Belief in god/supreme power

Manwë was known for many things, but wisdom and power are two that lead the rest of his attributes. Join the Councils and discuss the more weighty matters of Tolkien Fandom.

Postby Tuor, » Fri Jul 06, 2001 6:40 am

Gargoyle,<BR><BR>I was talking about your second to last paragraph. I should have quoted it, but I didn't and I'm not going to, but go back and read it again, the part about if there were a God, he wouldn't want to be worshipped.<BR><BR>There seems to be a contradiction in what you said and how you responded to my post.
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Postby the_Wanderer » Fri Jul 06, 2001 9:17 am

Beleg-hope you're not offended but most of your posts are VERY long and since school started this year my workload has increased tenfold-at least. I hardly have enough time to go through some of the shroter posts and yours are the ones that will be read at leisure on the weekends because they're long and very, very deep. Not most of the baseless religious arguements that many orthodox christians make.
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Postby Erenduil » Fri Jul 06, 2001 9:37 am

Hullo ~ I think much of this discussion is good. You all are talking and thinking through some very important and hard topics. As for me, yes I do with all my heart and soul believe in God and in His son Jesus Christ. However, I can see what some of you mean when you feel like we, Christians/Believers, are preaching fire and brimstone messages to you. I know that, "You must believe what I believe or else you're going to hell" can and I'm sure does sound very arrogant. And to you Christians, I warn you that, although it is what I believe as well, it doesn't make our message very appealing to present it in this way.<BR><BR>To all, yes I am a Christian, and yes I believe that those who do not repent will be condemned, but I do not believe that we should be forceful in our message. It is more profitable for us as wel as those who we talk to for us to be mild mannered in our speach.<BR><BR>Again, I think that it is very good for you all to be talking about and thinking about this topic, and I hope that there will be lasting effects on both sides of the "debate".<BR><BR>Erenduil<BR><BR>PS - If anyone has any questions please feel free to ask.
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Postby Khamul'sshadow » Fri Jul 06, 2001 10:07 am

Erenduil : You're both polite and honest ( even if you're telling me,<BR>very diplomatically, that I'll be sent packing to Hades when the time<BR>comes <img src="i/expressions/face-icon-small-smile.gif"border=0> ) This forum might have a little less rancour if we had<BR>more people like you around. Care to join the Philosophers' Guild ? <img src="i/expressions/face-icon-small-smile.gif"border=0><BR>
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Postby Erenduil » Fri Jul 06, 2001 11:04 am

Shadow ~ thank you so much for the invite to the Philosipher's guild, I think I will join, where might I find it? <i>God Bless</i>. (haha)<BR><BR>Erenduil<BR><BR>Ps ~ Shadow - Hoping that this might help a little, as a Christian I believe that we all are deserving to be condemned. Therefore I am just as you are. I'm no better, no worse. The only difference is where I find my identity. So you see, that is why I must tell you about my faith, but also why I cannot righteously judge you. I am your equal as you are mine.
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Postby asaris » Fri Jul 06, 2001 12:12 pm

Xeifdam, did you ever think that maybe, just maybe, God doesn't going around handing out faith like a grandfather handing out candy? That God isn't here to cater to your whims? Faith is not a gift from God. Faith is an act of will on our part (salvation is the gift from God). If you want to believe, believe. If you have doubts, don't worry, everyone does (I'm sometimes doubt my Christianity. I'm sure most atheists sometimes doubt their atheism). Go to church. Talk to a priest or pastor. Belief isn't a feeling or an emotion. It's an act of will, something we have more control over than anything else in our lives.
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Postby Apostasy » Fri Jul 06, 2001 12:34 pm

Whether presented directly as a threat, or quietly noted, the fact remains that salvation as described here is a system in which people are either blessed or tortured merely by virtue of what they happen to believe. <BR>Whether or not such a system even exists, I have always found it unsettling that so many are morally unperturbed by the suggestion that it might. <BR><BR><i>asaris: Xeifdam, did you ever think that maybe, just maybe, God doesn't going around handing out faith like a grandfather handing out candy? </i><BR><BR>Depending on what sort of Chrisitian one is talking to, this is exactly what must happen before one can have faith. You happen to be of a different view as to how faith works. There is a great diversity of opinion on this, as with most other matters, even in the Christian belief system. <BR><BR>As for me, I cannot justify having, in any sense, faith in something until I find a good reason to do so. As far as I can tell, I agree that belief indeed IS an active step, but it is one I can honestly take only when good reasons exist to justify it.<BR><BR><i>asaris: I sometimes doubt my Christianity. I'm sure most atheists sometimes doubt their atheism</i><BR><BR>Technically speaking, atheism is not "doubted" because it is not itself a "belief" that one can have doubts about. Someone in the situation you refer to would be considering theism, not "doubting" atheism. Atheism is the descriptive term for a _lack_ of a certain belief, not a measure of anti-belief.
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Postby Ithmial » Fri Jul 06, 2001 12:56 pm

Hello,<BR> I belive the same things as Erenduil and that us as humans can not truely tell people about what Christ truely is like if we force them to listen to us. We should show kindness to everyone, as Christ did to us we do not have to belive what other people belive but we definetly should respect their belifes even if we dont agree.
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Postby Kelannar » Fri Jul 06, 2001 1:10 pm

"Atheism is the descriptive term for a _lack_ of a certain belief, not a measure of anti-belief."<BR><BR>Like the Know-Nothings? Riiiight.... <BR><BR>Isn't agnosticism the belief that one cannot know whether God exists or not? Athieism is the belief that God does not exist at all.<BR><BR>"I think the greatest problem we have as a species is our need to force our ideals and beliefs on others."<BR><BR>What does it mean to "force" a belief on a person? How does one do that, exactly? Is talking about what you believe "forcing" it on someone? If you hold a gun to someone's head and tell him to believe something, and he says he does, even though he clearly does not, is that "forcing" a belief on someone? Does a military draft "force" a belief on someone? What about teaching students the history of the American Revolution - does this "force" beliefs of republican democracy and independence on unsuspecting students, who might've preferred to have been monarchists and totalitarian dictators? What if you have a club that admits only people who hold the same ideas - like the Democrat party? Does that "force" beliefs on a person? Are commercials guilty of this? What about a commercial asking you to call your congressman to get him to support a woman's "right" to choose abortions? Is THIS a forcing of a belief?<BR><BR>"It creates more hatred and intolerance than any other actions we take. We need to evolve, and start to realize that we all are different."<BR><BR>Yeah, discussion of ideas sure is dangerous.<BR>
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Postby Tuor, » Fri Jul 06, 2001 1:19 pm

Apostacy,<BR>We choose our beliefs, they we don't just come with them. The judgement comes in respect to what we choose to believe. Exactly who will be judged righteous and who won't be is not up to any of us, and I must say I believe that many are wrong on this matter.<BR><BR>Once again, I would like to state that the beliefs we choose to belive are our individual responsibility.
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Postby Apostasy » Fri Jul 06, 2001 1:36 pm

<i>Tuor: We choose our beliefs, they we don't just come with them.</i><BR><BR>I was just pointing out that many Christians believe that faith is only granted by God's choice, in response to a heartfelt request, and I believe that Xeifdam was talking to those Christians who told him this.<BR><BR>However, I must say that most people's beliefs do seem to not be much of a choice: this is why most people believe whatever is culturally the case.<BR><BR><i>The judgement comes in respect to what we choose to believe.</i><BR><BR>Yes, punishment simply for a particular person's ideaology. <BR><BR><i>Exactly who will be judged righteous and who won't be is not up to any of us, and I must say I believe that many are wrong on this matter.</i><BR><BR>Or all of us. Regardless, what someone does or does not believe is not grounds for torture, no matter how wacky what they believe is.<BR><BR><i>Once again, I would like to state that the beliefs we choose to belive are our individual responsibility.</i><BR><BR>Sure, but rarely are people's beliefs like grocery store purchases. Belief may be an active act, but people can't just believe whatever they want to on command.
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Postby Apostasy » Fri Jul 06, 2001 1:46 pm

<i>Isn't agnosticism the belief that one cannot know whether God exists or not?</i><BR><BR>Agnosticism means that has no _knowledge_ of the existence of something (like gods), or in its stronger and original form, that knowledge is impossible. The term does not, however, deal with _belief_. People can be theist agnostics: i.e. not have any knowledge of god, but have faith that one exists anyway. People can also be agnostic atheists: i.e. not have knowledge of any gods, and also not believe in any either. Saying that "I am an agnostic" does not actually answer the question of "do you believe in gods?" Agnosticism is thus not a middle-ground between the binary of atheism and theism (which is concerned only with "have a belief/not have a belief").<BR><BR><i>Like the Know-Nothings? Riiiight.... </i><BR><BR>I'm not even sure what this supposedly derisive remark is supposed to imply. The Know-Nothings was a derisive name for a Southern political party in 19th Century America. <BR><BR>Not having a belief in a particular claim is not the same thing as not knowing anything. Your lack of belief in purple Martian goats does not make you a fool (or a memeber of a disgraced Southern political party). It just means you don't accept that claim. It would be silly to have to immediately accept every claim that anyone makes. <BR><BR><i>Athieism is the belief that God does not exist at all.</i><BR><BR>Atheism, as used in philosophy and by most avowed atheists, means the lack of theism (a = without), i.e. the lack of belief in gods. It does not require any positive belief, as it is a _lack_ of a belief. Most people live their lives without even spending much time considering the issue of the existence or non-existence of gods. Most atheists have little interest in the subject, or even in discussing their atheism. <BR><BR>Theists are the ones making positive claims (that a god exists), and the burden of proof is on them to make a case for it, not for anyone else to deny it. At worst, the most active thing atheists do is deny the claims of theists: but this requires taking no special position of their own (aside, perhaps from a commitment to honest discussion)<BR><BR>This is the basic ground rule of any philosophical claim.
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Postby Tuor, » Fri Jul 06, 2001 1:48 pm

Apostacy,<BR><BR><i>Yes, punishment simply for a paticular person's ideology</i><BR><BR>Not exactly. We will be judged by what we do. These things we do are a direct result of what we believe. This is what is meant by judging the belief by its fruits. And Jesus says that only those who do God's will shall enter heaven.<BR><BR><i>Sure, but rarely are people's beliefs like grocery store purchases.</i><BR><BR>Exactly, people's beliefs are more like a garden. There are good beliefs that are planted, but there are the weeds that crop up too. It is our job to determine which beliefs are good and which are bad based on their fruits. We must weed out the bad beliefs and nurture the good. As any gardener will tell you, this is a constant struggle. The weeds just seem to keep coming back. Without constant work, the finest garden can turn into nothing but a bunch of weeds.
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Postby Apostasy » Fri Jul 06, 2001 2:01 pm

<i> And Jesus says that only those who do God's will shall enter heaven.</i><BR><BR>I'm sorry, but that claimed system still sounds simply barbarous. In no sense is it moral to mistreat or privalege people merely by what they believe, or by minor differences in how they because of their particular beliefs (I've never known people to be more or less decent people because of their beliefs about gods). Whether performed by a God, or by some earthly dictator, the practice is no less immoral. It merely seems to be a shifting of violence into the afterlife now that it is so discredited in human society.
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Postby Tuor, » Fri Jul 06, 2001 2:16 pm

I understand that you have a problem with the concept of hell.<BR><BR>But this has no relevance as to whether it exists or not. It is just your view, nothing more, nothing less. I was just trying to clarify the basis on which people are to be judged, at least according to Jesus. It is your God given right to believe it or not.<img src="i/expressions/face-icon-small-wink.gif"border=0>
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Postby Apostasy » Fri Jul 06, 2001 2:32 pm

<i>I understand that you have a problem with the concept of hell. But this has no relevance as to whether it exists or not.</i><BR><BR>I agree: I am simply troubled by how few people who DO believe in it are UNtroubled by the idea. Imagine walking around in a country whose citizens were entirely comfortable with a dictator who executed people for their beliefs. Imagine how little it would help (how little it would comfort you or absolve them) if these people told you that it was an unfortunate necessity, that they didn't really <i>want</i> to have to see others die for believing "incorrectly," but that it was just how things had to be. <BR>This state of affairs would not seem just to me even if the required belief was something I thought was true, like the germ theory of disease, and I thought that those who denied that it existed were silly and ignorant. <BR><BR><i>It is just your view, nothing more, nothing less.</i><BR><BR>Or rather, my lack of this particular view.
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Postby Kelannar » Fri Jul 06, 2001 2:47 pm

"Most people live their lives without even spending much time considering the issue of the existence or non-existence of gods."<BR><BR>And you know this...how?<BR><BR>"Most atheists have little interest in the subject, or even in discussing their atheism."<BR><BR>How can you possibly say this with a straight face, when nearly everything you've ever said on this messageboard has involved it? I don't see you discussing the upcoming movie at all. All you DO is discuss your atheism.<BR>
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Postby Apostasy » Fri Jul 06, 2001 3:04 pm

Kel, come off it. <BR><BR><i>How can you possibly say this with a straight face, when nearly everything you've ever said on this messageboard has involved it?</i><BR><BR>Obviously, I am not "most atheists"- unlike most atheists, I _am_ interested in discussing _theism_. <BR><BR>And have posted plenty of things not related to religious debate. But religious debate indeed is something that interests me. What is your hangup? Why do you feel the need to run around, and instead of actually discussing things, attacking me personally?
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Postby Tuor, » Fri Jul 06, 2001 3:15 pm

Apostacy,<BR><BR>God is to you, what you make out of Him. If you want to see him as an evil dictator, then that is exactly what he is, as you see him. Perceptions and reality are not always the same, but our reality is our perception.
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Postby Xeifdalm » Fri Jul 06, 2001 6:18 pm

Asaris said, "Xeifdam, did you ever think that maybe, just maybe, God doesn't going around handing out faith like a grandfather handing out candy? That God isn't here to cater to your whims? Faith is not a gift from God. Faith is an act of will on our part (salvation is the gift from God)."<BR><BR>(Asaris, you seem to be scolding me, but I'm not going to get mad because you bring an interesting idea to light.)<BR><BR>To answer you. No I don't think that, and I didn't think that at the time either. That's why I didn't request something selfish like a miracle or proof of existence. It wasn't a whim. I wanted faith then as much as I've wanted anything. But I didn't or couldn't believe so I asked for that help. <BR><BR>This raises an interesting point that I don't think anyone else has mentioned. Tuor also mentions a similar idea when he says "We choose our beliefs, they we don't just come with them." They suggest that faith is an active not passive state. Belief or faith is choosen or willed on oneself. <BR><BR>Do other believers feel this way too? Is faith an act of will or conscious choice? Do others feel this way too?<BR><BR>It raises a potential catch 22 for nonbelievers. Why would we will ourselves to believe? Part of not believing for me is lack of belief in a soul or afterlife. If you never fear punishment for my mortal soul (because you don't believe you will continue after death) what is the motivation to will belief. If you loose faith or never gain it you may never see the need to choose faith and be forever lost.<BR><BR>Any comments?
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Postby Tuor, » Fri Jul 06, 2001 6:26 pm

Xe,<BR><BR>Fear of eternal damnation shouldn't be the reason for a person to believe in God, to want to serve God. That would not be loving and that would not be doing the will of God. God wants us to love him and do things out of a desire to help others, out of a joyful heart.<BR><BR>I read the part of your post that said you didn't believe in an afterlife, therefore you do not fear eternal damnation. This statement was a remark on your statement.<img src="i/expressions/face-icon-small-smile.gif"border=0>
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Postby Apostasy » Fri Jul 06, 2001 6:34 pm

<i>God is to you, what you make out of Him. If you want to see him as an evil dictator, then that is exactly what he is, as you see him. Perceptions and reality are not always the same, but our reality is our perception.</i><BR><BR>This is a pretty odd way to sell a claim that such a thing exists. It is whatever I see it as? Sorry, but I don't think that my perspective alters reality. All I can respond is the claims that people make about things like salvation, and point out parallels in the situation described: people having no problem with their belief that their fellow man will be eternally tortured merely because of their beliefs. That this might all happen in some "afterlife" does not make it any less reprehensible than if it happened in America tommorow.
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Postby Xeifdalm » Fri Jul 06, 2001 7:07 pm

Tuor said, <BR> <BR>"Fear of eternal damnation shouldn't be the reason for a person to believe in God, to want to serve God. That would not be loving and that would not be doing the will of God. God wants us to love him and do things out of a desire to help others, out of a joyful heart." <BR>Right, I'm not suggesting that the reason people believe is fear of damnation. What I'm wondering what could motivate someone to choose to believe in God if they do not already. (Asuming faith is an active effort or choice.) You want to serve God and do his will. Which means you help others and have a joyful heart. I also help others and I also have a joyful heart but I don't believe in God. We're both fine people and nice to be around. But, if lack of faith is the criteria for damnation I'll be damned and you won't. The catch-22 is: "What is my motivation exercise Asaris's "Act of will" and obtain faith when my current beliefs are that its not all needed?"
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Postby Tuor, » Fri Jul 06, 2001 7:29 pm

Apostacy,<BR><BR>My statement is true. Each of us decides how we are going to see things. How we see things, or read into things, is our reality. I can see someone doing something and you can see the exact same thing, yet we can draw two totally different conclusions as to what has just happened. You see God one way, I see Him another. It is all in how we choose to see Him. I see that He sent His son to die for my sins, so that although sinful, I might inherit heaven. He has thrown me a rope and I have taken it. You on the other hand only see the water, blaming God, and not taking ahold of the rope offered. I see the rope, you see the water. That is the difference.<BR><BR>Xe,<BR><BR>Paul says that God has given us the world around us as proof of His existance, so that none may plead ignorant of the existance of God. The world we live in is God's proof of existance, and if you choose to ignore that proof, then the consequences are on your own hands, not God's. If you look at many cultures through out the world, outside the influence of the middle east, men have recognized the existance of a supreme power that has created all things. This creator is God. The same God of the Bible. His will is written in our hearts and his existance is written in the very existance of the Universe.
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Postby Kelannar » Sat Jul 07, 2001 1:24 am

Apostacy, it is not a personal attack to make an observation about the nature of your posts. You'll know when I make a personal attack against you, since it'll be painfully obvious.<BR><BR>"Obviously, I am not "most atheists"- unlike most atheists, I _am_ interested in discussing _theism_."<BR><BR>I'm not so sure. Most people don't talk about religion in general, but once the topic is brought up, the atheists I've met can't seem to shut up about it. Tolerance of belief is really not in their vocabulary, nor is the word "faith."<BR><BR>And about this "eternally tortured" business of hell. The person who "goes" to Hell rejects God on his own, out of stubborness and pride. Narcassism or nhilism will get you there. Anyway, the point is, it's self-inflicted. Hell as a "fear factor" has little theological weight, given the nature of free will. Instead of being condemned and tortured, one shuts the door himself and tourtures himself, because in stubborness and pride, one shuts the door away from God (who is love). The door is easily opened if one gives up oneself and accepts God, but that requires a humility not easily arrived at. And needless to say, a state of existance where one shuts out love and refuses generous actions and instead aggregates things to himself, instead of for others, is a sad lonely and tortureous existance.<BR><BR>Hell is entirely a self-inflicted status.<BR>
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Postby Beleg » Sat Jul 07, 2001 3:40 am

I very much agree, Kel. Hell is that state of being where one is unable to avoid knowing what is True and simultaneously knowing that one is permanently shut off from personally knowing and experiencing that Truth.<BR><BR>For me, the key is who is the Subject. I cannot avoid inferring that the Subject for Xeifdalm and Apostasy is their own selves and that God has to conform to how they see things and how they want things to be. This is putting God in the dock, and utterly the wrong way around.<BR><BR>I should also like to note that it is NOT Catholic doctrine that all who do not believe in God will go to such a Hell. For one thing, there are still people and have always been people who have not heard the Good News and thus have not had what is termed the 'Christian opportunity'. It is a caricature of Catholic doctrine to suggest that it is formally believed that everyone who is in such a state will be 'punished' after death simply because they never heard of Jesus Christ. That would be utterly unjust and is therefore untrue. The untrue status has been known and debated in Christian theological circles for centuries, so to bring it back up is simply to take idle speculative comments made in passing, give them doctrinal authority and then beat the Christian doctrine to death with them.<BR><BR>However, the situation is different with those who have heard the Good News, which group must surely include anyone who clicks on any thread in which active, knowledgeable Christians post about their faith. If one hears the Good News and actively rejects it, even argues against it, especially if that argument includes such canards as was condemned in the above paragraph, then the argument of invincible ignorance doesn't hold: you cannot say you weren't told what is so. Still, God is infinitely just and merciful, and if you are salvable, then God will indeed find a way to save you. The only requirement is that you be salvable, and if your first step is to reject that salvability is even a concept, then I sincerely doubt that salvability is in the cards for you. Jesus said that in His Father's house are many mansions. It is precarious to speculate, but the wording at least allows the notion that this might well mean that Heaven is not a uniform experience. It might well also mean that Hell is not a uniform experience either (I think Dante is ahead of us on this one, don't you think?) <BR><BR>Certainly it is a part of being young and growing to adulthood to rebel against the settled wisdom of the race. Certainly each one of us at one time or another thinks we've popped across the Truth, discernible only by ourselves, and that we're capable of redefining things so everybody is happy and content. The problem is, when we say so, we are more certainly wrong than if we had simply sat in a room and learned nothing in order to say nothing.<BR><BR>The world is utterly unjust. Life is a real pain and there is the very real probability that evil will not be punished here and now. That should be a patent truism to anyone here (it is likely a painful truism to those whose anger is such that they reject God because they are so upset by the injustice and cruelty they see in the world). Well, at least part of that reaction is simply shock at what people can be capable of. Speaking as one who had that reaction in my teens and who has now had 25 further years to meditate on the issue, I cannot bear that there is indeed no further Court than the paltry tribunals humans can muster. That was one of the issues that forced my own atheistic hand: I couldn't justify injustice. I also realized I couldn't even define injustice, if I had recourse only to human standards. Humans are far too variable, even from the perspective of only a single, finite human lifetime, to be a standard of anything.<BR><BR>When I consider what is involved in personally experiencing God, with all my sins, even if they are covered by Christ's Blood, I shudder. I don't know how I can stand, even metaphorically, in the Presence of Absolute Goodness and Light, when I myself am partly dark. I should go blind, deaf and dumb in some sense simply from the experience. <BR><BR>What is at issue here is the question of whether we are spiritually prepared for God and if not how we become so. The Catholic doctrine on the issue, as I understand it, is that we are put to probation in this life only. Death terminates the probation and at that point is no further testing. You might say that our apprenticeship is concluded by death. Being not thought an apprentice however does not make one a master, yes? It seems clear that perfecting must continue after death and that only when we are perfected are we prepared for the Beatific Vision. Even the greatest saint who ever lived died not quite perfect, assuming we even could designate who that person is/was, so the question of being perfected must apply to us all, Christian or not. <BR><BR>Is that perfecting process painful (that is, is there a penal Purgatory)? Well, the experience of having Jesus Christ personally inspect your soul would be painful in so far as what He would see there. If one is full of sins, unrepented, then the experience is going to be extremely painful, because there will be no rationalization, no logic-chopping, no excuse: the Truth is now avoidable because we're in the flesh and we can convince ourselves of anything we want to in order to justify continuing to love ourselves. As Paul put it, we now see in a glass, darkly. But then, we will see as we are seen and this means that there will be no dissimulation as naught will be hidden. Even our own self-delusions will be exposed and that exposure is bound to be painful. However, the question remains: if one must be purged of sin, if one must pay the price for having sinned, will that not be penal in some sense.<BR><BR>One does not know, but I do know that each of us must pay the full price for our own sins. We cannot pay the price for somebody else and there is no one who has a superfluity of grace such that they could pay the price for us. The only mediating force is Jesus Christ Himself, who IS in exactly the position of being able to plead for us at the Throne of Grace. He Incarnated precisely so that He could plead for us and impute righteousness to us through His Sacrifice on the Cross. It beggars reasonableness to suggest that those who die in a state of grace, that is, those who explicitly repent of their sins and truly turn to God for forgiveness, will be suffering in the afterlife in a penal sense. I would only be willing to say that, should I die in that state, that I would be suffering in a purifying sense, the pain of growing unto the stature of Christ, rather than the pain of prison and punishment. If this be Purgatory as you understand it, then we're on the same page. <BR><BR>Thing is, I believe that everyone is put to probation in this life and that God justly deals with everyone according to the opportunity actually granted them. He does not condemn heathens out of hand, but then, He also does not grant them special grace. The ultimate experience can only be endured by those who work to prepare themselves for it and that process ineluctably includes partaking of the Sacraments of the Catholic Church. If you are not Baptized, then your sinful nature has not been washed of the culpability and inheritance of Adam. Your access to grace is too limited to really regenerate your soul, which is the entire point of the Sacrament. If you are not Confirmed, then you have too limited access to the grace of the Holy Spirit and your pilgrimage will wander because not supported by the gifts of wisdom, fear of God, et al. If you do not communicate the Eucharist, you miss the direct inpouring of the indwelling grace of Jesus Christ. And so it goes: all of these Sacraments are divinely provided vehicles for regeneration and growth toward God. There is ritual attached to them, but that is only the outward sign. The point is the inward grace which is imparted by them and thus they are vital spiritual food, more vital and necessary for the soul's nourishment and growth than food and water are for the body.<BR><BR>Thus, it is my conclusion that God deals justly with all, according to their lights and according to how they responded to the probation to which they were put. We are not all put to the same degree of probation, in the sense that of him who has been granted much, much will be asked. But if you are trying to invalidate Christian belief on the ground that God is somehow vindictive or petty-minded or blinkered, then you are erecting a comic-book God bearing no resemblance to the True God and this is neither useful for you nor edifying for anyone else.
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Postby Ithmial » Sat Jul 07, 2001 6:07 am

Somewere in the Bible it say something like, and this is not what it says cause i didnt memorize this verse yet, Whoever Belives Christ died for our sins and confesess it with their mouth will be saved. I know it goes something like that and I think its near 1-2 Peter or 1-3 John in the Bible.<BR>-Ithmial-
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Postby Emanon » Sat Jul 07, 2001 10:38 am

I can not say yay or nay on that, I like to call myself an Agnostic Athestic Pagan with Christian Tendencies. <BR> There are many religions out there and many beliefs. I do not know enough about each one to dissmiss them off hand. Yet I will note one thing that does bother me about the 'Christian' beliefs that stem from the 'Holy Bible' and it is simply this. To me it seems that the basic message that is stated over and over again in various ways is: I am your GOD, I am a loving God and a Jealous God. I blessed *or is it cursed* you with freewill, to decide how you wish to live your life. Yet if you do not "LOVE" me and "WORSHIP" me you shall suffer for an enternity in wracked with pain that you can not possibly imagine *wether it is a literal physical burning or spiritual matters little*...<BR> There is one other little thing about the "BIBLE" that bothers me and it is this. When GOD first created man he created him with little more wit than the animals that he 'named'. Adam and Eve were to frolic about the wonderous garden of Eden in complete blissful ignorance of anything outside their immediate pleasures and surroundings. As maybe a house cat that has never been outside might act within its surroundings. Yet GOD knowing fully of the ignorance and therefore easy gullablity of man (and woman) allowed the "snake" <img src="i/expressions/face-icon-small-devil.gif"border=0> into the garden. And then punished man *and more so woman* for their innocence (and loss there of) in being decieved by a creature that obviously was already on par with God (in knowing of good and evil). .....those are just two points out of a lot that just don't sit right with me....<BR><BR>Thank you for your time. <img src="i/expressions/face-icon-small-happy.gif"border=0><BR> Emanon
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Postby asaris » Sat Jul 07, 2001 11:14 am

On the will to believe:<BR>Of course, you don't will to believe because you think it'd be fun to be a Christian. You do so because you think it's true. And yes, it's not as simple as I made it out to be. Pascal describes it well in his Pensees. You act as if you believe, and belief comes. So you go to church, do good things, etc., not as a charade, but as one who makes intellectual assent to certain claims. So I might make a distinction between faith and belief. Belief is bare intellectual assent, which is entirely possible by our natural powers. Faith is that assent along with the proper affections, which follows on belief and practice. And so the other sects like the Calvinists won't shoot me for saying all this, faith is a gift from God, but one we have to prepare ourselves for.<BR><BR>On 'atheistic doubts':<BR>What I meant was this: I imagine that most or every atheist at some time or another, finds herself thinking 'but there HAS to be a God!' Most presumably quickly bury this and go on with their lives, but I'm sure the thought occurs to them.<BR><BR>On heaven and hell:<BR>Two points, and then I'll shut up. First, I'm in agreement with Beleg on just about everything he said, but I would add that, just as there are people who haven't physically heard (or read) the gospel, there are people who are prevented from hearing emotionally, because of traumas suffered at the hands of some Christian. I don't want to say flat out that people in either camp CAN be saved, but I want to say that it's possible that they can be saved. I don't claim any sort of special knowledge on who's saved and who's not.<BR><BR>Secondly, not all Christians believe in hell. The belief that the unsaved are annihilated, either at death or perhaps after a stint in hell, is quite compatible with what the Bible teaches. Also, not everyone believes either for fear of hell or desire for heaven. Personally, I don't like the idea of heaven. Living eternally just sounds boring to me. Of course, I do believe in heaven, and have faith that it won't be boring, but I can't quite imagine that. I believe because I think it's true, not for some afterlife.
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Postby runes » Sat Jul 07, 2001 2:25 pm

"And Jesus says that only those who do God's will shall enter heaven."<BR><BR>yes, that statement to me too sounds barbarous. i am somehow reminded of a young child, with candy in his hand. This seems selfish, malevolent and cruel, definately not the work of the 'divine soul' i would have believed in.
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