15 August, 2010

Christopher Hitchens, Not Going Gently - NYTimes.com

Christopher Hitchens, Not Going Gently - NYTimes.com

36 comments:

  1. "Startlingly, these updates have elicited hundreds of responses from well-wishers (and some foes), who urge Mr. Hitchens in online comments (and in their prayers, many write) to accept salvation. One wrote: 'Your conversion could do for modern-day Christianity much what Paul’s did in the early days of Christianity.' Still another implored, 'Mr. Hitchens, before you die give your life to Christ. Why not.'"

    I'm absolutely appalled by such behavior! "Accept 'salvation?'" What chutzpah!

    I remain convinced that this "conversion persuasion" activity is nothing more than some kind of cosmic video game, for which the "winners" get some kind of prize the value of which only they can see. Children raised without manners, all of them.

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  2. Hi Tim,

    I am reminded of Epicurus' letter to Menoeceus:

    "For life has no terrors for him who has thoroughly understood that there are no terrors for him in ceasing to live. Foolish, therefore, is the man who says that he fears death, not because it will pain when it comes, but because it pains in the prospect. Whatever causes no annoyance when it is present, causes only a groundless pain in the expectation. Death, therefore, the most awful of evils, is nothing to us, seeing that, when we are, death is not come, and, when death is come, we are not. It is nothing, then, either to the living or to the dead, for with the living it is not and the dead exist no longer."

    Some theists are comforted by the prospect of a death bed conversion of the atheist. I suppose this impulse is the same one that draws many believers together in regular social company for ritual celebrations. The rituals help calm their doubts and the great cognitive disonance of reality - which presses in all around them. In the company of like-minded individuals they cling to each other against the gnawing truth that their gods are silent, their gods are absent, their gods are impotent.

    It is a pity really. If we could clearly see how marvelous this life really is, we might actually be more present in the only time we have - the "now". A belief in the afterlife encourages so many of us to squander life.

    If only more folks abondoned the notion of an afterlife, there might be more hope for our species. Who would risk their life to fight a war, or fail to be a steward of this garden, or to be their sisters' keeper, if they knew that this life was the only one we have to live?

    IMHO, no other single idea has imprisoned and poisoned humanity more than the idea of the "afterlife".

    Cheers...Martin

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  3. Hi Martin: While I do not agree with your contention about there being no after-life, I absolutely agree with the thrust of your message that people should be far more concerned with the welfare of their sisters and brothers than about enforcing any type of religious dogma.

    Hope you're enjoying your summer!

    Tim

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  4. Martin,

    I don't agree with the logic behind your Utopian view of an atheistic world. I could just as easily say, with only the "now" concerning me, without a thought of an afterlife or accountability to a loving and just creator, why waist my precious time labouring to help the poor, the sick and the dying? The welfare of the planet is the next guys problem, I'll reap what I can to make my "now" as enjoyable as it can be.

    If you went out right now and bulldozed every Christian hospital, school. orphanage, food bank and homeless shelter and relied purely on the ones created by people or groups living in the "now". You'd be left with practically nothing. Do you seriously think we'd be more compassionate without belief in God?

    The former Soviet Union saw religion as the problem as well and tried to create that atheistic utopia. We all know how that experiment turned out. They had no problem fighting wars, destroying the environment and hand little regard for caring for their sister.

    Cheers
    Paul

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  5. Thanks for your questions Paul.

    Firstly, my comment was not directly questioning the existence of your god(s), but rather criticzing all theists' belief in an afterlife.

    I think we can both agree that whether or not your god(s) are real, it is a completely separate question from the issue of whether or not humanity would be more compassionate without a belief in the afterlife.

    You seem to imply that a belief in the afterlife is essential to human compassion. You cite the USSR as an example of the failure of an atheist utopia.

    Firstly, the USSR was not an utopia - albeit - it was officially non-theistic. Most serious commentators would attribute the collapse of the USSR (in large part) to economic reasons. This is hardly an indictment of atheism. It is, however, an idictment of an authoritarian, centrally planned, economy.

    Secondly, I would ask you the following questions:

    a) Why should a rapture Christian have any concern for the environment? Jesus is only going to sweep them up into heaven before the final conflict.
    b) Why should a Muslim jihadist not sacrafice his/her life if Allah commands it? After all, Allah will reward him/her with paradise and access to 72 virgins for eternity.
    c) Why should a Hindu Brahman work for economic justice for the untouchables? After all, in the great wheel of life, the untouchable may be reborn into a higher caste in a future life.

    You seem to think that a belief in the afterlife is essential to human compassion. Is it really? Does this mean that the theist only does a good deed out of fear of punishment? Is the thesit only motivated by the torment of hell? Is the theist only moved by a selfish desire to obtain heaven? If so, perhaps this is more of an indictment of thesits than atheists.

    Is there not an advantage for societies where all individuals work co-operatively? Do we not all benefit when our weak and sick are cared for? Do we not all benefit when our young are all well educated and socialized? Do we not all benefit when we can bequeath a healthy planet to our children and grandchildren? I do not see any of this as being the necessary product of a belief in the afterlife.

    Lastly, we come to the question of truth: If there is no evidence to support one's belief in an afterlife, is it right to assert that it is true? Would we be justified in this assertion just because we thought it might provide us with a juvenile basis for human compassion?

    Cheers...Martin

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  6. Martin,

    The christian's comfort is of the Lord. It is strengthened by the promises of God given to us in his Word. For example, the Psalms are full of comforting words of hope and consolation for the believer in Christ. What hope does the world have to offer aside from the pleasures and things of this life?

    The Bible teaches us in 1 Corinthians that the validity of the faith of the christian is based upon the truth of Christ's resurrection.

    The Scriptures put it this way: "If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most miserable. But now is christ risen from the dead, and become the firstfruits of them that slept. For since by man came death, by man came also the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive, But every man in his own order: Chyrist the firstfruits: afterward they that are Christ's at his coming." 1 Corinthians ch15 vs 19 to 23.

    If you were correct and I don't for a second think you are, then the christian would be spending his life on false hopes. But the fact that Christ was raised from the dead changes everything. It validates the truth of Scripture and everything that is taught in the Bible about salvation, heaven, hell, and the assurance of salvation that the believer in Christ can have.

    The other thing you might consider is where did such a complex and ordered universe come from? Even atheist scientists have not been able to explain it adequately. The only explanation to my way of thinking is there is a God of infinite power, knowledge, ability, etc. that created it out of nothing just as it says in Genesis. To try to attribute the intricacy and beauty of creation to anything else just doesn't seem to make sense. The more scientists discover with their latest telescopes about the immensity of the universe adds to the wonder of the creation.

    I would add one final caveat. Not any religion will do. Only the true God as revealed in Scripture, Jesus Christ, can save. There are false teachings concerning Christ and as a result false churches. I would not want to see anyone putting their trust in such systems.

    Wayne

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  7. Hi Wayne,

    I am baffled that you would quote scripture at me.

    It is almost as if you assume that I have never read the stuff before. It is almost as if you assume that if I hear the holy words of your bible, all will become clear to me and I will agree with every word you say. I am baffled because even Christians agree on very little - yet many read from the same scripture.

    For the record, I have read and studied your bible, the Koran, the Vedas and the Unpanishads. All of these holy scriptures make claims about the god(s) and the afterlife. All of them offer absolutely zero evidence (absent second hand human testimony) in support of their claims.

    What is even more unsettling is that the world operates in a manner that is entirely consistent with none of these scriptures being true.

    I think you will agree with me that they all cannot be true - since each scripture makes many key claims that are mutually exclusive with the other scriptures.

    But let's say for a moment that one of them is true. How does one decide?

    Cheers...Martin

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  8. "Do you seriously think we'd be more compassionate without belief in God?"

    Do you seriously believe that compassion REQUIRES a belief in gods?

    "The christian's comfort is of the Lord. It is strengthened by the promises of God given to us in his Word."

    A "promise" for which there is absolutely no recourse if and when you find out that it was all a lie.

    "If you were correct and I don't for a second think you are, then the christian would be spending his life on false hopes."

    Well, you have to admit that it is at least possible that Martin is correct. But it's your right to continue to ignore his warning and choose which path you will walk on your own way through life. But you may choose it only for yourself; you may not choose it for someone else.

    "Only the true God...can save."

    Ah, but only man can put labels on things he cannot see! And "true" is a very subjective label!

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  9. Martin,

    "I think you will agree with me that they all cannot be true - since each scripture makes many key claims that are mutually exclusive with the other scriptures.

    But let's say for a moment that one of them is true. How does one decide?"

    Yes, I can agree they cannot all be true.

    You say you have a number of different religious writings (that claim to be Scripture I might add). I admit your question is not easy to answer. I can think of several points though that might be worth considering.

    First, the christian Scripture or Bible records events that actually took place such as the formation of the nation Israel. Such a nation was known to have existed going back several thousand years from today. Such a person as Jesus was historically known to have lived on earth. The disagreement would be over the resurrection. The places where the Bible records important events took place actually exist. The historical record in the Old Testament of the nation Israel can in some matters be verified by archeological findings.
    The biblical record of the resurrection records a number of eyewitnesses who saw Jesus after He was raised from the dead. In a court of law today, the testimony of many eye witnesses would be accepted as sufficient evidence. Why is the Bible in some people's minds not a trustworthy record of supernatural events? Many of the apostles and prophets who wrote the New Testament died a martyr's death. Why would people die for something if it was a lie?

    The God of the christian Bible is believed by christians to be alive. Where are the gods of the other religions? Where is the evidence that they are alive in comparison with the christian's biblical accounts of Jesus' resurrection and ascention.

    Another question is the question of sin. It is evident by observation that man has an evil nature as the Bible teaches. He is in a fallen state. This can be observed in human nature, even in children who are misbehaving or rebellious. The Bible provides the only solution to this corrupt fallen nature, that is, for a fallen man to be born again by the work of God. What answers do these other religions provide? Do they even recognize the existence of sin or an evil heart in man? Do they teach that man can get to heaven on his own steam? The Bible teaches he cannot. Only God who raises the dead can redeem a fallen man. These are some comparisons one can make between different religions.

    Wayne

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  10. Hi Wayne,

    Well...the novel "The Davinci Code" contains several historical references that are correct. Would that be enough for us to say that the entire book is factually correct?

    Perhaps more to the point - why is historical accuracy the litmus test of authentic scripture? The Muslims say that we know that the Koran is true becuase it is poetic and beautiful and that no human made book can equal it. They also claim that is prophetically accurate. Why prefer historicity over beauty or prophesy as the litmus tests of truth?

    What about books of the Bible that are not historically correct (e.g. Genesis)? Should we throw those out? Or how about books of the bible that contain no historical references (e.g. Revelations)? Should we disregard these books?

    It strikes me that theists (yourself included) are are establishing the standards of truth by first looking at hat their own scriptures supposedly do well - and then generalizing to all holy scripture. Not a very reliable method wouldn't you say?

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  11. Martin,

    "It strikes me that theists (yourself included) are are establishing the standards of truth by first looking at hat their own scriptures supposedly do well - and then generalizing to all holy scripture. Not a very reliable method wouldn't you say?"

    I don't claim to be an expert at all on historicity of the Bible. All I meant was that part of it can be verified as historically accurate from what I have heard. I would not claim all books of the Bible are meant to be historical records. As you mentioned Revelation, I will agree it is not meant to be a historical type of book. I would not say the Bible in general is meant to be a history book either.

    The point I would make is that the truth of Scripture is not mainly established by some comparison with secular history. The truth of the Bible is established in the mind of the individual reader by the illumination of the Holy Spirit. The Bible is far more than a poetic book or a literary masterpiece of some kind.

    I have not studied the Koran. All I know about it is that Islam was founded somewhere around 600 A.D. by a man who claimed to have received revelation from God. This means it is a relatively recent religion. The book of Mormon was also written by Joseph Smith I believe in the 1800s. He claimed to receive revelation or visions directly from God or an angel. I believe the Koran and the Book of Mormon among other so-called Scripture are rejected by Bible-belieiving christians based on various facts. One is that they contain things which sharpely contradict what the Bible teaches. The other thing is that the Bible was widely accepted by the church down to the ages as God's final revelation to man. So claiming to have some new revelation which contradicts the Bible makes no sense.

    The Bible was written over a period of 1500 years by about 40 different authors and completed about 1900 or 2000 years ago.

    Something else to consider. There are a number of prophecies which were made in the Old Testament predicting future events. These were later were fulfilled. This also proves the divine character of the prophecies. This is something worth looking into further.

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  12. Martin,

    I have not read The Da Vinci Code so I know nothing about it.

    Wayne

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  13. Hi Wayne,

    So to summarize - you have no rational and objective basis for preferring the Bible over the Koran, the Book of Mormon, The Vedas, The Upanishads, The Hadith etc., etc.,...

    You simply note that your book is right because it is right about some historical facts, and your books says that it is right about everything, therefore all competing scriptures must be, and are, completly wrong. You say this without ever having cracked open any other holy scripture. Apparently this is OK - well just because it is - and just because you have the whole truth in your current Bible anyway.

    You do realize that this type of argument convinces only those who already agree with you?

    Don't feel too bad Wayne. You have not defended your Bible much worse than any other apologist has.

    Unfortunately for you, there is no rational or objective basis to prefer the Christian Bible over any other divinely revealed scripture.

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  14. Hello Martin,

    "Unfortunately for you, there is no rational or objective basis to prefer the Christian Bible over any other divinely revealed scripture."

    If someone is convinced that what they have is absolutely God's Word and that the teaching of this book is that other writings claiming to be from God are false, why would they wish to waste time reading other books to see if they were divinely inspired? There is so much in the Bible yet to learn, and to be honest, I am a slow reader and slow at comprehending what I read. I think my time would be better spent reading something I know to be God's Word.

    There is other evidence that points to the Bible as being inspired. Much of the evidence is in it's contents. There are for example prophecies (promises of God) in the Old Testament concerning Jesus Christ which have literally been fulfilled.

    For example, the prophecy that God's salvation would go out to the ends of the earth. Isaiah 49:6 This is fulfilled by the evangelization or preaching of the gospel of Jesus Christ.

    There is the prophecy that the Messiah would be born in Bethlehem. This too is fulfilled.
    Micah 5: 1-2

    The prophecy that the Messiah would be a descendant of King David. (Jeremiah 23:5) This is shown to be true by the geneology given in Matthew chap.1.

    There would be a son called God. (Isaiah 9:6,7)

    The Messiah would be rejected. (Isaiah 53:1-3) He was largely rejected by the Jewish people.
    Daniel also predicted the annointed one would be rejected. (Daniel 9:24-26)

    These are just a few of the promises of God which have been fulfilled. There are many more in the Old Testament. Some predicted events which later came to pass just as they were foretold.

    Wayne

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  15. I don't know that the term "accept salvation" is a good term for the simple reason that God gives salvation to whom he will. It is not a matter of an individual decreeing whether he will or will not receive salvation. This is a common misconception in the world today. "Decision theology" does not take into account the the Lord of the universe is a completely sovereign God and whatsoever he decrees or has predetermined comes to pass. While it is true that whosoever calls upon the Lord for salvation will be saved (Romans 10:13), it is also true that God has determined before the foundation of the world those who will be the elect. If you are unconvinced or unsure, I would suggest you read Ephesians chap. 1.

    "Having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will." Ephesians ch1 vs5

    "In whom also we have obtained an inheritance, being predestinated according to the purpose of him who worketh all things after the counsel of his own will:" Ephesians ch1 vs 11

    Predestination is a clearly taught biblical truth. Salvation of the elect is not like shuffling a deck of cards and it is not dependent on the will of man. Such notions would be contrary to the sovereignty of God.

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  16. Hi Wayne,

    You write:

    “If someone is convinced that what they have is absolutely God's Word and that the teaching of this book is that other writings claiming to be from God are false, why would they wish to waste time reading other books to see if they were divinely inspired?”

    Yes Wayne – but how do you know that your Bible is really the word of God?

    That is my simple question to you. As you know, many other competing scriptures make exactly the same claim as your Bible. They all say that they are the true revelation, and that your Bible is either false, incomplete, or not the full revelation.

    I do not understand your reference to “decision theology”, but I suspect that you anticipate my next question: Did you decide to be a Christian?

    If you did decide to be a Christian, then you seem to have done so without looking at any other scriptures that claim to be divinely inspired. How do you know that it is Christ you should serve, and not Osiris, Ra, Yaweh, Allah, Crishna, Budha, Vishnu, Gahnesh, Odin, Zeus, Thor, or Ahura Mazda, etc? Many of these other gods are older than yours, and some have more followers than Christ.

    If you did not decide to be a Christian (you seem to imply that you were predestined to be a Christian and that you did not actively make a decision) then why do you bother to evangelize the rest of us? If Christ wanted the rest of us to follow him, then surely he would have also predestined us to also believe in him.

    And what does this say about your God if he would leave most of humanity (past, present and future generations of people) without this same “predestination” to believe the truth as you do? Would a loving God really condemn so many folks to the eternal torments of hell just because he failed to predestine our belief in him? Such a God as your does not seem very loving to me at all.

    If you are going to evangelize us Wayne, you need to tell us how evangelization is compatible with predestination, and why we should believe that your God is the one true God.

    Cheers…Martin

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  17. "If someone is convinced that what they have is absolutely God's Word and that the teaching of this book is that other writings claiming to be from God are false, why would they wish to waste time reading other books to see if they were divinely inspired?"

    What a perfect example of, "My mind is made up; don't bother me with facts!"

    As for prophecies...well, there's also Nostradamus. And Edgar Cayce. And Jeanne Dixon. And countless others, all of whom have had their prophecies fulfilled with the passing of time. Even I have made prophecies that have come true. It's not difficult. How many gods do you wish to worship, Wayne, based on their prophecies?

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  18. Martin,

    "And what does this say about your God if he would leave most of humanity (past, present and future generations of people) without this same “predestination”

    First, there is a misconception about the teaching of predestination, which I think you have highlighted. This is not the same as fatalism. Since we do not know who is predestined, we must assume that it could be anyone.

    God has commanded christians to go out into the world and preach the gospel. "And he said unto them, Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature." Mark ch.16 vs15.

    Preaching the message and believing are still the method by which God brings salvation to people.

    Many christians, and possibly including myself, may have thought when we first believed in Christ as our Saviour that we somehow made the "decision". But the truth is God gives faith to whom he wills. It was through hearing the preaching of the gospel on a radio broadcast that I believe God saved me. Everyone's case may be different in some details, but basically should be based on hearing, reading, or learning the truth somehow, perhaps from someone else. The apostle Paul put it this way:
    "For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek." Romans ch1 vs16. This verse tells us that salvation comes through people hearing and believing the gospel. This is summed up 1 Corinthians ch15: vs1 to 4.

    "And what does this say about your God if he would leave most of humanity (past, present and future generations of people) without this same “predestination” to believe the truth as you do? Would a loving God really condemn so many folks to the eternal torments of hell just because he failed to predestine our belief in him? Such a God as your does not seem very loving to me at all."

    Martin, this is somewhat difficult to explain and understand unless you accept the truth the all mankind are fallen and deserving of eternal damnation. If you accept that first, then it is easier to understand that if all are deserving of damnation, and God, by his sovereign grace determines to save some for reasons that are not given to us, who are we to question God. The correct definition of the word "grace" is the unmerited favour of God. If it is unmerited, then it cannot be earned. If it cannot be earned, then it is purely due to the incomprehensible mercy and favour of God. That is what grace means.

    When one considers this and accepts that God is absolutely sovereign in what he does, he can only bow in submission and gratitude for the mercy that God has shown him. We need to remember we were created by God and he can do with us what he wills. The apostle Paul speaks to this subject in Romans:

    "For he saith to Moses, I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion.

    So then it is not of him that willeth, nor of him that runneth, but of God that sheweth mercy.

    For the scripture saith unto Pharaoh, Even for this same purpose have I raised thee up, that I might shew my power in thee, and that my name might be declared throughout all the earth.

    Therefore hath he mercy on whom he will have mercy, and whom he will he hardeneth." Romans ch9 vs15 to 18.

    Read the verses following these in Romans chap.9 "Hath not the potter power over the clay, of the same lump to make one vessel unto honour, and another unto dishonour?" Romans 9:21

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  19. Martin,

    To continue.
    So it is not God who is unjust. If God choses to show mercy to some and save them, is he not free to do that since he is God? He is not sending anyone to damnation; but possibly some people refuse to heed what light is given to them, and by doing so, make their own choice. The Bible says God does not will that anyone be lost, but wishes all to come to salavtion through faith in Christ.

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  20. Martin,

    Some people have the idea is that God is required to be an egalitarian. But I have not heard the Bible teaches this. Some are born rich, some are born poor, some die in infancy, some die in mid life, some live to be very old, etc. So from that we see even in this life, not everyone receives exactly the same. But in eternity, I think it is fair to say God will be just and everyone will receive their just deserts. Since the bible teaches everyone is a sinner or has a fallen corrupt nature, then we all have that in common. That is why christians are taught to preach the gospel. There is salvation for those who believe in Christ as their Saviour. Those who believe Jesus died for them personally and paid the full price for their sin and rose from the dead. When one believes that, the righteousness of Christ (who is God) is imputed to them and Christ takes their sin burden or penalty due for sin away from them because He has paid for it at the cross in His death. See Romans ch. 3 to 5.

    You mention other religions and a long list of other gods. But those religions are not the same at what the bible teaches. You will admit they must be different in some key respects.

    You ask how do I know the Bible is true? That is a good question. I could make endless arguments for that but in the end, I think it all boils down to the gift of faith that God has graciously given his people. Romans ch10 says faith cometh by hearing and hearing by the Word of God. So through the continual, prayerful study of the Bible and seeking the illumination of the Holy Spirit, God may give the gift of faith to an individual.

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  21. Wayne,

    You still have not answered how you know the Bible is God's word.

    You still have not reconciled your "loving God" with his inaction to give the un-elect the faith to believe. Your God has defacto damned most of humanity to hell. That strikes me as profoundly immoral. Evil in fact. Are you sure you worship God and not Satan? For that matter, how can you be sure that the great deciever (Satan) has not corrupted or co-opted the Bible in which you believe?

    Your answer is to simply play the oldest apologist trick in the book - and claimed it is a mystery and we cannot know the mind of God.

    Until you answer my questions forthrightly, your evangelizations will fall on deaf ears.

    Cheers...Martin

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  22. Lady Janus,

    "What a perfect example of, "My mind is made up; don't bother me with facts!"

    What facts? You have none. The Bible presents plenty of evidence that is is true and is the revelation of God.

    "As for prophecies...well, there's also Nostradamus. And Edgar Cayce. And Jeanne Dixon. And countless others, all of whom have had their prophecies fulfilled with the passing of time. Even I have made prophecies that have come true. It's not difficult. How many gods do you wish to worship, Wayne, based on their prophecies?"

    The trouble is their prophecies are apart from the Bible. They do not show by their doctrine that they are worshipping the same God as the God of the Bible. As the prophet Isaiah said "if they speak not according to this word, it is because there is no light in them" Isaiah ch.8 vs 20. The Bible is a completed revelation from God for about 1900 years. God has not been giving new revelations since that time. Those that claim them are trying to add to what God has already given us and should be rejected. God does however, provide illumination by his Holy Spirit through his word, the Bible. This is not the same as claiming revelation or a new word from God.

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  23. Martin,

    Religious systems can be broken down into two schools of thought. One is the system of works whereby man by his own efforts earns his salvation or acceptance with God and the other is biblical christianity by which God is completely sovereign and is in complete control of everything that ever happened or will happen in the world. This fits in with the doctrine of the sovereignty of God and the omnipotence and omniscience of God. It would be a contradiction to say God is sovereign but is not in complete control of the universe. He is either completely omnipotent and therefore has absolute control of every detail from beginning to end or he is not in control and is therefore not sovereign. This latter does not make sense and is not compatible with what the Bible teaches about God. He also does not leave anything to "chance" because this would then be a lack of control. The only correct understanding is that God is completely sovereign and does all things according to his eternal council.

    Wayne

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  24. Martin,

    You seem to forget God is the Creator and we are the mere creatures. God owes no man anything. It is not up to God to fit in your or anybody else's pre-conceived mold. God is completely sovereign. He created Adam and Eve in a perfect paradise. He told them they could eat of any fruit except the fruit from the tree of knowledge of good and evil. They listened to Satan and chose to disobey God. Since Adam was the Federal head or representative of the whole human race, his fallen nature was passed on to his progeny.

    Since that time, God has in his eternal council and foreknowledge determined to save some people out of a fallen human race. We are not told how God came to decide who or how he chose the elect but only that he did do so.

    The first principle which must be acknowledged is to accept that God is sovereign Lord of the all and as such it is entirely within His prerogative to decide what he wishes to do. It is beyond questioning. It is not within reason for sinful man to question why or what God does. It is vanity and foolishness to think man can question God. That is the first principle that must be accepted. If one somehow thinks he has the right to question God, he has no concept of who God is and has not acknowledged God's omnipotence and goodness. We need to understand that man can receive nothing apart from what God gives him. He has created us and every heartbeat is sustained by God's power. Nothing happens without God's knowledge and providencial guidance.

    The second point I would like to make is that God is love and it is impossible for God to sin. Sin is the transgression against God's law. God's written revelation teaches us that God is love, that he is just, merciful, and does care about mankind. In our words, we are bound to speak imperfectly because we are imperfect beings, and I pray that God will forgive me for any words that are incorrect and that may give an incorrect understanding of who God is. I am trying to convey who I believe God is in my own words so that you may have a better understanding of what we are talking about.

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  25. Martin,

    "You still have not reconciled your "loving God" with his inaction to give the un-elect the faith to believe."

    It might have something to do with the fact that God has given man a certain degree of freedom. If God did what you suggest and made everyone to believe, then there would be no freedom at all. Everyone would be like a robot. God does not want robots. So it appears there is a certain degree of responsibility he has given to man. How this fits in with God's predetermination or forordination of the elect, I cannot explain and I am not sure if the Bible even tells us. God has chosen to tell us many things in His Word, but there may be some things he has in his eternal council chosen not to tell us. That is entirely within His prerogative to do so because He is God.

    I would add that God does not need people like me to try to justify what He does either. I am only trying to explain it from my perspective so that you may hopefully have a better understanding. The kind of questions we are talking about might only be revealed to you by God himself through humbly approaching God on one's knees and asking Him for guidance or in conjunction with serious study of his written Word. Remember the Psalms and Proverbs and the rest of the Bible warn about pride. God may be more receptive to one who approaches him in humility genuinely seeking to know the truth.

    Wayne

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  26. "What facts? You have none."

    My dear Wayne, I'm not the one who needs them. I'm not the one trying to convince anyone else that I'm the only one who holds "the truth." But you missed the point. That was not me of whom I was speaking -- it was you.

    "The Bible presents plenty of evidence that is is true and is the revelation of God."

    Irrelevant. So does the three-time loser on the witness stand trying to convince the jury that he didn't commit the latest robbery of which he is accused. By itself, not worth a hill of beans, I'm afraid. Needs outside, believable validation.

    "The trouble is their prophecies are apart from the Bible."

    As I said, your attitude is: "My mind is made up; don't bother me with facts."

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  27. "Religious systems can be broken down into two schools of thought." Actually, Wayne, there is at least one other major school of religious thought: that "salvation" is not necessary at all; it is merely an invented "need," calculated to impose control on the many by the few.

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  28. Hi Wayne,

    I am still waiting.

    Cheers...Martin

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  29. Lady Janus,

    Yes, my mind is settled. But it is because I saw the facts. I have given a lot of information on here as to why one should believe the Bible, but you remain unconvinced. What would it take to convince you?

    Wayne

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  30. Wayne, don't waste your time.

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  31. How curious.

    Are any of you giving any thought to what the others are writing? Or are all of your minds made up?

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  32. Hi Michael,

    You ask: "Or are all of your minds made up?"

    I can only speak for myself. While my mind is "made up", I always remain open to the possibility that if I am presented with new or better information, then I will revise my position accordingly.

    Wayne has failed to make a case for his Bible. Are you willing to take up the task?

    Cheers...Martin

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  33. Martin:

    The veracity of the Bible is largely a matter of faith. I believe the Bible to be the inerrant word of God, but I have not read anything from my Christian brother Wayne has written that makes me want to do anything but retch.

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  34. "Are any of you giving any thought to what the others are writing? Or are all of your minds made up?"

    A little more specificity, please, Michael.

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  35. MBrandon,

    "The veracity of the Bible is largely a matter of faith. I believe the Bible to be the inerrant word of God, but I have not read anything from my Christian brother Wayne has written that makes me want to do anything but retch."

    I am glad you are willing to acknowledge the Bible is the inerrant word of God. Now are you willing to accept what it says without the "infallible" interpretation of a church, pope or priest? If not, saying it is inerrant won't mean much. Remember nowhere does the Bible give authority to a group of men on earth to claim to be the infallible interpreters of the Bible. Why did Jesus say He would send the Holy Spirit to teach us in John chapter 16? In claiming to be infallible interpreters are these churchmen usurping the authority of the God the Holy Spirit to teach men? What is your answer?

    Wayne

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  36. MBrandon,

    You say on your webpage that you worship the Jesus in the host. Sadly, this is not the true God or Jesus you are worshipping because the Bible makes it clear God does not dwell in temples made by men's hands. Check the book of the Acts of the Apostles. This is a serious error. Jesus' physical body is now in heaven. Until Jesus physically returns to earth, His physical body remains in heaven. "Ye men of Galilee, why stand ye gazing up into heaven? this same Jesus, which is taken up from you into heaven, shall so come in like manner as ye have seen him go into heaven." Acts ch1 vs11

    "Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God." Hebrews ch12 vs2

    If Jesus' physical body is in heaven at the right hand of the throne of God, he can't be on earth in millions of hosts around the world. As I said the reference in John chapter six about eating and drinking the body and blood of Christ is purely symbolic of believing in Christ. Cannibalism is forbidden in the Bible. Jesus said God desires people to worship him in Spirit and in truth. The only way that is possible is to believe what the Bible says about Jesus; not what some fallible priest or pope has said, who obviously have a vested interest in promoting their dogmas. It is all about control.
    Wayne

    ReplyDelete

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