Tuesday, January 20, 2009

"Burn for eternity? What an outrageous punishment!"

How do finite crimes equal infinite punishment? In order to fully accept the idea, one must first discard the notion that the authority of God is a negatively fastidious and hateful authority; rather, the gift of life in itself provides great opportunity and favor for mankind. Having noted that, according to Genesis 6:6, God can be grieved by the wickedness of man:

"The Lord was grieved that he had made man on earth, and his heart was filled with pain."

While at times theoretical premises are truly not strong enough premises for such sensitive conclusions, the multitude of reasonable explanations provide a sound resolution. Consider that unrepentant sinners are eternally sinners against God because they do not deviate this inflicted grief, such equivalence constitutes eternal punishment. It is safe to say that Hell is a representation of how much God hates sin, thus serving as theoretical evidence for His absolute holiness.

God is not only just, but because He is love He is justice. As Octavius Winslow wrote in Our God, "
He would not be God were He not love! Omnipotence is the power of love; omniscience is the eye of love; omnipresence is the atmosphere of love; holiness is the purity of love; justice is the fire of love." God's absolute hatred of sin is because He is the definitive of both love and justice. If the wickedness of sin is to be taken lightly by God, then the intensity of the definition of true love is also to be taken lightly. God is a God of order, as shown by the galaxies, planets, stars, and laws of the universe and how they are precisely aligned. Accordingly, God's laws are methodical, therefore those who choose to accept those laws and those who do not will be ultimately separated in order to suit this universal alignment. The consequence of sin, which inflicts both death and corruption, is more than a mere judiciary placement. By the natural order of existence, it is the attempted dethronement of an eternal God, the Author of goodness, that constitutes eternal damnation.

Scientifically, Heaven and Hell are not identified as physical parts of the universe, and by this, consequently, if such places exist, they exist beyond space and time. "Burning for eternity" holds an entirely different meaning when time is not a factor. Time is a system used to measure the sequence of change, however, if both Heaven and Hell are invariably existentials, such eternities cannot be fully comprehended because humans are merely programmed with the logistics and qualities of the finite universe.

One's imagination of eternity is, from the earthly disposition, that of an unfathomable number of years. When the final year is reached, trillions more are added thus everlastingly continuous. Correspondingly, this mentality is why it is incomprehensible that God was never created, or always being. By definition, there is no measurement of duration in eternity. Quite opposite of common thinking, time is merely a property of the finite universe, hence the human perception of eternity is generally flawed and inaccurate.

Monday, January 19, 2009

If God is omnipotent, can he create a rock even he cannot lift?

Although it is not necessarily an important premise to refute the existence of God, some skeptics believe that the idea of an omnipotent God is illogical and self-contradictory. The supposed validity of the rhetoric appears to be self-explanatory, stating that if God could create a rock that even he could not lift, then he would not be omnipotent because he could not lift it. On the other hand, if he could not create a rock he could not lift, then it would contradict his own omnipotence in lacking the ability to make such a rock. It initially seems as though the rhetoric makes the entire concept of omnipotence utterly impossible.

The question is a fallacy, one in which proves to be nonsensical, much like arguments such as, "Can an unlimited God make a square-circle?" or "Unlimited is limited because it cannot be limited." Similarly, these are both fallacies that unreasonably divert from the necessities of logic, away from the true subject matter, and into the realm of semantics. As for the omnipotence of God, a rational answer depends on the interpretation in which one uses the phrase "omnipotent God". In its ordinary usage, the term "omnipotent" is defined as:

1.) Almighty or infinite power, as God.
2.) Having very great or unlimited authority or power.

God is the utmost extent of both power and being, however, in terms of having limits, by his own nature he cannot contradict his holiness. With the exception of a few particular translations, the Bible never directly referred to God as "unlimited". On the contrary, it positively mentions a number of behaviors that God cannot do - most importantly perform illicit actions and contradict his holy nature; therefore, being omnipotent, when defined as "unlimited", proves an inconsistency with the true nature of God. Specifically, in order for one to securely avoid a potential heresy, it is necessary to use the fundamentally given descriptions of God. The theory of God making a rock he cannot lift is suggesting that he can build gods larger than himself, thus a contradiction of his authoritative qualities. Not only is he the utmost existing Being, he is also the utmost idea of a Being; or in a mathematical sense, infinity plus one is still infinity, therefore God cannot vainly exceed his own power by creating entities beyond and apart from himself.

But even if he could, the better question I propose is, "Why would he?" To imply that perfection can become more perfect is self-refuting, as it is to say that the former perfection was, in actuality, imperfect; but as we established before, God cannot contradict his holiness and make himself a liar by refuting the promise of his perfection. This is nonsensical and infinitely carries on as a mere red herring against reason and the Author, the beginning and the end, of both goodness itself and logic itself.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

"I tried God and he never did anything for me!"

Quite understandably yet irrationally, naturalist Charles Darwin was one of many who felt a rejection from God at the loss of a loved one (his daughter Annie). According to biographers, the incident served as fuel to his departure from faith in God:

"Annie’s cruel death destroyed Charles’ tatters of beliefs in a moral, just universe. Later he would say that this period chimed the final death-knell for his Christianity...Charles now took his stand as an unbeliever
," [Desmond, Moore; Darwin: The Life of a Tormented Evolutionist].

First and foremost, the principle that truly matters in spiritual security is the Law of Faith. This is faith in the work of Christ and not oneself (Galatians 3:22-26). In terms of one's salvation, a strong emphasis must be put on the Law of Faith. However, when deviating from such spiritual linguistics, one can often contemplate the sincere questions: What happens after that? Why do some lose confidence in the goodness (or even the existence) of God? Whether salvation is instantaneous or a process, which is an ongoing debate among believers, faith in the work of Christ is always, of course, the key (if not only) ingredient. Here, I will be providing both perspectives on faith and salvation. Neither, in this instant, is assumed superior to the other; rather, this is a general attempt and honest approach to the complexities of both positions.

In the case of individuals who denounce their faith, it might be easier to understand salvation as a gift from God only for those whom He, through His foresight, delights in their level of authenticity with regards to faith. Perhaps if God already knew that one's faith was not even the size of a mustard seed, nor will ever be such, He does not save them in the first place ("save" meaning "grant salvation"). This is a general approach to the doctrine of instantaneous salvation.

Now, taking the position of salvation as a process, a great number of individuals are under the impression that God's sole purpose is that of a magician, thus heedlessly and immediately relieving all problems and granting all wishes. Realistically, the majority of people have been given an efficient amount of strength to endure emotional problems; hence, the revealed method of God is to first meet one at halfway point rather than by force (Revelation 3:20) or by way of winning hearts
over by frequently and negligently subsidizing inane material things and performing tricks. However, the only ingredient for "meeting God halfway" is by having faith in the goodness of God no matter how severe the situation. There are no required tasks, deeds, practices, or rituals. Jeremiah 29:13 states, "You will seek me and find me, when you seek me with all your heart." Due to the idea that man was made in the image of God (Genesis 1:27), in many cases, one can use human emotions to metaphorically represent those of God: The reasonable guardian delights in seeing the guarded grow. This involves the volition of the guarded to grow in his faith rather than urging the need for confinement or some form of "moral captivity".

Hence, salvation, according to this logic, may constitute more than a simple transaction in which all wrongs immediately become rights. Rather, it is a process that spans beyond a single moment thus remaining an unceasing commitment. Philippians 2:12 says, "...continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling," as the continuity of surrender to Christ is a necessity in order for the work of Christ to be further manifested. "Process salvation" asks these questions: Would not the paramount gift, as all gifts, have both a giver and a receiver, consequently, one in which must be received and carried by the recipient i
n order to ultimately prosper? One's faith in Christ is of key importance, yet he must know that his own life was never promised to become a complete heaven on earth.

Having said that, I want to add that human inclination, as it is gone astray from God, is an adherence to sin. Is it so that a number of wildlife species kill (not always for food or protection, but potentially due to rage), steal, and, by human rationale, rape? Because wildlife defines the idea of "nature", it can, in such cases, be used to mirror that of human nature. This does not serve as a justification for humans to act accordingly due to the fact that humans hold other advanced capabilities that exceed sheer instinct, such as reason and the potential acquisition of morality. Partially, faith serves as a development of these properties, under the work of Christ and not one's own, as well as an endeavor to improve negative tendencies for the glorification of a holy God. The old saying "actions speak louder than words" can be applied to this concept for times when inactivity molds an idle liar. If one does not carry such a commitment, God does not force His ultimate blessing onto those who truly do not accept it.

"Unanswered" Prayers: The common man prays, "I want a cookie right now!" And God responds, "If you'd listen to what I say, tomorrow it will bring you 100 cookies." It is only human to understand one's frustration when it comes to prayer, and though many have frequented the following explanation, it remains essential. One should be aware of the disposition to forget that "no" is an answer, or that "yes" does not necessarily promise immediately, but in time - days, weeks, months, even years. Indeed it initially sounds as though it is merely a cop-out of an explanation, however, the given are the primary linguistic interpretations when it comes to prayer. Realistically, one does not listen by direct and physical, vocal responses when communicating with God. The responses in which one receives are the happenings in one's life, yet a "blank incident" is logically impossible.

God's will with regard to prayer operates by a foreknowledge of all things (e.g. what one wants, what is best, what will happen, and how all will react), and to a timeless, foreseeing Spirit, the outcome determines the answer to the prayer. God's "incidental silence" is equivalent to "my will be done", and "my will be done" is equivalent to either "no" or "not yet". This does not mean that God will not answer "yes", it only means that, by His foreknowledge, He knows what one wants and what is best beforehand (hence, Jesus instructs us to pray "God's will be done" in Matthew 6:10). By this we know that every prayer has an answer because "silence" is both an indirect statement and a coming answer when there is a plan by God (there is always a plan by God, both universally and personally). Common is the saying "be careful what you wish for", hence we live under the implication that a "yes" can be harmful to one's self, or another, proving an unconsciousness of decisions beyond the personal realm; alternatively, God's ultimate pre-eminence is one's great security.

"There are two kinds of people: those who say to God, 'Thy will be done,' and those to whom God says, 'All right, then, have it your way.'" ~C.S. Lewis

In light of the words of C.S. Lewis, I want to add that showing favor for God's judgment before one's own ultimately results in receiving the desires of the heart.
Yet having made these assertions, I also want to note that it is simply not wrong to pray for one's desires. When, first and foremost, the will of God is acknowledged, He is more delighted in hearing one's prayers (Psalms 37:4). In result, the relationship is strengthened. However my purpose, in this context, is to show reason in that God has no obligation to comply to prayer that defies His will. Quite often the things which one prays for are inherently imagined to be the best solutions, and even more often are they driven by personal desires; thus it is common in prayer that one expects God to lower Himself for such desires rather than uplifting oneself to God's desires. Similarly, St. Thomas Aquinas stated, "It is clear that he does not pray, who, far from uplifting himself to God, requires that God shall lower Himself to him, and who resorts to prayer not to stir the man in us to will what God wills, but only to persuade God to will what the man in us wills." When desiring the will of God before that of oneself, it is significant that one reminds himself, because through fear and doubt it is easy to forget, that the pieces of cause and effect can always be placed in order to comprehend God's countless and glorious responses to prayer. It is then made evident that He is indeed in great favor of the faithful man.