Unpleasant conversations between atheists and theists

(Mervin Bitikofer) #141

You are in good company. “My God, My God – why have you forsaken me?”

(John Dalton) #142

Did He? Who said?


That is an incorrect analogy. God isn’t letting Christians off, He is a just God. That is why Jesus had to die for us, to take our punishment for us, the wrath of God for us.

I know analogies are difficult to always translate 100%. But it would be more accurate for the defendant to get a sentence of 1000 years (or billion years, or name any sentence that a man could not pay) and someone who did nothing wrong, who was able to take that punishment, take it for them. God would maybe allow us to pay for sins if we could, but we can’t, that could by why hell is an eternity, attempting to pay for something that we can’t. That is why we are even more thankful for Him to send His Son to pay it for us, someone who could pay it, and make things just.

It isn’t the act or sorrowfulness or how mournful and repentant we are that makes our punishment go away, that is unjust. It is Jesus, who paid it for us, but out of sorrow and repentance, we acknowledge that fact and allow Jesus to pay it for us, accept His gift. Justice is served.

Then if the truly repentant murderer, live a great life for a year, but someone abducted his son and tortured the son, and he tracked the guy down and in a furious rage killed that guy too, after his repentance and acceptance of Jesus, that payment is still paid for. It doesn’t matter how well you live, or how bad you live, you can’t serve you punishment, the only way for justice to have been done is to believe in Jesus who did it for you, or to spend an eternity trying to do it away from God.

It still seems your understanding is surface level of some words. I am not convinced you understand the Christian narrative yet of God’s love.

Again, they couldn’t be punished enough, thanks be to God for sending His Son to take on that punishment for us!

That might be true for many religions, but not for Christianity. That is one thing that sets it apart from other religions. God is just, and justice will always be done, we are all evil doers (some more than others) when we rejected the very God that created us.

It doesn’t prove it, but it makes a great case for it. A world without God, is a world without, love and compassion. Where does love come from? Science can’t prove it. Love can’t prove something scientifically, but it can greatly encourage a belief in something. Anything apart from God is awful.

The only way to truly repent is to truly trust in Jesus. If you just regret an act, and try to not do it again truly, that isn’t repentance that is worth anything. Romans 8:5-11
" Those who live according to the flesh have their minds set on what the flesh desires; but those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires. 6 The mind governed by the flesh is death, but the mind governed by the Spirit is life and peace. 7 The mind governed by the flesh is hostile to God; it does not submit to God’s law, nor can it do so. 8 Those who are in the realm of the flesh cannot please God.

9 You, however, are not in the realm of the flesh but are in the realm of the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God lives in you. And if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, they do not belong to Christ. 10 But if Christ is in you, then even though your body is subject to death because of sin, the Spirit gives life[d] because of righteousness. 11 And if the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead is living in you, he who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies because of[e] his Spirit who lives in you."

If you focus on repenting or stopping an act, you have already failed or will fail. “7 The mind governed by the flesh is hostile to God; it does not submit to God’s law, nor can it do so”

True repentance, is turning to God, acknowledging that Jesus paid your punishment/debt, and you never could, which allows the Holy Spirit to dwell inside you, and it is that Spirit that allows you to repent and not sin. Just like death could not hold down Jesus, The Spirit cannot sin. If you keep that in your minds focus, you won’t sin, not of your own efforts, but an fruit tree bears fruits if you allow it. Our good works and repentance shouldn’t be effort, it overflows from the Spirit from within us. “11 And if the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead is living in you, he who raised Christ from the dead will also give life”

This is how we were designed/engineered by God, to fully depend on Him, this is what heaven will be like, we won’t have the tugging of our flesh to do against God’s will, it will be living and loving and glorifying Him (through His help) for eternity!

Life has trials and tribulations and we often forget about the Spirit that is in us and try to do things of our own strength, and that is when we sin again and screw up. But since Jesus paid our debt in the first place, a debt that we couldn’t, it is still paid. It doesn’t matter what we do from that point on, our debt is paid, we acknowledged and accepted that.

Does that mean we will continue to sin at times, probably, any time we lose focus on Jesus, like Peter, we sink back into our sinful ways (we just no longer have the debt of sin hanging over us). But we can’t live a live of sin either, the Spirit that is in us hates sin, it isn’t part of it. So if one continues to sin with no remorse then one might question, have they really repented (repenting meaning turning to Jesus, not just doing good deeds or being moral). That is for God to judge man’s heart.

I do believe it is possible for a man to be saved, and be so drowned in sin, they forgot who God is and continue to live in sin, putting a cover over a lamp, no light gets out, but the light is still it inside. It is the greatest of tragedies. They will be in heaven, Jesus paid for those sins too.
I think the unforgivable sin is rejection of the Spirit. It doesn’t matter if your sins are forgiven if you don’t want to be with God or acknowledge His rule. That is what heaven is. It is like wanting to go to a hunting club as a vegan, it just won’t work, even if someone paid your membership benefit. You have to want to be with God to be in heaven.

Tall order for man, not God, only Jesus could fulfill that tall order. To have mercy on all, yet allow justice to have been served.


We are/were no better than Khan. If you miss attaining 100% perfection, you can’t be near God. Murdering a million people, or simply wanting to stay when God tells you to go (Jonah) or eating a fruit when God says not to (Eve). Rejection of God’s will once, is death and eternal separation from a Holy God who we can no longer stand before as blameless.

I don’t know how Khan was raised, I am thankful I was not raised in such a rough manner. I am who I am because of the grace of God, not because of my own efforts. A serial killer might be really messed up mentally, but what brought him to that state? Was he raised in a horrible home and hate is all he knew? I am not better than him, and God’s grace and the power of Jesus is strong enough to save anyone.

It is kind of is based on deeds…(hear me out till the end, I’m not saying we can practically earn our way to God). Though it is not a weighted scale where you have to have so many good deeds to balance out the bad deeds. It is more like any bad deed prevents you from being perfect and holy like God. So there is a holy God, and anything and everything that is not.

The ‘caveat’ (for lack of better term) to that is that we were created to be dependent on God to be holy. So the only way to be holy is to acknowledge who God is and to fully depend on Him, to help us do His will. The very first time you try to do something yourself or get credit or glory for that deed, you sin, you miss the mark of holiness. You can no longer be in the presence of a holy God, who has not failed because He can’t fail or reject Himself.

We were created to glorify God, and the only way to do that is to honor His will.

So again, in short, it is about good deeds…in a way. This is why the law was given, to see if anyone could live a life full of perfect holy good deeds. But we can’t of our own strength. God created us to be flawed of our own strength, to only be able to achieve our proper operation when relying on Him. If we relied on Him, all that would come out of us is good deeds and love.

Since we suck at good deeds of our own strength, God mercifully provided a another way to live holy. That way was to accept that we can’t of our own strength, and regret we rejected His way, to have Jesus pay for that rejection and then for us to be reconciled back to a holy God, being ‘holy’ ourselves or righteous through the work of Jesus.

I know people can list hundreds of biblical contradictions regarding science and history, but there is not one with regards to what I said above or the main theme of the Bible. That is the one theme in the Bible that isn’t contradicted once. Name a verse

I guess I am not sure what you mean by golden ticket. Like we randomly try to various methods and some of us are lucky enough to find it?

I believe there is one path to heaven, heaven being a place were God’s rule is acknowledged ad He is forever glorified. I guess there are some ‘nuances’ (for lack of better term) to that path…Like those who lived before Jesus, or those who never heard of Jesus. I can’t claim to know for certain how that will turn out. But what I can claim, is that I know and serve a loving and merciful God. I could guess that you can’t reject God, if you never knew Him, so people might get a chance after death with then see God to acknowledge that He is the holy king and they are unworthy sinners and that God loves them so much He provided a way for us to be with Him again, that way being what Jesus did for us now, but prior to Jesus’ life on earth, I think faith in God’s goodness was a faith in the concept of Jesus. Which Jesus is the “image of the invisible God” (Col 1:15). They had faith in God was credited to them towards who Jesus came to fulfill. That is just one possibility.

But then one might argue that we should not share God with them, so they cannot be held accountable or reject Him so they go to heaven…Which I am not saying. God could have created us all in heaven without the ability to have rejected Him, but He wanted to see it play out, He is glorified in what we do, we were created His image bearers, to glorify Him. So that is why we are commanded to go tell the world of God and His mercy and love, so they can also know and glorify Him (though the chance of rejecting him is now there too). It isn’t about a golden ticket to a paradise, a life without suffering and great luxury, a reward. It is about knowing God and being with Him and glorifying Him forever!

It isn’t a simple act. God doesn’t check a block and we achieve a special status/reward that can’t be taken away. It is a change of heart and mind, an understanding of the who purpose in life. what I said above, a holy God, we are separate, Jesus reconciles us. If you have that mindset to want to depend on God (as intended) you will then be in paradise, where you will forever acknowledge His Kingship. Speaking it just makes it clear as to what you mindset is. I fully believe a mute person can accept God in his heart without speaking despite what Romans 10:9 says literally, does not mean that.

That can’t be taken away…but, I do believe one can come to a place to reject God and not want His will. I see no reason for them to be in heaven, because that is what heaven is. Not from a point of sin and can’t be in His presence, but if you don’t want to be in His presence, why would you? We wanted to be in God’s presence, but can’t due to our sin, so we needed Jesus to reconcile as righteous so we can again be in His presence.

One could sin many many times after that. It isn’t good, but Satan gets pleasure in seeing God’s glory depraved. I believe a Christian who at one time meant it, had a slow slow fade, and lost sight of God and lives a horrible sinful life. They forget how to not sin and let God help them and again it is a tragedy. But Jesus paid the price of all sins. If they want to be with God and for Him to be their King forever, I think they still will.

I disagree with Christianity. Living morally is a result of doing the will of the Father. Being a Christian of having the status of forgiven, doesn’t help is live morally at all. The law is still there, and those who live by the law will be snared by the law. If you try to live morally you will fail. The only way to display a moral life, is to allow God to live it out through you.

And it doesn’t matter how big the storm is, Jesus is bigger. We don’t try harder the greater the storm, we just look to Jesus. And when we come out of the storm, the greater the storm, the greater the glory goes to God. No one wants hardships, but if we can glorify God through that and other may see god in us through that, that should be what all of us desire. That is taking us our cross daily, living a life suffering for Him.

There is nothing like looking yourself in the mirror after you’ve made the right moral choice and saying to yourself and God, “may God forever and always receive the glory”. “As it was not of my own strength that I was able to live morally, but a result of allowing the Spirit to overflow from me.”

Like that old Gatorade commercial “Is it in you”, and orange Gatorade would pour out of the athlete. God, is He in you? He should pour out of you. Anything you do apart from God is worthless, we were designed that way, to rely on God and allow Him to pour out of us and glorify Him in that process.

There is self discipline, but it is self discipline to focus on and glorify the Father, that is the only self discipline required or that is good. For if you try to do it yourself like Adam, you will fail, we are slaves to the law, and sin takes advantage of that, the law comes death.

The right path isn’t doing things morally, it is allowing God’s ‘morality’/holiness to pour out of you, which then only moral/holy things will come out, and God will be glorified, and we will be true image bearers of Him. When they look at us us, they see Him, this is how we were created.

I know it is a slightly difficult concept to say God will do it we have to let Him. It isn’t like we can just lie in bed all day and say God will do it. I don’t mean it like that. But when you focus on Jesus like Peter did, you will not sink. When you think of or focus on honoring and glorifying God, then you will focus on the 2 greatest commandments, to Love God with all your heart, soul, and mind, and to love others as yourself will come out. And when and if you do that and a moral thing comes out of you, you must give God the glory, recognizing that the only reason a good or moral thing came out of you, was because it was from Him. That is what I mean by letting go and letting God, not some lazy sitting around for Him to posses us and take over. We willfully hand over ourselves for Him to be able to receive more glory from us, through Him. That is why He created us!

Maybe a better way to state this to an atheist would be… I don’t think I am better than you, in fact, I know I am not better than you, I am filth but for the mercy of God. However, God would be more glorified (which is or should be our end goal) if you because a Christian. You wouldn’t be a better person, but hopefully you would allow God inside you, to create for fruit, to which He can be glorified all the more!

I forget this at times too and think an atheist would be a better person as a Christian, so forgive me of this. When I lose sight of who Jesus is, I forget this. I see you as blind (which I understand is basically as condescending as saying I am better then you when I can see an you are blind), but my goal should be to no longer see you as that and it should not be to improve you so you can see, it should be to show you God in me, so that you can come to know God and then God can be glorified.
I would definitely have a few beers with you or hang out, you seem like a great guy.

I kind of spoke on that above, and though I don’t have the answers, I have some possibilities, but one answer I do have that I am very confident in, is that I serve a loving and merciful God. My life is not to be in control of were people end up for in eternity, or if they know God know, it is to glorify Him. All that other stuff comes as a fruit/result of my allowing God to work through me.

Right on.

Why did you go to church? How were you faithful?

I don’t know you, but I fear you were missing the point. It was never quid pro quo. You go to church and give to the poor and He will bless you. You and me are all sinners, highly valued, but any deed (good or bad) is disgusting to Him, when you don’t acknowledge who He is or allow Him to do good through you.

I can’t say for certain, but I would guess that God was trying to bring you to rock bottom so that you could finally find Him. I think most people find God when they hit rock bottom, and there is nothing left in in mourning and sackcloth and ashes, you can hear that whisper, that God is, and has always been there. Or sometimes He finds people who hit the glass ceiling and have everything they always wanted. When they are still not satisfied, they search for God. Or people who never reach and know they never will reach that glass ceiling give up in chasing the wind, and chase after God, something that isn’t illusive and unreachable, but the opposite, unmovable and compassionate.

Bad things of this world are allowed to happen for many reasons, and though I am sorry that it happened to you, I wish it would have brought you to know Him.

God blessed you with the strength to pick yourself up by your boots and get a heads up in life. He didn’t have to, you could have been born with no arms or lost your arms or mobility. Those handicaps could have brought you to God, or maybe not. But you didn’t give yourself that strength or intelligence to make it on your own, God did. Maybe He did that so that when you come back to Him, He can use you greatly. Paul was a passionate man, so passionate that he possibly killed and approved of killing Christians before knowing God. God was able to use that passion for His glory in the end.

I assure you God doesn’t need to claim credit for where you are now, but I also assure you it wasn’t from you. Did you created yourself?

I guess if you were an atheist, these words could fall on deaf ears. But if you believe you were created by God, then you should know that you have nothing owed to you nor deserve nothing. No one does, it is only by the grace of God we all are where we all are.

Generally, I think we all are were we are and the hardships we and everyone goes through, is to hopefully bring us back to Him.

as @Mervin_Bitikofer said

Addressed to @Self.recognized, but quoted @Mervin_Bitikofer
Jesus felt that abandonment too, He felt how it feels to be separated from God, it is very hard. He knew how it would feel too, so much so that He sweat blood and asked for it to be avoided. Yet not His will, but the Fathers to be done.

(John Dalton) #144

If it’s not based on deeds, it’s simply not all about justice for one’s deeds in one’s time on Earth. I don’t see how Christianity has cut the Gordian knot. I’m not saying it necessarily has to be cut, but if it’s there, it’s worth noting.

Oh, that’s not what I meant at all. I was only talking about these afterlife-related questions.

Not the best choice of words. I explained it in the subsequent post you also quoted from.

I think it’s often presented as such and perceived to be. I really didn’t mean “simple” in the sense of “not difficult”; I meant “not involving anything else”. It doesn’t really matter how not difficult it is. The point is that this act in itself seems to mitigate responsibility for one’s actual deeds, which seems inconsistent with what we would call “justice” with regards to those deeds. Maybe God has his own way of reckoning these things, but “justice” has a definite meaning to us. I’ve read the various explanations here, and I respect that Christians try to do good in their time on Earth, but I don’t really understand how the whole thing is supposed to work. Well, I guess that’s not surprising. If I did, maybe I would be a Christian :slight_smile:

(John Dalton) #145

Just watched Come Sunday on Netflix; it happened to include some of the recent themes in this thread. I thought it was a pretty good watch



Yea, I guess we first must define what is justice? When you send someone to prison, is it so they can be reformed? Or is it to be punished, like you knowing or seeing that person be punished somehow makes you feel better? Is that justice? Or more like revenge? I want the defendant to suffer for what they did?

I would say vengeance of man is inconsistent with Biblical teachings, and with good cause. You are in charge of your emotions, don’t give that power to someone else. You can only control what you do. If someone slights you, don’t give them the power to make you angry, forgive them. You will live a much longer and less stressful life.

Or can it be thought like a debt. You rack up a tab, and that debt must be paid. We don’t care who pays it, but it must be paid.

The problem with humans, is that we can’t pay that debt, it is too great for us. So we are doomed to all eternity apart from God, attempting to repay it.

Or, you can simply thank Jesus for paying that debt for you.

The till is even, the debt is paid, in that sense, justice was served. Vengeance might not have been served, since that person didn’t have to suffer for their crimes. But again, how is that justice, a man suffering? Our flesh tells us it will make us feel better, but that bitterness swells inside us and consumes us if we don’t let it go, and it destroys us.

To some degree I like the idea of punishment, but that is as a deterrent, hoping that person knows of that punishment and it prevents them from acting on it. And of course if the punishment isn’t enforced, it has no teeth, the perpetrator can now know this and act without fear of punishment.
And then a punishment might need to be endured, to give it teeth, as the perpetrator might not have realized how bad the punishment was until experiencing it. So again in that sense, punishment can be good. But as more of a deterrent or training tool, than a tool to make suffering.

Same with my kids, I have rules and there are punishments. Not because I want them to suffer, but because I want them to be deterred and more importantly trained to act a certain way. But I never want my kids to suffer.

But if my kids damaged something they nor I could afford, punishment cannot train them to not do it again (perhaps to be more careful around said object), but it could have been a mistake/accident. Me and my kids are at their mercy until that debt is paid off. If I damaged a trillion dollar thing, then I would be doomed to work the rest of my life, until the debt was paid.

Unless…someone else paid it. The person wouldn’t care who paid for it, as long as the item was paid for, so they could replace it. Justice was served in this scenario.

Or the person could just forgive the debt right? But if that debt was outright forgiven, would you be careful around that object anymore? It doesn’t matter if you break it, your debt will be forgiven.

Now God could forgive our debts/sins/transgressions with His word, and He did for a select few, like the harlot of John 8. Or the lame of Luke 5. So God could have just forgiven all mankind with His words…But we probably wouldn’t realize how holy He is if He did that.

When a very high price is paid for something, you can see how high a value that thing has. Even a piece of fuzz, if you saw someone paid a million bucks for it, you might think they are crazy. But if you saw them work 16 hours a day breaking their back and saving money and starving with no luxuries for 50 yeras, and wondered why they were saving their money. and you found out they spent 1 million dollars on a piece of fuzz, you would know they valued that fuzz extremely! So much they were willing to almost starve and suffer to purchase this fuzz.

So we know how valuable a child is to human fathers, especially an only child. To have this child leave your presence, (especially if this child lives with you for trillions of years and longer and all you know of life is with this child), to send this child from your presence to the ones you and he created and have dominion over. Send this child not as a royalty to be served and comforted by the created being, but to actually serve them, to suffer for them, to be given this weak body with pains and frailty, to be tempted by the very sin you hate by an enemy who disrespected you greatly and hates you. To in spite of all of that, chose your ways and live a perfect life, then watch him suffer greatly, and die, have the powers of darkness ‘pounce’ on him so greatly that he can no longer see you and he feels abandoned, and you can see your child through this, and you sadly watch as you see him cry out for help with the belief that he can’t be helped (as Jesus saw God through our eyes, being separated). To go through THAT sacrifice just to save those who rejected you and continue to reject you? THAT is someone who values you greatly.

So we see God values us greatly, BUT, He is also very holy. If God just forgave all sins with a spoken word, we would not take His holiness serious, like the guy who forgave the trillion dollar debt like it was a penny. This is why the OT has so much detail and ‘rituals’ to prepare to go into the presence of God, so we could attempt to potentially maybe understand the smallest glimpse of His holiness. If you don’t know or understand His holiness, then you wouldn’t want to be with Him or give Him glory for it, or have Him rule you for eternity. That is another reason I believe God does not forgive everyones sins with a few words. It is for our own good…But the why isn’t in the Bible necessarily, but it doesn’t go against it either, it is just my logical guesstimation as to why God doesn’t forgive all sins with a few words. The Bible just says to trust God and know that He knows best. Like a child can’t always understand or comprehend why a parent does what they do, but it is for the best interest of the child (if the parents are good and loving, which God is), and to trust and obey.

So when rejected a holy God, and became unholy, there was a HUGE debt that had to be paid, and the bad news is, we couldn’t pay it. Even living for an eternity, we couldn’t pay it. The good news (gospel) is very simple, Jesus paid it for us! Justice is done! Death (separation from God) was defeated!

Now we understand and know the holiness of God, we realize it is a debt we couldn’t pay, and are thankful that Jesus allows us to be with God again. That is why we could sin as much as we wanted after this point, we could never afford that debt anyway, so it could be racked up as high as it can go, Jesus paid it all. HOWEVER, because He paid it all, we try not to sin or wrack up that sin debt in love and respect for God and what He did for us. Though it is no longer a debt that we are not trying to rack up, rather as initially designed, we are to allow God to rule through us, to glorify the Father.

We started with Adam, who was sinless, righteous like God, only God is holy, but a righteous person can be in the presence of God, a righteous person has no sin, is blameless. Adam rejected God’s will. One can actually commit a bad dead, or just try top please God of their own strength like in the tower of Babel. To do anything apart from allowing God to do it, is a sin, and is a rejection of God, who created us to be dependent on Him to please Him.

So after sinning, one could have realized the problem and repented, but you now have blame. You might have wanted God to do good things through you, but He couldn’t, He was separate from you. It was only after Jesus paid that debt, that allowed us to be reconciled back to God, righteous in God’s eyes and allows us to allow God to live through us as it was originally intended.

So that is long, and slightly complex, but also very simple. So in that sense, it is as simple as 1+1=2. But until you understand math, like a 2 year old, it is a greatly complex thing. But for anyone older than 7, it is extremely simple.

So yes and no on being a simple act.

But I still believe justice is/was served.

Now do you understand it?
Not that you believe in it, you have to look towards God for Him to reveal it to you, but if you look for Him, I am certain He will use this understanding of it to find Him. But if you don’t believe in God, we will just have to do a better job shining His light, and allowing you (general term) to see Him in us.

If you read all of that, thanks, if not, I understand, I am not the best writer and talk in circles sometimes. I am just passionate about the gospel and people knowing what it actually is. As it get horribly represented and spoken of at times.

But I will watch this video and let you know what I think about it, thanks for the recommendation.

(John Dalton) #147

Hmm how about “appropriate treatment in return for one’s actions.” I wouldn’t call it “revenge”. The principle is that people shouldn’t be allowed to harm others wantonly. Some form of punishment or recompense is an appropriate instrument to address a situation where someone has harmed others by their actions. I think the reasons for all that should be obvious and I’ll stop there unless it’s necessary.

I see that as a philosophy one could subscribe to, but it’s not related to what is generally considered by people to be “justice”. I’m not saying it’s necessarily a bad idea. It might be great. But whether “justice” is done in an afterlife (or in the absence of an afterlife) is something worth considering.

I understand what you’re saying (I have to admit I didn’t read the whole thing, just because it was a bit lengthy. But I get the jist). It doesn’t make a great deal of sense to me, and I note that different people seem to have somewhat different conceptions of how it’s supposed to work.

Thanks. You may have your work cut out for you though :slight_smile:

That’s cool. I’ll go out on a limb and say that there is something to be said for a bit of brevity at times :slight_smile: Getting to the key points and all. But what do I know.

I happened to see a Patheos post about it and watched it. I found there was a pretty strong connection to what we’re talking about here. I thought it was a pretty good movie, a bit of a Hollywood treatment but worth watching.


I’m sorry, but I think I would require you to go on for me to understand.

So you think the perpetrator should suffer for their actions. Would you be happy knowing they did suffer? Or would you be ok if you were told they were to suffer, but never actually did? If you were slighted, do you want to know that they suffered for what they did to you?

What if your friend or a stranger was slighted. Would you care, or still want the perpetrator to suffer? It wasn’t against you. What if the stranger or friend was ok with forgiving the perpetrator and didn’t want them to be punished? Would you still want them to be suffer?

That sounds a lot like revenge to me.

It is easier to understand recompense with a financial situation. There is a set price, it gets paid, or it doesn’t. But it gets murky when dealing with non financial things. If your arm is cut off by someone. No matter how much they suffer, or if you cut off their arm too, your arm will never be put back, it’s gone. So should they die for it, or suffer greatly? How great? What is the measurement? Again, what if your friends arm or a strangers arm is cut off, do you have any say in the matter, or is it the armless one and the butcher?

What if they decide to forgive? Is justice served? Justice is served when the ‘slighted’ one feels it is? So if I get a finger cut off, and I only feel justice is served if that man dies? My finger was my lively hood, I was the greatest piano player ever and made billions playing, now I can’t. Not only should that person die, but his entire family should be forced to work and give me all of their money until they can get close to my billions…

So justice isn’t in the eye of the victim, rather we have turned it over to the courts right? the judge decides right? Sometimes the judge forgives all debt, and sometimes the judge sentences a punishment that is to be served. Justice is whatever the judge says it is right?

Had the butcher knew the ‘price’ of this finger, he might have chosen not to cut it off.

The victim might not feel it is served if the judge only forces the guy to pay 1000 fine, but as far as the law goes, justice is served when the judge serves it.

What if the fingerless billionaire decided to forgive? Should the son (who would get the inheritance), can he peruse the butcher to gain his justice?

It doesn’t matter if the victim is to forgive, the judge could still sentence the man, the victim is not the judge, the judge is.

God was slighted when we rejected Him. And He is very holy, so the price is extremely high, so high, that we couldn’t pay it. It would require a lifetime of forever trying to please Him and be good of our own strength to pay for it…which would never pay for it, hence eternity. Or Jesus, who paid it for us. God was slighted, Jesus paid it, justice was served.

God is the judge, He determines the punishment and the judgement. If His judgment is that He is so holy, that the sinful man cannot be with Him (even though He loves us) then it is just. If He is merciful and loving, and gives His own sacrifice for us, to pay something we couldn’t, and that is one way justice can be served and His holyiness can still be holy yet allow a sinner like us to be seen as righteous and able to be in His presence again, then the judge has spoken, it is just.

I agree. I guess the main issue here, is we are talking about 2 different things, the spiritual realm and the physical.

A man who turns to God and is forgiven for rejecting God. But if that person was a murderer or did many bad things, they would still have to serve their sentence on earth.

But I think you sound like it would be ‘unfair’ for a man who lived a terrible life, and had a deathbed conversion and still went to heaven. You would not feel justice was served for his whole life. God was the one who was slighted, not you, and God is the judge, and He sees it different. He sees this man like all humans have great value, and so much value that He sent His only Son to pay our debts so that even these terrible men, even on their deathbeds could be made righteous with God again, through the price His Son paid.

Sure there are earthy consequences and earthy judges and sentencing, but I think you were confusing that with a heavenly judge. Which I didn’t realize, or I could have saved a TON of words and simple said that. But God’s truth was written out in that mistake, so I don’t mind.

This confuses me. It sounds like you are agnostic and believe there could be some punishment in the afterlife for acts of this life?

The wages of sin is spiritual separation from God So until those wages are paid off, you will be paying them off for eternity. That is hell, not so much of a forceful suffering from a mean God, rather, a truth of God’s holiness, who you can’t be near until an eternity passes (impossible) or you allow Jesus to have paid them for you. But those are God’s terms, not mans, God is the judge, so if He says Jesus paid it and that is one way for justice to have been served, then it is served that way.

I am not ruling out that that is possible that they might cease to exist, which would be eternal separation from God, who is life.

I watched that movie, I wish you would read it, I bet you can read it in a shorter period of time than it took me to watch that movie. I am not certain if you do get the gist by the responses you still have.

It would be my pleasure and it is always my goal regardless of who the audience is or isn’t for God to ‘ooze’ out of me so other may see who He is and that He may be glorified.

I agree it was thought provoking. Especially for those like me who have never heard of this “inclusive movement”. I feel most Christians would outright call it heresy (obviously like most of his church did in the movie/real life).

I would not take either side, I never like to take all or nothing approach. I think there is great things he is saying, and some terrible things he is saying too, especially after watching some real videos of Pearson.

I do not like that he tries to define God. “I don’t want to worship a God that allows people to suffer in hell” or " that God is a monster". His ways are higher than ours, and if He allowed all mankind to suffer in hell for eternity, that is up to Him, He is still good and just and loving. I might not always be able to explain or understand everything that God does, but I wouldn’t call Him a monster if I disagreed with Him. We all deserve hell, that is just, it was our choice. Thankfully He is so loving and merciful and provided us a way back to Him.

But I also don’t think hell is a place that is created for us to suffer. I think there will be suffering, great suffering, just like on earth for those who reject their Creator, who created us to glorify Him through Him.

I have pondered that notion that all are saved through Jesus. I have gone that route mostly from a branch or those before Jesus. If Jesus was the only way, then what of those before Jesus? Then I branch of those who never heard of Jesus. If sin is rejecting God, how can you reject him without knowing Him?

If anyone knows any verses that say we have to chose Jesus before we die physically, I would like to read up on it. I wonder if when some die, they won’t see God, realize how holy He is, and ask Jesus to pay that price and go to be with God, through the work of Jesus, even though they died in this life not believing that.

Or their might still be some that reject God and want to be their own God and make their own choices. I can’t know what a life without God is like, I can’t remember what it was like before I knew Him, but I know when Jesus looked at God on the cross and felt forsaken, it was when He was seeing God through the eyes of those who are separated from God. I wonder if those who die physically are never able to see God, and therefore are forever separate from Him. This would also fit the Biblical narrative or the wages of sin is death or eternal spiritual separation from God. I bet it will break His heart. He certainly won’t receive glory from them. Satan knows who God is, yet he will be forever separate, and that is his choice of not submitting to the will of God.

But the important thing to me is not who will or will not get to heaven, or how to get there, it is about the whole Genesis and the purpose of our life. We were created to glorify God through God, and we can’t since we rejected Him, but Jesus allows us to once again glorify Him as the image bearers we were intended to be and reconciles us back to Him as righteous so we can now glorify Him through Him again. That is the gospel, that is what I would focus the spread to the world, not some doctrine about how to achieve heaven or hell, there are many confusing verses that seem to contradict each other.

So why argue and focus on them, it doens’t give the Father any glory to bicker and denounce each other over possible doctrines of how to attain salvation. We were not instructed to do that either, we were instructed to preach the gospel, the good news, of our purpose on earth, that we can’t live our purpose, but for the work of Jesus on the cross!

(Wayne Dawson) #149

I’m having some trouble agreeing with you on this.

The first point is whether any of us are worthy of salvation without the price Jesus paid for our redemption; accepting that Jesus paid it all. On that, most of us who share the Judeo-Christian perspective would probably say that no one is worthy on their own merit; though our understanding of this requires a lifetime of learning. When that sentence above is put in context, I certainly was not suggesting or implying anything different, though no one can tell from the isolated quotation. Unfortunately, language must be expressed in a linear fashion and that requires a logical development of various point that sometimes spread over several paragraphs that are arranged in some sort of logical progression. Without the patience of a reader working through this non-ideal linear arrangement of thought process, we can easily be blamed for (or cast as) almost anything (even unintentionally).

The original point was about deathbed conversions; particularly of people who spent their life doing little less than evil. It was a rather wry quip from @T_aquaticus, but actually, I think an important one to reflect on when talking about our theology.

This is not about the small-time crimes of breaking several or all of the 10 commandments, even multiple times. Given the right circumstances and environment to foster it, most of us may likely break them all at the physical level, not just at the level of thinking about them. In that principle, yes, you are right, nobody is better – all have sinned and fallen short of the Grace of God. We miss that point when we judge others; particularly when it involves sins that we have less tendency to commit ourselves. I don’t sense that @T_aquaticus was particularly making an issue about people like this who are seeing their mortality and make these sort of deathbed conversions. There is some potential mild cynicism even with this – it seems cheap – but I have less of a problem accepting that some of those deathbed conversions are genuine. We are human, and making mistakes, even very regrettable ones, is part of the package.

Rather, the point was a hypothetical one about the deathbed conversions of people who committed themselves to a life of mayhem on an unspeakably massive scale and then at the end, some priest or pastor makes some big pronouncement that the person accepted Jesus and “oh how wonderful they are saved” and “Oh praise the Lord”, etc.

This requires a little more consideration about temperament. Not all of us have the temperament to build a rogue nation that commits mass genocide and horrific oppression. It is not just a matter of “training” or “education” that makes you able to run a fiefdom or a kingdom of some sort, you have to have some natural ability at leadership to be successful. You have to be “gifted”. That is why monarchies typically fail over time. Moreover, it seems that a little bit of ruthlessness is part of the skill set of a leader; I guess the charitable word is “decisiveness”. For some people in history, cruelty and ruthlessness were their main skill and, with those “skills”, they built huge empires. The Mongols were one such ruthless horde who raised havoc throughout Russia, China, Korea, and their empire extended all that way to edges of Western Europe at one point. They were basically thieves and murderers who looted and raped wherever they went. To the average Mongol who was just being “part of the crowd”, yes, your statement “we are/were no better than [them]” applies. This was their world, this was how they were raised, this is what they saw as “normal”. We cannot expect that we should do better given similar circumstances and opportunities.

However, leadership bears special consideration. Remember James 3; “Dear brothers and sisters, not many of you should become teachers in the church, for we who teach will be judged more strictly.” Khan lead his people into this sin. That does not absolve anyone, but leadership has a special role here. Leadership sets the example. If the leader says “rape, plunder, murder and greed are good (except on me)”, we are in trouble. Read Kings and Chronicles and consider how the writer speaks of the “leadership”.

Yes, we all screw up, and our poor example can be propagated amongst our family and our friends, so we do the same at that level and are also not completely absolved of this. Small-time sin is just practice for wholesale sin. However, this is about disobedience to God when seated at the highest levels of power. This is about leadership that turns justice into poison and righteousness into bitterness. Leadership who proudly brag and boast about their rottenness. Then in the most cynical display of all, some priest or pastor says “Oh, they accepted Jesus” on their deathbed and this makes everything ok. Surely any reasonable-minded repentant sinner would scoff at that kind of glib “we’re no better than Khan”. That is the biggest con of all in cheap Christian platitudes.

My answer to those unfathomably complex and troubling circumstances is that, obviously, it is possible that some such conversions really are unfeigned; we cannot say that all are ingenuine. The thing is, God knows. Before God, nothing is hidden. Although we may be fooled or want to believe what we shouldn’t, God is not.

The other (perhaps even more) important point is how to reconcile the cruelty of an evil leader who commits mass genocide on monumental scale or other terrible crimes with any sort of justice that could even be considered fair. How do you reconcile the perishing of 6 million Jews with a loving God? How can any justice be achieved in this world? For some people, they have simply disappeared; erased, obliterated. If you visit the Jewish museum in Warsaw (Poland), you might see a photograph of a few people and that is maybe all that is left of them and their families. One picture that was taken by chance in passing and this is the only evidence that they ever lived at all. Even that is lucky. The ghetto was completely obliterated to rubble.

It seems that there is no answer for this world. This is why I said “The only just punishment that could be brought down on a man like Khan would be one that God decides and delivers.” We also can make those Khans and are in that way responsible for this before the judgment seat too. We should be wary of our own support of a corrupt throne; one that brings misery and injustice by its decrees. We can make our own contributions here. We should understand that we have this capacity for ugliness. But truly, if there is no God and really all that is, is just “stuff”, then, with the exception of a few, this lot strikes me as just unfathomably bitter. I would say that if none of what we believe as Christians is true, one should live life quite differently and to those who perished in the cruelty of uncivilized civilization, I really can say nothing at all. This only could be set right by God at the end of the age. If there is no such thing, well … … … …

– by Grace we proceed

(Wayne Dawson) #150

The trouble is, we are usually more aware of the sins that we don’t typically suffer from. So somebody who regularly commits fornication (i.e., screws around), the person may not see that as “bad” but feels offended at someone who has problems controlling an urge to accumulate little things that don’t belong to them. People may not see copying text as plagiarism, but they would be offended if his/her picture was used for a fake account on FB.

Over a lifetime, we come to see that circumstances can cloud our judgment, we excuse actions we should not, we shift blame for things we are ultimately responsible for, we discover that sometimes we deny things we know to be wrong, etc. I think that if we saw it from the bird’s eye view of God looking on all of history, with all the interactions and thoughts in our heads, our ideas about justice would show a lot more humility than they often do.

I’m not saying that there should not be punishment for wrongdoing. If I murder someone, even if the action was perfectly understandable (and in some cases, I think I can understand that it really is), I am still responsible for what I have done. We cannot return the life that was lost. We should accept the responsibility for the things we do. But in that picture, the person who was killed probably also knows that they did something to make that happen. (I’m not talking about serial killers, I’m talking about someone who did something terrible in a moment of anger or the like.) In a human court, justice is rarely that. It’s an artificial world that rarely delivers what is fitting even when there would be a way to achieve “appropriate treatment in return for one’s actions”. So the eye-for-an-eye kind of justice rarely seems to actually work; even from a world point of view, it seems largely ineffective. What seems more important in engendering better behavior is the bonding and cohesiveness of a community. Maybe for libertarians, that seems Orwellian, but anyway, I think we cannot function properly without a genuine community.

(John Dalton) #151

Sure. Hmmm. Societies exist in part to ensure that individual bad actors cannot simply do as they wish, and more specifically as a means of preventing such situations from occurring and addressing them when they do. Societies have come up with many ways of achieving such ends, and they are necessarily brought to bear on the people who have caused harm to others. I see “justice” as a word which labels this process, and which further includes the idea that this is the correct state of affairs–that bad actors should not be simply allowed to do as they wish, and that those offended against have a right to expect that there will be some form of societal retribution.

What I want is irrelevant here. I’m talking about what is perceived as “justice”. I contend here that you’re talking about forgiveness as an alternate state of affairs. Quite simply, I don’t think all harmful acts should simply be forgiven by a society, if that is what you are suggesting. I’m not aware of any society that has operated under that idea. If I may be so bold, in 1 Corinthians 5:11, even Paul specifies that social punishment should be taken against people guilty of performing certain acts. That one came to mind quickly but I imagine that there are other similar passages. So even in Christian societies, isn’t this true to some extent?

Revenge is an individual act. Justice is something which happens in societies.

Well, that would be different sure. But this thread of conversation goes back to the idea that atheist conceptions of reality cannot provide any form of justice for physical crimes in an afterlife.


Not necessarily only God. I may have been slighted, or people close to me. Or my society, which I am a part of. God may have his own reasons for how he figures out who is deserving of reward, lack of reward, or punishment, in an afterlife. My only contention here is that from what I can discern from what people say, those reasons do not appear to be totally consistent with our ideas about justice for earthly acts. And there may be totally good reasons for that! But it is worth noting. As an atheist, if we start talking about the potential for justice under atheist conceptions of reality, I may be a bit inclined to go down this track and ask some questions.

Furthermore, I might well think it unfair, depending on the conditions under which all people are to be judged.

I’m agnostic about a lot of things but I don’t believe that, no. I’m looking at it in a somewhat detached fashion. I am agnostic enough not to think I know everything about reality :slight_smile: so I am interested in hearing and fully understanding such ideas.

So really what I’m getting here is that there is little connection between one’s earthly acts, and one’s eventual treatment in an afterlife. Is that fair?

I just went back and did. I understand what you’re saying. I think I’m looking at things in general from a different perspective from you, which could be why my responses probably seem off to you.

I never did either. I watched it with my 17 year old daughter, who hasn’t fallen too far from this tree in such matters :slight_smile: Funnily (IMO) she said “what’s so bad about that”. My response was “it makes sense to me” :slight_smile:

Case in point. I couldn’t believe any of this.

Yeah I’m quite interested in exactly how all this works as well.

(John Dalton) #152

Sure, but then we’re talking about “what we would think of as justice if we knew everything that God did” or, essentially, “what God thinks is right”. For us, “justice” has a definite meaning which is grounded in our own experience. It’s a tautology that God is going to do what he considers just and that it will be deemed just if judged by that standard.

I’m not trying to say that human justice in practice is in any way perfect. But I think everyone agrees that we must make the attempt. There is an ideal of proper justice which we (ideally) aspire to.

I agree. As our societies have become larger and more complex things have undoubtedly become more difficult though.

(Roger A. Sawtelle) #153

Christianity is not based on deeds per se, or deeds in isolation. Christianity is based on relationships. It is based on forgiveness of the evil others do and relating others in a loving way. That leads to good deeds, but legalism is not the purpose. Problem solving is the purpose. Our tack is not to justify ourselves. It is to help one another.

Jesus came not to be served or to be justified, but to serve, that is to help others be right. Go and do likewise.

(Wayne Dawson) #154

What do we consider good justice? Is it some judge and jury that follow a rule book, who punish every person according to that exact standard with bureaucratic precision? I hope you would say “no”. Yet why is it “no”? I think it is because you understand that there are creative ways to achieve justice and these cannot be discerned by a stupid book of rules and penalties.

Real justice requires a creative judge, it requires at least one person with enough influence that is innovative in the jury. Yet surely, you would understand that such a judge or jury had a very deeply wise – heaven forbid – divine understanding of justice. Moreover, we would not write this into that stupid book of rules and penalties, because it is uniquely fitting. We cannot be God, but we can do godly things even with justice using our creative minds. A teacher, a parent, and a judge can have those moments when he/she really does right in the way God does. Wise judgment changes everyone who sees it and understands it.

It is extremely difficult to find that moment with a student to say those poignant words, to be a parent and find the correct time and words to respond or to be a good judge who finds the right way to correct a person in his/her court. How rare it happens, but we know those things when we see them by the fruits they bear. It’s simply not a tautology. It’s not just good because God said so. There is art to justice. No amount of stupid laws and penalties mountains high would ever remotely achieve any of it. It would be oppressive and horrid for sure and somehow, the rotten would get away with murder and the just would get murdered in the end.

agreed. And that is partly my point above.

There is, however, a troubling point on what to say of 6 million Jews who perished as a result of one man and the evil machine he actively helped foment, or who knows how many millions of Russians and other innocent people who perished in the gulag, the many people who disappeared or were murdered in the Argentine dirty war, Cambodia, and the list goes on.

I understand that this has often been a good reason to doubt whether God exists because God was silent and did nothing. But consider that we have Moses and the prophets. If we didn’t listen to them, why would we have listened to God? We would go to our usual cheap demands for demonstrations and then we don’t get exactly what we ask, we say we don’t believe. We are not so unlike babies who discover they can manipulate their “caretakers”.

It is a matter of faith, but I trust that these people (if they don’t or didn’t repent) will have to answer for their wickedness and they won’t be able to hide behind cheap words, fraudulent displays of “I was just following orders”, or shift attention under the cover of subterfuge with all those sickening strategies of political distraction. There, the day of the Lord is like running from a lion and meeting a bear. Better to endure the Lord’s yoke when we are young. Better to be poor and wise than to be a rich foolish king who cannot take instruction. We cannot say how God’s justice can fix any of that, but we clearly can do nothing to fix that on earth.

— by Grace we proceed

(John Dalton) #155

OK, but is that all you think earthly justice is? There’s a lot more to things than that. A lot of thought and effort has gone into doing the best job possible under all kinds of constraints, in order to achieve real benefits for all people in societies.

I don’t have much to say about this. It seems to me that we have a literal world of experience at achieving justice in societies, and thought about ideals, and that’s what justice is, for better or worse. You’re appealing to this external standard which sounds great, but as far as I can tell isn’t about what we call justice. Even if I grant that God’s influence has been informing the entire history of human thought and action in this area, isn’t justice still what it is to us now? I don’t see how it can be something else.

Fine, but I’d attribute that to the people involved who are doing a good job, based on their experience in our systems. From my viewpoint, some of that may be attributable or related to their religious experience–that’s part of the parcel of our human experience. If you’re going to attribute anything positive in this field to some kind of godly influence, as a humanist I’ll have to differ with you. I don’t think there’s anything else I could really say on that point.

I will say that I meant something a little different with my tautology statement. I was still talking about this afterlife question. It seems to me that justice is what it is to us (as I’ve said, even if God exists and has been behind everything we’ve done to whatever extent.) If the afterlife is to be judged under some other standard of justice accessible to God and not readily accessible to us, than that would certainly be God’s prerogative. That being said, I don’t see how we can make any judgement about its inherent justice except through our existing concepts of justice. God may have reasons that lie outside the scope of our justice. I’m interested in learning about them. But if one seeks to justify the incongruity essentially by saying that “God is just in his nature and whatever he does is just by definition” I don’t think we’re getting anywhere useful.

It certainly is troubling. But do we call such things just in the light of the entirety of human experience? It’s worth noting that different societies have differing standards of justice even under more normal circumstances. But all these things can be taken into account when we consider human ideas about justice as a whole.

I’m not sure that that changes that God could have done something, but I don’t really find this line of argument too compelling in general. Maybe this is the best of all possible worlds :man_shrugging: I just don’t know.

Well, in my view, we have to do what we can now and that’s it. If people performing the single act of repenting is enough to wipe the slate clean for the afterlife, I guess that’s not any less true, at least :man_shrugging:

(Wayne Dawson) #156

I appreciate the cordial and thoughtful discussion. Considering the basis of this thread, I am very grateful to see that everyone here has been civil. That is the best way to go forward in a pluralistic world. I understand that we come from two very different ways of looking at the world and, short of God popping up and saying “here I am”, we’ll just have to find the most agreeable world we can together where we are free to explore our ways of thinking.

You base your view on what we know (or can know). As a scientist, I appreciate the logic and rational structure of world views based on these arguments and I appreciate that it allows for the possibility of revision if new information arises. It is one of the strengths of science that I have come to respect deeply as a practicing scientist who has made discoveries in this venue. In its best form, it is integrated. By this I mean that its structure can be largely built from some very fundamental principles and when those principles are stumbled upon, they demolish a lot of notions that are basically junk and affirm the parts that make sense, though sometimes in ways we don’t expect.

My path has been a little different. I am a hardcore scientist, but I am also an artist. I entered the university with the plan to be a musician, and I do write music and continue to perform regularly, mostly in church, but also in secular venues or some mix of the two. I gravitated to improvisational music, I have my own way of expressing myself in jazz improvisation, but I also appreciate proper interpretation in classical music and even how that can be very creative too. I fell into a serious career in science somewhat by accident; a professor who seemed to appreciate my creative ways of attacking problems invited me into a research project in my undergraduate studies. There, I soon recognized that advances in science are a place where creative people are sometimes welcome. I was soon hooked. Obviously, the “rules” of science are quite different from the “rules” of music. I had a lot to learn, and that has been a very long journey.

I found that I seem to have some sort of limited skill at solving some difficult problems. I would say that it is by God’s grace, as it seems folly to think I can solve anything at all that really nobody knows the answer to. Research is where the textbooks are not. One can feel he (speaking as me) has just driven off a cliff like in those old Hanna-Barbara cartoons where the character keeps going horizontally until he looks down and realizes that he doesn’t have any ground underneath. (I always asked, “why do you look down you idiot? Look forward!!!”) Science resembles detective work – the main exception being that the witnesses don’t lie; we have to learn how to overcome our own prejudices and opinions when faced with interpreting data and that is just as problematical as the detective.

That is to say that I am no stranger to unpopular ideas. I am no stranger to having to stand up to big kahunas in the science world and say “you’re wrong”. Of course, there were times I was wrong, I have made some real mistakes. Nevertheless, it is clear to me now that there have been times I was basically right too. The way we can know a concept is true is because good science bears fruit, it keeps bearing fruit, and it always leads to a deeper understanding that keeps reinforcing those fundamental principles in a consistent way. That is about the only way we can understand that an idea is sound.

Religion and particularly believing in Jesus seems to be have become a very unpopular idea in the sciences these days. I can only say that it is my “hunch mentality” in problem-solving that keeps me following Jesus in the real world. I don’t know where it will lead, I cannot even say that it will do me good, let alone whether it is right. I cannot read the bible like a fundamentalist, but that artist in me sees something there between the words of the pages (at least some of them) that reach beyond this world.

I simply cannot convey to you how my artist’s brain sees this any more than I can convey what I feel when the music hits a groove, why I pick certain chords at an instant based on a mere hunch, or how I stumbled on some of my scientific findings. Maybe it is all just chemicals in the brain, and the rest of my “feelings” stuff is just my own prejudice and pride. Nevertheless, my artist’s brain rejects that notion that “stuff” is all that is. Maybe as J. B. S. Haldane famously said

I have no doubt that in reality the future will be vastly more surprising than anything I can imagine. Now my own suspicion is that the Universe is not only queerer than we suppose, but queerer than we can suppose.

I don’t say that it is wrong to think that “stuff” is all that is. On that, I don’t know. It is the artist in me that rejects it. We are human, we can be wrong, even on things we think are right. At least understand that I am following my hunches and intuitions and seeing where they lead.

From a pragmatic standpoint, we have to try to build a world where a pluralistic view of justice can generally be agreed on, whether there is that bigger picture or not. But where the artist’s brain says “I feel there is something more”, respect that it might be true, even if we artists cannot articulate it in a logical, rational, or even remotely testable way. There is probably plenty that we cannot know about — which would drive the positivists into a tizzy at me for me saying that — but if we talk about the world in the times of the Greeks, we can see that they had much to learn, and I think we do too.

– by Grace we proceed

(John Dalton) #157

Well said, Wayne. Agree 100%

You base your view on what we know (or can know).

That makes sense to me. I agree of course that what we “know” can and does change. New ideas about justice could blow everything we think we know out of the water. As far as what we’re talking about here, God’s ultimate plan for eternal justice could make our current ideas look ridiculous. All I’m really saying is that I don’t see how we can assess things except on the basis of what we do know. If Christians feel they have some insights to how things can be better, and how that might apply in the “next” world (our focus here), I’m listening. I intend to read back through this thread again to see all the thoughts.

Cool, what do you play?

lol. Now that you mentioned it, that always bothered me. I recall a minor nagging feeling that that wasn’t physically possible :slight_smile:

I agree with you here. I don’t know. That “stuff” is all there is seems pretty absurd, but I haven’t heard anything more compelling. I believe there must be more to things, but I have no clue about what “more” might be, and I don’t think anyone else knows either. I like thinking about it though and don’t fault anyone for having their own ideas, whether I agree with them or not.

Sure. But we have to start somewhere! In this world that is. In the next life, it seems impossible to say for sure how things might be reckoned. Obviously it’s something of an academic question for me (though I try to keep an open mind about different possibilities), but I’m enjoying discussing it here.


You made some very good points. Thank you for sharing them to also add balance to the unrefined words I use.

I guess I could have worded it better.
Any deed we do, good or bad, apart from God doing it through us, cannot bring Him glory. Isiaih 64:6

That is what I meant by “no better than”.

I was intending to demonstrate the power of Christ, who has the power to save all. None are too far from grace.

How would them suffering make any of us feel better? You seem to speak justice as making them suffer as much as they made others suffer.

Sure You value human life, but remember, we are all a mist, here today, gone tomorrow. But the Lord lives forever. He is the one ultimately slighted, and He is the judge, so we can trust in what He says/does is righteous. How much do you think God suffers watching people like the Khans? Or watching His children reject Him?

I don’t believe in “day of the dead,” where people or their efforts need to be remembered to ‘matter’. God’s glory matters, it is eternal. I would be thrilled if I could glorify God in this life, and could care less if I was remembered ever. I don’t see this life about me, but Him.

I am in no way attempting to trivialize the Holocaust.

Life is valuable, but not because of who we are, but because who He is, and what we can do with our lives. Loving our neighbors is great, God is glorified through that, because He is love, and we can only love because of who He is. There will be no love or a God in hell.

So if you love your neighbor for the sake of making earth a nice place, you are a wasting the full potential of your life, that is filthy rags, that is not what you were created to do. I don’t mean that in a condescending way, rather a compassionate way, God wants us to live life to the fullest John 10:10

I agree. I just think we need to use caution to say that God must do what we deem justice or He isn’t just. Or we must be made to feel better or God isn’t just. That was mostly what I was getting at.

Thanks, I agree with that.

I understand what you are saying and agree.

Thanks for the clarification. Makes sense.

I guess there were a few branches or thread derailments so I must have missed that as the point. Sorry.

I’m not sure I agree with that, though it is difficult/impossible to compare. The difference is you use society, which means many people, but in spiritual terms, it only God. God is the heavenly “society” and judge.

But if you could convince a society to forgive, then it would be just, as society sets the rules and demands justice, but if society agrees to extend grace, then justice is done.

Barabbas is an example. Society deemed his punishment null and it was so.

So when God deems us forgiven through the One who did something we can’t do, we are forgiven. Justice is served.

I guess it depends or your religion or mindset. If you understand that as a Christian, God is the judge, and we began our lives slighting Him greater than we can serve punishment for, requiring an eternal punishment for that slighting. That sounds fair to me.

But God loves us so much, in His mercy and grace, He sacrificed His only Son, to pay our punishment that we can’t, so justice could be served. That doesn’t sound fair to Him, but I am thankful He loves us and is merciful.

Just is a court/legal term. Meaning their is a set punishment/debt that must be paid, and in it being paid, justice is served.

Fair or unfair is not a legal term. It’s a very heavily subjective term. I think allowing someone else to pay our punishment is unfair, but I’m thankful God is ‘unfair’ and allows this and can be merciful and just.

It’s like having contenders in a 1 mile track race. From the start they run off the track. Some run a 3 min mile (inhumanly fast) others lay on the ground, some walk a 30min mile. Who wins?

None, there is no 1st place or 9th place, they didn’t run on the track, that was their purpose, they did not do their purpose. They are doomed to run or not run forever, they can never finish the race right? Some don’t even know where the track is anymore.

But then One, remained on the track, and finished the course. That One person will be rewarded with a victory party. And for all those who believe in that One who finished will also be able to join the victory party.

That is you trying to compare earthy acts and afterlife. It doesn’t matter how good or bad you are on earth, if you aren’t on the track tack, you can never finish.

It was never about punishing people for their acts off the track, it was always about an eternity off the track. Hell is an eternity from God, you can never glorify Him or live your purpose “off the track”. It was never about rewarding people for their speed off the track, it was about gracefully allowing those off the track to ‘party’ with the One winner and the One who Created the race and our purpose, IF they believed in the One winner.

But even then, after being invited, if you don’t want to give credit to the race creator or winner, or acknowledge the winner was sent by the loving creator, you won’t want to be there.

If all your sins are forgiven, but you still don’t want to acknowledge who God is, why would you want to spend an eternity with Him? You will spend it off the track, trying to your own thing, like you always did.

Thank you sir, I appreciate that. I agree it is a completely different mindset then the general “Christian” heaven is a reward for good deeds and hell is punishment for bad deeds narrative…which I don’t believe is Christian at all. Nor does Jesus or any scripture support.

My one problem with this ‘logic’ is that it can prevent us from truly knowing God, and His love (who was manifested to us in the human form in Jesus). Which also prevents us from living our life to the fullest, which is our purpose, to glorify Him.

But that is the gospel (which means good news) that I proclaim. I was never one to claim God as fire insurance think it makes any sense to scare people to saying some words.

So while I don’t agree that just loving all and inclusiveness is all that matters, I don’t feel a need to Bible thump either.

It isn’t my place to worry about the ends, rather to life my means. I live my best to glorify God (through allowing others to see God in me through my love for Him and others) and let God be in control of the ends (who goes where and why).

The gospel is not, nor has it ever been, how (certain steps) to avoid hell or to be rewarded in heaven. THAT is heresy in my opinion. The gospel is good news of how a loving and merciful God made a way (through a difficult sacrifice of His only Son) for us to be reconciled back to Him.

I think because you don’t believe God created us. But if you did, surely you would see this? A 5 year old can’t understand a spanking as good, no matter how you try to explain it, but if it registers pain, and thought to not run across the street and so he doesn’t get hit by cars from this pain, it is a good thing. A fathers ways are higher than the kid, who only thinks his dad is mean…unless the child knows they are loved, then learns to trust the father when their logic fails them.

Surely One who created the universe, the complex knife edge physics, constants or laws that are required for our universe to exist could have a higher thinking than you can understand. If that Creator says to trust their ways are higher and we might not be able to explain or understand, you would?

But again, that is only if you believe He created all of this.

It interests me, but it doesn’t effect the way I live. I still urge you/anyone that there is so much more to this life than what you are living apart from God. Salvation is about now, which extends to eternity and becomes easier after this life, but can save you and reconcile to God now. Seek your Creator and He will reveal Himself to you, and make your life whole and you will have an unexplainable/unfathomable joy.

Wow, you are a wise man. I didn’t want to quote your whole post, but great nuggets in there.

That is a good point. I don’t think I mean exactly that. Rather I more mean, I know God’s character, which is loving and merciful, so I might not always know everything He knows, nor be able to explain it, but I do know He is just, and I can always trust that.

Back to that child and dad. I cannot understand nor do I always agree what my dad does is the best, but I know of his love for me, and I can trust that above my logic

We are not, or have we ever been racking up any slate to be rewarded or punished in the afterlife. So a single act of repentance isn’t clearing the slate, it’s allowing you to come to the victory party that you were never going to be able to get to by your own effort anyway.

That isn’t fair, in a good/beneficial way for us. Why should we go to a victory party when we never finished the race? It is just though, if the rules say anyone who either finishes or is invited by the winner can go to the party.

I agree, it just towards you, but all participants.

(George Brooks) #159


It’s odd how “belief” would win one entrance to an infinite immortal life.
Sounds like my crazy demagogue oldest brother to me!

(John Dalton) #160

Sorry, but I wasn’t clear enough. I meant “is that fair” as in “is it fair for me to say that”. In other words, “is that correct”?

I guess it is, right? There’s not necessarily a connection between our earthly deeds towards other humans and our treatment in the after life? That’s all I’m really asking here. I guess this shows that there’s not a connection in your view:

We are not, or have we ever been racking up any slate to be rewarded or punished in the afterlife. So a single act of repentance isn’t clearing the slate, it’s allowing you to come to the victory party that you were never going to be able to get to by your own effort anyway.

I’m not trying to compare them. I’m trying to understand what the standards are and if they have any relation to my own conception of justice.

I don’t know, maybe I would. I’m just trying to gain an understanding of it at this point.

Is that the general view? It’s a bit of a mystery to me. My background is Catholic which has a pretty structured way of reckoning things, that doesn’t really fit into that description IMO.

For some people maybe. I think there are a lot more people who were brought up in other faiths and essentially locked into those systems of belief, and people who for whatever reason honestly don’t believe. This is just me, but there’s something to be said for love given freely without conditions.

That sounds very reasonable!

No, I don’t think so.

His ways are higher than ours, and if He allowed all mankind to suffer in hell for eternity, that is up to Him, He is still good and just and loving…

What is possibly “good and just and loving” about that. There’s no correlation with my understanding of those terms. Whatever you mean, it’s not what I mean when I use those words. Even if I believed in God, this wouldn’t make sense to me, and I’m pretty sure a lot of people would agree.

OK, but that’s not allowing him to suffer in hell for all eternity, is it?

If that’s higher thinking, I’ll stay down here.

It’s whole and fulfilling enough for me, thanks. But I appreciate the concern. That bit I refer to above confuses me, but we’re just talking about one statement there after all. There are other aspects of Christianity (keeping in mind that different people seem to have different conceptions of it in various ways) that make a lot more sense to me and I can relate to more.