Advent shines a light on our dark world and shows us how to hope

Oxford Mail: The Rev Tess Kuin Lawton The Rev Tess Kuin Lawton

THERE are plenty of Christian words in the lexicon whose meaning I find myself having to explain. Many have been taken over by business.

So, ‘Confirmation’, is something I do after pencilling in a meeting and then making sure I can attend. ‘Font’ is what I can spend hours choosing to make sure that my document makes the best first impression on my peers. Luckily, ‘Advent’ still has a vestige of its original meaning: mostly thanks to the commercial world and their myriad chocolate Advent calendars.

In fact, even a sense of what it means is contained within that commercial wrapper, because ‘Advent’ means ‘coming towards’ and includes a sense of anticipation and excitement, of waiting and watching. Anyone with very young children will know how painful the wait can be; particularly for those whose understanding of time still comes in terms of ‘three sleeps’ … or ‘four episodes of Peppa Pig’.

In Church, at this time of year the Advent we are waiting for is an extraordinary event – the moment in history when the Creator of the Universe intervenes in our mucky, grotty world. It is the thing we all want God to do (‘why won’t he just intervene’) and yet refuse to believe He ever does.

We argue about the impossibility of a benevolent God who allows suffering and say that if God really did care and really was omnipotent then he would do something.

Yet we don’t hear the hollow laughter in the wings as God whispers to his main actor ‘but I already have done something and they still won’t believe me.’ When terrible things happen to us, or to those we love, one of the reasons we can feel overwhelmed is because hope has been extinguished. Hope is what lets you live from one day to the next without the walls closing in on you.

The idea that God might be interested enough in you and me is what starts to turn the story around. Not that God will swagger in like Clint Eastwood and gun down the baddies, but that a seed of hope can be brought into the darkness by the birth of a baby.

This is how God wants to save us. Not as an action hero but by connecting with our most sentimental side, the side of us that knows what love is. Why would God do it this way? To make sure we are not threatened into belief, but encouraged into belief. Advent lifts us up and gives us hope.

And what about the other side of the story? That Advent shines a light on our darkest places? When Pure Goodness enters our world, we see perfection and we know we cannot measure up. And our response is repentance.

In exactly the same way you would try to get your house ready for Christmas, you should be trying to get your own house in order – the house where your soul resides. Jesus is on his way and you should be taking the time to think seriously about that. There may be some tidying up to be done.

Advent. A time to consider ourselves as the people we could become. A time to prepare. A time to wait.

Knowing that there is light in our darkness and that the darkness can not overcome it.

Comments (18)

Please log in to enable comment sorting

10:36am Mon 30 Dec 13

xenarthra says...

The good news of Christmas is not complete without also considering Easter, when Jesus died to make peace between man and God through his blood, shed on the cross. Through his death, we can be reconciled with God and be presented holy in his sight, without blemish and free from accusation. Yes, Jesus' birth connects with our sentimental side and shows us God's love, but it's nothing compared with what Jesus went on to accomplish through his adult life, his death and his resurrection.
The good news of Christmas is not complete without also considering Easter, when Jesus died to make peace between man and God through his blood, shed on the cross. Through his death, we can be reconciled with God and be presented holy in his sight, without blemish and free from accusation. Yes, Jesus' birth connects with our sentimental side and shows us God's love, but it's nothing compared with what Jesus went on to accomplish through his adult life, his death and his resurrection. xenarthra

1:18pm Mon 30 Dec 13

Oxonian says...

If God needs someone to die horribly to make up for our sins, I don't find him (or her) a God that I can believe in.
If God needs someone to die horribly to make up for our sins, I don't find him (or her) a God that I can believe in. Oxonian

1:44pm Mon 30 Dec 13

xenarthra says...

Oxonian wrote:
If God needs someone to die horribly to make up for our sins, I don't find him (or her) a God that I can believe in.
God is both just and merciful. If God demanded no punishment for wrongdoing he would not be just. The wages of sin are death. However God offers to take your punishment on himself, in the person of Jesus, which is the ultimate act of mercy.

For myself, I could not believe in a god that I had designed to suit my own ideas of what is or is not palatable. The bible describes a God who exists before the universe came into existence. You may decide to reject the truth of the biblical revelation, but please do so on the basis of a considered assessment of the evidence for and against, rather than on whether it offends you or not. Many truths offend people; this alone does not make them untrue.
[quote][p][bold]Oxonian[/bold] wrote: If God needs someone to die horribly to make up for our sins, I don't find him (or her) a God that I can believe in.[/p][/quote]God is both just and merciful. If God demanded no punishment for wrongdoing he would not be just. The wages of sin are death. However God offers to take your punishment on himself, in the person of Jesus, which is the ultimate act of mercy. For myself, I could not believe in a god that I had designed to suit my own ideas of what is or is not palatable. The bible describes a God who exists before the universe came into existence. You may decide to reject the truth of the biblical revelation, but please do so on the basis of a considered assessment of the evidence for and against, rather than on whether it offends you or not. Many truths offend people; this alone does not make them untrue. xenarthra

6:31pm Mon 30 Dec 13

Oxonian says...

xenarthra wrote:
Oxonian wrote:
If God needs someone to die horribly to make up for our sins, I don't find him (or her) a God that I can believe in.
God is both just and merciful. If God demanded no punishment for wrongdoing he would not be just. The wages of sin are death. However God offers to take your punishment on himself, in the person of Jesus, which is the ultimate act of mercy.

For myself, I could not believe in a god that I had designed to suit my own ideas of what is or is not palatable. The bible describes a God who exists before the universe came into existence. You may decide to reject the truth of the biblical revelation, but please do so on the basis of a considered assessment of the evidence for and against, rather than on whether it offends you or not. Many truths offend people; this alone does not make them untrue.
I have used "a considered assessment of the evidence for and against" (you insult me to suggest otherwise) and it seems illogical that God is both all-powerful and all-loving. If he loves his children (mankind), why does he allow them to suffer in so many different ways? A loving father could not bear to see his children suffering so greatly.

You say "the wages of sin is death" but that's a very Old Testament view of things. The Sermon on the Mount takes a very different view: the response to sin should be forgiveness.

You keep mentioning the "truth" - but how do you know that it's the truth? It may be your truth but it's not mine and it's certainly not everybody's.
[quote][p][bold]xenarthra[/bold] wrote: [quote][p][bold]Oxonian[/bold] wrote: If God needs someone to die horribly to make up for our sins, I don't find him (or her) a God that I can believe in.[/p][/quote]God is both just and merciful. If God demanded no punishment for wrongdoing he would not be just. The wages of sin are death. However God offers to take your punishment on himself, in the person of Jesus, which is the ultimate act of mercy. For myself, I could not believe in a god that I had designed to suit my own ideas of what is or is not palatable. The bible describes a God who exists before the universe came into existence. You may decide to reject the truth of the biblical revelation, but please do so on the basis of a considered assessment of the evidence for and against, rather than on whether it offends you or not. Many truths offend people; this alone does not make them untrue.[/p][/quote]I have used "a considered assessment of the evidence for and against" (you insult me to suggest otherwise) and it seems illogical that God is both all-powerful and all-loving. If he loves his children (mankind), why does he allow them to suffer in so many different ways? A loving father could not bear to see his children suffering so greatly. You say "the wages of sin is death" but that's a very Old Testament view of things. The Sermon on the Mount takes a very different view: the response to sin should be forgiveness. You keep mentioning the "truth" - but how do you know that it's the truth? It may be your truth but it's not mine and it's certainly not everybody's. Oxonian

9:03pm Mon 30 Dec 13

xenarthra says...

Oxonian wrote:
xenarthra wrote:
Oxonian wrote:
If God needs someone to die horribly to make up for our sins, I don't find him (or her) a God that I can believe in.
God is both just and merciful. If God demanded no punishment for wrongdoing he would not be just. The wages of sin are death. However God offers to take your punishment on himself, in the person of Jesus, which is the ultimate act of mercy.

For myself, I could not believe in a god that I had designed to suit my own ideas of what is or is not palatable. The bible describes a God who exists before the universe came into existence. You may decide to reject the truth of the biblical revelation, but please do so on the basis of a considered assessment of the evidence for and against, rather than on whether it offends you or not. Many truths offend people; this alone does not make them untrue.
I have used "a considered assessment of the evidence for and against" (you insult me to suggest otherwise) and it seems illogical that God is both all-powerful and all-loving. If he loves his children (mankind), why does he allow them to suffer in so many different ways? A loving father could not bear to see his children suffering so greatly.

You say "the wages of sin is death" but that's a very Old Testament view of things. The Sermon on the Mount takes a very different view: the response to sin should be forgiveness.

You keep mentioning the "truth" - but how do you know that it's the truth? It may be your truth but it's not mine and it's certainly not everybody's.
I did not mean to insult you. I am, however, somewhat confused why someone who appears to doubt the very existence of objective truth ("it may be your truth but it's not mine") would be overly concerned by evidence and the like. Surely you can just believe what you like?

For the purposes of responding, I'll take it as read that there is an objective reality, and that propositions can be objectively true or false.

You raise some interesting points about God's love. I wouldn't claim to have all the answers, but the bible teaches that humanity has rebelled against God. This introduction of sin into creation means that we now hurt each other, causing suffering; additionally, nature has become corrupted so that we suffer due to natural disasters, ill health, etc. Jesus himself suffered. But a day is coming when God will end all suffering. I am sure it pains God to see his children suffer. It pains me when I have to discipline my children, but it is still the right and proper thing to do.

"The wages of sin is death" is actually a quotation from the New Testament, from Paul's letter to the church in Rome, chapter 6, verse 23.

I wonder if we're talking about the same Sermon on the Mount. Do you mean the one in which Jesus said "Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law ... unless your righteousness surpasses that of the Pharisees and the teachers of the law, you will certainly not enter the kingdom of heaven ... I tell you that anyone who is angry with his brother will be subject to judgement. ... wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. ... Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and in your name drive out demons and perform many miracles?’ Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!’"?

Jesus certainly preached that Christians are to forgive one another, and to love all people. However, he was also very clear that God will punish those who reject him. I see no inconsistency between the Old and New Testaments.
[quote][p][bold]Oxonian[/bold] wrote: [quote][p][bold]xenarthra[/bold] wrote: [quote][p][bold]Oxonian[/bold] wrote: If God needs someone to die horribly to make up for our sins, I don't find him (or her) a God that I can believe in.[/p][/quote]God is both just and merciful. If God demanded no punishment for wrongdoing he would not be just. The wages of sin are death. However God offers to take your punishment on himself, in the person of Jesus, which is the ultimate act of mercy. For myself, I could not believe in a god that I had designed to suit my own ideas of what is or is not palatable. The bible describes a God who exists before the universe came into existence. You may decide to reject the truth of the biblical revelation, but please do so on the basis of a considered assessment of the evidence for and against, rather than on whether it offends you or not. Many truths offend people; this alone does not make them untrue.[/p][/quote]I have used "a considered assessment of the evidence for and against" (you insult me to suggest otherwise) and it seems illogical that God is both all-powerful and all-loving. If he loves his children (mankind), why does he allow them to suffer in so many different ways? A loving father could not bear to see his children suffering so greatly. You say "the wages of sin is death" but that's a very Old Testament view of things. The Sermon on the Mount takes a very different view: the response to sin should be forgiveness. You keep mentioning the "truth" - but how do you know that it's the truth? It may be your truth but it's not mine and it's certainly not everybody's.[/p][/quote]I did not mean to insult you. I am, however, somewhat confused why someone who appears to doubt the very existence of objective truth ("it may be your truth but it's not mine") would be overly concerned by evidence and the like. Surely you can just believe what you like? For the purposes of responding, I'll take it as read that there is an objective reality, and that propositions can be objectively true or false. You raise some interesting points about God's love. I wouldn't claim to have all the answers, but the bible teaches that humanity has rebelled against God. This introduction of sin into creation means that we now hurt each other, causing suffering; additionally, nature has become corrupted so that we suffer due to natural disasters, ill health, etc. Jesus himself suffered. But a day is coming when God will end all suffering. I am sure it pains God to see his children suffer. It pains me when I have to discipline my children, but it is still the right and proper thing to do. "The wages of sin is death" is actually a quotation from the New Testament, from Paul's letter to the church in Rome, chapter 6, verse 23. I wonder if we're talking about the same Sermon on the Mount. Do you mean the one in which Jesus said "Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law ... unless your righteousness surpasses that of the Pharisees and the teachers of the law, you will certainly not enter the kingdom of heaven ... I tell you that anyone who is angry with his brother will be subject to judgement. ... wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. ... Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and in your name drive out demons and perform many miracles?’ Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!’"? Jesus certainly preached that Christians are to forgive one another, and to love all people. However, he was also very clear that God will punish those who reject him. I see no inconsistency between the Old and New Testaments. xenarthra

3:14am Tue 31 Dec 13

Oxonian says...

xenarthra wrote:
Oxonian wrote:
xenarthra wrote:
Oxonian wrote:
If God needs someone to die horribly to make up for our sins, I don't find him (or her) a God that I can believe in.
God is both just and merciful. If God demanded no punishment for wrongdoing he would not be just. The wages of sin are death. However God offers to take your punishment on himself, in the person of Jesus, which is the ultimate act of mercy.

For myself, I could not believe in a god that I had designed to suit my own ideas of what is or is not palatable. The bible describes a God who exists before the universe came into existence. You may decide to reject the truth of the biblical revelation, but please do so on the basis of a considered assessment of the evidence for and against, rather than on whether it offends you or not. Many truths offend people; this alone does not make them untrue.
I have used "a considered assessment of the evidence for and against" (you insult me to suggest otherwise) and it seems illogical that God is both all-powerful and all-loving. If he loves his children (mankind), why does he allow them to suffer in so many different ways? A loving father could not bear to see his children suffering so greatly.

You say "the wages of sin is death" but that's a very Old Testament view of things. The Sermon on the Mount takes a very different view: the response to sin should be forgiveness.

You keep mentioning the "truth" - but how do you know that it's the truth? It may be your truth but it's not mine and it's certainly not everybody's.
I did not mean to insult you. I am, however, somewhat confused why someone who appears to doubt the very existence of objective truth ("it may be your truth but it's not mine") would be overly concerned by evidence and the like. Surely you can just believe what you like?

For the purposes of responding, I'll take it as read that there is an objective reality, and that propositions can be objectively true or false.

You raise some interesting points about God's love. I wouldn't claim to have all the answers, but the bible teaches that humanity has rebelled against God. This introduction of sin into creation means that we now hurt each other, causing suffering; additionally, nature has become corrupted so that we suffer due to natural disasters, ill health, etc. Jesus himself suffered. But a day is coming when God will end all suffering. I am sure it pains God to see his children suffer. It pains me when I have to discipline my children, but it is still the right and proper thing to do.

"The wages of sin is death" is actually a quotation from the New Testament, from Paul's letter to the church in Rome, chapter 6, verse 23.

I wonder if we're talking about the same Sermon on the Mount. Do you mean the one in which Jesus said "Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law ... unless your righteousness surpasses that of the Pharisees and the teachers of the law, you will certainly not enter the kingdom of heaven ... I tell you that anyone who is angry with his brother will be subject to judgement. ... wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. ... Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and in your name drive out demons and perform many miracles?’ Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!’"?

Jesus certainly preached that Christians are to forgive one another, and to love all people. However, he was also very clear that God will punish those who reject him. I see no inconsistency between the Old and New Testaments.
There may well be objective truth, but how are we to to be sure of it? We have to think for ourselves - not just accept the words of the Bible, a collection of books which has changed many times over the years and which contains many contradictory statements. The Bible is no more "the truth" than any other book. Do you really believe that Eve brought sin into the world by eating an apple?

You quote the Sermon on the Mount very selectively (and therefore dishonestly). Why do you leave out the parts about "blessed are the peacemakers" and "blessed are the merciful"?

You seem to think that justice involves punishment ,but forgiveness is another possibility that you seem to ignore.

So I reject God - therefore he punishes me. Truly a loving God. Is this the same God who allows cancer, dementia and a hundred other afflictions?

Please try having a little tolerance and forgiveness for your fellow humans.
[quote][p][bold]xenarthra[/bold] wrote: [quote][p][bold]Oxonian[/bold] wrote: [quote][p][bold]xenarthra[/bold] wrote: [quote][p][bold]Oxonian[/bold] wrote: If God needs someone to die horribly to make up for our sins, I don't find him (or her) a God that I can believe in.[/p][/quote]God is both just and merciful. If God demanded no punishment for wrongdoing he would not be just. The wages of sin are death. However God offers to take your punishment on himself, in the person of Jesus, which is the ultimate act of mercy. For myself, I could not believe in a god that I had designed to suit my own ideas of what is or is not palatable. The bible describes a God who exists before the universe came into existence. You may decide to reject the truth of the biblical revelation, but please do so on the basis of a considered assessment of the evidence for and against, rather than on whether it offends you or not. Many truths offend people; this alone does not make them untrue.[/p][/quote]I have used "a considered assessment of the evidence for and against" (you insult me to suggest otherwise) and it seems illogical that God is both all-powerful and all-loving. If he loves his children (mankind), why does he allow them to suffer in so many different ways? A loving father could not bear to see his children suffering so greatly. You say "the wages of sin is death" but that's a very Old Testament view of things. The Sermon on the Mount takes a very different view: the response to sin should be forgiveness. You keep mentioning the "truth" - but how do you know that it's the truth? It may be your truth but it's not mine and it's certainly not everybody's.[/p][/quote]I did not mean to insult you. I am, however, somewhat confused why someone who appears to doubt the very existence of objective truth ("it may be your truth but it's not mine") would be overly concerned by evidence and the like. Surely you can just believe what you like? For the purposes of responding, I'll take it as read that there is an objective reality, and that propositions can be objectively true or false. You raise some interesting points about God's love. I wouldn't claim to have all the answers, but the bible teaches that humanity has rebelled against God. This introduction of sin into creation means that we now hurt each other, causing suffering; additionally, nature has become corrupted so that we suffer due to natural disasters, ill health, etc. Jesus himself suffered. But a day is coming when God will end all suffering. I am sure it pains God to see his children suffer. It pains me when I have to discipline my children, but it is still the right and proper thing to do. "The wages of sin is death" is actually a quotation from the New Testament, from Paul's letter to the church in Rome, chapter 6, verse 23. I wonder if we're talking about the same Sermon on the Mount. Do you mean the one in which Jesus said "Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law ... unless your righteousness surpasses that of the Pharisees and the teachers of the law, you will certainly not enter the kingdom of heaven ... I tell you that anyone who is angry with his brother will be subject to judgement. ... wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. ... Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and in your name drive out demons and perform many miracles?’ Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!’"? Jesus certainly preached that Christians are to forgive one another, and to love all people. However, he was also very clear that God will punish those who reject him. I see no inconsistency between the Old and New Testaments.[/p][/quote]There may well be objective truth, but how are we to to be sure of it? We have to think for ourselves - not just accept the words of the Bible, a collection of books which has changed many times over the years and which contains many contradictory statements. The Bible is no more "the truth" than any other book. Do you really believe that Eve brought sin into the world by eating an apple? You quote the Sermon on the Mount very selectively (and therefore dishonestly). Why do you leave out the parts about "blessed are the peacemakers" and "blessed are the merciful"? You seem to think that justice involves punishment ,but forgiveness is another possibility that you seem to ignore. So I reject God - therefore he punishes me. Truly a loving God. Is this the same God who allows cancer, dementia and a hundred other afflictions? Please try having a little tolerance and forgiveness for your fellow humans. Oxonian

12:58pm Tue 31 Dec 13

King Joke says...

Let's face it Oxonian, there is an ideological gulf between the peace and tolerance purportedly taught by Jesus, and what is practised by many of his supposed followers - intolerance and oppression of gays, teenage mothers and people otherwise not conforming to paternalistic nuclear families; unquestioning support for environmentally destructive and warmongering multi-billion dollar corporations; hindering scientific and medical progress brought on by stem cell research; I could go on.
Let's face it Oxonian, there is an ideological gulf between the peace and tolerance purportedly taught by Jesus, and what is practised by many of his supposed followers - intolerance and oppression of gays, teenage mothers and people otherwise not conforming to paternalistic nuclear families; unquestioning support for environmentally destructive and warmongering multi-billion dollar corporations; hindering scientific and medical progress brought on by stem cell research; I could go on. King Joke

1:43pm Tue 31 Dec 13

xenarthra says...

Oxonian wrote:
xenarthra wrote:
Oxonian wrote:
xenarthra wrote:
Oxonian wrote:
If God needs someone to die horribly to make up for our sins, I don't find him (or her) a God that I can believe in.
God is both just and merciful. If God demanded no punishment for wrongdoing he would not be just. The wages of sin are death. However God offers to take your punishment on himself, in the person of Jesus, which is the ultimate act of mercy.

For myself, I could not believe in a god that I had designed to suit my own ideas of what is or is not palatable. The bible describes a God who exists before the universe came into existence. You may decide to reject the truth of the biblical revelation, but please do so on the basis of a considered assessment of the evidence for and against, rather than on whether it offends you or not. Many truths offend people; this alone does not make them untrue.
I have used "a considered assessment of the evidence for and against" (you insult me to suggest otherwise) and it seems illogical that God is both all-powerful and all-loving. If he loves his children (mankind), why does he allow them to suffer in so many different ways? A loving father could not bear to see his children suffering so greatly.

You say "the wages of sin is death" but that's a very Old Testament view of things. The Sermon on the Mount takes a very different view: the response to sin should be forgiveness.

You keep mentioning the "truth" - but how do you know that it's the truth? It may be your truth but it's not mine and it's certainly not everybody's.
I did not mean to insult you. I am, however, somewhat confused why someone who appears to doubt the very existence of objective truth ("it may be your truth but it's not mine") would be overly concerned by evidence and the like. Surely you can just believe what you like?

For the purposes of responding, I'll take it as read that there is an objective reality, and that propositions can be objectively true or false.

You raise some interesting points about God's love. I wouldn't claim to have all the answers, but the bible teaches that humanity has rebelled against God. This introduction of sin into creation means that we now hurt each other, causing suffering; additionally, nature has become corrupted so that we suffer due to natural disasters, ill health, etc. Jesus himself suffered. But a day is coming when God will end all suffering. I am sure it pains God to see his children suffer. It pains me when I have to discipline my children, but it is still the right and proper thing to do.

"The wages of sin is death" is actually a quotation from the New Testament, from Paul's letter to the church in Rome, chapter 6, verse 23.

I wonder if we're talking about the same Sermon on the Mount. Do you mean the one in which Jesus said "Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law ... unless your righteousness surpasses that of the Pharisees and the teachers of the law, you will certainly not enter the kingdom of heaven ... I tell you that anyone who is angry with his brother will be subject to judgement. ... wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. ... Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and in your name drive out demons and perform many miracles?’ Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!’"?

Jesus certainly preached that Christians are to forgive one another, and to love all people. However, he was also very clear that God will punish those who reject him. I see no inconsistency between the Old and New Testaments.
There may well be objective truth, but how are we to to be sure of it? We have to think for ourselves - not just accept the words of the Bible, a collection of books which has changed many times over the years and which contains many contradictory statements. The Bible is no more "the truth" than any other book. Do you really believe that Eve brought sin into the world by eating an apple?

You quote the Sermon on the Mount very selectively (and therefore dishonestly). Why do you leave out the parts about "blessed are the peacemakers" and "blessed are the merciful"?

You seem to think that justice involves punishment ,but forgiveness is another possibility that you seem to ignore.

So I reject God - therefore he punishes me. Truly a loving God. Is this the same God who allows cancer, dementia and a hundred other afflictions?

Please try having a little tolerance and forgiveness for your fellow humans.
Oxonian - I more than tolerate you; I love you, as I try to love all humanity. I just don't agree with you.

How do we discover truth? By using our senses and our reason. How do you know I exist? I can't believe you really find it difficult to believe that I do (or find it impossible to understand why you believe I exist). Jesus' life, teachings, death and resurrection can be approached in just the same way as you would do for any other historical figure.

What I find strange is that you seem to conflate the question of whether the God of the bible exists or not with the question of whether or not you like him. These are two entirely separate questions. I've never met Kim Jong-il. I have no doubt that he exists. I would not, however, want to be ruled by him. Is your problem with Christianity that you don't believe it's true, or that you don't like it?

My quoting of the sermon on the mount is not dishonest. I simply picked out bits that referred to the character of God, which is what we were discussing. I didn't focus on Jesus's instructions to his followers on how they are to behave (e.g. to be merciful and to be peacemakers) , because these are not especially relevant to the matter in hand. As I said previously, "Jesus certainly preached that Christians are to forgive one another, and to love all people".

God is profoundly forgiving, offering total mercy to undeserving sinners. He is also just. In the gospels, Jesus mentions hell many more times than he mentions heaven.

But we seem to be going round in circles. I pray that you will continue to reflect on Jesus' life and teaching, and will come to know him for yourself.

King Joke - I invite you to read Matthew's gospel, to see what Jesus actually taught (rather than what you may have heard people say about his teaching).

God bless.
[quote][p][bold]Oxonian[/bold] wrote: [quote][p][bold]xenarthra[/bold] wrote: [quote][p][bold]Oxonian[/bold] wrote: [quote][p][bold]xenarthra[/bold] wrote: [quote][p][bold]Oxonian[/bold] wrote: If God needs someone to die horribly to make up for our sins, I don't find him (or her) a God that I can believe in.[/p][/quote]God is both just and merciful. If God demanded no punishment for wrongdoing he would not be just. The wages of sin are death. However God offers to take your punishment on himself, in the person of Jesus, which is the ultimate act of mercy. For myself, I could not believe in a god that I had designed to suit my own ideas of what is or is not palatable. The bible describes a God who exists before the universe came into existence. You may decide to reject the truth of the biblical revelation, but please do so on the basis of a considered assessment of the evidence for and against, rather than on whether it offends you or not. Many truths offend people; this alone does not make them untrue.[/p][/quote]I have used "a considered assessment of the evidence for and against" (you insult me to suggest otherwise) and it seems illogical that God is both all-powerful and all-loving. If he loves his children (mankind), why does he allow them to suffer in so many different ways? A loving father could not bear to see his children suffering so greatly. You say "the wages of sin is death" but that's a very Old Testament view of things. The Sermon on the Mount takes a very different view: the response to sin should be forgiveness. You keep mentioning the "truth" - but how do you know that it's the truth? It may be your truth but it's not mine and it's certainly not everybody's.[/p][/quote]I did not mean to insult you. I am, however, somewhat confused why someone who appears to doubt the very existence of objective truth ("it may be your truth but it's not mine") would be overly concerned by evidence and the like. Surely you can just believe what you like? For the purposes of responding, I'll take it as read that there is an objective reality, and that propositions can be objectively true or false. You raise some interesting points about God's love. I wouldn't claim to have all the answers, but the bible teaches that humanity has rebelled against God. This introduction of sin into creation means that we now hurt each other, causing suffering; additionally, nature has become corrupted so that we suffer due to natural disasters, ill health, etc. Jesus himself suffered. But a day is coming when God will end all suffering. I am sure it pains God to see his children suffer. It pains me when I have to discipline my children, but it is still the right and proper thing to do. "The wages of sin is death" is actually a quotation from the New Testament, from Paul's letter to the church in Rome, chapter 6, verse 23. I wonder if we're talking about the same Sermon on the Mount. Do you mean the one in which Jesus said "Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law ... unless your righteousness surpasses that of the Pharisees and the teachers of the law, you will certainly not enter the kingdom of heaven ... I tell you that anyone who is angry with his brother will be subject to judgement. ... wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. ... Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and in your name drive out demons and perform many miracles?’ Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!’"? Jesus certainly preached that Christians are to forgive one another, and to love all people. However, he was also very clear that God will punish those who reject him. I see no inconsistency between the Old and New Testaments.[/p][/quote]There may well be objective truth, but how are we to to be sure of it? We have to think for ourselves - not just accept the words of the Bible, a collection of books which has changed many times over the years and which contains many contradictory statements. The Bible is no more "the truth" than any other book. Do you really believe that Eve brought sin into the world by eating an apple? You quote the Sermon on the Mount very selectively (and therefore dishonestly). Why do you leave out the parts about "blessed are the peacemakers" and "blessed are the merciful"? You seem to think that justice involves punishment ,but forgiveness is another possibility that you seem to ignore. So I reject God - therefore he punishes me. Truly a loving God. Is this the same God who allows cancer, dementia and a hundred other afflictions? Please try having a little tolerance and forgiveness for your fellow humans.[/p][/quote]Oxonian - I more than tolerate you; I love you, as I try to love all humanity. I just don't agree with you. How do we discover truth? By using our senses and our reason. How do you know I exist? I can't believe you really find it difficult to believe that I do (or find it impossible to understand why you believe I exist). Jesus' life, teachings, death and resurrection can be approached in just the same way as you would do for any other historical figure. What I find strange is that you seem to conflate the question of whether the God of the bible exists or not with the question of whether or not you like him. These are two entirely separate questions. I've never met Kim Jong-il. I have no doubt that he exists. I would not, however, want to be ruled by him. Is your problem with Christianity that you don't believe it's true, or that you don't like it? My quoting of the sermon on the mount is not dishonest. I simply picked out bits that referred to the character of God, which is what we were discussing. I didn't focus on Jesus's instructions to his followers on how they are to behave (e.g. to be merciful and to be peacemakers) , because these are not especially relevant to the matter in hand. As I said previously, "Jesus certainly preached that Christians are to forgive one another, and to love all people". God is profoundly forgiving, offering total mercy to undeserving sinners. He is also just. In the gospels, Jesus mentions hell many more times than he mentions heaven. But we seem to be going round in circles. I pray that you will continue to reflect on Jesus' life and teaching, and will come to know him for yourself. King Joke - I invite you to read Matthew's gospel, to see what Jesus actually taught (rather than what you may have heard people say about his teaching). God bless. xenarthra

4:50pm Tue 31 Dec 13

Oxonian says...

xenarthra wrote:
Oxonian wrote:
xenarthra wrote:
Oxonian wrote:
xenarthra wrote:
Oxonian wrote:
If God needs someone to die horribly to make up for our sins, I don't find him (or her) a God that I can believe in.
God is both just and merciful. If God demanded no punishment for wrongdoing he would not be just. The wages of sin are death. However God offers to take your punishment on himself, in the person of Jesus, which is the ultimate act of mercy.

For myself, I could not believe in a god that I had designed to suit my own ideas of what is or is not palatable. The bible describes a God who exists before the universe came into existence. You may decide to reject the truth of the biblical revelation, but please do so on the basis of a considered assessment of the evidence for and against, rather than on whether it offends you or not. Many truths offend people; this alone does not make them untrue.
I have used "a considered assessment of the evidence for and against" (you insult me to suggest otherwise) and it seems illogical that God is both all-powerful and all-loving. If he loves his children (mankind), why does he allow them to suffer in so many different ways? A loving father could not bear to see his children suffering so greatly.

You say "the wages of sin is death" but that's a very Old Testament view of things. The Sermon on the Mount takes a very different view: the response to sin should be forgiveness.

You keep mentioning the "truth" - but how do you know that it's the truth? It may be your truth but it's not mine and it's certainly not everybody's.
I did not mean to insult you. I am, however, somewhat confused why someone who appears to doubt the very existence of objective truth ("it may be your truth but it's not mine") would be overly concerned by evidence and the like. Surely you can just believe what you like?

For the purposes of responding, I'll take it as read that there is an objective reality, and that propositions can be objectively true or false.

You raise some interesting points about God's love. I wouldn't claim to have all the answers, but the bible teaches that humanity has rebelled against God. This introduction of sin into creation means that we now hurt each other, causing suffering; additionally, nature has become corrupted so that we suffer due to natural disasters, ill health, etc. Jesus himself suffered. But a day is coming when God will end all suffering. I am sure it pains God to see his children suffer. It pains me when I have to discipline my children, but it is still the right and proper thing to do.

"The wages of sin is death" is actually a quotation from the New Testament, from Paul's letter to the church in Rome, chapter 6, verse 23.

I wonder if we're talking about the same Sermon on the Mount. Do you mean the one in which Jesus said "Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law ... unless your righteousness surpasses that of the Pharisees and the teachers of the law, you will certainly not enter the kingdom of heaven ... I tell you that anyone who is angry with his brother will be subject to judgement. ... wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. ... Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and in your name drive out demons and perform many miracles?’ Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!’"?

Jesus certainly preached that Christians are to forgive one another, and to love all people. However, he was also very clear that God will punish those who reject him. I see no inconsistency between the Old and New Testaments.
There may well be objective truth, but how are we to to be sure of it? We have to think for ourselves - not just accept the words of the Bible, a collection of books which has changed many times over the years and which contains many contradictory statements. The Bible is no more "the truth" than any other book. Do you really believe that Eve brought sin into the world by eating an apple?

You quote the Sermon on the Mount very selectively (and therefore dishonestly). Why do you leave out the parts about "blessed are the peacemakers" and "blessed are the merciful"?

You seem to think that justice involves punishment ,but forgiveness is another possibility that you seem to ignore.

So I reject God - therefore he punishes me. Truly a loving God. Is this the same God who allows cancer, dementia and a hundred other afflictions?

Please try having a little tolerance and forgiveness for your fellow humans.
Oxonian - I more than tolerate you; I love you, as I try to love all humanity. I just don't agree with you.

How do we discover truth? By using our senses and our reason. How do you know I exist? I can't believe you really find it difficult to believe that I do (or find it impossible to understand why you believe I exist). Jesus' life, teachings, death and resurrection can be approached in just the same way as you would do for any other historical figure.

What I find strange is that you seem to conflate the question of whether the God of the bible exists or not with the question of whether or not you like him. These are two entirely separate questions. I've never met Kim Jong-il. I have no doubt that he exists. I would not, however, want to be ruled by him. Is your problem with Christianity that you don't believe it's true, or that you don't like it?

My quoting of the sermon on the mount is not dishonest. I simply picked out bits that referred to the character of God, which is what we were discussing. I didn't focus on Jesus's instructions to his followers on how they are to behave (e.g. to be merciful and to be peacemakers) , because these are not especially relevant to the matter in hand. As I said previously, "Jesus certainly preached that Christians are to forgive one another, and to love all people".

God is profoundly forgiving, offering total mercy to undeserving sinners. He is also just. In the gospels, Jesus mentions hell many more times than he mentions heaven.

But we seem to be going round in circles. I pray that you will continue to reflect on Jesus' life and teaching, and will come to know him for yourself.

King Joke - I invite you to read Matthew's gospel, to see what Jesus actually taught (rather than what you may have heard people say about his teaching).

God bless.
You say you love me but you are happy to see me suffer for my "sins", for which you (and apparently, God) are unwilling to forgive me.

I believe that someone called Jesus probably existed but I don't believe he was the result of a virgin birth or "the son of God" (whatever that means) or that he had to die painfully to "save us from our sins" (which suggests that God's attitude was "an eye for an eye", not forgiveness).

I don't like your punishing God, and that is one of many reasons why I don't believe in him.
[quote][p][bold]xenarthra[/bold] wrote: [quote][p][bold]Oxonian[/bold] wrote: [quote][p][bold]xenarthra[/bold] wrote: [quote][p][bold]Oxonian[/bold] wrote: [quote][p][bold]xenarthra[/bold] wrote: [quote][p][bold]Oxonian[/bold] wrote: If God needs someone to die horribly to make up for our sins, I don't find him (or her) a God that I can believe in.[/p][/quote]God is both just and merciful. If God demanded no punishment for wrongdoing he would not be just. The wages of sin are death. However God offers to take your punishment on himself, in the person of Jesus, which is the ultimate act of mercy. For myself, I could not believe in a god that I had designed to suit my own ideas of what is or is not palatable. The bible describes a God who exists before the universe came into existence. You may decide to reject the truth of the biblical revelation, but please do so on the basis of a considered assessment of the evidence for and against, rather than on whether it offends you or not. Many truths offend people; this alone does not make them untrue.[/p][/quote]I have used "a considered assessment of the evidence for and against" (you insult me to suggest otherwise) and it seems illogical that God is both all-powerful and all-loving. If he loves his children (mankind), why does he allow them to suffer in so many different ways? A loving father could not bear to see his children suffering so greatly. You say "the wages of sin is death" but that's a very Old Testament view of things. The Sermon on the Mount takes a very different view: the response to sin should be forgiveness. You keep mentioning the "truth" - but how do you know that it's the truth? It may be your truth but it's not mine and it's certainly not everybody's.[/p][/quote]I did not mean to insult you. I am, however, somewhat confused why someone who appears to doubt the very existence of objective truth ("it may be your truth but it's not mine") would be overly concerned by evidence and the like. Surely you can just believe what you like? For the purposes of responding, I'll take it as read that there is an objective reality, and that propositions can be objectively true or false. You raise some interesting points about God's love. I wouldn't claim to have all the answers, but the bible teaches that humanity has rebelled against God. This introduction of sin into creation means that we now hurt each other, causing suffering; additionally, nature has become corrupted so that we suffer due to natural disasters, ill health, etc. Jesus himself suffered. But a day is coming when God will end all suffering. I am sure it pains God to see his children suffer. It pains me when I have to discipline my children, but it is still the right and proper thing to do. "The wages of sin is death" is actually a quotation from the New Testament, from Paul's letter to the church in Rome, chapter 6, verse 23. I wonder if we're talking about the same Sermon on the Mount. Do you mean the one in which Jesus said "Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law ... unless your righteousness surpasses that of the Pharisees and the teachers of the law, you will certainly not enter the kingdom of heaven ... I tell you that anyone who is angry with his brother will be subject to judgement. ... wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. ... Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and in your name drive out demons and perform many miracles?’ Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!’"? Jesus certainly preached that Christians are to forgive one another, and to love all people. However, he was also very clear that God will punish those who reject him. I see no inconsistency between the Old and New Testaments.[/p][/quote]There may well be objective truth, but how are we to to be sure of it? We have to think for ourselves - not just accept the words of the Bible, a collection of books which has changed many times over the years and which contains many contradictory statements. The Bible is no more "the truth" than any other book. Do you really believe that Eve brought sin into the world by eating an apple? You quote the Sermon on the Mount very selectively (and therefore dishonestly). Why do you leave out the parts about "blessed are the peacemakers" and "blessed are the merciful"? You seem to think that justice involves punishment ,but forgiveness is another possibility that you seem to ignore. So I reject God - therefore he punishes me. Truly a loving God. Is this the same God who allows cancer, dementia and a hundred other afflictions? Please try having a little tolerance and forgiveness for your fellow humans.[/p][/quote]Oxonian - I more than tolerate you; I love you, as I try to love all humanity. I just don't agree with you. How do we discover truth? By using our senses and our reason. How do you know I exist? I can't believe you really find it difficult to believe that I do (or find it impossible to understand why you believe I exist). Jesus' life, teachings, death and resurrection can be approached in just the same way as you would do for any other historical figure. What I find strange is that you seem to conflate the question of whether the God of the bible exists or not with the question of whether or not you like him. These are two entirely separate questions. I've never met Kim Jong-il. I have no doubt that he exists. I would not, however, want to be ruled by him. Is your problem with Christianity that you don't believe it's true, or that you don't like it? My quoting of the sermon on the mount is not dishonest. I simply picked out bits that referred to the character of God, which is what we were discussing. I didn't focus on Jesus's instructions to his followers on how they are to behave (e.g. to be merciful and to be peacemakers) , because these are not especially relevant to the matter in hand. As I said previously, "Jesus certainly preached that Christians are to forgive one another, and to love all people". God is profoundly forgiving, offering total mercy to undeserving sinners. He is also just. In the gospels, Jesus mentions hell many more times than he mentions heaven. But we seem to be going round in circles. I pray that you will continue to reflect on Jesus' life and teaching, and will come to know him for yourself. King Joke - I invite you to read Matthew's gospel, to see what Jesus actually taught (rather than what you may have heard people say about his teaching). God bless.[/p][/quote]You say you love me but you are happy to see me suffer for my "sins", for which you (and apparently, God) are unwilling to forgive me. I believe that someone called Jesus probably existed but I don't believe he was the result of a virgin birth or "the son of God" (whatever that means) or that he had to die painfully to "save us from our sins" (which suggests that God's attitude was "an eye for an eye", not forgiveness). I don't like your punishing God, and that is one of many reasons why I don't believe in him. Oxonian

6:31pm Tue 31 Dec 13

Oxonian says...

Oxonian wrote:
xenarthra wrote:
Oxonian wrote:
xenarthra wrote:
Oxonian wrote:
xenarthra wrote:
Oxonian wrote:
If God needs someone to die horribly to make up for our sins, I don't find him (or her) a God that I can believe in.
God is both just and merciful. If God demanded no punishment for wrongdoing he would not be just. The wages of sin are death. However God offers to take your punishment on himself, in the person of Jesus, which is the ultimate act of mercy.

For myself, I could not believe in a god that I had designed to suit my own ideas of what is or is not palatable. The bible describes a God who exists before the universe came into existence. You may decide to reject the truth of the biblical revelation, but please do so on the basis of a considered assessment of the evidence for and against, rather than on whether it offends you or not. Many truths offend people; this alone does not make them untrue.
I have used "a considered assessment of the evidence for and against" (you insult me to suggest otherwise) and it seems illogical that God is both all-powerful and all-loving. If he loves his children (mankind), why does he allow them to suffer in so many different ways? A loving father could not bear to see his children suffering so greatly.

You say "the wages of sin is death" but that's a very Old Testament view of things. The Sermon on the Mount takes a very different view: the response to sin should be forgiveness.

You keep mentioning the "truth" - but how do you know that it's the truth? It may be your truth but it's not mine and it's certainly not everybody's.
I did not mean to insult you. I am, however, somewhat confused why someone who appears to doubt the very existence of objective truth ("it may be your truth but it's not mine") would be overly concerned by evidence and the like. Surely you can just believe what you like?

For the purposes of responding, I'll take it as read that there is an objective reality, and that propositions can be objectively true or false.

You raise some interesting points about God's love. I wouldn't claim to have all the answers, but the bible teaches that humanity has rebelled against God. This introduction of sin into creation means that we now hurt each other, causing suffering; additionally, nature has become corrupted so that we suffer due to natural disasters, ill health, etc. Jesus himself suffered. But a day is coming when God will end all suffering. I am sure it pains God to see his children suffer. It pains me when I have to discipline my children, but it is still the right and proper thing to do.

"The wages of sin is death" is actually a quotation from the New Testament, from Paul's letter to the church in Rome, chapter 6, verse 23.

I wonder if we're talking about the same Sermon on the Mount. Do you mean the one in which Jesus said "Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law ... unless your righteousness surpasses that of the Pharisees and the teachers of the law, you will certainly not enter the kingdom of heaven ... I tell you that anyone who is angry with his brother will be subject to judgement. ... wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. ... Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and in your name drive out demons and perform many miracles?’ Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!’"?

Jesus certainly preached that Christians are to forgive one another, and to love all people. However, he was also very clear that God will punish those who reject him. I see no inconsistency between the Old and New Testaments.
There may well be objective truth, but how are we to to be sure of it? We have to think for ourselves - not just accept the words of the Bible, a collection of books which has changed many times over the years and which contains many contradictory statements. The Bible is no more "the truth" than any other book. Do you really believe that Eve brought sin into the world by eating an apple?

You quote the Sermon on the Mount very selectively (and therefore dishonestly). Why do you leave out the parts about "blessed are the peacemakers" and "blessed are the merciful"?

You seem to think that justice involves punishment ,but forgiveness is another possibility that you seem to ignore.

So I reject God - therefore he punishes me. Truly a loving God. Is this the same God who allows cancer, dementia and a hundred other afflictions?

Please try having a little tolerance and forgiveness for your fellow humans.
Oxonian - I more than tolerate you; I love you, as I try to love all humanity. I just don't agree with you.

How do we discover truth? By using our senses and our reason. How do you know I exist? I can't believe you really find it difficult to believe that I do (or find it impossible to understand why you believe I exist). Jesus' life, teachings, death and resurrection can be approached in just the same way as you would do for any other historical figure.

What I find strange is that you seem to conflate the question of whether the God of the bible exists or not with the question of whether or not you like him. These are two entirely separate questions. I've never met Kim Jong-il. I have no doubt that he exists. I would not, however, want to be ruled by him. Is your problem with Christianity that you don't believe it's true, or that you don't like it?

My quoting of the sermon on the mount is not dishonest. I simply picked out bits that referred to the character of God, which is what we were discussing. I didn't focus on Jesus's instructions to his followers on how they are to behave (e.g. to be merciful and to be peacemakers) , because these are not especially relevant to the matter in hand. As I said previously, "Jesus certainly preached that Christians are to forgive one another, and to love all people".

God is profoundly forgiving, offering total mercy to undeserving sinners. He is also just. In the gospels, Jesus mentions hell many more times than he mentions heaven.

But we seem to be going round in circles. I pray that you will continue to reflect on Jesus' life and teaching, and will come to know him for yourself.

King Joke - I invite you to read Matthew's gospel, to see what Jesus actually taught (rather than what you may have heard people say about his teaching).

God bless.
You say you love me but you are happy to see me suffer for my "sins", for which you (and apparently, God) are unwilling to forgive me.

I believe that someone called Jesus probably existed but I don't believe he was the result of a virgin birth or "the son of God" (whatever that means) or that he had to die painfully to "save us from our sins" (which suggests that God's attitude was "an eye for an eye", not forgiveness).

I don't like your punishing God, and that is one of many reasons why I don't believe in him.
Whoops! To clarify my final sentence: I don't like your God who seems so intent on punishing.
[quote][p][bold]Oxonian[/bold] wrote: [quote][p][bold]xenarthra[/bold] wrote: [quote][p][bold]Oxonian[/bold] wrote: [quote][p][bold]xenarthra[/bold] wrote: [quote][p][bold]Oxonian[/bold] wrote: [quote][p][bold]xenarthra[/bold] wrote: [quote][p][bold]Oxonian[/bold] wrote: If God needs someone to die horribly to make up for our sins, I don't find him (or her) a God that I can believe in.[/p][/quote]God is both just and merciful. If God demanded no punishment for wrongdoing he would not be just. The wages of sin are death. However God offers to take your punishment on himself, in the person of Jesus, which is the ultimate act of mercy. For myself, I could not believe in a god that I had designed to suit my own ideas of what is or is not palatable. The bible describes a God who exists before the universe came into existence. You may decide to reject the truth of the biblical revelation, but please do so on the basis of a considered assessment of the evidence for and against, rather than on whether it offends you or not. Many truths offend people; this alone does not make them untrue.[/p][/quote]I have used "a considered assessment of the evidence for and against" (you insult me to suggest otherwise) and it seems illogical that God is both all-powerful and all-loving. If he loves his children (mankind), why does he allow them to suffer in so many different ways? A loving father could not bear to see his children suffering so greatly. You say "the wages of sin is death" but that's a very Old Testament view of things. The Sermon on the Mount takes a very different view: the response to sin should be forgiveness. You keep mentioning the "truth" - but how do you know that it's the truth? It may be your truth but it's not mine and it's certainly not everybody's.[/p][/quote]I did not mean to insult you. I am, however, somewhat confused why someone who appears to doubt the very existence of objective truth ("it may be your truth but it's not mine") would be overly concerned by evidence and the like. Surely you can just believe what you like? For the purposes of responding, I'll take it as read that there is an objective reality, and that propositions can be objectively true or false. You raise some interesting points about God's love. I wouldn't claim to have all the answers, but the bible teaches that humanity has rebelled against God. This introduction of sin into creation means that we now hurt each other, causing suffering; additionally, nature has become corrupted so that we suffer due to natural disasters, ill health, etc. Jesus himself suffered. But a day is coming when God will end all suffering. I am sure it pains God to see his children suffer. It pains me when I have to discipline my children, but it is still the right and proper thing to do. "The wages of sin is death" is actually a quotation from the New Testament, from Paul's letter to the church in Rome, chapter 6, verse 23. I wonder if we're talking about the same Sermon on the Mount. Do you mean the one in which Jesus said "Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law ... unless your righteousness surpasses that of the Pharisees and the teachers of the law, you will certainly not enter the kingdom of heaven ... I tell you that anyone who is angry with his brother will be subject to judgement. ... wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. ... Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and in your name drive out demons and perform many miracles?’ Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!’"? Jesus certainly preached that Christians are to forgive one another, and to love all people. However, he was also very clear that God will punish those who reject him. I see no inconsistency between the Old and New Testaments.[/p][/quote]There may well be objective truth, but how are we to to be sure of it? We have to think for ourselves - not just accept the words of the Bible, a collection of books which has changed many times over the years and which contains many contradictory statements. The Bible is no more "the truth" than any other book. Do you really believe that Eve brought sin into the world by eating an apple? You quote the Sermon on the Mount very selectively (and therefore dishonestly). Why do you leave out the parts about "blessed are the peacemakers" and "blessed are the merciful"? You seem to think that justice involves punishment ,but forgiveness is another possibility that you seem to ignore. So I reject God - therefore he punishes me. Truly a loving God. Is this the same God who allows cancer, dementia and a hundred other afflictions? Please try having a little tolerance and forgiveness for your fellow humans.[/p][/quote]Oxonian - I more than tolerate you; I love you, as I try to love all humanity. I just don't agree with you. How do we discover truth? By using our senses and our reason. How do you know I exist? I can't believe you really find it difficult to believe that I do (or find it impossible to understand why you believe I exist). Jesus' life, teachings, death and resurrection can be approached in just the same way as you would do for any other historical figure. What I find strange is that you seem to conflate the question of whether the God of the bible exists or not with the question of whether or not you like him. These are two entirely separate questions. I've never met Kim Jong-il. I have no doubt that he exists. I would not, however, want to be ruled by him. Is your problem with Christianity that you don't believe it's true, or that you don't like it? My quoting of the sermon on the mount is not dishonest. I simply picked out bits that referred to the character of God, which is what we were discussing. I didn't focus on Jesus's instructions to his followers on how they are to behave (e.g. to be merciful and to be peacemakers) , because these are not especially relevant to the matter in hand. As I said previously, "Jesus certainly preached that Christians are to forgive one another, and to love all people". God is profoundly forgiving, offering total mercy to undeserving sinners. He is also just. In the gospels, Jesus mentions hell many more times than he mentions heaven. But we seem to be going round in circles. I pray that you will continue to reflect on Jesus' life and teaching, and will come to know him for yourself. King Joke - I invite you to read Matthew's gospel, to see what Jesus actually taught (rather than what you may have heard people say about his teaching). God bless.[/p][/quote]You say you love me but you are happy to see me suffer for my "sins", for which you (and apparently, God) are unwilling to forgive me. I believe that someone called Jesus probably existed but I don't believe he was the result of a virgin birth or "the son of God" (whatever that means) or that he had to die painfully to "save us from our sins" (which suggests that God's attitude was "an eye for an eye", not forgiveness). I don't like your punishing God, and that is one of many reasons why I don't believe in him.[/p][/quote]Whoops! To clarify my final sentence: I don't like your God who seems so intent on punishing. Oxonian

11:44pm Tue 31 Dec 13

xenarthra says...

Oxonian - when did I ever suggest I would be happy to see you suffer?

I'm also perfectly willing to forgive you; although I'm not sure what for, as I don't believe you've ever wronged me.

Much more importantly, though, God is willing to forgive you your rebellion against him. In Jesus "we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace" (Ephesians 1:7).

God's attitude throughout the bible is absolutely one of forgiveness. Might I suggest you read it again?

I don't like how much my electricity supplier is charging me, but I'm going to have a fun time telling them that I therefore conclude they don't exist! Do you take a similar approach in other areas of life?
Oxonian - when did I ever suggest I would be happy to see you suffer? I'm also perfectly willing to forgive you; although I'm not sure what for, as I don't believe you've ever wronged me. Much more importantly, though, God is willing to forgive you your rebellion against him. In Jesus "we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace" (Ephesians 1:7). God's attitude throughout the bible is absolutely one of forgiveness. Might I suggest you read it again? I don't like how much my electricity supplier is charging me, but I'm going to have a fun time telling them that I therefore conclude they don't exist! Do you take a similar approach in other areas of life? xenarthra

11:09am Wed 1 Jan 14

Oxonian says...

You say "God's attitude throughout the bible is absolutely one of forgiveness". Yet in an earlier email you said that "God will punish those who reject him".

You keep talking as if the Bible is the undisputed truth, but it is simply a book like any other. The huge number of inconsistencies it contains suggest that it can't all be true.
You say "God's attitude throughout the bible is absolutely one of forgiveness". Yet in an earlier email you said that "God will punish those who reject him". You keep talking as if the Bible is the undisputed truth, but it is simply a book like any other. The huge number of inconsistencies it contains suggest that it can't all be true. Oxonian

1:56pm Wed 1 Jan 14

xenarthra says...

Oxonian wrote:
You say "God's attitude throughout the bible is absolutely one of forgiveness". Yet in an earlier email you said that "God will punish those who reject him".

You keep talking as if the Bible is the undisputed truth, but it is simply a book like any other. The huge number of inconsistencies it contains suggest that it can't all be true.
The missing link between punishment and forgiveness is repentance. Not everyone repents of their sinful attitude and behaviour. Those that do are forgiven by God.

I believe that the bible reveals the truth about God's dealings with mankind through history. Not everyone agrees with me. I'm perfectly aware of this. However I'm not sure in what way you expect this to change how I talk about it. I'm also not sure what you mean by dismissing something as "simply a book", as if all books are somehow the same.

Have you come across any actual inconsistencies in the bible that trouble you? If so, I'd be glad to help try to resolve them for you. However, if this is just something you've picked up from hearsay, I come back to my invitation for you to look at the bible again for yourself.
[quote][p][bold]Oxonian[/bold] wrote: You say "God's attitude throughout the bible is absolutely one of forgiveness". Yet in an earlier email you said that "God will punish those who reject him". You keep talking as if the Bible is the undisputed truth, but it is simply a book like any other. The huge number of inconsistencies it contains suggest that it can't all be true.[/p][/quote]The missing link between punishment and forgiveness is repentance. Not everyone repents of their sinful attitude and behaviour. Those that do are forgiven by God. I believe that the bible reveals the truth about God's dealings with mankind through history. Not everyone agrees with me. I'm perfectly aware of this. However I'm not sure in what way you expect this to change how I talk about it. I'm also not sure what you mean by dismissing something as "simply a book", as if all books are somehow the same. Have you come across any actual inconsistencies in the bible that trouble you? If so, I'd be glad to help try to resolve them for you. However, if this is just something you've picked up from hearsay, I come back to my invitation for you to look at the bible again for yourself. xenarthra

6:37pm Wed 1 Jan 14

Oxonian says...

xenarthra wrote:
Oxonian wrote:
You say "God's attitude throughout the bible is absolutely one of forgiveness". Yet in an earlier email you said that "God will punish those who reject him".

You keep talking as if the Bible is the undisputed truth, but it is simply a book like any other. The huge number of inconsistencies it contains suggest that it can't all be true.
The missing link between punishment and forgiveness is repentance. Not everyone repents of their sinful attitude and behaviour. Those that do are forgiven by God.

I believe that the bible reveals the truth about God's dealings with mankind through history. Not everyone agrees with me. I'm perfectly aware of this. However I'm not sure in what way you expect this to change how I talk about it. I'm also not sure what you mean by dismissing something as "simply a book", as if all books are somehow the same.

Have you come across any actual inconsistencies in the bible that trouble you? If so, I'd be glad to help try to resolve them for you. However, if this is just something you've picked up from hearsay, I come back to my invitation for you to look at the bible again for yourself.
I mean it when I say that the Bible is "simply a book". Like most books, it contains statements, opinions, etc. which may be true or untrue.

The fact that it includes so many inconsistencies makes me believe that much of it is untrue. The internet contains numerous examples of these inconsistencies: just have a look.

For example, Psalms 58.10 states: "The righteous shall rejoice that he has seen vengeance done and shall wash his feet in the blood of the wicked".
But Proverbs 24.17 says: "Do not rejoice when your enemy falls, do not gloat when he is brought down".

Chapter 1 of Acts says that Judas died by falling “and burst open, so that his entrails poured out” but chapter 27 of Matthew says that Judas hanged himself.

Chapter 26 of Proverbs has contradictory statements in verses 4 and 5.
[quote][p][bold]xenarthra[/bold] wrote: [quote][p][bold]Oxonian[/bold] wrote: You say "God's attitude throughout the bible is absolutely one of forgiveness". Yet in an earlier email you said that "God will punish those who reject him". You keep talking as if the Bible is the undisputed truth, but it is simply a book like any other. The huge number of inconsistencies it contains suggest that it can't all be true.[/p][/quote]The missing link between punishment and forgiveness is repentance. Not everyone repents of their sinful attitude and behaviour. Those that do are forgiven by God. I believe that the bible reveals the truth about God's dealings with mankind through history. Not everyone agrees with me. I'm perfectly aware of this. However I'm not sure in what way you expect this to change how I talk about it. I'm also not sure what you mean by dismissing something as "simply a book", as if all books are somehow the same. Have you come across any actual inconsistencies in the bible that trouble you? If so, I'd be glad to help try to resolve them for you. However, if this is just something you've picked up from hearsay, I come back to my invitation for you to look at the bible again for yourself.[/p][/quote]I mean it when I say that the Bible is "simply a book". Like most books, it contains statements, opinions, etc. which may be true or untrue. The fact that it includes so many inconsistencies makes me believe that much of it is untrue. The internet contains numerous examples of these inconsistencies: just have a look. For example, Psalms 58.10 states: "The righteous shall rejoice that he has seen vengeance done and shall wash his feet in the blood of the wicked". But Proverbs 24.17 says: "Do not rejoice when your enemy falls, do not gloat when he is brought down". Chapter 1 of Acts says that Judas died by falling “and burst open, so that his entrails poured out” but chapter 27 of Matthew says that Judas hanged himself. Chapter 26 of Proverbs has contradictory statements in verses 4 and 5. Oxonian

11:18pm Wed 1 Jan 14

xenarthra says...

I'm a little disappointed to see that you seem merely to be repeating points you've picked up from the Internet, rather than expressing genuinely-held concerns, based on your own study of the bible. Nevertheless, I'll respond briefly to these supposed inconsistencies. That said, I don't propose to counter an endless flow of such points that you've just picked up from some website. Believe me, far greater minds than ours have spent over 2,000 years studying these texts in minute detail; some unknown webmaster in the early 21st century has not suddenly stumbled across a list of "knock out" arguments against Christianity that nobody has ever thought about before.

Psalm 58:10 relates to corporate rejoicing when the public enemies of God are judged, whereas Proverbs 24:17 prohibits personal gloating at the suffering of a person's own enemy.

Judas is commonly believed to have attempted to hang himself, but to have fallen from the rope and died from a ruptured stomach.. There are other theories, such as that the word for hanged can also be translated as strangled, and he died of suffocation from a violent bowel disease. In any case, there is no need to see any contradiction here.

Verses 4 and 5 were self-evidently deliberately put next to each other by the original author or compiler. This is no newly-discovered "contradiction". The author intended the reader to infer that different circumstances require different responses. A fool is to be answered when there is some hope of doing him good by it, and not to be answered when there is not.

Once again I implore you to read the bible for yourself, with an open mind, rather than relying on trite stereotypes you have heard from others.
I'm a little disappointed to see that you seem merely to be repeating points you've picked up from the Internet, rather than expressing genuinely-held concerns, based on your own study of the bible. Nevertheless, I'll respond briefly to these supposed inconsistencies. That said, I don't propose to counter an endless flow of such points that you've just picked up from some website. Believe me, far greater minds than ours have spent over 2,000 years studying these texts in minute detail; some unknown webmaster in the early 21st century has not suddenly stumbled across a list of "knock out" arguments against Christianity that nobody has ever thought about before. Psalm 58:10 relates to corporate rejoicing when the public enemies of God are judged, whereas Proverbs 24:17 prohibits personal gloating at the suffering of a person's own enemy. Judas is commonly believed to have attempted to hang himself, but to have fallen from the rope and died from a ruptured stomach.. There are other theories, such as that the word for hanged can also be translated as strangled, and he died of suffocation from a violent bowel disease. In any case, there is no need to see any contradiction here. Verses 4 and 5 were self-evidently deliberately put next to each other by the original author or compiler. This is no newly-discovered "contradiction". The author intended the reader to infer that different circumstances require different responses. A fool is to be answered when there is some hope of doing him good by it, and not to be answered when there is not. Once again I implore you to read the bible for yourself, with an open mind, rather than relying on trite stereotypes you have heard from others. xenarthra

2:26am Thu 2 Jan 14

Oxonian says...

I give up! You keep telling me to read the Bible, as though I never have. I have read it and found certain portions (especially in Leviticus) sickening. You won't accept examples of inconsistencies in the Bible, of which there are plenty. And I find your view of a vengeful God unacceptable.
I give up! You keep telling me to read the Bible, as though I never have. I have read it and found certain portions (especially in Leviticus) sickening. You won't accept examples of inconsistencies in the Bible, of which there are plenty. And I find your view of a vengeful God unacceptable. Oxonian

8:32am Thu 2 Jan 14

King Joke says...

Xenartha - you said 'King Joke - I invite you to read Matthew's gospel, to see what Jesus actually taught (rather than what you may have heard people say about his teaching).'

Summarise it for me - did Jesus teach peace and tolerance or did he teach a presumption against challenging entrenched power and privelege, which is what many (not all) of his alleged followers practise?
Xenartha - you said 'King Joke - I invite you to read Matthew's gospel, to see what Jesus actually taught (rather than what you may have heard people say about his teaching).' Summarise it for me - did Jesus teach peace and tolerance or did he teach a presumption against challenging entrenched power and privelege, which is what many (not all) of his alleged followers practise? King Joke

10:10am Thu 2 Jan 14

xenarthra says...

Oxonian - that's sad.

King Joke - I could attempt to summarise Matthew's gospel for you; however, since it only takes a couple of hours to read the whole thing, it would probably be more efficient for you to read it for yourself.

See http://www.biblegate
way.com/passage/?sea
rch=Matthew

Feel free to come back to me if you have any questions. Incidentally, I wouldn't say that either of your proposed summaries of Jesus' teaching is remotely accurate.
Oxonian - that's sad. King Joke - I could attempt to summarise Matthew's gospel for you; however, since it only takes a couple of hours to read the whole thing, it would probably be more efficient for you to read it for yourself. See http://www.biblegate way.com/passage/?sea rch=Matthew Feel free to come back to me if you have any questions. Incidentally, I wouldn't say that either of your proposed summaries of Jesus' teaching is remotely accurate. xenarthra

Comments are closed on this article.

click2find

About cookies

We want you to enjoy your visit to our website. That's why we use cookies to enhance your experience. By staying on our website you agree to our use of cookies. Find out more about the cookies we use.

I agree