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Posts tagged with "Christianity"

a-both-and-man:

humansofnewyork:

"I’ve been a deep believer my whole life. 18 years as a Southern Baptist. More than 40 years as a mainline Protestant. I’m an ordained pastor. But it’s just stopped making sense to me. You see people doing terrible things in the name of religion, and you think: ‘Those people believe just as strongly as I do. They’re just as convinced as I am.’ And it just doesn’t make sense anymore. It doesn’t make sense to believe in a God that dabbles in people’s lives. If a plane crashes, and one person survives, everyone thanks God. They say: ‘God had a purpose for that person. God saved her for a reason!’ Do we not realize how cruel that is? Do we not realize how cruel it is to say that if God had a purpose for that person, he also had a purpose in killing everyone else on that plane? And a purpose in starving millions of children? A purpose in slavery and genocide? For every time you say that there’s a purpose behind one person’s success, you invalidate billions of people. You say there is a purpose to their suffering. And that’s just cruel."

I think we have all thought something like this at one time or another. Here are a few thoughts that have helped me. I pray that they can help someone else, too.
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Yes to what a-both-and-man says. All of it.

a-both-and-man:

humansofnewyork:

"I’ve been a deep believer my whole life. 18 years as a Southern Baptist. More than 40 years as a mainline Protestant. I’m an ordained pastor. But it’s just stopped making sense to me. You see people doing terrible things in the name of religion, and you think: ‘Those people believe just as strongly as I do. They’re just as convinced as I am.’ And it just doesn’t make sense anymore. It doesn’t make sense to believe in a God that dabbles in people’s lives. If a plane crashes, and one person survives, everyone thanks God. They say: ‘God had a purpose for that person. God saved her for a reason!’ Do we not realize how cruel that is? Do we not realize how cruel it is to say that if God had a purpose for that person, he also had a purpose in killing everyone else on that plane? And a purpose in starving millions of children? A purpose in slavery and genocide? For every time you say that there’s a purpose behind one person’s success, you invalidate billions of people. You say there is a purpose to their suffering. And that’s just cruel."

I think we have all thought something like this at one time or another. Here are a few thoughts that have helped me. I pray that they can help someone else, too.

Read More

Yes to what a-both-and-man says. All of it.

branwyn-says replied to your post: “In a universe where God is dead,…

I disagree with this strongly. Moral law exists quite apart from any concept of God. It simply isn’t handed down from on high, for non-believers.

restfromthestreets added:

Agree with branwyn-says. It is not impossible to have moral laws without a God. The premise that guilt is sin’s only alternative is flawed.

I’m not saying, and I’m quite sure that James Sire (the author of the quote) wasn’t saying either, that non-believers have no moral code, or are unable to act morally. Nearly all non-believers manifestly do have a sense of right and wrong, and many try very sincerely to behave in a moral and compassionate way. Sometimes they even do so in ways that put believers to shame.

The point is that apart from divine authority there is no sound argument for acting morally. Because if God does not exist and our existence is purely a matter of chance, then moral impulses are either a result of chemical reactions in our brains that serve a purely evolutionary purpose (in which case it isn’t actually bad for an individual to go against those imperatives, just potentially ill-advised) or else moral values are a construct imposed on us by our upbringing, our culture and our society (in which case we we are in no position to judge the moral values or actions of any other individual, culture or society when they happen to conflict with our own — so we cannot call honor killing or concentration camps evil, only distasteful to our particular moral aesthetic).

Now obviously very few non-believers actually think their morals are just an accident of biology or something imposed on them by society — because deep down, we know our sense of right and wrong is more real and objective than that. All human beings possess at least some innate sense of morality, regardless of our intellectual or spiritual beliefs (which is the gist of Paul’s argument in Romans 2:12-15). We do what we believe is right because we really feel that it is the objective and not merely subjective right thing to do, and when we do something we know in our hearts to be wrong, it causes us to feel guilty. That is true whether we accept the premise that God exists or not.

However, when a non-believer breaks the moral law and feels guilt for it, there is no logical answer in her philosophy to why the guilt she feels is real, and not merely a biological illusion or a cultural artifact. Nor is there any clear answer as to what she can do to alleviate her guilt. That is the point of what Sire is saying.

If “doing wrong” is merely a matter of resisting your biological impulses or going against the rules of society, then there is no reason to feel guilty for doing so as long as you can rationalize it. But the fact remains that even if we can come up with arguments to justify our “wrong” behaviour, even if we try in some way to compensate by doing a corresponding “right”, we often still feel guilty. And there is no clear reason for that lingering guilt, much less any lasting and meaningful solution to it, unless we acknowledge the existence of a moral Lawgiver to whom we must give account for our behaviour — and who is also able to forgive and cleanse us from our sin.

In a universe where God is dead, people are not guilty of violating a moral law; they are only guilty of guilt, and that is very serious, for nothing can be done about it. If one had sinned, there might be atonement. If one had broken a law, the lawmaker might forgive the criminal. But if one is only guilty of guilt, there is no way to solve the very personal problem … we are left not in sin but in guilt. Very serious indeed.

- James Sire, The Universe Next Door

Nowadays we are taught to think of faith as something that relates inversely to logic and evidence - as you get more facts and certainty, your need for faith goes down. But that’s not what Christians mean by faith. Faith means certainty about what you can’t see. And so compelling evidence, evidence that engages rationality, is one of the greatest boosts to Christian faith.

- Timothy Keller, The First Christian (via waiting4morning)

Yup. And blind, irrational, baseless adherence to wishful thinking is the very last thing that Jesus taught or his disciples promoted. Which is why it makes me so annoyed when people talk about faith and reason as though they’re opposites. They’re more like two sides of the same coin.

a-both-and-man:

Thomas Merton, No Man Is an Island

a-both-and-man:

Thomas Merton, No Man Is an Island

smeyerwrites:

Simply Sunday | Easter Sunday | Matthew 28.6 (NKJV)

"He is not here; for He is risen, as He said. Come, see the place where…

smeyerwrites:

Simply Sunday | Easter Sunday | Matthew 28.6 (NKJV)

"He is not here; for He is risen, as He said. Come, see the place where…

Was Easter Borrowed from a Pagan Holiday? | Christian History

The article is three pages long, but the short answer is: nope.

Dec 3

[Richard Dawkins says that] ‘to claim a supernatural explanation of something is not to explain it at all and even worse to rule out any possibility of its ever being explained.’ What strange confusion is this –  as if God and science were alternative explanations? God no more competes with science as an explanation of the universe than Henry Ford competes with the science of engineering and the laws of physics as an explanation of the motor car. Galileo, Kepler, Newton and Clerk Maxwell were not hindered but rather motivated in their science by believing that God created and upheld the universe.  They simply did not confuse explanation in terms of agency on the one hand with mechanism and law on the other, and so were happy to think God’s thoughts after him.

- Dr. John Lennox, “The Magic of Christmas" (Washington Post, Dec. 24,  2011)

Spiritual innocence is not naïveté. Quite the opposite. Spiritual innocence is a state of mind—or, if you prefer, a state of heart—in which the life of God, and a life in God, are not simply viable but the sine qua non of all knowledge and experience, not simply durable but everlasting.

-

- Christian Wiman articulates something I think I believe but could never put into words.

(For those of you who haven’t brushed up your Latin lately, “sine qua non” basically means an essential condition or ingredient…)

Jesus lives, and so shall I.
Death! thy sting is gone forever!
He who deigned for me to die,
Lives, the bands of death to sever.
He shall raise me from the dust:
Jesus is my Hope and Trust.

Jesus lives, and reigns supreme,
And, his kingdom still remaining,
I shall also be with him,
Ever living, ever reigning.
God has promised: be it must:
Jesus is my Hope and Trust.

Jesus lives, I know full well
Nought from him my heart can sever,
Life nor death nor powers of hell,
Joy nor grief, hence forth forever.
None of all his saints is lost;
Jesus is my Hope and Trust.

Jesus lives, and death is now
But my entrance into glory.
Courage, then, my soul, for thou
Hast a crown of life before thee;
Thou shalt find thy hopes were just;
Jesus is the Christian’s Trust.

-

Christian Fürchtegott Gellert (July 4, 1715 – December 13, 1769) was a German poet and philosophy professor at the University of Leipzig in Germany. Although he earned a degree in theology, he never entered the ministry because of extreme shyness and health problems. However, those maladies did not hinder him from writing … “Jesus Lives, and So Shall I.” … Each verse (except the last) ends with that glorious confession, “Jesus is my hope and trust.” It is sung to Johann Crüger’s tune, JESUS, MEINE ZUVERSICHT.

(from The Rankin File: “Tuesday Hymns”)