Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Does Eternal Really Mean Eternal In Hell? Pt.1

There is a view espoused by many individuals within Christian circles who don't believe in the ongoing reality of hell neither it's eternal punishment. That view is called Annihilationism. Here is a working definition of this view:
Annihilationism ~"A Christian doctrine that sinners are destroyed rather than tormented forever in "hell" or the lake of fire. It is directly related to the doctrine of conditional immortality, the idea that a human soul is not immortal unless it is given eternal life. Annihilationism asserts that God will eventually destroy or annihilate the wicked, leaving only the righteous to live on in immortality. Some annihilationists believe the wicked will be punished for their sins in the lake of fire before being annihilated, others that hell is a false doctrine of pagan origin."
Now, in my previous post, Does The Bible Teach A Literal Hell, we addressed the fact that hell is taught throughout the bible and that hell is a literal and not merely figurative place. In fact hell as is taught throughout scripture is a place of ongoing conscious reality and one of torment.

However under the annihilationist construct, there is an emotional appeal to a western sense of morality and guilt based righteousness. Hell either does not exist as a literal place or abode, or is a temporary place of punishment described with figurative terminology specifying extinction rather than an ongoing conscious reality of suffering. Scriptures such as Ecclesiastes 9:5,  Ecclesiastes 9:10, which are used to claim that there is no consciousness or pain beyond death and  Malachai 4:1,  and Mt. 10:28,  claiming that the destruction of the individual in hell is actually the extinction of the individual rather than eternal ongoing punishment.

Just in case you were wondering, this view is not relegated to the biblically illiterate or intellectual slouch. In fact it has been gaining acceptance in some scholarly circles, particularly reformed theology circles and threatens to be a doctrine that the church should draw out and examine more thoroughly. One quote by a famous scholar supporting this doctrine is from the late and highly referenced historical document scholar F.F.Bruce:
"annihilation is certainly an acceptable interpretation of the relevant New Testament passages ... For myself, I remain agnostic. Eternal conscious torment is incompatible with the revealed character of God." [Letter from F. F. Bruce to John Stott in 1989, as quoted in John Stott: A Global Ministry, 354]
Is Eternal  Conscious Torment Incompatible With The Character Of God?

There are 4 primary objections to the eternal nature of hell that I'll address and then conclude with what I believe is a better biblical construct of hell, its purpose and its eternal nature.

Objection I:
"Hell is eternal. men are finite. Therefore finite men will not suffer in eternal hell."
This usually goes along with something like this also:
"The punishment of an eternal hell and suffering is disproportionate to the sins of humanity because humans are finite and sins are finite. Therefore for a finite being to suffer in an infinite way especially because of finite sin would be unjust. "
These are popular questions/assertion of the atheistic, agnostic and other biblical liberals, claiming that God is somehow unjust for rendering 1- a punishment upon beings that he knew would fail and 2- making that punishment conscious and eternal. that combination causes the critic such as F.F. Bruce (who's critical on this issue only) to digress into the more sensitive parts of the nature of God such as his love and mercy.

Although I won't oversimplify why people believe the aspects of God's mercy overshadow the aspects of his justice, I believe part of the reason that a persons don't fully comprehend why the suffering of hell is and should be eternal. This is because within our society there is no distinction between shame and honor culture punishments and guilt culture punishments. 

In his article "Shame-culture band Guilt-culture" James Atherton details the difference in why and when a person is "guilty" or held culpable for their crimes or accusations against them in a shame-honor culture contrasted to a guilt culture. In a shame-honor culture the  guilt could be long before a magistrate or police are involved and may not necessarily involve police at all. The shame comes when things are noised throughout the community and when one is shamed by the belief of the community or the group to which one belongs. This was the setting of the bible historically, and was the culture of Jewish community in Jesus' day.

On the contrary within western society, we are in what is called a "guilt culture" where one is innocent until proven guilty and the opinions of others don't matter until one can be found guilty. In fact most courts also dole out sentences based on one's remorse even if they are not guilty of the offense. One could be found innocent legally and yet be dreadfully sahmed, but there is usually no credit or penalty given for shame.
Within a shame culture the penalty of that shame lasts until it is compensated or accounted for or until the shame is removed.

This is not uncommon to us in America. We have all heard the saying that there is "honor among thieves" for example. What does that mean? That there is a certain sense of shame that comes to a thief who dishonors another. The ultimate price for that dishonor may be a "hit" placed on the guilty party. That penalty lasts until there is proper compensation for the original dishonor.

With this is mind the death of Jesus is best understood as a "substitutionary shame culture sacrifice", where Jesus took upon himself the shame in our place:

Hebrews 12:2 ~ "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."
Back To Hell and Everlasting Punishment:

In the NT we see Jesus we see Jesus describing hell as a place of "outer darkness" and  "weeping and gnashing of teeth". (Mt. 8:12, Mt. 22:13, Mt.24:51, Mt. 25:30 & Lk. 13:28) In all instances of the message of hell in the NT it was also clear that:

1- Individuals in hell were consciously aware of it
2- Individuals in hell received punishment in proportion to their works or inactions
3- Individuals in hell were not tortured but lived in torment consciously.
4- Part of that torment included a conscious realization of actions or inactions in their prior existence.
5- At no time do wee see Jesus describe a non-conscious torment or one where those who were in torment were unaware of their presence or the effects of their presence.

To Disbelieve God Is The Ultimate Dishonor To Him Requiring A "Shame-Honor" Offering Or Atonement.

As stated a shame-honor atonement is exactly what Jesus experienced upon the cross in dying for our sins. This paid the penalty of the shame brought upon all mankind in a substitutionary way God is our God and as much as we state that he is our friend, he is not merely a "friend" in the sense of someone to whom we don't have to worry about being accountable. This sheds light on the eternality of hell. If there has been no substitution for the ultimate dishonor portrayed toward God there is no payment for the sin or dishonor. Therefore the penalty is in full effect for the duration of the being exacting the penalty. If God is eternal the penalty would also be expected to be eternal along with him.

Objection II:

The critic draws parallels stating that
"Even children aren't punished indefinitely or in some way into oblivion by loving parents."
The criticism further states:
"God couldn't be a loving father punishing his children forever."
However, is this an adequate parallel? Does this damage the concept of a biblical hell or relegate it to a mere control mechanism? Is nature and character of God repudiated by these statements?

In light of the information on the "shame-honor culture" in which the bible was written in Objection 1, and the additional understanding of the nature of sin and son-ship, I think not. First, the reality is that the punishment of hell is proportionate to the acts that it took to place one there. Therefore all acts of sin will not be punished to the same degree. Further, when it is considered that the nature of God is holy and that God does not entertain sin and that all sin dishonors him it becomes more understandable to see why there must be a penalty to and for all sin. Further, it is the sin of unbelief which is the arch dishonor to God. Unbelief is the root of all sin and uncleanliness and the determining factor of whether one is a "child" of God or not. In other words all humans aren't children of God. Only them that obey him and the obedient receive no punishment. (1 Thess. 5:9) I'll explain:

The Effect Of Sin

Throughout the NT unbelief was seen as the prohibitor of mighty works (Mt. 13:58), the damper to faith in God (Rom. 3:3), the restricting agent of the OT Israelites from fully receiving the promise (Heb. 3:19) and ultimately the whole reason that sin entered into the world. (Rom. 5:12)

The biblical command from the beginning was for man to be holy (Lev. 20:7, 1Pet. 1:15-16). God's nature has always been holy from eternity. Sin caused dishonor and the ultimate rift between God and man:

Isaiah 59:2~ "But your iniquities have separated between you and your God, and your sins have hid [his] face from you, that he will not hear"
The first preparation that God made for man was covering the effects and result of his sins:

Genesis 3:21~"Unto Adam also and to his wife did the Lord God make coats of skins, and clothed them."
Then there is the consideration that there was no sin in Jesus (2 Cor. 5:21, 1 Pet. 2:22) and (1 Jn. 3:5)  and that Jesus was the covering and propitiation for sin from the beginning of creation (as would be required as God operates from eternity)

Revelation 13:8 ~"And all that dwell upon the earth shall worship him, whose names are not written in the book of life of the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world."
The Mishandling Of Inheritance

What this says is that sin is the only inhibitor to all men when it comes to relationship to God and his word and that all begins living in unbelief cannot and will not inherit the promises of God. Using the cultural motif once again, In ANE (Ancient Near East) times true children would have been expected to believe their fathers (parents also) and obey their will. This was an especially important thing to do for the firstborn son as the inheritance of the family would automatically fall to him.

Example: Esau had been raised all of his life to know what his birthright was and its importance. The Abrahamic promise had been rehearsed to him practically since the womb. He had been versed in the customs of family and history, and knew that he and his family was a part of God's promise to the Earth:
Genesis 17:7 ~ "And I will establish my covenant between me and THEE AND THY SEED after thee in their generations for an everlasting covenant, to be a God unto thee, and to thy seed after thee."

Genesis 22:16-18 ~ "16-And said, By myself have I sworn, saith the LORD, for because thou hast done this thing, and hast not withheld thy son, thine only [son]: 17-That in blessing I will bless thee, and in multiplying I will multiply thy seed as the stars of the heaven, and as the sand which [is] upon the sea shore; and thy seed shall possess the gate of his enemies; 18-And in thy seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed; because thou hast obeyed my voice."
For a bowl of soup (pottage) Esau sold his future. Did that make him less than Issac's son? No, he remained a son, but he lost the priority and favor of his inheritance forever because he did not believe in the importance of his birthright.
Genesis 25:31-34 ~ "31-And Jacob said, Sell me this day thy birthright. 32-And Esau said, Behold, I [am] at the point to die: and what profit shall this birthright do to me? 33-And Jacob said, Swear to me this day; and he sware unto him: and he sold his birthright unto Jacob.  34- Then Jacob gave Esau bread and pottage of lentiles; and he did eat and drink, and rose up, and went his way: thus Esau despised [his] birthright."
Any "priority" that Esau may have had was immediately lost even though he was the eldest son. Even though the blessing had to be pronounced, he lost the blessing of God that day in all actuality.

The Effect Of Son-ship

Individuals are in a similar boat to Esau today except the stakes are based on a far greater eternal inheritance. Contrary to what the song said, we are NOT all God's children. One is not a child or a "son" of God, in God's eyes unless one receives, believes and obeys. (John 1:12, Rom. 8:14, 1 John 3:1)  Jesus called all others born of their father, "the devil". That puts an end to the claim that any of God's children receive punishment in hell. God's "children" don't receive eternal punishment as they identify the father clearly in all they do.
John 8:44 ~"Ye are of [your] father THE DEVIL, and the lusts of your father ye will do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and abode not in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaketh a lie, he speaketh of his own: for he is a liar, and the father of it."
Conclusion:

In Pt. 2 of this study I will outline and address 2 additional objections to the eternality of hell and lay down various  reasons why I believe that it is an improper biblical interpretation to claim that the effects of hell are eternal while the conscious condition of hell is not. More specifically I plan to deal with the following objections:

Objection III: "Hell wasn't created for men therefore men won't continue to suffer in it."

and

Objection IV: "The Greek words used to describe the longevity of hell "aionios" is also used to describe a non eternal time frame. Therefore hell is temporary in nature."

Blessed!

Continue To Pt. 2 Of This Article

125 comments:

  1. Rick,

    The free advertisement gets you no brownie points around here...advertise on your dime...

    There are many issues that are prevalent in your writing and work and they all determine what you don't believe in the biblical construct of hell.

    To cut to the point you don't believe in the bible's authenticity so you don't believe in hell...Like our dear apostate Bart Ehrman you believe that the variances in the bible are so many that we can't have the true message and SOMEHOW you deduce that the true message wouldn't include hell....

    That's bad and sloppy reasoning, because IF I don't have the "True" message then how did YOU get it and how was it delivered to you?

    Anyway, that's the backdrop of your commentary and what the readers should know.

    First the biblical message has been presenrved in an abundance of copies that that has less than a 1% viable and meaningful variant ratio. That less than 1% variant deals WITH NO essential Christian doctrine. It only deals with Christian practice.

    For those reading Orthodoxy (what the church believes) is well founded. Orthopraxy (what the church practices) may vary according to the variants within scripture.

    Now, with that said, as biblical scholars will confirm (and I could lay out a pretty hefty list) the doctrine and teaching of HELL is one of those parts of the Orthodoxy that is CLEARLY contained within scripture and one that Jesus CLEARLY taught.

    For you to suggest otherwise is deceit and flat out untruth. Yes I call you a LIAR regarding it. In other words, the biblical message is clear that HELL is taught as a Christian doctrine where justice as well as punishment is done.

    In part 2 of the article I deal more specifically with it but WHY in the WORLD would you promote that people like HITLER and other MASS MURDERS who have done humanity harm over the years will not have to pay for their CRIMES?

    How in the world can you with good conscience say that humanity's greatest evils will go unpunished or without meeting the justice of God?

    This is one reason we know you don't believe in God or the bible because a bible believer would understand that God will reconcile all the injustice of the world and live harmoniously in the knowledge that God is an avenger of unrighteousness as he also spell out in scripture...

    I'll get to the details of your post next.

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  2. Hey Rick with the Schtick,

    What are you, brain damaged? You start by saying, "the shame/honor argument creates a lot more problems than it solves," then you go on to babble against the standard "hell is pain and torture" view that the honor-shame view does not agree with.

    Looks to me like you came by here just to shill for your penny-ante pissant book, especially seeing as how this is just a cut and paste job that you've posted all over various blogs.

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  3. Hey Harvey,

    I still don't see why the eternal fires of hell can't be considered to be a place of eternal punishment that annihilates wicked humans. This is what it seems the bible teaches.

    Jude 7-

    Just as Sodom and Gomorrah and the surrounding cities....serve as an example by undergoing a punishment of eternal fire. (ESV)

    2 Peter 2:5

    If by turning the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah to ashes he condemned them to extinction, making them an example of what is going to happen to the ungodly. (ESV)


    Sodom and Gomorrah serve as an example of what is going to happen to the ungodly. They will suffer the eternal fires of eternal punishment, be turned to ashes and condemned to extinction.

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  4. Rick,

    Now on to your argument:

    You said:Let's say you end up in Heaven trying to sing endless praises to a God who is, simultaneously, torturing billions of others

    I guess that was a statement trying to be funny. That's OK. we all like humor me first...but on the other hand it's a totally INACCURATE description of what actually occurs both in heaven and hell.

    In hell the conscience realization of your own indecision will be the torment that you suffer. Jesus claimed in outer darkness there would be weeping and gnashing of teeth...did he say God was doing that...who's teeth were they? In fact there is NO biblical reference of God EVER torturing anyone in hell or otherwise.

    So this little hypothetical that you set up is totally flawed from the beginning is biblically inconsistent, of non effect and doesn't even make sense.

    Then you become and interpolation specialistFortunately, there is real good news, and it doesn't hinge on a few isolated passages that were inserted into the gospel texts such as the one you mentioned in your post.

    Funny how the claimants of this sort of thing claim that only passages AGAINST their position have been inserted or interpolated, while everything that supports what they say (or twist to support what they say) was included from the beginning...so what are we to do?"

    I know...Look to Rick for the true answer, after all he has the autographs in his back pocket"

    YEA RIGHT!

    The problem is Rick that the earliest manuscripts don't have the insertions that you claim in order to make your thesis work. So what becomes the strongest part of your argument actually doesn't even exist. Where is ANY evidence of interpolation regarding 1- HELL and 2 It's eternality?

    Then you said:So it only stands to reason that this same Jesus, who was appalled at the very idea of burning a few people, for a few horrific minutes until they were dead, could never, ever burn BILLIONS of people for an ETERNITY!

    So what this displays is that you're mission challenged and attempt to make Jesus mission one continual trek with basically no job description other than saving and salvation...That would be good but you obviously miss the part where Jesus will also be a Judge:

    2 Timothy 4:1~I charge [thee] therefore before God, and the Lord Jesus Christ, who shall JUDGE THE QUICK AND the dead at his appearing and his kingdom;

    1 Peter 4:5~Who shall give account to him that is ready to JUDGE THE QUICK AND the dead.

    Now, how will he judge? You skip right over that don't you. I told you it's a matter of convenience, well take a look and tell me if this is an interpolation:

    Matthew 3:12~Whose fan [is] in his hand, and he will throughly purge his floor, and gather his wheat into the garner; but he will burn up the CHAFF with unquenchable fire. (Also see Lk. 3:17)

    So this Jesus, you say who ONLY wants to save the lost will get up the nerve (at least according to John the Baptist) and Judge and gather the chaff (figurative for people)to an "unquenchable fire"...and you just SKIRT right over that fact???

    And I'm sorry I don't buy the interpolation thesis because it's unsupportable.

    In short, there is no proof that hell as it is taught is an interpolation.

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  5. What's up Mysterium?

    I understand that you argue for extinction, but deal with the argument I make for a minute...under what construct was extinction an acceptable method of appeasement in a shame and honor culture? How does mere extinction account for the dishonor of God in any manner?

    As I stated in the article:

    In the NT we see Jesus we see Jesus describing hell as a place of "outer darkness" and "weeping and gnashing of teeth". (Mt. 8:12, Mt. 22:13, Mt.24:51, Mt. 25:30 & Lk. 13:28) In all instances of the message of hell in the NT it was also clear that:

    1- Individuals in hell were consciously aware of it
    2- Individuals in hell received punishment in proportion to their works or inactions
    3- Individuals in hell were not tortured but lived in torment consciously.
    4- Part of that torment included a conscious realization of actions or inactions in their prior existence.
    5- At no time do wee see Jesus describe a non-conscious torment or one where those who were in torment were unaware of their presence or the effects of their presence.


    It's one thing to have a belief, it's another for you communicate it in a rational manner and deal with the objections I raise. You don't do that...we can say a lot of things but can they be supported by scripture?

    In this post I only argue the first two points but these points can't simply be invalidated because of inconvenience to your thesis.

    I'd like to see the critics deal with the arguments set forth in this post before we move on, in my opinion it only gets worse for the opposition.

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  6. Harvey,

    I think people in hell are and will be aware of it for awhile. After awhile they will go extinct though. Just as the scriptures teach that I provided.

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  7. There will be weeping and gnashing of teeth in hell for awhile. But eventually the wicked perish.

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  8. Harvey,

    The bible says that the wages of sin is death. But the gift of God is eternal life. I think it's possible that satan and his demons will be tormented forever and ever though. But the scriptures that I provided above clearly teach that wicked humans will suffer the eternal fires of eternal punishment for awhile and then go extinct.

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  9. Mysterium said "Sodom and Gomorrah serve as an example of what is going to happen to the ungodly. They will suffer the eternal fires of eternal punishment, be turned to ashes and condemned to extinction."

    It would be nice to think there will be an end, but something else to preach it based solely on Peter's example given.

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  10. Pastor Harvey, why give this Rick a plateform? I'm sick of people pumping their lies about the Bible that are too lazy or lost to research the facts.

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  11. Laura,

    It's not only Peter who teaches it. It's found in the entirety of scripture. From what I've read the fires of hell are eternal and it's where the worm never dies. The lake of fire is the punishment of eternal fire where ungodly humans will suffer for awhile and then go extinct.

    Jude 7-

    Just as Sodom and Gomorrah and the surrounding cities....serve as an example by undergoing a punishment of eternal fire. (ESV)

    2 Peter 2:5

    If by turning the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah to ashes he condemned them to extinction, making them an example of what is going to happen to the ungodly. (ESV)


    Sodom and Gomorrah serve as an example of what is going to happen to the ungodly. They will suffer eternal punishment, be turned to ashes and condemned to extinction. Indeed, Malachi prophesies that the righteous will tread down the wicked, for they will be ashes under the soles of their feet.

    Malachi 4:1-3

    For behold the day is coming, burning like an oven, when all the arrogant and all evil doers will be stubble. The day that is coming shall set them ablaze, says the Lord of Hosts, so that it will neither leave them root nor branch.
    But for you who fear my name, the sun of righteousness will rise with healing in it's wings....And you shall tread down the wicked, for they will be ashes under the soles of your feet, on the day when I act says the Lord of Hosts. (ESV)

    Then in Ezekiel 28:18-19 we read of the prophecy of the final doom of the prince of Tyre. He will be no more forever.

    Ezekiel 28:18-19

    So I brought fire out from your midst; it consumed you and I turned you to ashes on the earth....you have come to a dreadful end and shall be no more forever. (ESV)

    Indeed, all wicked people are doomed to destruction forever:

    Psalms 92:7

    That though the wicked sprout like grass and all evil does flourish, they are doomed to destruction forever. (ESV)

    The two strongest scriptures against this view come from the book of Revelation. Revelation 14:9-12 and Revelation 20:10. But when we compare scripture with scripture the problem vanishes.

    Isaiah 34:8-10 states:

    For the Lord has a day of vengeance, a year of recompence for the cause of Zion. And the streams of Edom shall be turned into pitch, and her soil into sulfur, and her land shall become burning pitch. Night and day it shall not be quenched; it's smoke shall go up forever. (ESV)

    Notice that the text says that the smoke of Edom will ascend forever even though Edom was completely destroyed and annihilated. Obviously Edom isn't still burning today. It's best to interpret this to mean that Edom's destruction was irreversable. Although it was completely destroyed and annihilated it's smoke is said to rise forever. This is also true with the ungodly who will be condemned to extinction in the book of Revelation:

    Revelation 14:9-12

    And the smoke of their torment goes up forever and ever; and they have no rest day or night, those who worship the beast and his image, and who recieves the mark of his name. (ESV)

    The text doesn't say the wicked will be tormented forever. Only that they have no rest day or night and that the smoke of their torment rises forever. This passaege is clearly taken from Isaiah 34. Just as Edom was destroyed so shall the wicked be destroyed even though their smoke will ascend forever.

    End pt. 1

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  12. Pt. 2

    The only passage that talks about being tormented forever is in Revelation 20 where the beast, false prophet, and satan are said to be tormented forever and ever. One way of looking at this text is to say that satan and his angels will be tormented forever and ever. After all, hell was created for satan and his angels. It tells us in Mathew 25: 41-46:

    Then He will say to those on his left, depart from me, you cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels....And these will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life. (ESV)

    So, while satan and his angels will be tormented forever human beings will suffer the punishment of eternal fire but will go extinct. In fact the Bible explicitly tells us in Matthew 10:28:

    Do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather fear Him who can destroy both soul and body in hell. (ESV)

    The other way of interpreting the forever and ever in Revelation 20 would be to interpret it symbolically, as I already noted, from how it was originally written in Isaiah 38: 4-10:

    For the Lord has a day of vengeance, a year of recompence for the cause of Zion. And the streams of Edom shall be turned into pitch, and her soil into sulfur, and her land shall become burning pitch. Night and day it shall not be quenched; it's smoke shall go up forever. (ESV)

    Again the passage says that Edom's smoke shall ascend forever but clearly Edom has stoped burning and it's smoke is no longer going up. The passage could be speaking symbolically of destruction that will be irresversable. In fact the passage in Ezekiel 28 could not only be describing the complete annihilation of the prince of Tyre but has also been taken by scholars as a prophecy concerning Satan:

    Ezekiel 28:13-19

    “You were the signet of perfection,
    full of wisdom and perfect in beauty.
    You were in Eden, the garden of God;
    every precious stone was your covering,
    sardius, topaz, and diamond,
    beryl, onyx, and jasper,
    sapphire, emerald, and carbuncle;
    and crafted in gold were your settings
    and your engravings.
    On the day that you were created
    they were prepared.
    You were an anointed guardian cherub.
    I placed you; you were on the holy mountain of God;
    in the midst of the stones of fire you walked.
    You were blameless in your ways
    from the day you were created,
    till unrighteousness was found in you.
    In the abundance of your trade
    you were filled with violence in your midst, and you sinned;
    so I cast you as a profane thing from the mountain of God,
    and I destroyed you, O guardian cherub,
    from the midst of the stones of fire.
    Your heart was proud because of your beauty;
    you corrupted your wisdom for the sake of your splendor.
    I cast you to the ground;
    I exposed you before kings,
    to feast their eyes on you.
    By the multitude of your iniquities,
    in the unrighteousness of your trade
    you profaned your sanctuaries;
    so I brought fire out from your midst;
    it consumed you,
    and I turned you to ashes on the earth
    in the sight of all who saw you.
    All who know you among the peoples
    are appalled at you;
    you have come to a dreadful end
    and shall be no more forever.”

    So, it's possible that even Satan will be completely destroyed in the end.

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  13. Cole,

    You said:" The lake of fire is the punishment of eternal fire where ungodly humans will suffer for awhile and then go extinct."

    Cole there isn't a scripture taht sugests or intimates this. You take a concept of God speaking abut happeings in THIS continuum and apply those concepts as if God were talking about the happening in the next or heavenly continuum...That's not the case.

    Unlike most that believe in extinction, you try to use the scripture to suggest that there is a literal hell but that it's temporary in nature...

    There is NOTHING that describes that or supports your assertion and you read more into the passages you give than the information contained within those passages. That's a danger as you can do that with almost any passage and develop a total doctrine out of it...so your application is flawed...

    The problem that you fail to overcome is explaining or defining the purpose for temporary punishment then extinction? Hell is not what we consider a human topic but according to you it's even worse...and makes GOd look arbitrary in his judgement.

    Whereas we set forth an exact judgement from the begining at the right level of judgement...look, people don't "mysteriously" end up in hell...they go to hell by their choice...their choice to not believe, NOT because there isn't enough information, but because they reject what information they receive.

    So I think the first misconception is that hell will be some great surprise to those who go...I don't believe so. What about them that haven't heard? We've talked about that
    Salvation: Is The Message Revealed To Those Who Have Never Heard?


    The one thing we can be confident of is that God's ways are right and just and that all judgements will be made righteously ad fairly. Can we resolve to know that God can be God without our approval?

    So far as this however, hell is clearly eternal. Also nice cut and paste job, did you tell the author? I've alread told him what i though about his piece, i like his work but this topic we don't agree on, but that's OK he's good and we can work with it.

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  14. Harvey,

    I wrote that myself. I copied it from my own writing on your other post. I put alot of thought into it. The scriptures I gave you deal with the final judgement in the lake of fire which is the second death. They don't deal with this time continum. But I guess we will just have to disagree.

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  15. Also,

    I agree that hell is eternal. I just don't think people will be there forever. The bible says they will be turned to ashes and condemned to extinction.

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  16. Also Harvey,

    I wasn't showing it to you but to Laura. I was responding to what she said.

    But I did write it. Just on your other post. I don't know how to link to things.

    ReplyDelete
  17. Cole,

    The scriptures you gave dealt with specific events some in time and others in what is called the "day of judgement" so I stand corrected as I spoke prematurely.

    You quote Malachai, dealing with messianic reign when the enemies:"And you shall tread down the wicked, for they will be ashes under the soles of your feet, on the day when I act says the Lord of Hosts."

    This is symbolic language indicating victory over the emmies and a rejoicing that we've overcome. Sinners literal ashes wont be spread under our feet as if we'll be walking on their physical ashes...that has nothing to do with it, but i believe you get that as some kind of context saying that because their bodies were destroyed they were destroyed too...But there is no precedence for that even in the scripture and your interpretation takes away from the purpose of the judgement itself.

    Then the other scriptures all indicate "forever" but your claim is that it only indicates the IMPACT of punishment but more correctly it indicates not only the impact but also the length of time of the punishment.

    So far as restating what someone else said...You said:Notice that the text says that the smoke of Edom will ascend forever even though Edom was completely destroyed and annihilated. Obviously Edom isn't still burning today. It's best to interpret this to mean that Edom's destruction was irreversable.

    The other blog said:For instance, the Greek word for "eternal" is used in Jude verse 7 to say that Sodom and Gomorrah suffered an "eternal fire." It is obvious that Sodom and Gomorrah are not still burning, so we can see a clear example where "eternal" refers to the consequences of the fire, and not the fire itself

    I'm sorry that wasn't directly from that other guys article, but it sounded all too familiar.

    Fact is although it was completely destroyed and annihilated physically this had nothing to say about the inhabitants being judged temporarily...It would have to be still smoking for the judgement to be perpetual...so what you think the scripture requires regarding this is an expectation that's not laid out anywhere within scripture.

    And you say the text says that people will go extinct but SAYING it doesn't prove it from scripture. There is NO proof from scripture of this. It is a deductive argument at best contingent on what one "thinks" the judgement of God should look like, because at heart you fell that it's not fair of God to sentence anyone to everlasting punishment because of the dishonor and shame they brought to him. Your real tussel is with the moral nature of God. A person with the argument like you is struggling with God's "fairness"...

    So saying it doesn't prove it Cole.
    I don't see a biblical basis for your argument.

    In part 2 I go deeper but you've also addressed NONE of part one, only made an assertion that you fail to support, so I can't get with ya on this one...

    ReplyDelete
  18. Hey Harvey,

    I've changed my mind. I'm going to have to agree with F.F. Bruce when he says:

    "annihilation is certainly an acceptable interpretation of the relevant New Testament passages ... For myself, I remain agnostic."

    I disagree with him though in saying hell as eternal torment is inconsistent with God's nature.

    The way I see it is if people are in hell forever it's because they remain evil. While they stay in hell they continue to sin and therefore continue to add time to their sentence.

    They sin God punishes. They sin God punishes. They sin God punishes. And the cycle goes on forever. So, the punishment isn't inapropriate for the crimes.

    ReplyDelete
  19. Cole,

    Obviously you struggle with the thought "why hell in the first place". This part of the article is to lay down the thoughts regarding what the judgement or punishment of hell is about.

    Hell makes no sense unless it has a context. I claim that it's more than any "control mechanism" as the critic states. The context is the shame-honor type punishment which God choose to reveal within the time and society that he did.

    Without understanding why hell even exists I believe that it can only be reconciled on a limited basis in my opinion. I agree that hell does not have to exist merely because heaven does, so there's more to it than just a way to "get back" at those who scoff at God.

    As I state in the article, sin is the key and driving force behind the dishonor to God. Because the nature of God is infinitely holy sin must be reconciled or paid for. If a person doesn't receive what has been paid on their behalf then THEY have to present an appropriate payment for it...THERE is not payment that man has of themselves that can pay that debt on a temporal basis...Jesus paid it ALL however. those who believe in him receive the accounting that the debt is paid in full!

    Further hell has no ongoing or continual sin for it's inhabitants. Not that the inhabitants reach a condition of holiness, but there is no more of whatever they did to obtain their reward...It's simply and eternal payment that is required.

    The unbeliever will believe, the sinner will cease from their sin, but at that time it's too late and there is no repentance or anything they can do to pay for that dishonor and shame to God except render themselves.

    What I'm trying to say is that it's not about ongoing sinning, it's about paying the debt for the sin ingratiated and accepted when there was chance and opportunity to turn from that it.

    I guess I'm hard pressed to think what more sin can a sinner do in hell? Do you mean they further reject God even in hell? To me that would seem to be an impossibility.

    ReplyDelete
  20. First of all, I would like this to be known:

    http://twilightgods.blogspot.com/

    Now on to the commentary.

    District Supt. Harvey Burnett said...
    In hell the conscience realization of your own indecision will be the torment that you suffer.

    1) How do you know?
    2) That's not much in the way of torment, believe me. If that is what hell is, it's a joke.

    under what construct was extinction an acceptable method of appeasement in a shame and honor culture?

    I find your idea regarding a shame/honor culture fundamentally flawed, because quite simply you are talking about human cultural types. Why would YHVH model his judgment scheme on a human cultural trend? This would tend to lend more ammo to the argument that the doctrine of hell is a human invention IMO.

    look, people don't "mysteriously" end up in hell...they go to hell by their choice...their choice to not believe, NOT because there isn't enough information, but because they reject what information they receive.

    Yes, we have dealt with this, and you could not contend with my refutation of these claims beyond a certain point (ie the justice of applying one standard to pre-Christian individuals while applying another to post-Christian individuals). Thusly I will continue to consider these claims false.

    Laura said...
    I'm sick of people pumping their lies about the Bible that are too lazy or lost to research the facts.

    HAH! You have not a leg to stand on in when it comes to accusing others of lying about the bible, as you are quick to do so yourself. Another case of pot meet kettle.

    ReplyDelete
  21. District Supt. Harvey Burnett said...
    but at that time it's too late and there is no repentance or anything they can do to pay for that dishonor and shame to God except render themselves.

    Why is it too late? What sort of loving and compassionate being (let alone an infinitely so god) would reject the heart-felt and sincere repentance of an individual even after death? Especially after death if the truth is then plain?

    ReplyDelete
  22. Thank you Pastor - I really appreciate that!

    Cole, I was going along with your explanation real well, and thought you might be on to something until I read Rev. 20:14-15

    "And death and hell were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death. And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire."

    If humans are eventually annihilated, then death, hell, satan, and the antichrist would be annihilated too. Right?

    ReplyDelete
  23. Nightmare, I have blocked your emails for doing what you are carrying over here. You owe me an apology for calling me a liar.

    I can only assume that your purpose for posting here on Pastor Harvey's blog after your last manifesto where you said you would not be back is because I have blocked your emails.

    If you continue, I will leave.

    ReplyDelete
  24. Pastor Harvey said "Because the nature of God is infinitely holy sin must be reconciled or paid for."

    Yep. God's love was so great at the Cross that there is no room for removing the eternal doom of the lost person.

    ReplyDelete
  25. Laura,

    I was referring to the lake of fire as being hell. Notice the lake of fire is the SECOND DEATH for human beings and death and hades were thrown there along with Satan. It's quite possible that Satan will eventually be destroyed as I stated in what I wrote above with the prophecy about the king of Tyre. Some people have interpreted that to be a reference to Satan also. Nevertheless, I think Satan and his angels could be tormented forever and ever but humans will eventually be annihilated. The scripture that speaks of this refers only to the beast, false prophet, and the antichrist. The lake of fire was created for Satan and his demons as I already stated above. So, Satan and his demons will be tormented forever and ever. Human beings are thrown into the lake of fire or eternal punishment where Satan and his agels are thrown but they will eventually be annihilated or condemned to extinction.


    Harvey,

    The primary sin I was referring to that would be continual in hell would be blasphemy against God. I don't think those in hell will repent of their sin. Without the influence of God's grace those in hell will blaspheme Him out of a hardened heart. The bible hints at this but it's not a proof:

    Revelation 22:11-12:

    “Let the evil doer still do evil, and the filthy still be filthy, and the righteous still do right, and the holy still be holy.”

    (Revelation 16:9)

    “Men were scorched with fierce heat;
    and they blasphemed the name of
    God who has the power over these
    plagues, and they did not repent so
    as to give Him glory.”

    It seems only reasonable to me that those in hell continually sin and stay unrepentent as they blaspheme the holy God.

    ReplyDelete
  26. Laura said...
    Nightmare, I have blocked your emails for doing what you are carrying over here. You owe me an apology for calling me a liar.

    Oh, so it's ok when you pour on the slander and in essence call someone else a liar, but when the table is turned that's a huge crime huh?

    Here's a tiny example of the crap you've sent my way just in the past couple emails:

    "so all is a waste of my time." (this meaning talking to me via email)
    "I'm only interested in people who are searching for the Truth, not those who are happy in their self-deception." (essentially calling me a liar and self-deceived to boot)

    Not even to mention the plethora of "spiritual blind" and "get real" type comments you've continually flung my way.

    So no, I owe you nothing. You are the one that crafted a lie to explain a contradiction in the bible, you are the one that continues to abuse the text, and you are the one that continues to slander me for relating the text as it is written.

    And for the record's sake I wrote the above post before you decided to block me, which is fine btw - I've returned the favor.

    I can only assume that your purpose for posting here on Pastor Harvey's blog after your last manifesto where you said you would not be back is because I have blocked your emails.

    The world does not revolve around Laura. If you check the date here

    https://www.blogger.com/comment.g?blogID=2357475346759651140&postID=7307966948782828274

    I returned to this blog and apologized on November 19, 2009 2:23 AM - yesterday.

    I called you out above because you have proved yourself a hypocrite. If you can't handle that you have two options - change or storm off and shove your head in the sand.

    If you continue, I will leave.

    As if I care? You've already displayed an utter disregard for others despite your claims to value relationships so much. Not to mention a plethora of other un-Christian traits. In short, your fruit is proving rotten.

    This is not what I desired in the slightest, but I refuse to sit by and take crap from anyone.

    Nonetheless, I am willing to apologize, forgive, and forget IF you are willing to do the same. If not, so be it. So you decide what you wanna do and you live with it, I'm done.

    ReplyDelete
  27. Mysterium Tremendum said...
    Without the influence of God's grace those in hell will blaspheme Him out of a hardened heart.

    If he chooses to remove his grace from them, how is it their fault that their hearts are hardened? If he continues to punish them as a result of said hard heartedness when he himself is the cause that is highly unjust.

    ReplyDelete
  28. Mysterium Tremendum said...
    It seems only reasonable to me that those in hell continually sin and stay unrepentent as they blaspheme the holy God.

    Think of this as if it were real Mysterium, please. If you were in hell, and knew why, and knew you could escape by repenting or ceasing to blaspheme, would you continue? Would any sane individual?

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  29. Nightmare,

    God isn't the cause of evil deeds. He ALLOWS evil deeds. God just removes His hand and lets them follow their own will. When they sin God executes His justice.

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  30. Nightmare,

    Without God's grace I would continually blaspheme.

    ReplyDelete
  31. Mysterium Tremendum said...
    God just removes His hand and lets them follow their own will. When they sin God executes His justice.

    Without God's grace I would continually blaspheme.


    If I may use you as an example, you state that without YHVH's grace you would continually blaspheme. Now, if YHVH knew this (as he would), and decided to remove his grace from you, and then punished you for your blasphemy, how would that be just?

    Do you see that by removing his grace (in this scenario) he may as well have caused you to blaspheme? It would be akin to handing the Joker a gun and then claiming no fault when he shoots someone with it - the individual didn't pull the trigger, but he enabled the Joker to knowing full well what would happen.

    ReplyDelete
  32. God doesn't force anyone to sin. People sin of their own choice and are therefore responsible for their actions. God doesn't cause anyone to blaspheme. They do it on their own. Of their own will. God doesn't create evil. People do it of their own choice. If I sin I have nobody to blame but myself. If I go to heaven I have nobady to thank but God.

    ReplyDelete
  33. Also,

    God isn't unjust for witholding His grace and allowing evil and suffering. Grace is unmerrited favor and therefore God is never obligated to be merciful to anything or anybody. Injustice can't even arise on God's part.

    ReplyDelete
  34. Mysterium Tremendum said...
    God doesn't force anyone to sin. People sin of their own choice and are therefore responsible for their actions. God doesn't cause anyone to blaspheme. They do it on their own. Of their own will.

    I didn't say force, I said enable. Because what you state above is contradictory to your own previous statement ("Without God's grace I would continually blaspheme.") I'm sorry to say. In essence, you state says if YHVH were to remove his grace from you you would sin. In doing so he would not be forcing you to sin but enabling you to (knowing you would). See?

    My point is that your idea about people continually sinning and being justly punished in hell is flawed on several levels.

    ReplyDelete
  35. Mysterium Tremendum said...
    God isn't unjust for witholding His grace and allowing evil and suffering. Grace is unmerrited favor and therefore God is never obligated to be merciful to anything or anybody. Injustice can't even arise on God's part.

    Tell me, if you saw someone in trouble (starving, dying of thirst, about to be murdered, whatever) would it be just or good of you to refuse to help them? ("Whatsoever you do to the least of my people...")

    ReplyDelete
  36. There is no contradiction here:

    God doesn't force anyone to sin. People sin of their own choice and are therefore responsible for their actions. God doesn't cause anyone to blaspheme. They do it on their own. Of their own will. God doesn't create evil. People do it of their own choice. If I sin I have nobody to blame but myself. If I go to heaven I have nobody to thank but God.

    God isn't unjust for witholding His grace and allowing evil and suffering. Grace is unmerrited favor and therefore God is never obligated to be merciful to anything or anybody. Injustice can't even arise on God's part.

    Nothing inconsistent at all. Without God's grace I sin and I'm to blame. If I do a good deed it's by God's grace and He gets the glory.

    ReplyDelete
  37. I'm not God. There are ways I'm to be like God and ways I'm not. God's ways are the ways of infinite wisdom and knowledge. He has rights a prerogatives that I don't have. He has morally justifiable reasons for allowing what He does even if I can't see the reason why. I don'try to figure out God's sovereign will or hidden will neither am I to live by it. I just go by His revealed will.

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  38. It's like this. I don't see God as being obligated to be merciful to His creation. Grace (common or saving) is unmerrited favor and God therefore, isn't under obligation to show grace. If He witholds grace He does nothing wrong. This is the Divine prerogative. God reserves the right to have mercy on whomever and whatever He pleases. God being God has rights and prerogatives that we don't. God is in a different category than us humans. He's all-knowing and infinite in wisdom. He cannot be compared to anything or anybody. While there are ways I'm to be like God there are also ways I'm not to be like God. He alone is God. His ways are the ways of infinite wisdom. I believe God has morally justifiable reasons for allowing suffering. I don't always know those reasons though. I don't know the soveregn will of God. It's hidden in mystery to me. Neither am I to try and follow it. I just try to go by God's revealed will.
    I don't try to figure out what God's hidden or sovereign will is anymore. It's hidden in mystery to me. I just try and go by what He has revealed which is loving Him above all else and loving my neigbor as myself. The secret things belong to the Lord. God's wisdom is fathomless and His decisions are unsearchable and His methods are mysterious and untraceable. No one can even completely understand His mind or advise Him to the proper course of action. It is arrogant for me to seek to determine what God is doing in a particular event or circumstance. I cannot search out His reasons behind His decisions or trace out the ways by which He brings those decisions to pass. God's ways are infinite in wisdom and cannot be comprehended by my finite mind. I'm learning to trust God even when I don't understand why. To demand that God explain why is arrogant and untrusting. I trust that God has moraly justifiable good reasons even when I don't know what His reasons are.

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  39. Mysterium Tremendum said...
    There is no contradiction here:.....Nothing inconsistent at all. Without God's grace I sin and I'm to blame. If I do a good deed it's by God's grace and He gets the glory.

    Sigh. Now your just repeating yourself and parroting dogma here. I must ask you why? Over on DC you seemed somewhat willing to reason and think out a problem. Here a few days later you resort to this. Why?

    It seems to me that you are not trying to convince me, but rather repeating a mantra (as you've said much the same on DC) to desperately try to convince yourself. I could be wrong though (and no offense intended).

    It's like this. I don't see God as being obligated to be merciful to His creation.

    Is a parent obligated to be merciful to his child? Is someone who loves obligated to be merciful to the person he loves?

    If I were to have two children and decide to torture one it's entire life all the while pampering the other, would that be just?

    I don't know the soveregn will of God. It's hidden in mystery to me.

    The beginning of wisdom, realizing that we don't know. However, you've also made alot of claims about YHVH's nature and prerogatives, claims which you cannot know. In fact, much of what you've written here has no backing, nothing but air and speculation to support it. So which is it, do you know or not?

    To demand that God explain why is arrogant and untrusting.

    Is it arrogant and untrusting for a child to try and understand the world and it's parents?

    ReplyDelete
  40. Nightmare,


    I find that I have to repeat what I said at D.C. because we are getting into the same subject here on the problem of evil and suffering. I think we are getting off the topic.

    All of your human analogies fail because like I said before and I'm afraid I'm going to have to repeat myself here. God is in a different category than we are. He alone is God. We are talking about God not humans. There's a huge distance between us and God. So that I don't repeat myself go back and reread what I said.

    ReplyDelete
  41. Nightmare & Laura,

    Look both of you just get past and over it...I like both of you (no matter what Nightmare thinks) and in these kind of conversations it always get's heated and I KNOW I am a prime example of that sometimes...that's really makes no personal reflection at times...Just yesterday I called that Rick guy a liar...he may be a fine upstanding gentleman, I'm sure, but about the topic I felt he was a liar...those may not be words that we should say, but we've all been called worse than that...

    So everybody hang around, argure your position firmly and unapologetically, support it as you are able if no other way than logically and hopefully in the end we all learn something as I have and continue to do...

    These conversations are worth having and I'm considering changing the format and focus of my blog to suit the robust (I got that word from Obama)convo that we have and have been having...we'll see.

    ReplyDelete
  42. Cole,

    By the way, I'm in agreement with Nightmare as to the continual "sinning" in hell...The scriptures you quote “Let the evil doer still do evil, and the filthy still be filthy, and the righteous still do right, and the holy still be holy.”

    That saying seem to be equivalent to saying, "Aren't you finished eating yet? Well keep on eating, I'm getting ready to go."

    What I'm trying to say is that we wouldn't expect the person eating to eat perpetually or even continually while we're gone, we're simply stating "don't worry about changing what you're doing now...it's too late!"

    I amy not be communicating taht good, but I think we do this type of thing all the time...

    The other scripture you gave in revelation really referred to people's reaction to what was happening on EARTH (that one I think I have right) The plagues came and people blasphemed God the more, why? Probably because even at that many people weren't convinced of him...I mean we see the same today don't we.

    In heaven or eternity, we come face to face (figuratively) with God. I don't see what the blasphemy would be about, everyone would KNOW he exists and consciousness will be illuminated as to why they are in this condition...after all that's what the books would be opened for...this would be clear.

    But there is a lot of room for speculation so I won't approach this dogmatically...

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  43. Harvey,

    I never said those scriptures proved my point anyway. I think it's reasonable to assume that those in hell stay evil though. They're definitly not going to become holy. Their hearts will remain in their hardened state. Moreover, I think someone could argue that since all sin is ultimately against an infinite God the punishment should likewise be infinite or at least the punishment should be alot more severe than it would be if it were only against other humans or animals. I think this would make sense out of the severenes of the penalties in the Old Testament for breaking God's law. Adultery would deserve death in a theocracy. But I'm still not absolutely certain that the bible teaches the eternal concious torment of human beings. Maybe for satan and his angels.

    ReplyDelete
  44. Mysterium Tremendum said...
    I find that I have to repeat what I said at D.C. because we are getting into the same subject here on the problem of evil and suffering. I think we are getting off the topic.

    No prob.

    All of your human analogies fail because like I said before and I'm afraid I'm going to have to repeat myself here.

    I think we shall have to agree to disagree, save perhaps in the circumstance that YHVH would not be truly sentient as we know it (think similar to the Force).

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  45. Nightmare,

    I almost forgot...You asked a good one about the shame-honor concept and that it seemed that the morality of it was shaped after the culture rather than being a construct of God.

    I would simply say this,

    The concept of shame and honor did not exist on it's own shoulders. I believe that it was a concept that was used since the very first sin and murder. The shame was banishment form the garden, the shame was the mark upon Cain for all to see...so I believe that the concept was deeper and further reaching than the the culture, therefore I believe the standard was in place, established by God and not necessarily established by men.

    There is another thing to say about that also...God's punishment and judgement would have to be in terms that the people could understand or relate to. I mean if he made a punishment such as being trapped in a submarine at the bottom of the ocean, they may understand ocean, but what is a submarine?

    You get what I'm saying. the punishment had to also mean something to those listening to identify it as a punishment.

    So I think those objections are adequately overcome as it pertains to the 'type" of punishment necessary to account for SIN.

    Thanks.

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  46. Well, I don't believe that God does evil. He allows it but He has a morally justifiable reason for allowing it even if I don't know His reason is at the time. God does promise to work all things together for my good so I can trust Him and rest content that no matter what happens God will work it together for my good. When my future is in the hands of an all-knowing, all-powerful, and all-wise God who promises to work all things together for my good I am free to take any risk that love demands.

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  47. District Supt. Harvey Burnett said...
    Look both of you just get past and over it...

    Done, on this end at least.

    And seriously Laura, my apologies. Both for the initial and for my reaction. I shouldn't have been so harsh. I'm reconsidered a bit, partly based on (shall we say) some new data I'm still processing. Hopefully you see this. If not, my apologies for that as well. (bows)

    I like both of you (no matter what Nightmare thinks)

    Indeed, but then I'm of the opinion that the majority of people dislike me (shrug).

    and in these kind of conversations it always get's heated and I KNOW I am a prime example of that sometimes...

    Thank you, much, for this Harvey. You've earned some points ;)

    we're simply stating "don't worry about changing what you're doing now...it's too late!"

    Why though, again, would death make it too late?

    I don't see what the blasphemy would be about, everyone would KNOW he exists and consciousness will be illuminated as to why they are in this condition.

    Well, if one considers insult to be blasphemy I could see it.

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  48. Oh, Harvey, if I may ask a favor please relay my apologies to Laura to ensure she gets them. If you are able to that is. Ty

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  49. Cole wrote: God is in a different category than we are. He alone is God. We are talking about God not humans.

    Cole,

    That God is somehow in a different "category" than human beings doesn't necessarily mean that If He withholds grace He does nothing wrong. This does not necessarily follow.

    That God is in a different category than human beings is a negative. That he is NOT in the category of human beings who do wrong does NOT necessarily mean that he can do no wrong. You need a positive reason why this would be the case.

    For example, God's angles would clearly be in a different "category" than human beings, yet it's obvious that they can do wrong, as Lucifer was supposedly once God's right hand angel. So, merely NOT being in the category of human beings is insufficient.

    Furthermore, I'm guessing if I asked you why God is in a different category, one of the reasons you'd give is because he can do no wrong. And why can he do no wrong? Because he's in a different category, etc.

    We can reduce this to God is a special being because he is a being that is special. It's a tautology.

    This is in contrast to say, subatomic particles, such as photons. We say photons are in a different category than normal matter because we can observe then acting as either a wave or a particle. It was only after we observed photons acting in this manner did we put them in a special category.

    That God can do no wrong has not be observed. Instead it's built into YOUR definition of God. God can do now wrong because that's how you define God. As such, your the one claiming God is in a special category.

    For example, I could claim that God is perfectly evil and only allows good things to happen as part of his perfectly evil plan. If we all we knew was evil (we did not know good), then how would we know what we were missing? Therefore, a perfectly evil God would allow good as part of his plan so our suffering would be even deeper.

    Clearly, this God would also be in a different category than human beings, but he could do wrong.

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  50. Scott,

    Common grace refers to God's activity in sustaining all of creation. Grace is unmerited favor and therefore God is under no obligation to be gratious to His creation. Witholding grace can only be unjust if it is owed. But it is never owed because it is unmerrited favor. God wasn't obligated to create neither is He obligated to sustain creation. Clearly God is good and He has good morally justifiable reasons for allowing suffering. He alone reserves the right to have mercy on whomever He pleases. I believe that God is the Holy Other and that His ways are the ways of infinite wisdom but He doesn't do evil. He allows evil and He has morally justifiable reasons for allowing evil. A scripture that supports this is found in Genesis when Joseph was sold into slavery.

    Genesis 50:20

    "As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good in order to bring about this present result, to preserve many people alive.


    The intentions on the part of man were evil and God held them responsible for their evil deed. Yet the actions on the part of God were good in allowing the evil. His intentions were good and He had a morally justifiable reason for allowing it.So, God did nothing wrong by allowing the evil.

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  51. Also Scott,

    God is in a different category and I don't think I'm suppose to be like God in every way. In fact it's impossible to be like God in everyway. Moreover. when I try to play God and be like Him in every way it leads to pride and arrogance. God is in a category all by Himself. There's ways I'm to be like God and ways I'm not to be like God.

    God is all-knowing I'm not

    God is self-sufficient I'm not

    God is in control I'm not

    God is all-powerful I'm not

    God is everywhere at once I'm not

    God's ways are the ways of infinite wisdom and knowledge mine aren't

    I'm humbled in believing that there's a God and I'm not like Him in everyway.

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  52. Scott,

    God's GRACE is not obligatory. That's the manner of grace, it's unmerrited. So for him to withold it is like you having $20 in your pocket and mea asking for $10 and you saying no. Have you done anything wrong NO. Can I say you were morally imperfect to not give it to me? I could, but you really weren't...you were well within your bounds...

    Also remeber the argument I placed here about the "children" of God. We're not all "children" because we've been born into the world, we're "children" under the construct of belief and obedience.

    So your construct plays to the emotions and is layered on a few themes but is ineffective especially when it comes to God. I believe that's what Cole is partially communicating.

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  53. Cole wrote: Common grace refers to God's activity in sustaining all of creation. Grace is unmerited favor and therefore God is under no obligation to be [gracious] to His creation.

    Cole, you essentially said, when God does anything good, it's called "common grace". And common grace is unmerited. Therefore God doesn't have to do anything good.

    But that God doing anything good is called "common grace", and that grace is unmerited does not follow. This is a theological concept which is based on how YOU define God.

    You might as well have said, God doesn't necessarily have to do anything good, because goodness isn't necessary for God. But why? Because you define him that way.

    He allows evil and He has morally justifiable reasons for allowing evil.

    Cole, I realize this is how you define God. But I was able to construct a logical reason why a perfectly evil God would allow goodness by using a different definition of God. Both logically account for the good and evil we observe. The only difference is how we define God in the first place.

    A scripture that supports this is found in Genesis when Joseph was sold into slavery.

    For the sake of argument, let's assume the Bible really is the word of God. How do we know God didn't tell us human beings falsehoods? Saying he doesn't have to do good could be part of his evil plan, which you would be falling for.

    Furthermore, If God doesn't have to do anything good, then why would he be required to tell us the truth?

    I'm guessing you think God cannot lie, right? But why do you think this? Because the Bible says God cannot lie? it's circular. God does not lie because God told us he does not lie?

    Instead, it's YOU who define God as a being that does not lie.

    So, to bring this back to the topic of original post, It's one thing to say that the universe had to have been created by an intelligent agent, but it's a completely different thing to say this agent doesn't have to do anything good. Or that this agent created a punishment that is eternal, etc.

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  54. Harvey,

    imagine I said there have been a number of human beings who have evolved to the point where they no longer need physical bodies, they manipulate matter and energy with their thoughts and have become super intelligent.

    Therefore, these beings are not obliged to do anything good.

    Now I'm guessing you'd have a few problems with this statement.

    First, I'm guessing you don't think human beings evolve at all, let alone that they could evolve to the point where they no longer need physical bodies, can manipulate matter and energy with their minds or become super intelligent.

    If we don't even know humans can evolve ANY new properties, then why would we think they could exhibit these SPECIFIC properties? You would think this was mere speculation on my part. Right?

    Second, none of these characteristics would necessarily excuse them from needing to do anything good.

    So, imagine if countered by saying that, the act of these evolved beings doing anything good is called "evolved goodness." And evolved goodness is not merited.

    Therefore, these evolved beings are not obliged to do anything good.

    Again, just because I decide to use the words "evolved goodness" to describe the act of theses evolved beings doing anything good, doesn't mean they are somehow excused from doing good things. It does not follow. I'm merely playing with the definition of words.

    Just because theists call the act of God doing anything good "grace", this doesn't mean that God is excused from needing to do anything good.

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  55. Scott,

    Regarding your scenario you said:"Now I'm guessing you'd have a few problems with this statement."

    Me thinks that you've guessed wrong. Why superimpose my expectation or demand upon someone or anyone who's in a superior position. What you describe is welfare. I don't think I need it.

    You said:"First, I'm guessing you don't think human beings evolve at all, let alone that they could evolve to the point where they no longer need physical bodies,

    They don't and there's no proof that they do.

    You said:If we don't even know humans can evolve ANY new properties, then why would we think they could exhibit these SPECIFIC properties?

    What? We're not talking about an "evolved" human being. We're talking about and unevolved God who was, is and always will be.

    You said:Second, none of these characteristics would necessarily excuse them from needing to do anything good.

    That whole line of reasoning has nothing to do with the argument.

    You said:Therefore, these evolved beings are not obliged to do anything good."

    and no matter how you put it, no one has any obligation to do anything for another.

    You said:Again, just because I decide to use the words "evolved goodness" to describe the act of theses evolved beings doing anything good, doesn't mean they are somehow excused from doing good things.

    It also doesn't mean that they have an obligation to do anything either, so what's the point?

    You said:"Just because theists call the act of God doing anything good "grace", this doesn't mean that God is excused from needing to do anything good."

    WOW! What deep metaphysical logic at work??? First God doesn't NEED to do anything. Secondly, his goodness is bestowed upon the just and unjust...that;s the only reason you woke up this morning...third, he needs no "excuse" for anything he does. IF he turns the light out, it's HIS house...we may not have to go home, but we sure gotta get outta there (wherever there is) in other words any creator has a prerogative that others may not have. Now westernism messes the concept up and that's why you draw a blank and confuse all kinds of categories and confer your expectations upon the actions of others, but God isn't under any such obligation.

    Grace, can't be purchased, earned, nor worked for
    and it can't be paid back...In fact grace is not what we are paying back by serving God, we're responding toward his goodness and that response is both vertical and horizontal. In fact if both elements don't exist it's not full response of praise.

    Ephesians 2:8~"For by GRACE ARE YE SAVED through faith; and that not of yourselves: [it is] the gift of God:"

    What's the equivalent of grace in Buddhism? is there even anything close to it that's not full of self-serving?

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  56. Scott,

    That's not what I was saying at all. What I was saying was that if God witholds His grace He does nothing wrong because grace is unmerrited favor and therefore never owed. Since God does nothing wrong by witholding grace then He remains good. Since He's good then He has a morally justifiable reason for allowing evil and suffering.

    I understand it's about how we define God in the first place. I think we should get it right about God before we try to debunk Him otherwise we end up attacking the wrong God.

    A purely evil God would have evil intentions for allowing good with immoral reasons. Such a God would be doing an evil act while the person commiting the good act would be doing a good act.

    My God is different. He has good intentions and a morally justifiable reason for allowing evil. So, He does nothing wrong by allowing evil. The person who commits the evil act does the evil. Not God.

    I'm just telling you my of my concept of God.

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  57. Harvey, I'm confused.

    I said:Now I'm guessing you'd have a few problems with this statement."

    To which you replied: Me thinks that you've guessed wrong.

    But then you seem to confirm your disbelief that people could evolve to no longer need physical bodies and agree that my conclusion does not follow. Which is it? Saying you disagree, but then agreeing, is not disagreeing.

    Why superimpose my expectation or demand upon someone or anyone who's in a superior position. What you describe is welfare. I don't think I need it.

    What do you mean by superior? More power? If so, this sounds like a version of might equals right. Or do your mean some other form of superiority?

    and no matter how you put it, no one has any obligation to do anything for another.

    So, if I see someone being robed, beaten or abused, I'm not obliged to help them? I'm free to leave them to die? If I know a man is going to murder someone, I'm not obliged to report it to the police or warn the victim?

    I wrote: :Again, just because I decide to use the words "evolved goodness" to describe the act of theses evolved beings doing anything good, doesn't mean they are somehow excused from doing good things.

    Harvey wrote: It also doesn't mean that they have an obligation to do anything either, so what's the point?

    Harvey, my point is clear in the analogy I've just made. Merely calling the act of goodness some other name does not somehow negate the need for goodness. It doesn't follow. Instead, it's a form of special pleading, which is disguised by word play.

    Instead, when you use the word God, it's implied that God is not obliged to do good. It's part of the definition. Just as when you use the world God, you mean a creator God, when an all powerful all knowing, nonmaterial being could exist, but not take any action at all.

    I wrote: Just because theists call the act of God doing anything good "grace", this doesn't mean that God is excused from needing to do anything good.

    WOW! What deep metaphysical logic at work??? First God doesn't NEED to do anything.

    But why?

    Objects fall when you release them because the force of gravity pulls them down. The sky is blue because light scatters throughout the earth's atmosphere. God doesn't need to do anything good because _______?

    Secondly, his goodness is bestowed upon the just and unjust...that;s the only reason you woke up this morning…

    God is the reason I woke up, therefore God doesn't have to do good things? Again, this does not follow.

    Third, he needs no "excuse" for anything he does. IF he turns the light out, it's HIS house...we may not have to go home, but we sure gotta get outta there (wherever there is) in other words any creator has a prerogative that others may not have.

    So I can build a house, let people move into it, and then destroy it while these people are inside? I mean, it's MY house so I can do whatever I want?

    Furthermore, human beings are sentient. They are not homes, cars or other non-sentient objects. They have thoughts, feelings etc. If God created beings with these attributes, he would be responsible for their existence.

    For example, would God be justified in created human beings in the cold vacuum of space, where they would die as they froze in a matter of seconds?

    What's the equivalent of grace in Buddhism? is there even anything close to it that's not full of self-serving?

    First, why do you think there must be a equivalent of "grace" in every religion?

    Second, Buddhism does not suppose a supernatural creator exists, let along a supernatural creator that is not obliged to do good things.

    Perhaps you mean, why do good things happen to some people but not others?

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  58. District Supt. Harvey Burnett said...
    The concept of shame and honor did not exist on it's own shoulders. I believe that it was a concept that was used since the very first sin and murder. The shame was banishment form the garden, the shame was the mark upon Cain for all to see...so I believe that the concept was deeper and further reaching than the the culture, therefore I believe the standard was in place, established by God and not necessarily established by men.

    (Sorry didn't notice this last night). Shame works by essentially creating a negative reputation (even if only in the mind of the shamed). This is problematic when talking about Adam & Eve/Cain due to the idea that there were no other people for them to shamed in the face of.

    There is another thing to say about that also...God's punishment and judgement would have to be in terms that the people could understand or relate to. I mean if he made a punishment such as being trapped in a submarine at the bottom of the ocean, they may understand ocean, but what is a submarine?

    You get what I'm saying. the punishment had to also mean something to those listening to identify it as a punishment.


    I get what you mean, but the problem here is that you've essentially stated that hell (the punishment) is metaphoric to some degree.

    So I think those objections are adequately overcome as it pertains to the 'type" of punishment necessary to account for SIN.

    Can I ask a question? If grace is unmerited, and we are saved thereby (and only thereby), why does sin even matter? Why the continual emphasis on it?

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  59. District Supt. Harvey Burnett said...
    So for him to withold it is like you having $20 in your pocket and mea asking for $10 and you saying no. Have you done anything wrong NO. Can I say you were morally imperfect to not give it to me? I could, but you really weren't...you were well within your bounds...

    Inaccurate. For it to be accurate Scott would have to have infinite $.

    However in this case, you asking for and being refused $10 by an individual who has infinite $ is quite obviously an (in)action in violation of generosity by the individual.

    What's the equivalent of grace in Buddhism?

    It must be remembered that Buddhism is an outgrowth Hinduism in the same sense that Christianity is an outgrowth of Judaism.

    In Buddhism the cause of suffering in the world is desire. To free one's self from the cycle of reincarnation (and thus suffering) and attain Nirvana one must free one's self of desire. Certain enlightened individuals, called Bodhisattva, are held to have foregone or put off ascension to Nirvana in order to remain behind (or descend to hell) in order to help guide others to attain enlightenment themselves.

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  60. Cole wrote : What I was saying was that if God [withholds] His grace He does nothing wrong because grace is [unmerited] favor and therefore never owed.

    Cole,

    My confusion seems to be regarding the term grace. What does grace mean? Or to be more specific, how is it different from doing good?

    Is grace only different from doing good in that it's unmerited? Is grace something unique to God? If so, then this appears to be special pleading in the case of God. God doesn't need to do good because goodness isn't necessary for God. It's a tautology.

    I think we should get it right about God before we try to debunk Him otherwise we end up attacking the wrong God.

    The problem with the concept of grace is that it seems to be a blank check.

    This essentially means it's impossible to use God's actions, or the lack there of, to determine if anyone's idea of God is correct. One could assume God could take any action and still reach the conclusion that God is good.

    How can we get possibly get God "right" under these assumptions?

    A purely evil God would have evil intentions for allowing good with immoral reasons. Such a God would be doing an evil act while the person commiting the good act would be doing a good act.

    My God is different. He has good intentions and a morally justifiable reason for allowing evil. So, He does nothing wrong by allowing evil. The person who commits the evil act does the evil. Not God.


    Cole, I realize this is what you believe. However, I'm trying to illustrate how the assumption that God is not obliged to do good makes it difficult how to tell if anyone has "got God right." Either of these definitions of God could account for what we observe. So how do we reach a conclusion?

    Given what we observe, you must assume that God is is not obliged to do good. Otherwise, God cannot be good. This seems to be a conflict of interest, because If you want God to be good, you must essentially take God's actions off the table as a means to tell if we have God "right."

    Furthermore, it brings into question the value of the statement "God is good?" If we can't say God would not do X because God is good, then what does the it mean?

    This thread is a good example.

    Will God leave those he sends to hell for eternity? Or will he send them for only a short while, then eventually destroy them?

    Saying God is, but is not obliged to do good, tells us nothing about either of these options. We cannot use this concept it to determine which a good God would do.

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  61. Cole wrote:I think we should get it right about God before we try to debunk Him otherwise we end up attacking the wrong God.

    Cole also wrote: I'm just telling you my of my concept of God.

    Cole, I'm not sure what you mean by "debunk."

    Are you suggesting that, it's OK to create a concept of God as long as that concept is somehow worthy of conceiving? That is, as long the specific way we choose to conceive of God is "good" then attempts to debunk it will fail?

    Or when you say "debunk", do you mean determine if any particular concept of God is accurate in reality?

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  62. " God doesn't need to do good because goodness isn't necessary for God. It's a tautology."

    Scott,

    You're not listening to what I say. Grace is unmerrited favor and therefore never owed. God is never obligated to give grace. If He was it wouldn't be grace. Since this is so God does nothing wrong by allowing evil and sufferring. Since God does nothing wrong then He remains good. God being good has moraly justifiable reasons for allowing evil and suffering. A good exaple of this is found in Genesis when Joseph was sold into slavery.

    Genesis 50:20

    "As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good in order to bring about this present result, to preserve many people alive.


    The intentions on the part of man were evil and God held them responsible for their evil deed. Yet the actions on the part of God were good in allowing the evil. His intentions were good and He had a morally justifiable reason for allowing it.So, God did nothing wrong by allowing the evil.

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  63. God sees all of reality and is infinite in wisdom in knowledge. This places Him in a different category than man. He's distinct. He cannot be compared to anything or anybody. There are ways I'm to be like God and ways I'm not. I can't be like God in every way.

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  64. Cole wrote: Grace is unmerrited favor and therefore never owed. God is never obligated to give grace. If He was it wouldn't be grace.

    But this sounds like it's merely a definition. Again, what is the difference between Grace and doing good things? If it's only that grace is unmerited and unique to God, then it's only by definition that God's grace is unmerited.

    God being good has moraly justifiable reasons for allowing evil and suffering.

    To say that God is not obliged to do good things and that God sometimes allows evil for some greater good is not the same thing. You said that God is in a different class, which somehow excuses him of a need to do good in any situation.

    That there are a number of supposed instance where God is described as using evil for good, this doesn't mean it would be impossible for God to allow evil for no reason at all, or that he wouldn't do so at some point in the future.

    Furthermore, just because you assume God always has a good reason, this doesn't mean there really was a good reason. You always reach this conclusion because you start out by defining God as good.

    Perhaps I can clarify by approaching this from a different perspective.

    Is it possible for a being who is all knowing, all powerful, infinite and perfectly self sufficient to be evil? If so, then what is the difference between such a being and your concept of God?

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  65. Cole wrote: God sees all of reality and is infinite in wisdom in knowledge. This places Him in a different category than man. He's distinct. He cannot be compared to anything or anybody.

    But why couldn't a being with all of these properties allow evil for no reason? Couldn't a being who allows meaningless evil be distinct and incomparable to anyone or anybody?

    Perhaps it's because you think God has the ability to know when evil could ultimately do more good than harm. Therefore he would?

    But surely there would be situations when allowing evil would do more harm than good. And God supposedly isn't even required to do good in these situations either. Otherwise, God would be obliged to do good in some cases but not others.

    But this is NOT what you're claiming. Instead, you're claiming God is NOT obliged to do good in ANY situation.

    There are ways I'm to be like God and ways I'm not. I can't be like God in every way.

    I'm not sure what this has to do with God not being obliged to do anything good.

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  66. Now Scott raised a good point some time back statingabout the house analogy I set forth.

    He said somethign to the effect, about how even though it's his hous can he just teaar it down while people are in it and still be called good?

    Now that was a good one, because the earth does belong to God and we as Christian claim he is over everything althogh may not be directly responsible for everything...

    So what do we do with this?

    I think there are a few things in repsect to it that he describes in the word:

    1- God does not do evil neither is it a temptation for him to do it. James 1:13~Let no man say when he is tempted, I am tempted of God: for God cannot be tempted WITH EVIL, neither tempteth he any man:

    2- His goodness is not arbitrary as you are really just hinting around. Why is he good? If he is good because of goodness then goodness is greater right? The answer is that he simly IS good. If the things he created are "good" then as creator he would have to be the source of that goodness. Show me an evil tree or evil rock and there may be an argument against his goodness SINCE he made everything material and immaterial.

    3- Knowing points 1 and 2 there IS no chance that God is "tearing the house down" while we're in it. In fact that destruction is not promised until we're removed 2 Peter 3:13 ~Nevertheless we, according to his promise, look for new heavens and a NEW EARTH, wherein dwelleth righteousness

    What is destroying teh earth right now is what I allude to and that is the effects of sin.

    OK, back to the point. Is God somehow negligent for allowing the destruction? I would say YES IF he hadn't made or promised a way out of the end game of sin. IF this is not all there is to our existence, and we have been given a way to remove the effect and power of sin, which is that destruction, we DO OURSELVES irreprable damage by not taking hold of the provision taht God has made for us.

    In essence, God says sin is tearing the house down. Has provided a way for us to get out of the house, and it's up to us to leave or stay. How much louder can he yell...GET OUT BEFORE DESTRUCTION!?

    Addational commentary on this is helpful, but thanks Scott that was (I thought) a good counter to the unmerrited or grace thesis...I though I may as well give you a 1/4 brownie pt. for that one-LOL!

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  67. Thanks, Nightmare. I appreciate that.

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  68. Scott said "This is in contrast to say, subatomic particles, such as photons. We say photons are in a different category than normal matter because we can observe then acting as either a wave or a particle. It was only after we observed photons acting in this manner did we put them in a special category.

    That God can do no wrong has not be observed. Instead it's built into YOUR definition of God. God can do now wrong because that's how you define God. As such, your the one claiming God is in a special category.


    I couldn't have come up with a better analogy if I'd tried.

    We can't see photons - even the so-called particles have no mass. I can see what I'm writing because of photons, but they can't be singled out and observed. We CAN see the effects of photons, the wavelengths, and these can be measured, timed, etc.

    It's the same way with God. That God can do no wrong has not been observed because no one has seen God the Father, but we have the Son, and we have His Word and history - the effect of His time on earth and His message. We also observe the effects of God in our daily lives. Why do you think it's so hard to get a Christian to doubt or change their mind? Because are lives of full of tangibles - effects of the unseen.

    Like the Strong Force. We know the strong force is holding everything together based on what is observable in the theory of quantum chromodynamics. To say the strong force holds everything together is not just a definition (as you are trying to show with God), but an observable fact - though no one can see it or completely understand it, and it remains a great phenomena.

    "He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. For by him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things were created by him and for him. He is before all things, and in him all things hold together."
    ~Colossians 1:15-17

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  69. Nightmare said "Can I ask a question? If grace is unmerited, and we are saved thereby (and only thereby), why does sin even matter? Why the continual emphasis on it?"

    Exactly!
    Unless, of course, we are talking about an unsaved person. In that case, the emphasis should be on sin, so they might know they need Christ.

    "And you, being dead in your sins and the uncircumcision of your flesh, hath he quickened together with him, having forgiven you all trespasses;

    Blotting out the handwriting of ordinances that was against us, which was contrary to us, and took it out of the way, nailing it to his cross..."
    Colossians 2:13-14

    (Can you tell I studied Colossians today? TWO tv preachers in a row preaching universalism from Colossians. LOCAL preachers! It's getting bad out there...)

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  70. Scott said "But this sounds like it's merely a definition."

    You say God is only by our definition, grace is only by definition...
    You never answered my question about truth, and you don't need to. It's clear that you believe truth is relative and fixated on "what is true for me", if anything. IS anything true for you? Does 2 plus 2 equal anything but 4?

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  71. Harvey, you seem to have misunderstood my original question.

    Cole said that God's Grace is unmerited. To which I asked what is the difference between Grace and God going good things.

    To use an example, what is the difference between murder of a women and an honor killing?

    Honor killings are when a woman is killed for breaking an Islamic law, despite the fact that a man would not be killed if he broke the very same law. I'm guessing we would both agree that an honor killing is just a form of special pleading and misdirection. They call it "honor killing" so it sounds more palatable.

    Do men not have honor? Then why are they "punished" differently? The term honor killing is just the murder of a women wrapped up in a fancy name.

    Please note that I'm NOT suggesting that God's Grace is the same thing as an honor killing. THIS IS NOT WHAT I'M SAYING.

    Instead, I'm trying to show the idea of redefinition in theology as a form of misdirection. It's the process by which an act is renamed, then an assertion is made about it, which doesn't necessary follow.

    Let's call the act of killing a women, but not a man, an "honor killing", then say honor killings are OK. These things do not necessary follow. Instead, It seems the so called "justification" is merely built in to the definition of "honor killing."

    It appears this is the same kind of process that occurs with the act of God doing good things.

    Let's call the act of God doing good things "Grace", and then say grace is unmerited. This doesn't seem to follow either and appears to be built in to the definition of "grace."

    Your first response claimed there is no specific exception in God's case. This is because you suggested no one is required to do good things for anyone else. This was a universal claim as it applies to everyone.

    However, I noted that this seems to conflict with concrete examples of what we normally consider required behavior in specific situations. We are required to give assistance in life threatening situations. We are required to warn people about pending acts of violence or potential injury we might be aware of, even if we did not cause them.

    It was then that you suggested that God's actions as a creator gave him control over that which he created. He did not need to do good because he could do what he wanted with his creation.

    But I noticed this too conflicted with concrete examples of other beings creating things. Which was the house example I mentioned.

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  72. Now, your current comment seems to be addressing a different but related question.

    If you recall, my original question was based on the claim that God doesn't need to do ANYTHING good for ANY reason. Or as you mentioned, God didn't need to create us, send Jesus to save us from sin, etc. He would do no wrong by not doing any of these things, or even some things, but no others.

    01. The Bible says God does not do evil, nor is he tempted to do evil.

    Here you seem to imply that God is incapable of doing evil, nor has the desire to do evil. Therefore anything he might do would not be evil. And you point to a Bible as a reference.

    But this verse does not explain why this is the case. God neither does evil or is tempted to do evil because ________? This is in contrast to the idea that God created the universe because he is all powerful. Or God knows what I'm thinking because he is all knowing.

    As I asked Cole, Is it possible for a being who is all knowing, all powerful, infinite and perfectly self sufficient to be evil? If so, then what is the difference between such a being and your concept of God?

    Your second point seems to be the "answer."

    02. God simply is good.

    You wrote": The answer is that he simply IS good.

    How is this different than saying God is good by definition?

    If the things he created are "good" then as creator he would have to be the source of that goodness. Show me an evil tree or evil rock and there may be an argument against his goodness SINCE he made everything material and immaterial.

    Trees and rocks are not sentient. As such they are neutral. They are neither good or bad. Second, you claim human beings brought sin into the world on their own. Would they not be both good and bad?

    Also, my earlier example showed how a perfectly evil God could allow goodness to fulfill his evil plan. That God is good is NOT necessarily evident by what we observe. Instead, it's because you start with the idea that God is good an interpret everyone based on that assumption.

    03. God will not destroy the earth while we're on it.

    Knowing points 1 and 2 there IS no chance that God is "tearing the house down" while we're in it.

    First, this seems to be a issue of logistics. If we're on earth when God destroys it then we'd be destroyed as well. He cannot send us to hell for eternity if we're destroyed. So, If God want's to send us to Hell, I don't think he has a choice.

    Second, returning to the original topic of the post, if I only had two options, I'd pick destruction over Hell. So, If God is going to send me to hell for not believing he exists, it's not clear that by removing everyone first would be doing me any favors.

    OK, back to the point. Is God somehow negligent for allowing the destruction? I would say YES IF he hadn't made or promised a way out of the end game of sin. IF this is not all there is to our existence, and we have been given a way to remove the effect and power of sin, which is that destruction, we DO OURSELVES irreprable damage by not taking hold of the provision taht God has made for us.

    But this goes back to the original question I made.

    If we are saved by Grace, and Grace is not merited, then it sounds like God doesn't even have to give us a way out. He's not obliged. And he's not evil for doing so.

    This seems to conflict with your claim that God is not evil ONLY if he gives us a way out.

    Furthermore, this seems to be in question as keeping one's promise would seem to be an form of doing good. If God is not obliged to do good, then is God obliged to keep his promises? is he obliged to NOT present falsehoods in the Bible?

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  73. Laura wrote: We also observe the effects of God in our daily lives. Why do you think it's so hard to get a Christian to doubt or change their mind? Because are lives of full of tangibles - effects of the unseen.

    Laura, you seem to suggest I don't think the positive things you're experiencing are not profound or somehow part of your imagination. This is not what I think.

    I think there are reasons why you experience the things you do. I just do not think these experiences are due to God actually existing in reality. And that they can be explained by natural processes.

    I make a trip to the ocean at least once a year. Looking out at the ocean reminds me of infinity. It reminds me of how small we are in time and space. It reminds me of how impermanent each of us really is. I find it very profound. Meditation shows me all the "chatter" going on in my mind. Instead of begin immersed in them, I can step back and see them from a different perspective. These are just two examples. And they are very real.

    But just because I have an affinity for the ocean, it doesn't mean the ocean has an affinity for me. I'm reacting to nature. And, specifically, this happens because I'm a sentient being that makes the connection between the ocean and infinity. You may not make that connection. Therefore, to you, the ocean may just a large body of water.

    When you see what you think is God acting in nature or other people, you respond. But this doesn't mean that God is really behind these things. You start with the idea of God and interpret the things around you based on that starting point.

    Furthermore, I think your assumption that God is the cause has unnecessary baggage which results in negative consequences. And one can achieve these positive aspects without this baggage.

    You say God is only by our definition, grace is only by definition…

    Laura, I'm merely asking what is the difference between grace and God doing good things. It's a reasonable question, don't you think?

    You never answered my question about truth, and you don't need to. It's clear that you believe truth is relative and fixated on "what is true for me", if anything. IS anything true for you? Does 2 plus 2 equal anything but 4?

    First, what do you mean by "truth?"

    2+2=4 is a mathematical truth. What's the difference between a fact and a truth? What's the difference between knowledge and truth?

    Second, can we know truth? If I said two objects weighed the same, could this be true? Because it's very unlikely to that two objects would weigh exactly the same. But for most purposes, saying two objects have equal weights is close enought be considered "true."

    But, if I had to guess, you're asking I think we could know if anything is wrong or right from a moral perspective. If so, please see the following video series.

    Can we ever be right about right and wrong

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  74. Scott,

    You said:But, if I had to guess, you're asking I think we could know if anything is wrong or right from a moral perspective. If so, please see the following video series.

    What you're promoting is relativism and that's the same type of garbage that I and most that read this blog regularly are definitely against...

    Hypothetically Look at this:

    You've just brought home a beautiful, healthy baby. In fact your first child.

    Someone visiting the child takes him/her out of your hand and drops him/her on the floor and commences to stomp his/her frail and tender body.

    Are the actions of that someone morally wrong? How do you know this?

    {Sorry I had to correct spelling on the previous one.}

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  75. Scott,

    When God gives His grace He's doing something good. Since grace is unmerrited favor and God is never obligated to give it He does nothing wrong by witholding it. When God witholds His grace He does something good not only because it is never owed but because He also has good intentions in allowing evil with morally justifiable reasons for allowing it.

    I've already explained to you the difference between a purely evil God and my God. A purely evil God would have evil intentions in allowing something to happen. My God has good intentions with morally justifiable reasons for allowing evil to happen. He sees all of reality and is all-knowing and infinite in wisdom. He's in a different category than humans and cannot be compared to anything or anybody. His ways are the ways of infinite wisdom.

    Nothing in creation deserves God's common grace. You cannot deserve as a non-being to be created. God created out of the overflow of His grace. He wasn't obligated to create neither is He obligated to sustain. God is self-sufficient and needs nothing or lacks nothing. The Father loves the Son and the Son loves the Father. They are complete and lack nothing. The Spirit of love that flows between them is the Holy Spirit. From this fountain is the overflow of grace that fills the entire universe. Indeed, it was from this overflow of grace that the universe was created and by which it is sustained. God wasn't obligated to create neither is He obligated to sustain.

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  76. Cole wrote: I've already explained to you the difference between a purely evil God and my God

    Cole, please correctly me if I'm wrong, but I guess this means….

    In regards to the question Is it possible for a being who is all knowing, all powerful, infinite and perfectly self sufficient to be evil?, Your answer would be Yes?

    And in regards to the question If so, then what is the difference between such a being and your concept of God?, your answer would be, the only difference is that you assert your God is good?

    He sees all of reality and is all-knowing and infinite in wisdom. He's in a different category than humans and cannot be compared to anything or anybody. His ways are the ways of infinite wisdom.

    Right, but couldn't a being use these properties for evil purposes?

    For example, He could have infinitely good judgement when it comes to choosing actions that maximize evil? Couldn't he be in a completely different class, which is incomparable to anyone, including humans, yet still be evil?

    I guess I still do not see the difference here beyond an assertion that your God is good.

    Perhaps you mean that, since God would have the knowledge to maximize good, this somehow guarantees he would maximize good. Is this what you're suggesting?

    But this seems to imply that beings that have infinite knowledge would be perfectly good. And those who do not have perfect knowledge would not.

    I'm not good because my knowledge is NOT infinite. But if I had infinite knowledge, I would know how to maximize good. Therefore I would be perfectly good?

    If this is the case, then it seems that the reason I'm NOT good is because I lack infinite knowledge. And if this is true, then God would have known a lack of infinite knowledge would result in me doing evil. Therefore, God's failure to give me infinite knowledge is the reason I'm not perfectly good.

    Or most importantly, my lack of infinite knowledge makes it impossible for me to be perfectly good.

    Hopefully this dilemma helps clarify my question.

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  77. Scott,

    When I depend on God and place my trust in Him and His promises He purifies me from my sin. I'm not morally perfect yet. Only when I get to heaven. But even there I will be dependent on God for my holiness. I will still trust in Him.

    I gave you the reasons why my God is good and what distinguishes Him from an evil deity. An evil God would allow things with evil intentions. My God doesn't do that. He has good intentions with morally justifiable reasons for allowing evil. If you're asking me to justify my belief in a good God I would have to point you to Alvin Plantinga's Reformed Epistemology. It's certainly possible that I'm being decieved by an evil demon of some sort but not likely.

    I would also point you to a good book on the Ressurection of Jesus. Habbermas has some good ones.

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  78. Scott,

    Placing my trust in an all-powerful, all-knowing, all-wise, good God and His promises is what frees me from my sin. His promises of future grace.

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  79. Scott said "But, if I had to guess, you're asking I think we could know if anything is wrong or right from a moral perspective."

    No, no, no. That's not it at all. It doesn't matter if 2 plus 2 is a mathematical formula. You are either reading too much into my simple question, or you are side-stepping. If I said 2 plus 2 was 5, would that be the truth ever? No, because there is only one truth to that mathematical formula.

    I'm going to assume you aren't side-stepping and use your question to Cole as an example:

    You said "Furthermore, this seems to be in question as keeping one's promise would seem to be an form of doing good. If God is not obliged to do good, then is God obliged to keep his promises?"

    I could give you 30 verses on the faithfulness of God's promises, but instead I'll center in on the truth - and that is that it is impossible for God to lie (Hebrews 6:18, Titus 1:2).

    There can only be one truth. Either God is a liar or He has never lied. You many say, "well that's just your definition of God", and I say no - that's HIS definition of Himself. Again, there can only be one truth. Either God defined Himself as being unable to lie, or there is no God of the Bible that cannot lie.

    So how do we determine which one is true? By looking at the evidence, and the evidence is the Bible - the very Word of God. Now as Pastor Harvey has said, many great atheist minds have done just that, only to be convinced themselves that what the Bible says is Truth and thusly believed unto Salvation. But a common christian like myself can do the same thing, and see that God's Word proves It's truth in that there are no real (only imagined) contradictions in 66 books written by many authors, no lies and no historical blunders in this Book covering a vast amount of time. It is, exactly how we would expect a Book written by God through men to be - the Truth. And we can rely on that.

    So the last part of your question "is He obliged to NOT present falsehoods in the Bible?"...the answer would be not what God may or may not be obligated to do, but what is true. What is truth is that God cannot lie. Like 2 plus 2 equaling 4, this Truth about God is unchanging and can never "equal" something else.
    (see the Satanic Verses of the Qur'an for an example of so-called "truth" changing)

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  80. Scott,

    God isn't obligated to keep His promises. But He freely chooses to do so anyway.

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  81. Laura said...
    Thanks, Nightmare. I appreciate that.

    Your welcome, as I said new data and a slightly different perspective on this end. I've unblocked your email addy, hopefully you will do the same but if not that is ok. Suffice to say, your previous congratulations were indeed premature, but perhaps no longer - to use the metaphor I bagged my intended quarry. The dust is still settling though, so please bear with me (all of you).

    Why do you think it's so hard to get a Christian to doubt or change their mind?

    This is not a trait unique to Christians.

    Unless, of course, we are talking about an unsaved person. In that case, the emphasis should be on sin, so they might know they need Christ.

    I thoroughly disagree. By placing the emphasis on the individual's sins an adversarial relationship is immediately created. This is conductive only to conflict, and no one is reached in that manner. Far better IMO to use the carrot than the stick, especially if sin is ultimately irrelevant.

    TWO tv preachers in a row preaching universalism from Colossians. LOCAL preachers! It's getting bad out there...)

    While I have a thorough dislike of televangelists, I beg to differ. If grace is offered to all only the insane, the dedicatedly evil, or the mistaken would not accept, and the mistaken, once full knowledge is available, would likely change their minds. This IMO amounts to a form of what you would call a form of universalism, as I cannot see Christ condemning the insane or mistaken and the dedicatedly evil are likely a minority.

    So it amounts to this I believe - if one looks for and expects the negative everywhere, one will see the negative everywhere.

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  82. Laura said:
    It's truth in that there are no real (only imagined) contradictions in 66 books

    I would heartily recommend that you not go there, else I shall be forced to prove you wrong.

    What is truth is that God cannot lie.

    If YHVH is obliged to do nothing, then he is not obliged to tell the truth at any time. Thusly this sentence and the point you presented is contradictory, especially if YHVH is held to be all powerful - if he cannot lie he is not all powerful.

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  83. Mysterium Tremendum said...
    God isn't obligated to keep His promises. But He freely chooses to do so anyway.

    ALL are obliged to keep there word and promises...or none are. That is the nature of justice.

    It is treachery thing, this concept of God you've created for yourself Cole.

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  84. District Supt. Harvey Burnett said...
    What you're promoting is relativism and that's the same type of garbage that I and most that read this blog regularly are definitely against...

    Harvey, please be aware that hostile and confrontational language such as the bold harm your cause more than help it (as I explained to Laura above). Compassion, remember? Just saying.

    Are the actions of that someone morally wrong? How do you know this?

    The act is evil because it harms an innocent living thing for no reason. We know this because of the practical definition of the term evil.

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  85. Ni8ghtmare,

    My God's promises are promises of future grace. He freely chooses to keep them. He isn't obligated to keep them.

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  86. Nightmare said "I beg to differ... If grace is offered to all... once full knowledge is available, would likely change their minds.
    So it amounts to this I believe - if one looks for and expects the negative everywhere, one will see the negative everywhere."


    It is the great puzzelment of my life why ALL people don't grab on to His free Gift. It's not negative thinking, it's fact. Jesus said:

    "Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it."
    ~Matthew 7:13-14

    I believe that people think they aren't going to get to live their lives the way they want if they accept Christ, and that's just too much of a risk for them to take. Then they try to make it His fault by choosing hell over salvation, which is where a lot of the anger comes in.

    No doubt that God changes us, and sometimes pruning can seem rough. And if you have unsaved family members, then one suffers the jabs about "whacky thinking" as I did this weekend. But we aren't laying down our lives for our faith as they are doing now in China and around the world, or being stoned for converting from Muslim to Christian.

    Nightmare said"I would heartily recommend that you not go there, else I shall be forced to prove you wrong."

    No, you would prove yourself stubbon, blind and ignorant after being presented with the facts, and would call the person speaking the Truth a liar. If you would like it to be in a forum for all to see, then why not ask Pastor Harvey to blog on evidence that demands a verdict? Then we can all see if you are interested in what is Truth, or if you are only interested in holding on to your lies. Because after all, if the Bible isn't Truth from cover to cover, then you're not really risking anything, right? Why, you can just pick and choose what you want to believe.

    They call those cafeteria christians, and the world is full of 'em. Narrow is the road that leads to life.

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  87. Laura said...
    I believe that people think they aren't going to get to live their lives the way they want if they accept Christ, and that's just too much of a risk for them to take. Then they try to make it His fault by choosing hell over salvation, which is where a lot of the anger comes in.

    I would call such an attitude mistaken on the individual's part. You would obviously wish individuals damned for their mistakes it seems. More's the pity. Such is neither grace nor love.

    No, you would prove yourself stubbon, blind and ignorant after being presented with the facts, and would call the person speaking the Truth a liar.

    (shakes head) More hatred, bile, and condemnation. I was done with this and merely cautioned you upon your jab to not re-open the matter. It seems forgiveness is foreign to you and you would rather have war (and you call me stubborn?), so I shall present the facts.

    Matthew 27:3-8
    3Then Judas, which had betrayed him, when he saw that he was condemned, repented himself, and brought again the thirty pieces of silver to the chief priests and elders, 4Saying, I have sinned in that I have betrayed the innocent blood. And they said, What is that to us? see thou to that.
    5And he cast down the pieces of silver in the temple, and departed, and went and hanged himself.
    6And the chief priests took the silver pieces, and said, It is not lawful for to put them into the treasury, because it is the price of blood.
    7And they took counsel, and bought with them the potter's field, to bury strangers in.
    8Wherefore that field was called, The field of blood, unto this day.

    Acts 1:18
    18Now this man (referring to Judas) purchased a field with the reward of iniquity; and falling headlong, he burst asunder in the midst, and all his bowels gushed out.

    Method of Judas's death: suicide via hanging (Matthew); fall leading to disembowelment (Acts)

    Who bought the field: the priests (Matthew); Judas (Acts)

    It is my contention that these are contradictions in the text as written. Namely because Matthew mentions only hanging therefore implying this is the method of death (to which Laura at first agrees then disagrees). Acts on the other hand fails to mention any hanging and instead presents Judas (presumably tripping since no details are given) falling and disemboweling himself - something which is not survivable nor leaves one in any shape to hang one's self.

    The story Laura imagined/made up in order to explain away this contradiction: "We know how Judas died because the book of Matthew tells us. In order for this to be an inconsistancy, Peter would have to have said Judas died another way, and of course, that's not what he says. This scripture simply gives more information, like when his rotting body fell from the tree, his bowels gushed out."

    Laura then said (about Acts): No, what is increasingly apparent is you can't admit being wrong such as in this case where scripture certainly says nothing about Judas dying

    Laura lastly said (again about Acts): "This scripture does not say he killed himself by falling or that he died by falling."

    So since you insisted on this Laura, I ask all who see this, give a verdict - was Laura speaking the truth in this or not?

    (And I ask this knowing - as you do - that the deck is stacked against me on a Christian blog. How's that for honesty?)

    Then we can all see if you are interested in what is Truth, or if you are only interested in holding on to your lies.

    Again you insult and call me a liar but when the same is done to you you have a tantrum and scream foul. So much for treating your neighbor as you would be treated yourself it seems.

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  88. Addendum - I was in error when I stated Laura "then disagrees" about the death by hanging in Matthew. This resulted from a misreading of the second to last quote. My mistake, my apologies.

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  89. Harvey wrote: What you're promoting is relativism and that's the same type of garbage that I and most that read this blog regularly are definitely against…

    Which "absolute" moral standard are you referring to? Why did you pick the particular "absolute" moral standard that you are NOT apposed to?

    In other words, YOU, like everyone else, had to choose from a number of "absolute" moral standards. Yet, you chose one in particular. How is this not a relative decision?

    Are the actions of that someone morally wrong? How do you know this?

    Harvey, I'm not exactly sure what your asking.

    First, you seem to be appealing to utility. If there is no single absolute moral standard, then it's impossible to say someone's actions are morally wrong. But if you are appealing to utility, then this requires us to actually have a single moral standard which, in reality, everyone is in absolute agreement on. Without such an agreement, the realized utility value of an absolute moral standard is not the silver bullet you're making it out to be.

    Clearly, there currently is no actual comprehensive and absolute agreement on that which is morally right and wrong, even among those who claim absolute moral standards exist. This is because there is no absolute standard way to determine what this absolute moral standard would be, if it existed.

    This is what I meant when I asked, can we actually know the truth. If there is an absolute moral standard, then how can we know it as finite beings? It seems that we must us our own moral compass to identify which absolute standard is morally superior when we are presented with it. And, in really, this is the actual means by which our moral decisions are reached.

    Furthermore, to argue that there must be an absolute standard, because without one, we couldn't say anything is right or wrong, is a logical fallacy know as an appeal to consequences.

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  90. Beyond utility, you seem to be asking how *I* know that trampling a new born child is wrong.

    I'm suggesting that, ultimately, we both use the same process to reach this conclusion. However, this process is somewhat quantized in your case due to your fundamentalist Christian beliefs. That is, the outcome of this processes resulted in the selection of one predetermined set of "absolute" moral precepts which were defined in the past. However, even in your case, this standard is tempered by your modern sense of morality. IT was Ok for God to demand Cannonite children to be taken from their parents and killed by the sword in the past, but that's something God would not do today.

    I'm guessing you think an absolute moral standard provides the best way to solve moral dilemmas. And you think an intelligent agent best solves the question as to why anything exists. Therefore you have chosen to embrace an absolute standard dictated by a transcendent intelligent agent. And you embrace a particular absolute standard dictated by a particular intelligent agent because you think you've found an absolute way to determine which agent is responsible and what his standard is. You believe the Christian God was the intelligent agent who designed and created the universe with a particular plan. And since he is good, then straying from his plan must be is evil.

    But I'd say that all of these conclusions are actually moral dilemmas in themselves, which you use your own moral compass to solve.

    Out of all the absolute moral standard dictated by all of the Gods that are claimed to exist, you think the standard dictated by the Christian God describes the standard a God would dictate if he actually existed.

    Should a God exist, you think he would prohibit homosexuality. Should a God exist, you think he would demand his people wipe out an entire culture. Should a God exist, you think he would punish people eternally for not believing he existed. These are claims about how you think God should act and the standards he would set. The Christian God is represents the closest fit to your concept of God. Were this not the case, you'd be a Muslim or a Mormon, etc.

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  91. Scott,

    You said:"But if you are appealing to utility, then this requires us to actually have a single moral standard which, in reality, everyone is in absolute agreement on."

    This is called cultural commensurability and that is primarily moral relativism. Cultural acceptance of whatever things and issues change from society to society and from place to place, HOWEVER, and now let's reflect on what I asked you once again:

    You said regarding the standard I draw from the bible and relationship with God in general: That is, the outcome of this processes resulted in the selection of one predetermined set of "absolute" moral precepts which were defined in the past

    I think you miss the whole point of Christianity and God's intervention in the world. He is a PRESENT reality and and those moral precepts are not only defined in the past they are defined in the present. His word is a "living word" this in part means that it is an essentially relevantly piece of instruction but does not change. This is different than adaptation, because one could change the structure to make it fit, this is moral relevance to current situations without moral compromise. So your view of God and his word as it represents the Christian world view is a FUNDAMENTALIST view even though you try to hype that standard on me, but that's your predisposition and control belief.

    You said:Therefore you have chosen to embrace an absolute standard dictated by a transcendent intelligent agent.

    Not only that Scott but you have to, only you fail to recognize it. It's like a blind man living in the dark. He isn't aware that the lights aren't on and it really doesn't matter until guests show up.

    You said:And you embrace a particular absolute standard dictated by a particular intelligent agent because you think you've found an absolute way to determine which agent is responsible and what his standard is

    In fact Scott I'll go quite a few steps further and reaffirm my position that nobody including you knows or has the slightest idea what right and wrong is without HIS (God's)intervention in the world and in your mind. I state that clearly HERE and
    HERE

    You said:"Without such an agreement, the realized utility value of an absolute moral standard is not the silver bullet you're making it out to be."

    No, that's totally incorrect Scott. There doesn't have to be total community acceptance of standards for them to be absolutely wrong...You're saying that cannibalism is only wrong to those who aren't Cannibals right? Then there's murder, that's only wong to those who aren't murderers right? The list goes on and on ad infinitum until we reach something that impacts you and your family safety...under your belief, the murderer, thief rapist etc, would NOT be wrong for perpetrating their crimes upon you IF the community was OK with it. So in a community of murders, rapists etc, if they did that to you and your family it's OK.

    I say that you couldn't be further off your rocker for believing anything like that.

    You see what you state and espouse is fictitious and meaningless. It's a worthless proposition to feel that there has to be a community acceptance before morality is established. Otherwise you would have changing paradigms every other month or day. Your thought pattern is a political social one though. This is the same pattern as espoused by our beloved President, so you're not in bad company, just following a ridiculously silly bunny trail.

    Quickly: Even unintentional acts can be wrong and must be accounted for. God deals with intents and accounts how those acts should be addressed all throughout his word.

    see 2

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  92. 2
    Scott,

    Then you ask a series of questions:Should a God exist, you think he would prohibit homosexuality.

    Yes he DID and he DOES. There are a number of reasons, that cover the spiritual, social and health aspects for his decisions. I appeal to the physiological and psychological aspects HERE that you vehemently oppose in spite of the science (which is contrary to your position any other time) and oppose and the spiritual and moral aspects of the lifestyle HERE.

    Scott:Should a God exist, you think he would demand his people wipe out an entire culture.

    Yes he DID. But that's not a question about moral value. That's a matter of history in which certain actions justified certain responses. Kind of like Hitler deserving to doe for exterminating over 7 million in a culture that "accepted" it...

    Scott:Should a God exist, you think he would punish people eternally for not believing he existed.

    Yes he did, does and will, That's the topic of the question and you've addressed a slim few of the points raised. But once again where's the moral value question?

    You said:"The Christian God is represents the closest fit to your concept of God."

    I was a sinner similar to you. I DIDN'T make the standard for God I sought HIS standard through relationship with a historically verifiable and presently active creator. That's quite a few steps from where you're pointing to here.

    You said:Were this not the case, you'd be a Muslim or a Mormon, etc.

    So IF i didn't make God what I wanted hi to be I'd be a Muslim or Mormon etc...NO, IF GOD didn't illuminate my spiritual heart and allow me to follow that illumination that is present in the world, I would be yet in my SINS. But by the GRACE of God I am not consumed...not with his wrath, but with self, self seeking, self actualization and all the other dangerous "selves" out there.

    Aside from that your statement is a statement of faith in my faith, yet another ridiculous notion. You haven't the foggiest idea what I would believe if I didn't believe what I do and or why. But I guess thank you for saying that i would believe something...

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  93. Cole,

    Let's take the following analogy: A particular chef a good chef.

    Now we can look at this claim in two ways. How I've come to conclude the chef is good and what causal chains of events or properties contribute to the chef being good.

    01. How I've come to conclude the chef is good

    A particular dish I was served was good. And I'm under the impression the particular chef in question prepared the dish. Therefore I think the chef is good. The way the food was presented was visually appealing, which is another reason why I think the chef is good. Furthermore, I've had a number of different dishes which I think were prepared by this same chef, all of which have been good and well presented. Therefore, I think this chef is consistently good.

    02. What causal events or properties contribute to the chef being good.

    The chef went to a prestigious culinary school in France. The chef had the resources to attend the school. The chef had the determination to graduate from the school. The chef knows how to arrange food in a visually appealing manner. The chef is good at working with his hands. He knows how to add a personal touch to each dish to make them unique. He knows which ingredients are complementary, etc.

    However, anyone could have all of these properties and still be a bad chef. If someone knows which ingredients are complementary, they also know which ingredients are non-complementary. If someone knows how to arrange food in a visual appealing way, then they know how to arrange food in an unappealing way. If he is good with his hands, then he could skillfully destroy food as well.

    None of these causal chains of events or properties guarantees the chef will be good. Correct?

    So, in my earlier question, I'm not asking how you've come to conclude God is good. Instead, I I'm asking what properties of God or what causal chain of events cause God to be good.

    If there is no such chain or property and God need not do anything to be good, then God is good because you define him as being good.

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  94. Nightmare said "Again you insult and call me a liar".

    Never called you a liar. I said you would rather hold onto your lies - lies told to you on atheist sites about contradictions in the Bible. Lies you would rather believe, choose to believe, over the Truth.

    You are being disrespectful of Pastor Harvey's blog. I don't wish to do the same, but wanted to clear this "liar" thing up. I have no problem with putting you on 'ignore' if need be.

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  95. Laura wrote: If I said 2 plus 2 was 5, would that be the truth ever?

    Laura, mathematics is a brute fact of reality, which we find has utility. If I have two stones and I add another two stones, we can count the result and see that it's four. Even of there was nothing, there would be 0 of anything. We just wouldn't be around to know it. Had we decided to name a set of four items 5 instead of 4, then yes, 2 plus 2 would be 5. But this would not change the fact that these words are placeholders for four items.

    If, at one time in the past, God was the only sentient being that existed, then there would be one sentient being. But if even God did not exist, then there would still be zero sentient beings. God cannot change this.

    I could give you 30 verses on the faithfulness of God's promises, but instead I'll center in on the truth - and that is that it is impossible for God to lie (Hebrews 6:18, Titus 1:2).

    Laura, please seem my response to Cole above.

    Why is it impossible for God to lie?

    Unless God cannot lie because he is all knowing, all powerful or perfectly self sufficient, then you merely define him as being unable to lie.

    You think God doesn't lie because the Bible says he doesn't lie. And you think the Bible is true because the Bible says it's God's word. And since God doesn't lie, then the Bible must be the word of God.

    We can reduce this to God doesn't lie because God said doesn't lie.

    That God, if he existed, would either be capable of lying or incapable of lying doesn't change this. That there is one exact number of elementary particles in the universe doesn't necessarily mean we can ever know this number. Nor does it explain why this particular number of particles exist.

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  96. I wrote: But if you are appealing to utility, then this requires us to actually have a single moral standard which, in reality, everyone is in absolute agreement on."

    This is called cultural commensurability and that is primarily moral relativism.

    No, it's not. This my way of being careful not to commit a fallacy by saying, since there is not absolute standard, there cannot be an absolute standard. This seems to be what Laura is implying. However, this is NOT what I'm saying.

    I'm pointing out that, if your arguing from utility, (unless we have a moral standard, then we can't say anything is wrong) then we cannot gain said utility value unless there actually is an agreed on moral standard.

    For example, I could say unless there is an absolute standard of measurement, then it's impossible to say anything is a particular length. If my definition of an inch is different than your definition of an inch, each of us could say something is 5 inches long, but the utility value of such a statement is severely diminished.

    Some people think the inch we use today was based on three times the length of a barleycorn, which was a Anglo-Saxon unit, based on the length of a corn of barley. However, this is in dispute. But, today, an inch is has a very precise definition. It is this agreed on exact precision is what has utility value, despite being relatively arbitrary.

    He is a PRESENT reality and and those moral precepts are not only defined in the past they are defined in the present.

    The books of the OT was canonized roughly around 500 BCE. The NT was canonized roughly around 100 CE. These books contain the moral standard that you conceder to be absolute. That you think they apply today or that God somehow exists outside of time, does not mean they were formed today.

    I wrote: You said:Therefore you have chosen to embrace an absolute standard dictated by a transcendent intelligent agent.

    Not only that Scott but you have to, only you fail to recognize it. It's like a blind man living in the dark. He isn't aware that the lights aren't on and it really doesn't matter until guests show up.

    Huh? I have to embrace an absolute moral standard dictated by a transcendent intelligent agent?

    Harvey, I just presented an argument, which you ignored. Instead, you picked though it looking for opportunities to make assertions.

    If fact, I think you asked this question not because you wanted to know what I thought, but because it was an opportunity to preach your belief.

    No, that's totally incorrect Scott. There doesn't have to be total community acceptance of standards for them to be absolutely wrong…

    And there's the fallacy was careful to avoid, but you're accusing me of making it anyway.

    Then you ask a series of questions:Should a God exist, you think he would prohibit homosexuality.

    Yes he DID and he DOES. There are a number of reasons, that cover the spiritual, social and health aspects for his decisions.


    Again, you ignore my argument (or you don't understand it), then pick though it for opportunities to preach.

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  97. Hey Scott,

    I don't think God is good because I define God as being good but I know He is good because He has revealed Himself to me as being good. Partly through creation and partly though the Bible. Nothing causes God to be good. He just is good. The Bible says of God: "I Am"

    It's like this. God is complete and self-sufficient in the trinity. The Father loves the Son and the Son loves the Father with perfect love. They are complete and lack nothing. In fact they need nothing. The Spirit of Love that flows between them is the Holy Spirit. From this overflowing fountain flows all the grace in the universe. God created by the overflow of His grace. I say grace because you cannot deserve as a non-being to be created. God wasn't obligated to create neither is He obligated to sustain creation. He freely chose to create. There is common grace and there is saving grace. Common grace refers gracious activity in sustaining creation and restraining evil. This grace is common because it falls on all of creation including all creatures. Since grace is unmerrited favor(undeserved) then God is never obligated to give it. If He witholds it He does nothing wrong. The only way He could do something wrong by witholding grace is if grace were owed. But it's never owed. He alone is the Creator He alone is God. God being God has rights and prerogatives that we don't have.

    Does that help?

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  98. Guys,

    Here's the observation I'm making.

    God is either perfectly good because God is perfectly good by definition or he is perfectly good because perfect goodness is the result of God being is all knowing or self-sufficient or a combination of these properties.

    If God is good because you define him as good, this brings into question the value of saying God is good.

    To return to my chef example, I could say this chef is not obliged to prepare good dishes to be a good chef. He could serve a single pea on a plate and be a good chef. He could serve 3 day old garbage and still be a good chef. In fact, he need not ever serve a dish at all and he would still be a good chef.

    If this is the case, then what is value of calling this chef good?

    On the other hand, if God is perfectly good because, for example, he would know how to maximize good given his infinite knowledge, then perfect goodness a result of being all knowing. This is what I meant when I wrote:

    Perhaps you mean that, since God would have the knowledge to maximize good, this somehow guarantees he would maximize good. Is this what you're suggesting?

    But this seems to imply that beings that have infinite knowledge would be perfectly good. And those who do not have perfect knowledge would not.

    I'm not good because my knowledge is NOT infinite. But if I had infinite knowledge, I would know how to maximize good. Therefore I would be perfectly good?

    If this is the case, then it seems that the reason I'm NOT good is because I lack infinite knowledge. And if this is true, then God would have known a lack of infinite knowledge would result in me doing evil. Therefore, God's failure to give me infinite knowledge is the reason I'm not perfectly good.

    Or most importantly, my lack of infinite knowledge makes it impossible for me to be perfectly good.


    However, I do NOT want to present a false dilemma. There may be some other alternative I have missed.

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  99. Scott,

    God is good because God is good period. Not because I define Him that way.

    GOD IS

    I AM

    Placing my trust in an all-powerful, all-knowing, all-wise, good God and His promises is what frees me from my sin. His promises of future grace. When my future is in the hands of an all-knowing, all-wise, all-powerful good God who promises to work everything together for my good I am free to take any risk that love demands-no matter the cost. I think you need to trust God Scott.

    Also,

    He freely chooses to keep His promises. He's not obligated to.

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  100. Scott,

    We cannot be like God in every way. Thyere are ways I'm to be like God and ways I'm not.

    God is all-knowing I'm not

    God is infinite in wisdom I'm not

    God is self-sufficient I'm not

    God is everywhere at once I'm not

    God is in controll I'm not

    etc., etc., etc


    I'm humbled in believing that there is a God and I'm not like Him in every way.

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  101. Cole wrote: but I know He is good because He has revealed Himself to me as being good. Partly through creation and partly though the Bible.

    This is how you conclude God is good. It's the equivalent to saying the chef is good because he served me a dish that was good.

    Nothing causes God to be good. He just is good.

    That you associate God with perfect goodness, does not explain why God is perfectly good and cannot sin. Adam could sin, but God cannot. Both had free will. Why is this?

    God is complete and self-sufficient in the trinity. The Father loves the Son and the Son loves the Father with perfect love. They are complete and lack nothing. In fact they need nothing. The Spirit of Love that flows between them is the Holy Spirit. From this overflowing fountain flows all the grace in the universe. God created by the overflow of His grace.

    While you clearly seem to find this important, it's unclear how is this any of this relevant if nothing causes God to be perfectly good?

    Since grace is unmerrited favor(undeserved) then God is never obligated to give it.

    The problem here is that I don't see a causal chain of events that explains why grace is unmerited. You appear to just assume it's unmerited.

    It's as if a bunch of theist got together and decided to call God doing good things "grace" then declare grace unmerited. This does not follow.

    The only way He could do something wrong by withholding grace is if grace were owed. But it's never owed.

    But why isn't it owed? You seem to be merely asserting this is the case.

    He alone is the Creator

    So, God can be perfectly good without doing good things because he created us?

    But I thought God would still have been perfectly good even if he had done nothing. As such, I don't see how God having created us would change this.

    God being God has rights and prerogatives that we don't have.

    Bingo!

    You give no reason why God has rights and prerogatives we do not have. Instead, God doesn't have to do good things to be good, simply because he's God.

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  102. Scott,

    I think we know what you are trying to communicate. You are trying to say that a subjective standard is somebody's objective standard. Basically that he only know the truth as we perceive it to be...no matter you shake it up and dress it up and try to hide it it still comes up only ONE way, and that's MORAL RELATIVISM.

    So that the reader will know, you're arguing utility and here is some thoughts on utility in a nutshell:

    "The pioneering work of Alan Ryan in this area has illuminated previously neglected aspects of his thought [Ryan, McCloskey; Ryan, Art of Living; Ryan, Philosophy; Ryan, John Stuart Mill]. Ryan's thesis is that the distinction between self- and other-regarding conduct "is at the heart of the distinction between moral and non-moral appraisal of actions" [Ryan, Philosophy, p. 236]. Self-regarding conduct belongs to the areas of prudence and aesthetics and not those of morality and law which are concerned with other-regarding conduct. It is only in the other-regarding sphere that sanctions or punishment may be applied. In deciding whether to use legal sanctions or the sanction of public opinion and social disapproval to deter wrongful acts, we take account of the relative social costs involved. Moral judgements are based on the harm the agent knowingly does to others. But self-regarding conduct, which does not harm others, lies outside this moral realm. Such conduct may not therefore be punished, or subjected to compulsion, although it is a "fit matter for entreaty, expostulation, exhortation" [Ryan, Philosophy, p. 240].[VictorianWeb.Org Mill On Liberty

    David Lyons offers and interpretation of this as follows:

    "We do not call anything wrong, unless we mean to imply that a person ought to be punished in some way or other for doing it; if not by law, by the opinion of his fellow-creatures; if not by opinion, by the reproaches of his own conscience. This seems the real turning point of the distinction between morality and simple expediency. It is part of the notion of Duty in every one of its forms, that a person may rightfully be compelled to fulfil it. Duty is a thing which may be exacted from a person, as one exacts a debt.... Reasons of prudence, or the interest of other people, may militate against actually exacting it; but the person himself, it is clearly understood, would not be entitled to complain. There are other things, on the contrary, which we wish that People should do, which we like or admire them for doing, perhaps dislike or despise them for not doing, but yet admit that they are not [45/46] bound to do; it is not a case of moral obligation; we do not blame them, that is, we do not think that they are proper objects for punishment." [Utilitarianism, p. 45]
    VictorianWeb.Org, Lyons on Mill's Theory

    see 2

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  103. 2

    Scott,

    Our friends at Triabologue dealt with this issue last month and I will have to agree with what the Triabologue argument was:

    I don’t think you grasp the function of these illustrations. A retributivist proponent of everlasting punishment isn’t necessarily arguing that certain crimes which one man commits against his fellow man merit everlasting punishment.

    Rather, we cite certain paradigm-cases of evil as an intuitive argument from analogy. Hitler may or may not deserve eternal punishment for his role in the Holocaust. My argument doesn’t require that assumption.

    Rather, I’m using examples like that to illustrate a principle, not prove a principle. It’s an appeal to common ground.

    Take the popular catchphrase: “Lock ‘em up and throw away the key.”

    Many think certain crimes cross a line of no return. That there’s no adequate punishment for crimes of that sort. That’s the principle I’m illustrating with paradigm-cases of evil.

    ii) The ultimate basis for damnation is not one man wronging his fellow man, but a man wronging his God.

    Now, for all I know, Hitler’s crimes against humanity may well merit everlasting punishment–above and beyond the way he wronged his Maker.

    But what makes a wrongdoer deserving of hell, regardless of whatever else he may have done, is his failure to give God his due. Dereliction of duty to his Maker–to whom he owes his being and well being. The exemplary good from whom all mundane goods derive.

    iii) At the same time, that’s a difference of degree, not of kind. The degree of culpability is indexed to the degree of responsibility. We have higher obligations to those who have higher claims on our gratitude.

    We have the highest obligations to God. But that represents the end-point of a continuum. We have a range of higher and lower social obligations–with God at one end of the spectrum. God is the exemplary good-of which every mundane good is a property-instance.


    I think that cuts to the heart of the issue as it pertains to the punishment of hell. But to also say that crimes against men are somehow crimes of utility and carry no moral weight is ridiculous.

    That's the problem with your argument as a whole. You're trying to blur the lines of distinction and argue for one big utilitarian argument but it's hopeless at least around here.

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  104. Scott,

    I explained it to you.

    You cannot deserve as a non-being to be created. God created out of the overflow of His grace. It's unmerrited favor. Nothing in all of creation deserves it.

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  105. Scott,

    God removed His grace from Adam and Eve and allowed them to sin of their own will. Adam and Eve were responsible for their wrong doing.

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  106. The reason this is especially valuable to Scott as a Buddhist is that this is one of those principles that is said to do the following:

    "The principle of utility determines the rightness of acts by how they affect the total happiness in the world."[Mill]

    This "total happiness" is especially important within Buddhism and the harmonic balance of people with the earth. This is utilitarianism.

    A good summary of Mill's teachings and why he felt them to be so important can be found Hyperlink Code http://www.philosophy.umd.edu/Faculty/PGreenspan/Crs/MILL.pdf HERE

    From a Christian perspective, the utilitarian view that Scott espouses is flawed at best and is no more than a repackaged moral relativist argument. This is what Dr. J.P. Moreland has to say about it:

    "There are several varieties of utilitarianism. But basically, a utilitarian approach to morality implies that no moral act (e.g., an act of stealing) or rule (e.g., "Keep your promises") is intrinsically right or wrong. Rather, the rightness or wrongness of an act or rule is solely a matter of the overall nonmoral good (e.g., pleasure, happiness, health, knowledge, or satisfaction of individual desire) produced in the consequences of doing that act or following that rule. In sum, according to utilitarianism, morality is a matter of the nonmoral good produced that results from moral actions and rules, and moral duty is instrumental, not intrinsic. Morality is a means to some other end; it is in no way an end in itself." [Euthanasia Debate Pt. 1 pg. 3]

    In other words the END justifies the MEANS. That's relativism no matter how you shake it.

    Dr. Moreland goes on to look further at it like this:

    "For example, utilitarianism can be used to justify punishing an innocent man or enslaving a small group of people if such acts produce a maximization of consequences. But these acts are clearly immoral regardless of how fruitful they might be for the greatest number." [Euthanasia Debate Pt. 1 pg. 3-4]

    Click Dr. Moreland's name for Pt. 1 of the series.

    Now, get this..the whole thought is a thought "for the greater good" there is a financial company that uses this little caveat in their commercian right now TIAA CREF...But look at the application of this in history...

    SLAVERY is GOOD as slong as society in general is bettered or enhanced!

    Exterminating 7 million Jews could have been acceptable because the greater number of Germans were given back their jobs and land in the process...What's 7 million compared to hundreds of millions?

    I'm not impugning Scott, I certainly don't believe he would be a slave owner, or a killer, but under Scott's thoughts as he has laid out, there is a constanty shifting, resizing or reassement of values...ie: "does this bring more pleasure than pain?", "more good to everybody than bad?", are there more that will be helped if I commit this actthan hurt?" etc...

    see 2

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  107. So that the reader will know, you're arguing utility and here is some thoughts on utility in a nutshell:

    Harvey, are you even reading my comments?

    I wrote: Harvey, I'm not exactly sure what your asking.

    First, you seem to be appealing to utility. If there is no single absolute moral standard, then it's impossible to say someone's actions are morally wrong. But if you are appealing to utility, then this requires us to actually have a single moral standard which, in reality, everyone is in absolute agreement on. Without such an agreement, the realized utility value of an absolute moral standard is not the silver bullet you're making it out to be.


    Again, it seems that you're ignoring my argument and looking for fragments by which your can preach.

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  108. 2

    Scott and others,

    The Christian worldview does not do this for truth is built on absolute construct. There is a wrong and a right are a set of values almost universally accepted through every culture.

    Now Scott, the MINUTE you claim that what I'm saying isn't true, then you've CONFIRMED that it is. If I cannot be absolutely TRUE then you cannot be absolutely true that I am not either...that's the shaky and flaky ground that you trample my friend.

    Cole, the reason that Scott cannot understand the goodness of God is because Scott does not assign what what is know as an intrinsic value of goodness to God. In his world God "got the goodness" from somewhere and it's on this same balancing scale that I've referenced. This is why he suggests that evil "could be" good or like to Laura that 2+2 "could equal" 5 BECAUSE WE assigned the value not because it is that way...

    So Scott you're opening up a whole new and FALLACIOUS argument for all the reasons I see and then some and maybe we'd be better doing a thorough critique on the flaws of Buddhism and it's supporting principles. I believe that will be more appropriate to deal with the flaws of the utilitarian arguments.

    I'll conclude with the summary from CRI regarding this subject:

    "In view of the problems just mentioned, utilitarians define moral rightness in terms of what brings the greatest good in the long run. Some have understood the meaning of good quantitatively — that is, the greatest amount of pleasure. Jeremy Bentham (1748–1832) fits into this category. Others, such as John Stuart Mill (1806–1873), viewed it qualitatively — that is, the greatest kind of pleasure for the greatest number.

    One problem with the utilitarian view relates to deciding how "good" should be understood (e.g., quantitatively or qualitatively). Moreover, it begs the question to say that moral right is what brings the greatest good. For then we must ask what is "good"? Either right and good are defined in terms of each other, which is circular reasoning, or they must be defined according to some standard beyond the utilitarian process.

    Further, no one can accurately predict what will happen in the long run. Hence, for all practical purposes, a utilitarian definition of good is useless. We must still fall back on something else to determine what is good now, in the short run.
    [Dr. Norman L. Geisler~ Any Absolutes? Absolutely! CRI]

    So in short Scott I reject the argument from utility that you espouse in this thread no matter how you try to sanitize it.

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  109. Scott,

    I see your comments not just to me but to everyone so please don't try to deny that this is the construct of morality and goodness that your arguing to us.

    To Cole your questioning the "goodness" of God stating basically that his goodness is an arbitrary construct...To Laura you're stating that value is something that we assess to whatever we look at, to me you're saying that morals are cultural in nature and should be valued by the purpose they accomplish.

    If you deny this then I think we should discontinue to allow you to comment. Because that would display abject dishonesty in this conversation.

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  110. Harvey,

    I make a clear argument in my earlier comment.

    I'm waiting until you address this argument, rather than pick though it looking for ways to preach.

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  111. In case it's not clear...

    I wrote: Beyond [your apparent appeal to] utility, you seem to be asking how *I* know that trampling a new born child is wrong.

    I'm suggesting that, ultimately, we both use the same process to reach this conclusion. However, this process is somewhat quantized in your case due to your fundamentalist Christian beliefs. That is, the outcome of this processes resulted in the selection of one predetermined set of "absolute" moral precepts which were defined in the past. However, even in your case, this standard is tempered by your modern sense of morality. IT was Ok for God to demand Cannonite children to be taken from their parents and killed by the sword in the past, but that's something God would not do today.

    I'm guessing you think an absolute moral standard provides the best way to solve moral dilemmas. And you think an intelligent agent best solves the question as to why anything exists. Therefore you have chosen to embrace an absolute standard dictated by a transcendent intelligent agent. And you embrace a particular absolute standard dictated by a particular intelligent agent because you think you've found an absolute way to determine which agent is responsible and what his standard is. You believe the Christian God was the intelligent agent who designed and created the universe with a particular plan. And since he is good, then straying from his plan must be is evil.

    But I'd say that all of these conclusions are actually moral dilemmas in themselves, which you use your own moral compass to solve.

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  112. Scott, I had this same discussion with an artist-math major-buddhist friend a couple years ago. She was more intellectually honest with the stumper question on absolute truth - 2 plus 2 ever equaling anything but 4. Your answer that "four" as a unit of measurement can mean different things to different people was simply a side-step of the question. If you truly believed that all is relative, then you wouldn't have argued the term "Favored Races" with Pastor Harvey on the Darwin blog.

    Your question has been answered up one side down the other. Nothing you are saying is new or profound - simply an age-old pagan argument that has been heard, considered and rejected as false by countless millions I'm sure. I believe you too will reject your relativism with time, as long as you keep searching.

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  113. Scott, I'm really curious as to your answer...
    Who was Jesus?

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  114. Laura wrote; She was more intellectually honest with the stumper question on absolute truth - 2 plus 2 ever equaling anything but 4.

    Laura, what do you mean when you describe this as a stumper question?

    Your answer that "four" as a unit of measurement can mean different things to different people was simply a side-step of the question.

    Laura, I was merrily pointing out that the number '4' is a symbol for a set of four items. We can see how this glyph evolved over time.

    Should we at some point had used some other symbol, it would still refer to a set of four items. However, I'm NOT suggesting that adding a set of two items with another set of two items would result in anything more or less than four items. Also, I clearly stated this in my earlier comment, which you apparently ignored.

    I wrote: But this would not change the fact that these words are placeholders for four items.

    So I have no idea of what you're accusing me of.

    I was almost named George, instead of Scott, but regardless of which name was chosen, they would have been accurate when used in the context of referring to me.

    That you call this a "stumper questions" seems to indicate that you somehow think this this question proves there is absolute moral truth and that you somehow happen to know it. But this does not necessarily follow.

    Note I'm NOT saying this rules out that absolute moral truth exists. I'm saying that the fact that 2=2+4 doesn't mean there must be absolute moral truth or that you know what that truth is.

    Your question has been answered up one side down the other.

    Laura, which question are you referring to? I've asked several, which still seem to have gone unanswered.

    Nothing you are saying is new or profound - simply an age-old pagan argument that has been heard, considered and rejected as false by countless millions I'm sure.

    That millions of people have rejected the idea that there might not be an absolute moral truth does not mean an absolute moral truth exists or that you somehow know it. Millions of people used to think the sun orbited the earth. But we now know this is false.

    I believe you too will reject your relativism with time, as long as you keep searching.

    Laura, ultimately, all my questions all lead to the following…

    How do you know that…

    A. An absolute standard for morality exists

    B. This absolute standard exists in the form of commands dictated by God

    C. You have knowledge of this standard

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  115. Laura, who do you think the Buddha was?

    I'm guessing, to your surprise, we will agree on almost every point.

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  116. I wrote: I'm saying that the fact that 2=2+4 doesn't mean there must be absolute moral truth or that you know what that truth is.

    Sorry, I was in a hurry and did not have time to proof read. This should have read..

    I'm saying the fact that 2+2=4 doesn't mean there must be absolute moral truth or that you know what that truth is.

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  117. Laura said...
    Never called you a liar. I said you would rather hold onto your lies

    You equivocate. Such is one in the same.

    You are being disrespectful of Pastor Harvey's blog. I don't wish to do the same, but wanted to clear this "liar" thing up.

    If Harvey has a problem with me I'm certain he will tell me about it himself. Til then this is not your blog, you have no business accusing anyone of such. Especially when you stated "If you would like it to be in a forum for all to see, then why not ask Pastor Harvey to blog on evidence that demands a verdict?"

    I have no problem with putting you on 'ignore' if need be.

    By all means do if that's what you need in order to retain your feeling of superiority. Hide your head in the sand and desperately avoid admitting that Laura is not perfect in all ways. It changes nothing in the end, though be not surprised if Christ one day says to you "depart from me for I knew you not".

    More is the pity (shakes head).

    ========

    Harvey if you don't mind I would ask you weigh in on this matter to bring it to an end.

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  118. OK,

    For now, Happy thanksgiving to all. I appreciate all comments and individuals even the opposition. You've helped to make me better and more aware of myself and that's a good thing.

    Laura and Nightmare, I believe that you are both good people with two different worldviews but your relationship through this blog IS NOT irreconcilable. If you don't mind let me deal with how I think we can get you two back on track as I sincerely don't want to loos either of you. Laura, you have championed the cause of Christ on this post and others and I am personally thankful. Nightmare, we have gone full circle and I have honestly come to appreciate you and think you're a great person also. We're here to deal with the "God" issue, but one thing I've learned also is we're dealing with the "person" issue also and persons even whom we disagree with profoundly (Scott for example) are very valuable and have something great to offer to the discussion.

    Yep, I can be too direct at times, but I'm learning and I also learn not to require submission to my point of view. Somethings people learn as they live and we are all in a learning process...

    In short, squash the dissent for now, I'll get back with Pt.2 of this on Saturday or so, and I'll speak to Laura and Nightmare then. Until then have a Great Thanksgiving and enjoy family and friends, who knows what life beholds for us so maximize the moment.

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  119. Thank you Harvey, and Happy Thanksgiving to you too! (and to you as well Laura [bows])

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  120. Hope everyone had a Happy Thanksgiving.

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  121. Thanks Scott and I hope you did as well. You too Nightmare! Took a needed break from the action as well...

    I've got the second part to this finished. I've paid a little more attention to the Christian arguments for annihilation and made the assertion that the annihilationist view is more in line with the atheist expectation than not.

    You can go over there to tell me what you think. Thanks.

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Please send me an email if you try to post a comment and cannot do so. Dunamis1@netzero.com. Thanks.