Wednesday, July 09, 2008

GMPilot Has Questions

This morning, I thought that I would bring a very interesting portion of a conversation from my message board over to this blog. The conversation includes a former post about transcendent/nontranscendent good and evil. GMPilot and I have been having a detailed, ongoing conversation at my Talk Wisdom message board. That post is called Rationalizing God's Latest Felony .

The answers I have given so far are not complete. If visitors would like to join in this conversation, please feel free to do so!



From Original post: Two kinds of good. Defining transcendent good and nontrancendant good. Transcendent Good is that good than which a greater good cannot be conceived. From the perspective of the Christian worldview, there can be no greater good than eternal fellowship with the God who made us, loves us and redeems us through the salvific world of Jesus Christ, the eternal Son of God. It should not be difficult to see that all other goods that humans seek are nontranscendent.

GM: This is question-begging. It's pretty obvious that this view is not taken by Muslims, who believe that only God can save a soul, that he has no Son, and that all other 'goods' that humans seek are nontranscendent. I doubt that any other modern religion subscribes to the exact definitions given.Um, you did mean 'gods' not 'goods', right? Yeah, thought so.

No GM, I meant "goods" as in all other good "things, events, occurrences etc." pales in contrast to the transcendent good accomplished by Jesus Christ death for our sins and resurrection to life in order to be reconciled back to Holy God.

From Original Post: Romans 8:28. People who regard themselves as Christians ought to seek a better understanding of their worldview. That understanding requires them to know what their ultimate rule of faith and practice, the Christian Scriptures, have to say about their worldview. And finally they need to show that they have the strength to put the beliefs they profess into practice. One important passage in the New Testament that speaks to this point is Romans 8:28: "And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to his purpose." (NKJV)

GM: Another passage that speaks to this point is Luke 14:26~27: "If anyone comes to Me and does not hate his father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters, yes, and his own life also, he cannot be My disciple. And whoever does not bear his cross and come after Me cannot be My disciple." Are either of you prepared to abandon your siblings, your children, your spouses, to follow this guy? Well, most other Christians aren't either. Loving your spouses, your children, your fellow humans won't get you into God's presence--he's made that clear. One must believe in him and his son to get past the Judgment Room.See, this is where apologetics comes in: if God’s Chosen People don’t believe in him the way Christians do, then how can the Christians really be sure that they’re right?

This is yet another "been there, discussed that" typical rhetoric of yours. Remember the term "hyperbole" GM? Apply that here.

Your second question about "God's Chosen People" must mean the Jews. In Christian belief, there will come a time when the remnant of true Jewish believers (not the secular Jews) will come to believe in Jesus Christ. Many will do so as a result of the rapture. Many more will do so at Christ's second coming. They will realize that their long-awaited Messiah had already visited earth once before.

From Original Post: One more comment is needed. Does Romans 8:28 promise that everything works for good during the earthly existence of the people who are described in the latter part of the verse? Many competent expositors of the text think not. They believe the text reports that all things work together for good when viewed from the perspective of eternity. then and only then, they suggest, will believers fully recognize how the trials and travail of the Christian pilgrimage in this life have worked together for good.

GM: What about those competent expositors of the text who do think so, and how do they explain it? According to the Christian worldview, only God himself has the perspective of eternity. Since we ourselves do not, how can believers fully recognize how the trials and travail of the Christian pilgrimage in this life have worked together for good? Perhaps more importantly, how has the Christian pilgrim treated others he has met along his way? Did he share blessings, or enmity? Did he share fear, or knowledge? Did he explain his position as one among equals, of from a position of superiority? None of us, I think, are immune to those questions: I just happen to think that no god's judgment could be as severe as my own--if I'm honest with myself.

They don't explain it - at least not very well, that is.

We will realize it when we join Christ in heaven. At that time, we will have the same perspective that God has. For now, we see as "through a glass darkly." But in eternity, we will see clearly.

As far as "Christian pilgrims" treating others fairly or good, the fact is that only God is good. I know it's considered a cliche' by non-believers, but it briefly explains this paradox quite well: Christians are not perfect, just forgiven by a God who is."

GM: " I just happen to think that no god's judgment could be as severe as my own--if I'm honest with myself."

If that statement is true, then you have turned 180 degrees opposite of what you initially believed in this thread. You hold to the idea that God's judgment is not fair - and, in fact, what He does (or does not do) is evil. Therefore, having such a belief shows me that you believe (at least in past conversations) that God's judgment is to harsh and/or severe. Had a change of heart? If so, then there is REAL hope for you after all!!

From Original Post: Many of us know people who believe the verse reads like this: "All things work together for good, period." And because of this error, millions of people mistakenly think the promise in this verse applies to them. But the proper audience for this verse is the large company of people who not only love God but who are called according to God's own purpose. The full understanding of who these people are requires a fairly competent grasp of the entire New Testament.

GM: But it's so much easier to have certain men tell believers what to believe! That's what apologetics does--it tries to justify what and why Christians should believe this or follow that. The question of whether any of it is true doesn't seem to be considered. Catholic ecclesiastics have always used this "trickle-down" explanation of Holy Writ, while Protestants always insisted that the Bible should be interpreted by the individual. Apparently Protestants have mutated into the very mindset they originally broke away from. A Body of Christ full of individual-minded people isn't a Body at all, and it's taken them 400 years to realize that.

Perhaps I am guilty of not saying this often enough. However, I do believe it is extremely important for people to read the Bible and check for truth vs. error in what any Christian (even myself) says. That is why God's written word is there. To have that plumb line of truth in order for men to discern truth from error.

Those who try and pass off error by not adhering to Sola Scriptura get found out. Man and his secular, finite mind cannot trump Scripture or the infinite mind of God as revealed through the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit of God will NEVER lead a person to go against the truth of the Scriptures. NEVER! If a "spirit" of someone is doing that, then they are not from God!

Lastly, the Body of Christ contains believers at every stage of sanctification. There are the new believers who are just learning about Jesus and what the Bible says. There are the novices (to use skiing terms) who know a bit more, but may not be learned enough to teach yet. There are advanced, who have been studying long enough to be considered eligible to teach others. Then, there are the experts (like John MacArthur, Dr. David Jeremiah, Ravi Zacharias - to name a few) who have written Christian books that we can absolutely trust as solidly biblical and truthful. Recognizing the true, born-again experts out there vs. the heretics requires research on the part of the Bible student. But whatever an apologist says can be measured against the absolute truth contained in the Bible.

From Original Post: Paul's points can be expressed in terms of my earlier distinctions between transcendent and nontranscendent goods and evils. Is he not saying that all of the sufferings he experienced, which finally ended in his being stoned to death, were nontranscendent evils? And when finally compared to his ultimate standing in the presence of the the triune God, when he attains that transcendent good than which no greater good can be conceived, he will know that all things did work for good.

GM: There appears to be only one truly transcendent evil; not obeying God. Do that and he'll leave you hanging in the breeze.

No GM. The one transcendent evil is not believing in Jesus Christ whom God has sent to redeem us. Rejecting the Holy Spirit of God (who spiritually knocks on the door of the hearts of men) by rejecting Christ is what keeps man in bondage to sin - here and in eternity. We would all be doomed to an eternity without God if it were not for Christ's sacrificial death to pay the penalty for our sins.

Receiving Christ as Lord and Savior requires repentance for our sins. Repentance requires a humbling of oneself to admit that we cannot save ourselves on our own merits. You could be the most obedient person to God's Laws, yet still fall short of perfection. Why? Because only God is holy. When sin entered the world, man was separated from Holy God. Only the God-man, Jesus Christ, ever lived a sinless life. His sacrifice for our sakes was required in order for Righteous God to execute His Righteous Judgment. What would you think of a judge who allowed evil not to be punished? Because Christ took the punishment that you, and I, and every person who ever lived upon himself, God the Father looks at that sacrifice and is pleased that His judgment was satisfied. God the Father then sees our penalty for sin paid for by Jesus, so Jesus' righteousness is applied towards us. This is known as imputation. The meaning of that word is revealed in this definition from

3. (Theol.) A setting of something to the account of; the attribution of personal guilt or personal righteousness of another; as, the imputation of the sin of Adam, or the righteousness of Christ.

This past Sunday while listening to a sermon by Dr. David Jeremiah, I heard him say something like this (paraphrased):

God will not pour his grace into anything but empty hands.

He won't pour his grace into those who are full of themselves.

One last thing about your perceived view that the Body of Christ isn't "a Body at all."

The Bible informs us that there will always be a remnant of the faithful. Bible-believing and studying, born-again individuals within the Body of Christ can be considered that remnant.

You may ask where's my proof?

One case of proof could be considered the fact that I have many Internet Christian friends who have professed their faith in Jesus Christ and hold to solid, biblical truth so that we agree on the most important issue concerning the Gospel - to teach Jesus Christ and him crucified. That is our uniting factor.

Those who are in error (i.e. heretics, those involved in apostasy) usually try to minimize (or, in many sad cases, completely eliminate) the cross of Christ. That error seems to be their uniting factor.

From Original Post: Romans 8:18 I trust it is clear that all I am doing here is explaining important teachings of the worldview that millions of people believe. It is worth remembering that this is the same worldview that most proponents of the problem of evil hope to show unreasonable. A companion text to Romans 8:28 is Romans 8:18, which says, "For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us." Here the apostle Paul acknowledges the pain, grief and suffering that often afflict believers in this life. He implies that a day will come when believers can look back and say, "That was a really tough time in the life of my family. We cried a lot. We miss those who died before us. Those things really hurt. But when I am finally in the presence of the God who has always loved me, that earlier suffering just cannot be compared with the glory of what God has prepared for me."

GM: But this gives the lie to your claim that “...millions of people have worldviews that deny the existence of evil and affirm that such evils as pain and death are illusory.” For those who believe that, I would recommend the Baseball Bat empirical test: hit yourself (or be hit) repeatedly with one. If you can still regard the resultant pain as illusory, then you’re clearly a better man than I am.Paul’s pronouncements in Romans are merely a denial of death, and say nothing whatever about the problem of evil; he runs away from it as swiftly as most others do. In his infamous potter-and-clay analogy, Paul strongly implies that we fallen humans, wallowing in our evil, not only cannot judge what evil is, but that we cannot even know what it is. Amos and Isaiah speak more to evil than perhaps anywhere else in the Bible, and they acknowledge its source.

This section deserves a detailed answer. Unfortunately, I will need to come back later today to answer it. Hopefully, some of my Christian brothers and sisters will come along and give some insight in the comment section.

I am also including the rest of your post from the Talk Wisdom message board so that others who come along to read this can answer your charges.

From Original Post: Conclusion

Do I believe that I have answered the problem of evil? I know better than to think I could or should do this for everyone. I began this chapter by noting that every reader will approach this issue from the perspective of a worldview, many of which are incomplete, confused and incoherent. I explained my worldview and pointed out that many opponents of my worldview think the problem of evil is its greatest challenge. While I have admitted that I know no one who can explain every evil that occurs, it seems unreasonable to demand that people who share my worldview be able to do this. It is one thing to attack a worldview; it is far more demanding to offer a competing worldview such as naturalism or dualism or pantheism or anentheism that answers more questions and leaves fewer questions unanswered than the worldview of the Christian faith.

GM: I know of no one who can explain every evil that occurs, either. But for Christians to have a God who is said to be responsible for everything in the universe and then refuse to credit him for the evil as well as the good, implies a certain logical (and possibly moral) disconnect. Even in the face of their God's own words, Christians will bend over backwards to demonstrate that certain passages don't really mean what they say, or don't actually say what they say. In their eyes, a transcendent God not only would not do evil, he could not do evil.

But a truly transcendent God would, in the interests of 'a good than which a greater good cannot be conceived', would cause to be a situation where there is no evil, and so no need for salvation. All of us would automatically enjoy eternal fellowship with such a God. At this point, many Christians will say, "That's already been done, and we screwed it up," but that's not so. That first attempt was not perfect. God let it all fall apart when there were only two humans in the whole universe to watch over, so it's no surprise that he can't have fellowship with seven billion of us!

This is the real universe, not some theological cloud-cuckoo land. There is no non-transcendent good; there is no transcendent evil. There is only good and evil, and in Christian lore, their God is the author of both.

Given this claim, there’s no reason why the 2004 tsunami couldn’t be his latest “felony”, although he’s committed some new ones since then. (Just reminding you what the point of this whole thread is.)

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