Thursday, February 18, 2010

I may love you, I just don't love anything that you do.

I think we've all heard the saying "Love the sinner, hate the sin." I hear it most frequently applied to homosexuals, but it's used in even the less mouth-frothing sins: greed, lust, adultery, murder, negative emotions.

Now, the comparison I'm about to make works best when just looking at homosexuality, because of the issue of identity. Essentially, what's said is "Love the person, hate who/what the person is."

What if that was reversed? What if people started saying, "Love the Christian, hate the theology/religion?" Can the two really be separated so easily then? Isn't it like telling the Christian, "While I say I love you, I actually hate everything that makes you the person you are." You're saying you hate the concept of God, you hate their view of humanity, you hate how they use the religion to define themselves. And since Christianity is supposed to be everything, and is supposed to shape everything about the person, aren't you hating the person themselves?

23 comments:

Bruce said...

Can you separate a skunk from his smell? :)

Of course not and that is how I deal with the hate the sin, love the sinner.

Even God hates sinners. (he hates the workers of iniquity)

Christians use this argument do try and put themselves in a better light. They want to be on God's side but not be seen as hateful and judgmental.

I always taught people that we should hate what God hates. :)

Now fortunately I no longer believe that but I suspect God hates me now.

Bruce

Steve Martin said...

God does hate sin, and He does love people.

But He doesn't love them for anything that the people have done...He loves them because Christ loves them and died for them.

He loves them because He made them.

I have two kids whom I love. I don't really like them very much. But I love them like crazy.

Bruce said...

The LORD trieth the righteous: but the wicked and him that loveth violence his soul hateth Psalm 11:5

This verse is clear, God hates the wicked.

Christ's death shows God's love? What about all those who lived and died before the death of Chris?

In Gen 6-8 we have the flood. God killed millions of people, including children, infants, and the unborn.
What in this story speaks to the LOVE of God? He loved them so much he killed them all?

God could have chosen to make mankind free of sin. He didn't. Supposedly he gave man free will. Man can freely sin (and some theologies like Calvinism teach God created sin) yet he can not freely get the remedy for his sin. (salvation) What kind of love is this that allowed mankind to sin yet withholds from him the remedy for that sin? The Bible certainly doesn't teach that salvation is for everyone. God gives, withholds, at will. Some people are born and die without ever hearing about Jesus. A loving God allows them to perish in their sin.

No, I would suggest God is anything but loving.

Bruce

Xander said...

"God could have chosen to make mankind free of sin"

He did. Adam and Eve were running around free from sin.

"he can not freely get the remedy for his sin"

He did. Jesus said who ever believes in Him will not perish but have everlasting life. Doesn’t cost you anything except your free will.

"A loving God allows them to perish in their sin."

This is where I get confused. People don't like Christians telling them that what they are doing is wrong and they should stop, but at the same time the argument is that God should not allow anyone to be disobedient. In my mind it is like the child blaming the parent for spanking them when they do something wrong. Obviously the parent could have stopped them if they really wanted to.

Bruce said...

Arminian and Calvinistic theology make up the vast majority of Protestant and Catholic thinking on soteriology.

In both of these systems man was never truly free. Humans never truly had free will. God is the first cause of all things. God could have done any number of things but he/she/it didn't.

God created humankind knowing they would sin. God could have created humankind without the capacity to sin. God didn't since God is the first cause it is God who gave humankind the capacity to sin. (along with angels)

You err in your understanding of free will (from a Christian theological perspective) Before salvation humanity does not have free-will. They are dead in trespasses and sin. They are the enemy of God. They are alienated from God.

Once a person is saved their freewill capacity is restored. Now they can love God freely. Now they can choose freely. Or so plays the record anyway.

I f I can stop someone from doing evil and I do not I become culpable for their action. If stand by while a woman is raped I am just as guilty as the rapist.

So it is with God.......he/she/it stands by and does nothing. God is culpable for what we do since he created us.

What is God doing in the world today? Where do we see God stopping evil, alleviating suffering, or turning back the evil man does? God, at best, is an absentee owner.

If there is a God, that God is certainly not active in his/her/it creation. We are god. It is we who work to end suffering and death. It is we who work to stem evil.

Bruce

Xander said...

"God created humankind knowing they would sin"

Yes. He didn’t require them to sin though. They did that on their own. Not all of the angels rebelled against God's authority, so it is a choice.

"You err in your understanding of free will (from a Christian theological perspective) Before salvation humanity does not have free-will. They are dead in trespasses and sin. They are the enemy of God. They are alienated from God."

Not true. Free-will is not a gift of salvation. Abraham was loved by God and spent time with Him before salvation. It was also before the Law. David was a man after God's own heart who God loved and he did all kinds of things. Free-will is ours from conception. How do you accept salvation if you do not have the ability to choose it? I am not a Calvinist, so I reject the argument that only a few select people were chosen to have salvation.

"So it is with God.......he/she/it stands by and does nothing. God is culpable for what we do since he created us."

I know. I want my cake and eat it to.

Do you take battered women into your home? Do you rescue them from abusive relationships? Do you help counsel rape survivors? Do you take care of foster kids? How many abandoned children do you take in and give a home? I don't want to sound hostile, because I really have no ill feelings but the argument is always the same. I who don’t do what I expect God to do judge Him for not doing what I refuse to do. It is an endless loop.

"What is God doing in the world today? Where do we see God stopping evil, alleviating suffering, or turning back the evil man does? God, at best, is an absentee owner."

I saw this today and it actually fits: 1 John 4:12 - No one has ever seen God. But if we love each other, God lives in us, and his love is brought to full expression in us. If we love each other, we see God in action.

OneSmallStep said...

Steve,

**But He doesn't love them for anything that the people have done...He loves them because Christ loves them and died for them.**

This isn't a matter of actions, this is a matter of identity. It's a matter of who the person is, intrinsically. A Christian is who you are. How can I claim to love you if I say that I hate everything that makes you who you are?

Bruce said...

Of course God required them to sin. Is God the first cause? Is there anything God is not the first cause of? Can God still be God if he is not the first cause? Can God be sovereign if he is not Sovereign over all?

God could do anything. He chose not to.

You keep speaking of choice. The Bible is clear. Unregenerate humans don't have a choice. Can a dead man walk? Even the Arminian believes in prevenient grace. Unless God enables the dead the man he can't walk.

Even from a philosophical vantage point rather than theological no one has true free will. Freewill requires complete, absolute freedom of choice. Yet, every choice we make is conditioned by our environment, our circumstance, our knowledge, etc. Freewill as you are using the word does not exist. (unless you are a Pelagian)

It is not an endless loop. I expect God who is deity to act like deity. I expect God to at least do what he requires me to do. God doesn't do because either he doesn't exist, he doesn't care, or his plan was to create and then do nothing.

All the "good" works done by humans do not prove the existence of God. Love, good works, and kindness do not require God.

I love my wife, my family, and my neighbors. I have not done ill will towards anyone today. (getting close to it tho) :) This is not God in me. This is me being me.

I don't give God the credit when things go well and I don't give God the credit when they don't. (because as creator he deserves both) God doesn't even enter the picture in my worldview. I do what I do and I am accountable for what I do. In that sense I am god and really more than the Christian God because he doesn't accept responsibility for ALL that he does. (according to what Christians say anyway)

I will leave off with this comment. I don't want to dominate One Small Steps comment thread with my comments. That's why I have a blog. :)

Bruce

OneSmallStep said...

Xander,

**He did. Adam and Eve were running around free from sin.**

That's two people, not all of mankind. What about everyone else after wards? They weren't created free from sin.

In terms of the free-will, I'm reading Bruce along the lines of people are incapable of choosing to do something nonsinful. They don't have free will in this case, because they're born in a state of original sin. They're born lacking the capability to be perfect, which is the requirement of God, and everything they do is tainted by sin. Depending on your theology, they're born incapable of choosing good until God acts upon them.

**I who don’t do what I expect God to do judge Him for not doing what I refuse to do. It is an endless loop.**

Because you and God -- because anyone and God -- are not on the same playing field in any way. We aren't omnipotent. We aren't omniscient. We certainly don't love in the same manner that it's claimed God does. Many people would lack the resources and ability to help all the people you listed. God doesn't. People don't do what they judge God for not doing, but people don't have the same capabilities or the same knowledge. And this is only with man-made disasters. The only way the comparison works is if God and man are in the same category. They're not.

Grace said...

One,

If you see people you greatly value, and care about, doing something to bring harm to themselves, to others, or to the creation, you hate that thing, whatever it is, because you do love them.

I think it's actually from God's love, and righteousness that He hates "sin," anything that is destructive of human life, and the creation.

God doesn't have an "ax to grind." His wrath is not like petty human anger over some slight.

But, your post brings up another salient point home to me.

I think a huge issue in sharing across these various blogs is that even though we are all using the terms, "God," and "Christian," we are not all speaking of the same ultimate reality, and experience.

There are differences that go far beneath the surface.

So, it's extremely difficult to have an open dialogue together, that doesn't seem to end in misunderstanding, and offense.

That's what I've come to think, anyway, One, for what it's worth.

Should we hold on to each other, and keep making the effort???

I'm definitely struggling with all this right now. For me, it's an open question.

OneSmallStep said...

Grace,

But this isn't about a person's actions, this is about a person's identity. Say you're a peaceful person. It's how you define yourself. It's part of your identity. If I tell you that I hate everything about peace, then I am also addressing your identity in that statement. I can't very well tell you that I love you, but hate peace. Because part of the way you define yourself is through the word "peace." I am telling you that I hate something about who you are.

Or, if we reverse this, say we hate bigotry. We then come across someone who's a bigot. That word -- bigot -- is part of his identity. How can we possibly we say hate bigotry and yet still wholly love the person? Are we not saying we hate something about that person?

**Should we hold on to each other, and keep making the effort???**

I don't know. I'm probably not the best person to ask in this case, either, because I think a lot of the complications come from your lack of understanding. In watching a lot of your conversations with others, I've seen more than one person explain why they decided to cease being a Christian. Later, you defined why people choose against Christianity, and it was nowhere close to any of the explanations given to you.

Now, from your position, you no doubt feel that we simply don't understand you, and perhaps feel that when we repeat your position, we don't come anywhere close to how you explained it. And I also know it's hard being the lone voice in an area where so many have a different pov. So ... I don't know if you would find it worth it to keep attempting to dialogue. Do you think it's accomplished anything?

Grace said...

I don't know, One.

But, I appreciate your time in sharing. Maybe it is just too hard to share our hearts, and thoughts in this medium, and to fully understand.

From my perspective, I can definitely say that if I thought Christianity was actually about what some of these folks believe on the various blogs, I wouldn't be a follower of Jesus, either.

Humanly speaking, it is very concerning to hear some of the strong opinions, and the contempt that's really out there. This sort of goes along with the theme of your post.

If Christianity is considered a "garbage can, " and Christians, "evil," given what I think is the reality of fallen human nature, what are the ramifications if people with these opinions ever should come to political power in our country?

Before I began blogging, I thought the conservatives were quite extreme in their opinions relating to the culture wars.

Now I am none too sure of it. I've definitely underestimated their concern.

Xander said...

I don't see how God could require anyone to disobey Him. God put the tree in the garden and told Adam not to eat, but there was no temptation until it was suggested to Eve that God might have lied about the fruit. God allows His creations to be disobedient, but God is God and has no reason to need to save people in order to be God. God is not God because of salvation.

"God can do anything, but He chooses not to." True. If He chose to do something, then there is no choice.

Regeneration doesn’t happen until the choice to believe and acceptance has happened.

I think that is the confusion of free will. We want to make a choice and have no repercussions. My view is that you get to make the choice regardless of the outcome. You choose to speed knowing that you might get caught. You hope you won't get caught, so those the risk is lower. There can be no freedom of choice with Hell. If you don’t believe in hell, how can you claim that as a result. If hell was the result of sin, why are their sinners walking around now instead of being in hell?

Do your children expect you to do exactly what you tell them to do? If you tell them to go to bed at 9, but you stay up until 11 are you held accountable by your children? No, you have authority over them and they have no right to judge you in your actions. If God is the ultimate authority, how do we being under His authority, try and judge His actions? We have neither the knowledge or wisdom of God, yet we want to dictate how He should behave. Seems short sighted.

I enjoy your point of view Bruce.

"The only way the comparison works is if God and man are in the same category. They're not." Your right and I couldn’t agree more. But aren't you the one trying to reconcile the actions or inactions of God based on your own perceptions and ideas? =D

Bruce said...

Is faith a gift from God? Can a person believe without God giving him that gift? (Eph 2:8.9)

If so it is God who controls who is and isn't saved. Thus there is NOT true freewill. Th Bible says God blinds some and gives some deaf ears so they will not hear the truth. So what happened to their unrestricted freewill?

I hope your view of freewill does not square with 99% of the Christian Church. Only Pelagians believe in unrestricted freewill and Pelagianism has been declared heresy for 15 centuries. (please keep i mind I am just talking here...I don't believe this stuff any more) :)

I don't believe God is the ultimate authority. We are .We choose. We decide and them live with the consequences.

If there is a God, that God is not involved in the day to day affairs of life. I see NO evidence of it and in fact I see a lot of evidence that he is not.

I can dictate how God must act because Christians says the Bible reveals to us God. If that is so then God must live by his own rules. If not he is a hypocrite.

Bruce

Xander said...

Is faith a gift from God? Can a person believe without God giving him that gift? (Eph 2:8.9)
Immediately the father of the child cried out and said, “I believe; help my unbelief!” Mark 9:24. The man is crying out for faith. You have to believe that Jesus will save before you can trust Him to save.

"I hope your view of freewill does not square with 99% of the Christian Church."

I think Jesus was more than just an example of how to live, but I do think free will is unrestricted. People who have not heard the gospel are to be judged based on their knowledge of God and their choices. Societies that are not Christian based still know it is wrong to rape, murder and steal. People know at the core of their being that those are wrong. People still choose to do them, but not all people. If people have no free will, no freedom to choose what is right and wrong, you would see secular societies with these view points. Salvation and adoption into the family of God is purely through Jesus, but it has to be a choice made by the person.

Off topic, what was your salvation experience?

Bruce said...

So, you disregard Ephesian 2:8,9 and other verses that clearly state faith is a gift?

Perhaps the man you quoted cried out for faith because God enabled him to cry out for faith? (are you familiar with the theological concept, the analogy of faith?) http://www.theopedia.com/Analogy_of_faith

How do people KNOW right from wrong? Who gave them that knowledge? If it is God, that means Gos interfered with their freewill by giving them a hardwired code of conduct, ethics. Unrestricted freewill requires a complete and total hands off approach.

My salvation experience was Evangelical Christianity 101. Realized I was a sinner, repented of my sins, and by faith trusted Jesus Christ and my Lord and Savior. I then lived and believed the precepts and teachings of Scripture for 35 years, including 25 years in the ministry.

While I don't believe in unrestricted freewill because every act of volition is conditioned by someone or something,I do generally believe that we make choices freely. I do not believe any deity leads me to or make me do anything. I choose. I decide. I bear the consequences.

Bruce

Xander said...

It is a gift and not earned through works. Faith saves and it is available to all that ask for it. Faith is a gift, but where does it say that belief is derived from faith? Isn't faith belief without evidence or reason?

"Perhaps the man you quoted cried out for faith because God enabled him to cry out for faith?"

Or possibly the man had hope and cried out for faith. He saw the miracles and believed it was true. He needed the faith to step out and trust.

"How do people KNOW right from wrong?"

This one I love. Spiritual genetics. Adam and Eve ate the fruit of good and evil. The fruit (act of disobedience) changed Adam which was passed on to future generations.

"While I don't believe in unrestricted freewill because every act of volition is conditioned by someone or something, I do generally believe that we make choices freely. I do not believe any deity leads me to or make me do anything. I choose. I decide. I bear the consequences."

I agree with you to a point. I will feel a pull to make a decision in a certain way or have a thought that gives me a clue as to what to do. That is me though. I know you don’t believe so you wouldn’t feel that =D

OneSmallStep said...

Grace,

**what are the ramifications if people with these opinions ever should come to political power in our country?**

That would depend -- there's a difference between considering something evil and not wanting it in political power, and then deliberately trying to exterminate that thing.

But in terms of the culture wars, that one comes across as a cycle that feeds on itself.

Zoe said...

Grace said: "If Christianity is considered a "garbage can, " and Christians, "evil," given what I think is the reality of fallen human nature, what are the ramifications if people with these opinions ever should come to political power in our country?"

Zoe responds: If Atheism is considered a "garbage can" and Atheists, "evil" ... what are the ramifications if people with these opinions ever should come to political power in our country?"

Xander said...

Grace.

I don’t think I have seen your blog posts other that on this topic, so I cant be sure of your position, but I don’t think it is ever wrong to quit talking about the differences. You just cant take it personally when they don’t agree with you.

Grace said...

Zoe, you'll hear no argument from me.

Not at all.

The truth is there are concerns, and issues out there from all ends of the spectrum.

Prayers for myself for much needed wisdom, and to be part of the solution, not part of the problem.

Zoe said...

No argument from me about the many concerns Grace. :-)

Grace said...

Thanks for your thoughts, Xander.

What do you think of this quote by the Anglican philosopher C.S. Lewis, relating to Hell, and to "salvation." I believe it's from his book, "The Great Divorce."

"Hell begins with a grumbling mood, always complaining, always blaming others...but you are still distinct from it. You may even criticize it in yourself, and wish you could stop it. But there may come a day when you can no longer.

Then there will be no you left to criticize the mood or even to enjoy it, but just the grumble itself going on forever like a machine.

You see, it is not a question of God "sending us" to Hell.

In each of us, there is something growing which will BE Hell unless it is nipped in the bud.