Friday, November 19, 2004

I'll have your spam, dear....

A few random thoughts:

I met a person who does not believe in free will. And to my protestation she replied that God simply had not revealed His truth to me yet.

Why would she pray?

For that matter, why does anyone who doesn't believe God can change his mind ever pray? I mean, if He's the same yesterday, today and forever - if he's already seen the future and knows what is going to happen - then why bother praying?

And why would Jesus tell the story in Luke 18 about the widow who bugs the judge until she gets what she wants? Can we really apply that concept to God without starting to question our stand on His nature? Does God bend to human will when people bug him enough?

Also I read today a passage in Isaiah that says the rain and snow come down but they do not return to heaven again, but rather water the earth. So if one believes in biblical inerrancy, would one have to deny the cycle of precipitation?

Finally, on sin again: if one is concerned solely with sin avoidance and repentance (so as to secure one's place in the hereafter), how does that make Christianity attractive at all? Which is more appealing: telling a person that they are a sinner and need to repent or they will go to hell, OR telling them that Jesus was a pretty smart guy and a great moral teacher who offered us the best way to live our lives. Making Christianity a philosophy of living well (the "good life") makes it a lot more palatable.

And all that about Jesus being God and repentance and etc. will come later, because they follow naturally once you are a disciple. I think we do things backwards sometimes.


Mom said...

Wow, interesting questions. You asked why we pray if God already knows what we're going to ask and what the answer will be. I have no idea, but here's what I've always thought.

It's for us. When I pray, I feel better. Especially when I ask God to take over for me because I'm totally clueless; that's when I feel really peaceful.

And, frankly, I don't want to change God's mind. His way is always better than mine. (Okay, it doesn't really seem like it at the time; looking back, though, I generally realize that I was wrong and things worked out way better the way He planned them.)

That probably seems really simplistic, but it works for me.

Chris said...

Hebrew scriptures picture a dynamic relational God--a God who can and does change God's own mind--witness Abraham's dialogue with God over the fate of Sodom, or several of Moses' encounters with God. I don't know how much exposure you will get to Process Theology or Open Theology at your seminary, but you might find some intriguing perspectives withing that field. You're not that far from the Center for Process Studies at Clairmont. To grossly oversimplify, a Process or Open theology posits that God has an "aim" or end in mind, but the path to that particular aim is not fully determined, because humans can use their free will and other forces can work to either subvert or contribute to God's aim. So, we zig and God zags to include our actions in the movement toward the aim. Admittedly, Process Theology is not considered "orthodox" by more than a few theologians or denomimations, but that's part of the appeal:)

Josh said...

The problem with making Christianity into a philosophy is that it's not a philosophy, it's a reality. The Lord Jesus is God, and leaving those "details" for later is corrupt and misleading. Not all truth is palatable, but that doesn't make it any less true. Take care.

Mainsheet said...

I've always wondered what people who don't believe in free will pray. As a weltanschauung predestination is appealing -- none of us is responsible for anything, because God made it that way. Biblical inerrancy is nonsense, but you know that. If the Bible's inerrant, then either pi is 3 or circles are regular hexagons (check out the specs for Solomon's Temple).

Isn't being completely concerned with avoiding sin and repenting of it awfully close to the belief structure of the Pharisees?

Christianity becomes attractive under the terms you propose (repent or be damned) becomes attractive under the terms of Pascal's wager. If you're on your deathbed, you may as well repent. There are two possibilities -- the God of the Bible exists, or the God of the Bible doesn't exist. In the first case, by repenting I can assure my salvation. If I don't repent I'm damned. In the second case, my actions don't matter. The optimal action then is to repent. We end in this place because Aristotlean logic accepts the law of the excluded middle (for any proposition P, either P or not P is true) as an axiom.