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The Power of Prayer

Discussion in 'Christian Apologetics' started by cvanwey, May 4, 2019.

  1. gadar perets

    gadar perets Messianic Hebrew

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    Well, I certainly won't blame the Almighty. Nor will I believe He doesn't exist.
     
  2. cvanwey

    cvanwey Well-Known Member

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    This doesn't really answer my question. 'Blame' is figurative. What would you have done in my case?

    Though I admit humans have limited capacity, here's my assessment. My intent is/was pure. God did not bother to respond. Or I'm too dumb to recognize His response. Again, if my intent is pure, and conclude that 'god likely does not exist....' And according to the basic tenets of Christianity, is God going to allow me into heaven, if He should happen to be real?

    Well, being I'm familiar with the basics of 'Christianity', the answer would be a big fat 'no'.

    Please see the (6) options of the OP, for further inquiry.
     
  3. gadar perets

    gadar perets Messianic Hebrew

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    If I were you, I would not have concluded that God does not exist. It is ok to question why He is "seemingly" not answering, but in our "limited capacity" to understand, non-existence is not an option. At least not in my case based on how He has dealt with me in my decades of serving Him. You said you were a believer for "decades" as well. Yet, we have no idea what went on in those decades between you and Him. There is undoubtedly much you are not revealing. Perhaps you simply don't remember all the times He moved in your life. Perhaps you subconsciously blanked out those memories because of some trauma/tribulation you went through. Perhaps you are angry with Him and choose to interpret His actions as non-existent. Perhaps He really did refuse to answer you during those decades. There are many possibilities for what happened, but it is an impossibility from my perspective that Him not existing is one of them.
     
  4. InterestedAtheist

    InterestedAtheist Veteran

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    But it is. Everybody starts off as an atheist, in the sense of being without religion. Then, later, they often do become a theist of some kind. Statistically speaking, you probably became a Christian because you grew up with other Christians who taught you their religion, as part of a predominantly-Christian society; and if you say you didn't, well, all I can say is that you are an anomaly among Christians.
    So, it might be a good idea to look back and think: at what point did I move to calling myself a Christian, and what prompted it? Young people make all kinds of decisions that they later look back on and see as foolish. Is it possible that you made some mistakes when you were younger, some choices that you now regret? Is it possible that you didn't actually become a Christian based on thoroughly sound reasons?
    And how is that?
    Have you ever seen God?
    Have you ever heard His voice?
    Have you ever received any knowledge from God that you couldn't possibly have got as a part of normal life?
    Imagine a hypothetical: supposing that your life was all just an illusion. Supposing you were living, like Jim Carey on The Truman Show, surrounded by actors. Supposing there was really no such thing as Christianity, that it was all just invented as part of the show, and that all of the actors around you were just pretending to be Christians.
    How would you ever find out? We know God doesn't talk to people, except with "voices" or "feelings in their heart". God has not appeared on Earth for many centuries.
    You say God has dealt with you? I would be very interested to know if this dealing involved anything at all that could not have been produced by you just thinking that God exists.
     
  5. gadar perets

    gadar perets Messianic Hebrew

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    I grew up as a non-practicing Roman Catholic. Religion didn't really mean anything to me until I heard the Gospel for the first time as a 30 year old adult. I wanted what "Jesus" had to offer. Receiving him as my Savior certainly was not a foolish decision.

    No. Not with my ears. Yes.

    There is no way it was produced by me. It was the absolute most terrifying experience I ever had, one that I would not wish upon my worst enemy (if I had any). It lasted for six months until the terror was taken from me. At the same time, it was the absolute most convincing reason that led me to know for a fact that God exists. My faith in His existence was turned into factual knowledge. It is now an impossibility for me to ever believe He doesn't exist.
     
  6. InterestedAtheist

    InterestedAtheist Veteran

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    In other words, you grew up knowing all about God and then when you were ready to pick up a religion, you were already thoroughly familiar with Christianity, and primed to adopt it.
    I mean it sincerely when I say I not mean, in any way, to disrespect you or to diminish or belittle the unfortunate experiences you have suffered. I am very sorry that you went through a difficult time, and glad that you recovered. But you realise, I am an atheist; and so, because I don't believe that God exists, you must understand that I do not believe God got you out of your troubles. In fact, if I can turn this into a compliment, I believe that you, good luck, and friends got you out of whatever trouble it was. I would, of course, be very interested to hear the details of how it was God who helped you.
    Well, never say never. I dare say we have plenty of atheists around who once said similar things.
     
  7. gadar perets

    gadar perets Messianic Hebrew

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    Wrong. I knew practically nothing about God and was not looking to pick up any religion. I was a happy unbeliever when I first heard the Gospel (I didn't hear it during the first 30 years of my life). Even then, I had no need for it because I was told all good people go to heaven (a lie). It wasn't until the Almighty arranged to have a man die in my arms that I finally realized my need for what "Jesus" was offering. I did not want to die as that man did without first receiving the Son as my Savior.

    I would expect such a reply from an atheist, but you speak from ignorance since you do not know my circumstances. I am VERY hesitant to share them with you for fear of you belittling them. I will say that luck and friends had absolutely nothing to do with my recovery. No one even knew what happened to me. It was between me and God alone. Yes, I had a hand in getting out of my situation, but only by pouring my heart out in prayer. The actual release from my troubles could have only come from God.

    I doubt there is an atheist in this world who had a factual knowledge of God (not a faith knowledge), yet walked away from Him.
     
  8. Eight Foot Manchild

    Eight Foot Manchild His Supreme Holy Correctfulness

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    I also doubt that. Heck, I'll go further -

    No one in this world has, or has ever had, a 'factual knowledge of God'. Including you.
     
  9. gadar perets

    gadar perets Messianic Hebrew

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    I'm glad you agree with me about atheists. Since you don't know me and don't know what I know, you are not in a position to include me in your dogmatic statement.
     
  10. cvanwey

    cvanwey Well-Known Member

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    Okay, thanks. So it seems that Him NOT existing, is the only impossibility. Well then, it will be quite easy to demonstrate this. Please demonstrate the existence of Yahweh specifically.
     
  11. Eight Foot Manchild

    Eight Foot Manchild His Supreme Holy Correctfulness

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    Considering no one has 'factual knowledge of god', that's hardly profound.

    I don't have to be a mind reader to make that statement. All I have to know is that you can't see into the future.

    You would say that any believer who later becomes an atheist had a 'faith knowledge of god', as opposed to a 'factual knowledge'.

    But since you can't see into the future, you have no means of gleaning in the here and now which believers will eventually become atheist. Including yourself.

    Therefor, you cannot reliably apply those categories to anyone. All you can do is use them as a post hoc excuse for why people fall away from belief.
     
    Last edited: May 11, 2019
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  12. gadar perets

    gadar perets Messianic Hebrew

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    I cannot demonstrate His existence. However, He demonstrated His existence to me. Skeptics and atheists will belittle or totally dismiss what happened to me as proof that He exists, but that is irrelevant. What matters is that my experience proved TO ME beyond any doubt that He does exist even though that is not what my experience was meant to do. It was simply a reality that accompanied my experience.
     
  13. gadar perets

    gadar perets Messianic Hebrew

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    What does knowing the future have to do with what I experienced in the past?

    You are the one that talks dogmatically by saying, "No one in this world has, or has ever had ...". I simply said, "I doubt ..."

    Correct, but we are not talking about the future, but about the present or past.

    I never used them as an excuse. If anything, I would use it as an excuse for why people would NOT fall away from belief.
     
  14. InterestedAtheist

    InterestedAtheist Veteran

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    Still much as I expected. You grew up in a Christian society, surrounded by Christians, and whether you were practising or not, you were certainly familiar with the Christian religion. You say you "knew practically nothing" about Christianity but, without doubting your word at all, I should think you are underestimating the amount of knowledge that any person growing up in a predominantly Christian society will pick up. Since you say you knew nothing about God and were not looking to pick up religion, I'm guessing that you were also completely unfamiliar with any other religion, or with atheist arguments. And so, when the circumstances in your life prompted you to look for sometime more meaningful, you were primed to simply moved in to the dominant religion of your culture, like almost every other Christian alive.
    I promise I am not belittling your sincerity at all. But looking at what you just said, I do not see a choice resulting from good reasons, but rather an emotional choice.
    Again, I'm an atheist. I do not believe that God exists. And if He does not exist, then He couldn't have helped you in your difficulties.
    I quite understand your reluctance to share a deeply personal experience, and I will not press you for it. But I can only say, experiences with God which turn out to be genuinely inexplicable are very rare, and "experiences" with God that turn out to be unfounded are extremely common.
    What do you mean by "factual v. faith" knowledge?
    There are certainly plenty of atheists, alive today and in history, who once believed with complete sincerity that God was real and that they had a relationship with Him. But at some point in their life, they went through the realisation that children go through with their imaginary friends: the person they are talking to doesn't actually exist. You may have heard of Dan Barker. He was a well-known preacher and Christian composer. He saved hundreds of souls, brought people to Christ, and talked to God every day. But after a while, he necame aware of an intellectual hunger. He found himself becoming interested in learning new things. He began a process of reading philosophy and science. His views started to become more liberal, and more mature.
    And then, one day, he realised that God didn't actually exist. I think @cvanwey might be interested in this little snippet from Dan Barker's book, Godless (if he hasn't read it already) because their experiences don't seem too different:

    "During those years of migration, I went through an intense inner conflict. On the one hand I was happy with the direction and fulfillment of my Christian life; on the other hand, my intellectual doubts were sprouting all over. Faith and reason began a war within me. And it kept escalating. I would cry out to God for answers, and none would come. Like the lonely heart who keeps waiting for the phone to ring, I kept trusting that God would someday come through. He never did. The only proposed answer was faith, and I gradually grew to dislike the smell of that word. I finally realized that faith is a cop-out, a defeat—an admission that the truths of religion are unknowable through evidence and reason. It is only indemonstrable assertions that require the suspension of reason, and weak ideas that require faith. Biblical contradictions became more and more discrepant, and apologist arguments became more and more absurd. When I finally discarded faith, things became more and more clear."
     
  15. gadar perets

    gadar perets Messianic Hebrew

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    I did not embrace the dominant religion. I embraced a man called "Yeshua" and his claims. My relationship is with a person, not a religion.

    If a person burns their hand on a stove, is he making an emotional choice to believe the stove exists and was hot or was it a rational, factual choice? Such was the foundation for my rational, factual choice to know God exists.

    Therein lies your problem. No matter what I say, you will hold to your belief that God does not exist.

    Mine is in the "very rare" category.

    Knowledge based on firsthand facts vs. knowledge based on faith without firsthand facts. There are facts in Scripture such as "God created the heavens and the earth", but since we do not have firsthand accounts of that, such knowledge is based on faith that the account is true. There are also facts in Scripture that are firsthand to some people. For example, the apostles had firsthand facts that Yeshua resurrected from the dead. That is not a firsthand fact for me since I wasn't there. So my belief in the resurrection of Yeshua is based on faith, but to the apostles it was based on fact. My experience is based on firsthand fact. No atheist can take that from me or poo poo it away.

    This man did not have a firsthand experience. It was all based on faith. His faith failed because it was weak. My faith that God exists is strong because it is based on firsthand knowledge of Him and not just on faith in what Scripture says.
     
  16. InterestedAtheist

    InterestedAtheist Veteran

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    So you don't go to church? Read the Bible? Believe the same things as most other Christians?
    Even if you do have a relationship with Jesus, it's still a part of the religion of Christianity.
    I found a sincere Christian online who puts it very well:
    Christianity: It's Not a Religion, It's a Relationship - Micah J. Murray
    It's a short article, and worth reading. Here's an excerpt:
    "We really should avoid the catchy “relationship not religion” phrase because we aren’t fooling anyone. We may think we are helping look God look good to “nonbelievers” by distancing Him from all the negative connotations of religion. But really, we are lying. In conversation with those around us, we are not allowed to make up new definitions for words. We can’t redefine religion as “trying to earn God’s favor”. Because if we are engaging in a public discourse, the words we use must carry the meanings assigned to them by the public. And the definition of “religion” is: “a set of beliefs concerning the cause, nature, and purpose of the universe, usually involving devotional and ritual observances, and often containing a moral code governing the conduct of human affairs.” (dictionary.com)"

    I know a stove exists. I can see it, touch it, feel it burn me. But if a child heard a story about the boogeyman under the bed, is she making an emotional decision to run to mommy and daddy's bed, or a rational one?
    Or, to put it another way: by your own admission, you did not become a Christian because any rational reason was presented to you; you did so because you suddenly felt a strong emotional response to life events.
    If you did have any rational reasons for becoming a Christian, I would be interested to hear them.

    No, that doesn't actually follow. Right now I'm an atheist, so right now I don't believe you had an encounter with God because I don't believe that a God exists for you to have encountered.
    Of course, if someone were to present any valid reasons or evidence for believing that God exists, I would re-evaluate my position.

    And you are perfectly within your rights not to share your story. However, I will then be unable to change my opinion, from experience of all the other Christian conversion stories I have ever heard, which are based solely on...well, what would you say is the reason that a person becomes a Muslim, or a follower of the Norse gods, or a believer in fairies? Do you think they actually have valid and rational reasons for their decision?
    I'll let Dan Barker answer that one; from his book, Godless.
    Since I have become an atheist I often hear from believers who tell me that I could not possibly have been a true Christian or I would never have left Christianity. If I had truly known Jesus personally, like they do, then I would never have denied him. I must have been merely pretending to convince myself that God was real, they insist. Well, yes, I know exactly what they are saying. I used to preach that sermon. I preached it, believed it, knew it and felt it. If I did not have an authentic relationship with God, then why not? Why would God reveal himself to them, and not to me? I read the same bible, prayed with an open, humble spirit, and received inner confirmation of a “presence” witnessing to the truth of what I believed. If what I felt was phony, why would a good God allow me to be so deceived? (And how does anyone else know they are not being deceived as well?)
    I had no doubts at all that what I experienced was authentic, not until near the end of my ministry. I sometimes ask these people, “Who are you to decide who is a true Christian?” Jesus said, “Ye shall know them by their fruits” and my life exhibited the “fruits of the spirit.” Paul wrote that “the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance: against such there is no law.” I was not perfect—nobody is—but judging by the bible, no one else can make a stronger claim to being a Christian. I had been “born again” and believed it and announced it. I had been “filled with the spirit” and lived it. I had dedicated myself to a life of ministry. I was a “doer of the Word, not a hearer only.” I had lived by faith, putting my life, health and future on the line—how many “true believers” have done that? I prayed, spoke in tongues and “sang in the spirit.” I searched the scriptures for guidance. I knew that Jesus was my friend, lord and savior, and I had a daily inner dialogue with him, asking for help and praising him for his blessings. I had brought people to faith in Jesus and had seen many converts. I had heard countless testimonies of believers who told me they felt the “spirit of God” on my ministry (unless they were not true Christians either). There are people in the ministry today who credit me with helping to inspire them to preach and become ministers. I was invited and re-invited to minister in hundreds of Christian churches. How many “true Christians” can say they have done as much?
    The reason I rejected Christianity was not because I did not understand or experience it. It wasn’t because I despised God or hated the Christian life. I loved what I was doing and never imagined throwing it away.
    If I was not a true Christian, then nobody is.
     
  17. Eight Foot Manchild

    Eight Foot Manchild His Supreme Holy Correctfulness

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    If you can only apply the categories post hoc, you would have to know the future for them to have any meaning here and now.

    I doubt a great many things, but on this particular point, I don't. I know you do not possess magical future-reading powers. As such, you cannot reliably apply the categories of 'faith belief' and 'factual belief' to anyone.

    That's not 'dogmatic'. That's just an application of basic logical principles.

    Yes we are. You have no means of gleaning, here and now, who has 'faith belief' and who has 'factual belief'. You can only apply those categories after someone deconverts.

    Yes you did. As an explanation for why people fall away from your beliefs. You said people who fell away didn't have 'factual belief'. That's an excuse.

    You should try considering the idea that maybe they became unconvinced for reasons other than the one you're trying to stick on them.
     
  18. gadar perets

    gadar perets Messianic Hebrew

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    No. Home fellowship.

    Daily

    Major doctrinal differences.

    I have a relationship with the man, Messiah Yeshua, not the God/Man Jesus who gives his people freedom to trample on the holy Sabbath Day and other holy days and eat all manner of abominable flesh.


    My use of "religion" was based on your use of "the dominant religion" implying Christianity. I prefer "the service and worship of God" Miriam-Webster. However, I would revise that to say, "the service and worship of YHWH."

    That child would be making an emotional decision. That has no parallel with a tangible object such as a stove. In my case, the stove touched me and it burned me. That, however, has nothing to do with my becoming a believer. I was a believer for about 29 years before I had my firsthand encounter with the Almighty. I had no rational reason to believe the Gospel when I heard it. I did not want to die in my sins without receiving Yeshua as my Savior. I came to believe through fear. That fear has turned to love. "Perfect love casts out fear" (1 John 4:18).

    Good.

    At this point in history it is a matter of faith. No one has firsthand knowledge of anything in Scripture when they first believe unless Yeshua himself or an angel visited them. I will pray about sharing my story with you.

    I have no doubt that he was a true Christian. Unlike many Christians, I believe a true believer can lose faith and salvation. I see nothing in this account that leads me to believe he had a firsthand encounter with God. As he said, he lived by faith.
     
  19. gadar perets

    gadar perets Messianic Hebrew

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    I can apply them to myself.

    Anyone who tells me they had a firsthand encounter with God has a factual belief.

    I said no such thing. I said, "I doubt there is an atheist in this world who had a factual knowledge of God (not a faith knowledge), yet walked away from Him." That doesn't mean there could not possibly be any. Nor is it an excuse. It is simply something I doubt exists. If my assumption is wrong, then point me to an atheist who did have a factual belief.

    People lose faith for all sorts of reasons. I am not limiting anyone's reasons or trying to stick one on them.
     
  20. cvanwey

    cvanwey Well-Known Member

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    Well, God did not bother with me. Thus, if you were in my shoes, I would bet you might feel as I do... That it is likely one of the (6) provided options at the bottom of the OP.
     
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