Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Free will freeforall.

I recently saw a comment on free will that I'm trying to wrap my head around: God loves people too much to violate anyone's free will. So if a guy named Eric wants to kill Harry, and Eric is stronger, more capable than Harry, and really just has the power to do so, then God will not stop Eric from killing Harry. God does this out of love for all human free will.

I'm utterly at a lost as to how this type of God can be reliable or trustworthy. If God favors human free will that much, then how you can possibly rely on this God to protect you from anything in this life? Say Harry is a Christian -- why would he even bother praying to God to help save him from Eric? Or stop Eric? Isn't that essentially telling Harry that God loves Eric's free will more than he loves Harry's safety?

Or let's say Eric is about to abuse his five year old son. God loves Eric's free will more than the five year old's safety? Seriously?

Not only that, but if you truly love someone, there are times when you step in and violate their free will. If you know your best friend is about to commit suicide, you would try to get that person help, even take away the method of suicide. If you knew that your best friend was Eric, and about to kill Harry, wouldn't you do everything in your power to stop Eric? Plus, when you're in a relationship with someone, there is this trust that the other person will step in when you're about to do something stupid, or dangerous. That the other person loves you more than your ability to exercise your free will.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

I deserve nothing, but I totally deserve to keep my money.

I had a recent thought about the connection between conservative Christians and the horror felt over a concept of "spreading the wealth." It's a generalization, yes, but one sparked by the recent US presidential election.

In many cases, I think we can say that conservative Christians are also Republicans, and also felt rather angry over the response to the infamous question from Joe the Plumber: how Obama wanted to "spread the wealth" and all that.

From what I've seen, the conservative Christian theology tells you that you deserve nothing more than to simply go to hell, but Jesus took the punishment you deserved, suffering the horrible fate that you deserve, all so you can go to heaven -- a place that you really don't deserve. Your good works, no matter what they are, earn you nothing. If you're really conservative, they're nothing more than "filthy rags," unless one has Jesus.

Yet much of the anger I saw in terms of Obama's comments was that Obama was taking their hard-earned money and giving it to people who did not earn it.

I'm wondering if that anger is a backlash against the theology that teaches someone they deserve to be tormented eternally, that they are filthy disgusting creatures in God's sight and can do nothing to remove that filth on their own. That any good works they do are from God, and yet anything bad they do is their own personal responsibility. Maybe there's a latent sense of injustice over that, which then translates into another sphere such as finances? Even though "spreading the wealth" somewhat echoes the concept of grace, which gives mercy and help to those who deserve it the least.

Especially when looking at those who did favor Obama's tax plan, which placed a higher burden on the wealthy, and wants a safety net for the poor and unfortunate. Many supporters of Obama would say that good works would count for something in the afterlife, that we do deserve good things in life.

Like I said, this is a generalization. Not every Republican would feel that no one deserves anything good, nor would every Democrat feel that we're all good people. But in watching how Sarah Palin motivated her crowd -- much of whom were conservative Christians -- and the words she used, it makes me wonder.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Credibly seeing.

I saw a comment on a blog recently about credible Christians leading by example -- if someone says that hating people is wrong, then we would see the Christians consistently try to not hate. The whole idea of "walk the walk, not just talk the talk."

A comment in response to that essentially said that Christians cannot that credible, because they're as sinful as everyone else. The real focus should be on announcing Jesus and what Jesus has done for everyone -- that would be much more valuable than trying to be credible.

I didn't post a response on that blog, as my response would've been a tangent. Yet this idea I see - Christians as sinful as everyone else - is the same problem I had with Tim Keller's book. Mr. Keller was going with the idea that you should actually expect non-Christians to behave in a better fashion that Christians. The idea in this comment is that Christians will behave no better and no worse than non-Christians. An idea we all certainly see in everyone we encounter ... yet then where's the validity behind the conversion experience? Not only that, what's the value in the salvation? There's no evidence at all of this "healing" in this life? Then what confidence does one have for something in the next life?

If someone says that Jesus saved them, gave them a new life, a new mind or a new heart ... shouldn't we see evidence of any of this? Otherwise, how can you back up your claim? It would be like an overweight person claiming that drinking Slim-fast would help you lose weight, just like it helped him. However, a year of Slim-fasts later, the overweight person still weights 300 lbs. You'd have no "faith" in Slim-fasts ability to do what was claimed.

Plus, isn't the whole idea of what Jesus did tied to making the believer the "new man?" That we would know his disciples based on their love for people, that there the fruits of the Spirit that should be evident in believers. I mean, if one is going to proclaim that Jesus has done this great thing, that claim has to be backed up with credible support.

But if becoming a Christian means that they won't be credible in their message, that the message in fact doesn't deliver upon what it says ... why would anyone become a Christian? It becomes empty rhetoric.