An odd glimpse into the biblical God's character

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Postby yovargas » Mon Jan 12, 2004 10:24 am

From Exodus 10: 1-2, after having given Egypt it's first seven plagues:<BR><BR><i>Then the Lord said to Moses, "Go to Pharah, for I have hardened his heart and the hearts of his officials so that I may perform these miraculous signs of mine among them that you may tell your children and grandchildren how I dealt harshly with the Egyptians and how I performed my signs among them, and that you may know that I am the Lord."</i> from the NIV bible if it matters. <BR><BR><BR><BR>Hi, Philosophy folks! I was off these forums for a long time, primarily because I had grown rather tired and bored with all the religious discussion. After you've been doing this a while (and I was doing for years before I came to these boards) it starts to feel like you've heard every viewpoint, every argument. Though that is still largely the case, a recent discussion with my roommate and best friend, Wolfgang, led me to find what I think is the rather bizarre Bible verse I quoted above. So I'm posting this to see what ya'll good ol' Manwe forum folk have to say about this <img src="http://www.tolkienonline.com/mb/i/expressions/face-icon-small-smile.gif"border=0><BR><BR>Primarily, I find the verse interesting because it seems to me an unusually intimate glimpse into God's mind. I've rarely, if ever, seen the biblical God reveal so clearly the personal motivations of his actions. So, seeing this glimpse, what does it reveal about God's sense of justice? His sense of morality? The nature of his values?<BR><BR>I have my own ideas on this, all of them probably rather obvious I think, especially if you know me (an if you don't, think of me as Wolfgang's evil philosophy twin <img src="http://www.tolkienonline.com/mb/i/expressions/face-icon-small-wink.gif"border=0>). But I wanted to hear other folks thoughts, particularly Christian thoughts, before I started making comments.<BR><BR>Discuss!
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Postby Axordil » Mon Jan 12, 2004 11:06 am

Reminds me a bit of Job. "I'm going to do something to cause you short term pain to remind you who I am."
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Postby Koba » Mon Jan 12, 2004 11:09 am

Shows that God doesn´t respect "free will" that is so often mentioned in religious conversations. Also, since pharaoh´s heart was hardened, he was unable to free the Egyptians even if he wanted to.
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Postby yovargas » Mon Jan 12, 2004 11:21 am

Come to think of it, it is rather Job-esque. Interesting.<BR><BR>Btw, Axordil, that baby is too damn cute! <img src="http://www.tolkienonline.com/mb/i/expressions/face-icon-small-smile.gif"border=0>
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Postby Rooty » Mon Jan 12, 2004 11:24 am

Actually, there are many MANY Christians who do not believe in free will.<BR>Let me fuel your skepticism of God by presenting you with the following passages from Romans<BR><BR><b>Romans 1: 19</b> since what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them. <BR><b>20</b> For since the creation of the world God's invisible qualities--his eternal power and divine nature--have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse. <BR><b>21</b> For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened. <BR><b>22</b> Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools <BR><b>23</b> and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images made to look like mortal man and birds and animals and reptiles. <BR><b>24</b> Therefore God gave them over in the sinful desires of their hearts to sexual impurity for the degrading of their bodies with one another. <BR><b>25</b> They exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshiped and served created things rather than the Creator--who is forever praised. Amen. <BR><b>26</b> Because of this, God gave them over to shameful lusts.<BR><BR><b>Romans 8:28</b> And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. <BR><b>29</b> For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the likeness of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. <BR><b>30</b> And those he predestined, he also called; those he called, he also justified; those he justified, he also glorified. <BR><BR><b>Romans 9: 6</b> It is not as though God's word had failed. For not all who are descended from Israel are Israel. <BR>7 Nor because they are his descendants are they all Abraham's children. On the contrary, "It is through Isaac that your offspring will be reckoned." <BR>8 In other words, it is not the natural children who are God's children, but it is the children of the promise who are regarded as Abraham's offspring. <BR>9 For this was how the promise was stated: "At the appointed time I will return, and Sarah will have a son." <BR>10 Not only that, but Rebekah's children had one and the same father, our father Isaac. <BR>11 Yet, before the twins were born or had done anything good or bad--in order that God's purpose in election might stand: <BR>12not by works but by him who calls--she was told, "The older will serve the younger."<BR>13 Just as it is written: "Jacob I loved, but Esau I hated." <BR>14 What then shall we say? Is God unjust? Not at all! <BR>15 For he says to Moses, <BR> "I will have mercy on whom I have mercy, <BR> and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion."<BR>1 6It does not, therefore, depend on man's desire or effort, but on God's mercy. <BR>17 For the Scripture says to Pharaoh: "I raised you up for this very purpose, that I might display my power in you and that my name might be proclaimed in all the earth." <BR>18 Therefore God has mercy on whom he wants to have mercy, and he hardens whom he wants to harden. <BR>19 One of you will say to me: "Then why does God still blame us? For who resists his will?" <BR>20 But who are you, O man, to talk back to God? "Shall what is formed say to him who formed it, 'Why did you make me like this?' "<BR>21 Does not the potter have the right to make out of the same lump of clay some pottery for noble purposes and some for common use? <BR>22 What if God, choosing to show his wrath and make his power known, bore with great patience the objects of his wrath--prepared for destruction? <BR>23 What if he did this to make the riches of his glory known to the objects of his mercy, whom he prepared in advance for glory-- <BR><BR>--Rooty
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Postby Wolfgangbos » Mon Jan 12, 2004 11:47 am

"I rather like this God fellow. He's so deliciously evil!"<BR><BR>Stewie - Family Guy
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Postby misha » Mon Jan 12, 2004 12:10 pm

Several things.<BR><BR>About Pharoah, according to the Hazal (the pharacies in ancient Israel), who have interpreted several passages from the bible, God has hardened the hearts of the Egyptians because they had free will in the beggining, and they had already sinned, so the punishment was the denial of the free will.<BR><BR>Axordil, the book of Job is considered a fable by the Jews, that comes to teach us (Jews) some Jewish lesson, and it didn't actualy happen.
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Postby hamlet » Mon Jan 12, 2004 12:34 pm

Actually, Job has one of my favorite defences of God ever. "Oi! Did you make the universe? No? Yeah I didn't think so, so shut yer yap!"<BR><BR>Or, that's my interpretation of it anyway.<BR><BR>As for Pharoe and heard-heartedness, the exercise of the plauges was aimed not only at the Egyptians, but equally so, or more so, at the Hebrews. Throughout the next several books of the Old Testament, Moses and his successors will go about the awesome task of building a culture and a society. Reminding these people that God is there and watching them is a vital part of that in a great way. These are people who have been slaves for generations and have all but forgotten what it means to be Hebrew. Now, along comes Moses, and they don't even know what to make of him! God is reminding the Hebrews at the same time He is punishing the Egyptians. One might also argue that Pharoe has hardened his own heart.
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Postby Echo_Starlite » Mon Jan 12, 2004 12:47 pm

This brings me to an interesting question:<BR><BR>Seeing as we try to characterize God as we characterize an actor in a play, and as many refer to life as a stage itself, then would it be possible to turn the Bible into a gigantic play/musical?<BR><BR>Then you COULD play God, couldn't you?<BR><BR>On the topic, of course, there are conflicting messages throughout the Bible as to whether God is kind or wrathful, but it also gets interpreted by people according to the time period.<BR><BR>It turns it into a very difficult thing to comprehend.
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Postby Magpie » Mon Jan 12, 2004 1:04 pm

<i>One might also argue that Pharoe has hardened his own heart. </i><BR><BR>God says:<BR><BR>"for I have hardened his heart and the hearts of his officials so that I may perform these miraculous signs."<BR><BR><BR>So how does one argue he hardened his own heart when God says here that he hardened it himself, along with the hearts of his officials?<BR><BR>-m
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Postby Rooty » Mon Jan 12, 2004 1:16 pm

<br><br><< <i>Actually, Job has one of my favorite defences of God ever. "Oi! Did you make the universe? No? Yeah I didn't think so, so shut yer yap!"</i> >><br><br><BR><BR>Hah hah!!<BR>I have to agree.<BR><BR>As for Pharaoh, in Exodus 7, it says that Pharah hardens his heart. After that, you see the references that God hardens Pharaoh's heart. It's sort of interesting actually. Whether God hardens his own heart because Pharaoh hardens his own heart first isn't really the point.<BR>The point is that Pharaoh's heart was hard.<BR>God used him to demonstrate His glory, and His favour towards Israel.<BR><BR>--Rooty
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Postby yovargas » Mon Jan 12, 2004 1:24 pm

<i>Whether God hardens his own heart because Pharaoh hardens his own heart first isn't really the point.</i><BR><BR>Well, it's part of <b>my</b> point at least... <img src="http://www.tolkienonline.com/mb/i/expressions/face-icon-small-wink.gif"border=0>
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Postby Tuor, » Mon Jan 12, 2004 1:25 pm

I think the Bible clearly states that Pharoah's heart was hardened by God. God had Pharoah act a certain way in order to demonstrate His power and to fulfill His plan.
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Postby TheEllipticalDisillusion » Mon Jan 12, 2004 1:26 pm

Seeing as the victors usually write the history books, make what you want out of any of the passages mentioned. Some Jews consider Job a fable, I consider it a reoccuring situation always from last week. When you read the chapter you are merely getting the "Last week on <i>The Bible</i>."
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Postby yovargas » Mon Jan 12, 2004 1:32 pm

And Rooty, on those Romans verses, may I just say <img src="http://www.tolkienonline.com/mb/i/expressions/face-icon-small-shocked.gif"border=0><img src="http://www.tolkienonline.com/mb/i/expressions/face-icon-small-shocked.gif"border=0><img src="http://www.tolkienonline.com/mb/i/expressions/face-icon-small-shocked.gif"border=0><BR><BR>In particular Romans 9:6-23! What do you think of that? How do you respond to that as one that (I presume) views herself as a servant of God?
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Postby Koba » Mon Jan 12, 2004 1:37 pm

<br><br><< <i>The point is that Pharaoh's heart was hard.<BR>God used him to demonstrate His glory, and His favour towards Israel.</i> >><br><br><BR><BR>You call killing the Egyptian first borns a demonstration of glory? I call it cold blooded murder.<BR><BR>
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Postby Rooty » Mon Jan 12, 2004 1:45 pm

They were keeping a people they had allowed to live in their country as slaves. The Israelites were not a conquered group. The Egyptians had made a deal with them on account of Joseph and decided to go back on their word.<BR>The Egyptians murdered thousands of babies without provocation. They decided the Israelites were too healthy and too numerous.<BR>They were given a chance to let an innocent people go free, and they refused.<BR><BR>Do you know what the definition of cold-blood is??<BR><BR>yvorgas, I picked those verses out on purpose. <BR>You're judging God by a woefully inadequate human standard. Let me flip it on its head for you (you won't agree with this, I'm sure) just to give you something to think about.<BR><BR>First we have to suppose that there is in fact sin. If there is no such thing as sin, then everything else is moot, and you are right, God is cruel. But let us assume for the sake of argument sin is a real, tangible thing. It exists in our bodies and will eventually destroy us.<BR>God offers you two options<BR>1. Himself. Because He is free from sin, He can counter its effect and ensure that we are not destroyed.<BR>2. Nothing. Sin takes over and you are destroyed.<BR>Now, God has to be all-wise, all-powerful, all-knowing and all-capable, or there's no point in having any such thing as God. So, He knows who's going to take His offer and who won't. He could force His will on everyone and "make them" take Him. Or not.<BR><BR>Your task is to find the line between His knowledge of your death as a result of refusing Him, and Him setting you up to refuse Him. When you find that line, you let me know. Keep in mind, God is all powerful.<BR><BR>You have hit on the #1 argument between Christian denominations: Predestination (Calvinism) and Free-Will (Arminianism). Let me be totally up front with you: I do NOT have an answer. How does one balance what Paul says in Romans to what he says to Tmothy?<BR><b>I Timothy 2: 3</b>This is good, and pleases God our Savior, <BR><b>4</b> who wants all men to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth. <BR><b>5</b> For there is one God and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, <BR><b>6</b> who gave himself as a ransom for all men--the testimony given in its proper time.<BR><BR>If God wants all men to be saved, why then does it not happen?<BR><BR>--Rooty
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Postby TheEllipticalDisillusion » Mon Jan 12, 2004 1:47 pm

So here is a case of state-sponsored murder, then divine murder...what's the argument?
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Postby Koba » Mon Jan 12, 2004 1:48 pm

<br><br><< <i>The Egyptians murdered thousands of babies without provocation. They decided the Israelites were too healthy and too numerous.<BR></i> >><br><br><BR><BR>And how is this the fault of the Egyptian children?
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Postby Tuor, » Mon Jan 12, 2004 1:52 pm

Don't forget this one from Deuteronomy 20<UL>"However, if it does not make peace with you, but makes war against you, then you shall besiege it. <BR>13 "When the LORD your God gives it into your hand, you shall strike all the men in it with the edge of the sword. <BR>14 "Only the women and the children and the animals and all that is in the city, all its spoil, you shall take as booty for yourself; and you shall use the spoil of your enemies which the LORD your God has given you. <BR>15 "Thus you shall do to all the cities that are very far from you, which are not of the cities of these nations nearby. <BR>16 "Only in the cities of these peoples that the LORD your God is giving you as an inheritance, you shall not leave alive anything that breathes. <BR>17 "But you shall utterly destroy them, the Hittite and the Amorite, the Canaanite and the Perizzite, the Hivite and the Jebusite, as the LORD your God has commanded you, <BR>18 so that they may not teach you to do according to all their detestable things which they have done for their gods, so that you would sin against the LORD your God. </UL><BR>
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Postby yovargas » Mon Jan 12, 2004 4:09 pm

I have taken the "rare" out of this threads title because apparently it's not that rare a glimpse, though the Exodus verse still feels like an unusually personal statement from God. Strange how I (like Wolfgang) was a Christian for many years and yet I never really "saw" these verses. I'm certain I've read these things before but it seems like, when I was still "in the faith", I only really saw the things that aligned with my view of God.<BR><BR>Rooty said: <i>Your task is to find the line between His knowledge of your death as a result of refusing Him, and Him setting you up to refuse Him. When you find that line, you let me know. Keep in mind, God is all powerful.... Let me be totally up front with you: I do NOT have an answer. </i><BR><BR>So when you say that you do not have an answer you are saying that you see it as a possibility that God chooses certain people for damnation and that they may well be damned through no fault of their own, right? If you do indeed see that as a possibility, I'll ask again: how do you respond to that as someone who sees themselves as a servant of God? As a servant of God, how do you feel about the possibility that you, or your children, or your family, or your friends, may be CHOSEN by God for eternal damnation? Particularly since, in the case of the Egyptians, God admits that the reason he is doing ALL of this killing is to prove to everybody involved that he's the ultimate bad-a*s??? <img src="http://www.tolkienonline.com/mb/i/expressions/face-icon-small-shocked.gif"border=0><BR><BR>And Tuor, I don't know why you bring those verses up but all I could think of while reading them was of 9/11.
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Postby grumpy-dwarf-mom » Mon Jan 12, 2004 5:54 pm

Exodus, Job, Deuteronomy--all this dirty laundry.<BR><BR>The God of the Bible has to be the worst PR-man for Christianity, ever.
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Postby RELStuart » Mon Jan 12, 2004 9:21 pm

<i>"Oi! Did you make the universe? No? Yeah I didn't think so, so shut yer yap!"</i><BR><BR>Ah, yes, I loved that verse to <img src="http://www.tolkienonline.com/mb/i/expressions/face-icon-small-smile.gif"border=0> Plus you put it so well <img src="http://www.tolkienonline.com/mb/i/expressions/face-icon-small-happy.gif"border=0> If you come out with the Bible according to Hamlet I would love to read it. Last time I read Jonah I had a good laugh at Jonah, he seemed SOOOO petulant after God didn't fulfill his prophecy and then killed his shade vine. It was so funny. He's so mad at God and God gently remonstrates and asks him why he is so upset and Jonah is retorts something like "I will be mad if want to." <BR><BR> I will comment more at length on some of the things brought up in this thread as I am able. <BR><BR>Not to split hairs but does the NIV really spell Pharaoh <i>Pharah</i>? <BR><BR>As to Pharaoh if you look in Ex 5 you will see how disposed Pharaoh <BR>was to treat the Israelites. Not very well. I think God took Pharaoh's natural inclination and just strengthened it. Besides lets think about this for a minute. Do you really expect Pharaoh when Moses came to him and told him to let the Hebrews that did all that labor and built things all over the land for the Egyptians go that Pharaoh was going to have this little light bulb light up over his head and suddenly be sorry for all the years that they had enslaved the Hebrews? God could have made him feel that way but would that be Pharaoh's natural reaction? <BR><BR>After all the years and years that the Hebrews were kept as slaves the plagues were payback. You may think that the killed of the first born was harsh but it was pretty much the same thing the Egyptians had been doing to the Hebrews. Plus the Egyptians had a god that they believed ruled the afterlife and could send people back to RL. God again showed he was superior in that he was the one that controlled who lived and died. <BR><BR>Something I noticed the last time I read through this portion of scripture was in Ex 12:38 when the Hebrews left the land for good it says a mixed multitude went out with them. Interestingly if you look at the gods the Egyptians worshiped one of them at least was the frog. It is almost like God said "You LIKE frogs? I'll give you frogs! I bet frog worship in the land fell in popularity. And your weather god, lets just see how strong he really is. Comes the fiery hail. The sun god? How about darkness for 3 days? I think that some of the people of the land saw that the God of the Hebrews was the real thing and decided their idols were rather pitiful in comparison. I had missed this before and was under the impression that only the Hebrews marched out of there, but there was much more than that. I think there were two reasons God hardened Pharaoh’s heart. One is that he showed the Egyptians there idols were nothing but a bunch of deaf and dumb rocks. Proving as well that he was the real thing. Second the Egyptians in Ex 12:33-36 ended up giving the Hebrews some of their wages they deserved for those years of labor for the Egyptians. <BR><BR>I know that some Christians explain away things in the old testament be simply saying that the God of wrath and justice in the old testament was different from the God of love in the new. Both the old and new testaments say that one of the attributes of God is that is the same yesterday, today, and forever. One verse that caught my eye just the other day out of the old testament was Lev 19:18b that said: "thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself: I am the Lord." That is the same sentiment Jesus expressed and said was the second greatest commandment.<BR>
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Postby Magpie » Mon Jan 12, 2004 9:47 pm

<i>"Oi! Did you make the universe? No? Yeah I didn't think so, so shut yer yap!"<BR><BR>After all the years and years that the Hebrews were kept as slaves the plagues were payback. You may think that the killed of the first born was harsh but it was pretty much the same thing the Egyptians had been doing to the Hebrews. Plus the Egyptians had a god that they believed ruled the afterlife and could send people back to RL. God again showed he was superior in that he was the one that controlled who lived and died. </i><BR><BR>So two wrongs do make a right, if you're God. Because you say so, and you made the world.<BR><BR>-m
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Postby Fatty_Bolger » Tue Jan 13, 2004 4:47 am

That's logical. If you're a mortal you can't kill people, unless ordered by God, because it's Evil. If God orders it, it's not Evil anymore but Good. And of course God clearly can kill people, it's just fine.<BR>Oh, and mass-murder when done as payback is just fine, too.<BR>Weird, but I don't tbink that good American Christians would agree if the Vietnamese decided to kill 2 mio of US people as "payback" for the war.<BR>I assume that the bit where Jesus says that people shouldn't fight back but turn the other cheek was just a fraudulent line put there by some kind of godless leftist <img src="http://www.tolkienonline.com/mb/i/expressions/face-icon-small-wink.gif"border=0>
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Postby RELStuart » Tue Jan 13, 2004 7:44 am

<i>That's logical. If you're a mortal you can't kill people, unless ordered by God, because it's Evil. If God orders it, it's not Evil anymore but Good. And of course God clearly can kill people, it's just fine.</i><i>I assume that the bit where Jesus says that people shouldn't fight back but turn the other cheek was just a fraudulent line put there by some kind of godless leftist </i><BR><BR>Christians are to rejoice when we are pursecuted for righteousness sake. Of course we are supposed to turn the other cheek. But that is to individuals. Not that a Nation can never use that principle to good effect. But the job of a government is to protect the people. So when 9/11 or Pear Harbor was attacked you didn't hear about Christians all over America saying oh, we just need to turn the other cheek did you? Israel was a theocracy, so the head of their government was God. When a murderer is executed for his crimes we don't say that the government is just as bad as the murderer because we kill him do we? Why accuse God of being a murderer when he handed the Egyptions what they had coming to them? Plus God is the both the giver and taker of life anyway so his actions were within his jourisdiction.
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Postby Tuor, » Tue Jan 13, 2004 7:55 am

<i>And Tuor, I don't know why you bring those verses up but all I could think of while reading them was of 9/11. </i><BR><BR>I brought it up to support the idea that God is not what some people want Him to be. People have the idea that God fits the world's description of a loving God who would never harm anyone. God had the people of Israel kill every living thing in those cities. All animals had to be slaughtered. All women and children had to be slaughtered. Even new born babies had to be killed. These 'innocents' were butchered by God's command. Jesus agreed with the butchering. <BR><BR>One other mass slaughter one might want to consider is the flood. The entire world's population, including new borns who had done nothing wrong, were killed by God.
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Postby Rooty » Tue Jan 13, 2004 8:14 am

<< <i>So when you say that you do not have an answer you are saying that you see it as a possibility that God chooses certain people for damnation and that they may well be damned through no fault of their own, right? If you do indeed see that as a possibility, I'll ask again: how do you respond to that as someone who sees themselves as a servant of God? As a servant of God, how do you feel about the possibility that you, or your children, or your family, or your friends, may be CHOSEN by God for eternal damnation? Particularly since, in the case of the Egyptians, God admits that the reason he is doing ALL of this killing is to prove to everybody involved that he's the ultimate bad-a*s???</i> >><BR><BR><BR><BR>Here's the thing yovargas:<BR>You are trying to ascribe a very human attribute (pride) to God. That's just not going to work at all. You can't accuse God of having an ego or something to prove. He's God. If He had something to prove, He couldn't be God.<BR><BR>Let me be 100% frank: the predestination/reprobatio-n argument is not one I have a huge amount of experience with. Sorry. If my responses seem shaky at best, that's why.<BR>Reprobation (the opposite of predestination, that is, God damning people to hell without a chance) would seem to be the exception and NOT the norm in the Bible. Nevertheless, it does seem to happen. Another case is Judas Iscariot. In order for Christ to die, it was needful that someone betray Him. It would be too harsh to simply say "How unlucky for Judas." <BR>In light of verses like the one I pointed out from "<b>I Timothy 2: 3</b> This is good, and pleases God our Savior, <b>4</b> who wants all men to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth. " or even <b>John 3:16 </b> For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son that whosoever believes in Him would not perish..." I firmly believe that there must be a balance between what seems like two warring views. What that balance is, I just don't know.<BR>No, I am not willing to give up on a belief in a Divinely Loving God on account of my lack of understanding. Instead, I would rather admit I don't know and try and find an answer (which I am doing)<BR><BR>By the way, if you want more on this discussion, dig through this forum and find the Calvinisn/Arminianism thread.<BR>As a matter of fact, I might bump it up for you so that you can have a read.<BR><BR>--Rooty<BR>PS: I realized I didn't answer the question about how it makes me feel. I'm thinking of a good answer, and will post when I have it.
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Postby Fatty_Bolger » Tue Jan 13, 2004 9:04 am

"Jesus agreed with the butchering"<BR>Care to provide a quote?<BR><BR>OK, well, sorry, but a God that promotes genocide is definitely not a God that deserves love, faith and worship, period. And imho his believers would do well to distance themselves from such a dubious character. No wonder Germans went on a worldwide killing spree if they've been fed with that kind of religion for centuries.<BR>
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Postby Wolfgangbos » Tue Jan 13, 2004 9:22 am

Rooty, <BR><BR><br><br><< <i>PS: I realized I didn't answer the question about how it makes me feel. I'm thinking of a good answer, and will post when I have it.</i> >><br><br> <BR><BR>I'm curious to hear the answer to this question as well.
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