Friday, December 22, 2006

Homework

Sorta. :-)

In 2003 some friends and I started a group blog called The Thinklings, which has, in the almost four years of its existence, hosted discussions and debates on all manner of subjects related to Christianity and the Church. We are really proud of the diverse community we've gladly cultivated over time, people from all over the world and from all kinds of religious backgrounds. Including irreligious and antireligious backgrounds.

Recently a few of my Thinkling brethren have been carrying on a lengthy dialogue with an Australian atheist named Ray. Ray is frequently friendly, occasionally insulting, and always relentless in his questions and criticisms. I haven't engaged in the conversation too much myself, mainly for lack of time. But I've been eavesdropping, and the fellow does not lack for penetrating, "hard" questions. I'm going to reprint below his latest comment, and I'd like the readers here -- the ones who follow Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior -- to look over them and contemplate how they might answer. Feel free to use the comments to tell us how you'd answer Ray. These are good, honest questions, and I think they're things lots of nonChristians think about and wonder about. It might behoove us to brainstorm some answers to them.
So let me get this right...

God implants woman to make her pregnant. Half human son is born. Son grows up to become a prophet and without sin. In fact worlds first sinless human and God loves him. God has secret plan to have son killed. Sometime in the future, He is picked up tortured and nailed to a cross all of which is Gods perfect plan. 3 or 4 days later, God breathes life back into cadaver and has him back on earth again. Later to be "beamed up" to heaven.

The questions:
1. Why does God have to have him tortured? why not kill him quickly?
2. Isn't this some form of child abuse?
3. How does punishing the single one sinless "good guy" become a lesson for
humanity?
4. God gives us illness and misfortune all the time why not punish sin person by person?
5. If he can create 1x Sinless Jesus why not 5 billion sinless us? Jesus had free will right?
6. Jesus dying when he did was a tragic waste to the world. Wouldn't a Jesus that lived another 20 years been of whole lot more use to humanity?
7. God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten son at this time, so that he could bring the same son back to life and live in the glory of heaven at Gods side so that man would feel guilty about sin, of which God designed into the human psych in the first place. It just doesn't make sense on any level. If there is one thing you could do for me over Christmas when you have a few mins is pull apart my thinking on this? could you?
Why not make us all like Jesus or angels or saints or anyone else considered
sinless? Why make a faulty product and then destroy the good working one in vengeance?

It makes no sense

I will try to post my response sometime before the new year.

Hope everyone has a great Christmas!

Peace

3 Comments:

At 7:14 AM, Blogger C. Evan Leonard said...

Answers: 1-7

I'm going to answer all seven of Ray's questions with this one post. Ok? (although there were several more questions unnumbered in Ray's blanket of doubt).

---------------------------------
I don't see how it can be stated that or asked why God HAD to have him tortured? I view the sacrifice that Jesus made as being something he willingly did. He could have run away, or could he have? He could have given 'lip service' to the Romans and the Jewish religious leaders, or should he have? Instead, he stayed true to God and sacrificed himself on our behalf. Wonder why?

I guess I'm always amazed at how those who have not come into reconciliation with God through Christ think that the crucifixion is simply about torture and death... and whether it were to be either slow or quick determines God's mercy or love for Jesus, or His capacity for those things, overall.

The human conundrum is plainly apparent in Ray's question(s). What Ray is missing here is that God sacrificed Himself in the form of Jesus to show how much He loved us and what He was willing to experience or go through (in human terms we can all somewhat gather) to prove that He wants us to have relationship with Him. Willingly, not as robots. And, ultimately, whenever we try to 'think' or 'rationalize' or 'justify' anything God does or has done... we always come at it from a limited ability to comprehend God. And, generally selfishly and with very little humility. We are His creations but we are not Him. He was/is the Lamb. Interesting name, eh? He's also referred to as the Shepherd.

Ray is also missing the point that the Bible was written by anointed hands from a distant time and place. A time and place that he can never visit, truly appreciate or really understand from his cozy and current atheistic and contemporary position. His mind, heart and soul can't be penetrated without a reasonable level of acceptance of God's will and purpose for everything. Ray's heart is not open. He's more intent on approaching God intellectually... when it's the heart that will change the mind... if the heart is willing to be changed. To me, Ray's atheism is mostly due to Ray's unwillingness to sacrifice his own life by dying to this world. And, it's funny how atheist's say God does not exist... but argue or question the very thing that must exist to give them something to argue about or question or there would be no point in arguing or questioning. They'd be right... end of subject. So, whereas I understand the desire to want to communicate with folks like Ray, hoping to somehow perhaps persuade them or move them or in some way be a catalyst that helps bring about a change in their heart... Ray and folks like him have to really want that change to happen. And, he doesn't seem to want to simply accept God... he wants to debate God's omnipotence and omniscience and reduce the relationship down to Ray's level of understanding. I believe from Ray's point of view, there will never be any adequate answers to any of his questions. In fact, he's not asking/looking for answers, he's asking/looking for affirmation of his atheism. It's apparent in the questions he's asking. Question #2. makes it very clear to me.... and that one doesn't even deserve an answer.

And the one "ringing truth" thing that Ray asks/states is... "it makes no sense".

Therein is where the line gets drawn between believers and non-believers. Because as much as I often wish everything... and I mean EVERYTHING... made sense to me... all the time... and to my satisfaction.... I know it never will and I trust and accept God, His Word and His Will... because something happened in my heart... a change from within... a change I wanted to happen... and from that day forward.... I have understood that I don't have to have all the answers to Ray's or any of my questions... to know that God loves me... and all of us.... and that we will never fully understand God... in His fullness and majesty, while in our fallen, human natural form. We think like humans... and although we were created in His image.... there is only One God. And, our time on earth is so brief in the eternal sense... but man, do we ever overstate our significance in the bigger picture. Our society has become the "what about me"... "I, me, mine"... "I'm very important".... "what would the world do without me".... society, like so many other societies that have failed to do anything more than bring God sadness throughout history. Because they have been self-centered and self-serving and "of and in this world". God was and is hoping to change our hearts by giving so completely, His love, Himself... and all He created.... to us. But, make no mistake about this... this is life, and it is real... where there is pain and suffering. I often wonder why.... but then I realize... I'm questioning that which I'm not meant to understand... in or by my own understanding.

I could ask Ray a handful of questions that he could never answer to my satisfaction... but I'll just ask this one....

"As an atheist... can you offer anything better in regards to the explanation of the creation of this world and the purpose of each and everyone one of us... throughout time?"

Probably not.... in fact.... I'm sure you can't (to my satisfaction). At best, you can only question that which you don't understand... because you truly don't want to understand... you simply want to believe God doesn't exist... but you can't prove it.

Of course, if I'm wrong... and you really do want to understand and believe.... I will be glad to share the Sinner's prayer with you, Ray.... and once you make the decision to die to this world.... you will gain all the answer(s) you need and it will ALL MAKE SENSE.

God guarantees it. But, in His time... not yours or mine.

God bless you, Ray... and all atheists.

Kind regards,

C. Evan Leonard

 
At 9:01 AM, Anonymous Brian in Fresno said...

I think Mr. Leonard does a much better job of answering these questions than I could. I think his answer also goes a long ways in showing what Jesus meant when he said that we must come as little children. Ray is full of "adult understanding" while Mr. Leonard opens the heart. I appreciate your answers very much Mr. Leonard. I need to spend more time going over Ray's questions to really see how I would attempt to answer them.

 
At 6:15 AM, Anonymous Joy said...

The only thing I can think to say is this... I once was and was among nonbelievers. I (and the people around me) thought that by not being a Christian we were more open-minded and had a wider view of the world (a little elitist actually). I was asked to read the Book of John by a Christian. I did. I asked why the Bible stopped where it did. And guess what, the answer is in the last chapter of the Bible itself.

As I actually opened my heart and mind, it became easy for me to make sense of Christianity and once again in my life, confess my sins and return to a relationship with God and Jesus. It will sound weird to those that don't believe, but this is the truth for me... the comfort of His grace, the answers I found when I actually read the Bible and the wisdom of His Word actually made me feel 100 times more open-minded, open-hearted and an even larger view of the world than I imagined as a non-beliver.

Sometimes from the outside of Christianity looking in, we see a narrow view and mindless followers of an ancient myth. But from the inside, it's a whole new world. I don't know if you can explain it to someone that just wants the facts. I would challenge Ray to read the Book of John, not just what he remembers or has heard from others - READ the Book. You will find all the answers there if you are open and honestly looking.

Peace and Happy New Year,
Joy

 

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