Monday, May 15, 2006

The meaning of the word “faith.”

There seems to be a strong temptation for scientists especially to consider religious faith as a matter of “blind faith” but this is a mistake. It is however a very popular way of stigmatising religious people. The idea of strong faith as being simply a greater gullibility or a stronger faculty of accepting something despite the evidence or even in the teeth of the evidence is a gross misrepresentation of the nature of faith and a real distortion of the historic meaning of the word.

It seems to me that totally blind faith as a kind of blind act of will is more or less impossible for human beings. Our level of confidence is always related to a greater or lesser extent upon evidence of one kind or another. Blind faith is not a praiseworthy activity it is stupid folly.

We can have faith in propositions or in people.
We can have faith in propositions because we have faith in the person or people who have spoken them or because we can check them by some kind of evidence. Our faith in a person depends upon our experience of their trustworthiness or upon recommendation from others who have evidence of their trustworthiness.

89 Comments:

Blogger Mike Godfrey said...

Hi Andrew,
theres a great illustration regarding the difference between Faith and blind faith -that Francis Schaeffer gave.
Hopefully this isn't considered self promotion but heres the link to the story he gave:
http://fluorescentflicker.wordpress.com/2006/05/11/what-is-faith/

10:13 am  
Blogger Lifewish said...

Good definition of faith there, I'll have to remember that. However, I'm not 100% sure how it applies to Christianity.

The central claims of Christianity (that Christ rose again, that Yahweh/Jehovah exists, etc) certainly can't be directly checked by looking at physical evidence, so it must be a matter of trust in the people who make those propositions. But the only people who would have had direct physical evidence for the claims are those mentioned in the Bible (for example the Apostles), and no-one in our era has anywhere near enough information about them to determine whether they're trustworthy.

2:48 pm  
Blogger Andrew Rowell said...

What is the precise boundary that defines sufficient evidence to determine whether someone from the 1st Century was trustworthy in their claims?

2:53 pm  
Blogger Richard H said...

The word "faith" as defined in the Concise Oxford Dictionary has 3 meanings.

1. reliance or trust in; eg. put ones faith in someone

2. belief in religious doctrines, especially such as affects character and conduct; spiritual apprehension of divine truth apart from proof; system of religious belief.

3. promise or engagement; eg. purchased in good faith

"Faith" in the context of religious faith relates to the second definition. To be a Christian and to be saved from Original Sin, is to have unquestioning trust/faith in God. I have not seen anywhere where it says, or is implied, or is accepted that our trust and faith in God should be based on us finding evidence of God in reality or based on having faith in the people that lived circa 2000 years in our history that wrote the Bible.

To believe in God can only be through unquestioning/blind faith as there is not one shred of evidence for the existence of God as defined in the Bible. The Bible itself is not evidence, unless you consider the Harry Potter books to be evidence that Harry Potter exists, is a Wizard and goes to Hogwarts.

I do not mean to belittle your own beliefs or faith (blind or otherwise) but to assert that faith in the religious context is not 'blind' can not be substantiated and infact contradicts the fundamental principle of Christianity where unquestioning Faith in God is exactly what is required to be saved.

4:18 pm  
Blogger Andrew Rowell said...

Richard,

The Apostle Paul says in a letter dated about AD57 "The invisible qualities of God since the creation of the kosmos can be clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made even God's eternal power and deity so that they (unbelievers in God) are without excuse."

All that we know of Christ depends on the testimony of the apostles and their associates.

Even Immanuel Kant had considerable respect for the design argument. Many of the greatest intellects have found it compelling. Sir Anthony Flew has recently dropped his atheism as a result of this design argument using molecular biology as the raw material.

The modern view of faith is a gross distortion of the biblical view of faith. Religious faith is much more like the definition 1. that you mentioned. It is close in concept to our word "faithful."

4:31 pm  
Blogger Richard H said...

Andrew,

I will start with your last comment first...The modern view of faith is a gross distortion of the biblical view of faith. Religious faith is much more like the definition 1. that you mentioned. It is close in concept to our word "faithful."

Lets assume that is correct. What you are saying is that someone believes in God without 'Blind' faith because they have faith in the testimony of the apostles and their associates. and as you say...All that we know of Christ depends on the testimony of the apostles and their associates.

What I find intriging is that you choose to put your faith in people who lived circa 2000 years ago, whose understanding of the world was very limited and very different to ours now, and whose beliefs were driven primarily by their imagination instead of an understanding of the world around them. To put this in context - if you could bring one of them foward in time and ask them to explain why Thunder and Lightning occurs, would you take their answer in good faith and start a compaign to have all current explanations of Thunder and Lightning changed to reflect their explanation? If yes then your faith in these people is well placed. If not, then would you not have to question whether your faith is well placed?

Quote: Even Immanuel Kant had considerable respect for the design argument. Many of the greatest intellects have found it compelling. Sir Anthony Flew has recently dropped his atheism as a result of this design argument using molecular biology as the raw material.

Just to put my cards on the table - I have a complete open mind on the subject of the design argument. I have no problem in accepting the possibility that an advanced civilisation, who are millions of years ahead of us technologically, could have designed a technology called "Organic Technology", terra formed the planet 6000 years ago or millions of years ago, and we are the result of that design. But in order to believe in a God, as defined in the Bible, comes back to having faith in the same testimonies already mentioned, which I cannot personally place my faith in for the implied reasons. To do so would go against my abiilty to look at the evidence and consider the likihood of its accuracy - an ability that has been given to me by the designer.

6:02 pm  
Blogger Andrew Rowell said...

Richard,

Your question is a good one. The vast majority of the authors of the bible claim that they were speaking God's words and that these words alone were written down. If these words actually turn out to be wrong then this rather undermines the whole situation. This is acknowledged from the start.

There are detailed claims to know future events and that they then actually happen. There are many claims of multiple witness miracles also.

There are some remarkably "scientific" parts to the bible (I find the infectious disease flow charts in Leviticus fascinating)but basically the bible focuses on the aspects of human life which do not change over time so that it is remarkably up to date.

To deal with your specific question... if I asked say Moses to explain why Thunder and Lightening occurs... what would he say?

1. God decrees the thunder and the lightening. This means that he knows when is will strike and where and he is in control in some way over all the events of nature.
He would say however that he was compelled to come to this conclusion from his experiences during the plagues in Egypt.

2. I expect he would also say that from observation the thunder and lightening is associated with a certain type of cloud and weather conditions.

3. I expect he would say that the magnificence of the thunder and lightening reminds us of the magnificence of God.

If I then gave him a book of modern explanations of weather I expect he would find it fascinating and be full of questions but I do not think he would change his mind about God's control of the weather.

Does this answer your problem?
In other words he would be happy to accept proximate causes but still believe in an ultimate cause that transcends all the proximate causation.

6:33 pm  
Blogger Christian said...

Richard H is utterly correct in his assessment of faith as it pertains to belief in God.

“I have not seen anywhere where it says, or is implied, or is accepted that our trust and faith in God should be based on us finding evidence of God in reality or based on having faith in the people that lived circa 2000 years in our history that wrote the Bible.”

I trust that I have not misunderstood his point, which he made quite elegantly, and might be allowed to build upon it.

The physical world, which we interact with on a daily basis, is a concrete fact. However, some of us see mere atoms, whilst others see the hand of a Creator. The distinction is made by the presence or absence of ‘faith’, in the context with which Richard described the same. This particular faith can most certainly not be substantiated in any shape or form. What proof can you supply to prove that God hung the stars in space, or put spikes on a hedgehog, or manicures each blade of grass? I see absolutely no license to insult those who do believe ‘blindly’ in an unseen (and scientifically unproven) Creator, by suggesting that they are caught up in some sort of ‘stupid folly’.

Some verses from the Bible will illustrate my point:


Eph 2:8 For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God:

1Co 12:8/9 For to one is given… faith by the same Spirit;

Rom 12:3 For I say, through the grace given unto me, to every man that is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think; but to think soberly, according as God hath dealt to every man the measure of faith.

Luk 17:5 And the apostles said unto the Lord, Increase our faith.

Rom 10:17 So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.

From these verses we learn the following:

1. Faith is a gift from God, and its presence implies nothing whatsoever to do with man
2. Mankind can request the provision or increase of faith by direct supplication to the Lord Himself
3. The vehicle by which God administers faith is the reading and hearing of the Word of God



2Th 3:2 …for all men have not faith.

Jam 2:5 Hearken, my beloved brethren, Hath not God chosen the poor of this world rich in faith, and heirs of the kingdom which he hath promised to them that love him?

1Co 2:14 But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.

Eph 4:18 Having the understanding darkened, being alienated from the life of God through the ignorance that is in them, because of the blindness of their heart:

Heb 11:6 But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.

Rom 5:2 By whom also we have access by faith into this grace wherein we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God.

Luk 18:8 …when the Son of man cometh, shall he find faith on the earth?

From these verses we can further learn:

4. Not everyone has faith
5. God has chosen some extremely unlikely candidates to receive the gift of faith
6. To those who have no faith, the ways of God, including the way of salvation and design in creation, will appear as nonsensical gobbledygook
7. The only way to understand or have any sort of meaningful relationship with God is through faith, and specifically faith in Jesus Christ, God’s Son (Romans 5,1)
8. For reasons best known to Himself, the Lord is not expecting to find much in the way of faith on planet earth when He returns at a future date: therefore disbelief, scoffing and ridicule is pretty much par-for-the-course



Heb 11:1 Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.
Heb 11:3 Through faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that things which are seen were not made of things which do appear.

1Co 2:1 And I, brethren, when I came to you, came not with excellency of speech or of wisdom, declaring unto you the testimony of God.
1Co 2:2 For I determined not to know any thing among you, save Jesus Christ, and him crucified.
1Co 2:3 And I was with you in weakness, and in fear, and in much trembling.
1Co 2:4 And my speech and my preaching was not with enticing words of man's wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power:
1Co 2:5 That your faith should not stand in the wisdom of men, but in the power of God.
1Co 2:6 Howbeit we speak wisdom among them that are perfect: yet not the wisdom of this world, nor of the princes of this world, that come to nought:
1Co 2:7 But we speak the wisdom of God in a mystery, even the hidden wisdom, which God ordained before the world unto our glory:

2Co 5:7 (For we walk by faith, not by sight:)

Joh 20:24 But Thomas, one of the twelve, called Didymus, was not with them when Jesus came.
Joh 20:25 The other disciples therefore said unto him, We have seen the Lord. But he said unto them, Except I shall see in his hands the print of the nails, and put my finger into the print of the nails, and thrust my hand into his side, I will not believe.
Joh 20:26 And after eight days again his disciples were within, and Thomas with them: then came Jesus, the doors being shut, and stood in the midst, and said, Peace be unto you.
Joh 20:27 Then saith he to Thomas, Reach hither thy finger, and behold my hands; and reach hither thy hand, and thrust it into my side: and be not faithless, but believing.
Joh 20:28 And Thomas answered and said unto him, My Lord and my God.
Joh 20:29 Jesus saith unto him, Thomas, because thou hast seen me, thou hast believed: blessed are they that have not seen, and yet have believed.

This selection of verses highlights the following:

9. The reality of Intelligent Design and belief in a sovereign Creator is in no way a difficult or ridiculous concept to grasp, to those who have faith
10. The message and argument to be delivered from those who have faith to those who have none is not Intelligent Design or man’s wisdom, but rather, “Jesus Christ, and Him crucified”
11. There is an especial blessing which is bestowed upon those who in simple, and truly blind faith(see John 20, 29) believe on the existence and authenticity of the Lord Jesus Christ. It most certainly is a “praiseworthy activity”, which carries the blessing of Jesus Himself, and in no way does it represent “stupid folly”.



Heb 10:23 Let us hold fast the profession of our faith without wavering; (for he is faithful that promised;)
Heb 10:38 Now the just shall live by faith: but if any man draw back, my soul shall have no pleasure in him.

1Ti 1:5 Now the end of the commandment is charity out of a pure heart, and of a
good conscience, and of faith unfeigned:
1Ti 1:6 From which some having swerved have turned aside unto vain jangling;
1Ti 1:7 Desiring to be teachers of the law; understanding neither what they say, nor whereof they affirm.

2Ti 2:18 Who concerning the truth have erred, saying that the resurrection is past already; and overthrow the faith of some.

Jam 2:24 Ye see then how that by works a man is justified, and not by faith only.
Jam 2:26 For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also.

1Pe 1:7 That the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honour and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ:
1Pe 1:8 Whom having not seen, ye love; in whom, though now ye see him not, yet believing, ye rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory:
1Pe 1:9 Receiving the end of your faith, even the salvation of your souls.

Finally, from these last few verses we can denote that:

12. Faith is a fragile thing, and can be weakened, and even lost in entirety
13. Faith can be faked, and such ‘faith’ is often held by false teachers, who are ignorant of the Truth. This in turn brings dishonour and disrepute upon God, and all those who are genuinely seeking to follow Him.
14. True, living, vibrant, real faith is validated and authenticated by the works which should accompany it
15. Faith in God is the most precious thing a human being can possess. The believer in God can expect his or her faith to be severely tested during their lifetime, but the reward to the faithful is utterly without price: God’s salvation



I make little or no apology for using so many references from the Bible. It will perhaps be obvious by now that I am unashamedly convinced of its complete veracity and integrity, and this through the measure of ‘blind faith’ which I thank God He has deigned to give me. Let God be true, but every man a liar… (Romans 3,4)

I am living proof of what Andrew Rowell describes as “totally blind faith as a kind of blind act of will”. I believe it will serve me well when I stand before my Maker. I have learnt that my fellow men are as unreliable and untrustworthy as I am. My faith in God, on the other hand, is absolute, despite that faith having led me into all manner of indescribable hardships and trials. If this is not blind faith, I don’t know what is.

If I enter a 30mph zone in a built-up area and see a highly visible, bright yellow camera by the roadside flash as I pass at 45mph, I cannot expect to be considered “without excuse” when the fixed penalty notice drops through my letterbox the following week. I am doubly culpable because not only did I see the speed camera, but I am aware (or should be aware) that exceeding 30mph in a built-up area contravenes the rules of the Highway Code. Ignorance of the contents of the Highway Code would be no excuse. Neither, do I have to possess faith in the operational state of the camera, or understand the physics behind its construction, in order to be charged with speeding.

In the same way, Romans 1 verse 20 refers to the inhabitants of the world being without excuse as to God’s existence because each and every one of us can see, feel, and hear the evidence of His handiwork no matter where we turn. It is not necessary to come to an understanding or appreciation of how God created in order to be held accountable. The most uneducated, primitive natives in darkest Africa are as much without excuse as the most intellectual Harvard Professor. But belief in the God who manufactured our environment requires a leap of blind faith, for no amount of knowledge or learning will ever even begin to scratch the surface of the immensity and complexity of God. This faith God will freely give to those who seek Him, and human wisdom and understanding will play no part in this process.

Gen 1:1 In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth.

One will believe the first verse of the Bible, and every verse thereafter, depending on the measure of faith that God has blessed that individual with.

I believe in a God who is infinitely more powerful and superior in every way to myself, and it gives me tremendous comfort. When I look at mankind’s activities I see mainly selfishness, greed, death and destruction on a global scale. We have accomplished little that we can be truly proud of. Even the beautiful natural world that God gave us to live and work in, with its plants and animals that I love so much, is suffering, decaying and dying before our very eyes, as a result of our mismanagement.

8:47 pm  
Blogger Andrew Rowell said...

Christian,
I do not agree with your view of what faith is in terms of its meaning in the bible. Faith in the bible is not a blind act of the will- a blind leap. There is always an element of the will but it is always responding correctly to the evidence that is presented and available. This is why unbelief or unfaith is always presented as the root error. It is the begining of everything going wrong. It is the turning away from the evidence or the holding down of the evidence. The evidence is required in order for God to conclude that the "evidence rejecters" are without a legitimate defence.
Otherwise they could legitimately say (as many in fact do say) ah well there just was not enough evidence to cause me to believe. The bible itself is a large book of evidence.

9:50 pm  
Anonymous christian said...

So Andrew, would you say that faith in the evidence of the natural world, which is in your words, “presented and available”, is more important from a Biblical perspective than faith in Jesus Christ, who has not been seen by man for 2000 years? What specific evidence can you present which directly links God (esp. Jesus Christ - Joh 1:3 All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made.) with creation, and which proves beyond a shadow of a doubt that He was the originator of life?

I do not subscribe to your suggestion that the Bible is a large book of evidence. From a very obscure angle it falls into that category, and I personally believe that it does contain truthful and historically accurate accounts of real events that took place in real time. But the Bible has a unique status on the bookshelf, for the Bible is no ordinary book… and this is once again where faith comes into play. The Bible claims of itself:

2Ti 3:16 All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness:

2Pe 1:21 For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost.

If you tried to prove authorship of the Bible in a human court of law based on these two verses, you would be laughed all the way into next week. Yet, I believe these two verses implicitly and unhesitatingly… Why? Because I really do believe it is God that is speaking. Full stop. I have no evidence from men to rely on, and many of those who claim to know God and who purport to act as mentors do not live as the Bible says they should, and I include myself in that category. However, this does not stop me relying EXCLUSIVELY on every word on every single one of its pages, and rejecting with happy abandonment each new man-made philosophy and ideal that comes along.

Luk 4:4 And Jesus answered him, saying, It is written, That man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word of God.

Of course, the Bible has proven itself to be self-fulfilling over the course of history, and many (yourself included) point to that as an evidence of its authority, which I believe it is. Yet, go too far down that route and you will miss my whole point, and the point that I believe Richard was making. Faith that relies on historical evidence, scientific validation, and archaeological digs, makes a shameful bedfellow to true faith, which by its very nature must be blind:

Joh 1:18 No man hath seen God at any time; the only begotten Son, which is in the bosom of the Father, he hath declared him.

I distinctly feel that our difference of opinion stems largely from your assumption that man has an input and a decision to make as to whether or not he chooses to hold and exercise faith, whereas I strongly maintain that faith is gifted upon the believer by the Creator. Furthermore, I believe there is a large body of Scriptural evidence to support such a position, which is why I took such pains to quote heavily in my previous post. But, of course, in order for my quotations to have any relevance, one must believe unquestioningly that the Bible is 100% inspired and inerrant, which I do… which brings us back to faith… blind faith maybe, and only hugely effective because it is God-given. If there really is a God, and if He really did create the world with you and me in it, then it is a relatively simple thing for Him to reveal Himself to His created beings as the originator of all life.

11:14 pm  
Blogger Andrew Rowell said...

Christian,

I find myself agreeing with much of what you say but there is still this crucial difference. You seem to argue that faith is a gift of God to the extent that there is no human responsibility to believe. Do you believe that unbelief is sin? Upon what basis? Surely our level of guilt is proportionate to the amount of evidence that we suppress.

7:02 am  
Anonymous christian said...

Good morning Andrew,

From my reading of the Bible I find it impossible to support the idea of “levels” and “proportions” of guilt. I believe it is categorically clear that mankind is born into and under sin, and we are all on the same level playing field, until Christ enters the picture.

Rom 3:19 Now we know that what things soever the law saith, it saith to them who are under the law: that every mouth may be stopped, and all the world may become guilty before God.
Rom 3:20 Therefore by the deeds of the law there shall no flesh be justified in his sight: for by the law is the knowledge of sin.
Rom 3:21 But now the righteousness of God without the law is manifested, being witnessed by the law and the prophets;
Rom 3:22 Even the righteousness of God which is by faith of Jesus Christ unto all and upon all them that believe: for there is no difference:
Rom 3:23 For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God;
Rom 3:24 Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus:

Isa 64:6 But we are all as an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags; and we all do fade as a leaf; and our iniquities, like the wind, have taken us away.

To suggest that one human being is more or less guilty than another on some sort of sliding scale, goes completely against the teaching of Scripture. How does it profit an individual if he or she is 99% acceptable to God? The concept is unthinkable.

The fire escape out of our sorry situation is of course the Lord Jesus Christ, whose sinless life and sacrificial death on our behalf will appease the justifiable wrath of a holy God. I fail to see on any page of Scripture where we have a hand in the selection process:

Eph 1:3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ:
Eph 1:4 According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love:
Eph 1:5 Having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will,

Joh 15:16 Ye have not chosen me, but I have chosen you…

Rom 9:11 (For the children being not yet born, neither having done any good or evil, that the purpose of God according to election might stand, not of works, but of him that calleth;)

Rom 11:7 What then? Israel hath not obtained that which he seeketh for; but the election hath obtained it, and the rest were blinded
Rom 11:8 (According as it is written, God hath given them the spirit of slumber, eyes that they should not see, and ears that they should not hear;) unto this day.

Thank God that we are not privy to who the elect are… the Lord alone knows them that are His. Therefore, the preaching of the gospel is a most urgent activity and ardent responsibility of every follower of Christ, until He returns. Until that time, “whosoever will” may come (Rev 22:17 And the Spirit and the bride say, Come. And let him that heareth say, Come. And let him that is athirst come. And whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely.)

But those who have anything at all to do with God will be forever in His debt to the seed of faith that He sowed in their heart, which enables us to open our eyes to the truth of God, His existence and the part He plays in the world around us.

Rom 9:14 What shall we say then? Is there unrighteousness with God? God forbid.
Rom 9:15 For he saith to Moses, I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion.
Rom 9:16 So then it is not of him that willeth, nor of him that runneth, but of God that sheweth mercy.

We simply cannot reason, theorize or hypothesize our way into the kingdom of heaven. Such an attitude robs God of all the glory that is rightfully His. We are dead in trespasses and sins before we come to the Saviour. How can a dead person make any response to the overtures of the Spirit of God? He/she must first be made alive, and that process involves uniquely an action from God Himself.

You have not answered the two questions that I put to you first and foremost in my last post?

10:25 am  
Blogger Richard H said...

Christian is correct in his assumption about the point that I was making, and it has been very interesting reading about 'blind faith' from someone such as Christian who is on the other side of the fence from me - ie. I have not been brought up to believe in any particular religion and have not subsequently come to believe as I have gotten older.

It is also interesting because it seems that both Christian and Andrew ultimately believe in the same God (excuse me if I have got this wrong) and yet this belief is based on different reasons: Christian has unquestioning faith; Andrew believes because he has faith in the authors of the bible, and more recently because of evidence in nature that points to design.

To have unquestioning / blind faith is something that cannot be argued with. In one of my previous posts (in a different topic) I used the example that I have unquestioning faith that I have a Guardian Angel. My faith does not require anyone else to believe in my Guardian Angel, and does not require anyone to spend time trying to prove or disprove it's existence. My faith in unquestioning and absolute.

I believe this analogy applies to Christian and his belief in God (assuming I have understood his entries above correctly). However, assume I said, I believe in my Guardian Angel because I read a book by Mr X who claimed that his Guardian Angel has spoken to him and told him of his own Angel's existence and also told him that all human beings have Guardian Angels, and if every human has faith in their own Guardian Angel then their Guardian Angel can help them more strongly than without that faith. Mr X claims he has written the exact words spoken by his Guardian Angel.

This is more aligned with Andrew's basis for faith - ie. having faith in the apostles and associates who have written the words of God. Andrew makes the point himself with this quote:

The vast majority of the authors of the bible claim that they were speaking God's words and that these words alone were written down. If these words actually turn out to be wrong then this rather undermines the whole situation. This is acknowledged from the start.

Before we had the ability to look at the detail of our environment and of other creatures, we were unable to find evidence of design, and therefore the belief was solely on the basis of the writings of these apostles and associates.

My point is this: Andrew has transferred the 'blind faith' from direct belief in God to a 'blind faith' in those people that claim that they have written the words of God, thereby enabling him to indirectly believe in God, and therefore claim that his belief in God is not based on 'blind faith'.

The apostle's claim that the words are from God cannot be corraborated, substantiated or proven. You have to have unquestioning faith that they have told the truth - ie. you have to have blind faith in these apostles.

In summary, if you cannot belief in something directly because there is sufficient evidence and it would therefore be recognised as 'blind faith' - believing in something else related to that belief cannot bridge the gap of 'blind faith' - it just transfers it.

If I say that I have unquestioning faith that my Guardian Angel exists, then you can say that I have 'blind faith'. If I say that I believe in my Guardian Angel because of Mr X's book, and accept without question that he has really written the words spoken to him by his Guardian Angel, then does this mean that I no-longer have blind faith in my angel existing? No. It means I have blind faith in Mr X.

11:23 am  
Blogger Andrew Rowell said...

Christian,

In answer to the two questions which you wanted me to answer...

1.Is Faith in the evidence of the natural world more important than faith in Christ?
Ans- Faith in God is prior to faith in Christ. You cannot believe in Christ unless you believe in God first.

2.Can I prove that God is the originator of life?
Ans- I think it is possible to prove that a superhuman intelligence and power is responsible for the origin of life. I would say going further than this is more difficult and is not really simply science.

12:21 pm  
Anonymous christian said...

Richard, I thank you for your input, for you have succinctly demonstrated the difference in stance between Andrew and myself. You have hit the nail right on the head as to where I am coming from, and I thought the following comment was especially relevant:

"My point is this: Andrew has transferred the 'blind faith' from direct belief in God to a 'blind faith' in those people that claim that they have written the words of God, thereby enabling him to indirectly believe in God, and therefore claim that his belief in God is not based on 'blind faith'."

Andrew, thank you for responses to my two prior questions. However, we have a major problem with your first answer, if we are both reading the same version of the Bible. John 14, verse 6 reads thus:

Joh 14:6 Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.

Christ is the key to God… it is not the other way around.

I broadly agree with your second answer, although I do not feel a compelling need to prove to anyone who does not share my faith, that supernatural forces created the world. I feel God will supply the necessary faith to those whom He wishes to receive it, through Jesus Christ as the mediator. I am persuaded that anyone who falls into this category will not only believe that Jesus Christ is God, but they will also believe in entirety all His other claims, including those in which He states that He was present and involved at the time of the creation of the universe and mankind.

1:05 pm  
Blogger Andrew Rowell said...

Christian,

With regards to John 14, verse 6 it is difficult to see the relevance of Christ being the way to God to someone who claims not to believe in God. I will not be interested in someone who claims to be able to show me the way to a city I do not believe exists. The apostle Paul's evangelistic method was to speak about God first then introduce Christ. Our need of Christ depends on our separation from God.

1:49 pm  
Blogger Andrew Rowell said...

ndwfsRichard/Christian,
"My point is this: Andrew has transferred the 'blind faith' from direct belief in God to a 'blind faith' in those people that claim that they have written the words of God, thereby enabling him to indirectly believe in God, and therefore claim that his belief in God is not based on 'blind faith'."

I do not accept that faith in the apostles is blind faith. You can get a large amount of evidence simply from a persons writings themselves.

1:52 pm  
Blogger Andrew Rowell said...

Christian,

Your approach to faith seems quite different to that of the apostle Paul.
Do you believe that unbelief is sinful?

1:55 pm  
Blogger Andrew Rowell said...

Christian,

With regard to levels of guilt. I agree that a person is either condemned or justified...but nevertheless there are different degrees of guilt. Jesus does refer to lesser and greater sin and to penalties being fixed in accordance with what a person knew. He talks about greater condemnation etc. Do you believe in judgment being "more tolerable" for some than others?

2:16 pm  
Anonymous christian said...

Andrew… Taking your last point first – I do not see that there are differing levels of guilt in the way that you do. I have good reasons for thinking along these lines:

Mat 5:28 But I say unto you, That whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart.

Jam 2:10 For whosoever shall keep the whole law, and yet offend in one point, he is guilty of all.

Isa 55:8 For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the LORD.

The Bible shows us that God is very black and white when it comes to sin and transgression of His law. Few of us, if any, can appreciate the horror and disgust with which He views what we would consider even the most minor offence. In our finite minds eye, we have built ourselves a scale of sin, with simple sins like coveting at the bottom of the list, progressing through lying, stealing, sins of morality including sexual sins of rape, etc., all the way up to murder and genocide at the very top of the list. It is interesting that when God gave the first set of laws to Moses, He did not feel it was necessary to grade the offences in any order of severity. Ezekiel 18 verse 20 says simply:

Eze 18:20 The soul that sinneth, it shall die.

This is how God views sin. I quoted a lot of verses earlier that illustrated the very same point. 99.99% will never be good enough for God.

Of course, the Bible does talk a lot of judgement, but you must be extremely careful to distinguish between the eternal judgement of those who have rejected Christ as the Messiah during their lifetime, and those who accepted Him and as a result are protected and covered by His imputed righteousness. Any judgement for the latter group is exclusively for those deeds that they have carried out (or not carried out as the case may be) during service for their Lord. 1st Corinthians 3,10 to 3,15 describes this scenario in detail:

1Co 3:10 According to the grace of God which is given unto me, as a wise masterbuilder, I have laid the foundation, and another buildeth thereon. But let every man take heed how he buildeth thereupon.
1Co 3:11 For other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ.
1Co 3:12 Now if any man build upon this foundation gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, stubble;
1Co 3:13 Every man's work shall be made manifest: for the day shall declare it, because it shall be revealed by fire; and the fire shall try every man's work of what sort it is.
1Co 3:14 If any man's work abide which he hath built thereupon, he shall receive a reward.
1Co 3:15 If any man's work shall be burned, he shall suffer loss: but he himself shall be saved; yet so as by fire.

I believe it is extremely academic and immaterial to ruminate on the fate of the former group: the main thing is to seek the Lord while He may be found, and ensure that we are not counted amongst that number. What God does with those individuals is His business, and it will be just, fair and seen to be so by all who witness it.

The following verses illustrate how straightforward God can be when dealing with sin:

Joh 3:16 For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.
Joh 3:17 For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved.
Joh 3:18 He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.
Joh 3:19 And this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil.

To paraphrase rather crudely… ignore and dismiss the light that is come into the world (i.e. Jesus) = condemnation;

BUT, believe in Jesus Christ = no condemnation

There is no mileage in attempting to make the Bible any harder to understand than the straightforward eloquence of the words of the Saviour above.

I can only find one reference to “greater condemnation” in my translation. It is found in James 3, verse 1:

Jam 3:1 My brethren, be not many masters, knowing that we shall receive the greater condemnation.

These are the inspired words of the apostle James, not the Lord Himself, and this passage clearly refers to teachers within the Church, who having already been justified through faith in Christ, are subject only to the type of judgement referred to in 1st Corinthians chapter 3.

You asked the question, “Do you believe that unbelief is sinful?” – I refer you back to John 3, verse 18, which I quoted above. This verse makes it crystal clear that unbelief brings condemnation upon the unbeliever, and is completely in harmony with what the apostle Paul believed and taught? How do you arrive at the conclusion that my approach to faith is radically different to Paul’s, especially when I make liberal use of his own epistles?

Rom 8:1 There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.
Rom 8:2 For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death.
Rom 8:3 For what the law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh, God sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh:
Rom 8:4 That the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.

You wrote:

“I do not accept that faith in the apostles is blind faith. You can get a large amount of evidence simply from a persons writings themselves.”

I myself do not trust a single person on this planet in matters relating to my eternal destiny, and I include every one of the apostles and prophets when making that statement. The only reason I believe what they wrote is truthful, accurate and can be depended upon, is because I believe God Himself inspired their writings, as I made reference to in a previous post. To put it another way, it is God and God alone who I trust, and the apostles were in a very real sense merely scribes who had the great fortune of being eyewitnesses of the Lord Himself.

2Pe 1:16 For we have not followed cunningly devised fables, when we made known unto you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but were eyewitnesses of his majesty.

This extract from Psalm 146 summarises what I think about men and God:

Psa 146:3 Put not your trust in princes, nor in the son of man, in whom there is no help.
Psa 146:4 His breath goeth forth, he returneth to his earth; in that very day his thoughts perish.
Psa 146:5 Happy is he that hath the God of Jacob for his help, whose hope is in the LORD his God:

I apologise that I have worked in reverse through your postings, but moving finally to your comments about John 14, verse 6, I agree that someone who claims not to believe in God will see absolutely no relevance in Christ being the way to the same. Beyond this point all human logic, reasoning and argument will fail, however, for this is inherent in God’s design and plan of salvation. Your analogy…

“I will not be interested in someone who claims to be able to show me the way to a city I do not believe exists.”

… unfortunately is not even valid, for the Gospel defies all human wisdom and common sense, and God wants things this way for His own private reasons:

1Co 1:17 For Christ sent me not to baptize, but to preach the gospel: not with wisdom of words, lest the cross of Christ should be made of none effect.
1Co 1:18 For the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness; but unto us which are saved it is the power of God.
1Co 1:19 For it is written, I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and will bring to nothing the understanding of the prudent.
1Co 1:20 Where is the wise? where is the scribe? where is the disputer of this world? hath not God made foolish the wisdom of this world?
1Co 1:21 For after that in the wisdom of God the world by wisdom knew not God, it pleased God by the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe.
1Co 1:22 For the Jews require a sign, and the Greeks seek after wisdom:
1Co 1:23 But we preach Christ crucified, unto the Jews a stumblingblock, and unto the Greeks foolishness;
1Co 1:24 But unto them which are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God, and the wisdom of God.
1Co 1:25 Because the foolishness of God is wiser than men; and the weakness of God is stronger than men.

The above excerpt, you will note, is from 1st Corinthians, a letter written by the apostle Paul, and one in which he demonstrates the centrality of Christ to the gospel. Without Christ, you cannot even get off the starting blocks when it comes to all things God-centered. The once crucified, now risen and glorified Jesus Christ will always be the darling and apple of God’s eye, and rightly so. The apostle Paul was well aware of this, and I flatly refute your suggestion that he used alternative methods in his attempts to win others for his Master.

5:24 pm  
Anonymous Nathan said...

“Do you believe that unbelief is sinful?” – I refer you back to John 3, verse 18, which I quoted above. This verse makes it crystal clear that unbelief brings condemnation upon the unbeliever.

Christian how can you believe that unbelief is a sin if indeed you say that you either have it or you dont.

You said:
"4. Not everyone has faith
5. God has chosen some extremely unlikely candidates to receive the gift of faith
6. To those who have no faith, the ways of God, including the way of salvation and design in creation, will appear as nonsensical gobbledygook."

You can't have your cake and eat it too.

6:50 pm  
Anonymous Nathan said...

For myself I believe that nature and humanity provides ample evidence for the existence of a God.

6:55 pm  
Anonymous christian said...

Hi Nathan,

I would like to make it clear that I, myself, am not trying to say anything that the Bible has not already said. I don’t believe I have anything of worth to bring to the argument, but I do believe that the Word of God is the only reference point for mankind, on any matter whatsoever.

I would respectfully add that I do not comprehend the point you are trying to make, and my little bullet points (4 – 6) were simply summarised expositions of principles that are taught in the portions of Scripture that I quoted.

Like you, I also believe that nature and humanity provide ample evidence for the existence of a God, and I am glad that we are in consensus on that issue.

8:26 pm  
Blogger Richard H said...

Andrew, as I do not follow any particular religious faith I am interested in your statement below in response to my assertion that faith in the apostles is 'blind' as there is no way to corraborate, confirm or prove their writings were accurate or had anything to do with God:

I do not accept that faith in the apostles is blind faith. You can get a large amount of evidence simply from a persons writings themselves.

What evidences are you referring to that demonstrates that your faith is not 'blind' when it comes to faith in the apostles? Or maybe put another way more specifically, what evidences are there that their writings are indeed the words of God?

8:44 pm  
Anonymous Nathan said...

My point christian, is that your earlier statement about faith being reserved for a select few is contradicted by what you said later (That it is a sin to be an unbeliever), since how could it be a sin to deny the existence of God if faith was given by God to only a limited group of people.

You said: "I also believe that nature and humanity provide ample evidence for the existence of a God,"
Well if nature and humanity provide ample evidence for humanity then is it correct to call that faith in God "blind"?

9:50 pm  
Blogger Andrew Rowell said...

Richard,
Evidences that the bible is the word of God. A very brief summary:

1. Fulfilled prophecies and types.
2. Unusual unity.
3. The unusual freshness and the influences on peoples lives.
4. The honesty of the writers.
5. Their unique revelation of God.

With regard to the Apostle Paul especially his argument in 1Cor 15 is interesting. This is one of the earliest documents of the apostles that we have (dated about AD 54)he says that there were over 500 witnesses of the resurrection of Christ most of whom were still alive and could be interviewed. The fact of Pauls dramatic change is one of the great events of history which provides a difficult problem for those who reject his testimony. Paul is a deeply impressive character on any measure.

10:06 pm  
Anonymous christian said...

Nathan, thank you for your reply: I understand more clearly now what it is you are disputing.

Hopefully, this explanation will make things plainer.

First of all, I reiterate that I am not saying anything of myself. I have been at great pains to make extensive quotations from the Bible in my postings, for this is where I, personally, form my opinions of God and life in general.

It is not my idea that faith is reserved for a select few: it is a fundamental truth of Scripture, which runs from cover to cover, Genesis to Revelation. In my earlier posts I attempted to show this using numerous Scripture references… perhaps I have not done the subject justice.

By the same token, it is not I who claims that unbelief in Jesus Christ (who Himself claimed to be God) is a sin that brings one into condemnation. It was Jesus Christ who made that claim; a claim that I believe through blind faith, the faith I believe He has dispensed to me by His grace.

You went on to say:

“…how could it be a sin to deny the existence of God if faith was given by God to only a limited group of people.”

I would like to turn that right on its head for a moment. Why should it not be? This only becomes a distasteful and problematical proposition if we take the viewpoint that we are entitled to have a say in the matter. Once again through reading of the Scripture and through my blind faith in the same, I happen to believe that God is only God because He has innumerable rights and privileges that I cannot access, and this is indeed the very reason why He is God and I am not!

Rom 9:11/12 But in order that the choice of one son might be completely the result of God's own purpose, God said to her, "The older will serve the younger." He said this before they were born, before they had done anything either good or bad; so God's choice was based on his call, and not on anything they had done.
Rom 9:13 As the scripture says, "I loved Jacob, but I hated Esau."
Rom 9:14 Shall we say, then, that God is unjust? Not at all.
Rom 9:15 For he said to Moses, "I will have mercy on anyone I wish; I will take pity on anyone I wish."
Rom 9:16 So then, everything depends, not on what we humans want or do, but only on God's mercy.
Rom 9:17 For the scripture says to the king of Egypt, "I made you king in order to use you to show my power and to spread my fame over the whole world."
Rom 9:18 So then, God has mercy on anyone he wishes, and he makes stubborn anyone he wishes.
Rom 9:19 But one of you will say to me, "If this is so, how can God find fault with anyone? Who can resist God's will?"
Rom 9:20 But who are you, my friend, to talk back to God? A clay pot does not ask the man who made it, "Why did you make me like this?"
Rom 9:21 After all, the man who makes the pots has the right to use the clay as he wishes, and to make two pots from the same lump of clay, one for special occasions and the other for ordinary use.
Rom 9:22 And the same is true of what God has done. He wanted to show his anger and to make his power known. But he was very patient in enduring those who were the objects of his anger, who were doomed to destruction.
Rom 9:23 And he also wanted to reveal his abundant glory, which was poured out on us who are the objects of his mercy, those of us whom he has prepared to receive his glory.

On this occasion, I have quoted from a more modern English translation of the Bible, to try and negate any difficulty caused by the use of more archaic English. This passage in Romans is an indisputable reference to God’s sovereignty over His created beings. Personally, I feel that the passage requires no further explanation, but those who struggle to grasp its meaning will almost certainly do so on account of the indignation that wells up within us as soon as we are confronted with the idea that we are not our own masters. It is no coincidence that the apostle Paul uses the illustration of a potter making clay pots. Those of us who believe the Biblical account of creation believe that God formed the first human being from the dust of the earth, i.e. clay. God, simply because He is God, has a perfect right to pour out mercy on whomsoever He wishes. We cannot dictate or talk back to the infinitely superior and more powerful Being who made us.

The whole world also tends to ‘conveniently’ forget that God had a perfect right to damn all of us to hell, if He so desired, seeing as we fell from our original state of sinlessness through our own disobedience. It is only because He is a merciful God that He has chosen to save some from eternal destruction. I do not understand this anymore than you do, but neither do I feel I have any need to. I will never get to the bottom of God. He is the boss, and I am His creation. I simply thank Him from the bottom of my heart that He has revealed Himself to me, and spared me from experiencing His wrath and fury. I have perfect confidence in all His attributes, through my blind faith in believing what the Bible tells me.

The gospel is not meant to be understood in a logical sense: it was designed by God to be preached for a period of time as an invitation to mankind to accept God’s free offer of salvation from the wrath to come. Each one of us will either accept or reject the offer of mercy based on an election process that God carried out before even the world was made (Revelation 17,8). I do not understand this. Yes, it does not seem fair. Yes, it actually appears extremely unfair, but again only if we rise above our station in life. However, the massively important other side to this strange coin is that God has abundantly promised that those who seek Him will find Him.

Your last point…

if nature and humanity provide ample evidence for humanity then is it correct to call that faith in God "blind"?

…is somewhat easier for me to explain. I am a fairly simple, relatively uneducated person. When I pick up my Bible and the first verse tells me that ‘God’ created the heaven and the earth, I believe that this is indeed the case. I have no evidence that God exists, nor can I prove that the writings of Scripture are His very own. But somehow, from somewhere deep within my soul, there is an incredibly strong belief that the Bible can be trusted and taken at face value, and that its author (indirectly) is God. I really feel that my existence is as a result of His foreknowledge, design and planning. I did not always feel like this: I was not born with these beliefs and attitudes – they became part of me virtually overnight as it were, when in my late teens I accepted that Jesus Christ was the Son of God and that He died a substitutionary death on my behalf. I am convinced that the ability to suddenly ‘see’ the reality of these matters was as a direct result of the Spirit of God making my ‘dead’ spirit ‘alive’. I remember exceptionally clearly ‘noticing’ creation, as though it were for the first time, when I experienced this process, which many call conversion, and some simply call ‘getting saved’.

So, each time I go for a walk in the country and am captivated by beautiful blue skies, luscious green meadows and trees, and myriads of assorted wildlife, I tend to think along these lines: “Yep… there it is, Lord. There’s Your wonderful creation. I believe You made all these things. I can’t prove You did, but I believe You did simply because You said so in the Bible.” I do not believe in God because of His creation: I believe in His creation because I believe in God, and I believe in God through blind faith in a Book that I cannot prove logically is inspired. From analysis of historical records I can prove that many of the events described in that Book did in fact take place… but that’s about it.

You are attempting to make a connection that I have not intended to imply. My apologies if I have misled you.

11:57 pm  
Blogger Andrew Rowell said...

Christian,

1. Pauls method- If we look at Paul's two evangelistic messages and at his defence of his message in Romans 1&2 we see that he seeks to establish the reality of God and guilt prior to the presentation of the sign of the resurrection and the message of justification by faith.

2. Greater guilt- I am glad you also believe in differences of reward in God's judgements from 1 Cor 3. There is also clear reference to different degrees of guilt in the following:Matt 11:22,24 Luke 12:47, 20:47.

9:20 am  
Anonymous christian said...

Good morning, Andrew. Thank you for your comments, which I genuinely found to be of interest.

I feel that it is important to bear one crucial factor in mind: Scripture never contradicts itself.

I am well aware that Paul, for example on Mars hill, often talks briefly in an introductory fashion about God and the concept of God in general. Yet, without exception he rapidly cuts to the chase of the Truth of the matter. Paul never philosophised: Paul preached Christ crucified with the passion of one who was utterly convinced of the supremacy of his message:

Rom 1:16 For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek.

1Co 2:2 For I determined not to know any thing among you, save Jesus Christ, and him crucified.

If you take Romans chapter 1 & 2 as a percentage of the entire epistle to the Romans you will notice what weight and emphasis he placed on Christ and all things to do with His gospel. Furthermore, he makes frequent mention of Jesus Christ from the very opening of the letter:

Rom 1:3 Concerning his Son Jesus Christ our Lord, which was made of the seed of David according to the flesh;
Rom 1:4 And declared to be the Son of God with power, according to the spirit of holiness, by the resurrection from the dead: (and so on….)

We originally ventured down this line of thought by way of the comment you made in an earlier posting:

“Faith in God is prior to faith in Christ. You cannot believe in Christ unless you believe in God first.”

I will never see where you are coming from when you make such a statement, in the light of many verses such as the following, which appear to contradict your idea:

Joh 14:6 Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.
Joh 14:7 If ye had known me, ye should have known my Father also: and from henceforth ye know him, and have seen him.

Joh 15:23 He that hateth me hateth my Father also.

Rom 5:1 Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ:
Rom 5:2 By whom also we have access by faith into this grace wherein we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God.

Eph 2:18 For through him (Jesus Christ) we both have access by one Spirit unto the Father.

1Jo 2:23 Whosoever denieth the Son, the same hath not the Father: (but) he that acknowledgeth the Son hath the Father also.

There are many, many more references of a similar flavour to these, and accordingly I cannot accept your precept.


Moving on to your comments regarding greater guilt, I would reiterate that the Bible does not contradict itself. I made reference to other verses in a prior posting, including one in James 2,10 where it is said that if anyone breaks just one point of the law, he is automatically guilty of breaking all points. This one verse alone immediately puts us all on a level playing field, for there is not one of us who has kept the law.

I am not an expert, but I am inclined to think that the Lord Jesus in Matthew 11 is making a distinction between rejection of God’s law under the old covenant, as opposed to rejection of the Messiah under the new covenant. Under the old covenant, transgressions could be atoned for with the blood of bulls and goats. Under the new covenant, the blood of Jesus Christ alone can atone for transgressions, and as far as I understand it God is very concerned that His Son’s work should not be taken for granted:

Heb 10:26 For if we sin wilfully after that we have received the knowledge of the truth, there remaineth no more sacrifice for sins,
Heb 10:27 But a certain fearful looking for of judgment and fiery indignation, which shall devour the adversaries.
Heb 10:28 He that despised Moses' law died without mercy under two or three witnesses:
Heb 10:29 Of how much sorer punishment, suppose ye, shall he be thought worthy, who hath trodden under foot the Son of God, and hath counted the blood of the covenant, wherewith he was sanctified, an unholy thing, and hath done despite unto the Spirit of grace?

Your passage from Luke 12 is very interesting because it appears to illustrate and develop this theme further. I don’t think that Jesus is implying greater/lesser judgement as a consequence of good/bad actions, because the servant that committed things worthy of stripes was beaten with few… the exact opposite of what you would expect. I think the key is verse 45: the servant’s attitude to his Lord. The servant with the bad attitude is clearly representative of an unbeliever, for he is appointed “his portion” with the same. Yet, he is purported to know his Lord’s will, which to my mind puts him in the same category as the seed that gets choked in the parable of the sower:

Mar 4:18 And these are they which are sown among thorns; such as hear the word,
Mar 4:19 And the cares of this world, and the deceitfulness of riches, and the lusts of other things entering in, choke the word, and it becometh unfruitful.

These are difficult passages to comprehend, and I don’t deny this. I think the Lord is making the same distinction here as the writer to the Hebrews mentions in chapter 10. I think it is a very special case, and applies only to those individuals who from my reading of the Scripture I do not fully understand, and who for want of a better word I can only describe as “quasi-Christians”.

Luke 20:47 refers either to exactly the same narrow group of individuals that we have just discussed, or alternatively (though I think improbably) true believers who are rather misguided. Even if it is the latter, I have no problem with this because I have already written of how I expect Christians will be judged for their earthly service.

12:00 pm  
Blogger Richard H said...

Evidences that the bible is the word of God. A very brief summary:

1. Fulfilled prophecies and types.
2. Unusual unity.
3. The unusual freshness and the influences on peoples lives.
4. The honesty of the writers.
5. Their unique revelation of God.


Andrew, in my view none of the items listed above are evidence that God has been involved in the Bible without requiring 'Blind' Faith. I am surprised you have listed items that are so subjective.

Let me explain...

The Bible is a book that has been translated, amended and even sensored over the centuries. It is also a book that is very much open to interpretation by individuals....this is evident in the comments in this blog above, where yourself, Christian and Nathan are discussing your own intepretations of the words of the Bible, trying to reach agreement

A book that is so open to interpretation is very likely to lead to many events being able to be associated with its content. The writings of Nostradamus is a more recent example of this from the 16th century.

In addition, anything that has been translated, amended and sensored over the centuries will naturally become more consistent and more unified. Consider the example of an early translater who had to translate a number of these writings, and who was told that if they did not do a good job they would be flogged in public and then hanged. If you translated one set of writings that said 5 people had witnessed Christ's resurrection and then found that another set of writings said 1000 had witnessed Christ's resurrection...would you, if you had fear of being flogged and hanged, not compromise and say 500 in each?

Ok, maybe a silly example, but to assume Unusual Unity as evidence that God exists and provided the words is no evidence at all as it is humans that have translated and amended those words since. And you have to have unquestioning trust that those humans translated it honestly.

So now, we do not only have to consider our faith in the original apostles but also we have to place our faith in the translators and in those who have since sensored the Bible for their own particular reasons. We are now a number of versions away from the original.

So that covers my response to items 1 and 2 above.

Item 3: Human beings are capable of writing documents and stories that are refreshing and that have an influence on peoples lives. Also, Muslims would most likely find the Quran more refreshing and influencing in their lives than the Bible. Your statement is relative and subjective and provides no evidence that a supernatural, Divine Being was the author.

Item 4: You have no way of knowing if the writers were honest. You may choose to believe that the writers were honest but that is based on 'Blind' faith in those people. You cannot corraborate, confirm or prove they were honest.

Item 5: I do not understand why you say the Bible is unique. The Bible is not the only document that refers to God. There is also the Quran as one other. The Bible is not unique in the revelations of God - is it one of many such books.


I am not questioning your beliefs or suggesting that God does not exist. What I am questioning is your statement that your faith in God is not 'blind' but is based on evidence of God. Based on the evidence you have provided I could only conclude that you do believe in God regardless of the evidence. To highlight this point, consider this.....evidence sometimes supports a theory or does not support a theory, and when evidence supports a theory a persons belief in that theory increases, but when evidence does not support the theory, their belief in the theory will decrease.

One final question: Does your faith in God increse and descrease based on the findings of the evidence, or is your faith unquestioning and absolute regardless of the evidence? If the latter then it has to be blind faith, if the former, then do you really believe that you will be one of those saved souls?

1:29 pm  
Anonymous christian said...

Richard, you have an extremely pertinent and salutary point within your last posting. I find it extraordinarily insightful:

“One final question: Does your faith in God increse and descrease based on the findings of the evidence, or is your faith unquestioning and absolute regardless of the evidence? If the latter then it has to be blind faith, if the former, then do you really believe that you will be one of those saved souls?

I am not going to attempt to answer on Andrew’s behalf for I am sure he will do you that courtesy in due course, but your comment immediately brought to mind a well known story in the Bible, which has everything to do with what you have just said.

Briefly (for I do not want to hi-jack your thread) the story goes that there lived an extremely wealthy man named Job, who had everything going for him, a large family, large house, lots of land, and who was a staunch believer in God. God allowed Satan to test this man’s faith, in order to see just how devoted to God he really was. As a result, Job’s life very rapidly fell to pieces. One after the other he lost most of what he originally possessed, including his own sons. He was covered from head to foot in painful boils of the skin. His own wife urged him to simply curse God and die, thereby ending his misery (What a great help!). His closest friends tried to imply that he had done something to incur God’s fiercest wrath, which he had not, and this is how we came to have our modern phrase, “Job’s comforters”.

Job had placed every ounce of his faith in God. The evidence that he was presented with was that he had nothing positive to show for his efforts; quite the opposite, in fact.

Yet, he made the following astounding comments:

Job 1:21 …the LORD gave, and the LORD hath taken away; blessed be the name of the LORD.
Job 2:10 …shall we receive good at the hand of God, and shall we not receive evil?
Job 13:15 Though he slay me, yet will I trust in him:

Now that is truly blind faith, and I am totally persuaded that it is the only brand of faith that is acceptable to God.

2:10 pm  
Blogger Andrew Rowell said...

Christian,

Job is a fascinating book from an ID perspective. It is clear to me that the book does appeal to the argument from design for the reality and greatness of God.

4:31 pm  
Blogger Andrew Rowell said...

Richard,

Would you call depending upon subjective evidence "blind faith"?

What objective evidence have you got that the bible has been amended over the centuries?

The disagreement between Christians does not necessarily reflect on the clarity of the bible but could reflect on the ignorance and laziness of the christians.

The point about the 500 witnesses was that the claim was testable when it was made. Paul wrote it within the lifetime of the eyewitnesses and there is no evidence that this is any different from what he originally penned. I think all serious Pauline scholars would agree with this.

We do not have to place our faith in the translaters we can read the original greek.

You did not say much about fulfilled prophecies and types.

The Koran is very much a book dependent on the bible. There is an intrinsic power and majesty about the bible which many non-christians recognise. Have you read it? Have you compared it with the Koran?

I can think of possible scenarios which would destroy my faith completely. If it was shown that Christ did not actually rise from the dead then my faith would be gone ... so would the Apostle Paul's - "If Christ is not risen then our message is futile and your faith is futile. We are also found out to be false witnesses of God because we have testified of God that he raised up Christ: whom he raised not ...if Christ is not raised.

4:48 pm  
Anonymous christian said...

Andrew said:

The disagreement between Christians does not necessarily reflect on the clarity of the bible but could reflect on the ignorance and laziness of the christians.


Andrew, we mustn't throw the baby out with the bathwater. Disagreements between Christians might well simply occur because one of them is right and the others are wrong. God is not the author of confusion (1st Corinthians 14,33). The closer we stick to what the Bible actually says, without injecting our own ideas, the more chance we have of discovering the mind and will of God.

It is not all scholastic, despite your implication that some Christians might be ignorant or lazy... it is about reading, and implementing what we read in our lives. Faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God (Romans 10,17). God can and will work with individuals of the lowest IQ. He is not a respecter of persons (Acts 10,34)

5:03 pm  
Blogger Andrew Rowell said...

Christian,

In Lukes report of Paul's address on Mars hill he does not mention the crucifixion at all. This does not mean that he is not preaching the gospel. It is necessary preparatory work.

In Romans there are nearly three chapters of careful reasoning to establish the reality of God and human sin before he comes to the answer to human sin. This is hardly a hurried introduction it is integral to his whole argument it is part and parcel of the message. In this sustained and foundational argument Jesus is only mentioned once and that is in the context of judgement.

My point is that the message of Christ only makes sense in a theistic setting. This setting needs to be made clear before the message of Christ makes sense.

In Matt 11 Jesus is comparing the people in Jewish towns which had had the privelege of hearing Christ and seeing his miracles (greater evidence) with gentile towns that had not had these privileges (lesser evidence) he says that it will be more tolerable for those who had recieved less evidence than for those who recieved more.

A similar point is made in John 19:11 to Pilate.

6:50 pm  
Anonymous christian said...

Andrew,

I am not sure that our discussion on the God before Christ argument is getting us anywhere.

My recipe for baking a cake may well list all the ingredients at the top of the page, yet it is the method that brings the ingredients together in a finished form. One does not have to believe in God before one can believe in Christ merely because some introductory discussion about God precedes discussion about Christ physically on the written page.

God, Christ and man are just three of the ingredients in the plan of salvation: but with man the penny will never drop about the God part, until his eyes are opened to the Christ part, and this requires supernatural intervention. Anyone claiming to believe in God or understand God before they have accepted Christ, is patently obviously not referring to the God of the Bible. I quoted you numerous Scriptures to prove this point.

Once again, you said:

“Faith in God is prior to faith in Christ. You cannot believe in Christ unless you believe in God first.”

Your repetitive argument that discourse on God precedes the introduction of Christ, in no way proves that faith in God is prior to faith in Christ. You have gone off topic. Can you supply me with any Biblical evidence of what you are trying to prove, other than the order of words on a page?

I fully admit that Christ makes no sense without God alongside as another part of the equation, but faith or belief in God before faith or belief in Jesus Christ is unbiblical, and I am having none of it.

The account of Paul speaking from Mars hill gives rise to the impression that he was very rapidly cut off before he had delivered his full message. This occurs in verse 32, where interest amongst the crowd wanes because of Paul’s mention of resurrection from the dead. Verse 33 makes it clear that because his message was not being received, Paul shook the dust from off his feet and left. I cannot imagine for one minute that Paul believed he had preached a full and complete gospel message on this occasion, otherwise he contradicts himself often throughout his many later epistles. Verse 34 tells us that certain individuals pursued the matter in Paul’s presence, and subsequently believed, but there is no evidence that Paul had not taken the opportunity to explain the relevance of Christ to these people.

I would agree with the following statement that you made in your last post:

My point is that the message of Christ only makes sense in a theistic setting. This setting needs to be made clear before the message of Christ makes sense.

However, this is not the same as saying that faith in God is prior to faith in Christ. If this is in fact what you really meant originally, then I think it goes to show that we must be very careful as to how we choose our words. Otherwise, it just looks like you are back peddling.


In verses 23 & 24 of Matthew 11, Jesus refers to a past event: the destruction of Sodom with fire and brimstone as recorded in Genesis 19, 24. This was a physical judgement, which took place in the realm of the natural and the physical. The judgement to come upon those who reject the Messiah (who was the very person drawing the comparison) will be a judgement within the spiritual realm, i.e. separation from God. It will not take the form of fire and brimstone, or such.

This is why I tried to convey in my earlier posting that I am convinced that the judgement is only greater because the “crime” of rejecting the Messiah is greater than the “crime” of rejecting God’s Old Testament law. They are two completely different covenants. I don’t feel the passage is at all illogical within this context.

Separation from God is to me an unthinkable fate, and I am sure that, to those who experience it, it will feel of far greater consequence than having fire and brimstone rained on one’s head. To develop the idea further, it is inconceivable that there will be degrees of separation from God: one cannot be only slightly removed from God’s presence, whilst another is massively removed; at least, not when we are dealing with unforgiven sin. Having said that, I am open to the possibility that my reasoning may be a limitation of my human, finite brain. Like I said before, I feel that this argument is irrelevant to the believer, and I am simply inexpressibly thankful that I will not be there to experience whatever spiritual death entails.

8:32 pm  
Blogger Richard H said...

Would you call depending upon subjective evidence "blind faith"?

I use the term subjective in the context of a comparison between scientific evidence or evidence that would hold up in a court of law.

1. Fulfilled prophecies and types.
2. Unusual unity.
3. The unusual freshness and the influences on peoples lives.
4. The honesty of the writers.
5. Their unique revelation of God.


Item 1 would be cicumstantial at best and open to many intepretations for and against each fulfilled prophecies.

Items 2 to 5 are just your personal opinion - and whilst your personal opinion matters it does not provide evidence of God. If one other person generally has the opposite opinion to you then there is no way of providing any further evidence to determine which opinion is correct.

What objective evidence have you got that the bible has been amended over the centuries?

I have the "Authorised King James version with Apocrypha" of the Bible and I am currently reading it. It's open preface says the following:

"Bibles are, by their very nature, partisan. As that plural suggests, there are many bibles, even in English, and each is the product of a particular interest group - whether religious, commercial or, increasingly nowadays, both. This edition is no different. ..... So far from being the rock of ages in a sea of flux, as some devout Christian readers of the bible have maintained in the past, it should be clear to any impartial readers of this edition that the history of biblical interpretation is one of continuous and, at times, quite startling change. The eighteen-century shift from typological to narrative reading of the scriptures, for example, represents a far more fundamental interpretative shift than any changes that have occured in the production of intepretation of Shakespears plays over the same period. ..... If the beginning was the word, then continually has that word been in the world transforming it and being transformed by that world through other words and continually shall it be in tranformed worlds and words to come."

That was by Robert Carroll and Stephen Prickett

Paul wrote it within the lifetime of the eyewitnesses and there is no evidence that this is any different from what he originally penned.

The point I am making is that you have to take it on trust that what he penned is accurate and that he did not have any motives to exaggerate or even not tell the complete truth. Again you are putting your blind faith in this individual.

We do not have to place our faith in the translaters we can read the original greek.

Have you read the original greek and validated for yourself that it your version is an accurate version?

The Koran is very much a book dependent on the bible. There is an intrinsic power and majesty about the bible which many non-christians recognise. Have you read it? Have you compared it with the Koran?

I am not sure that those who believe in the Qur'an would agree with your statement above. I have not read the Qur'an but I have researched the differences between the Qur'an and the bible based on other works, and there are many differences.

Muslims believe that the differences are due to the Christian and Jewish texts having been corrupted and changed over time, and believe that the Qur'an preserves the correct version.

A Muslim could state the same list of 5 evidences for the Qur'an and there is no way to prove which is right - ergo - the list you have provided cannot provide any evidence that the Bible was written by God if your evidence can be applied two different books and there is no way to prove or disprove either.

I can think of possible scenarios which would destroy my faith completely. If it was shown that Christ did not actually rise from the dead then my faith would be gone ...

This sort of demonstrates my point. Based on words written in a book that is circa 2000 years old, you are taking it on faith that Christ did rise from the dead and only if evidence is provided that says he did not do this would you feel your faith is destroyed. From my perspective, I want to see evidence, other than words in a 2000 year old book that Christ did rise from the dead. If I could see that evidence and believed it then I would most likely review my current belief system.

No disrespect with this statement, it is just an analogy: Your faith in the equivalent of someone believing that Harry Potter existed and will not accept it until it is proven that he did not exist, whereas I am looking for evidence of Harry Potters existence before I believe what is written in the book.

8:46 pm  
Blogger Lifewish said...

This has been a really interesting conversation to eavesdrop on. I'll leave off my usual swarm of comments (because Richard is doing a much better job than I ever manage), but I do have one question for Christian:

But somehow, from somewhere deep within my soul, there is an incredibly strong belief that the Bible can be trusted and taken at face value, and that its author (indirectly) is God.

As far as I can tell (and I have done considerable soul-searching on this issue over the years) I lack that belief, and hence can't justify becoming Christian. If this situation persists until I die, and it turns out that you're right and I go to Hell, who is responsible? Me for not believing, or God for not giving me faith?

If God is responsible, then isn't it rather inconsistent of Him to send people to Heaven or Hell based on His own choices about whether to support them or not?

(I should note that, in the past, I have explicitly and sincerely asked God to grant me faith. So far I have had no positive response)

8:57 pm  
Anonymous Nathan said...

Precisely what I was trying to convey to Christian, thanks.

11:40 pm  
Anonymous christian said...

Lifewish,

Thank you so much for sharing very openly your thoughts and concerns on this topic. I can genuinely say that your comments were some of the most refreshing I have ever read on this site. I am encouraged beyond all measure that you continue to seek God, despite the fact that you feel you have up till now had no “positive response” as such.

I am no theological wizard by any stretch of the imagination, but I do have the calm assurance within me that I have peace with God. Therefore, in answering your question I would like to recount a little of my background to you.

My father and mother were both Christians at the time I was born. I say this not because of any influence it may have had on me as I grew up, but rather because I want you to know that I am well aware that having Christian parents, relatives or friends does not automatically make one a Christian, nor does it make one have any sort of faith in God. I was 18 years of age when I came to accept that Jesus Christ was God, yet I had been brought up in an atmosphere of regular church-going, daily family devotions, and generally high standards of moral living. Academically, I probably knew as much about the God of the Bible as the average Religious Education schoolteacher did; yet with hindsight I was definitely not a believer.

How do I know I was not a believer? Because I had no peace. My mind was in a constant state of unrest. I viewed God as a harsh and punitive entity who imposed killjoy rules and regulations on young, carefree adults. From the age of about 13 onwards I began to actively despise my parents’ faith and its apparent rigidity. I decided to become a self-styled non-conformist, and took a conscious decision to scupper my own chances of succeeding in life, by deliberately screwing up my O-Grades. I made some very strange decisions around this time. I began dabbling in soft drugs. They made me feel very “spiritual”; but the effect always wore off by next morning. Nonetheless, I became very dependent on the drugs, and life seemed painfully boring without them, to the point where I became a habitual daily user. It was not long before I developed considerable psychological problems due to my misuse of drugs.

I wasn’t working and I wasn’t in further education. I was a rebellious drop-out, and a constant source of worry to my parents. I wrote what I thought was intellectual poetry. I spent huge amounts of time voluntarily locked in my own room, spaced out, listening to Dark Side of the Moon and Sgt. Peppers, and believing I was somehow finding the answer to life. The reality was much uglier: I was constantly nagged and tortured inside by the numerous random scraps of Biblical information which I had been spoon-fed from a young age by my parents and church members. Theoretically, I realised that I was looking for a fulfilment in life in all the places that I had been told not to look. However, I despised what I regarded as the staid and dull Biblical alternative so much that I was determined to consistently turn a blind eye to my nagging conscience. This was workable for a while, but I cannot stress enough how much I feared death, or more accurately whatever came after death, and especially God and what He might do to me after a lifetime of living by my own ideals.

I would often try and convince myself that I really was a believer, verbally reciting sinners’ prayers and asking God to forgive me for any wrongdoing. I felt that since the Bible taught that Jesus died for our sins, well, that I could simply say to God, “I believe that Jesus died for my sins”, hoping that in so doing I could induce God to give me another week’s authorisation for my selfish lifestyle. I had completely misunderstood the need for repentance, which means literally a reversal, or a turning away from one’s former actions. And this I was most certainly not doing. I moved on to LSD, a different class of drug altogether; I got involved with porn; I began associating with what I will simply call shady characters; and my mind was becoming ever increasingly bitter and twisted against the world and anyone who disagreed with my values in life.

Then, one blisteringly hot summer’s day, an old school friend of mine, who had just recently passed his driving test, drove with me to an extremely secluded spot in the country, so we could drop acid. This was to be a pivotal day in my life. I took what is known as a “bad trip”, and suffered an indescribable experience that still makes me shudder to this day. Basically, I got it into my head that I was dying, that time was slowing down, and that once time stopped I would be dead and find myself in eternity with no means of retreat back to the physical world. Just how this came about I am not sure, but it happened insidiously, building in intensity over a period of about four hours. As I was under the effect of the LSD, I could not switch off the negative thoughts, feelings and emotions, which were racing through my head so rapidly and powerfully that all the anxiety mechanisms in my body went into overdrive. I began to feel extremely physically unwell, and my heart was thumping so hard and fast in my chest that I was convinced it could burst at any second. Scarily, I later read that this has actually happened to some people under these circumstances.

Although I was heavily under the influence of a drug, for possession of which I could be sent to prison, my friend decided he would have to drive me to hospital. As I sat in the passenger seat and we set off down the very minor country track, a lone sheep crossed the road in front of us. Completely automatically, a Scripture verse, which I had known since childhood, flashed through my mind:

Isa 53:6 All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the LORD hath laid on him the iniquity of us all.

Lifewish, I cannot do justice using the English language alone, as to just exactly how that particular verse suddenly came to life on that day. Everything just seemed to “fit”… here I was, doing my own thing; rebelling against God’s instruction manual for life; fearing that I was about to die, and would be punished for my disobedience; yet the Lord had laid on Jesus Christ the punishment for my sin… and I could be FREE!

As the car continued its journey towards the main road, I clung to that verse. Please God, don’t let me die… Please, please God… I’m frightened… I’m afraid of You… I feel it’s too late and You won’t believe I’m serious… I’m terrified of going to Hell…

Yet, despite me labouring the point in private prayer to God, I received no assurance that if my heart suddenly burst I would be in the clear with God. And that, my friend, at that particular moment in my life filled me with such terror that I still don’t like to think about it too much.

What did happen, however, was that my physical and mental symptoms gradually abated to the point where I suddenly realized it was perhaps not such a good idea for an acid-head to check in at the local hospital. Instead, we drove to another secluded spot, and very slowly the effects of the drug wore off.

If I have managed to convey my sense of dread accurately enough, then you would think I would have learnt my lesson, and looked at God in a whole new light. But no… true to form, over the course of the next few weeks I carried on living exactly as I had done before, with the one exception that I stayed off the LSD.

Yet, God was not finished with me. I put it that way as opposed to the other way around, because I really do believe that God draws an individual to Himself in His own way and in His own time:

Joh 6:44 No man can come to me, except the Father which hath sent me draw him

A few weeks after the “bad trip” incident, I was sunbathing on the back lawn listening on my personal stereo to one of the Beatles tracks that I had listened to that day. In short, I experienced a “flashback”, a bad trip in miniature. Some will say that this is a naturally occurring phenomenon amongst drug users. Privately, I am convinced that God used this incident as some sort of hazard warning sign. I quit drugs from that day on.

I still wasn’t quite there yet, although I didn’t realize it at the time, and I didn’t realize that something special was about to happen. There was no specific day and certainly no specific time that I can distinctly put my finger on and say, “That’s when I got converted”, but I do know that it was in the autumn of the same year, for that is when I found long-lasting peace, which has never deserted me since. Events happened as follows:

I had just eaten my evening meal and was lounging in a chair in my parents’ dining room, when I happened to glance at the bookcase on my left. There was nothing unusual in this, per se, for it was an old bookcase and all the books in it were ones that my parents had owned for many years. However, (and these are the sort of coincidences which I have become accustomed to with God) one of the books seemed to jump out of the bookshelf at me (not literally!). It was called, “Satan Is Alive And Well On Planet Earth” and it was by an author called Hal Lindsey. For some obscure reason, this book appeared to me to be begging to be read. This is strange, for I had never felt the desire to read any of my parents’ books before, let alone any which had a biblical aspect to them. I picked the book up.

I read that book from cover to cover in one sitting that same evening. For that particular point in my life, I do not believe I could have read a more applicable book from the pen of any human author. It basically contained case history upon case history of dozens of unrelated persons who had only two things in common:

1. They had all been in the grip and downward spiral of issues such as drugs, immoral sex, occult activities, crime, and the like.
2. They had all come to know faith in Jesus Christ as their personal Saviour, with a subsequent release from their old way of living.

I was ecstatic. Just like on that day a few months back in July, Biblical ideas seemed to be finally beginning to make sense to me, not so much in a logical way, but in a simple, straightforward, I’m-beginning-to-believe-this-really-is-the-Truth kind of way.

I began looking at God in a different light. He wasn’t a killjoy. He really had my best interests at heart. Ultimately, He knew what was good for me. But He wasn’t going to twist my arm… He was going to lead me to repentance in such a way that I would know what I had been saved from, and become genuinely dependent on Him. And before He could go any further, He needed that crucial step of repentance from me. However, He hadn’t been asleep, nor had He forgotten about me, or ignored the mess I was making of my life. He had been working quietly in the background, for years, even when I was a young child, waiting for His perfect timing to bring all the pieces of the jigsaw puzzle together.

Those pieces finally came together for me, personally, in the few days that followed. I decided to read another one of Hal Lindsey’s books, which my parents also had on their bookshelf. This time it was, “The Liberation Of Planet Earth”. Fantastic book, which I cannot recommend highly enough. I must hastily add that I do not think there is anything magical about Mr Lindsey, nor do I believe he had a direct hand in my conversion. However, the book in question is a masterful paraphrase of the gospel in plain, straightforward English, utilizing lots and lots of very helpful analogies and illustrations. Reading that book did it for me. Mr Lindsey added nothing new to the Biblical account of the gospel: he simply presented the facts to me in a style with which I immediately identified, and prepared me to accept the tenets of the faith for myself and for the first time.

There followed a crucial step, which none can omit if they have any hope of a relationship with God… repentance. I turned away from the lifestyle I had been leading, and instead sought to model my attitudes and my actions on the teachings of Jesus. This is a process that is ongoing and one in which I am still involved today. There is an excellent explanation in James chapter 2:


Jam 2:14 What doth it profit, my brethren, though a man say he hath faith, and have not works? can faith save him?
Jam 2:15 If a brother or sister be naked, and destitute of daily food,
Jam 2:16 And one of you say unto them, Depart in peace, be ye warmed and filled; notwithstanding ye give them not those things which are needful to the body; what doth it profit?
Jam 2:17 Even so faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone.
Jam 2:18 Yea, a man may say, Thou hast faith, and I have works: shew me thy faith without thy works, and I will shew thee my faith by my works.
Jam 2:19 Thou believest that there is one God; thou doest well: the devils also believe, and tremble.
Jam 2:20 But wilt thou know, O vain man, that faith without works is dead?
Jam 2:21 Was not Abraham our father justified by works, when he had offered Isaac his son upon the altar?
Jam 2:22 Seest thou how faith wrought with his works, and by works was faith made perfect?
Jam 2:23 And the scripture was fulfilled which saith, Abraham believed God, and it was imputed unto him for righteousness: and he was called the Friend of God.
Jam 2:24 Ye see then how that by works a man is justified, and not by faith only.
Jam 2:25 Likewise also was not Rahab the harlot justified by works, when she had received the messengers, and had sent them out another way?
Jam 2:26 For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also.


There were certain visible signs in my life that I had come to Christ, and they helped to give me the peace and reassurance that I had for so long badly needed. Some of these signs were:

1. I developed a “hunger” to read the Bible.
2. I began praying, without coercion, and in private. In fact, I couldn’t stop praying! I prayed when out walking; I prayed on my motorcycle; I prayed in the privacy of my room. Not lengthy, wordy, theologically driven prayers. Just simple conversational prayers with my new Friend. I told Him how grateful I was for everything He had done for me, and asked for His help to be more and more like Him.
3. I genuinely wanted to meet with other Christians, which was a novelty for me, despite having had a church background. The desire to worship God in church became very strong.
4. I wanted to tell others about my experience of the Lord, and I suppose it is obvious that this also has continued to the present day.



Lifewish, do not under any circumstances underestimate just how much of an interest God has in your life even as of now. The fact that you have done, in your own words, “considerable soul-searching” over the years, coupled with your admission that you have explicitly and sincerely asked God to grant you faith, leads me to believe that you are far, far closer to your goal than you might ever in your wildest dreams imagine. Who do you think is prompting you to question these issues, when many folks in the world today do not spare God even a thought?

Do not worry about what is commonly known as the “doctrine of election”. It is a clear Biblical truth, and it is also a mystery which belongs to God; but it is balanced heavily by dozens and dozens and dozens of assurances and promises from God Himself, that those who seek Him will find Him.

Please don’t ask me to explain election: I can’t. I cannot explain election any more than I can explain the Trinity, but that does not stop me believing in both because of Scriptural evidence. Human beings will always struggle to understand the deep things of God, and this is yet another reason why He is superior to us. All I know is that reading the Bible through defensive, resentful eyes will get you nowhere. You have to be open to accept what God is telling you in every verse that you read, whether you like the contents of that verse or not. Likewise, whether or not you personally agree with the contents is irrelevant. The Bible is God’s revelation of Himself to His creations. He is not impressed when we stamp our feet and think He has got it wrong. I think you will be surprised at the faith that grows within you, if you read the Bible regularly.

The best thing I can do for you is to give you a lead on some reassuring verses by reproducing them below. This has become an extremely lengthy post, and by so doing I will only add to its length; but there are no more important issues than eternal issues, and I know that Andrew will not mind.


Deu 4:29 But if from thence thou shalt seek the LORD thy God, thou shalt find him, if thou seek him with all thy heart and with all thy soul.

Pro 8:17 I love them that love me; and those that seek me early shall find me.

Luk 11:9 And I say unto you, Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you.
Luk 11:10 For every one that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened.
Luk 11:11 If a son shall ask bread of any of you that is a father, will he give him a stone? or if he ask a fish, will he for a fish give him a serpent?
Luk 11:12 Or if he shall ask an egg, will he offer him a scorpion?
Luk 11:13 If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children: how much more shall your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to them that ask him?

Act 17:26 And (God) hath made of one blood all nations of men for to dwell on all the face of the earth, and hath determined the times before appointed, and the bounds of their habitation;
Act 17:27 That they should seek the Lord, if haply they might feel after him, and find him, though he be not far from every one of us:

Joh 6:35 And Jesus said unto them, I am the bread of life: he that cometh to me shall never hunger; and he that believeth on me shall never thirst.

Joh 6:37 All that the Father giveth me shall come to me; and him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out.

Joh 6:47 Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that believeth on me hath everlasting life.

Joh 11:25 Jesus said unto her, I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live:
Joh 11:26 And whosoever liveth and believeth in me shall never die. Believest thou this?

Joh 1:12 But as many as received him (Jesus), to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name:


It is my privilege to pray to the Lord for you on your behalf, and ask Him that He might open your eyes to receive the faith that you so obviously long for. I know that Andrew will also do the same, and in fact is probably already doing so. And it would be nice to think that most Christians reading this post might also petition the Lord on your behalf.

Do not give up. You are on the right track, and you have my prayers and my support; but more important than anything I could offer you are the many assurances contained in the Bible to those who proactively seek God. I urge you, if you do not already have one in your possession, try and obtain a copy of a modern English translation of the Bible, such as the New International Version, or the Good News Bible. Then read it, and re-read it as often as you can. This is God’s method of building faith.

God bless you.

3:01 am  
Blogger Richard H said...

I have been reflecting on this interesting topic and have taken a step back to ask a fundamental question:

Why does it matter whether someone believes in God because of 'blind' faith or due to some perceived evidence of God's existence.

I then read back the original blog entry on which these comments are based, and this paragraph to me sums up the blog entry.

It seems to me that totally blind faith as a kind of blind act of will is more or less impossible for human beings. Our level of confidence is always related to a greater or lesser extent upon evidence of one kind or another. Blind faith is not a praiseworthy activity it is stupid folly.

So Andrew believes that blind faith "is stupid folly". I agree with this. Having blind faith that you can jump off a tall building to the concrete below without being hurt, regardless of the evidence to the contrary, will likely get you killed.

However, blind faith is not so dangerous when related to a belief in God. God does not say that you can fly so there is little risk of someone jumping off a building because of their blind faith in God. Ultimately, if that blind faith makes them feel harmony with the world and themselves, helps them to be tolerant and compassionate to others and may result in their soul being saved when they die, then basically what is there to lose. Nothing......

...or is it nothing?

This blog is about Intelligent Design and if Andrew (or others supporting ID) claimed to have unquestioning faith in God, then ID becomes irrelevant; unquestioning faith does not require evidence to support that faith - blind faith in God is absolute.

So to justify the relevance of ID as evidence for God's existence it is necessary to accept that Faith in God is based on existing evidence and that evidence of ID just adds to that evidence.

However, and this is the key point that Andrew makes in his quote above....

Our level of confidence is always related to a greater or lesser extent upon evidence of one kind or another.

Lets look at this statement in two parts...firstly...

...upon evidence of one kind or another.

There are many forms of evidence some that are subjective (opinionated), others that are objective (repeatable and based on empirical data), and evidence that is somewhere in between - ie. although repeatable and having emperical data, the conslusion based on that data is a matter of interpretation and subjectivity. Human beings have physically written the bible and there is no way to prove that humans were taking down a dictation from God or were putting together a document that would play on the imagination and fears of their fellow men to encourage others to follow them - afterall, one of our basic human desires is to belong to something.

The key point here is that it is rarely possible for evidence of this nature to result in absolutes. Therefore, by definition, relying on such evidence can never provide absolute faith - there is always the possibility of a further discovery that will decrease that faith.

Which leads us nicely on to the next part of the statement....

Our level of confidence is always related to a greater or lesser extent...

This makes it clear that our confidence in, or our faith in something increases or decreases based on the evidence. Therefore, those that state that they do not have blind faith in God must accept that their faith increases and decreases based on the evidence found for the existence of God. If Andrew now said that the Bible is sufficient evidence for his faith to be absolute then ID becomes irrelevant - his faith is already 100%. If however, he says that the Bible is not sufficient evidence for him to have absolute faith then ID is relevant, but then by definition, he does not have complete faith in the evidence of the Bible.

In a way this is a catch 22 for devout Christians who may consider the evidence of ID to support their own belief in God. If they need the ID evidence to support their faith in God, then by definition their current belief is not absolute and their soul may not be saved. If they do not need evidence to support their faith then the whole topic of ID is irrelevant. For people that are not 100% sure about their faith in God, then maybe ID will provide some evidence....however, evidence of what?

Even if we conclude that life on earth is by design...it is still a conclusion based on evidence that cannot be absolute, and to conclude that that design is by a supernatural rather than natural designer still requires a blind leap of faith.

ID uses probabilities as one argument - ie. the probability of such complex life appearing on earth by chance is too small and therefore virtually impossible. If we compare the probabilities of the designer being natural or supernatural which has the lowest probability? It has to be supernatural - ergo, probabilities can be used to either support ID or provide a strong argument against it when it comes to a God like being.

Bottom line: there are no absolutes in evidence when we are talking about theories about origins. If you require evidence to support your belief in God you can never have absolute faith in God, and therefore you have to ask yourself whether absolute faith is an important part of your belief system...if it is then searching for evidence is futile to this end....if it isn't then you have accept that the evidence may result in you nolonger believing in God at all if that is where the evidence leads.

12:03 pm  
Anonymous christian said...

Richard,

I feel I must write and thank you for your comments once again. You have devoted a large amount of careful, considered reflection to your postings. Indeed, your original post on this topic was the catalyst that inspired me to chip in. What I find incredibly interesting is that your view of ID as it relates to faith in a Creator, is virtually identical to mine. Yet, if I am not mistaken, you are otherwise agnostic in your views, therefore on most other issues we will by definition disagree.

As an openly professing Christian, what saddens me about the current vogue for all things ID, is that it detracts attention from the central theme of the Bible, which presents Christ as the way back to God for fallen mankind. Others can and no doubt will disagree with me, but I remain unmoved in my belief that there is little value to the sinner in studying ID. I do not know of anyone who has come to faith in Jesus Christ through the use of a microscope alone, and I am disappointed that the focus seems to be shifting rapidly away from the God-man on the cross, to a quest for scientific evidence of a supernatural designer.

Like you, I am dubious as to the legitimacy of faith which is dependent upon ID. At the very least, I feel that this represents a massive insult to God. I am broadly supportive of Intelligent Design in the sense that I do believe there was an Intelligent Designer, but I question the wisdom of presenting unsubstantiated evidence to the masses as proof that they should have faith in God.

I have watched the increasingly heated and animated global discussion over ID with no small measure of dismay, and I am grateful that your postings have consolidated my opinion that my fears are not unfounded.

1:35 pm  
Blogger Lifewish said...

Christian: thank you for your extremely thorough and heartfelt post. I feel I should clarify, though - I am not currently actively seeking God.

My reasons are several. First, I actually did read the majority of the Bible and, in amongst the lengthy genealogies, found large amounts of material that indicated the Biblical God wasn't one I'd want to worship. The Old Testament describes not a loving God but a tyrant who blackmails His followers into imitating His horrific behaviour. If that's the nature of God then I honestly think Hell would be preferable to an eternity of kowtowing to Him.

Second, I became more strongly aware of the nature of blind faith. Blind faith, simply put, is not an effective way to determine the truth of a statement. There are people out there who have strong unwavering belief that:
1) they are infested with the souls of dead aliens
2) the world will end on {insert date here}
3) extraterrestrials regularly kidnap them and, uh, "probe" them
4) God is very keen on the flying of planes into tall towers or the bombing of abortion clinics or... etc
5) {insert political system/party} is the inevitable future of the human race
6) guardian angels enable them to walk across hot coals

This last one is particularly interesting because it was actually tested at one point. The scientific explanation of firewalking is that it takes a while for the heat to conduct through the sole of your foot. Thus, the scientific prediction was that these firewalkers would not be able to firewalk more than a given distance, whereas the firewalkers' strong belief was that they could walk indefinitely. This was put to the test on live television. The show broke all records for number of complaints, but sadly failed to break any records for firewalking.

Against this backdrop, the belief that God impregnated a woman and that the resulting man could magically produce food and walk on water seems pretty par for the course.

Thirdly, as I mentioned before, as far as I can tell God (should He exist) has not made any effort to grant me faith. Unless and until He fulfils His side of the covenant, there's not a lot that I'm going to be able to do about that even if I wanted to.

6:00 pm  
Anonymous christian said...

Lifewish,

I thank you also for a considered reply to my own post.

However, based on my own experiences, and my reading of the Bible, I feel I have diagnosed fairly rapidly why you feel that God has, so far, not granted you any faith. It is contained within your comment:

I am not currently actively seeking God.”

Unfortunately, there are no guarantees given, by the God of the Bible anyway, that those who do not seek Him with all their heart and all their soul shall ever find Him. One has to be actively engaged in the relentless pursuit of God before He will consider dispensing faith leading unto salvation. The selection of verses that I gave you for your consideration bears this out pretty well. The level of energy required is likened in the Psalms to a deer engaged in a desperate hunt for water, in order to remain alive:

Psa 42:1 As the hart panteth after the water brooks, so panteth my soul after thee, O God.
Psa 42:2 My soul thirsteth for God, for the living God:

If you were to die in your sins, God would in no way be found to be at fault.

Jam 1:13 Let no man say when he is tempted, I am tempted of God: for God cannot be tempted with evil, neither tempteth he any man:
Jam 1:14 But every man is tempted, when he is drawn away of his own lust, and enticed.
Jam 1:15 Then when lust hath conceived, it bringeth forth sin: and sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth death.

I am sorry for your sake if this appears unsatisfactory, and I do to some extent sympathise with your current perceptions of the God of the Bible: remember, I was an unbeliever once too. Having said that, I feel I must redirect your attention to my previous comments regarding the necessity of accepting God’s doctrines unquestioningly. In any argument between a created being of limited intelligence, and a supernatural, omnipotent, omniscient Creator, the Divine wisdom will always surpass the frailty of human logic.

I think what you were struggling with in your reading of the Old Testament was a lack of insight into the depth and all-encompassing nature of God’s many attributes. Yes, God is love, gracious and merciful: but He is also infinitely holy, just and sinless. He cannot under any circumstances tolerate disobedience to His law resulting in sin, if that particular sin were to go unpunished. If you stop and think about this, it is not a negative attribute in any sense. Even our current world system, imperfect though it is, would be a far more anarchic and chaotic environment without the few laws that we do have, many of which are based on God’s original Old Testament law. Would you feel it was fair, right and proper if I turned up at your house with an axe, chopped you into tiny pieces, then returned home and put my feet up by the fire, having gotten away with your murder scot-free, and with no subsequent penalty to myself?

In yesterday’s post to you, I forgot to direct your attention primarily to the reading of the Gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke & John). This was a crucial oversight on my part. The Old Testament is only part of the whole picture. It might surprise you to learn that Old Testament law was not given by God because He expected man to be able to keep it; rather, it was given to prove that it was impossible for mankind to fulfil the law, therefore pointing the way forward to the necessity of a mediator between God and man, namely Jesus Christ. The apostle Paul writing to the Galatians demonstrates this point very well:

Gal 3:19 What, then, was the purpose of the Law? It was added in order to show what wrongdoing is, and it was meant to last until the coming of Abraham's descendant, to whom the promise was made. The Law was handed down by angels, with a man acting as a go-between.
Gal 3:20 But a go-between is not needed when only one person is involved; and God is one.
Gal 3:21 Does this mean that the Law is against God's promises? No, not at all! For if human beings had received a law that could bring life, then everyone could be put right with God by obeying it.
Gal 3:22 But the scripture says that the whole world is under the power of sin; and so the gift which is promised on the basis of faith in Jesus Christ is given to those who believe.
Gal 3:23 But before the time for faith came, the Law kept us all locked up as prisoners until this coming faith should be revealed.
Gal 3:24 And so the Law was in charge of us until Christ came, in order that we might then be put right with God through faith.
Gal 3:25 Now that the time for faith is here, the Law is no longer in charge of us.
Gal 3:26 It is through faith that all of you are God's children in union with Christ Jesus.
Gal 3:27 You were baptized into union with Christ, and now you are clothed, so to speak, with the life of Christ himself.
Gal 3:28 So there is no difference between Jews and Gentiles, between slaves and free people, between men and women; you are all one in union with Christ Jesus.
Gal 3:29 If you belong to Christ, then you are the descendants of Abraham and will receive what God has promised.

You and I are in the very fortunate position of living 2000 years after the birth, death and resurrection of Christ. We have the full canon of Scripture to scrutinize, and we can understand God’s purposes more clearly than ever before. The New Covenant is now well and truly here, and it would be of singular benefit to the seeker of God to primarily focus on the life, death, and sayings of Jesus, with perhaps the added illumination of Paul’s epistles, which paint very good pictures of how God the Father, God the Son, Old Testament law, etc. all fit together.

I respect where you are in your life right now, and in now way do I despise it. I hope you do not mind if I continue to pray that you will make a breakthrough in your quest for some of the answers in life. If my God does not exist, it will do no harm. If He does, it can only do you good.

7:41 pm  
Anonymous christian said...

Lifewish,

You must forgive my inefficiency…

I also meant to say to you in response to your comment:

”Unless and until He fulfils His side of the covenant, there's not a lot that I'm going to be able to do about that even if I wanted to.

God will only make a covenant with you:

1. If you accept that Jesus Christ is the Son of God, that He died on your behalf to pay the penalty for your sins, and that He rose again
2. You repent of your sins, turn aside from them, and seek to follow God

From the way you are talking at present, I can only surmise you have not yet met the conditions under which God will make a covenant with you. This is not a criticism: it is merely an indication that God has not failed you despite what you might currently think.

7:57 pm  
Blogger Richard H said...

Christian,

Thank you for you kind words and thank you for sharing the personal insights of your own life and how you came to believe in God. I am pleased you have found harmony and peace in Christ from what seemed to be a troubled childhood in one way and another. I respect that and hope salvation is achieved for you.

You are correct to assume I am agnostic. I have quite an analytical mind and the ID debate has ignited interest and my analytical mind has been thinking about this for a few months now. If nothing else ID has got more people talking about religion - although I have to say that my investigations have re-affirmed my existing agnostic view.

It is very interesting that even though I am effectively and athiest and you are a devout Christian our views on the relevance and implications of Intelligent Design are almost identical. I have read many worrying things on the web since investigating ID and Christianity - everything from reading people's comments that athiest are implicitly evil to reading about how Christians in America are effectively on a crusade to grow their numbers.

Your posts have helped me to better understand what a devout Christian is and is not - at least from your perspective and that has been useful to balance the view that I have seen.

I am not looking for God or feel the need to look for him. I have lived a pretty good life - good in the sense that I have not done anything that I would consider evil or bad (I am no saint obviously) but I think that the way I live my life would be considered by many to be good. I do not believe that a pre-requisite to being good is to have faith in a divine being, in the same way that having faith in a divine being implicitly stops a person from being evil.

My reading of the bible so far - and I am only part way through Genesis as I am analysing as I go - leads me to a similar view to Lifewish. If I assume that the bible is 100% accurate as Andrew implies then I do not believe that God is actually worthy of my faith - sorry that sounds arrogant but here is my reasoning....

God made Adam and Eve without the knowlegde of good or evil, right or wrong, good or bad - effectively he created two humans that were amoral. It is therefore not a surprise that they did not obey him.

Having disobeyed him because of a flawed design he then punishes them in a spiteful way - making child birth more painful, etc. Where was his forgiveness and compassion.

And then after many years when man is finally working together, after God has murdered virtually every human on the planet, with a worldwide flood, he distributes humans across the planet and gives them all different languages to make it had for them to work together....

When I started reading the bible I expected to find numerous examples of love and compassion, forgiveness and tolerance, etc. Hence i was shocked when I started reading Genesis.

Anyway, thanks again.

10:04 pm  
Blogger Lifewish said...

Unfortunately, there are no guarantees given, by the God of the Bible anyway, that those who do not seek Him with all their heart and all their soul shall ever find Him. One has to be actively engaged in the relentless pursuit of God before He will consider dispensing faith leading unto salvation.

And this ties into my comments comparing belief in God to a range of other beliefs. Can you name any situation other than Christianity where unsupported belief would lead one to a more accurate perception of reality? If not, why should Christianity be the only special case?

I'm not currently aware of any such situation. However, I am aware of a vast number of cases of people allowing their blind faith to lead them horribly astray.

If you were to die in your sins, God would in no way be found to be at fault.

Even if it my lack of faith were due to His apparent reluctance to aid me?

Having said that, I feel I must redirect your attention to my previous comments regarding the necessity of accepting God’s doctrines unquestioningly. In any argument between a created being of limited intelligence, and a supernatural, omnipotent, omniscient Creator, the Divine wisdom will always surpass the frailty of human logic.

But if God is the source of morality, as the Bible would appear to claim, it should surely be impossible for God to behave in a way that would appear evil to us. If, for example, the wrongness of murdering one's fellow man comes from God, how could such a God order His followers to commit genocide? Actively soliciting genocide isn't even something that's open to interpretation - it's completely against the natures that, it's claimed, God gave us in imitation of His own.

Matthew says "By their fruit you will recognize them. Do people pick grapes from thornbushes, or figs from thistles?" Applying this to the Biblical God leads to some very disturbing conclusions.

He cannot under any circumstances tolerate disobedience to His law resulting in sin, if that particular sin were to go unpunished.

If any entity were to say "disobedience to me is intrinsically wrong, therefore I'm justified in inflicting horrific punishment on anyone who disagrees with me", I hope I wouldn't take them at face value. That sort of relationship seems more abusive than loving.

Even our current world system, imperfect though it is, would be a far more anarchic and chaotic environment without the few laws that we do have, many of which are based on God’s original Old Testament law.

To the best of my understanding, most of our law (even in Christian countries like the UK) isn't even loosely based on God's law. Otherwise I'd have been executed by now.

Laws and morality don't necessarily arise from God. But that's a whole other discussion :)

God will only make a covenant with you:
1. If you accept that Jesus Christ is the Son of God, that He died on your behalf to pay the penalty for your sins, and that He rose again
2. You repent of your sins, turn aside from them, and seek to follow God


This is a problem because, without blind faith on my side, I find the premises here extremely implausible. I can't believe them without faith, and I can't have faith without believing them. Catch-22.

I hope you do not mind if I continue to pray that you will make a breakthrough in your quest for some of the answers in life.

I'd appreciate that.

11:41 pm  
Blogger Richard H said...

Andrew

I'd be interested in your response to my comment that starts I have been reflecting on this interesting topic....

9:11 am  
Blogger Andrew Rowell said...

Richard H,

I have read it and I have several problems with it... but I am struggling to respond adequately to it just at the moment.

It is still in my inbox as it were!

10:39 am  
Blogger Andrew Rowell said...

I have explicitly and sincerely asked God to grant me faith

Lifewish,

Presumably this was before you read the Old Testament???

10:43 am  
Anonymous christian said...

Lifewish,

Thanks again for your thoughts. I had not envisaged that we would pursue the discussion further than the point we had reached. However, because you have taken the time to give me a detailed reply, I am more than willing to give you the courtesy of a measured defence. The only thing I would say before I begin is that I feel we are reaching the impasse between our two positions. All of what I personally believe is based on blind faith in the integrity of the contents of the Bible, and if you do not share that faith, then you are unlikely to come to similar conclusions. Yet, I do not for one moment think the Bible is illogical, nor that it portrays an image of a sadistic, spiteful, immoral God. My view of the God of the Bible is quite the opposite to yours, but you will remember, if you think back to my first lengthy post to yourself, that I used to think more along the lines that you presently do. My shift in my view of God was simultaneous with conversion, and this fact is, I feel, key to understanding the differences between us.

Yet again, I am going to quote extensively from the Bible, and once again I am going to make no apology for this. Much of who I am today has come about as a direct result of clinging steadfastly to the teaching and instruction of the Bible, and it is the Bible that I look to when I attempt to find the ground rules for my morality, my philosophy, everything…

The Bible says in 1st Corinthians 2, 14:

1Co 2:14 But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.

In this verse, the word which has been translated ‘receiveth’ may also be translated as ‘accept’, or ‘take’. I could paraphrase the above verse, on your behalf, as follows:

“Lifewish cannot accept the things of God’s Spirit because they are nonsensical and irrational to him: nor can he understand them because to do so requires spiritual discernment”. This is the first, fundamental important principle that I am going to leave for your consideration: a dead spirit cannot comprehend spiritual issues. That spirit must first be made alive.

1Pe 4:6 …for this cause was the gospel preached also to them that are dead…

Conversion through faith in Jesus Christ leads to spiritual life, and by extension, eternal life, for the spirit will live on long after the physical body has rotted in its coffin.

Eph 2:1 In the past you were spiritually dead because of your disobedience and sins.
Eph 2:2 At that time you followed the world's evil way; you obeyed the ruler of the spiritual powers in space, the spirit who now controls the people who disobey God.
Eph 2:3 Actually all of us were like them and lived according to our natural desires, doing whatever suited the wishes of our own bodies and minds. In our natural condition we, like everyone else, were destined to suffer God's anger.
Eph 2:4 But God's mercy is so abundant, and his love for us is so great,
Eph 2:5 that while we were spiritually dead in our disobedience he brought us to life with Christ. It is by God's grace that you have been saved.
Eph 2:6 In our union with Christ Jesus he raised us up with him to rule with him in the heavenly world.
Eph 2:7 He did this to demonstrate for all time to come the extraordinary greatness of his grace in the love he showed us in Christ Jesus.
Eph 2:8/9 For it is by God's grace that you have been saved through faith. It is not the result of your own efforts, but God's gift, so that no one can boast about it.

To go back to my first important point: from my reading of the Bible I believe that I am looking at God through the eyes of one whose spirit has been made alive, therefore I do not find it difficult to accept what I am reading. I must take colossal exception to any claim that my God is guilty of genocide, or is a murderer, or incites His people to act violently or otherwise with blatant disrespect for others He has created. Where you see unwarranted, inexcusable acts of terror, I instead see the response of a holy, blameless, upright God to sin that has taken root and is raging out of control like a wildfire. To make reference to Richard’s comment that God indiscriminately slaughtered throughout the book of Genesis, I must confess that it has not escaped my attention that:

Gen 6:5 …GOD saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.
Gen 6:6 And it repented the LORD that he had made man on the earth, and it grieved him at his heart.

Gen 6:11 The earth also was corrupt before God, and the earth was filled with violence.
Gen 6:12 And God looked upon the earth, and, behold, it was corrupt; for all flesh had corrupted his way upon the earth.
Gen 6:13 And God said unto Noah, The end of all flesh is come before me; for the earth is filled with violence through them; and, behold, I will destroy them with the earth.

Great wickedness? Continual evil? Earth filled with violence? All flesh corrupt?

If you disagree with God’s appraisal of the situation, then presumably you also won’t be concerned if I bring my axe round to your house right now! We have only just reached chapter 4 of Genesis, when we are faced with the prospect of the first murder; and this has absolutely nothing to do with God, but everything to do with a jealous brother. God’s judgments upon mankind have always, and will always be, in response to negative actions of man’s will. God does not enjoy punishing innocent civilians. What is a negative action, and what establishes innocence in God’s eyes? A negative action is disobedience of God’s law, and innocence is only obtained through the keeping of God’s commandments.

I can almost hear your protestations at this juncture… “Not fair, not fair… I want to have a say in the matter”. Well, if we were in a position to have a say in the matter, we would be God. If an infinitely more powerful Being to myself, who has given me the gift of Life, should then decree that sacrificing to another God will result in my destruction, then in what way does it profit me to argue with Him? How am I going to fight His decision? Our problem as human beings is that we want to make the laws. Our thirst for power and authority has always been strong, and can be witnessed in the world around us. Yet, to someone like myself, who has completely accepted that he is a created being subject to His Creator, there is no inequality.

You view the type of relationship I have just described as more abusive than loving. Lets think about that for a minute. If I were to take my 4-year old daughter to the beach one evening, and light a campfire so that she could benefit from its warmth on a chilly evening, I would be doing it for her good. If I then strictly warned her that she must not go too close to the fire, or throw things in the fire, then I would also be doing this for her good. My 4-year old daughter, because she is of limited understanding, cannot be expected to appreciate the dangers of fire, nor the risk to her person if she should disobey my commands. Yet, my daughter may perceive my instruction as a restriction to her liberty, and as the evening progresses may come to resent what she believes to be “interference”. She may sit there quietly watching, attracted by the bright colours and the sound of twigs cracking and popping as they burn. It is possible that she could find some rubbish lying around, such as an old aerosol can, and summoning up all her determination and courage, throw it onto the fire whilst my back is turned. Result: a loud bang, an anxious father worrying for the safety of his child, and consequently a chastised little girl.

I hope you can follow my homegrown analogy. My daughter thought she knew better than I did, but she was wrong. Her actions led me to reprimand her as I saw fit, in an effort to correct her behaviour and ensure that she did not put herself at risk again. Yet, my censure was carried out in love, and with the best interests of the subject at heart. It was in no way an abusive action.

So it is with God and us. God appears to move in some sort of almost three-dimensional plane, which our two-dimensional minds cannot agree with. Andrew was right when he made reference in an earlier comment to infectious diseases flowcharts in Leviticus. There is clear evidence that God gives laws which will promote spiritual, physical and mental well-being. He is the ultimate, caring Father who knows what is best for His children.

Blind faith in such a wise Creator, whose laws promote all that would be beneficial to His creations, will never result in leading them “horribly astray”. Such a fate is reserved for those who put their blind faith in a god other than the God of the Bible. Note, I cannot prove this other than the harmony that exists in my own life as a result of my trust in His ability, but I do feel that Richard came very close to expressing what I am talking about, and in a very concise fashion, too:

”However, blind faith is not so dangerous when related to a belief in God. God does not say that you can fly so there is little risk of someone jumping off a building because of their blind faith in God. Ultimately, if that blind faith makes them feel harmony with the world and themselves, helps them to be tolerant and compassionate to others and may result in their soul being saved when they die, then basically what is there to lose. Nothing......

I am afraid that I am in complete disagreement with your statement that human law “isn’t even loosely based on God’s law”. It was, and to a great extent still is, and especially so in those countries which have largely retained Christian values, although these are disappearing fast. To prove my point, you need only look at the Ten Commandments, which can be summarised as follows:

1. Monotheism
2. Idolatry outlawed
3. Blasphemy outlawed
4. Consecration of Sabbath
5. Respect for parents
6. Murder outlawed
7. Adultery outlawed
8. Robbery outlawed
9. Lying outlawed
10. Covetousness outlawed

Of these ten laws, I can count seven that agree with UK law, although to my dismay even these are under attack. We retain a blasphemy law to this day. Shop opening on a Sunday (seventh day) is still restricted. Perjury (lying under oath) is a serious offence. Adultery can be used as grounds for divorce, etc, etc.

God demonstrated incisive intelligence when He presented these laws to Moses. If the law could have been kept, it would have brought innumerable benefits to mankind. For example, monogamy promotes sexual and mental health, and provides the framework for the family unit, which is an essential mechanism for the stability of children. If one does not covet, then he/she will be emotionally content. Outlawing robbery leads to the promotion of trade and commerce. Outlawing murder leads to the survival of the human race, and instils a sense of security in its citizens. Taking one day off work every week allows the body to restore and refresh its capacity for labour. And children who have respect for their parents will look after them in their old age, negating the requirement for a Social Security system.

Do you genuinely believe that society is moving forward and not backwards, as we move away from God’s law?

Finally, there is no catch-22 with God, although to suggest there is can feel like it serves to alleviate our guilt, and diminish our responsibility before Him. If you were to die in your sins (a genuinely repulsive thought to me… I am praying for you, and I care about your eternal destiny) then the conversation between you and God might run something similar to the following:

Lifewish: Why are you not letting me into Heaven, God?

God: I wish I could, for I am a merciful God: however, you failed to keep the laws that I asked you to observe, and I cannot contend with your unforgiven sin.

Lifewish: What was I supposed to do about that?

God: Well, Lifewish, I had so much compassion for you that I, personally, became intricately involved in a detailed plan whereby I could rescue you from the situation you found yourself in.

Lifewish: And what plan was that?

God: It was called salvation… It was a free offer of a pardon for all your wrongdoing, through faith in my Son, the Lord Jesus Christ. Didn’t you read about it in the Book I left you?

Lifewish: Yes, I read that Book. But I didn’t like the sound of You one bit. You came across to me as a murdering tyrant.

God: Hmmm… I see. It sounds like you had no faith in Me whatsoever.

Lifewish: Exactly.

God: You know, I could have done something about that for you. I could have given you faith in Jesus Christ, made your spirit alive, and then you would have looked at Me in a completely different light.

Lifewish: Then why didn’t you?

God: Don’t think that I didn’t desperately want to do so – I made it clear in the Book I left you (2nd Peter 3,9) that I was concerned that no-one should perish. I gave an open invitation to the whole of humanity (Matthew 11,28) to come to my Son and receive free and full forgiveness, and newness of life.

Lifewish: I read about that, but I didn’t believe it. What’s more, I blame You for not giving me the faith to believe it!

God: Did you look for Me with all your heart and soul? Did you seek Me out fervently, with dedication and unfaltering passion, rejecting your own pre-conceived ideas about who I am and what I do, and did you determine to carry on doing that until you had “laid hold” on eternal Life (Hebrews 6,18)?

Lifewish: [no answer]


There is a very interesting and remarkably sober verse in 2nd Peter, which disallows any complacency amongst those who think of themselves as Christians:

2Pe 1:10 Wherefore the rather, brethren, give diligence to make your calling and election sure: for if ye do these things, ye shall never fall:
2Pe 1:11 For so an entrance shall be ministered unto you abundantly into the everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.

I am not immune to the possibility that I might not be one of God’s elect. The only way I can continue to have an assurance that I am one of God’s children is to cling to God with all of my heart and soul, and request that He perpetually repair, renew and build up my faith. God has not designed me as some sort of pre-programmed robot, who will automatically do His bidding. He has given me a free will and a responsibility to be held accountable for my actions. A Christian who does not abide in God will die spiritually, and I have made reference to such individuals (what I called “quasi-Christians”) in a previous post.

God’s sovereignty is perfectly balanced by man’s responsibility. There is a famous example of someone who had remarkable insight to this. Oliver Cromwell, a devout believer in God, was about to engage in battle during the English Civil War. He and any one of his soldiers might only be minutes away from death. In his inspired address to his men before the charge took place, he told them, “Put your faith in God, and keep your powder dry.”

Another analogy, which I have always found especially helpful in attempting to in some small way understand the mystery of election/free will, runs like this:

Imagine we are looking at the entrance side of the door into Heaven. There is a large notice pinned to the outside:

“Whosoever will may come in.”

The believer in Christ subsequently dies an earthly death, and passing through the door on his way into Heaven, can’t help noticing that there is a second notice on the reverse, interior side of the door. This time it reads:

“Chosen in Christ before the foundation of the world.”

In summing up, I would just like to say that I only have peace and assurance of sins forgiven, because I am doing my utmost to abide in God and rely on His righteousness. If I were to cease in my pursuit of God, my faith would waver and die, and I might well find myself back at square one. This is what the apostle James meant when he wrote that faith without works is dead. It is not the works that bring salvation, but the works are the evidence of conversion.

With this in mind, I am troubled at the apparent contradiction between two of your statements:

”I should note that, in the past, I have explicitly and sincerely asked God to grant me faith. So far I have had no positive response”

“…I actually did read the majority of the Bible and, in amongst the lengthy genealogies, found large amounts of material that indicated the Biblical God wasn't one I'd want to worship. The Old Testament describes not a loving God but a tyrant who blackmails His followers into imitating His horrific behaviour. If that's the nature of God then I honestly think Hell would be preferable to an eternity of kowtowing to Him.”


There seems to be an inconsistency here that I cannot quite put my finger on. Your experience is not the same as my own, pre-conversion experience. Even when I was blatantly, knowingly flouting God’s laws, I was concerned about the possible consequences of my actions, and the aftermath of my earthly existence.

I will be glad to continue to pray for you, and to offer what little assistance I can through my postings. I am acutely aware of my own shortcomings, and I apologise for my inability to offer greater clarity on Biblical issues.

3:38 pm  
Blogger Richard H said...

Christian, if you'll indulge me I do have a question on faith that would be interesting answered by someone like yourself who is a devout Christian and true believer in absolute / blind faith.

If Person A has absolute blind faith in God - ie. they believe they have opened themselves to Christ and they the perfect example of a pontential saved soul.....but they live their life in a very selfish way that ensures that they are ok regardless of the impact to others, and they will happily lie, cheat, steal, etc.....

And then there is Person B who is a devout athiest and believes 100% that we evolved and that God is just the imagination of historic man who needed to explain the events that they saw in some way....but this person lives their whole life with compassion, caring and love for others and has never broken "God's law" or "Mans law"...

Would Person A's soul be saved because his sins would be forgiven because he clearly, honestly and absolutely believed in God?

Would Person B's soul not be saved even though he was the ultimate good person, just because he did not believe in God at all?

It seems to be me that the focus on the belief in God and not the actions of an individual seems a little odd. With the knowledge I have as a relatively insignificant human being compared with God, I can see that if I were God I would not measure them on their belief in me, which is a conceited position to take, but on their actions to live their life in a way that I would like see - compassion for others, etc.

Have I missed something here?

10:49 pm  
Anonymous Interested Fully said...

Wow - incredibly interesting posts here.

I enjoy the true discussion. Wow - i say again - Wow!

I believe in Jesus and have a similar view to Christian, with a slight difference.

Richard, i will allow Christian his response before i supply anything - i think his response will be like mine anyway.

Christian...what are your thoughts on the following: Doesn't responsibility lead to boasting? If we as Christians have responsibilities that we can fail at or succeed at, wouldn't the ones that had greater success also have rightful boasts?

Thanks.

12:18 am  
Anonymous christian said...

Hi Richard,

It’s good to hear from you again, and I have no hesitation at all in offering my perception with respect to your intelligent question. I submit my usual disclaimer that I am adrift without the Word of God as my guide, therefore all my reasoning comes from within its pages.

I am really taken with the way your mind is working on this issue. You have certainly given the matter a great deal of thought.

The simple answer to your question is that neither Person A nor Person B exists. Now in telling you this, I must stress that I am not hazarding a guess here: I am very, very sure of this… utterly convinced in fact. I did not need to think on this one more than a few seconds. Yet, it is a valid question, and one that deserves to be answered in view of the gross hypocrisy that pervades the world in which we live. I know exactly why you have asked it.

Persons A & B have this one thing in common: they are both contradictions in terms within themselves. In reality, a true Christian (and I am the first to accept that there are many frauds around) will possess the blind faith of Person A with the good works of Person B. That is my conclusion – now here is my evidence:

Faith which leads unto salvation will always be accompanied by good works. There are no exceptions to this. I have hinted at this a few times in previous posts. I feel I now need to be more explicit.

Jam 2:14 My friends, what good is it for one of you to say that you have faith if your actions do not prove it? Can that faith save you?
Jam 2:15 Suppose there are brothers or sisters who need clothes and don't have enough to eat.
Jam 2:16 What good is there in your saying to them, "God bless you! Keep warm and eat well!"---if you don't give them the necessities of life?
Jam 2:17 So it is with faith: if it is alone and includes no actions, then it is dead.
Jam 2:18 But someone will say, "One person has faith, another has actions." My answer is, "Show me how anyone can have faith without actions. I will show you my faith by my actions."
Jam 2:19 Do you believe that there is only one God? Good! The demons also believe---and tremble with fear.
Jam 2:20 You fool! Do you want to be shown that faith without actions is useless?
Jam 2:21 How was our ancestor Abraham put right with God? It was through his actions, when he offered his son Isaac on the altar.
Jam 2:22 Can't you see? His faith and his actions worked together; his faith was made perfect through his actions.
Jam 2:23 And the scripture came true that said, "Abraham believed God, and because of his faith God accepted him as righteous." And so Abraham was called God's friend.
Jam 2:24 You see, then, that it is by our actions that we are put right with God, and not by our faith alone.
Jam 2:25 It was the same with the prostitute Rahab. She was put right with God through her actions, by welcoming the Israelite spies and helping them to escape by a different road.
Jam 2:26 So then, as the body without the spirit is dead, also faith without actions is dead.

I have quoted this passage before; but this time I have used a more modern translation, and I am going to expound upon it a little. What the Bible is teaching here is very simple; yet it is one of the most hidden and least-talked about truths of the Scripture. I am sure that the reason for this is that it makes a lot of Christians uncomfortable, myself included at times. Faith, without the addition of charitable actions, is dead. In other words, it is no faith at all. It only serves to fool the owner into believing that he has a passport into Heaven despite living his life in whatever riotous or selfish manner he chooses. This is in fact exactly why James calls such a person in verse 20… a fool! They are no more a Christian than I am the Prime Minister of Great Britain. Verse 14 tells us it is no use having faith if our actions do not bear us out, and substantiate our claim. The actions that are required here are charitable ones: the kind of actions that the world expects Christians to demonstrate, yet which so many of us fail to do.

Verse 19 is brilliant in its reasoning. It points out that many people claim to believe in God, and by extension claim to have faith. Yet, Satan and his demons also believe in God in one sense, and they are most clearly not going to be in Heaven.

Long before this epistle was ever written, the Lord Jesus Christ was leading by example on this topic. Everywhere He went He did nothing but good. Jesus was especially interested in social outcasts and underprivileged persons: alcoholics, prostitutes, homeless people, beggars, physically disabled, mentally handicapped, etc. The Bible records that He had time for them all.


Mat 7:15 "Be on your guard against false prophets; they come to you looking like sheep on the outside, but on the inside they are really like wild wolves.
Mat 7:16 You will know them by what they do. Thorn bushes do not bear grapes, and briers do not bear figs.
Mat 7:17 A healthy tree bears good fruit, but a poor tree bears bad fruit.
Mat 7:18 A healthy tree cannot bear bad fruit, and a poor tree cannot bear good fruit.
Mat 7:19 And any tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown in the fire.
Mat 7:20 So then, you will know the false prophets by what they do.
Mat 7:21 "Not everyone who calls me 'Lord, Lord' will enter the Kingdom of heaven, but only those who do what my Father in heaven wants them to do.
Mat 7:22 When the Judgment Day comes, many will say to me, 'Lord, Lord! In your name we spoke God's message, by your name we drove out many demons and performed many miracles!'
Mat 7:23 Then I will say to them, 'I never knew you. Get away from me, you wicked people!'
Mat 7:24 "So then, anyone who hears these words of mine and obeys them is like a wise man who built his house on rock.
Mat 7:25 The rain poured down, the rivers flooded over, and the wind blew hard against that house. But it did not fall, because it was built on rock.
Mat 7:26 "But anyone who hears these words of mine and does not obey them is like a foolish man who built his house on sand.
Mat 7:27 The rain poured down, the rivers flooded over, the wind blew hard against that house, and it fell. And what a terrible fall that was!"

Person A is what Jesus calls in this passage in Matthew, a false prophet. Outwardly, a false prophet appears to say all the right things, and has a resemblance of godliness (with a small ‘g’) about him, but in reality he is only deceiving himself. His pious talk, without any complementary corroborating evidence that he believes with his heart what he is talking about, result in him being branded a hypocrite and despised by the rest of society. You will find numerous examples of Person A in modern day churches. He is one of the biggest reasons why the church has lost its authority, and why its numbers are dwindling. Yet, these people are going to get the shock of their lives when they stand before the Lord, for He is not going to allow them an entrance into Heaven. They will even have the audacity to argue the point with God Himself! (verse 22) But they will be consigned to Hell, for their bad behaviour during their lifetime was evidence to all that their faith was not real.

Note that in verse 24 Jesus stresses the necessity of obeying the words He was teaching. This is man’s responsibility. There is no security of eternal life if we choose to live our earthly life as we please, in flagrant defiance of Jesus’ wishes and example.


This next passage from 1st John builds the idea up further:

1Jo 1:5 Now the message that we have heard from his Son and announce is this: God is light, and there is no darkness at all in him.
1Jo 1:6 If, then, we say that we have fellowship with him (God), yet at the same time live in the darkness, we are lying both in our words and in our actions.
1Jo 1:7 But if we live in the light---just as he is in the light---then we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from every sin.

Same principle here: in order to qualify for the cleansing and forgiving effect of Jesus’ death, we must strive to live in the light… literally, live in God, or live like God. God sees right through the hypocritical behaviour of the regular churchgoer who is sleeping with his neighbour’s wife. Such an individual is not saved from his sin.


Following on from this, lets look at a very applicable passage in Hebrews. Once again, I have quoted this before, but this time around I am using a modern English translation:

Heb 10:26 For there is no longer any sacrifice that will take away sins if we purposely go on sinning after the truth has been made known to us.
Heb 10:27 Instead, all that is left is to wait in fear for the coming Judgment and the fierce fire which will destroy those who oppose God!
Heb 10:28 Anyone who disobeys the Law of Moses is put to death without any mercy when judged guilty from the evidence of two or more witnesses.
Heb 10:29 What, then, of those who despise the Son of God? who treat as a cheap thing the blood of God's covenant which purified them from sin? who insult the Spirit of grace? Just think how much worse is the punishment they will deserve!

Basically, this passage is addressed to Person A. He knows the truth of the gospel (verse 26). At some point in his life he has availed himself of the free offer of salvation through Jesus’ sacrificial blood (verse 29). Yet, he fails to recognize the preciousness of that same blood, or the cost to the Lord Jesus Christ in shedding it. Person A feels justified in living his life however he pleases, because he mistakenly believes that Jesus’ blood will atone for all his future sins, irrespective of his motive. In short, he insults God by attempting to use Jesus’ death as some sort of macabre ‘Get-out-of-jail-free-card’. He will come to a sorry end, for verse 26 teaches that there is no forgiveness for sins that are committed deliberately and with such an attitude.


The following passage is the last one I am going to use to talk about Person A:

Gal 5:16 What I say is this: let the Spirit direct your lives, and you will not satisfy the desires of the human nature.
Gal 5:17 For what our human nature wants is opposed to what the Spirit wants, and what the Spirit wants is opposed to what our human nature wants. These two are enemies, and this means that you cannot do what you want to do.
Gal 5:18 If the Spirit leads you, then you are not subject to the Law.
Gal 5:19 What human nature does is quite plain. It shows itself in immoral, filthy, and indecent actions;
Gal 5:20 in worship of idols and witchcraft. People become enemies and they fight; they become jealous, angry, and ambitious. They separate into parties and groups;
Gal 5:21 they are envious, get drunk, have orgies, and do other things like these. I warn you now as I have before: those who do these things will not possess the Kingdom of God.
Gal 5:22 But the Spirit produces love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness,
Gal 5:23 humility, and self-control. There is no law against such things as these.
Gal 5:24 And those who belong to Christ Jesus have put to death their human nature with all its passions and desires.
Gal 5:25 The Spirit has given us life; he must also control our lives.
Gal 5:26 We must not be proud or irritate one another or be jealous of one another.

This passage details the attributes that Person A will exhibit in verses 19-21, and finishes up by declaring quite plainly that Person A will not enter into the Kingdom of God. Person A allows his earthly, human nature to dominate his character, and as a result the new spiritual nature, which God longs for him to have, can not grow, gets choked and dies. Verse 24 proves that those “who belong to Christ Jesus”, in other words the genuine article, behave in the exact opposite way to Person A, by putting to death their carnal nature. A healthy, practicing Christian will display spiritual fruit as per verses 22 & 23.
Note once again that it is man’s responsibility to allow the Holy Spirit to direct his life. Verses 16 & 24 distinctly describe a conscious effort on man’s part.


To sum up, Person A’s soul is not saved because his lifestyle invalidated his claim that he had absolute blind faith. I am 100% certain within myself that no-one who truly, genuinely and honestly believes in God, will live even remotely like Person A.




Moving on to Person B… if he existed, he would have a lot going for him right from the start, because he demonstrates good, clean standards of moral living, and that in itself is a large part of what Jesus was about. Yet, if Person B is concerned about his soul’s salvation, then he has a number of problems to address.

Firstly, Person B is a devout atheist. Person B chooses to believe that God does not exist, but if Person B is wrong in his belief (and God does exist), then unfortunately God will be unable to accept him as a candidate for salvation for the following reason:

Heb 11:6 No one can please God without faith, for whoever comes to God must have faith that God exists and rewards those who seek him.

Secondly, although Person B is to be congratulated for living a largely blameless life and may well never have broken man’s law, he is mistaken in his belief that he has never broken God’s law:

Rom 3:23 everyone has sinned and is far away from God's saving presence.

Person B has sinned by default, simply by being a member of the fallen human race, and a descendant of Adam:

Rom 5:12 Sin came into the world through one man (Adam), and his sin brought death with it. As a result, death has spread to the whole human race because everyone has sinned.

Person B has failed to grasp the fact that sin is genetic, is inherited, and is passed from one generation to another. He also has an overly optimistic view of his own perfection, for God’s view of his nature is thus:

Jer 17:9 "Who can understand the human heart? There is nothing else so deceitful; it is too sick to be healed."

Person B is hoping that his soul will be saved, because in comparison to most other human beings, he really is a sterling example of a nominally good person. But, compared with God’s yardstick, which is unfathomable purity, holiness, and integrity, the situation is somewhat different:

Isa 64:6 All of us have been sinful; even our best actions are filthy through and through. Because of our sins we are like leaves that wither and are blown away by the wind.

So, if it is God who is responsible for saving Person B’s soul, then Person B is faced with a dilemma. He does not measure up to God’s standards, and as a result requires a mediator between himself and God, in order that God might be able to accept Him on His terms. Of itself, this is not a problem, for God, being a merciful and compassionate God, has Himself provided such a go-between in the form of Jesus Christ.

1Co 15:22 For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive.

However, this brings us full circle to the root of Person B’s problem: he does not believe in Jesus Christ, who by definition is the Son of God.

In summary, Person B’s soul is not saved because no amount of morality, self-righteousness, and good works will on their own be sufficient to meet God’s requirements for Heaven, which are described thus:

Rev 21:27 But nothing that is impure will enter the city, nor anyone who does shameful things or tells lies. Only those whose names are written in the Lamb's book of the living will enter the city.

Person B needs to have his name written in the Lamb’s book of life, before he can access the Heavenly city. Yet, he cannot do so, for he claims not to believe in the Lamb.

I don’t believe Person B exists: simply, and for no other reason, that he is just too pure. Person B has never raised his voice in anger; never told a lie (even a “white” one); never imagined going to bed with someone other than his wife; obeyed without question everything his parents asked him to do as a young child, and never said “No!”, or lost his temper; never stolen anything… not even a boiled sweet when his work colleagues weren’t looking; never wished he had a bigger house, or a flashier car just like his boss. I think if we are truthful our hearts tell us that we have done most of these things at some point in our lives. We have also thought of them as extremely minor, almost insignificant, trivial details. The trouble is, even if we were to do just one, that alone would be enough to offend God’s perfect purity.


This was a useful question that I found profitable to discuss. I hope I have managed to do it some justice. Please don’t hesitate to pursue this topic further, Richard.

4:30 am  
Anonymous christian said...

To ‘interested fully’…

Hello, my friend. I am pleased that you have been enjoying the posts. It is good to know they are being read and appreciated by others.

I do believe that man has a responsibility before God, and I think my previous posts, and probably especially the one I have just written to Richard, will make that obvious. However, I probably differ from some other Christians as regards the nature and extent of that responsibility.

I believe man must seek God while He may be found:

Isa 55:6 Seek ye the LORD while he may be found, call ye upon him while he is near:

I believe man has a duty to use the free will that God has given him in the employment of good works:

Eph 2:10 For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.

Other than that, I believe the Scripture teaches that God furnishes the sinner with the necessary tools to effect his salvation.

I don’t feel that I’m in danger of becoming proud or boasting in any area for the following reasons:

Although, I firmly and categorically believe that good works will always be present as evidence of true faith leading unto salvation, I do not believe that the works themselves will count in any way as some sort of credit towards salvation.

Eph 2:8 For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God:
Eph 2:9 Not of works, lest any man should boast.

Likewise, I don’t believe I can boast of any success in finding God, for on the contrary, I believe that He found me!

Luk 19:10 For the Son of man is come to seek and to save that which was lost.

Joh 6:44 No man can come to me, except the Father which hath sent me draw him:

I believe that my Redeemer, through no merit of my own whatsoever, has freely bestowed salvation upon me. I hope this makes my position plain. I’m genuinely interested in your own thoughts on this and other matters.

Thanks for writing… :-)

5:09 am  
Blogger Andrew Rowell said...

Christian,

I am lagging behind in posts here.

I am responding to your post which begins:

"Good morning, Andrew. Thank you for your comments, which I genuinely found to be of interest."

Two other thoughts have occurred to me.

1. Jesus said these words: "You believe in God believe also in me" This seems to argue for the view that I was proposing.

2. Paul approaches Jews in a very different way from Gentiles when it comes to telling his message. With Jews generally he could assume a knowledge of the OT and a monotheistic faith. Paul argues for the view that Jesus is the Jewish Messiah. With Gentiles there is more spadework to be done before they can understand the concept of a Messiah. They need to be told about God and his dealings with men in the past so that the message of Christ crucified makes sense. You need to know something about sin and its conequences before a Saviour means anything. With regard to Romans. I am talking not about the % of words or about the exact order of the words. I am talking about the structure of Paul's argument. He is not ashamed of the amazing message he is bringing to Rome because it is God's power leading to salvation. The first point he establishes is universal human guilt and need. He bases this upon universal knowledge of God and universal rejection of God leading to all the mess around us.
He establishes this foundation first before going on to speak of the way of salvation from sin.

8:25 am  
Blogger Andrew Rowell said...

Christian,

Your explanation of the passage in Matthew 11 does not seem to fit.

1. Jesus is saying that the towns and villages which had seen the evidence of his miracles and heard his teaching had a greater amount of privelege than the people of Sodom, Tyre and Sidon. The more priveleged places have a greater responsibility because they had a greater privelege. Therefore Jesus teaches that the day of judgement will be less tolerable for them than for the places which had less priveleges.

8:36 am  
Blogger Andrew Rowell said...

Richard,

Responding to your post beginning:
"Would you call depending upon subjective evidence "blind faith"?"

I use the term "blind faith" to describe a kind of will to believe somethig without any concern for evidence.

I would exclude dependence upon any evidence from blind faith. This evidence would include objective evidence and subjective evidence. Some of which may be scientific some of which may stand up in a court of law.

It sounds like Carroll and Prickett take a postmodern view of historical texts which I am convinced is mistaken. I know enough Greek and Hebrew to be able to weigh (i hope fairly) the views of different scholars on different passages. I think that you introduction exaggerates the flexibility for interpreting language.

I disagree with your comparison of the Koran and the Bible. They are fundamentally different books. The Koran is based around the monotheism of the Bible and depends heavily upon it. The Bible spans a huge time period and has many authors but a strangely unified message.

9:17 am  
Blogger Andrew Rowell said...

Richard,

I have started a new Blog on this subject as I find it of great interest and importance. I have made a start at answering some of your points by trying to define our terms more clearly.

New blog: .what-is-faith.blogspot.com

Shout if you cannot find it!

10:52 am  
Anonymous christian said...

Hi Andrew,

I too am having difficulty in keeping up to speed with the rate of knots at which new posts are appearing on this topic. I am glad you have started a new blog about it. I think the interest proves that there are a lot of people out there who are asking valid questions about the legitimacy of faith in God and the Bible.

You said:

1. Jesus said these words: "You believe in God believe also in me" This seems to argue for the view that I was proposing.


It appears to argue for your view, yes; but only on a superficial, first glance. Bear in mind, that Jesus was still a new commodity at the time of His comment. His hearers were His disciples, devout Jews who all their lives had believed in Yahweh, the God of the Old Covenant. Their forefathers had believed in the same God for hundreds of years. Jesus’ disciples can hardly be praised for being quick on the uptake, for the Gospels record that they often exhibited dullness of understanding in many issues that Jesus was attempting to explain to them.

Jesus has not yet gone to the cross, but He is literally hours away from it. We are on the verge of the transition from the Old to the New Covenant. Once Jesus has died, and the Old Covenant ceases to hold relevance or influence in God’s plan, then Jesus will be the sole access point to God. He is vitally concerned that they should understand the importance of this. This is why He makes His famous statement only a few short verses later:

Joh 14:6 Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.

We can have absolutely no conception of just how revolutionary these words must have sounded to the disciples’ ears that evening. They struggle to grasp His meaning:

Joh 14:8 Philip saith unto him, Lord, shew us the Father, and it sufficeth us.
Joh 14:9 Jesus saith unto him, Have I been so long time with you, and yet hast thou not known me, Philip? he that hath seen me hath seen the Father; and how sayest thou then, Shew us the Father?
Joh 14:10 Believest thou not that I am in the Father, and the Father in me? the words that I speak unto you I speak not of myself: but the Father that dwelleth in me, he doeth the works.
Joh 14:11 Believe me that I am in the Father, and the Father in me: or else believe me for the very works' sake.
Joh 14:12 Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that believeth on me, the works that I do shall he do also; and greater works than these shall he do; because I go unto my Father.

Bottom line: this passage and every subsequent passage thereafter post-crucifixion, point to faith in God being obtainable solely through faith in Jesus Christ, according to the terms of the New Covenant. Any other faith is a faith out with the God of the Bible.


I agree unhesitatingly with everything you set out in your second point. There is nothing you have said recently which I have an issue with. My bone of contention lay in the statement that you made a few days ago:

”Faith in God is prior to faith in Christ. You cannot believe in Christ unless you believe in God first.”

Do you really believe what you said back then, or was it simply a human error in selecting the wrong choice of words? If you do still believe what you stated, then I am afraid on account of your labouring the point I am going to have to now demand chapter and verse evidence for your claim. Knowledge of God, in the same way that children learn about Hitler in the History classroom, does not and will never equate to faith in God. Faith in God follows as a natural extension of faith in Christ, who is by Biblical definition the mediator between God and man. We will never get to God, or possess any degree of true faith in Him, if we bypass Jesus as the go-between. We are living in the age of the New Testament.

Mat 11:27 All things are delivered unto me of my Father: and no man knoweth the Son, but the Father; neither knoweth any man the Father, save the Son, and he to whomsoever the Son will reveal him.



Finally, with reference to our discussion on Matthew 11, you said:

”Jesus is saying that the towns and villages which had seen the evidence of his miracles and heard his teaching had a greater amount of privelege than the people of Sodom, Tyre and Sidon. The more priveleged places have a greater responsibility because they had a greater privelege. Therefore Jesus teaches that the day of judgement will be less tolerable for them than for the places which had less priveleges.”

You have made my point for me. I restate what I alluded to in earlier posts:

I am not an expert, but I am inclined to think that the Lord Jesus in Matthew 11 is making a distinction between rejection of God’s law under the old covenant, as opposed to rejection of the Messiah under the new covenant. Under the old covenant, transgressions could be atoned for with the blood of bulls and goats. Under the new covenant, the blood of Jesus Christ alone can atone for transgressions, and as far as I understand it God is very concerned that His Son’s work should not be taken for granted…

This is why I tried to convey in my earlier posting that I am convinced that the judgement is only greater because the “crime” of rejecting the Messiah is greater than the “crime” of rejecting God’s Old Testament law. They are two completely different covenants.


I am persuaded that the Lord Jesus is paving the way for the introduction of the New Covenant. Or to put it another way, I don’t believe that the thrust of this passage in Matthew 11 is designed to draw our attention to degrees in punishment and judgment. Rather, I feel that the Lord Jesus is reprimanding His contemporaries because they are rubbing shoulders with the Messiah, and have witnessed His “mighty works”, yet they show a stubbornness and a determination to ignore Him and cling to their Old Covenant. The Lord then finds it necessary to draw a comparison between His peers, and the inhabitants of old Sodom, in order to differentiate and demarcate His authority as opposed to Old Testament law. This is the only distinction I feel He is making.

Verse 25 bears me out:

Mat 11:25 At that time Jesus answered and said, I thank thee, O Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because thou hast hid these things from the wise and prudent, and hast revealed them unto babes.

Spiritual blindness, misunderstanding, and rejection of the Messiah are the keys to the passage.

3:10 pm  
Anonymous christian said...

Andrew… a postscript.

There is, of course, a parallel passage to Matthew 11 to be found in Mark 6:

Mar 6:4 But Jesus said unto them, A prophet is not without honour, but in his own country, and among his own kin, and in his own house.
Mar 6:5 And he could there do no mighty work, save that he laid his hands upon a few sick folk, and healed them.
Mar 6:6 And he marvelled because of their unbelief.
And he went round about the villages, teaching.
Mar 6:7 And he called unto him the twelve, and began to send them forth by two and two; and gave them power over unclean spirits;
Mar 6:8 And commanded them that they should take nothing for their journey, save a staff only; no scrip, no bread, no money in their purse:
Mar 6:9 But be shod with sandals; and not put on two coats.
Mar 6:10 And he said unto them, In what place soever ye enter into an house, there abide till ye depart from that place.
Mar 6:11 And whosoever shall not receive you, nor hear you, when ye depart thence, shake off the dust under your feet for a testimony against them. Verily I say unto you, It shall be more tolerable for Sodom and Gomorrha in the day of judgment, than for that city.

Again, the emphasis is on spiritual blindness, hardness of heart, unbelief, and rejection of the new Prophet, in accordance with the verses I have highlighted. The distinction in judgement only arises because of the distinction that the people involved have drawn for themselves, in ignoring the Messiah and continuing in the Old Covenant tradition. It is not a distinction based on their individual, personal, private transgressions.

6:49 pm  
Anonymous christian said...

In the light of what is alleged to be an apparent contradiction within the Bible with respect to the role of man and God in relation to faith, I would like to present for consideration the following analogy.

These are my own words, and I realise before I begin that they will not represent perfection in understanding such a complex issue of Divine origin; however, I think they might go a little way towards improved enlightenment on the subject.


Imagine I step off a plane in a foreign country and find myself in the arrival lounge of the airport. I am unable to read any of the signs around about me, save one large Poster written in English, which reads simply:

“Would all foreign visitors please look out for our Guide who will be pleased to escort you into the City. You will recognise Him by His characteristics x, y & z.”

At this point in the proceedings I have no evidence that the Poster is not the work of some prankster or hoaxer. Yet, being unable to find my way into the city on my own, I decide to set about looking for the Guide as He has been described to me.

Unknown to myself, the Guide has been watching my movements from an elevated position overlooking the arrival lounge. He has witnessed me reading the poster, and observed me looking frantically around the lounge. He correctly identifies that I am in need of His assistance, and makes His way down from the second floor to ground level. Approaching me from behind, He taps me on the shoulder and says, “Excuse me, I believe you are looking for the Guide”.

I have never met the Guide in my life before. He appears to match the description contained in the Poster perfectly. Yet, that in itself is not sufficient evidence to believe that He is who He claims to be. However, there is something about His demeanour that leads me to feel I can trust Him. He comes across as caring and compassionate, warm and friendly. In short, He gives me faith to believe I can trust Him, and together we set off towards the City.

At this juncture, I would like to point out that we as humans put our individual trust in complete strangers on an everyday basis, on a lot less evidence. We have faith in the qualifications and driving skills of a bus driver, simply because he happens to be sitting in the driver’s seat when we board. We place our faith in police officers merely because they happen to be wearing distinctive uniforms, which can be replicated by fraudulent means.

Whilst I am walking beside the Guide, we meet several passers-by who warn me, “Don’t trust the Guide; He doesn’t know where He is going”. Some of them even go as far as to say, “The Guide only intends to lead you down a dark alley; He may rob you, or even kill you!”. My faith in the Guide wavers…

This presents me with a dilemma: I have to weigh up what I know of the Guide, with what little I know of these individuals who I have also only just met. I compare their behaviour and their character. I observe them brawling in the street, and arguing with each other over petty disagreements. I watch as they selfishly try to obtain the best seats on the buses, and push and jostle each other for the best fruit in the marketplace. I look back at the Guide, who appears calm and serene and confident, as always. I decide to carry on trusting the Guide, but not only that; my faith in Him actually increases.

Sure enough, after a short journey, He leads me into the heart of the City.



With reference to the above analogy, all of the following statements are simultaneously true, and in harmony with each other:

1. I am unable to find my own way into the centre of the City
2. I place blind faith in a Poster of indeterminate origin
3. I make a conscious effort to look for the Guide
4. The Guide makes a deliberate effort to look for me
5. The Guide only searches me out because He perceives I am searching for Him
6. The Guide finds me before I find Him
7. The Guide instigates my faith in His ability
8. My faith in the Guide wavers, not on account of any ineptitude on the Guide’s part, but rather as a result of me getting distracted by what are eventually proven to be ill-informed judgements
9. My faith in the Guide multiplies, the more I look to Him and observe His conduct
10. The Guide can claim all the credit for leading me into the City centre

I hope that the analogy aids reconciliation in our finite minds of the supposed contradiction between man’s responsibility and God’s sovereignty.



Finally, I would also like to leave the following thought for consideration. I am of the opinion that faith grows and shrinks dynamically, in proportion to the extent to which we exercise our faith towards God. I believe the Lord Jesus expounds upon this principle in a passage clearly related to faith and its inverse, spiritual blindness.

Mat 13:12 For whosoever hath, to him shall be given, and he shall have more abundance: but whosoever hath not, from him shall be taken away even that he hath.

I would appreciate others’ comments on this, for I find it a fascinating concept. I believe I have proven it to be a true principle, when I look back at my own life.

7:07 pm  
Blogger Lifewish said...

I have explicitly and sincerely asked God to grant me faith

Lifewish,

Presumably this was before you read the Old Testament???


I'd skimmed over it, but I don't think* I'd read it in detail. I'd come across a few freaky bits, but nothing much worse than what gets presented in the average Sunday School. And at the time I was more than willing to give God the benefit of the doubt.

Since then, I've become rather less inclined to give people the benefit of the doubt. That had nothing to do with religion - it was mostly a consequence of reading more about world politics - but it certainly had an effect on my view of the Bible.

Nowadays I'm mostly freaked out by how willing I was to put my rationality on the line - what would have happened if I'd felt that God had responded? Heck, there was about a week there when I thought He had (which was contradicted by developments at the end of said week).

* On reflection, I suspect that even then I was inclined towards skepticism about God's perfection. As I said, however, there was a period where I genuinely set all that aside and opened myself to God. I asked Him to save me. I got no reply.

2:13 am  
Blogger Richard H said...

Christian, thank you for your thorough and well written response to my Person A and Person B example. Based on your explanation and examples from the Bible I can see why neither would be saved.

If I understand correctly, the turning point seems to be when someone opens themself up to Christ and ultimately finds God (in simple terms).

I was using absolutes with Persons A and B, and as you point out these absolutes probably do not exist, with which I agree. However, how about if we have a few more Persons - C, D, E and F. We assume each during their childhood has sinned in Gods eyes - they have said "No" to their parents, they have stolen from the friends (eg. sweets, etc).

Definitions to keep the text down
"Finds Christ" = that they come to believe in Christ/God in the perfect way to become a Christian (ie. how you expect to see this demonstrated)

"Devout Christian" = that they live their life as a true believer, without sin and helping others, etc (ie. what you would expect to see from a devout Christian)

Person C finds Christ in his late teens and from that point on is a devout Christian.

Person D finds Christ in his late teens but does have the odd inpure thought about his neigbours wife, and often wishes that he could have a bigger house and car, but he also often prays for forgivness for these sins. Although not a devout Christian in this respect of personal desires, he never acts upon them and is a devout Christian in all other ways.

Person E, at the age of 45, has been in prison for murder (for which he is guilty). In prison he reads the Bible and finds Christ, and on his release from Prison he is a devout Christian for the rest of his life.

Person F finds Christ when she is 70 years old (5 years before her death). She has lived her life in the cut throat business world and has had a number of sexual affairs to aid getting herself to the top, as well as having lied on many occaisions and also occaisionally having stolen some business secrets. Having found Christ at the age of 70 she is a devout Christian for the remaining 5 years of her life.

These are probably more realistic examples. Feel free to just provide a summary on each - don't feel obliged to support each one with words from the Bible unless you really want to. I have seen enough comments from you to have faith in your response (ie. that it is reflected in the Bible, as you have interpreted it).

10:02 am  
Blogger Richard H said...

Andrew,

I use the term "blind faith" to describe a kind of will to believe something without any concern for evidence.

I would exclude dependence upon any evidence from blind faith. This evidence would include objective evidence and subjective evidence. Some of which may be scientific some of which may stand up in a court of law.


I await your response to my comments starting "I have been reflecting on this interesting topci..." which I believe addresses the above statement.

It sounds like Carroll and Prickett take a postmodern view of historical texts which I am convinced is mistaken.

I find it interesting that you choose to have faith in the apostles of which you know nothing about other than the words they have written - which you believe are not even the apostle's own words but they are the words of God. Carroll is Professor of Hebrew Bible and Semitic Studies and Prickett is Regius Professor of English Literature at the University of Glasgow and both have a number of books published. You say you are convinced that they are mistaken but can you provide hard evidence for this? ie. not your personal opinion or desire that they must be mistaken.

I know enough Greek and Hebrew to be able to weigh (i hope fairly) the views of different scholars on different passages. I think that your introduction exaggerates the flexibility for interpreting language.

This again is personal opinion. There may be many people who take the view that the introduction under-exaggerates the situation. How can we identify the absolute truth of the sitution?

I disagree with your comparison of the Koran and the Bible. They are fundamentally different books. The Koran is based around the monotheism of the Bible and depends heavily upon it. The Bible spans a huge time period and has many authors but a strangely unified message.

For me this is the most interesting comment in this particular set. You are saying that the Bible and Qur'an are completely different books, and yet if I was to speak with a true Muslim, they would say that the Qur'an is God's true words and you would say that the Bible is God's true words. If we took an impartial person to weigh up the evidence, how would a Christian or a Muslim be able to convince that impartial person, with hard evidence (not opinion), which book is the true words of God?

Also, related in a way to your discussion with Christian about when one must believe in God before they can believe in Christ, etc....isn't it necessary to have hard evidence that God actually exists before we can start to look at any evidence about which book he may have written? If I brought you a book that I claimed has been written by an Alien - would you not ask me to prove the Alien exists before asking me to prove the Alien wrote the book?

When you go down the road where evidence is required to support faith in a supernatural being these questions have to be answered.

2:03 pm  
Blogger Richard H said...

Christian

Your analogy with the Guide and the City is a good, well thoughtout analogy. I have a few adjustments I would like to suggest.

Although the traveller does not know it - all roads lead to the city - if the traveller goes left or right out of the airport they will eventually arrive at the city gates.

I suggest that the poster on the wall would actual say "All travellers who want to find the city and get into the city must believe in the Guide and demonstrate they are worthy". Below the main words of the poster is the definition of worthiness - ie. rules regarding sin.

The traveller waits around for a few hours for the Guide to turn up and then he goes looking for the Guide but he does not find him. He assumes the poster must be authentic as surely the airport must check on the credentials of those putting posters on the wall for all to see....

At this point the traveller sees another traveller sitting on a bench and goes over to him and asks "Have you seen the Guide that will help us get to the City?" The second traveller says "No - I have been waiting here for days. I have spent all that time trying to find the Guide but I cannot find him, so I am at a loss of what to do next"

The original traveller in our story decides that he cannot wait for days to find the Guide that may not exist, or may have once existed but may have since resigned some time ago and no one remembered to remove the poster. So he sets off to try and find his own way to the city on his own.

As he makes his way to the city he finds many people that require assistance - he helps them all as best as he can - for example, he helps a small child who he sees has fallen off of her bike; he gives a person who looks very hungry the last apple he has in his pocket; etc, etc.

Eventually he reaches the city gate, as all roads lead to the city in the first instance, and their he meets a person who claims to be the Guide. Our traveller says "I assume you are nolonger the Guide as I could not find you, and there is another traveller who has been waiting for days". The Guide says "Do not worry all roads lead to the city, so everyone will always reach the city once they set off on their journey"

The traveller wondered how long the other traveller would wait before they eventually left and then asked the Guide "Can I enter the city?" The Guide responds "Although you have made the journey, and although on that journey you have been a good person, I am afraid I cannot let you into the city"

The traveller is now confused and asks "Why can I not enter the city?" The Guide replies by saying "Because you did not have faith in me." The traveller replies "But I have never met you" and the Guide replies "You do not need to meet me to believe in me, the words on the poster should have been sufficient for you to believe but alas you did not."


Ok....in my analogy, leaving the airport consistutes birth, reaching the city gates constitutes death. We all know that all roads eventually lead to death, and it is how we make the journey that is important.

The fundamental difference is that my traveller never meets the Guide until he reaches the City. The only evidence of the Guide's existence is the words on the poster, and just like your analogy he has no way of knowing the authenticity of the poster, but concludes it is probably authentic. But he does not know if the information is still current - ie. did they get rid of the Guide as a cost cutting exercise?

The only way the traveller can get into the city is to have total faith in his heart that the Guide exists. He has to believe without any doubt and with only the evidence of the poster. He will never meet the Guide until he reaches the city gate, at which point he will most definitely believe in the Guide, but by this time it will be too late, as he must believe in the Guide based on the poster alone.

1. The traveller does not realise that all roads lead to the city
2. The traveller does not realise that he must place his faith in a Poster of indeterminate origin
3. The travellers makes a conscious effort to look for the Guide but does not find him
4. The Guide does not try to find the traveller as it is clear that the Guide and the Traveller do not meet until the Traveller reaches the city gates.
5. The traveller only has himself to blame for not having total faith in the poster and the Guide.

Meeting God in a spiritual sense can only be a state of mind or a feeling in the heart. Your analogy has the traveller meeting the Guide, but this cannot happen in such black and white terms...our Traveller may have felt that the Guide was there helping him, if he truely believed, but he would never know for sure...and to me this "never knowing for sure" situation is the true test of someone's faith.

The key message here is that if God provided us with the best evidence of all - ie. by presenting Himself to all mankind in a way that would leave no doubt in anyones mind, then faith for most would be absolute and therefore the test of their faith is nolonger worth anything. To this end, believing in God because of perceived evidence is effectively the same thing...but on a smaller scale....if the traveller found a note left by the Guide dated 1 hour before saying "Sorry I missed you - I will meet you at the city gates...all roads lead to the gate, so I hope to see you soon", then clearly the traveller would believe in the Guide as the recent evidence is clear - therefore testing our traveller's faith becomes a meaningless exercise.

3:02 pm  
Blogger Richard H said...

Hebrews 10:38: Now the just shall live by faith; but if any man draw back, my soul shall have no pleasure in him.
Hebrews 10:39: But we are not of them who draw back unto perdition; but of them that believe to the saving of the soul.
Hebrews 11:1: Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.

This seems to me to make it pretty clear that the Bible considers faith to be crucial and that true faith is based on hope and unseeable things - that to me sounds like God expects unquestioning Faith, not faith based on evidences that can be seen - ergo - evidence of Intelligent Design.

Faith that the bible has indeed been written by God through the apostles can only be based on hope and evidences unseen...there is no way to prove or disprove that God provided those words...hence the only way to believe if through hope and unquestioning faith.

This is my first quote from the Bible and I have not read it cover to cover, infact I have read very little of it, but my understanding from Andrew and others is that the Bible has "Unusual Unity" and does not contradict itself. If this is indeed true, the statement above must stand as accurate. Sometimes the bible can be interpreted in many ways as the way it is written is sometimes a little unclear to those only familiar with modern english....however, the above passages seem to be very clear and unambigous to me.

6:34 pm  
Anonymous christian said...

Hi Richard,

Hebrews 10:38: Now the just shall live by faith; but if any man draw back, my soul shall have no pleasure in him.
Hebrews 10:39: But we are not of them who draw back unto perdition; but of them that believe to the saving of the soul.
Hebrews 11:1: Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.

"This seems to me to make it pretty clear that the Bible considers faith to be crucial and that true faith is based on hope and unseeable things - that to me sounds like God expects unquestioning Faith, not faith based on evidences that can be seen - ergo - evidence of Intelligent Design."



Fantastic! I agree absolutely! The verses you have quoted here are ones which I do know, for I have read them many times, but I was unable to bring them into play in my earlier posts on account of my feeble memory. Well done… you are ahead of us.

"...however, the above passages seem to be very clear and unambigous to me."

They are, and don't let anyone attempt to convince you otherwise.

In particular, Hebrews 11 verse 1 has hit me afresh like a bolt from the blue. If faith is the evidence of things not seen, then why are we looking for any evidence whatsoever in defence of faith? I feel the translation is even better in the Good News Bible:

Heb 11:1 To have faith is to be sure of the things we hope for, to be certain of the things we cannot see.

Or again from the 1912 Weymouth New Testament:

Heb 11:1 Now faith is a well-grounded assurance of that for which we hope, and a conviction of the reality of things which we do not see.

This verse marries perfectly with my own personal, private assurance and conviction of salvation. I described it in this manner in a previous post:

"I have no evidence that God exists, nor can I prove that the writings of Scripture are His very own. But somehow, from somewhere deep within my soul, there is an incredibly strong belief that the Bible can be trusted and taken at face value, and that its author (indirectly) is God."

I think you have put your finger on the reason why I have for so long been uneasy about the ID approach. I’ll say it again… I support Intelligent Design only in the sense that I believe (through faith as defined in Hebrews 11,1) that there was an Intelligent Designer.

I would be interested in Andrew’s response to these verses in Hebrews.


I have read your other comments and they have given me more to think about. I am eager to respond in some detail at my earliest convenience. I hope you will forgive the delay, for I have spent a long but pleasant day with friends and am somewhat tired tonight.

11:12 pm  
Anonymous christian said...

Andrew,

I wished to leave a comment on the new blog today, but am unable to do so. Is there a valid reason why the new blog only accepts input from those who have a Blogger account, unlike this blog?

I attempted to sign up for a Blogger account today, but my username has already been taken. Additionally, I don't really wish to be burdened with yet another password/account combination on the InterWeb.

Are you willing and able to alter the format of the new blog, in order that posters similar to myself can add their two cents worth?

1:49 pm  
Blogger Andrew Rowell said...

Full response to Richard’s post beginning: I have been reflecting on this interesting topic

Human beings have physically written the bible and there is no way to prove that humans were taking down a dictation from God.

I agree that human beings have written the bible. I also believe (as Jesus also believed) that they wrote exactly what God wanted them to write. I do not however believe that it was always a dictation process. Sometimes it claims to be straightforward dictation but other times it is much more complicated and includes narrative, poetry, prayer and even collections of wise sayings from around the then known nations. The personalities of the writers are evident.

How did these writings come to be regarded as inspired by God?

1. The writers claim to be speaking for God.
2. The writers claim that miracles are performed to validate their claims to be speaking for the true God.
3. The writers claim that their predictive words coming true validate their claims to be speaking for God.
4. Prophets after the time of Moses are to be subjected to the test of conformity to the Mosaic revelation.
5. Prophets are to be assessed by their long term effect on a group of people who follow them… by their fruits you shall know them.

Those who see ID as an important argument for themselves are saying that their faith in the Bible is not absolute.

Those who believe in the Bible may see ID as an important pointer to those who do not believe in the bible that personality and intelligence is more significant in nature than atheists had suspected. This may open the door to some of them to considering Theism more thoughtfully than they had done previously.

Those who believe that the bible contains sufficient evidence within itself to provide a basis for well grounded faith may nevertheless be heartened and encouraged in their faith and their struggles with doubt and uncertainty.

The bible does not present absolute certainty or absolute faith as the standard for saving faith nor as the norm for most Christians.

Richard said: Even if we conclude that life on earth is by design...it is still a conclusion based on evidence that cannot be absolute, and to conclude that that design is by a supernatural rather than natural designer still requires a blind leap of faith.
1. I believe that we will one day be able to conclude with certainty that life on earth was designed.
2. I do not like the word “super-natural” because it often carries the meaning “unreal” etc. If God is real is he natural or supernatural? If God is behind every aspect of nature even in its normal functioning is he actually part of nature… ie reality as it really is.
3. I believe that if we move to a situation where rational people agree that life on earth requires prior existing intelligence then the argument for the existence of God will be strengthened.

Richard said:
If we compare the probabilities of the designer being natural or supernatural which has the lowest probability?
I think that if you get to the conclusion that life requires pre-existing intelligence then you are stuck with a requirement for an eternal intelligence behind the universe rather than an eternal universe behind intelligence. I can’t see any other options really.

Richard said:
If you require evidence to support your belief in God you can never have absolute faith in God.

If the apostles really saw Jesus dead and buried and really saw him alive afterwards. If they saw him create wine from water and bread and fish from nothing. If men born blind were made to see and life long paralytics made able to move…. Then would this rightly result in absolute faith?


Richard said:
you have accept that the evidence may result in you no longer believing in God at all if that is where the evidence leads.

If the evidence did point to… no God then I believe we should all become atheists. I believe we should stick to the truth and that nothing is higher or more authoritative than the truth.

3:24 pm  
Blogger Andrew Rowell said...

Christian,

Try the what-is-faith comments now... I think the settings are the same now for both blogs.

3:25 pm  
Blogger Andrew Rowell said...

Richard You said:

God made Adam and Eve without the knowlegde of good or evil, right or wrong, good or bad - effectively he created two humans that were amoral. It is therefore not a surprise that they did not obey him.

Having disobeyed him because of a flawed design he then punishes them in a spiteful way - making child birth more painful, etc. Where was his forgiveness and compassion.

Response.
They were not made amoral- they were made in the image of God. They were given a specific test of their allegience to God with a warning that death would result if they turned away from God.



And then after many years when man is finally working together, after God has murdered virtually every human on the planet, with a worldwide flood, he distributes humans across the planet and gives them all different languages to make it had for them to work together....

Response.
We penalise bad things. God does too. It is not presented as a sort of arbitrary destruction but as a penalty for evil living.

Post flood there was the command to spread out and fill the earth. The activity at Babylon is presented as defiance of God's command.

3:36 pm  
Blogger Andrew Rowell said...

Christian,

I said:
"Faith in God is prior to faith in Christ. You cannot believe in Christ unless you believe in God first.”

You said:
Do you really believe what you said back then, or was it simply a human error in selecting the wrong choice of words? If you do still believe what you stated, then I am afraid on account of your labouring the point I am going to have to now demand chapter and verse evidence for your claim. Knowledge of God, in the same way that children learn about Hitler in the History classroom, does not and will never equate to faith in God. Faith in God follows as a natural extension of faith in Christ, who is by Biblical definition the mediator between God and man. We will never get to God, or possess any degree of true faith in Him, if we bypass Jesus as the go-between. We are living in the age of the New Testament.

We are talking at cross purposes and I think because we are using the word "faith" in different ways. I believe it is possible to believe in God and not to believe in Christ. I believe it is impossible to believe in Christ without believing in God. I was using the words "faith in God" in the sense of "believe in the reality of God and his requirments and his standards" I was meaning that this is an essential prior step to saving faith in Christ. I am sure we both agree.

It goes to show how much careful we need to be about what we mean by "faith" or "believing"!

3:48 pm  
Blogger Andrew Rowell said...

Christian,

"the “crime” of rejecting the Messiah is greater than the “crime” of rejecting God’s Old Testament law."

I agree.
Do you agree that God will punish one more than the other... or to use Christ's words the penalty will be more bearable for one than the other?

3:50 pm  
Blogger Andrew Rowell said...

Richard,

For someone who is new to the bible you did extraordinarily well to find that quote!

Let me provide my paraphrase.

Faith is to do with things that you cannot see.

It is the way we can be sure about the things we hope for.
It is how we can be convinced about the things we cannot see.

The context of the quotation from the Old testament book of Habbakuk is that God has said he is going to do something in history which Habbakuk will find unbelievable...but the fact that God actually does it will enable him to be confident that he is truly God.

4:21 pm  
Blogger Richard H said...

Andrew,

Thanks for the compliment - without wanting to spoil the illusion, I found reference to it on wikipedia.com when I searched for the word Faith. :o)

You said...

Let me provide my paraphrase.

Faith is to do with things that you cannot see.

It is the way we can be sure about the things we hope for.
It is how we can be convinced about the things we cannot see.


My first response is "How dare you paraphrase the words of God!". But seriously, why do you need to paraphrase something that is already clear and written very unambiguously? Earlier I was suggesting that you needed to put your faith in the translaters of the Bible and you argued against this and here you are translating from English into English and slightly blurring it's direct meaning. If 10 different people took each "paraphrase" and "paraphrased it" I wonder what the final meaning would imply?

Back on topic...God makes it clear that Now the just shall live by faith and then goes on to define faith Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.

The rest of Hebrews 11 clarifies this:

Hebrews 11:3: Through faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that things which are seen were not made of things which do appear.

This makes it crystal clear to me that God demands unquestioning Faith; even if you are searching for evidence that cannot be seen you already must have complete, unquestioning faith if you are become a saved soul.

Your comment that Faith is to do with things that you cannot see is literally "Blind Faith" - ie. you have to believe in things that you cannot see. Surely you cannot dispute this?

As this topic has progressed I am now absolutely 100% convinced that God demands unquestioning faith - belief from the heart - that He exists. If there was any evidence that God exists, other than words on a page that make reference to Him, I would have true faith....but as previously posted....if God presented himself, and evidence could be seen, then this unquestioning faith becomes irrelevant - if you know God exists then you nolonger need to have Faith that He exists.

If someone tells me there is an apple on the table in the next room, into which I cannot see, I have to have faith in them to believe the apple is there. If I am able to see the apple on the table, I nolonger need faith as I have acquired the knowledge that the apple is actually there. God does not ask us to acquire knowledge and find the things that cannot be seen to be saved, he asks us to have faith dispite the fact that we have no evidence.

This is why I believe that Intelligent Design is irrelevant to those who have total faith in God. I expect Intelligent Design to help our understanding of the natural world, but it will not bring anyone closer to God.

This is coming from someone that does not believe in God because words on a page, no matter how well they are written, only provides evidence that words have been written on a page; there is no tangible evidence that the main character in the book (God) actually exists or ever existed, and these words cannot provide this evidence. But ultimately, the whole point is that the evidence is irrelevant - you either have unquestioning faith and are saved, or you are not saved....the Hebrew words make this 100% clear.

10:12 pm  
Blogger Richard H said...

They [Adam and Eve] were not made amoral- they were made in the image of God. They were given a specific test of their allegience to God with a warning that death would result if they turned away from God.

I disagree that they were not amoral and were made in the image of God exactly...and I now quote you from the Bible...

Genesis 3:22: And the Lord God said, Behold, the man is become one of us, to know good and evil: and now, lest he put forth his hand, and take also of the tree of life, and eat and live forever:
Genesis 3:23: Therefore the Lord God sent him forth from the garden of Eden, to till the ground from whence he was taken.

This makes it 100% clear that until Adam and Eve ate the apple from the Tree Of Knowledge they did not know the difference between good and evil - ergo - they were amoral. God clearly understood good and evil and in my view gave them a test that they could never pass.

If we are God's creation then he has responsibility for that creation - if I created a robot that had freewill and it went out and killed people because I had not taught it that to kill was wrong, am I accountable or is the robot accountable?

It is a naive God that creates two humans with no understanding of good and evil, who then find out by eating the fruit from the tree, who then get no further guidance on what good and evil really means, but instead are punished severely and without any forgiveness or understanding. If this was a father of a child today then that father would most likely be punished, and the child protected.

10:36 pm  
Blogger Lifewish said...

I'd like to apologise. I've just been reading back and one of my comments is hyperbolic to the point of being seriously inaccurate. I was well aware of the scary stuff in the Old Testament for a long time before my attempt at conversion, and was probably more knowledgeable about the Bible than the average Christian.

I'm normally scrupulous about not stretching the truth to prove a point. The fact that I've done so indicates that I should take a break from posting. My finals are in a couple of weeks, so I'll probably be back some time after the hangover wears off :)

10:46 pm  
Blogger Andrew Rowell said...

Richard said:
seriously, why do you need to paraphrase something that is already clear and written very unambiguously? Earlier I was suggesting that you needed to put your faith in the translaters of the Bible and you argued against this and here you are translating from English into English and slightly blurring it's direct meaning. If 10 different people took each "paraphrase" and "paraphrased it" I wonder what the final meaning would imply?

I paraphrased because I was trying to convey what I believe is the real meaning of the greek sentence. It is not a straightforward verse to translate and huperstasis especially is a difficult word to get right in english.

I have put a post on the other blog attempting to show what I mean.

9:55 am  
Blogger Andrew Rowell said...

Richard said:
"This makes it crystal clear to me that God demands unquestioning Faith; even if you are searching for evidence that cannot be seen you already must have complete, unquestioning faith if you are become a saved soul."

I do not see that in the verse you quote. It seems to me that you have a notion of what christian faith is that you are seeking to see in the bible when it is not there.

Believing in things we cannot see is not blind faith as I understand it. We cannot see gravity but we believe it because of its effects. We cannot see electrons etc etc.

Where do you get this idea that saving faith = unquestioning faith?

As Christian I think pointed out.. the bible teaches that the Devil knows that God exists but does not have saving faith in God.

10:02 am  
Blogger Andrew Rowell said...

Lifewish,

If you still are looking... I hope all your exams go well and you get a first!

All the best!

10:03 am  
Blogger Richard H said...

Andrew,

Where do you get this idea that saving faith = unquestioning faith?

It says so in Hebrews very clearly to me - it was not that single additional quote that I posted that finalised it, that was just an addditional passage that added to the previous....

Hebrews 10:38: Now the just shall live by faith; but if any man draw back, my soul shall have no pleasure in him.
Hebrews 10:39: But we are not of them who draw back unto perdition; but of them that believe to the saving of the soul.
Hebrews 11:1: Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.


These for me are the clear words of God that state that our faith must be the substance of things hoped for, evidence of things not seen. The previous passages refer directly to the saving of the soul in relation to this faith.

I am putting myself in your shoes - ie. I believe that God exists, I believe that the bible does contain the words of God, I believe that he will save my soul through faith. However, you are now saying that faith based on seen evidence, such as Intelligent Design is acceptable to God and will be sufficient to save your soul when clearly Gods own words seem to differ from your opinion and definition of faith.

Your analogy of gravity, etc is irrelevant. We cannot see the air but we know it enters our lungs - however, with the right tools gravity can be measured and understood scientifically, and air can actually be seen. There are no such tools today that enable us to 'see' God - we can only see him in our heart....sounds a bit heavy...but you get what I mean (I hope).

What I really don't understand is that you have made it very clear that you believe the bible contains the words of God....and now when those words clearly define the Faith that is required for a soul to be saved you choose to interpret those words in some personal way that implies that this is not blind...where blind means that there is no evidence, other than the bible itself, to support the belief that God exists.

Blind faith to me is someone telling you that their is an apple on the table in the next room, but you never being able to see it for yourself. You have to take it on trust that the apple is on the table. The difference in this analogy is that you know that both a table and an apple do exist. In the case of God, your faith in God has to be based on trusting that the apostles did write the words of God, even though you cannot prove it. Also, you have never seen a God, in the same way as you have seen an apple, so the faith has to be even stronger...ie. the apostles have written about a being that no one in living history has ever seen.

You can kid yourself all you want that your belief in God is based on evidence.....but there is no evidence on this planet or in the known universe that scientifically proves the existence of God...even Intelligent Design does not prove the designer was Supernatural or is God...it can only prove design, which could be by a very advanced civilisation that developed an Organic Technology and put us on this planet to develop and grow in our own way, so they could observe....we could be the equivalent of a tropical fish tank.

You cannot disprove that my advanced civilisation does not exist anymore than I can disprove the existence of God as defined in the Bible - and therefore, by definition, neither can be proved either. If that is not blind faith then I do not know what is.

4:13 pm  
Blogger Andrew Rowell said...

Richard,

Did you see my explanation of the verse at the centre of your argument here. I am not trying to twist my way out of a difficult corner.... it is just that word elegchos which turns the meaning of that verse away from what you think it means towards something entirely different.

4:31 pm  
Blogger Richard H said...

Andrew - apologies - I missed that post - I started reading from the second post you made at 10:02 AM.

I have now read your extra posting....however, I am not sure what to make of it.

But faith is of being hoped the sure basis of things

The translation does not make sense in English and therefore is very open to interpretation.

demonstration of things not seen.

So this has been tranalated as "evidence" in my bible, but should be "demonstration" - which has a slightly different meaning in this context.

So I would conclude from this that God does not mind if you believe in Him because of evidence of just because you believe - ie. unquestioning faith.

Even if this is true you cannot look at a tree and conclude it is evidence of a God....you cannot even look at something that is assumed to be irreducibly complex as evidence for the God in the bible. If God did make the universe then he is outside of it.....it is like looking at a chair and trying to identify who the designer is; it is impossible to ascertain the designer by looking at the finished article unless the finished article has been signed in some way.

I still maintain that no evidence exists for the God of the bible in the universe today and that to conclude that God does exist requires unquestioning faith in those who wrote the bible, as being the true words of God, as the only reference to God is in the bible.

If you brought up a group of people who never even knew the bible existed they would find no other evidence to reach any conclusion that God could exist.

9:56 pm  
Blogger Andrew Rowell said...

Richard,

Sorry to take soooo long to reply!

The literal rendering of the greek can be rearranged:

But faith is the sure basis of things we hope for. The demonstration of things we cannot see.

I still think that practically unquestionisng faith is impossible. Our faith always rests on some kind of evidence or other.

You can often draw conclusions about a designer from his or her work.

The biblical writers maintain that there is evidence for the existence of God. Orthodox Christian theology maintains that there is evidence for the existance of God.

10:32 am  
Blogger Richard H said...

Our faith always rests on some kind of evidence or other.

Of course it does. Things have happened in my life that make me have faith that I have a guardian angel. So on this basis you must agree that this is not blind faith.

I am sure there are many many people who believe in God because of what they have read, or because of circumstances in their lives that have led them to believe. Maybe their parents very devout Christians, maybe they found comfort in the idea that there is a higher almighty power that transcends their physical existence to give their lives some greater meaning.

But I put this fundamental concept to you:

Faith is required when you do not have sufficient evidence to conclusively know that something exists.

If God presented himself to all of mankind and spoke to us all this afternoon, and from today onwards started directly answering all of our prays, then we would no longer need to have faith, as we would know that God exists.

If you agree with this then you have to also agree that as we do not know that God exists we have to have faith in his existence.

The whole ID movement is targetted at providing scientific evidence that God exists, to effectively remove the need for faith - ie. by acquiring the knowledge that God exists we no-longer need to have faith in those that have written that he exists. By definition, as of today, we have no first hand evidence that he exists, other than what others have written, and therefore faith in those who have told us that he exists is necessary.

Which leads me to your statement below....

The biblical writers maintain that there is evidence for the existence of God. Orthodox Christian theology maintains that there is evidence for the existance of God.

This statement is misleading...it should say:

The biblical writers maintain their faith for the existence of God. Orthodox Christian theology maintains its faith for the existance of God.

Do not confuse knowledge (evidence) and faith (trust without evidence).

The only evidence that you can provide me with for the existence of God is the writings of other humans that you have faith in.

Therefore faith is required when there is an absence of evidence to know that something/someone exists. Even if we agree therefore that faith is not blind, we have to also agree that faith is not supported by evidence that enables us to know that something/someone exists.

Do we not?

8:15 am  
Blogger Andrew Rowell said...

Richard,

I am still pondering your helpful and probing comment.

You corrected my statement:
The biblical writers maintain that there is evidence for the existence of God. Orthodox Christian theology maintains that there is evidence for the existance of God.


with:
The biblical writers maintain their faith for the existence of God. Orthodox Christian theology maintains its faith for the existance of God.

Let me give you the AV translation of the evidence that I was thinking of from Paul (Romans 1:20)
For the invisible things of him are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead, so tha they are without excuse.

That sounds to me as if Paul is saying that material reality provides evidence for God's being and power and eternity.

10:56 am  
Blogger Richard H said...

Andrew...I look forward to your response to my probing comment.

In the meantime, I'll respond to your quote from the Bible about faith and evidence.

That sounds to me as if Paul is saying that material reality provides evidence for God's being and power and eternity.

So let me get this right. You are saying that your evidence for the existence of God is because Paul looked around him, concluded that all the things he could see were made by God, and therefore, all the things he could see must be evidence for the existence of God?

OK. I appreciate that it is not this single quote from Paul that is the basis for your whole belief system, and it is the collection of writings in the Bible that all make reference to the same God, but to say that you can look at a tree and reach the conclusion that it is evidence for God has no scientific basis whatsoever and in itself provides no evidence for the existence of God. It only provides evidence that Paul believed that God existed and that Paul believed that God created all the things he could see - it is evidence of a belief, not evidence of a fact or the truth.

The bible provides evidence that the authors of the bible believed in the existence of God. The bible does not provide evidence that God actually exists.

You can place your faith in those authors if you choose, but this faith does not bring you any closer to knowing that God exists...no matter how strongly you believe in those authors.

1:24 pm  
Blogger Andrew Rowell said...

Richard,
You said:
"The biblical writers maintain their faith for the existence of God. Orthodox Christian theology maintains its faith for the existance of God."

My last comment was directed at this proposition.

Paul does not in the verse I quoted above maintain his faith in the existence of God. He maintains that it is a matter of universal human knowledge that there is a God and that this knowledge is related to the material creation and is sufficient to leave all men without an excuse for their failure to worship and serve him.

I did not say that Paul's view is universally accepted (even among Christians) but I would maintain that this actually what he teaches in that section of his letter.

I was not saying that I can demonstrate by rigorous mathematic proof that Paul was correct or is correct. I was simply seeking to establish what his position was.

10:07 pm  

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