Sunday, April 4, 2010

The Sacrifice of Christ

I answered the following question on Atheist Central and figured that I would cross post on my own blog:


If God forbids human sacrifice, why did he allow Jesus to be a human sacrifice?


Although human sacrifice is wrong, self-sacrifice is the highest virtue. Just about every culture recognizes this, and John 15:13 says, "Greater love has no one than this, that one lay down his life for his friends."

God was not the one who killed his Son on the cross. He simply gave him over to the forces of evil in order to pay our debt, letting evil run its course, and thereby defeating it. When he died, the veil of the temple tore in two, and we can now partake in his victory over sin and death by entering the "Holy of Holies" through faith.

But in addition to the theological significance of the cross, it was a dramatic expression of God's love for his enemies. Before his death, Jesus said, "Father, forgive them for they do not know what they are doing" (Luke 23:34). And 1 Peter 3:18-20 tells us that after his crucifixion, Jesus went straight to the "spirits in prison" who rebelled against him during the days of Noah and died in the flood, and he made his proclamation of peace to them. So the cross was the pinnacle of self-sacrificial love, where the King Kings died willingly between two criminals.

And although God desires all to be saved and come to the knowledge of the truth, each one of us is like one or the other of the criminals. One said, "Are you not the Christ? Save Yourself and us!" But the other said, "Do you not even fear God, since you are under the same sentence of condemnation? And we indeed are suffering justly, for we are receiving what we deserve for our deeds; but this man has done nothing wrong.' And he was saying, 'Jesus, remember me when You come in Your kingdom! And He said to him, 'Truly I say to you, today you shall be with Me in Paradise'" (Luke 23:39-43).

24 comments:

Y = X said...

According to Christian theology the sacrifice of Christ is necessary for us to be saved. This appears to imply that no human can live sin free. This suggests to me that humans are sinful by nature. Is it correct to say that this nature comes from God?

Anette Acker said...

Y=X,

I plan to answer your question in a new blog post as soon as I finish my current conversations on Atheist Central. I'm actually discussing the problem of evil in the "Atheist Church Easter Sunday" thread. Hopefully I'll be able to reply to your question in the next couple of days.

Y = X said...

Hi, no rush. Take your time. I'll try to look at the thread on Atheist Central. I haven't been going there.

I suppose my question is related to the problem of evil in the sense that I am getting at is that humans do not have free will. Free will is the standard answer to the problem of evil. I think, given that no human is capable of living sin free, it is wrong to say that we have free will. It might be true that I have free will on a case-by-case basis but overall we don't have free will. Hopefully I'm explaining myself clearly.

Anette Acker said...

You're absolutely right that free will is not absolute; this is what is meant by original sin. But free will is still at the heart of the problem of evil. I explain that in the thread I referenced, but I'll also do a blog post on it, hopefully by Monday.

The Celtic Chimp said...

Jesus' sacrifice is a total con. Firstly, being in some sense divine, he can't actually die. Nor did he as evidenced by his wandering around chatting with folk a few days later. If death was a three day sleep for all of us I don't think we would be much bothered by it. God didn't sacrifice anything. To make this con job even worse, Jesus was supposed to be taking on the sins of every human, past, present and futute. God apparently decrees that the just punishment for this is an eternity in Hell (most evil concept ever invented) but Jesus lies down for three days and then gets to go to daddy's (a.k.a. his own) palace for eternity. What a scam. Cosmic level nepitism!

Anette Acker said...

Thank for stopping by, Celtic Chimp.

First, in a comment under my previous blog post, Milo asked a question about hell, and I gave her a detailed answer in case you’re interested. But to summarize: God has given us free will and the exercise of that free will necessitates the possibility of evil. (See my previous post.) He took upon himself the consequences of free will by paying the penalty for every evil deed (he didn’t just "lie down" for three days), and bridged the gap between justice and mercy. Now any person who wishes can receive his Holy Spirit who will grant us victory of sin and eternal life.

The final stage of the development of humanity will be when God creates a “new heaven and a new earth in which righteousness reigns” (2 Peter 3:13). Nobody who does any harm can have a place there (Isaiah 65:25), because otherwise it would be just like this one. But God is the one who qualifies us to share in that inheritance (Colossians 1:12).

Hell is eternal destruction for those who rejected the words of Jesus. It is not clear whether that means annihilation after judgment or eternal torment. Jude 1:7 says that God destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah with “eternal fire,” and that meant annihilation. He just wiped them out. Likewise, Matthew 10:28 says that God can destroy both body and soul in hell.” If he destroys the soul, it would cease to exist. The bottom line is that God will judge fairly, and we will probably also judge ourselves because we will see ourselves as we are for the first time. In The Screwtape Letters, C. S. Lewis refers to “the peculiar kind of clarity which Hell affords.” John 12:48 says: "He who rejects Me and does not receive My sayings, has one who judges him; the word I spoke is what will judge him at the last day.”

Now as for your point about “cosmic nepotism,” there is no nepotism because Jesus never sinned, and “the wages of sin is death” (Romans 6:23). The natural consequence of sin is spiritual and physical death. It destroys our souls, our bodies, and our lives. However, God freely became Man in order to impart to us the gift of eternal life, and to deal with the sin in our lives. If we receive him and remain faithful until the end we will reign with him eternally (2 Timothy 2:12).

The Celtic Chimp said...

Free will is not really free if not acting how God wants you to results in horrendeous punishment.

It would be a bit like handing a child a dollar and telling him he can do whatever he wants with it but if he doesn't give it to charity you will ground him until he is 20.

If someone put a gun to your head and told you to hand over your money, you technically have a choice of not complying and just taking the bullet but it could hardly be said to be a choice. If the gun was to the head of a child of yours instead of your own, it is even less of a choice. God seems to like skewed choices.

I can't remember the verse or book but insn't there a bit in the bible where someone is hell actually begs for a drop of water because they are "tormented"?

Who judges God's justice. You are basically accepting a "might makes right" argument. God is better than us, therefore he can be as amoral as he likes (from our perspective) we will simply trust that he knows what he is doing.

Also, it should be noted that pain and suffering source in innumerable ways, even a perfectly righteous world would see harm inflicted (albeit unintentional).
If it is a sin for instance to lie, what do you say to a very ugly young woman who asks "Do I look pretty".

The childish fantasy-paradise idea is simply silly.

"He took upon himself the consequences of free will by paying the penalty for every evil deed" You say this but it simply is not consistant with the story. Why are you pretending that it is. Jesus either suffered the prescribed penalty for the sins he took on or he didn't. Clearly he certainly did not.

God became man? The notion is so ridiculous as to boggle the mind that anyone can think of it without laughing. God could as easily become a man as you or I could become a bacteria. If God had truely become a man, he would have sinned his entirely human butt off. The rules are fixed such that obeying them all is in practice utterly impossible. Of course, even when there is evidence of Jesus breaking his own rules, the rules are bent to allow it. Some justification is invented to make sure he stays "sinless".

The Celtic Chimp said...

There is a deeply immoral dimention to Jesus' sacrifice. Forgetting for the moment that God, rather than just give forgiveness freely (afterall he sets the rules) needs instead a human sacrifice; lets leave that be for the moment though. The real immorality and deep injustice is that people who have done wrong have the responsibility for those wrong simply taken away. Consider it thus: Presume that some great harm has been done to you or yours. Suppose the perpetrator has been found guilty in a court of law. No-one doubts his guilt. The sentence is 20 years in prison. The judge, bizarrely decides that his own son will serve the sentence and the wrong doer will instead get to go to a five star resort. Would you accept this sacrifice? Would you consider it just?

Humans are apparently created by God. He created men, strangely with a significantly higher libido than women (very odd that from a creationist viewpoint) Then he decides that even thinking about sex is a sin. Brilliant. You are guilty of a thought crime which you had absolutely no control over, whatsoever! (unless you beleive people can pre-screen their thoughts) which arose in the first place becuase of a biological imperative that was apparently given to us by God! Outstanding! You quite literally cannot win. This is God's notion of justice and sin. God made us sinful (by his own definitions of sin) and then blames us for it by the escape all blame clause (free will) even when our sinning happens quite obviously outside of our control (or outside of our will if you prefer)

This God you worship is a controlling dictator with all the subtlety of a "democratic election" held by Saddam Hussein.
That everything this God thinks, proclaims, wants and does is entirely consistant with the morals and worldview of a patriarcial society of ignorant highly superstitious goat herders is not at all surprising.

Anette Acker said...

Free will is not really free if not acting how God wants you to results in horrendeous punishment.

Quite apart from the Bible, you presumably believe that you have free will to choose your lifestyle, right? So you can drink yourself senseless, never work, and eat a box of chocolate and a bag of chips for each meal. Nobody could stop you. They might try to knock some sense into you, but ultimately it would be your choice.

There would be negative consequences if you chose to exercise your free will in that manner. And you know it, so that's presumably not how you live.

God has decided that he will create a new earth where we will be fully free and fully human, but nobody can do any harm. And his sacrifice on the cross was necessary for anyone to qualify for that inheritance.

Whoever chooses may receive the gift of his Spirit and become like him. We are stuck in our sins and can only get out of the muck if someone with his feet firmly planted on the ground gives us a hand. That is the help Christ offers us. And if we reject it we will be accountable for the harm we continue to do and we cannot be qualified to share in his eternal inheritance. We would be a blight on his new creation.

I can't remember the verse or book but insn't there a bit in the bible where someone is hell actually begs for a drop of water because they are "tormented"?

Yes, it’s Luke 16. As I said to Milo, some verses indicate that hell is eternal torment, others indicate that it’s torment and annihilation, and 2 Thessalonians 1:9 says that it’s “eternal destruction, away from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of His power.” Either way, it’s ultimate rejection. Although the Bible is very clear that there will be a final judgment and a new heaven and a new earth, it is not entirely clear about what will happen to those who refuse his salvation, except that it won’t be pleasant. There will be torment, whether or not it is eventually followed by annihilation. But he will judge fairly, taking everything into account, so we don’t need to worry about what happens to the innocent; we should worry about what happens to us.

Who judges God's justice. You are basically accepting a "might makes right" argument. God is better than us, therefore he can be as amoral as he likes (from our perspective) we will simply trust that he knows what he is doing.

John 15:13 says, "Greater love has no one than this, that one lay down his life for his friends," and God did exactly that. He modeled his moral standard for us, so might does not make right.

The nature of God is most clearly depicted in the New Testament, and Hebrews 13:8 says that Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever.

Also, it should be noted that pain and suffering source in innumerable ways, even a perfectly righteous world would see harm inflicted (albeit unintentional). 
If it is a sin for instance to lie, what do you say to a very ugly young woman who asks "Do I look pretty".

We are no longer under the law, but under grace. The law can be summarized by the commandments to love God with all our heart and soul and mind, and to love our neighbor as ourselves (Matthew 22:27-30). And Christ fulfilled the law perfectly on our behalf. What that means is that we no longer live by a set of rigid rules, like in the OT, but by the Spirit of God within us motivating us to do what is right.

Anette Acker said...

So if a very ugly woman asks you whether she looks pretty, you would be as truthful as possible while being governed by this principle of loving her as yourself. This means that the answer would be somewhat different depending on the circumstances. If you’re about to go out on a date with her, of course you tell her she looks pretty, but if she’s contemplating entering a beauty pageant, you would be guided by Ephesians 4:15, to “speak the truth in love.” In other words, you would look for the most diplomatic way of discouraging her from humiliating herself.

In a perfectly righteous world everybody would have perfect wisdom and insight into other people, so there could be no faux pas.

God became man? The notion is so ridiculous as to boggle the mind that anyone can think of it without laughing. God could as easily become a man as you or I could become a bacteria.

The way you said that reminds me of how some creationists on AC speak of evolution.

Do you want me to explain it, and how it fits in with all of Christian theology, or would it be pointless? If your questions are honest, I would be happy to explain the one about the substitution of Christ as well as the one about sex, evolution, and “thought crimes.”

The Celtic Chimp said...

God has decided that he will create a new earth where we will be fully free and fully human, but nobody can do any harm.

Why did he not create this world to begin with? Being omniscient, he would have known even before creating this world, exactly what would happen. Was it some kind of cruel experiement?

But he will judge fairly, taking everything into account

How do you know? Because he told
you so?
By whose version of what is just? The rules by which we are judged are the invention of the judge himself. It is tyranny in its purest form.


"Greater love has no one than this, that one lay down his life for his friends," and God did exactly that.

But God is not actually dead, is he? In what way is it a sacrifice, when he is giving up something he can't really lose in the first place.


The way you said that reminds me of how some creationists on AC speak of evolution.

You seem to be missing the simple fact that being human and divine at the same time is a logical paradox. It is like being all-knowing and not all-knowing at the same time. If God had access to any aspect of his divinity while human, then he wasn't really human.


Do you want me to explain it, and how it fits in with all of Christian theology, or would it be pointless?

If you believe that you can explain how an entity can be a walking paradox, then by all means have a crack at it. The trinity notion though was never one that was consistant of firmly agreed upon in Christianity and the human/divine nature of Jesus was never uncontentious either.


Your thinking seems rigid to me. Rather than think about any of these things for yourself, you are insisting on just taking the bible's word for it. You don't explain anything in natural terms, you just make a priori assumptions about God's nature. God kills innocent children, you just assume he has a good reason for it. Why do you assume this? God tells you so. I doubt you would employ this reasoning with any entity but God.

Were you to view the Quran the same way, you would be a devout muslim. I think you are basically just too close to it to see the flaws. I don't say that in a derogatory way, it is simply the pitfall of "faith". I think it would be a really beneficial experience for any Christian to debate a devout muslim about the morality of Mohammed having sex with his nine-year-old wife Aisha. You will see faith reasoning in action but about something you can view from a relatively objective standpoint. Again, I am not being flippant and I mean nothing derogatory. That faith is a powerful force in many peoples lives is something I think we can both agree on. It is perhaps the ultimate example of those things that once you commit to it, seeing it objectively becomes very difficult.

On the ugly woman thing. Why does God create people with such great inequity? Why are some people attractive or intelligent or have good health and others get the short end of the stick. By any rationale, surely it is better to be smart, attractive and healthy than not. These are things that people cannot control. You might suffest that we should all love each other the same regardless, but even if we did, it is still better to have these things than to be without them.

Anette Acker said...

Why did he not create this world to begin with? Being omniscient, he would have known even before creating this world, exactly what would happen. Was it some kind of cruel experiement?

Yes, he knew exactly what would happen, but he did it this way because he chose to give us free will. Salvation means self-surrender, and God will not force us to surrender to him. So the new earth will be populated by people who are fully free and yet sinless.

But God is not actually dead, is he? In what way is it a sacrifice, when he is giving up something he can't really lose in the first place.

He went through the process of dying, which is the worst part. In fact, he was mob tortured for a long time before he was crucified.

But you're right that he didn't stay dead, and that is because he was sinless and therefore death could not hold him. As I said before, the wages of sin is death. Instead, he defeated the power of death on behalf of all those who would receive him. So those who receive his Holy Spirit belong to him and therefore his victory over death is imputed to them.

You seem to be missing the simple fact that being human and divine at the same time is a logical paradox.

There is no such thing as a logical paradox. Either you mean a logical impossibility or a paradox. A paradox is "a statement or proposition seemingly self-contradictory or absurd, and yet explicable as expressing a truth."

Jesus being fully divine and fully human is a paradox, not a logical impossibility. He was a man who was filled with the Spirit of God, and therefore he had victory over sin and dominion over nature. This is not a logical impossibility like A equals not A. It is like a glass of water, which is a glass, but it's also water.

The entire Bible prophesies and foreshadows the union of Christ with his bride, the church. So in the new earth every person will be filled with the Spirit of God.

Your thinking seems rigid to me. Rather than think about any of these things for yourself, you are insisting on just taking the bible's word for it.

Actually, I do think for myself, but if I don't explain something clearly, just let me know.

Were you to view the Quran the same way, you would be a devout muslim. I think you are basically just too close to it to see the flaws. I don't say that in a derogatory way, it is simply the pitfall of "faith".

While true, this is one of the reasons why I have conversations with atheists, and I do not shy away from their hard questions. But when they force me to be honest it has only made my faith in the Bible's veracity stronger. If it wasn't true, I would expect that my faith would weaken.

On the ugly woman thing. Why does God create people with such great inequity? Why are some people attractive or intelligent or have good health and others get the short end of the stick. By any rationale, surely it is better to be smart, attractive and healthy than not.

If this world was all that mattered, you'd be right. But in the kingdom of God it's different because those who struggle are more likely to be humble and therefore accept the help God offers through Christ. Luke 13:30 says, "And behold, some are last who will be first and some are first who will be last."

The Celtic Chimp said...

Yes, he knew exactly what would happen, but he did it this way because he chose to give us free will.

If he knew exactly what would happen then every moment of your life is predetermined. Free will would be an illusion in such circumstances. Also, I was asking why he didn't create us to be sinless and free in the first place. Apparently he can do it and according to Ray Comfort et al, no human is capable of being sinless. It must therefore be a state conferred by God. What is he waiting for?

He went through the process of dying, which is the worst part. In fact, he was mob tortured for a long time before he was crucified.

Many mere humans have suffered far worse deaths than Jesus, not that it matters. He either sacrificed his life or he didn't. Clearly he didn't. What does it even mean for God to be 'dead'. How can the omnipotent creator of the entire universe die. Does death mean anything at all in the context of God? Where was he, what state was he in while 'dead'?

But you're right that he didn't stay dead, and that is because he was sinless and therefore death could not hold him
Another inconsistancy. He either took on our sins or he didn't. If he did, he wasn't sinless. If he didn't what are we supposed to be so grateful for?
It is like a person that agrees to serve another's prison term for them and then explaining to the jailers that he is actually innocent of the crime and being let free. No-one pays the price. A simple, flawed human being, being held to a divine standard is apparently deserving of eternal punishment but when Jesus takes on the inequities of all humans, he is let off with crusifiction. Crusifiction is an inconcievably slight punishment when compared to eternal punishment of any kind.

he defeated the power of death on behalf of all those who would receive him
This again does not make sense in the context of Christianity. He is God. He has complete control over life and death and always had and always will have. He doesn't need to do anything to deefeat death. It is a thing of his own making. God can do absolutely anything he pleases at any time.

There is no such thing as a logical paradox.
All paradoxes are logical parodoxes, logical is the method by which a parodox is shown or described.

This is not a logical impossibility like A equals not A. It is like a glass of water, which is a glass, but it's also water.
It is exactly like A equals not A. To be human, by any definition must surely exclude divinity? No? If you are in anyway divine then labelling you human is completely inaccurate. Human nessesarily prohibits divinity and vice-versa.

While true, this is one of the reasons why I have conversations with atheists, and I do not shy away from their hard questions.
Yes, I commend you on your willingness to engage in the debate. I think an examined faith, whatever the conclusion must surely be better than an unquestioned one.

If this world was all that mattered, you'd be right
I will accpet that the kingdom of God may be a great leveler but even so, some people (who may very well be very decent and virteous people) simply get a better deal in this life and not nessesarily at any cost in the nest. Why do such inequities exist at all, they have no bearing on a persons moral worth. Some folk basically just get a better deal.

Anette Acker said...

If he knew exactly what would happen then every moment of your life is predetermined. Free will would be an illusion in such circumstances.

No, that is not true. I used the example on Atheist Central of a taped football game. If you've already seen it, you are omniscient with respect to the game, but the players still had free will while they were playing. You are also outside of time, in the sense that you can turn off the game, go to bed, and watch the rest of it the next day.

Also, I was asking why he didn't create us to be sinless and free in the first place. Apparently he can do it and according to Ray Comfort et al, no human is capable of being sinless. It must therefore be a state conferred by God. What is he waiting for?

I've answered this question in greater depth in other posts and comments on this blog (including my most recent response to Dr. Arend Hintze), but it is not possible to have free will and not be able to sin. (Please see the C.S. Lewis quote in my previous post.)

Many mere humans have suffered far worse deaths than Jesus, not that it matters. He either sacrificed his life or he didn't. Clearly he didn't. What does it even mean for God to be 'dead'. How can the omnipotent creator of the entire universe die. Does death mean anything at all in the context of God? Where was he, what state was he in while 'dead'?

He fully died and rose from the dead, which is how he won the victory over death on our behalf. If he had stayed dead it would have done us no good.

You sound like a drowning person who refuses to be rescued unless his rescuer drowns with him. What you're saying makes no sense. The point is that Jesus was the only one who could have done this for us, and he did.

Another inconsistancy. He either took on our sins or he didn't. If he did, he wasn't sinless.

He took on the punishment for our sins. He himself was sinless.

It is exactly like A equals not A. To be human, by any definition must surely exclude divinity? No? If you are in anyway divine then labelling you human is completely inaccurate. Human nessesarily prohibits divinity and vice-versa.

Why do you say this? If God is spirit, there is no reason why he can't fill our bodies. Something can be 100% one thing and 100% something else as long as those things are not mutually exclusive, and you have not demonstrated that being divine and human are mutually exclusive. For example, a story can be 100% literal and 100% symbolic. A factual story can be symbolic as well. The Bible is 100% inspired by God, and 100% written by humans.

I will accpet that the kingdom of God may be a great leveler but even so, some people (who may very well be very decent and virteous people) simply get a better deal in this life and not nessesarily at any cost in the nest. Why do such inequities exist at all, they have no bearing on a persons moral worth. Some folk basically just get a better deal.

Actually, the Bible teaches that suffering in this life is the most effective tool for preparing us for the next. If everything goes our way in this life, we are likely to become proud and focused on the things on this world.

The Celtic Chimp said...

No, that is not true. I used the example on Atheist Central of a taped football game. If you've already seen it, you are omniscient with respect to the game, but the players still had free will while they were playing. You are also outside of time, in the sense that you can turn off the game, go to bed, and watch the rest of it the next day.

This is an inaccurate analogy. Presume instead that you have a tape recording of the game before it is played. Can any player do anything other than what the tape shows?


but it is not possible to have free will and not be able to sin.
You have suggested that God's new kingdom will have folk in it who are both free and commit no sin. Why did God not create us like those people in the first place?

He fully died and rose from the dead, which is how he won the victory over death on our behalf. If he had stayed dead it would have done us no good.
This a perfect example of you just accepting something uncritically. What does it mean for God to be dead. How can an immortal entity die?

You sound like a drowning person who refuses to be rescued unless his rescuer drowns with him. What you're saying makes no sense. The point is that Jesus was the only one who could have done this for us, and he did.
No, I'm not suggesting anything of the sort. It is only the Christian who insists that I am drowning in the first place. Also, Jesus' sacrifice is utterly unnessesary. In fact it places limitations on God. He is simply unable to just forgive. He needs blood.

He took on the punishment for our sins. He himself was sinless.
Again, he did not take on the punishment we would have recieved, he took on a drastically reduced punishment. Alos, Jesus clearly sins in the bible by the rules he sets up himself. As I said before though, pointing these out is a waste of time. Some manner of excuse will be made for them.

Why do you say this? If God is spirit, there is no reason why he can't fill our bodies. Something can be 100% one thing and 100% something else as long as those things are not mutually exclusive, and you have not demonstrated that being divine and human are mutually exclusive.
I think this is one of those things that you can either see or you can't. It would be a bit like you having your mind transplanted somehow into a cat. Would you be 100% cat in that sense. Are you suggesting that it is only the meat of a human body that is required to be 100% human. I can't think of a case where the absurdity of the proposal is more self-evidently wrong.
To continue the cat analogy. Suppose you lived as a cat without killing mice and birds as it is in the nature of a cat to do. You then declare that you have lived as a sinless cat and that all other cats should be tormented for eternity for doing nothing more than is in their nature to do. How absurd it would be to claim that you fully cat. Of course you weren't.
If you think that humans can be Gods, I can do nothing to help you with that but as I said, I can't think of nothing more self-evidently not the case than that.

The Celtic Chimp said...

a story can be 100% literal and 100% symbolic
I don't think that is true but lets not waste time on it. I agree that a think can have more than one aspect but it seems to me that being entirely human does indeed exclude the possibility of being also divine. Divinity by its nature has access to all kinds of things that human by its nature does not. To put it simply. Humans have severe limitations. Gods have no limitations. You can both have all the limitations of a human and the unlimited nature of a God at the same time. These things are mutually exclusive.

Actually, the Bible teaches that suffering in this life is the most effective tool for preparing us for the next. If everything goes our way in this life, we are likely to become proud and focused on the things on this world.
I always found that a weak argument not the least because of the uneven distribution of suffering. Consider the 5 week old baby with Aids who dies suffering long before it has any ability to understand anything about this world or any other for that matter. It looks awfully like a cop out for the compassionate and merciful God who seems to be entirely without compassion or mercy.

Anette Acker said...

This is an inaccurate analogy. Presume instead that you have a tape recording of the game before it is played. Can any player do anything other than what the tape shows?

No, but that doesn't mean he doesn't have free choice. It just means that someone knew beforehand what he would choose. That's no different than someone knowing afterwards. I am no less free to choose if you know what I will choose than if you don't, because you don't control my actions. Control is the key.

You have suggested that God's new kingdom will have folk in it who are both free and commit no sin. Why did God not create us like those people in the first place?

This is a question that I have answered in greater detail elsewhere on this blog ("Will we have free will in heaven?"), but I will briefly summarize it for you. When we surrender to Christ, his Spirit fills us, and 2 Corinthians 3:17 says, "Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty." So when God fills us by his Spirit, we become like him, but we will also be fully free. But surrender to Christ is a choice that many don't want to make, and God respects that choice. Revelation 3:20 says, "Behold, I stand at the door and knock; if anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and will dine with him, and he with Me." The door opens from the inside.

This a perfect example of you just accepting something uncritically. What does it mean for God to be dead. How can an immortal entity die?

His physical body died. Furthermore, he laid down his life willingly.

If you think that humans can be Gods, I can do nothing to help you with that but as I said, I can't think of nothing more self-evidently not the case than that.

That's okay, you don't need to help me with that, but I appreciate the thought. :)

God created us for fellowship with him, so Jesus was really "the firstborn of many brethren" (Romans 8:29). He predestined us to become like him. Jesus was a man like any other, but he was filled with the Spirit of God, and therefore sinless. This is how all the redeemed will be on the new earth.

To put it simply. Humans have severe limitations. Gods have no limitations. You can both have all the limitations of a human and the unlimited nature of a God at the same time. These things are mutually exclusive.

Jesus had some of the limitations of a man, because he was in the flesh, but he had complete dominion over nature, which is why he could perform miracles, and he was sinless. So in him "all the fullness of Deity dwells in bodily form" (Colossians 2:9).

I always found that a weak argument not the least because of the uneven distribution of suffering. Consider the 5 week old baby with Aids who dies suffering long before it has any ability to understand anything about this world or any other for that matter. It looks awfully like a cop out for the compassionate and merciful God who seems to be entirely without compassion or mercy.

The problem of evil is a major subject that I would only get into if I believed that someone had serious questions, and I'm not convinced that you do. I may be wrong about this, but you come across like you've made up your mind and if anything you're trying to save me from the error of my ways. If true, I have no problem with taking a few minutes to reply to your rebuttals, but I won't get into a discussion about a complex subject like the problem of evil.

The Celtic Chimp said...

No, but that doesn't mean he doesn't have free choice. It just means that someone knew beforehand what he would choose. That's no different than someone knowing afterwards. I am no less free to choose if you know what I will choose than if you don't, because you don't control my actions. Control is the key.

No. The entire concept of choice relies on you being able to choose more than one action. If there is only one action that you can possibly choose, then choice in that scenario is an illusion.

So when God fills us by his Spirit, we become like him, but we will also be fully free.
Were this in any way an adequate answer, then christians who have accepted christ would do no wrong. I don't need to tell you that that is not the case.

His physical body died. Furthermore, he laid down his life willingly.
I presume from that answer that you either don't understand the question (I think you do) or that you are simply choosing not to address the obviously important crux of the question.

God created us for fellowship with him, so Jesus was really "the firstborn of many brethren" (Romans 8:29). He predestined us to become like him. Jesus was a man like any other, but he was filled with the Spirit of God, and therefore sinless. This is how all the redeemed will be on the new earth.
Statements like this only make sense (and even then it is a bit of a strech) if you take the bible as fact. Jesus' being sinless. Why is that significant?...because the bible says so......

but he was filled with the Spirit of God, and therefore sinless Why should this make him sinless by default. Maybe God can sin?

Jesus had some of the limitations of a man, because he was in the flesh, but he had complete dominion over nature, which is why he could perform miracles, and he was sinless. So in him "all the fullness of Deity dwells in bodily form" (Colossians 2:9).


This ignores the fact that humans don't have this ability. It is quite literally inhuman.


I may be wrong about this, but you come across like you've made up your mind and if anything you're trying to save me from the error of my ways
Is that not an entirely accurate description of your position?
On the problem of evil, you are right, I have made up my mind. I have seen far too much evil to ever believe that this world is governed by an entity that understands even the first thing about compassion or mercy. Were I to stand outside a burning house and wearing a fire-proof suit while children screamed for help and did nothing but watch. You would I think quite rightly presume me an evil uncaring git. When God does the same (or even starts the fire) you presume he has a good reason. You have no evidence or reason to believe that he does. Were I, in the scenario described above to assure you that it was for a greater good that I let those children burn to death I am sure you would likely find that a scant or believable excuse. In short, there comes a time when simply allowing suffering to continue is an irredeemably evil act in its own right. I think you convict any mere human of this without too much deliberation but for some reason, you will not only excuse your God this crime but will declare him ultimately good and just.

Anette Acker said...

"I may be wrong about this, but you come across like you've made up your mind and if anything you're trying to save me from the error of my ways"

Is that not an entirely accurate description of your position?


Yes, that is an accurate description of my position. I'm not on Atheist Central because I'm intrigued by the idea of atheism and I'm trying it on for size. So you don't have a snowball's chance in hell of changing my mind.

However, that doesn't mean I'm closed minded. I process all the arguments put forth by the atheists and try to answer them honestly. Sometimes atheists can help me see the truth more clearly by challenging me. But so far that has only brought me closer to the teachings of the Bible.

I've actually never met an atheist who has tried to convert me to atheism. If that's what you are doing, you're the first. They will talk about promoting rationalism or science, not atheism. And since I'm already in favor of rationalism and science, the atheists who are seeking to "convert" usually don't even reply to my comments.

And as for whether I'm trying to convert atheists, the answer is no. Conversion is between the Holy Spirit and the individual. I'm trying to answer the questions of those whose minds are not closed to Christianity. And if that takes the form of debate, that's fine, as long as they are processing what I say.

Now this conversation with you is kind of like a game of ping pong. And that's fine--it's a fun game--but you have not yet given me any indication that it's worth my while to give in-depth answers to your questions. Because, of course, since I really believe this stuff, I consider this a serious subject matter.

Anette Acker said...

Were I, in the scenario described above to assure you that it was for a greater good that I let those children burn to death I am sure you would likely find that a scant or believable excuse.

The problem of evil is an extremely complex subject that connects just about every aspect of theology. The entire Bible is about it, from the beginning to end. It's something I've thought a lot about, but I can't summarize it in a few paragraphs. I did talk about it briefly in my most recent blog post, though.

But suffice it to say that God doesn't will evil. The gospels show Jesus alleviating suffering wherever he found it. Still, when bad things do happen, God will work in them for good when we let him. I have repeatedly seen that in my life.

The Celtic Chimp said...

So you don't have a snowball's chance in hell of changing my mind.

However, that doesn't mean I'm closed minded.


.... I think it does. I will take it that you mean you think it unlikely in the extreme that I will change your mind.

I've actually never met an atheist who has tried to convert me to atheism. If that's what you are doing, you're the first.

No, that isn't what I'm doing. On a point of syntax; You can't be converted to atheism. You make it sound like another choice in a list of faiths. It isn't. It is a lack of belief.


I find your assertion that you are in favor of rationalism and science a little perplexing. Do you believe evolution is a fact about the origin of man? If the answer is no to this question then I find your commitment to science severely lacking. It is an integral aspect of the scientific method that you follow where the evidence leads, even if you don't like the direction. It has always struck me as supremely arrogant that the likes of Ray Comfort consider his own "common sense" more weighty than the efforts of thousands of scientists over a hundred years. What I can never understand is why he thinks the scientist want to conduct some sort of grand conspiracy. Scientists have no vendetta against God, they just don't find any evidence of one. I personally find the God of the bible to be about as odious a character as could be imagined but I were Gods to actually exist, that would not be a problem for me. I would not see it as a good or a bad thing. The universe would simply be different than it is now.


Also, faith by its very nature is an irrational enterprise. This is not open to debate. You cannot redefine words and concepts at will. It is not rational to believe a thing without sufficient evidence. Obviously I am referring to grand claims here. You have no problem what-so-ever (I suspect) in seeing the irrationality of a person believing that Mohammed flew to heaven on a flying horse. When it comes to your own faith, that rationality vanishes. That is of course your choice but please don't pretend that your faith is special and that believing the far-out claims you choose to believe is somehow exempt from rational judgement.

Ping-pong?

Are you suggesting that I am not seriously engaging you because I disagree with you?

I would agree that it is extremely unlikely either one of us is going to convince the other of anything. Personally I like having these discussions because it provides some insight into the religious mind. You seem to me to be a fairly smart lady, I find it endlessly facinating that you will put away rationality where a few specific beliefs are concerned. You will even dispense with morality where it conflicts with the dictums of your chosen deity. Don't misundestand me, I would presume you to be a decent and moral person, just that you suspend your own moral judgements where God is concerned. That raises and interesting question.

How do you know that God is good if you are unwilling to judge his action or his ideas?

Anette Acker said...

Ping-pong?

Are you suggesting that I am not seriously engaging you because I disagree with you?


No, I have no problem whatsoever with people disagreeing with me. The ping pong comment was because you brought up a lot of weighty theological questions without giving me the sense that your mind was open to my answers. So I gave short answers while trying to understand whether or not you were seriously engaging me.

Now you have explained the purpose of your commenting here: you are trying to gain insight into "the religious mind." If so, it might be more efficient if you first read some of my comments on AC or posts here, because the issues you raise are complex and it would be a lot of work for me to do justice to them. Most of them I have already addressed somewhere (but I'm not suggesting you go digging for that). Just a few days ago I addressed the issue of evolution on AC in this thread on May 28 @ 12:11 PM.

"However, that doesn't mean I'm closed minded."

.... I think it does. I will take it that you mean you think it unlikely in the extreme that I will change your mind.


Let's say you had a discussion with a YEC about evolution. How much of a chance would there be that he or she would be able to change your mind? If you give the same response that I gave to the possibility of you changing my mind about Christianity, does that make you closed minded?

Anette Acker said...

I would agree that it is extremely unlikely either one of us is going to convince the other of anything.

When I have discussions with atheists (or anyone, for that matter) my goal is to arrive more closely at the truth. So they have convinced me of many things (my mind is not closed to what they say), but they have not convinced me of anything that contradicts the Bible. In fact, by challenging me and forcing me to think outside of the box, they have helped me fine-tune my understanding of the Bible. This is what I would expect if the Bible is the revealed word of God.

The Celtic Chimp said...

Anette,

As you say, I might have raised too many questions for them to be properly addressed. In light of that, I will lave this particular thread here. Perhaps on one of your other posts we might be able to address a single issue more thoroughly.