The problems which I have with Christianity (and looking for answers)


#21

I am not surprised by some of the many outstanding answers already shared and articulated so well.

I will just add a few thoughts I have on some of these.

  1. I would encourage you to watch this video

You were the one to turn me onto Dr. Walton in one of your posts about the flood. I am loving the perspective he has on so much of the Bible.

But we can attempt to come up with potential possible explanations and like you, at times I like to attempt to understand and explain them, which is ok. BUT as long as we don’t forget who God is and trust in who He is. We can stand firm in the raging seas and trials like Behemoth, with our strong ‘legs’ rooted in the foundation of God. Can you tame Leviathan? Or a lion, or a pack of wolves (insert un-tamable animal). Did you create that un-tamable animal(s)? God did, don’t try to “out-God God”. Again, like you, I get being curious and learning more about God, but try not to think you could do a better job, which we kind of do when we feel compelled to explain God, and just trust in His just, mercy, patience, and love that He demonstrated many times, the least of them being sending His Son to redeem us when He didn’t have to, He owes us nothing.

Sinning is missing the mark, an archery term. But you can’t miss the mark if you never shot. You can’t reject God if you don’t have the capacity to understand/know Him.

But you also can’t think of hell as a punishment place, but more of a reality. Heaven is a place for those who have learned who God is, and know that He created us to know and glorify Him and to depend on Him to help us do that. If you don’t want to have a god in charge of you, you pridefully want to be in charge of your destiny and think you know what is best for you, heaven won’t be the place for you. In a sense, you want to go to hell, you want to be separate from God. It would do no good for a sinful man to be categorically forgiven or earn heaven if they didn’t want to depend on or live to glorify God.

  1. @Christy nailed with her definition, but I will add an a way I like to think of it. As with many things, my mind comes up with analogies. Yuu have the thought side, the dwelling/focusins fence and the acting side. There is nothing at all ever wrong with any thoughts, we have zero direct control of our thoughts.
    Though we do have great indirect control of our thoughts, which is why we are instructed “whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable–if anything is excellent or praiseworthy–think about such things.” Phil 4:8 We are also recommended to put on the armor of God to fight/prevent these things. Or praying and getting our daily bread is another great indirect way to control our thoughts. Really in that sense, God wants to control our thoughts. We would never sin if we allowed God to control our thoughts. Not in the robotic sense, but our willingly giving up our minds to focus on Him.
    But I digress.
    We don’t have direct control of our thoughts, it is ok for a thought to jump in our minds, but it is when we begin to dwell/focus on it, that is when it begins to gray. If you have a thought, you can never fall over the fence, but when you dwell on something, you are basically on the fence, you might fall, or you might not, but you CAN fall when standing/balancing on top of the fence. And again obviously the other side of the fence is the act.

When you focus on that terrible act, you think about how you could do it, get away with it, how much you might enjoy it, how much temporary pleasure you might get from it ect. At that point, what is preventing you from doing it? Because you might get caught or there are consequences? It probably isn’t because you love God, or your mind probably wouldn’t be focusing on it that much.

It was always about the heart, not the actions. But if you worry about not sinning or trying not to sin, you are living under the law and are doomed to fail.

“Set your mind on the things above, not on the things that are on the earth” Col 3:2
“The mind set on the flesh is death, but the mind set on the Spirit is life and peace” Rom 8:6
"The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law." 1 Cor 15:56

I spoke above about how to avoid/reduce bad thoughts above, but if one pops in your head, don’t dwell on it, Jesus defeated the power of sin! He lives in us! Focus on Him, and you will no longer dwell or act on it. “Turn your eyes upon Jesus and the things of this earth will grow strangely dim, in the light of His glory and grace!”

I have nothing to add to the last two questions from what was already said.


#22

Compared to Korvexius’ excellent response

How flattering!


#23
  1. What happens to people who do not have the chance to accept Christ? What of uncontacted tribes in the Amazon and New Guinea? Do they go to hell? I don’t see this as a problem as far as the OT is concerned, for the book of Daniel only says that those who are wise and lead men to righteousness will go to heaven.
    Answer: God puts the word of life in EVERY man’s heart (A soul). He decides if they were seeking him according to the conditions they were born into and grew up in. (Romans has something on this.) Just like before Jesus’ time, for example in ancient China.

  2. Is it fair to call looking at a woman with lust ‘Adultery’? It is only natural (and beyond our control) to feel sexual arousal.
    Answer: You can choose not to look. Pray, fast, and ask for strength. Over time you can improve, although living in a hyper-sexualized society like today is no easy task.

  3. Did the Gospel writers think the world was flat (Matt 4:8) long after it’s round shape was known?
    Answer: Yes. But many also thought the sun revolved around the earth, although I would imagine most did not think about it.

  4. Why does the New Testament treat disease as though it is the result of demonic activity? Is this appropriate?
    Answer: Contextual. Just as we must be sure of the difference between demonic possession and demonic oppression.


(RiderOnTheClouds) #24

This is definitely true. Syriac Christian and Arab cosmology in some cases as late as the Middle Ages depicted a flat earth cosmology. With Middle Eastern myths regarding Alexander involving him travelling to the land where the sun rises. The problem which I have (if such a problem existed, which it admittedly may not) is that God could have chose anyone in Judea (Philo of Alexandra believed in a a Greek Spherical earth cosmology with seven celestial spheres), why chose the flat earth society?


(Mervin Bitikofer) #25

To what end? Is God’s mission to our world to make sure we know the correct shape of the globe?


(Albert Leo) #26

Richard, the view you espouse here was, regrettably, NOT widely held by missionaries in the past. According to the histories I have read, the virtual enslavement of native peoples was justified partly on the basis that bringing them the Christian Faith saved them from the eternal damnation which they otherwise would have suffered as heathens. What is more disturbing in these modern times is preaching the warped, misguided (IMHO) doctrine that ONLY those who proclaim Christ as their Savior will be saved. In a previous post, I related a very unusual event that I witnessed (The Miracle of the Panel Truck) that clearly demonstrated to me and to my Chinese colleague that God also loves those who choose OTHER routes to worship Him OVER those offered by Christianity–especially when Christianity is presented as the ONLY way. (John 14:6 vs. John 6:44). Claiming to possess the Keys of the Kingdom is to take on an awesome responsibility.
Al Leo


(Richard Wright) #27

Hi Reggie,

For my 2 cents, I think the passages in question talk neither here nor there about the shape of the earth, at least they’ve never struck me in doing so. The devil led Jesus to the high place, maybe he wanted to isolate him, or have him in a place where, though not literally able to see all the kingdoms in the world (and is this the ANE or the literal world?), he would feel, “on top of the world”, ready to rule it. I’m not sure, but it doesn’t bother me either way. I guess I’ve been so moved and transformed by the cross over the years that small things like that don’t affect my faith, any more than Genesis 1 not being a literal description of the origins of the universe would.


(Richard Wright) #28

Hi Albert,

Sorry to say it, but, overall, not even wrong. It was mostly Catholic missionaries that enslaved native peoples in order to save them (which of course is tragically unscriptural and un-Christlike).

As a side note, I’ve recently changed my views on hell. I don’t believe it to be eternal for human souls. If you want to see my reasons why, google, “Douglas Jacoby” and search his site.

"Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me." (John 14:6)

Jesus is, 

“‘the stone you builders rejected,
    which has become the cornerstone.’

Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven 
given to mankind by which we must be saved.”  (Acts 4:11-2)

For there is one God and one mediator between God and mankind, the man Christ Jesus, who gave himself as a ransom for all people. (1 Timothy 2:5a)

There are literally dozens more passages, just from the New Testament, that I could cite. Jesus was sent by the Father to come here to be a sinless sacrifice for our sins, and not anyone else. It’s our job as disciples to make disciples, one by one, the way Jesus laid out, to save the world. But Jesus himself said only, “few” will be saved (Matthew 7:14), because of peoples’ hard hearts. For people who have yet to hear the good news of Jesus, I leave that to God.

God loves every person who ever lived, including those who reject Jesus and try to get to the Father another way. He showed it by sending Jesus here to be tortured and murdered for our sins. But to be saved, they have to go through Jesus. That’s why true Christians reach out to everyone.

I’m not sure why you’ve put John 6:44 - “No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws them, and I will raise them up at the last day.” - up against John 14:6. The passage just means that even our faith, in Jesus, comes from God (Ephesians 2:8). But we still have to decide to put our faith in Jesus. The fact that Jesus is the only way to the Father is not challenged in John 6:44, or anywhere else in the bible, as far as I’ve ever seen.


(Albert Leo) #29

It is just in my nature to doubt, Richard. That has served me well as a scientist, but, as Jesus pointed out to Thomas, that may keep me from becoming ‘most blessed’. I am told that it is likely that John’s gospel was likely NOT written personally by him but anonymously by others who may have had slightly differing recollections of events during Jesus’ ministry. If so, then it seems quite possible that the two quotations attributed to Jesus, John 14:6 & 6:44, might be the recollections of two different persons who heard the same pronouncement by Jesus. They can be interpreted to reach widely different conclusions–whether or not professing Jesus as my savior is required. I’m presuming that you consider the gospels inerrant, at least to the extent that God would not allow such a ‘mistake’ to occur. But if we could step into a ‘Time Machine’ and set the dial to be present during the councils of the early Church that decided which versions of the Gospels were canonical and which apocryphal, would we be so sure? Like watching the sausage maker might not whet your appetite for his product.

And making Christianity the ONLY pathway to our Creator is not just an inconsequential matter. It may be the ‘tipping point’ on whether or not humankind can find a way to live together on this planet, or, contrariwise, our religious disagreement get out of hand, and we manage to make our species extinct. When it comes to the belief in the exclusivity of Christianity, I, and three other skeptical scientists, were given undeniable evidence to the contrary. Richard, I sincerely wish you and I and Prof. Eric Lien could spend an hour or so discussing that miraculous event. (There!! I’ve said it–a scientist affirming a miracle! ). It changed his life for the better, and reinforced my belief that God is right beside me at all times and is my best Friend.
God bless,
Al Leo


(Richard Wright) #30

Hi Albert,

I’m glad you had a life changing/affirming experience. I am sort of curious about it, you can send a description of it in a PM if you like.

The Gospel of John is anonymous, but the early church thought is was written by John due to internal reasons, such as, “This is the disciple who testifies to these things and who wrote them down” (John 21:24), referring to , “the disciple whom Jesus loved” following Jesus and Peter in 21:20 (that was known to be John). Also, the writing style is similar to the 3 epistles of John. In addition to that, I’ve not heard that there were multiple authors, the book seems to have a consistent writing style and theme. However, back to the point, John 6:44 and 14:6 are quite different in content and contexts, so I think it’s safe to say that they represent 2 different sayings of Jesus.

I don’t hold to biblical inerrancy. The bible never refers to itself as, “the bible”, the same with the Testaments. The passages usually put forth by inerrantists IMO don’t support Chicago Statement-type inerrancy. What I do hold to is a consistent message, Old Testament to New, of sin and redemption - what many would call biblical infallibility. I know that there are mistakes in the gospels even, but nothing that contradicts the overall message. The New Testament in the end is a human product, with a message inspired by God - but that IMO didn’t preclude the possibility of mistakes occurring in the transmission of the message into the written accounts. The canonization was also a human endeavor, with faith, conviction and love for God guiding the process. And it wasn’t done only through councils, it was a more holistic process starting in the days just after the apostles. In the end, God promised a new covenant with the Isrealites (Jeremiah 31:31), and God is a sovereign god (Colossians 3:16), so it only makes sense that he, in His mysterious ways, made sure of the, “correct” writings made it into the written form of His new covenant.

One, humans didn’t make Christianity the sole pathway to the the Father. He did, that’s why he sent His son here to be a perfect sacrifice for sins. Those who are born-again through the blood of Christ are saved. That’s what Jesus and the apostles taught. There is no other way. That’s why we are commanded to, “make disciples of all nations” (Matthew 28:19). People not hearing of Jesus is another issue and as I said before, I leave that to God.

Two, Jesus didn’t come so, “mankind could find a way to live together”, though through Christ it can, if everyone repented and decided to follow Jesus. He came to save souls. And only, “few” will be saved (Matthew 7:14). The ones who are born-again will have changed lives and find peace, but Jesus’ mission wasn’t social or governmental (or financial), it was spiritual.


(John Dalton) #31

And it was controversial at the time. Times have changed. The interview was in Playboy by the way.


(Bill Wald) #32

People who live inland have no need to know. It should be obvious to anyone who lives on a seacoast that the sea surface is curved from observing ships leaving and returning to port.


(Bill Wald) #33

If one accepts that regeneration precedes conversion and that God is free to regenerate anyone he pleases . . . the Devil is always in the details that I have no need to understand. I have enough trouble with Jesus’ statements that I think I understand.


(RiderOnTheClouds) #34

One other thing:

So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.

What is the meaning of this verse? Does every single thing we do have to be for the glory of God? Is doing anything secular sinful?


(Phil) #35

Reggie, my thought is that the verse you quoted is a good goal, and what we should strive for, though admittedly we fall short. I was a bible study last night and one of the guys related how we often compartmentalize our life, and "forget " God in one area or the other. I think this verse is telling us that is not the ideal, and just as God sustains the universe in all things, we should let the Holy Spirit fill us so as to show God’s presence in our lives in all things.
I know that I am still working on it, and probably will not get there in this life. I haven’t even made it through this afternoon successfully, in fact.


(Chris Falter) #36

It’s saying exactly the opposite, Reggie. Basically anything we do–scholarship, research, engineering, music, art, accounting, etc.–can be done as an act of devotion to God. (Sinful acts would be an exception, of course.) Consequently, the division between “sacred” and “secular” work is unhelpful. The whole world is sacred–one of the lessons of Genesis–and thus every human endeavor can be an act of sacred devotion.

My $.02,
Chris Falter


(George Brooks) #37

@Jay313 & @Reggie_O_Donoghue

I find the Unitarian Universalist position far more elegant and comprehensive…

the Chess Master Scenario!

Google Books: Link to Brief Discussion of the Chess Master Scenario

Google Book:
The Will of God is the Word of God By James MacDonald


(RiderOnTheClouds) #38

Is UU basically seeing truth in multiple religions?


(George Brooks) #39

That’s a problematic way of looking at their perspective.

Many UU’s consider tolerance truth - - and there are many religions where there is precious little of that.

And many UU’s would consider the act of “belief” (in and of itself) to be irrelevant to the afterlife fate of a terminally ill toddler or an isolated tribe of Inuit back in the medieval period.

Let’s look at reincarnation, for example. If reincarnation is a reality, it will occur regardless of whether you believe it will or not.

On the fine points, if one’s other “beliefs” or “life assumptions” are of a good enough caliber, reincarnation to a better life is implied. So one could argue that “beliefs” can’t be completely irrelevant. But they are certainly less key to one’s fate than many religions assert.

Belief in Love seems more essential than any other “beliefs” in how the cosmic system works.


(RiderOnTheClouds) #40

Do you believe in reincarnation or heaven?

Where I am now, I currently lean towards an eventual heaven when the Messiah comes, the dead will be raised and then judged. Unless of course Jesus turns out to be the Messiah.