Premise 1: If the Christian God exists, all men will be given the greatest opportunity to willfully enter into a saving relationship with him.premise 2: By virtue of their ignorance, not all men have been given the greatest opportunity to willfully enter into a saving relationship with the Christian God.Conclusion: Therefore, the Christian God does not exist.Question for debate: Is this argument sound?
You incorrectly assume that direct knowledge of Christ is required for salvation when this is not the case, and in any case how do you then think King david and Able are commended for their faith, what was the Word about Christ for them? The gosepl always comes by proxy and it is a matter of receiving the holy spirit via means of a messenger. The receiving will either make the receiver an ignorant sheep or an understanding disciple, "one of these brothers of mine".
The sheep are ignorant of their salvation and yet have accepted Christ non the less because they received one of God many messagers and witnesses which have been spread out like yeast in the batch. These are primarily his bothers and sisters, but as we see from Matt 10 is extended to receiving righteouness generally, and probaly even to recieving one of the seven spirits of God. (work them out - one is the spirit of truth)
Also the creation stands as witness as the quote from Psalm 19 declared. If as in Romans ch1 we can be condemned through creation's witness it must also be possible to be saved through it (i.e by accepting it as a messenger from the creator God), otherwise it would be an unjust measure of condemnation.
The Chrisitian God therefore exists as you expect. There is no problem with the delay in the incarnation because the power and offer from it extends in time both ways. Many of those who are unconvinced and if you like sin against Christ and the church, do not actually sin against the holy spirit, and unbeknown to them the spiritual voice which they actually now follow is in fact one of God's spirits - they will get there in the end. There are of course many who assert their own survival and justification over and against any such spirit from God and they are lost, but through their own self will.
IonianThank you for your reply (sorry I have trouble with the quoting mechanism so please bear with this)
You said;After all, can it be said that you have, at any time, willfully received or rejected a gift you did not first recognize to exist? Have you ever willfully accepted or rejected a gift's offer without first recognizing, or at least believing, that the one through which the gift is offered exists? Consider a babe at its mother’s breast, what does it understand of the gift or the giver other than that it is good. (and there is none good but God). To enter the kingdom of God you must become such as one of these – a taster and follower of the spirit of goodness. You do not need to understand the provenance of eating and breathing to be able to eat and breathe.
You said;You seem to be under the misapprehension that the freedom to either accept or reject the claims asserted by those who profess to speak on the Christian God's behalf is sufficient in providing men the greatest opportunity to enter into a saving relationship with him.As previously pointed out it is about receiving the Holy spirit through these messengers, and is not directly to do with their academic claims, it is about warming to the spirit which they present and then following wherever it leads. It is about receiving a righteous man because of the spirit of truth about him not because you necessarily understand everything he is going on about. The gospel works for all in all times and in all places.
You said:Yet to reject God's purported messenger is not to willfully reject God himselfCorrect, This is the trick of everything, making a creation is the way to create a survivable space for freewill as well, but is also why there is no possible salvation for the spiritual angels, because by definition they reject God direct to his face they sin against the holy spirit directly.
Luke 10 14-16Woe to you, Chorazin! Woe to you, Bethsaida! For if the miracles that were performed in you had been performed in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented long ago, sitting in sackcloth and ashes. 14 But it will be more bearable for Tyre and Sidon at the judgment than for you. 15 And you, Capernaum, will you be lifted to the heavens? No, you will go down to Hades.16“Whoever listens to you listens to me; whoever rejects you rejects me; but whoever rejects me rejects him who sent me.”
You said:A man cannot willfully reject that which he does not first believe to exist.This is true enough but the creator God has woven his witness into the warp and weft of everything, like yeast in a batch. Do you not believe that cause and effect exist; where does the universe come from then? Atheism is willfully stupid to deny a first cause, they contradict their means of analyzing everything else.
Do you not believe that truth, order, companionship, faithfulness, trust, creativity and wisdom exist? Follow these things and you are following the voice of the spirit of God – these things are His where ever they are found.
And if they are followed objectively over and against personal survival and self justification, (that is as a rejection of such selfishness), then it represents a holding out of ones hand for salvation. The question at the heart of the universe is do you want God and truth, order, companionship, faithfulness, trust, creativity and wisdom or do you what personal self justification.
An honest reflection on this will suggest that we often in a position of contradiction and do not do what we believe we should. Romans 7. To take this position is to agree with God. Many however self justify until the cows come home. (teenagers coming of age and finding themselves are in a particular danger in this regard)
I am not sure what is included within natural theology, I suspect I wouldn’t agree with it all. The point is that it is clear that from Romans 1 allied to Psalm 19 that the witness of creation is a key example of why men are without excuse. That is it displays a spirit of God’s character holding out his arms all day long to us, it is not about affirming an understanding of God directly, it is about acknowledging the spirit of creativity and cause and effect as good. Listening to this voice will get you there in the end, because there is none good but God.
On other “pagan” Gods you need to realize that the biblical narrative is that all such would be perversions of the truth available to Noah, and the current version of spiritual mankind is said to have spread out from him. And the mass conversion of the Karen people of Burma in the 60’s when Christianity was found to fulfill their preserved “pagan” revelation is at least some evidence in favour of this. There are other tales which indicate that religions which on the surface seem quite “pagan” for want of a better word, also still contain an original revelation of the one true creator God. Other religions are more synthetic.
I would be so bold as to claim that many people will find themselves in heaven unexpectedly. The parable of the sheep, the goats and these brothers of mine is clear about this (yes there are 3 groups in this parrable and not just the traditional 2). Although possible following different academic thought patterns (religions and beliefs) they will none the less be followers of the spirit of God, rejecters of selfishness, and acknowledgers of the fact that they need help to reject it. These are people who when they finally see Christianity as the proper fulfillment of the spirit of goodness will then also align themselves with it academically and so move from being sheep to disciples.
You said:What of those that fail to recognize the existence of any such spirit? Have they willfully rejected the message of a spirit they never recognized to exist?I already pointed out my view on the 7 spirits of God, themes which can be derived from the early part of Genesis and so there is in fact little delay in revelation. The problem of man not believing and then not transmitting the view academically make no difference to everybody’s exposure to these spiritual themes, “all day long” as the scripture asserts. I therefore repeat do you not believe that truth, order, companionship, faithfulness, trust, creativity and wisdom exist? Follow these things and you are following the voice of the spirit of God – these things are His where ever they are found.
I acknowledge that the Christian position I have set out is not a traditional one. I am sure in the past I would be thoroughly burnt at the stake for it, and even now it tends to be self excluding. I would say I have asked the same question as you, come to the conclusion that traditional positions cannot answer them properly as you have done, but then not thrown the baby out with the bath water. The reformulation which is also biblical goes a long way to providing satisfactory answers in this area.The problem with the church has been ever since Constantine converted it has been playing power politics over and above apologetics. It is only now after its fall from grace in the west that it is of necessity having to start properly picking this up again. Although I do not agree with WLC’s Molinism or Calvinsim or the unknowing God of Arminianism I must commend WLC for his work. He is a trail blazer. John Dee
In order for a babe to partake of its mother's milk it first must recognize that there is a breast to suckle, yes? In the same way, if it is required of all men to enter in to a saving relationship with the Christian God in order to receive eternal life, it is very much necessary that all men first recognize that there is indeed a Christian God to enter into relationship with.
How is one to receive a spirit which is not recognized to exist? Even if it can be shown, which I doubt it can, that all men know the holy spirit exists, it cannot be shown that all men recognize this spirit as a messenger speaking on behalf of the Christian God. If by the promptings of the spirit, a man is inclined to reject (as many have) the apostolic claims regarding Christ's divinity and instead swear fealty to alternative Gods, will this man still, despite his ignorance, inherit eternal life?
Are you implying that those who, by virtue of their ignorance, reject Jesus Christ and persist in unbelief will still attain salvation? If so, how do you reconcile such a position with the following verses?QuoteLuke 10 14-16Woe to you, Chorazin! Woe to you, Bethsaida! For if the miracles that were performed in you had been performed in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented long ago, sitting in sackcloth and ashes. 14 But it will be more bearable for Tyre and Sidon at the judgment than for you. 15 And you, Capernaum, will you be lifted to the heavens? No, you will go down to Hades.16“Whoever listens to you listens to me; whoever rejects you rejects me; but whoever rejects me rejects him who sent me.”I am also curious how you might reconcile both "John 6:50-71" and "John 14:6" with your stance.
It would be quite disingenuous of you to claim that Atheism implies the rejection of a first cause. I personally know a number of non-theists which do not deny that the universe had a cause, they merely reject that this cause was the thinking/feeling/maximally great entity espoused by theists. None the less, if by their ignorance, Atheists have failed to recognize that the first cause of the universe is indeed the Christian God, then it cannot be said that non-believers have willfully rejected the God they never recognized to exist. As such, we may conclude that non-theists have not been given the greatest opportunity to enter into a saving relationship with the Christian God.
Surely you recognize that not one of these things imply the existence of the Christian God, nor do they remotely imply that Jesus Christ is "the way, the truth, and the life". Your claim that these things refer to God "where ever they are found" is little more than a bare assertion which is not itself evidenced in the qualities to which you have made reference. How is it then that you believe the existence of such things constitutes the greatest opportunity to enter into a saving relationship with ANY God, let alone the Christian God?
Which God are you referring to John? As it stands, neither a desire for truth, order, companionship, faithfulness, trust, creativity or wisdom necessitates a recognition that any God exists, let alone the God espoused by Christians.
The recognition of contradictions between one's actions and one's desires does not imply that a God exists. If a non-Christian, or not non-theist, comes to recognize contradictions within themselves, it cannot be said that they have truly assented to Christianity. Will such an individual, none the less, inherit eternal life?
This is beginning to smack of religious pluralism. I suspect this theological stance is very much at odds with Christian orthodoxy. None the less, are you implying that so long as one assents to some moral spirit of creativity and cause and effect (whatever that may be), one will inherit eternal life? If so, such would seem to suggest that acceptance of Christ as Lord and savior is rather superfluous.
That aside, you've still yet to demonstrate that nature implies the existence of a God apart from merely asserting such is the case. Moreover, the non-theist who, in consideration of the natural world, fails to recognize that such is the handiwork of the God you espouse is certainly ignorant of God's existence. Thus it cannot be said that such an individual has willfully rejected the God whose existence he or she has utterly failed to recognize.
Greek and Roman polytheism gained popularity subsequent to Noah's purported flood, yet their reference to many Gods contradicts the monotheistic depiction of god as posited by the Abrahamic faiths.
Do such post Noahic traditions constitute a perverse belief? If so, have you not contradicted yourself?
That aside, you claim that the perverse pagan faiths contemporaneous with Noah failed to recognize the "one true God" revealed to Noah.
Can it therefore be said that such individuals willfully rejected the God they never recognized to exist? Were they given the greatest opportunity to enter into a saving relationship with the God who allegedly wrought his vengeance upon them in the form of a global deluge?
Then you admit that a belief in Jesus Christ as lord and savior, as well as the acceptance of his sacrificial gift upon the cross, is not, in fact, requisite for salvation? If so, then you would seem to affirm that the Christian God described in the OP does not exist.
On this view, even the Atheist may be saved so long as he or she believes that truth, order, companionship, faithfulness, trust, creativity and wisdom exists. Nowhere is a recognition of Christ's divinity, as well as his sacrificial atonement for sin, necessary for salvation to be obtained. If what you assert is in fact true, the Christian God (as described in the OP) does not exist.
Well John, it would seem then that my argument is not equipped to serve as a relevant critique of the theism you posit, given that it seems that the only requirements for salvation, on your view, are a belief in truth, order, companionship, faithfulness, trust, creativity and wisdom.
I would agree that most, if not all thinking men have been given the opportunity to recognize such things exist.
I would argue however, that the God you posit is not the God of orthodox Christian theology
Given that such is the case, it seems we can both mutually agree that the argument I have put forward successfully demonstrates that the God of orthodox Christian theology does not exist.
It is said that the Christian God is a maximally great being. One of the Christian God's maximally great attributes is said to be "love" (Ephesians 3:16-19, 1 John 4:8, Romans 8:38-39). By virtue of his boundless love (Psalm 36:5, Romans 8:39), the Christian desires that all men should enter into a saving relationship with him (John 3:16, 1 Timothy 2:4, Titus 2:11, John 3:17, 2 peter 3:9). This, among other things, requires that human beings accept the gift of salvation through Jesus Christ. In order for human beings to willfully accept or deny this gift, they must first recognize that the Christian God exists (One cannot willfully accept or reject the gift of a God who is not first recognized to exist). If God is all loving, then it is conceivable to presume that God will do everything in his power to provide humanity the greatest opportunity to either accept or reject his gift of salvation, thus affording them the greatest opportunity to avoid eternal separation from God in hell. Given that acceptance of this gift is predicated upon a recognition of the specific God through which the gift is offered, it follows that the Christian God, if he exists, will do everything in his power to ensure that all men come to, at the very least, recognize his existence, such that they will be afforded the opportunity to willfully accept or reject his salvific gift. Yet subsequent to the life of Christ, there have existed countless individuals who were thoroughly unconvinced of the Christian God's existence. Even to this day, there exists a vast multitude of individuals (both theist & non-theist alike) who have failed to recognize the existence of the Christian God. It is this abundance of ignorance regarding the Christian God's existence which lends credence to the conclusion born from the following syllogism:Premise 1: If the Christian God exists, all men will be given the greatest opportunity to willfully enter into a saving relationship with him.premise 2: By virtue of their ignorance, not all men have been given the greatest opportunity to willfully enter into a saving relationship with the Christian God.Conclusion: Therefore, the Christian God does not exist.Question for debate: Is this argument sound?