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8 years ago @ - Words of Comfort: &ldq... · 3 replies · +13 points

That's not quite the point (especially since the ancient Hebrews were, unless we've really underestimated the state of their chemical industry, quite incapable of wearing polyester anything). Is there something intrinsically immoral in, say, wearing linsey-woolsey (as many Americans back in frontier days did), or in breeding horses with donkeys to produce mules (as many Americans still do)? There is nothing in the law itself that limits it to one particular climate (orthodox Jews still observe it even when living in cold northern European or American climates, after all) or temperature range.

Presumably the point of both laws is to symbolically reinforce the idea of not admixing the culture, worship practices, and ethics of the elect people with those of outsiders who do not worship the true God. If so, why did it become unnecessary (or, if it had some other reason, why did that reason cease to apply?)? Are these rules part of the moral, civic, or ceremonial law, and how does one tell?

8 years ago @ - Words of Comfort: He o... · 0 replies · +5 points

Apparently, in your universe, no one has ever impersonated a police officer, or misrepresented the law.

8 years ago @ - Words of Comfort: Nati... · 1 reply · +3 points

I'm not sure that that follows; Marianne may be making a distinction between being saved by Jesus and knowing explicitly that it is Jesus who has saved you.

8 years ago @ - Words of Comfort: Nati... · 1 reply · +4 points

I think Marianne's point was that God can save people without evangelism -- that the spread of the gospel and the possibility of repentance and conversion exists even in the absence of missionaries and preachers, and that Christians preach not because it is necessary to save other people but simply because God commanded it.

This is explicitly the strong Calvinist position: God sovereignly declares who will repent and convert, and who will remain in rebellion and sin and be damned, without regard for any human action or choice, but He still commands believers to spread the gospel. Whether Marianne is a strong Calvinist or has simply converged on a similar position through a different path I cannot say. I do think she would have come across as more gracious and loving if she'd just noted that Ray nowhere hinted at the answer she offers and hence a legitimate question remained after his post.

8 years ago @ - Words of Comfort: If I... · 0 replies · +5 points

I've met a number of people who were converted to Christianity; it is harder to tell whether they've been radically changed, or are just the same old person with a few new beliefs, and even harder to determine whether that change was caused by some supernatural force or merely by their belief in some supernatural force.

8 years ago @ - Words of Comfort: If I... · 7 replies · +4 points

Ray is attempting to refute the claim that he is a poor spokesman for God by arguing that God chooses human messengers to deliver a foolish-seeming message. I was pointing out that even if we grant his premise, his desired conclusion -- that he is one of those messengers -- does not follow from it. Is your post what passes for reading comprehension these days?

8 years ago @ - Words of Comfort: &ldq... · 0 replies · +4 points

Upon reflection, I concede your point. Indeed, I've read comments by atheists that conclude that no one ever really coverts from atheism to religious belief, because "true" atheism requires a commitment to logical, evidence-based thinking that no puppy or tree is capable of. Even if we reject that assertion, the term "atheist" has from its beginnings emphasized rejection of society's common views on what God or gods exist and whether they should be worshiped. At least some atheists have looked forward to a post-atheist age, pointing out that atheism itself would cease to exist if there were no religious views for it to react against.

That being said, however, doesn't this imply that you are wrong to equate evolutionary (whether cosmic, geological, or biological) ideas with "atheism?" Evolution is an idea about the diversity and complexity of life; it is not an idea about the Bible or prayer or God.

8 years ago @ - Words of Comfort: Thos... · 0 replies · +15 points

Ray, according to your own oft-expressed theology:

[1] Everyone since Adam and Eve is born with a "sin nature" that makes it impossible for them not to sin. This in itself is hard to square simultaneously with the propositions that God is omnipotent and that He desires that all shall be saved (since the first implies that He could cause Adam's descendants to be born without a sin nature and the second implies that He would if He could), but the point for purposes of this discussion is that everyone will be damned who is not saved by Jesus' sacrifice.

[2a] God has determined to extend the saving message of the gospel through the mechanism of preaching by fallible, foolish-seeming men (this was the point of your previous post). All people (excepting those who are not accountable by reason of tender years or feeble minds) will be damned who do not accept the gospel, repent, and convert.

[2b] Strictly speaking, the above does not rule out the possibility that God will also use some other mechanism to extend the gospel message to places that missionaries have not reached. You should probably address this point in more detail.

[3] Putting aside the admittedly important caveat in 2b, this means that all who have not heard of Jesus will be damned, which is pretty much equivalent to saying that they will be damned because they haven't heard of Jesus. Considering, again, that an omnipotent God could raise up prophets and apostles in the interior of Papua New Guinea or the Andes in the first century as easily as He could in Jerusalem or Antioch, this rather raises the question of why He didn't.

The existence of obvious problems and contradictions within a message (e.g. the above-noted juxtaposition of the propositions that God desires that all be saved, that God could make it easier for all to be saved, and that God has not made it easier for all to be saved) raises questions of whether the message is true. It is unreasonable to ask us to put aside questions of whether your message makes sense and just accept it before we worry about the problems inherent in it.

8 years ago @ - Words of Comfort: If I... · 17 replies · +8 points

Shortly before the Super Bowl, a self-proclaimed prophet named Rick Joyner declared that if the Panthers won, it would usher in a great spiritual revival in the United States. A large fraction of the people who were aware of this prophecy thought it was foolish; does this give any reason to suppose that it was actually a message from God?

To reason from Paul's assertion in 1 Corinthians (which referred to his unfashionable method more than to the vessel that delivered it) to the conclusion that you are actually speaking for God just because a lot of people think you're foolish is to affirm the consequent, a formal logical fallacy (which just makes you look foolish, of course, which does not establish that you actually speak for God).

Also, just because Clint Barton, in Avengers: Age of Ultron, notes that it's kind of silly to be fighting the robot apocalypse with a bow and arrow, that doesn't mean it stops being kind of silly. By the same token, when Paul notes that many people find his message foolish, Paul doesn't actually prove that it is in fact wise and true.

8 years ago @ - Words of Comfort: Bett... · 0 replies · +2 points

Hebrews speaks of a "raging fire that will consume the enemies of God;" in chapter 10, a few verses before the one about how fearful it is to fall into God's hands. That might be a reference to Hell, as traditionally conceived, but that which is consumed ceases to exist. Even in Hebrews, there is no clear teaching of eternal conscious torment.

It seems to me something of a stretch to assume that if Paul alludes to one phrase or passage in Isaiah (especially if he expands on it), that he means to imply every other phrase in its vicinity, but perhaps he did mean to do so. I note that "enduring states" are not necessarily "eternal states," and that being "put to shame" does not mean quite the same thing as "tossed into eternal hellfire without hope of reprieve or even of cessation of existence. One might be put to shame and then be obliterated; one might even be forgiven, eventually. I still think you are reading more into the text than the text in fact says.