Question for Christians

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Postby Yebra » Mon Dec 29, 2008 8:23 am

Aw kool, this thing's still going! Cheers Taal, interesting read. Just one thing:
We agreed to this plan. All who have been born, or will be born, agreed to the terms.
This seems like a slightly more reasonable version of the idea that I can be bound by agreements made by my ancestors but there's a reason we don't give children, immature and lacking in knowledge, full legal rights. Why should accepting agreements made by my soul long before I was born be any more reasonable than sticking a contract in front of a four-year old?

Elfprince:
We're not saved by having perfect doctrine, we're saved by pursuing a relationship with God. The closer to the truth your beliefs are, the easier it is to pursue that relationship, but since no one in this world has a perfect understanding of God, we're all in the dark to some degree.
But isn't that in itself a doctrine? What of people who don't hold salvation through faith alone?
I'm a little late in the topic to discuss the "isn't Jesus just a scapegoat?" issue, but I'd like to throw in my $0.02 anyway.
I see Jesus as the greatest love story in history, between God and the human race. He created us so that he could love us, and we could love him, but we rejected that and turned our back on him, to do as we chose. But rather than turning us out into the cold, like we deserve, he came to us and said "Its ok, I still love you, I forgive you, I will take the punishment in your stead, as long as you still love me" But it wasn't just any punishment, he chose to submit himself to the cruellest form of execution ever invented by mankind. God, who had never been alone in all of space and time chose to experience all the loneliness and suffering of the human race, because he loved us. How can I turn my back on such love? For that would be to say to Him "all you did for me, everything you suffered, it means nothing, I don't want your gift"

I've seen this idea that Jesus suffered more than anyone (I know, not quite what you said so yell at me if you mean different) in a few places now and I'm a little confused by it. I mean, crucifiction sucks, but he's not unique in that regard and it's not like we've any shortage of imaginative and painful ways to kill each other. Did Jesus really suffer more than anyone else ever? Especially if he knew that his death has meaning? Correct me if I'm wrong but Jesus' sacrifice tends to be seen as a triumph rather than a failure. Compare it to an atheist who dies painfully knowing she was unable to save the ones she loves and without the knowledge of a peaceful afterlife waiting, am I wrong in finding Jesus' situation the less spiritually painful? I even find Judas' story, a necessary betrayal that will lead him to be hated through all of time and dying alone in obscurity to be more tragic and befitting of ultimate suffering from a narrative perspective. Re-reading some of the responses above, the general consensus seems to be it was some special property of Jesus (e.g. sinless) rather than some special property of the punishment that made this a special event. Is this one of those things I'm going to find disagreement over?

I have to question this 'ultimate love story' too. If my girlfriend left me, would tying her up above a fire, then valiantly cutting her down (and getting quite badly burnt in the process) oblige her to love me? Be grateful to me? Shouldn't we be more concerned that refusing to love God carries what you call a punishment? You seem to be saying that removing this punishment was the ultimate act of love, but to me this seems to be the thing required to allow any kind of healthy relationship between people and God at all. I don't see how any kind of love bound by obligation can qualify as the 'ultimate love story', it seems fundamentally twisted from even the idea of unconditional love we might talk of between parents and children - but even then we'd find it quite sick if a parent punished a child for not loving them or expected them to be grateful for not going through with it.
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Postby Azarel » Mon Dec 29, 2008 7:46 pm

I have minor additions to make, after all you've said, try thinking of it this way a little...

Jesus suffered physically as badly as anyone else being crucified, I would not attempt to illustrate the physicality of it any greater than previous crucifixions. However, Jesus, unlike other crucified people before him, did not die due to anything HE had done, but for what WE had done. What does this mean though?

Well what it means is that (and you will have to think along more spiritual lines to reflect on this) every deed and thought negative in nature that separates people from God in all times in both history AND the future was put on him to be the last sacrifice needed to atone for these 'sins' as we call it. I have to add that as the sum of all sin was put on Jesus, God turned his back on him as God cannot look upon sin in as much as he cannot abide it or see it without great hurt (he does have emotions) and this spiritually would have been the source of insurmountable suffering for Jesus (the son of God, though not all people will agree with that point but I hope people like Lyons will forgive me for saying so)

It is important to try and grasp the fact that it was for past, present and future sins that Jesus died (but not only died, but went to hell to snatch back the key to both life and death as he put it, from the adversary and then rose again to conquer death finally) and this is the explanation of the crucifixion.

But I would not extend that to mean that Jesus was a 'scapegoat'. That would be a belittling way to appreciate it.

Now, on the subject of the 'ultimate love story' I believe your example of the girlfriend leaving is flawed slightly because of the element of 'tying her up above a fire' means that you forcibly put her in a dangerous position (hypothetically speaking) and that doesn't balance with God's providing us with freewill and the ability to decide and make choices.

The thought I would suggest to you is think of this as the ultimate example of the phrase: "If you love something, let it go; if it comes back, it was yours to keep" because that is what God did in my belief.

---
Now, hopefully that helps somehow. This post was made at around 2am so there may be typos but it was made with the best intentions, namely offering you a viewpoint with compassion and a genuine interest in conversation rather than debate or argument.

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Postby Taalcon » Mon Dec 29, 2008 9:38 pm

've seen this idea that Jesus suffered more than anyone (I know, not quite what you said so yell at me if you mean different) in a few places now and I'm a little confused by it. I mean, crucifiction sucks, but he's not unique in that regard and it's not like we've any shortage of imaginative and painful ways to kill each other. Did Jesus really suffer more than anyone else ever? Especially if he knew that his death has meaning?
According to the revelations accepted by LDS, The Crucifixion was nothing in comparison to where the greatest pain and suffering occurred during Christ's Atonement. In the garden of Gethsemane, all the sins, pains, afflictions of all who lived or yet will live on worlds without number was all concentrated on and experienced by Our Savior. The pain of the deepest loneliness. The pain of the most devastating heartbreak.

A prophet stated, concerning the Savior, that "he shall go forth, suffering pains and afflictions and temptations of every kind; and this that the word might be fulfilled which saith he will take upon him the pains and the sicknesses of his people. And he will take upon him death, that he may loose the bands of death which bind his people; and he will take upon him their infirmities, that his bowels may be filled with mercy, according to the flesh, that he may know according to the flesh how to succor his people according to their infirmities.
Now the Spirit knoweth all things; nevertheless the Son of God suffereth according to the flesh that he might take upon him the sins of his people, that he might blot out their transgressions according to the power of his deliverance; "

In the words of Christ Himself, referring to His own experience, "Which suffering caused myself...to tremble because of pain, and to bleed at every pore, and to suffer both body and spirit—and would that I might not drink the bitter cup, and shrink— Nevertheless, glory be to the Father, and I partook and finished my preparations unto the children of men. "

The physical suffering on the Via Dolorosa was but a token of the incomprehensible spiritual, emotional, and physical suffering that had been, and was being taken upon by the Savior of the World.
Last edited by Taalcon on Tue Dec 30, 2008 2:08 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Postby Yebra » Tue Dec 30, 2008 9:42 am

Ah hah! With you now on the pain thing.
Now, on the subject of the 'ultimate love story' I believe your example of the girlfriend leaving is flawed slightly because of the element of 'tying her up above a fire' means that you forcibly put her in a dangerous position (hypothetically speaking) and that doesn't balance with God's providing us with freewill and the ability to decide and make choices.

The thought I would suggest to you is think of this as the ultimate example of the phrase: "If you love something, let it go; if it comes back, it was yours to keep" because that is what God did in my belief.
I bought that up because Elfprince explictly mentioned a punishment that we "deserved" for moving away from loving God. We can have choices and decide whether or not to love God, I was just concerned that love that carries a penalty if broken (even if it's wavered) doesn't seem like a healthy kind of love.

EL mentioned a while ago the concept of Hell as a place where God respected the wishes of those who wanted to be apart from him which I like as an idea better than active punishment. In my example it's the difference between 'Fine, let her leave, she's being punished by not being in my most awesome presence' and 'Release the hounds!'. The former would allow actual love, but the latter still seems to be quite mainstream in Christianity and it suggests a relationship with God that borders on abusive.

The point of this thread was not to lay out what led me to atheism but to try to understand why Christianity was generally seen as a positive message when it rang so many emotional false notes with me. I stumbled upon a Lewis quote that sort of sums up the problem for me: "The real test of being in the presence of God is that you either forget about yourself altogether or see yourself as a small, dirty object". This is one of those things that unsettles me. I read this and think that that is absolutely not what you should feel in the presence of someone who loves you.
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Postby elfprince13 » Tue Jan 06, 2009 3:29 pm

But isn't that in itself a doctrine? What of people who don't hold salvation through faith alone?
"For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, that no one should boast."

Judaism and Islam are perfect examples of the saved-by-works school of thought, I have close friends who are followers of both, and in both cases seen them suffer intensely because they believe that something they did may have caused them to be permanently separated from God. Like you were saying, that's not a healthy relationship. and
I've seen this idea that Jesus suffered more than anyone (I know, not quite what you said so yell at me if you mean different) in a few places now and I'm a little confused by it. I mean, crucifiction sucks, but he's not unique in that regard and it's not like we've any shortage of imaginative and painful ways to kill each other. Did Jesus really suffer more than anyone else ever?
...
Re-reading some of the responses above, the general consensus seems to be it was some special property of Jesus (e.g. sinless) rather than some special property of the punishment that made this a special event. Is this one of those things I'm going to find disagreement over?
its not just the physical punishment he suffered, the crucifixion is certainly one of the cruelest forms of death ever invented. it's all the fact that he went from being in perfect union with God to being completely separate. His dying words, "Eloi, Eloi, lama sabacthani" translates literally as "my God, my God, why have you forsaken me"
I have to question this 'ultimate love story' too. If my girlfriend left me, would tying her up above a fire, then valiantly cutting her down (and getting quite badly burnt in the process) oblige her to love me? Be grateful to me? Shouldn't we be more concerned that refusing to love God carries what you call a punishment? You seem to be saying that removing this punishment was the ultimate act of love, but to me this seems to be the thing required to allow any kind of healthy relationship between people and God at all. I don't see how any kind of love bound by obligation can qualify as the 'ultimate love story', it seems fundamentally twisted from even the idea of unconditional love we might talk of between parents and children - but even then we'd find it quite sick if a parent punished a child for not loving them or expected them to be grateful for not going through with it.
perhaps a more appropriate analogy could be drawn from the Bible, which talks about the church being God's bride. It would be like if you married a woman who was cheating on you and ignored you all the time, even though you loved her completely. You know that if you leave her to her own devices she will eventually experience the emptiness and loneliness that comes with living an unfaithful lifestyle, and you could think that was punishment enough. a lot of people would. but God loved us enough that he gave up everything to show how much he cares about us
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Postby Taalcon » Wed Jan 14, 2009 12:06 pm

they believe that something they did may have caused them to be permanently separated from God. Like you were saying, that's not a healthy relationship.
I strongly believe that choices we make, things we do, if we don't allow ourselves to be Reconciled through a proper acceptance of the Atonement of Jesus Christ, will, in the long run permanently (and temporarily for the now) separate us from God's presence.

I believe in Justice and Mercy.

Justice that states that our unrighteous actions and desires can have consequences on our spiritual peace and state of mind (and being) that would make ourselves far more unfit (and miserable) to be in God's presence than anywhere else.

Mercy applies and gives us the power to overcome those things if we accept the Provided Savior according to His own Way, and the terms He has established.

God doesn't damn us. We damn ourselves. What God does is explain the whys, give examples (and warnings) to follow, and provides a way to lift ourselves far higher and purer than we ever could have on our own.

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Postby Taalcon » Wed Jan 14, 2009 12:16 pm

Aw kool, this thing's still going! Cheers Taal, interesting read. Just one thing:
We agreed to this plan. All who have been born, or will be born, agreed to the terms.
This seems like a slightly more reasonable version of the idea that I can be bound by agreements made by my ancestors but there's a reason we don't give children, immature and lacking in knowledge, full legal rights. Why should accepting agreements made by my soul long before I was born be any more reasonable than sticking a contract in front of a four-year old?
Except I believe in our pre-mortal Spiritual state we had a full understanding. We developed to a level of spiritual Maturity before we made the informed decision to take part in the plan. We had to understand that there would be temporary, but real, pain and suffering that would go along with our experiences. Birth into mortality has placed a veil or covering of sorts over aspects of our Spiritual memory and consciousness. Through the effects and terms of Christ's Atonement, We are born innocent and free from any indiscretions of our previous spiritual life in God's presence. A blank slate, so to say. And you could say another 'bonus' for accepting the plan.

We are not born guilty of anything, although we live in a world with conditions affected by the consequences of others' actions.

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Postby lyons24000 » Wed Jan 14, 2009 1:10 pm

I am not trying to start an argument, Taal, please do not get offended, but I was wondering how your innocence statement works along with the idea that blacks are black because they were neutral in the war in heaven (or they didn't fight or something like that) and whites are white because they fought hard in that war. Does the LDS Church still teach that? I would assume that it does because blacks were not allowed to hold the priesthood until the 1970's.

Again, I ask this in all sincerity not to make you look bad or something.
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Postby Taalcon » Wed Jan 14, 2009 1:53 pm

I am not trying to start an argument, Taal, please do not get offended, but I was wondering how your innocence statement works along with the idea that blacks are black because they were neutral in the war in heaven (or they didn't fight or something like that) and whites are white because they fought hard in that war. Does the LDS Church still teach that?
While an unfortunate idea held by some prominent members, that was never an official teaching of the Church.

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Postby lyons24000 » Mon Jan 19, 2009 8:04 am

As one of Jehovah's Witnesses, (I haven't read the post leading up to this) I believe that Jesus Christ did start out with a pre-mortal existence in heaven. He said things like that he descended from heaven (John 3:13; 6:62), "I have come down from heaven..." (John 6:38 ), he said that he was alive before Abraham (John 8:58 ), and the Bible says that he was with God from the beginning.-John 1:1-2

On the other hand, we are not from heaven. We first came into existence on earth. Jesus said, "You are from the realms below; I am from the realms above. you are from this world; I am not from this world." (John 8:23) Regarding just two humans who would have had to have chosen to do right or wrong in heaven, therefore doing good or evil, the Bible says of Jacob and Esau, "when they had not yet been born nor had practiced anything good or vile." (Romans 9:11) Jacob and Esau had done nothing good or bad before they were born. If they did not exist before they were born then neither were we from the "realms above".

The reason that Jesus Christ could say that he was from the realms above is because he was the first of God's creations. "He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation" (Colossians 1:15) and he is "the beginning of the creation by God."-Revelation 3:14

Life on earth is a gift. After Adam sinned and brought death's consequences (Romans 5:12) we can still choose sides with God, no matter what our stations in life. Satan said to God, "Skin in behalf of skin, and everything that a man has he will give in behalf of his soul." (Job 2:4) Originally, the accusation had been aimed at the man Job. Satan had said that Job would only remain loyal if Jehovah had continued to bless him for his obedience. The minute those things had been taken away, Job would stop being obedient. (Job 1:8-12, 21-22) When Job continued obedient, Satan leveled the accusation against us by saying "all that a man has".

This challenge is also evident in God's words at Proverbs 27:11, "Be wise, my son, and make my heart rejoice, that I may make a reply to him that is taunting me."

At present, our purpose on earth is to worship God and be obedient. (I wrote that because I completely forgot my real point!)
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Postby Taalcon » Wed Jan 28, 2009 9:41 am

The point of this thread was not to lay out what led me to atheism but to try to understand why Christianity was generally seen as a positive message when it rang so many emotional false notes with me. I stumbled upon a Lewis quote that sort of sums up the problem for me: "The real test of being in the presence of God is that you either forget about yourself altogether or see yourself as a small, dirty object". This is one of those things that unsettles me. I read this and think that that is absolutely not what you should feel in the presence of someone who loves you.
Here's my viewpoint, belief, and response to your question, Yebra:

I'd say if I cheated on my wife, and came home to her loving arms, I would "see myself as a small, dirty object." And I think that's exactly how it should be.

It's the fact of having a knowledge that you knowingly and willfully did something that would hurt someone who has such great love for you that causes this suffering.

The Atonement of Jesus Christ offers the opportunity for complete reconciliation with God, which includes a full recognition of (and acceptance of) forgiveness.

It involves a deep spiritual healing, and cleansing. It provides the means by which we can allow a cleansing to take part within us that we may "no longer have the desire to do evil, but to do good continually". This aspect is a process, and is (usually) not a single event.

Basically, it allows us to stand in the presence of God knowing that even though we couldn't reverse what we had done, and we couldn't pay for it or make up for it on our own, the Lord accepted our best efforts, and wiped away the rest. When we show Him we are truly willing to Change, (not just saying we want or wanted to change) He provides for the Change. But it cannot happen against our will.

I believe two key God-established purposes of our life are:
I. For us to have a Fullness of Joy
II. To Prepare to Return to Live with God

This aspect of the Atonement allows for both of those. We worship God because He loves us, and constantly and consistently provides for our Joy. In the words of the Apostle John, "We love him, because he first loved us." (1 John 4:19)

I know my Heavenly Father loves me, and because of this, I can truly love Him.

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Postby jotabe » Fri Jan 30, 2009 4:02 am

I know my Heavenly Father loves me, and because of this, I can truly love Him.
And the key question, for me is: What is to love god?

Is it to praise him and sign himns to him?
Is it to burn offerings to him?
Is it to submit your will to his will (following the dictates of whatever church or religion you are adscribed to?
or is it to love "these my younger brothers"?

Because in the answer to this question lays what kind of love feels god for us, if selfless or tyrannical.
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Postby Taalcon » Fri Jan 30, 2009 8:27 am

I know my Heavenly Father loves me, and because of this, I can truly love Him.
And the key question, for me is: What is to love god?

Is it to praise him and sing hymns to him?

This is often an expression of our love.
Is it to burn offerings to him?
At times throughout history, this was presented by God as a) a teaching method, and b) a way to show our greater love for God than for material possessions.
Is it to submit your will to his will (following the dictates of whatever church or religion you are adscribed to?
When you trust Him and know with a certainty that He not only knows better than you, but does everything for the result of bringing you and the rest of the human family Joy, inherent trust and submission is an expression of love - for God, and your fellow man.
or is it to love "these my younger brothers"?

Because in the answer to this question lays what kind of love feels god for us, if selfless or tyrannical.
I think two scriptures sum it up for me:

John 13: 34-35 "A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another. By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another."

Mosiah 2:17 "And behold, I tell you these things that ye may learn wisdom; that ye may learn that when ye are in the service of your fellow beings ye are only in the service of your God."

That's because God's purpose is to "Bring to Pass the Immortality and Eternal life of Man" (Moses 1:39) - by serving and expressing true love to each other, we are becoming more like our Father, and helping to fulfill God's purpose. That was one of the many purposes of Christ's ministry - to show a perfect example - a template, if you will - for perfect Love - a guide to becoming not only more Christlike, but Godlike.

I disagree with philosophies that state that God wants us to worship Him just because He created us, and if we don't, then, we'll just get punished for it. We worship God because of His love, because of His devotion to us, and His complete unselfishness towards us. And we will reap the benefits of God's plan and purpose if we go along with them instead of fighting against them.

God is a being who experiences a fullness of Joy. He wants us to have what He has. And He knows how we can achieve that.


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