Forums

Reasons for Joy; In Gentleness, and Respect.

Profile of muonis

Show Posts

Show Posts

This section allows you to view all posts made by this member. Note that you can only see posts made in areas you currently have access to.


Messages - muonis

1
Choose Your Own Topic / What does it mean that God is a "just" God?
« on: April 25, 2016, 12:08:48 am »
Of all the natures of God, I feel that the adjective "just" is the most difficult to understand. How ought we understand the Justice of God?

To me, it seems that "justice" means a strict adherence to a specific code of conduct or judgement, either legal or moral. A "just" judge is one who sentences according to the law, or the spirit of the law.

But to God, it seems that the only code of conduct or judgement sufficiently credibly for Him to follow is His own personal nature, such as loving, merciful, faithful, omniscient, omnipresent, omnipotent, and sovereign. In this case, would not calling God "just" or "holy" or "good" be circular reasoning, since as the supreme sovereign being from which all existence flows, God is necessarily bound only by His own attributes and nothing else?

Following this train of thought, where does the concept of "punishment for sins" comes from? That God is a "just" God? Yet if the "justice" of God only describes His own faithfulness to His own nature, what other attribute of God could this concept come from? The Bible certainly does not say "God is a retributive God, and He assigns x amount of pain for x amount of sin".

I suppose an unintended implication would be that hell is not so much a punishment as God's "justice" and "holiness" not permitting Him to come into contact with anything tainted by sin and thus subjecting sinners to an eternal separation from God. But in His love and mercy, He uses the sacrifice of Jesus to cleanse the sins of sinners, and He uses pain in this life as a way of leading sinners to repentance. I wonder if this view has any Biblical basis?

What do you guys think? Have I just managed to confuse myself on a play of words here, or am I actually missing some significant theological knowledge?

2
muonite, I enjoyed your posts in this thread.

Another thing that might be worth pointing out is that no genocide ever occurred, nor did any blood sacrifice.

But even if they did, it's a mystery to see how Crash could judgements coherently. What ethical theory is he relying on, and why should he accept his own intuitions?

No blood sacrifice has indeed ever occurred, the closest would have been the binding of Isaac, but God made clear it was meant as a demonstration of faith on the part of Abraham.

The genocide portion is rather more problematic. Some believe the Bible really meant "complete rout" or "destruction as a coherent polity" when God refers to the destruction of certain peoples, but to be honest, the complete eradication of a city's population upon its conquest is par for the course for that period of time in history. God often makes his chosen people morally superior than the others, but not so different from their surroundings that they would appear out of place. The same could be said about the early Christians as well, I think.

God could have given the ancient Israelites penicillin too and saved thousands of lives every year, but He didn't, for the same reason as why the actions of the Israelites in the Pentateuch, as commanded by God, may appear archaic and out of date to us today. Advancement and progression, both technologically and ethically, are part of the beauty of the world as God had designed it.

But ultimately, God's sovereignty over all reality trumps all human concerns regarding morality. Humans are fundamentally equal to other humans and thus possess no right to each other's life except as commanded by God, but God, being the sole creator of human life, would indeed possess the right to create or destroy at will.

3
I think the core problem is that it is morally wrong to murder babies, therefore a good God couldn't have commanded it.  It would be like God commanding a psychopath now to murder a child.  I don't believe ends always justify means.

How would you address this problem?

Quote
Does not the potter have the right to make out of the same lump of clay some pottery for special purposes and some for common use?
Romans 9:21

Is it not within God's right to create anything, including humans, specifically for destruction at a later time? The state of nonexistence  prior to coming into existence is not equivalent to a neutral emotional state, and any amount of pain or pleasure on earth or in eternity does not represent either an improvement or a deterioration in circumstances from nonexistence. Thus, it would be erroneous to claim that God has any sort of responsibility He must fulfill toward His creation. He may be compelled to act otherwise toward humanity, but that is solely due to His nature as a loving and merciful God, and not due to any sense of responsibility external to the nature of God.

Given that God has every moral right to create human beings for the specific purpose of suffering, but because of His nature, has chosen to spare some from such a fate, is it not all the more reason to be thankful for such a gift of salvation? After all, Unconditional Election is the only way any of us can receive salvation, because no human would ever satisfy the conditions that would otherwise be required.

4

If you don't believe God of the Bible exists at all, then you would be right in saying that asking for a complete trust in the moral principles of the Bible would be dark. After all, if there were no God, trusting in God would entail believing in the moral teachings of an ancient text of human origin, as interpreted by a human clergy. That would be totalitarianism of the worst kind.

On the other hand, if this God does indeed exist, then His nature is no less authoritative on the workings of the universe than the law of gravity. Gravity is responsible for far more deaths, either through human intention or accident, throughout human history than religious wars or Biblical genocides. We do not blame God for designing gravity in such a way that He has foreseen will kill humans by the millions; it does not make any more sense to question God's purpose in taking away humans from this Earth before we fellow humans think they ought to leave.

Why can't we blame God for that?  It wouldn't be difficult for an omnipotent being to create a non-lethal system of human descent.

But that's not really the point.  Any being that requires absolute trust and submission before even revealing themselves, especially one with a tendency towards genocide and blood sacrifice, is a being we should be highly suspicious of.

The first question is the Problem of Evil, and enough has been written on that topic elsewhere.

Regarding the second, in the Bible, God clearly revealed Himself to Abraham, the Israelites, Moses, Joshua, and the Judges of early Israeli history prior to commanding any violent actions. On the other hand, indigenous regional relisions in pre-Israel Canaan often required human, oftentimes child, sacrifice.

5
"Wanting to believe" shouldn't even come into it.  If something is true then usually, I can know it is true whether I want it to be or not.  Why would the existence of God be different?

Yeah, it is like saying a person needs to have sufficient confirmation bias.

Its worse than that.  If you imagine, for a moment, that a god actually exists.  Then imagine that its the type of god whose morality tends to result in genocide and blood sacrifice.  The kind of "Your moral compass is broken, put all of your trust in me" methodology here is really, really dark.  Like, North Korean dictator dark.

If you don't believe God of the Bible exists at all, then you would be right in saying that asking for a complete trust in the moral principles of the Bible would be dark. After all, if there were no God, trusting in God would entail believing in the moral teachings of an ancient text of human origin, as interpreted by a human clergy. That would be totalitarianism of the worst kind.

On the other hand, if this God does indeed exist, then His nature is no less authoritative on the workings of the universe than the law of gravity. Gravity is responsible for far more deaths, either through human intention or accident, throughout human history than religious wars or Biblical genocides. We do not blame God for designing gravity in such a way that He has foreseen will kill humans by the millions; it does not make any more sense to question God's purpose in taking away humans from this Earth before we fellow humans think they ought to leave.

6
Eternity / Re: The reality of hell
« on: April 18, 2016, 03:16:14 pm »
Perhaps hell in of itself is not "punishment" for the sake of punishment, but rather eternal separation from God, which would naturally be perceived as unpleasant for a being that was initially designed to be together with God?

So the pain is a consequence of being separated from God, while being separated from God is a consequence of the sinful state of a human not being justified through the sacrifice of Christ. Specific acts of sin and punishment do not come into the picture at all. I wonder if this would be a more accurate understanding of the existence of hell.

7
Longtime reader of Doctor Craig's website, but only thought to register today. Can't wait to participate in discussions!

I've had a technical education, but I've always had a (very unprofessional) interest in philosophy and religion. I grew up in a protestant church, and I do subscribe to the Christian value system and even the Christian doctrines (in particular, Calvinist theology), but never actually managed to get myself baptized, mostly because I want to wait for that fabled "touch of the Holy Spirit" moment and truly feel the presence and reality of God before I commit to one set of ideals that will govern me for the rest of life. Hopefully my registration here will be the first step toward that! :D

8
To make the claim that "God is good" requires a system of morality separate (but not necessarily independent) from God. From the perspective of a Christian, "God is good" is a human claim based on the sovereignty of God. In other words, all other attributes of God (loving, just, merciful, etc) are made "good" precisely of the sovereignty and power of God. The reason is as follows:

As the creator of all that exists and could possibly exist, God necessarily applies His system of morality in the creation of the universe, and especially human nature. His morality is hard-baked, if you will, into the composition of the universe, and especially into human nature, at least initially. So, from the perspectives of the universe at large and the initial, uncorrupted human nature, God does indeed appear to be perfectly good.

Does this reduce to "might is right"? In a way, it does, although this does not actually present a problem at all. "Might is right" is a problem when it is assumed that competing moral systems are not inherently superior or inferior, and actors within an arena may impose their own moral systems upon each other upon force, resulting in potential long-term instabilities with regards to the prevailing moral system. But in the Christian faith, God, being the most powerful being that can potentially exist, not only enforces His moral systems with complete sovereignty, but also builds all of existence around His moral system. Therefore, as long as creations of God are in question (and there can be nothing that exists without God creating it), God's moral system remains the ultimate standard of right and wrong.

9
Problem of Evil / Re: Is god evil by his own measure?
« on: April 18, 2016, 02:28:57 pm »
Short answer: if everything in the Scripture is a lie, then that means you picked the wrong religion.

Long answer:

God acts with the same ethical system as the one He hard-baked into the very fabric of the universe, and especially in human nature. If there is a discrepancy between what you believe is right and what God tells you is right, and you are certain you haven't picked the wrong faith, then your perception of right and wrong may have been distorted by the Fall of Man. In that case, it may be more fruitful to read the Bible and re-calibrate your own morality compass to that of God.

As for the possibility that everything written in the Bible is a lie, if you are truly a Christian, you wouldn't be having this doubt at all. Christians arrive at their faith not because they are convinced by hard objective facts, but because of the subjective and individual presence of the Holy Spirit that only you can experience. You would not be able to convince others that your experience was real, but you would also not be able to convince yourself that your experience was fake.

10
Any questions or doubts regarding God's command for the genocide of the Canaanites ultimately boils down to another, much more common question:

Is the presence of evil and suffering in the world consistent with the just and loving natures of God?

We know that God is sovereign - that is, He answers to no authority and no principle except His own nature, nor can He be compelled to do anything that is against His nature. Asking if God can sin (or for that matter, if He can make a rock so heavy He can't lift it) is akin to asking if the forces of gravity can lift a rock upward from the surface of the Earth - yes, but the seemingly impossible feat would have been the result of an even stronger gravitational field that is not seen by us. Similarly, God may do something that appears to be contradictory to His nature, but ultimately, due to our understanding of the sovereignty of God (that is, no motivation other than His nature can exist for God), there necessarily exists indirect reasons that are rooted in His nature.

Having established the sovereignty of an omniscient, omnipotent God, we can see that there is no qualitative difference between God commanding genocides and God permitting genocides such as the one attempted by Hitler. Thus, this question reduces to the age-old Problem of Evil, and enough has already been written on this topic.

From a Christian perspective (and I know many in this forum are not), God is the ultimate authority because of His omnipotence, and His status as the creator of all that exists. It is conceivable, therefore, that God would have created the world according to the values and moralities that He holds - since there exists no other standard to which He would have any reason to adhere to. We can thus see that if our own ethical systems differ from the one held by God and described in His Inerrant Word, it is us who are wrong, and not God. Any actions by God, therefore, is factually morally correct and ought to be perceived as morally correct, because God is acting using the same morality to conduct all His actions as the morality He had built into the very fabric of the universe and within our own human natures. Any perceived discrepancy can be attributed to the latter being distorted, directly or indirectly, by the Fall of Man.

It must also be clarified that God is not a "fair" God, despite being a just God. The Calvinist principle of Unconditional Election makes this very clear - God does not choose His Elect based on any system comprehensible to us humans. Romans 23:3-4 reads:

Quote
[F]or all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and all are justified freely by His grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus.

Saving grace is from God and God alone, and no one is any more worthy of salvation, or a long and fulfilling life for that matter, than anyone else.

Furthermore, it is written in Isaiah 45:9:

Quote
“Woe to those who quarrel with their Maker, those who are nothing but potsherds among the potsherds on the ground. Does the clay say to the potter, ‘What are you making?’ Does your work say, ‘The potter has no hands’?

It ought to be noted that these are scriptural quotations, and are non-negotiable fundamental doctrines of the Christian faith. The Isaiah verse clearly precludes any argument by the dead Canaanites who come before God to be judged - what right does the clay have to complain to the potter? They do not deserve long, fulfilling lives any more than a kind and loving non-Christian deserves to enter heaven. God hands out the blessings of eternal life and justification through Christ solely at His discretion, and His application of the blessing of a long, pleasant life does not appear any less random to human eyes. This attests to the sovereignty of the Lord more than anything else.

Nor can any creation claim injustice in that it never chose to be created - a state of non-existence is not equivalent to a neutral emotional state, and and anything that may happen to any of us while on this Earth, or even being placed eternally in hell (a fate deserved by all humans, Christian or not), represents neither an improvement nor a deterioration from non-existence. Eternal salvation, on the other hand, represents a definite improvement over the aforementioned, otherwise unavoidable and fully justified fate, and that is the foundation of the Christian faith, and the proof of God's love.

Pages : [1]