know his deep love. I have experienced and read of it in Jesus Christ. I don’t know why it was necessary for God to become man. Why didn’t God just start over when man fell? I really don’t know. I,myself, just accept the remedy, realizing one day I will understand why all these things happened—why there is a devil, and a hell, and why Jesus had to die. I accept that the “Great Physician” has the answers—I just need to accept the medicine for now—and one day in eternity I will understand what caused the illness, why those who don’t accept the remedy are eternally separated from God (hell), and why it was necessary for Christ to die for everyone.

  • 151. BigHouse  |  September 23, 2008 at 3:19 pm

    Nice evasion in 149, Coop, I’ll take it you don’t want to address the issue.

  • 152. john t.  |  September 23, 2008 at 3:24 pm

    Cooper

    And this is why I think you are not willing to discuss or learn anything here. You have your truth, the rest of what you do is just window dressing.

  • 153. Cooper  |  September 23, 2008 at 3:26 pm

    John t–

    To clarify just a bit. There are times in life when we need to “trust” even though we do not understand everything involved. When we go in to have an operation, we can have part of the procedure explained to us, but a large part of our proceeding is based on the trust that the Doctor knows what he is doing. We trust his expertise because he is a surgeon. If we waited to understand every detail we would never have the operation—–so we “accept” that what the doctor has said is very real, and is going to help solve the problem.

    As Christians we do the same. The “Great Physician”, Jesus, tells us we are spiritually ill, and we need to be saved or we will be condemned to separation from God forever. We can argue the point with him, complaining that it just isn’t fair, etc.—you could complain to a doctor also that the operation just isn’t fair too—-he’s still going to tell you he needs to operate.

    It comes down to “trust”. Do we “trust” that even though we do not understand it, and even have arguments with some of what we’re hearing, that Jesus knows MORE than we do? Do we accept what he has to say? We can argue with him, as we might argue with a doctor—-but in the end you either accept what he says, or stay in your illness. We do the same with Jesus Christ. We either accept him or reject him—it’s really all up to us. Why did God leave us with a choice? I don’t know really—he wants us to have free will. I do know that whomever goes to hell will put THEMSELVES THERE—they will have had every opportunity to have avoided it. That is a fact.

  • 154. Cooper  |  September 23, 2008 at 3:28 pm

    BigtHouse/John T—

    Don’t know what to say to you if you won’t really read what I have posted. I am explaining in a nutshell what Christianity teaches. It is not “my take on it”—-it is the same simple message preached every Sunday from numerous pulpits. Oh well.

  • 155. john t.  |  September 23, 2008 at 3:29 pm

    “accept that the “Great Physician” has the answers—I just need to accept the medicine for now—and one day in eternity I will understand what caused the illness, why those who don’t accept the remedy are eternally separated from God (hell), and why it was necessary for Christ to die for everyone.”(Cooper)

    Ok coop, lets say I believe your God. I will trust him from his Scriptures, I will use my intellect to find out that his Character is Loving, moral, Benevolent, enduring, and such. Oh but wait, My God given intellect also reads that he is spiteful, vengeful, jealous, hateful amongst other nasty things. Given that God gave me my brain to use for discernment and I would have nothing to do with any human who exhibited these traits, what the Hell would make me want to spend an eternity with him?? This is why I think you and marianne and many others drank the whole bottle of KOOL AID.

  • 156. Cooper  |  September 23, 2008 at 3:33 pm

    Nice evasion in 149, Coop, I’ll take it you don’t want to address the issue.

    BigHouse—

    You remind me of this Nigerian fellow who used to post here :) he would take the same tack. He would accuse of “twisting the Gospels”, then not explain where he is coming from. Then he would be addressed, then say “well, I guess you don’t want to address the issue”. His problem was that his opinion was the ONLY opionion—so he never really read other people’s posts completely. I have tried my best to explain why Matthew writes in a different format than the other Gospel writers. If you want to call that “evasion” then I don’t know what to say mate.

  • 157. BigHouse  |  September 23, 2008 at 3:33 pm

    Coop, sorry, that response isn’t going to fly. I read every word you’ve posted, and it;s the same circular reasoning it was under all your other aliases.

    t is the same simple message preached every Sunday from numerous pulpits.

    Um, no it isn’t. This is more arrogant “my way or the highway” crap that you’ve been spewing. You do not see anything that your own view colors. It’s of no use to continue to debate you.

    I’m done. And I think others have wisely gotten to that point sooner than I.

  • 158. BigHouse  |  September 23, 2008 at 3:35 pm

    And your 156 is just more evasion. Many more than I have explained why what you are doing is ‘twisting the gospels”. You don’t agree. Fine. I can’t keep talking to a wall. So good luck to you in whatever your endeavor is.

  • 159. Cooper  |  September 23, 2008 at 3:40 pm

    Given that God gave me my brain to use for discernment and I would have nothing to do with any human who exhibited these traits, what the Hell would make me want to spend an eternity with him?? This is why I think you and marianne and many others drank the whole bottle of KOOL AID.

    :) John T—

    Your definitons of God being spiteful and nasty and hateful are really not true. What you are doing is like looking at a painting that has a small area with a fire in it, and then saying that the WHOLE painting is about fire.

    There are areas (some hard to be understood I agree) in the OT where God does, or asks others to do, things which appear to be hateful. But many of these when put in context of the people being addressed, what they have done and who they are, make far more sense. If God “judges” a nation who sacrifices there own children in the fire, and destroys them all, it’s easy to say God is “nasty”. But how do we know what these people did and who they were in reality? Much of the OT is filled with the lovingkindness of God—to “label” him as you have done, is like the painting I mention above—you are taking a small minority of passages and turning God into those passages. That is not a wise thing to do—-one needs to look at the whole picture.

    By the way, I like Cherry Kool-Aid if you’re making some. :)

  • 160. SnugglyBuffalo  |  September 23, 2008 at 3:43 pm

    It is truly interesting that there are (4) “living beasts” before the throne in Revelation and each of them has a different appearance (lion, ox, man, eagle), and that there are (4) Gospels all showing a different side of Jesus. I find it to be very intriguing myself.

    Ok, this is something that always really bugged me, even as a believer. There’s nothing in the Bible to suggest that there’s any connection between the four gospels and the 4 beasts.

    Humans have 4 limbs, each of them different-yet-similar to all the others. Just like the 4 beasts!

    Each hand has 4 fingers, opposed by a thumb. Just like the four beasts are opposed by… Satan?

    Anyone could go on and on like this.

    As Christians we do the same. The “Great Physician”, Jesus, tells us we are spiritually ill, and we need to be saved or we will be condemned to separation from God forever. We can argue the point with him, complaining that it just isn’t fair, etc.—you could complain to a doctor also that the operation just isn’t fair too—-he’s still going to tell you he needs to operate.

    Do you take every physician at his word? If I show you a medical degree, and proceed to tell you that you have pretendicitis, and need to have your pretendix removed, will you believe me?

    I would hope you’d get a second opinion, at the very least.

  • 161. john t.  |  September 23, 2008 at 3:48 pm

    Cooper
    “What you are doing is like looking at a painting that has a small area with a fire in it, and then saying that the WHOLE painting is about fire.”

    Isaiah 45:7 (King James Version)
    I form the light, and create darkness: I make peace, and create EVIL: I the LORD do all these things.

    Ok last one for me too. I am looking at the Bipolar nature of your God. I AM looking at the whole picture, and what I see repulses me. Now if you wish to discuss the merits of Scripture that have applicable themes for life. Like some that go into detail about Love, ethics, morality, stewardship, friendship and many others. I would love to discuss those things, just dont tell me the Christian God is the only thing. It kinda sucks to tell you the truth.

  • 162. Marianne Lordi  |  September 23, 2008 at 3:52 pm

    john t: What is the intellectual reasoning of the KOOLAID remarks?. When you can’t seem to make a point you use a jab.
    That is why you won’t keep your mind open long enough to hear the truth that Cooper has been showing you.

  • 163. john t.  |  September 23, 2008 at 3:57 pm

    Silly woman………Its meant as a Jab.

  • 164. Cooper  |  September 23, 2008 at 4:22 pm

    The One forming light and creating darkness, Causing well-being and creating calamity; I am the LORD who does all these (Isaiah 45:7 New American Standared).

    John t—

    It’s unfortunate the King James translates the word to “evil”. What is being inferred is that God does indeed “judge”–he can cause calamity to wake people up. God does not create “evil”–he uses evil to point and push towards good.

    Again—it is good to read the whole Bible–comparing scripture to scripture–comparing translations—getting the real sense of the words. I do not deny that there are “hard sayings” in the Bible—-and some things that are detestable and wicked (usually done by those who are supposed to be godly men—like Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, David, etc.—not God himself who never says he condones the things these men do that are evil), but the God of the OT and the New truly is a God of great lovingkindness and mercy—one just needs to read through the Psalms to see this.

  • 165. john t.  |  September 23, 2008 at 4:25 pm

    Cooper

    LMAO…….How did I know that was coming, I forgot you have the “Right” Bible with the “Right” translation. I guess the KJV was errant. ;)

  • 166. BigHouse  |  September 23, 2008 at 4:25 pm

    john, step away from the keyboard. I’ve felt great over the last 10 minutes or so :-)

  • 167. john t.  |  September 23, 2008 at 4:26 pm

    Bye Cooper or whoever you are.

  • 168. Cooper  |  September 23, 2008 at 4:27 pm

    BigHouse—

    You are truly hilarious. What is the Gospel message? The message is that man is lost, but God has provided a Savior. If you accept him you will live forever—if you reject him you will be separated from God forever. That message is preached in many, many pulpits every Sunday. I am not twisting anything at all. This is all I have said. You crack me up. :)

  • 169. Cooper  |  September 23, 2008 at 4:30 pm

    John T.—

    That is truly unfair. I didn’t say I had the right translation. I simply showed you that you are picking one Scripture out, “labeling” God with it, without investigating the true meaning. If you want to do that, fine—go ahead.

    There are numerous translations. And there are also numerous commentaries on Isaiah 45 which will show that God is not saying he “creates” evil in the sense that you are describing it at all. If you don’t want to investigate, then you don’t want to learn. That’s fine. Be my guest—live with your OWN definition—-exactly what you are accusing me of.

  • 170. Marianne Lordi  |  September 23, 2008 at 4:35 pm

    Regarding Isaiah 45:7

    This verse “tops off” the discussion: Yahweh is the sovereign creator and powerful controller of all aspects of life. The key issue in this verse is the relationship between the pairs: light and darkness, peace and disaster. In the context of the book, having been exiled into Babylon was a disaster, but being restored to the land was peace. Here Yahweh is saying that He controls these kinds of prospects. But He may be saying a good deal more as well, for He uses the words for creation as well. So He might be saying that He is sovereign over all the forces of good and evil in this creation—and the Bible certainly teaches that. One need not, however, say that this passage teaches that God created the chaos of Genesis, let alone sin. This would all contrast with clear affirmations in the Bible.
    (Matthew Henry’s commentary)

  • 171. Cooper  |  September 23, 2008 at 4:41 pm

    Have you met a person who is wise in his own eyes? There is more hope for a fool than for him.

    BigHouse/John—

    God bless you guys. If you don’t want to listen to the Great Physician, and think you know it all, what’s anyone to do? I am honest enough to say I don’t understand it all—there is much I do not grasp—but I am willing to put my life in Jesus’ hands, because he can be trusted absolutely. You keep saying I am using “my own interpretation” when it is really you who are doing this. I am simply stating the same things I have heard and accepted as the truth for years. Hmmmm… let me see… should I listen to Jesus or John T./Obihouse? I think I’ll stick with Jesus. :)

  • 172. Big Dan  |  September 24, 2008 at 1:52 am

    OK, others are falling by the wayside, so I will wade in for a short time.

    There seems to be an argument going on about whether God is good or evil (John T @ 155). You say: read the whole scriptures to get a balanced view. Fair enough, but the “difficult” scriptures don’t go away.

    For me, this just shows inconsistency in the scriptures. I see God telling his people to kill other people in order to expand their nation and defeat idol-worship. I see God instructing his children to stone each other to death (have you ever imagined what that is like?)

    OK, you can say that was a different time, that was a time under the Law (whatever that means) and that people had to be punished. But I thought God’s nature was revealed in the character of Jesus? If Moses had heard of Jesus, and had prayed to him, do you think he would have received those instructions? More likely he would have been commanded to treat his fellow humans compassionately. And what a better place the world would be now if that had happened.

    So, some parts of scripture show God to be compassionate. Some parts show him to be aggressive and cold. My conclusion is that these were written by humans, who had different opinions of God’s nature. That’s all. I don’t think God is evil. I just don’t think he wrote the Bible.

    PS – I agree that the 4 gospels / 4 beasts argument sounds like a spurious connection. Can there be any theological or spiritual message derived from this link, or is it just a neat trick?

  • 173. twoclayfeet  |  September 24, 2008 at 3:57 am

    Referring back to the Isaiah 45:7 posts, in case there are some who might not have read my explanation elsewhere for an earlier post here, and since you are talking about the Lord’s power and control, I’ll repeat some of it here.

    The Lord is indeed sovereign — our God reigns.

    The second definition of “control” in my dictionary is: to hold back or in check. Two of the definitions of “check” are: to restrain or curb, and also: to leave in temporary custody. The evil one does hold us back (or tries to), but he did not and can not overcome our Heavenly Father’s power over all.

  • 174. Andrew Morris  |  October 15, 2008 at 10:08 am

    Hi All,

    I only got half way through the review so apologies if i’m missing the point but let’s put it this way……. I smoked ALOT last night, I woke up as a result with an incredibly sore throat. I must say I was tempted to blame God but in the end I had to admit it was my fault. I know this is very simplistic, but the point could be expanded. As far as we are concerned everything is God’s fault. Pain, suffering etc…. If we look back at the chain of human existence it’s amzing to see errors/mistakes/evils being passed from generation to generation. I myself have picked up some terrible traits from my own father. Should I therefore blame this on God then. How about when I cause someone else suffering as a result of these traits. Should they then blame God for that suffering?

    I know that these examples don’t explain the whole story, but one thing I might say is that whether you believe in God or not, we ALL have to admit that the nature of life and existence is not so easily explained as some here have attempted. Therefore for those that don’t believe be sure that I understand the troubles you’re having. It’s not an easy thing to believe. I’m a Christian and I haven’t got it all sorted in my head…..but i’m fine with that. Who said doubt cannot co-exist with faith.

  • 175. BigHouse  |  October 15, 2008 at 10:54 am

    Who said doubt cannot co-exist with faith.

    Well, the Bible did actually..

    James 1:6b-8

    …he who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind. That man should not think he will receive anything from the Lord; he is a double-minded man, unstable in all he does.

  • 176. Quester  |  October 16, 2008 at 1:54 am

    I only got half way through the review so apologies if i’m missing the point

    Not a problem, Andrew. I’ve read your entire comment, and haven’t found a point to it, either.

  • 177. brittanydavidson  |  October 21, 2008 at 1:53 pm

    William Paul Young will be chatting live on Abunga.com if you would like to ask him some of your questions. He will be on tomorrow (10/22) from 2-3 pm EDT, and you can log in at http://www.abunga.com/authorsatabunga.

    Brittany
    abunga.com
    blog.abunga.com

  • 178. Aussie Ali  |  December 9, 2008 at 9:05 pm

    Uh-oh I just received a copy of “The Shack” in the mail by a well meaning friend!!

  • 179. Quester  |  December 9, 2008 at 10:05 pm

    Ha, my mother actually bought me a copy last month. I thanked her, explained I had already been given a copy, read it, and gave it away. You can choose to read it for yourself, or read the article above and use it to help you explain to your friend why you won’t be reading it.

  • 180. Aussie Ali  |  December 10, 2008 at 5:33 pm

    I think I’ll read it and then re-read the article above. I’m curious to see if I’m able to read the book critically. It’s a new skill for me.

  • 181. sandra742  |  September 9, 2009 at 10:18 am

    Hi! I was surfing and found your blog post… nice! I love your blog. :) Cheers! Sandra. R.

  • 182. Joshua  |  September 12, 2009 at 7:28 pm

    God damn, megan… you’re so hot. OMG! Thx for dropping by our site… I’d be sure to check out yours but I’m sure my browser would probably get a disease.

  • 183. Arlene  |  September 25, 2009 at 12:12 am

    If you sincerely ask Jesus to show you who he is and why he does what he does. He will show you he dosn’t have secrets. He is waiting for you to go directly to him in sincere prayer before you judge him. Everybody is quick to judge God. But they get mad if they think God is judging them. When I said to Jesus if you are real show me. He did. He has saved me so many times since then I am 67 now and I turned my life to Jesus at 31 I am a Catholic. I practice celibacy and have a wonderful life. The way God intended it to be.

  • 184. Joshua  |  September 25, 2009 at 12:15 am

    If you sincerely ask Jesus to show you who he is and why he does what he does.

    Yay! A Mormon!

  • 185. Joshua  |  September 25, 2009 at 12:16 am

    Oh wait, you aren’t quite like the other other Mormons.

    I practice celibacy and have a wonderful life.

    Ignorance is bliss.

  • 186. Quester  |  September 25, 2009 at 8:08 pm

    When I said to Jesus if you are real show me. He did.

    When I begged Him for a decade to do just that, He didn’t. Any other suggestions?

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Attention Christian Readers

Just in case you were wondering who we are and why we de-converted.

de-conversion wager

Whether or not you believe in God, you should live your life with love, kindness, compassion, mercy and tolerance while trying to make the world a better place. If there is no God, you have lost nothing and will have made a positive impact on those around you. If there is a benevolent God reviewing your life, you will be judged on your actions and not just on your ability to blindly believe in creeds- when there is a significant lack of evidence on how to define God or if he/she even exists.

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