Religion, skepticism, and carving out a spiritual life post-Mormonism
"Think about it" Thursday: Saved
I know that you have said that you don't believe in sin. However, I for the sake of this argument am going to comment assuming that sin DOES exist.We, as humans, have a sinful nature, which is essentially our nature to rebel against God’s law. Just like any legal system there is a requirement to make recompense for breaking the law. You could also look at it in terms of how a parent will reprimand their children for misbehaving (God loves us and therefore he corrects us as any loving parent). The Bible tells us that everyone is a sinner. Romans 3:23 says, “For everyone has sinned; we all fall short of God’s glorious standard.” And in 6:23 “The wages of sin is death”. On judgment day when we all stand before God we will be required to make account for the life that we have lived. And like any judge, we will be held accountable for our actions (we would be sorely disturbed if a judge in our legal system willingly let a known criminal go free without being held accountable for his/her heinous crimes, what ever they may be). When God first made his covenant with Israel he provided a method in which they were to make payment for the sins of the people and that was the requirements of a blood sacrifice performed in the temple by the high priest. It was an ongoing process because the sacrifices had to be performed annually. Each year families had to provide an unblemished animal as a sacrifice to God. God, in his divine plan for his people, would eventually come and pay the price for everyone’s sin himself. God, in the form of Jesus Christ, came into our world and made the perfect, unblemished, blood sacrifice (because he lived an unblemished life) to make payment for all the sins of the world. The Bible tells us that Jesus was our high priest. Since it was the high priest’s job to make the sacrifice to God, Jesus, as our high priest, sacrificed himself, thus rendering the need of ritual sacrifices obsolete. The divine plan of God had been accomplished. Jesus on the cross said “It is finished (or accomplished)”. So, we are being saved from the requirement to make payment to God for our sin. By accepting Jesus’ sacrifice we are putting on him the responsibility to pay for our sin, which he willingly does for any person who trusts in his sacrifice to pay for our sin. You recognize that you are accountable to God for the life you lived and the decisions you made and also realize that no amount of good things you do can replace or make up for the bad things. Romans 6:23 goes on to say “but the free gift of God is eternal life through Christ Jesus our Lord.” Romans also says that no one does good (3:12) but we are made right with God when we believe that Jesus sacrificed his life, shedding his blood (3:25). In Ephesians 2:8-9 we are told that “God saved you by his grace when you believed. And you can’t take credit for this; it is a gift from God. Salvation is not a reward for the good things we have done, so none of us can boast about it.”
...continued...Interestingly enough, as some will argue, God does not sentence us to eternity in hell. WE, I repeat, WE make that choice for ourselves. God is probably the only judge who allows us to choose our own fate. An interesting perspective on hell from a book I am reading called The Reason for God, Believe in an age of Skepticism: “Hell is simply one’s freely chosen identity apart from God on a trajectory into infinity. We see this process “writ small” in addictions to drugs, alcohol, gambling, and pornography. First, there is distinction, because as time goes on you need more and more of this addictive substance to get an equal kick, which leads to less and less satisfaction. Second, there is the isolation, as increasingly you blame others and circumstances in order to justify your behavior. “No one understands! Everyone is against me!” is murmured in greater and greater self-pity and self-absorption. When we build our lives on anything but God, that thing – though a good thing – becomes an enslaving addiction, something we have to have to be happy. Personal disintegration happens on a broader scale. In eternity, this disintegration goes on forever. There is increasing isolation, denial, delusion, and self-absorption. When you lose all humanity you are out of touch with reality. No one ever asks to leave hell. The very idea of heaven seems to them a sham. C.S. Lewis says in his book ‘The Great Divorce’: People in hell are miserable. We see raging like unchecked flames their pride, their paranoia, their self-pity, their certainty that everyone else is wrong, that everyone else is an idiot! All their humanity is gone, and thus so is their sanity. They are utterly, finally locked in a prison of their own self-centeredness, and their pride progressively expands into a bigger and bigger mushroom cloud. They continue to go to pieces forever, blaming everyone but themselves. Hell is that, writ large.” So, in short, a lot of people get bent out of shape at the idea of God sentencing people to an eternity in hell when in reality he gives us the choice to choose for ourselves. We can either be in a righteous relationship with God through Jesus Christ or we can be separated from God. We are being saved from eternal separation from God.p.s. is there anything that can be done about the character limits on comments?
Don't you think we would be sorely disturbed if a judge in our legal system willingly let an innocent person submit himself to being horribly tortured in order to let a known criminal go free without being held accountable for his/her heinous crimes? The whole Jesus-torture thing always seemed so messed up to me.To me, the only appropriate reason to punish someone is to help them learn better behavior in the future. God's brand of punishment seems more purposed toward vengeance and nit-picking than it does teaching. It's kind of like a father saying to his 17-year-old: "Remember that time when you were 6 years old and you disobeyed me when I asked you to pick up your toys? Yeah, I didn't think you'd remember, but I remember it very well; here's the video surveillance footage to prove it. I didn't get around to punishing you for it at the time, when you might have actually learned from your mistake, but you know the rules: every misdeed must eventually be answered for and punished. I wish I could let it slide, but there's really nothing I can do about it; I don't make the rules, I just enforce 'em, and I'm powerless to forgive you. Unless you want me to punish your perfect, innocent, older brother for it instead. That would satisfy the demands of the mystery rulemaker."The way I always understood it, you're the debtor, God's the creditor, and Jesus is the third party who pays your debts for you. Because when you sin, you owe God (or the universe?) something in return; it's just some sort of universal constant or something, no one knows why. Now while merciful human creditors are able to forgive people their debts, or humans in general are able to forgive wrongdoings between one another, God for some reason is unable to do this (even though he's supposed to be all-powerful and all-forgiving and all-merciful). What is this universal constant that even God himself is apparently powerless against? Why did he have to torture and slaughter his only begotten son to appease this universal constant? Who decreed this higher universal constant that even God is a slave to and must enforce, even though he supposedly wants to forgive you really, really badly? I can't say it ever really made much sense to me when I was a theist.The relationship between debtor and creditor is remarkably similar to slave and master. What would God want with vast hordes of indebted slaves? Unless it's not God who wants them, but rather the men who invented God and claim to speak for him...The truth will set you free.
The truth will set you free. Hmmm. I remember very recently reading this elsewhere and responded by quoting from the Bible with Pilate's question to Jesus of "What is truth?". To which I did not get even an attempt of an answer but rather was answered with sarcasm and what appears to be an implied insult. So, again, I ask, what is truth? Please, do tell.
Philosophers have done a lot of work about what truth is. Here is a paper from the philosophy department of Stanford that goes into great depths the different theories of truth http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/truth/The Wikipedia page on Theory gives a very detailed explanation of the difference in definition between scientific theory and philosophical theory. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/TheoryMost of the discussion of truths is about describing the nature of truth.Personally I would take the scientific definition of truth, that something is true if it is verifiable. I would sincerely be interested in hearing if there is something that is considered to be true that is not verifiable. At the moment I can not think of any such case.
First off, Ray, let me thank you for actually providing an answer to my question. Now, let's examine this statement, which I believe that some would consider as truth: the Gospels are probably based on a person who actually existed and through the years the story became diluted, exaggerated and altered (i.e. embellished).Is this statement truth? Is it scientifically verifiable? I know there are thousands (literally) of manuscripts of the Gospels, some dating to within 25 years of the actual events, in whole or in pieces, from which to refer. Do any of these manuscripts show a progression of the various embellishments, or evolution if you will, of the Gospels? That is, if I were to compare the Gospels found in the Bible today with the ancient manuscripts, would there be a vast difference? Is there verifiable proof of embellishment? Or, is this idea of embellishment just a widely accepted view that is a convenient deflection of the truth because we cannot come to terms with teachings that we disagrees with? And therefore, it must have been embellished.
I don't personally have proof that they were embellished since I don't have access to the original texts, nor would I know how to read them, nor would I have the time to make detailed comparisons, nor do I care to do a Google search on it since the point is irrelevant to me either way, so I have to admit (for me at least) it's just a guess based on Occam's razor. Which is more likely: that Jesus actually performed miracles that break the unbreakable laws of physical reality? Or the writers of the gospels (or someone handling the text later on) made up the supernatural parts?Whether or not the text of the bible changed over time, or whether it's a perfect reflection of the original writers' words is irrelevant as far as proving the miracles of the bible goes. Without extraordinary evidence for these extraordinary claims, I can't help but conclude that it's more likely that someone, somewhere along the line is lying. Whether it was the original writers, or some translator down the line, it doesn't really matter either way."Now, let's examine [these] statement[s], which I believe that some would consider as truth:" Jesus walked on water, and turned water into wine, and was born from a virgin mother, and fed a vast crowd of people by creating matter from nothing, and resurrected people from the dead, and rose from the dead himself and flew unaided through the air, to a place in the sky (or in outer space? or in an alternate universe?) called heaven.Are these statements truth? Are they scientifically verifiable? The burden of proof lies with the one making the extraordinary claims, my friend. Given that they contradict the laws of physical reality, we can only reasonably regard them as false unless we are given VERY significant reason to believe otherwise.But we're kind of getting off topic from the original post.
I agree that we have veered off course. I was just responding to the last statement you [Mike], made in your original post about truth, which I think has propelled the discussion in that direction.So, does anyone else have anything to add to the original question of what we are being saved from? Leah?
That is an easy question. Responsibility!