Seems we Christians get sucked into discussion where we are called to task to support a God that "does not exist"; "supports" murder of innocents; is "intolerant" of alternate life styes and so forth.
God can take care of Himself. He takes care of His. He needs not assistance. And He makes no apologies for any of His actions. The supposed greater minds of humanism would make themselves equal to Him by their arguments, and demands for answers. In time God will answer, but God will not be apologizing to them. Therefore, why should Christians apologize for Him or His actions either directly, or indirectly by explanation.
Following is a short list of items which are constant laments on the part of unbelievers. My response is I don't apologize for:
an ever lasting God, creator and sustainer of all things.
the creation of man in his imperfect state.
the slavery that man put himself into.
the deaths of the corrupt nations during the Exodus.
being against those things which are an abomination to God.
words of Jesus Christ.
words of the Gospel writers
there being only one way of salvation through Jesus Christ.
any of the things, items or issue frowned upon by the humanist crowd.
And I don't apologize for the Bible.
We can talk about my God and His works and plan, but I do not apologize for God. You'll have to take that up with the "owner."
Important message here, mishpat! Makes me think of Job who demanded answers from God, and God's response, which was not to answer (though answers existed), but rather to point out that He is God and Job is not and thus Job, who could never grasp it all, had no business questioning the One who is so far above him in understanding, power and majesty.
I confess I'm one who "explains" often. You mentioned "the slavery that man put himself into", which I believe is an example of godly, Spirit-led understanding in this area. Having this insight as you do, for me it would be hard not to point out that God often allows us to "reap what we sow" or "lie in the beds we've made" and thus it makes sense that He let us be slaves by our own design. I believe I explain too much, yet I still want to give words of wisdom that may be of help. It's a hard line for me.
Yup, we all get sucked in at times. But then it comes with the territory. Tighten the jaw, shake the dust off and move on to the next. The hardest ones for me are the "I'm a Christian, but what kind of a God would ...." and the diatribe begins. Reminds me of my younger days when I would tell my folks where they did things wrong. Well, actually, I only told my friends, cuz I knew my folks were right but wanted my own way, so I just looked around for support.
I'm not sure what the purpose was or is for a lot of things that God puts in motion, and I talk with Him about it. Sometimes I get it, sometimes I don't. But I never question His "right" to do so. After all, it's all HIs, including me.
One also must realize that one is not God. I don't apologize for God because his actions, at times, were absolutely atrocious by today's standards and if any human being would even attempt to do one tenth of one percentage of the crap he did, they would -rightly- be jailed and hopefully executed. As I would never turn a city to dust or torture one of my children to win a bet, I'm assuming that's kind of a God thing. Abominations are kind of his thing too. Again, God is kind of an ass, but he is what he is. No need to apologize or defend him, it's pretty obvious.
I also don't really feel I need to do his job for him. I don't really get to decide who is righteous, or Christian, or holy or any of that stuff. I don't get to judge. It's above my paygrade.
I do, occasionally, apologize for the actions of other Christians who have chosen to do God's job. The ones that have killed in his name. Those who harass and insult in his name. Those who hate in his name... Just like I apologize to people for my crazy relatives. No, it's not my fault they are insane, but I just kind of feel a responsibility to apologize, if for no other reason than to show that not all of us behave that way.
And I thought I would never agree with you!
Like those today that kill in His name, is it possible that ancient peoples attributed things to God that He didn't do? Tell them to keep slaves, destroy cities or the world, etc? That such things were just impulses and desires of the people then or natural events that happened without God's direct intervention?
Today we still have people exclaiming, for example, that Katrina was God's retribution on New Orleans for being a wicked city or the US for being wicked; perhaps Sodom and Gomorrah were the same kind of thing as well as the flood? Even the plagues over Egypt?
That's absolutely possible. Likely even. Humans often attribute what they don't understand to God, I doubt that the early Jews were any different... especially given the area that they came from already had a belief system that included a God for pretty much every natural event.
Your post brought that to mind - an interesting concept I thought. Perhaps God wasn't the evil, spoiled child depicted in the OT. Perhaps it was only the morality of the people then being expressed in how they thought a god should be and behave. Coupled with an inclination to exaggerate and to ascribe anything unknown to a god, God could be far from what was shown.
Fair points. There are so many logically fallacious straw man arguments as well, while at the same time wanting to put others down. Often, they are going after a view that isn't correct, and not held by the person they are demanding to answer for an idea they don't even hold as true. There isn't anything to apologize for in those cases, as in so many others.
"Apologize" may be a poor choice of words. However, many times when the Christian makes an attempt to explain issues to the unbelieving, libertines and charlatans that troll the Hub, the softness of the response appears as an "apology." So it seem the best word for the moment.
And, as to not responding to the evident jabs and darts, I agree. Its noted some only chime in, in this manner but have nothing really to add to a proper debate. They should be properly ignored.
Then, too, Websites which are given for support are third person, one more opinion. And the long and arduous explanations of purpose by the metaphysicists end up with the same message, 'this what I believe today, check back tomorrow for a new slant." They change as often as the neo-sciences change their "facts."
Logic and reason are only used to support a position which, of course, is neither logical nor reasonable. Those that complain about Him or apply distasteful labels must answer to Him one day.
And, to the contrary of the malcontents comments, I believe He was right in all His actions. So why "apologize" for God.
I'm sorry, but when some Christians start telling other people how to live, and try to introduce laws that force people to live according to Christian belief (regardless of their own beliefs) then you become accountable for explaining exactly what it is you are peddling. That's as it should be in my view.
The Christian "faith" is a mish-mash of different ideas, interpretations, and translations of 5000 year old texts. Do you really expect people not to challenge you to explain how and why your faith is relevant in the 21st century?
The Bible contains stories involving genocide, slavery, rape and torture. You and other Christians defend it as a blueprint for the way we should live our lives. As a result, non-theists (rightly) ask the question: Why are these stories of murder, pillage, rape and torture something we should look to as a guide on how to behave? I think that's a fair question, and it's one you should be prepared to answer if you want to go around spreading the "good news".
I can only speak for myself here, but I don't agree with your sentiments that the items you mention is a blueprint on how to live their lives, or a guide on how to behave. You list things like murder, rape, pillage, torture...
Its a simple misunderstanding of what it means to be a Christian, by definition. Facts and reason refute your ideas, as do the teachings of Jesus. You make the point for Mishpat actually. You lumped in those actions with someone that goes around spreading the good news, lol. You are trying to put onto another human being, something they don't actually support, and don't need to apologize for, as I see it.
Knowledge of Christian theology cannot be assumed. People who are not Christians do not necessarily differentiate between the Gospel and Old Testament, and are not aware of the nuances of Christian belief about Mosaic law, the Old Covenant and the idea of Jesus representing the New Covenant etc.
Christians don't even agree among themselves on which parts of the Old Testament are applicable to Christians. So if some Christians deem it to be their role to tell everyone how they should live (as some do) then it's entirely appropriate to ask what relevance their (your) sacred text (and all it contains) has to modern life.
I concede we can refine the question a bit: Which parts of the stories about murder, pillage, rape and torture are relevant to how we should live?
It would seem that the parts that are relevant are those parts that match "modern" morality. "Modern" being the time period under consideration: Pillaging went out with the crusades, torture left with the inquisition, slavery with the civil war and now the hatred of gays is disappearing, too.
As the morality of a society grows and improves, then, so does the morality of the religion and the old ways are left behind as no longer relevant.
As you mentioned, there may be some that don't differentiate between the gospel and the OT, and all the nuances with the different covenants. That is fair and probably true. That being said though, why run with the ideas of assuming the worst, if they really don't know, like including dictates to live like rape pillaging and torture, over loving your enemies and praying for them that revile you, etc? There is no rationale to assume the worst about people, unless they have made it abundantly clear, and then it might be ok. I don't know of anyone though that thinks the things you mentioned are ok, and I don't think they came to respond to the gospel if they have, because those OT stories and history drew them in.
I think many more Christians agree than don't agree, about which things Jesus clarified for us, when he came to fulfill the law. Ancient Hebrew history is one thing, in my opinion. They don't even show themselves in a good light very often in the books/accounts. God was so often fed up with them, etc.
I think no parts of the stories of rape, pillaging and murder are relevant to how we are to live. What is relevant, is what Jesus commanded, and he commanded the two greatest commandments, to which all others are covered, inherent within. You can't love God with all your heart, soul and mind and love your neighbor as yourself if you are raping, pillaging and murdering. It turns out they are just accusations I think, that seem to serve some other purpose to the person making them.
"Which parts of the stories about murder, pillage, rape and torture are relevant to how we should live?"
This is how we should live: "Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everyone. If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. Do not take revenge, my dear friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,” says the Lord." (Romans 12:17-19)
How do we reconcile the wrath of God seen in the OT and the grace of God now here? God's wrath against the sin of humankind was poured out onto Jesus Christ, who died for all the sins of all people. Consequently, we live in the day of favor and grace, and our message is one of love. God's wrath was seen prior to Jesus Christ (the flood, the destruction of cities, wartime killings, etc.), as it had not yet been poured out onto our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. That is not our day, which thanks be to God is the day of favor and grace! A future day will come when the whole world will be judged. Those who accept the salvation that comes through the Lord Jesus (that is, the cleansing from all sin made possible by Jesus' act on the cross, which has paid the price for all) will be saved. The Lord will repay at this time. We are to have no part in it now during our lives, and we will have no part in it then on judgment day.
Thank you Cat333 for taking the question in the spirit in which it was intended. Of course I am not accusing modern Christians of committing the actions in the OT. The question is about addressing the the apparent disconnect between the "wrath" and the "grace" which many non-Christians highlight. I don't share your beliefs, but I appreciate an honest, clear answer to the question posed.
You're welcome, and I do understand the difficulty in reconciling the truth of God's wrath against sin and His amazing grace. It helps to understand that sin is no less vile to God in the day of grace, but thanks be to the One who stepped in on our behalf, gave up his life for us, and reconciled us to the Father, we who put our faith in Jesus Christ are no longer counted as vile sinners. In his mercy, God is holding back wrath against sinfulness so that ALL have the opportunity to come to him through the Savior Jesus, in fulfillment of his promises and plan of salvation for humans.
You have three paragraphs here. I will address them as simply as I can. Then if you wish to expand on each individual item, we can do that.
#1 - I'm sorry, but when some Christians start telling other people how to live, and try to introduce laws that force people to live according to Christian belief (regardless of their own beliefs) then you become accountable for explaining exactly what it is you are peddling. That's as it should be in my view.
#1 - It is not anyone's place to dictate how you should live. We all make choices based on what we know and believe. Properly, Christians are obligated to present what they believe whenever possible. You are free to shut them up or listen and decide.
#2 - (a) The Christian "faith" is a mish-mash of different ideas, interpretations, and translations of 5000 year old texts. (b) Do you really expect people not to challenge you (c) to explain how and why your faith is relevant in the 21st century?
#2 - (a) I disagree on your definition (b) I expect they will, just not interested in responding to pot shots made for notoriety. (c) The Bible is for all time therefore relevant for all time.
#3 - (a) The Bible contains stories involving genocide, slavery, rape and torture. (b) You and other Christians defend it as a blueprint for the way we should live our lives. As a result, non-theists (rightly) ask the question: (c) Why are these stories of murder, pillage, rape and torture something we should look to as a guide on how to behave? (d) I think that's a fair question, and it's one you should be prepared to answer if you want to go around spreading the "good news".
#3 - (a) Yes it does; (b) No, I don't (c) Rightly is incorrect. How about "subjectively ask". (c-continued) Because mankind's attitude have not changed since creation. For the most part these are reminders not lessons on how to live. (d) Yes it is, so fire away.
You say it isn't anyone's place to dictate how others live, but some Christians clearly believe it is, and they do. This illustrates the point that Christianity is not a cohesive whole. If Christians can't agree among themselves what Christians should and shouldn't be doing, then is it not understandable that people will challenge those Christians who deem it their responsibility to tell everyone how to live?
Given that the Bible is the sacred text of Christianity and other religions, could it be that what you perceive as "pot shots made for notoriety" are actually a reasonable challenge to the precepts contained within that book?
Perhaps the "humanist crowd" you derogatively refer to simply see a disconnect between the idea of the mass murder, rape, genocide, and torture of the Old Testament and the "love thy neighbour" of the New. Is that unexpected, given the nature of some of the stories in the OT? So you're not being asked to "apologise" for the Bible, so much as to explain that disconnect and apparent inconsistency. I think you do yourself, Christians in general, and Christianity a disservice by becoming defensive about it.
Many atheists raise the issue of the the OT to highlight the belief that god does not exist and these stories stemmed solely from the minds and actions of human beings. They believe the stories are a mixture of historical record, myth, legend, and fantasy written in part to explain the violence and suffering; joys and hopes of life which was otherwise inexplicable. They view the inconsistencies in the Bible as exactly what you would expect to see in a text written over several thousand years by different authors, in different social contexts, without the overall guiding hand of an omnipotent, omniscient being.
Though I understand most of your comments, I do not agree. But, be that as it may, let's look a subjects singularly rather than compiled which only confuse issues. So pick a subject and fire away. We'll talk about it and, to an extent, debate it as long as it seems fruitful. We will both be under a certain scrutiny and subject to opposing views by others on the Hub. As you have indicated, Christianity does not agree with itself in the common usage of the word.
In light of this last, let me say up front that I do not accept other views on Christianity as being orthodox unless they agree that the Bible, all 66 books, is the Word of God, that Jesus Christ is the one and only way of salvation and salvation is by grace alone, nothing added. I say this more for other professors than for yourself, in order to eliminate certain arrhythmic doctrines which I find invalid.
It would help if I knew where we were in disagreement, so I'll provide a framework in the form of some questions:
Do some Christians clearly believe it is their place to dictate how others live?
Is Christianity a cohesive whole?
Is it reasonably foreseeable for a non-Christian to challenge Christians who deem it their responsibility to dictate to others how they should live?
Given that the Bible is the sacred text of Christianity and other religions, is it reasonable for non Christians and Christians alike to challenge the precepts contained within that book?
Is it foreseeable that people will see a disconnect between ideas in the OT and the NT?
As religion is within the realm of public discourse and is being cited as an influence in political discussion, is it unreasonable to challenge the moral basis of religions to determine the appropriateness and suitability of laws and policies that may be based upon them?
>>It would help if I knew where we were in disagreement, so I'll provide a framework in the form of >>some questions:
I think that would be a good start.
>> Do some Christians clearly believe it is their place to dictate how others live?
I believe some do, and I do not agree with it.
>>Is Christianity a cohesive whole?
No, I don't believe it is. There are a variety of doctrines that would fit in the basic concepts of Christianity, yet there is infighting here. And there is the misguided belief by those that believe "Jesus did exist here on earth for a while" is sufficient to call themselves Christians. Then, of course, there are several "churches" that deny foundational tenets of Christianity yet still call themselves Christian.
>>Is it reasonably foreseeable for a non-Christian to challenge Christians who deem it their >>responsibility to dictate to others how they should live?
It is the Christians responsibility to present the Gospel of Jesus Christ whenever and wherever possible but it violates the scripture to demand people listen or to dictate to others how they should live. The Bible is the authority, not the person or church doctrine.
>>Given that the Bible is the sacred text of Christianity and other religions, is it reasonable for non >>Christians and Christians alike to challenge the precepts contained within that book?
Seeing the word "challenge," this one might take a bit more definition from your end. And being religious do not mean one believes, though religion and Christianity are tied together in many folks minds.
As to the question as I understand it, on the surface, it is not "heresy" to question God about His works. This is done through prayer on many occasions. It crosses the line when one denies God has the right to do that which He does.
>>Is it foreseeable that people will see a disconnect between ideas in the OT and the NT?
Only in so far that they chose to. One might read the Bible through and not "get it." But study brings out many points that are missed in the reading.
>>As religion is within the realm of public discourse and is being cited as an influence in political >>discussion, is it unreasonable to challenge the moral basis of religions to determine the >>appropriateness and suitability of laws and policies that may be based upon them?
It is the right of free men to challenge and disagree with any issue they feel is improper. Christianity is bound to follow the laws as written, unless they violate God sovereignty. And here we might have that "disconnect" you spoke of earlier.
This is not a disconnect in social law, but in the Laws of God and the Grace of God. The Laws of God, called the laws for righteousness, ended with the beginning of the Church age, the age of Grace. We now stand in the age of Grace. The Law only applies as a teacher. We are expected to follow it as much as is possible, but only as obedient children. We are not disinherited for not following as we should, but we will answer for it at one time or another.
It should be pointed out, though, that Law, whether the 10 commandments so often alluded to, or the rest of the commandments were never designed to secure salvation for man. That is a misconception. Salvation, that is a Heavenly eternity, has always and only been attainable by faith alone.
Democracy is a form of government in which all eligible citizens are meant to participate equally – either directly or, through elected representatives, indirectly – in the proposal, development and establishment of the laws by which their society is run. -wiki
Perhaps you would rather live in North Korea or some place with sharia laws.
I think some are forgetting too, who is changing the laws exactly sometimes. Its true though, that this country is for everyone here that is legal and a citizen. It makes no sense to balk at some people's views and accuse them of trying to enforce their ideas or beliefs onto others, when in reality that is what everyone is doing or wanting for themselves. Its about picking on one set of views, and only accusing those people of doing what they themselves are so often doing.
Everyone thinks their views are the correct ones, and everyone wants what they think is the correct laws in place. Its not just the Christians.
I do differ from some however, about things like laws and my views on them, once a bigger consensus is had among the public. I kind of mentally compartmentalize things then. There is/was a time though, when some agendas were pushing their views through against the greater public's views. Like we have seen in California for example, after elections. It was like one smaller group, won in that case, over the greater vote of the people. I don't think that is right, nor very American.
Way to misrepresent what someone said. The actual quote (which you conveniently cut off) is:
"I'm sorry, but when some Christians start telling other people how to live, and try to introduce laws that force people to live according to Christian belief (regardless of their own beliefs) then you become accountable for explaining exactly what it is you are peddling."
In other words, if you want try to introduce laws based on your belief, knock yourself out, but don't suggest that it's somehow wrong for people to challenge what your ideas for living are based on. If you are advocating laws that impact everyone then you don't get a free pass just because you say it's based on religion.
You may want to live in a Theocracy where laws are dictated by clerics on the grounds that "god said so". I, and many others, would prefer not to.
We live in a Democracy and not a dictatorship or a theocracy. Everyone has equal access to the law and the PEOPLE Get to VOTE on it.. Meanwhile there are dictators that DO murder, pillage, rape and torture. There are countries with apostasy and blasphemy laws where they kill people for changing beliefs or espousing their beliefs. So you want to talk about murder, do you? Christians believe in loving your neighbor etc. This is a better concept in the 21'st century than murdering someone because of apostasy today right?
It is right for those who advocate laws that impact on everyone to be challenged on whatever reasoning that law is based on. That is an important part of the democratic process. Those who advocate laws based on their religious beliefs are no exception.
Suggesting that you don't have to explain the inconsistencies (real or perceived) within Christianity because "in time God will answer" shuts down any discussion, argument, or challenge. After all god is perfect right, so if god said so, then who are you to challenge that? This is one of the fundamental issues non theists have with religion, including Christianity. The very nature of religious belief allows this type of argument in a way that no other area of human thought or discourse does.
So Christians believe in "love thy neighbour", yet the Bible seems to be full of examples where people did not love their neighbour, and god apparently didn't love them either. Is that due to misinterpretation and a lack of biblical knowledge on my part? Perhaps, perhaps not, the point is that this inconsistency (real or perceived) questions the consistency of Christianity. You can respond to that criticism by trying to demonstrate that Christianity is a robust moral code that is still relevant to life in the 21st century. Or you can respond with "in time God will answer". I am suggesting that the latter should never be deemed an acceptable response from those who advocate laws based on their religious belief. I'm not suggesting the OP is one of those people, but it's a general point that seems to have come out of the discussion.
The voters will decide in a Democracy as far as what laws are accepted or not. You also know OT/Jewish history. Does your knowledge of OT exempt you from participating in a democracy? Do you want to talk about "actual" theocracies that have apostasy laws and their violations of human rights? Because that isn't actually happening here. The world could use a little more love your neighbor, charities and all that stuff. The world could use less dictatorships like North Korea and their Juche ideology that promotes state atheism or countries that have apostasy laws. These are actual and real problems, not hypothetical ones if a Christian participates in a Democracy
Let me repeat this in the hope you'll understand it this time. I have no problem with anyone participating in the democratic process. Here is the bottom line as far as I'm concerned:
It doesn't matter who you are or what you believe, if you want to advocate a law or public policy, you should expect that proposal to be challenged, and you should expect to be asked to translate the benefits of that proposal in universal terms accessible to people of all faiths, and of none. It should not be acceptable to evoke "god's will" as the sole motivating factor for decisions that affect society. Advocates should expect proposals to be subject to argument, and be open to reason.
Now which aspect of that are you disagreeing with? Do you believe it is acceptable to adopt laws solely on the grounds of something being "god's will"?
U.S. Citizens exercising their rights, does not equate to a theocracy. This is the United States, not some third world country with apostasy laws, so that sky ain't falling and to come to that conclusion seems outlandish. But there are countries that have apostasy and blasphemy laws. There are dictatorships doing all kinds of harm. It seems like your murder, rape and pillage statements, fits them more. Don't it?
Sounds like you believe a theocracy, where laws are dictated by clerics, is really a repugnant thought.
Coincidentally we actually have countries that have apostasy laws. I, and many others, would prefer they didn't have these laws and/human rights violations. What can you do to stop them Don W?
I think people are accountable for what they do (or support) in Gods name. What other people do is on them.
I think people are accountable for what they do (or support) in Gods name. What other people do is on them.
I think it is true that people are accountable for what they do in God's name, or in the lack of God's name. We have seen both sides use ideas to justify all kinds of things. As for support, if they actually support a very particular thing, then they supported a very particular thing. That is harder to prove of course. Again, on either side, we see people supporting all kinds of things.
One of things I love about God, is that he is neither too harsh in his judgements, all the while knowing all the details, and mind, and hearts of people. This makes for the most fair judge possible. Its refreshing in a world so full of unfair people in their judgements so often.
I agree with PhoenixV. I believe any mention of God is a good thing. The time I am concerned is when the "maker of the universe" is mentioned and God is not given the glory.
I will be happy to apologize for God for all of eternity as I see it as an active discussion to engage others in the pursuit of knowledge.
Feeling God's love, once someone has accepted God and has felt God's love is an amazing event.
I feel my job here on earth is to be the light through which others can see and begin to believe in God.
I have allot of apologizing to do on my behalf but God is great and yes, he can handle it on his own but I will always be ready to champion a vocal cry to bring joy and light into someone's heart.
My job is to not judge - let God judge. My job is to actively seek and feel God's love and share the fact that God loves each and every one of us. If that job includes apologizing so be it - count me in on that "apology game".
Thank you so much for this wonderful opportunity to share our joy about God and his greatness.
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