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A hopeless theology?

Discussion in 'General Theology' started by Sojourner<><, Nov 14, 2006.

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  1. Sojourner<><

    Sojourner<>< Incoherent Freedom Fighter

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    This morning on my way to school I tuned in to a Bible radio broadcast. The program was on a lesson of God's sovereignty and His involvement in natural disasters. The preacher made the statement that we must consider God to have directly willed for all natural tragedies that have occurred. My own position on the subject is that God specifically causes some tragedies since He is sovereign but that some tragedies (and not all) are an indirect effect of the curse on this world. The preacher I listened to then commented on this view and stated that it is a "hopeless theology", but he failed to qualify his statment, at least in my own opinion. In doing so he attempted to assert that the Bible is not as concerned with defending God's character as much as some theologians (like me) are and that God can be very harsh in punishing us when He judges us. I agree about the judgement bit but I don't believe that He wants to judge the world because He loves the world (please note that I am not saying that God is a big softy and that He will forgive all sin and not punish anybody).

    If you agree with him in that it is in fact a hopeless theology, can you explain why?

    Furthermore, if you do please consider these 3 questions: If you have a child that disobeys you, would it be your will to spank that child? (I would answer yes). Do you want to spank that child? (I hope not). And would it have been your will for the child to disobey so that you could spank that child? (if you answer yes to this question please provide your name, address, and names of your children so I can report you.)

    My point is that if any one person answered yes to all three of those questions, I think we could safely assume that his/her character is more than slightly flawed when it comes to parenting. Yet this is precisely the kind of theology I hear coming from someone who holds the view of the preacher I listened to this morning.

    Any thoughts?
     
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  2. eladoni

    eladoni And the Brain.

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    Luke 21:9-11 says: 9When you hear of wars and revolutions, do not be frightened. These things must happen first, but the end will not come right away." 10Then he said to them: "Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. 11There will be great earthquakes, famines and pestilences in various places, and fearful events and great signs from heaven.

    Now, the question for us remains: why must these things happen first? To that, I have no answer. It is in God's will that we don't know. But it is enough for us, as christians, to know that it must happen.
    It is just like "why did Jesus have to die? Why couldn't God just forgive our sins because he is God and he can?" That remains in the divine will unscrutable.
    All we have to know, is that God in his mercy decided that is the way it must be.

    Secondly, we know that we are in a broken world full of sin. We may interperate a natural disaster as a warning, or judgement, but I do not know if it is the right attitude to take.

    We are not called to judge, but to minister. Let's leave the Judging to God, and the reasons to him while we go into the world and preach the good news to all nations, as Jesus' parting words to his disciples proclaim.

    I think the real answer, is that we don't have the answer. lol.

    Chris.
     
  3. seanHayden

    seanHayden Well-Known Member

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    How about not building cities below sea level, building with earthquakes in mind, burning dry brush, spending a nickle or two of that money on evacuation methods, heeding early warning systems, sponsering bills to build specialized damns etc.?

    This reminds me of an old preachers story:

    A religious man was surprised by a flash flood and barely made it to the roof before his house was swept away. The water was rising fast. He prayed to God for help. About that time a boat came around and the captain pleaded with the man to get in. The man replied, &#8220;I&#8217;m o.k. God is going to save me.&#8221; And so the boats captain left to search for more survivors. Now the water was cresting over the roof, and again the man prayed to God. Just as soon as he finished praying he looked up to see a rope being lowered from a bridge; people were pulling survivors up and out of the water. Some of them shouted at the man to grab the rope. The man replied, &#8220;I&#8217;m o.k. God is going to save me.&#8221; And the current swept him under and past the bridge. Now the water had completely consumed his house and he was drifting unprotected in the current. This time he shouted to God for help. Over the roar of the river the man heard a helicopter approaching. The men inside lowered a ladder and pleaded with the man to grab hold. But, the man replied, &#8220;I&#8217;m o.k. God is going to save me.&#8221; Then he lost his strength, slipped under the wakes and drowned.

    In Heaven the man stood before God. He was noticeably upset. Seeing that the man was upset God asked him, &#8220;Why are you angry?&#8221; The man replied, God, I have always had faith in you, and even though I was in that flood I trusted you would save me, and still I died in that flood.

    God replied, I sent you a boat first, I lowered a rope second, and finally I sent you a helicopter! What more did you need!?
     
  4. billwald

    billwald Contributor

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    Post presents two problems. First, Godel demonstrated that all logical systems are ultimately circular (The proof is beyond my ability) and this includes all theologies.

    Second, this may be true but some observations are universally pragmatically correct such as one plus one equals two . God gave us brains and most so-called natural evil events are due to bad human decisions. Can't blame it on God when tornados go through Tornado Alley. It isn't efficient to write off two thirds of all the USofA for living space because of tornados and earthquakes but if an earthquake takes out my house I'm going to compain to God. Living in western Washington State is worth the risk.
     
  5. Sojourner<><

    Sojourner<>< Incoherent Freedom Fighter

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    That's an interesting anology. I think the book of Nehemiah would be a great example of this.
     
  6. Sojourner<><

    Sojourner<>< Incoherent Freedom Fighter

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    Sorry but do you mean that if your house is destroyed you won't complain to God?
     
  7. tyler4588

    tyler4588 Member

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    In Lamentations 3, the author complains that he feels that God has "made my teeth grind on grave", and that He "shuts out my prayer", and that "He has put heavy chains on me." He's lamenting the destruction of Jerusalem by the Babylonians. This is the same city that God once set aside for His people. Now it is destroyed. Later in this same chapter, the author says:

    Who can command and have it done, if the Lord has not ordained it? Is it not form the mouth of the Most High that good and bad come? Why should any who draw breath complain about the punishment of their sins?

    Clearly, God is shown here to be the cause of not only the destruction of Jerusalem, but everything that a person may consider "evil". You see, when we seek to understand God's character, we can't believe that His highest interest is humans. He doesn't value humans most in the universe. He values Himself! What you may see as evil, the destruction of human beings, God sees as part of a bigger picture, a bigger plan, namely, the glorification of Himself! Does this mean that God is selfish? Yes, it does. For if God didn't value His glory above everything else, He wouldn't be seeing Himself as God. How does it make sense that God committed the most selfless act of all by sending Jesus to die for us? Well, God did it out of love for us, but a love that ultimately brings glory to Himself.
    So it's not that it's out of God's character that He chooses to bring about disaster. It is working towards His will, His glorification.
     
  8. briangold

    briangold New Member

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    I think that's all of us. All the time!
     
  9. Sojourner<><

    Sojourner<>< Incoherent Freedom Fighter

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    Where did you learn this?
     
  10. OldWiseGuy

    OldWiseGuy Wake me when it's soup. Supporter

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    This is exactly what God is doing. He created us in such a way that he knew we would sin. He knew that he would then punish us for those sins. He will "chastise every son that he loves".

    Every parent who knows what he/she is doing awaits the event that will demand the punishment of their children, for their own good. Only bad parents don't prepare for this.

    If the appropriate bible verses don't come immediately to mind for you, I suggest you do some studying on the subject.

    oldwiseguy-Veteran parent.
     
  11. Sojourner<><

    Sojourner<>< Incoherent Freedom Fighter

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    So do you mean that God desires that we disobey?
     
  12. tyler4588

    tyler4588 Member

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    Read the text of Lamentations 3. It's all there.
     
  13. Sojourner<><

    Sojourner<>< Incoherent Freedom Fighter

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    So this is based on your own study?
     
  14. tyler4588

    tyler4588 Member

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    I apologize, I should have made it more clear. The quotes were straight from the text of the Bible. I think that the idea that God caused the destruction of Jerusalem is easily inferrable from the quotes I posted. As for justification of the statement that God values Himself more than He values us, that is a bit more complex. I'll put it like this: God, being God, is the standard of truth. This means that ultimately, what God "believes" and "knows" is reality. It's not that reality conforms to God's beliefs and knowledge, it's that reality IS God's beliefs and knowledge. The truth is that God is the most valuable thing in the universe. God is more valuable than any human being can ever be. If you accept those two statements, that what God says is reality is reality, and that reality is that God is the most valuable thing in the universe, then you must come to the conclusion that God believes that He is most valuable in the universe. It is not the souls of human beings that God values above everything else. For if it were, then He would make us out to be gods, as if we were greater than Him. That is why God is okay for the Bible to call God a jealous God. It's not evil to be self-centered if God IS the center. I hope this made some sense. I kind of threw out a whole theological spew in just a paragraph.
     
  15. Sojourner<><

    Sojourner<>< Incoherent Freedom Fighter

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    Ok, first of all we have to tread carefully here. The hebrew word for "evil" used in Lamentations 3:38 is "ra` " (Strong's H07451). If you look up the definition you'll see that it can be used for both catastrophe and moral evil, but it doesn't have to mean both. This is demonstrated more clearly in Isaiah 45:7. In this verse you can see how the word for evil is contrasted with it's opposite, which is peace. Perhaps the english words 'war' or 'strife' would have been better matches for this.

    When we attribute moral evil to the will of God, we end up in an area called theological dualism in which God is the source of both good and evil. This is a theology that is basically heretical as it is a common theme in some eastern religions like taoism. But we know that none is good but God Himself. Moral evil is that which is against God, for how can a house stand if it be divided against itself?

    Yes, God is God and to Him belongs all glory, but I'm not so sure about this selfishness bit. Jesus is the image of the invisible God and He demonstrated the excellence of His character flawlessly. We can't say that Jesus is selfish at all.

    IMO, this doctrine of selfishness sounds like something that came out of the church in the pre-civil war bible belt of America. You know, all those plantation owners probably needed something to justify their lifestyles don't you think?
     
  16. tyler4588

    tyler4588 Member

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    Again, I apologize for my lack of clarity.

    I agree about your conclusions about the word evil. That's why I put it in quotations and used in in reference to what humans think of as evil. There is certainly a difference between moral evil and what human beings percieve to be moral evil. But anyways, I definitely do see where you're coming from. I suppose that it depends on your theology, but I just can't see how you can attribute the existence of moral evil to anything but God. Again, I quote the same verse from Lamentations: "Is it not from the mouth of the Most High that good and bad come?" Where could evil have come from if it had not been the will of God? If evil existed despite God's opposition to it, then that would mean there is something greater than God that is able to oppose Him. It's not that I'm saying that God is some guy that runs around without standards, saying "I'll do evil here, then I'll do good there." It's that God ultimately uses evil to bring about greater good, namely the glorification of Himself. He uses the existence of evil to show us His highest love in allowing us to choose Him. This brings Him glory! If we had not had the choice to choose evil, then how could we attempt to glorify Him as anything other than robots?

    I must ask you, why was Jesus so selfless? Was it to glorify humans above Himself? Was it to say that human beings are greater or more important than God? I would hope not. He did it to show His love for us. By showing His love for us, He pointed towards His greatness. He didn't point at the greatness of human beings by dying on that cross. If anything, it accentuated the fact that we are so desperate that we need someone else to save us. He died on the cross to show that His love is more powerful than any other love. He was pointing towards His glory.

    I think I chose the wrong word when I said "selfish". You see, it is when God is most glorified that we are most satisfied. Basically, we would be less "happy" (though I know that's not the right word for what I'm trying to say) if God were less glorified. So by Him glorifying Himself, God is doing what is in our best interests; He is giving us exactly what we need: a view of His glory. I definitely didn't intend to sound as if I were justifying slavery or any kind of nonsense like that. Far from it. In fact, my view accentuates how unrighteous humans are, and how much we depend on the judgement (not judgement like a courtroom, but judgement as in discernment) of God for us to make right choices.
     
  17. Sojourner<><

    Sojourner<>< Incoherent Freedom Fighter

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    No need. Misunderstandings are bound to happen.

    I've been putting alot of thought into this area as of late, but I'm lacking in the specific terminology needed to give you a definitive answer. Basically, here's how I see it: The character of God is not one of an all powerful king who spends his time punishing and rewarding people towards the chief end of attaining praise and worship from people for his own glory as this is what we would naturally expect from a human in his position. Instead, God, being God, is so awesome that He can do nothing but glorify Himself. Everything He does brings glory to His name. Yet we must learn to glorify Him for our own good in that He is the source of all glory. If we do not glorify Him we end up glorifying ourselves, which is a big fat lie that leads to pride, selfishness and a downward spiral.

    Where His allowance of evil comes in falls under His sovereignty. Alot of people think that sovereignty means the total control that a puppet master has over a puppet. Another way to look at it is as if God has the final word, the last say or highest authority. His power can be involved in a puppeteer sort of way or He can allow His creation to do what He created it to do. This view would allow for His preservation of free will without interfering with His authority. Furthermore, it's compatible with the natural laws that are so clearly observed in things like the cycle of the solar system and the seasons... etc. And yet God can interrupt these like He did in the book of Joshua.

    Well yes Jesus' death and resurrection did glorify God but let's not forget that he came to seek and save that which was lost. He did it for us. Not for our glory but for our salvation. To me, that shows His character to be gracious and merciful. If it were only for His glory... well, I just don't like where that leads.

    Now this is where I agree with you (I think). It's just His motives that I disagree with you about.

    I didn't mean to insinuate that you support slavery. It's just my opinion of the viewpoint. We have to check our sources.
     
  18. OldWiseGuy

    OldWiseGuy Wake me when it's soup. Supporter

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    God has ordained that we disobey. It's a dirty job, but someone has to do it.
     
  19. Sojourner<><

    Sojourner<>< Incoherent Freedom Fighter

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    But that means that he authorized it, like he ordains pastors or marriage. Somehow I don't think that's quite it.

    This is what the Bible teaches: 1) God creates man. 2)God commands man not to sin. 3) Man sins and suffers the consequence.

    If god authorized disobedience then why did he tell man not to sin? Was he misleading man? Definately not.

    Perhaps His apparent allowance of sin, disobedience and evil extends from His mercy. If God was not merciful wouldn't He have destroyed this earth already?
     
  20. CaliforniaJosiah

    CaliforniaJosiah Well-Known Member Supporter

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    Some of MY relatively worthless thoughts...


    1. There is primary and secondary will: Primary is unconditional (kinda theoretical) and secondary is conditional (in this situation). I do something wrong. Mom punishes me. Does she WANT to punish me - is that her primary will in life? No. But I've done something bad - that reality (a negative one) is taken into consideration. Will she punish me? Probably...


    2. There's a distinction (however difficult philosphically) between PERMITTING something (even empowering it) and DESIRING or CAUSING that to happen. Does God allow (even empower) the earthquake to happen? Okay. Does He specially will and desire it to happen? Maybe not.


    I think there are things in our living/trusting/relying relationship with God that logically we don't know or understand. What else is new? NONE of my relationships in my life are perfectly understood, LOL. But He holds my hand. I hold His.




    In the words of that classic American philosopher Forrest Gump, that's all I have to say about that.



    :scratch:



    - Josiah



    .
     
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