Comment on Revisiting God, Sky & Land by Fritz Guy and Brian Bull by Ron.
Holly Pham: It sounds like, from your reasoning, that Jesus SHOULD have been killed on the Cross, since He “allowed” us to sin.
Well, almost, but not quite. It isn’t that Jesus SHOULD have been killed on the Cross, it is rather, if he had He KNOWINGLY allowed man to make a lethal decision without adequate warning or foundation, then He would not have been a good God. He would at best have been irresponsible, and at worst evil.
My contention is that in spite of the warnings given in Eden, the universe still being untainted, there is no possible way for anyone in the universe to have an adequate warning or foundation without someone first experiencing, or observing the consequences of sin in answer to Satan’s challenge. If no one has ever seen sin, or even anything bad, how is anyone going to know if sin is good or evil, since neither word has an experiential definition?
For example, if the water has always been one exact and perfect temperature and you had never felt anything else, how would you know whether the water was hot or cold? If someone said, don’t turn that nob or the water will get hot, you would have no way of knowing if “hot” was desirable, or undesirable, especially if the desirability of Hot was what was in contention. In the same way, even in spite of God’s warning, Adam and Eve had no reference points. They had no way to know the meaning of the words.
Perhaps it is a subtle distinction, but I think “SHOULD” puts Man in the place of telling God what He must do, which is wrong. By contrast, saying that God could not have morally given Man freedom of choice without Himself bearing the cost of that choice, leaves God in charge of His own decisions and describes a gracious loving God.
I believe that God gave man a legitimate decision, with real consequences. Good is truly good, and evil is truly evil, but like any loving parent, teaching their toddler not to touch the hot stove, God had to find a way that man could learn the needed lessons without sustaining permanent injury. Sure, the experience of sin has been painful, and God was right to warn us against it. But if man, just like a toddler reaches out and touches sin anyway, then God is still good, because He has set the situation up in such a way that Man ultimately achieves a benefit from the experience that justifies the pain.
In the case of our toddler, it learns a lesson that will prevent a catastrophic injury in the future, and in the case of the Universe, Man provides the one and only experiential definition of what is good or evil, and the doubt introduced by Satan is addressed in a way that assures everyone of God’s goodness thereby preventing Universe from ever experiencing evil again.
In my opinion, that is a very noble end that justifies the pain of the experiment. (Not that anyone would really WANT to do the experiment if it were possible to know the result before doing it.)
Now I suppose if a toddler were perfectly obedient to it mother, and it’s mother were ever present and eternally vigilant, then the toddler could go through life never touching anything hot. And I suppose, . . . maybe ??? you could say that the toddler would be exercising free choice if it always obeyed it’s mother and never in it’s life touched anything hot, but I don’t think it is the kind of free choice that has much value because the toddler would somehow remain diminished from it’s true potential. It would always remain dependent on it’s mother to tell it if something is hot and whether it can be touched. It is not the kind of free choice that leads to a full independent life as an adult.
By analogy, the toddler/Man can choose to forever remain ignorant of Sin/Hot and remain dependent on it’s mother/God forever, or the toddler/Man can take the risk of reaching out to gain an independent experience so that it can enjoy a new and different relationship with it’s mother/God. That of adult to adult, or as Jesus put it, Friend to friend.
Again, I think that is a noble end, and therefore I approve of Eve’s decision, even though it was the wrong thing to do. Just as a mother is even more proud of her child who has just disobeyed her to touch the hot stove, but in doing so, has demonstrated independence and learned a valuable lesson that takes it one step closer to being an adult.
Ron Also Commented
Revisiting God, Sky & Land by Fritz Guy and Brian Bull
I think what you say could only be true if God were not a loving God.
Revisiting God, Sky & Land by Fritz Guy and Brian Bull
Yes, Holly, I believe Jesus was compelled to make the sacrifice He did by His love for us. In fact that His decision to proceed with creation in light of His full knowledge of the sin that would happen morally obligated Him to rescue us. But the compelling and obligation arose from within His own nature and the nature of love. For example, I don’t see how a loving person could choose to create a situation that they absolutely knew with absolute certainty would result in innocent people being thrown into the Holocaust and still remain loving if they did not have a way to rescue the holocaust victims.
The fact that Jesus did create, and that He did find a way to rescue the holocaust victims (and I mean at the time of, and during the holocaust, not in some abstract future heavenly life, see Betsy’s testimony just before she died in “The Hiding Place”, and Dr. Fankl’s book) proves that He is loving. If He had not done so, I think humanity would have concluded rightly that God was not loving. Had Jesus not come to die, Satan would have won his argument, but Jesus DID come and die.
But those statements I just made only refer to God and His nature, and His responsibility. It says nothing about the responsibility of Adam and Eve, Hitler, or you and I.
Everyone, Satan, Adam and Eve, Hitler, you and I, are all individually responsible for our own decisions. It is OUR decisions that define our character and it is OUR decisions for which we are responsible. So, the only way to hold sinners accountable, and say that Sin is truly sinful, is to uphold the meaning of the word “responsible” by affirming that God Himself is responsible.
You can’t hold sinner’s or Satan responsible if you gut the meaning of “responsible” by denying that God is responsible. God IS responsible, and it is the cross that proves that He is in fact, responsible. (If you can find a text in the Bible where God denies responsibility for anything, please let me know.)
See Job 42:8. Note that God claims responsibility for Satan’s work in Job’s life. Job’s whole argument in the preceding book was that God was treating Him unfairly, while Job’s friend’s were defending God. Here God confesses that Job was infact treated unfairly, and God claims responsibility for it. If God, by His own confession is guilty of treating Job unfairly, or even as a sovereign allowing Job to be treated unfairly by Satan, then God IS guilty, and deserves the same punishment that is inflicted on any other guilty person. But note that God incurred guilt in the process of trying to save us, and the rest of the universe, from the lies of Satan. God had to do some unseemly things in order to unmask Satan. So that is the meaning of the phrase, “He became sin for us”. In order to save us, He had to take our sin upon Himself, and He had to suffer our death.
If He did not take responsibility for our sin, then His death had no meaning. You cannot satisfy the demands of justice by punishing an innocent victim, even if that victim is God. Punishing an innocent victim only adds more guilt to the crime. The only way we can be Justified through Christ, is if Christ takes responsibility for us.
In effect, Jesus is saying to the rest of the universe, “Yes, I know they sinned, and yes, that makes them truly evil, but they sinned ignorantly, with incomplete knowledge. Don’t worry about it. I will take responsibility for them. If they do any harm to anyone else in the universe, credit it to my account, I pledge myself to make it right.” And He does. And that I think is the essence of the Investigative Judgement. The Universe is asking the question, did He do it? Did He live up to His promise and “make it right”? Have all claims against God and humanity been satisfied?
To use the scientific analogy we have used previously, Satan made a claim about God’s character. Basically He asked the question, “If someone sins, how will God react? Will God still act in Love with the best interest of the OTHER at heart, or will He act against the SELFish-interest of the OTHER by removing or destroying the freedom of the OTHER in order to maintain His own integrity?” You see how this sets a trap for God? In order to answer the question SOMEONE has to chose to sin which means that SOMEONE would suffer the consequences of sin, something that God’s love would find intolerable. So, rather than letting His creatures do the experiment and suffer the consequences, God, in love, decided to spring the trap Himself. He gave man freedom. He allowed man and the rest of creation to ask the question, which Eve did when she took the apple, but then He took the responsibility for it Himself, and He, Himself paid the penalty. The only way Justice and Mercy can kiss, is if God takes responsibility and bears the punishment Himself.
Now what about what Mrs. White says about Eve denying responsibility for her actions? Yes denial of her sin is itself evil. I won’t argue that. But there is another way to interpret that transaction.
By looking at what motivates Eve’s denial, you can see fear. In essence she is saying “I am afraid. This punishment is too great for me, I can’t bear it.” And in unjustified hope, she says, “You take it.”
And God, recognizing the fear that motivates the denial says, “Yes, my dear, of course I will. I will take the responsibility for it myself. I will be the one to bear the eternal consequences. You must only bear the temporary consequences.
In this life, you will have to bear temporary pain and sorrow and death. But these will only be temporary, like the pain of childbirth. The pain and sorrow of this life will give birth to a new, eternal life with me. Don’t be afraid. I will be with you. Always. We will do this together.”
Bill Sorensen: That God can and will use sin to His own advantage is no reason to assume it was an absolute necessity and that Satan did God a favor by introducing sin
No, I agree with you. What Satan did was and is evil. There is no excuse for it.
And remember that there is a difference between Satan who sinned in the full light of God’s presence and refused to repent even when He was CONVINCED of his error, and Adam and Eve who were deceived. I think a good God would have an obligation to help someone who was deceived that he wouldn’t have for someone who was acting premeditated in full knowledge.
If I deceived you into doing something that resulted in the death of someone, you would still be guilty of involuntary manslaughter, but you would not be guilty of premeditated murder. Some juries might even find you innocent.
Recent Comments by Ron
Sean Pitman: No one is demanding that they “get out of the church”. . . . . anti-Adventist views on such a fundamental level.
You don’t see how characterizing a dedicated believer’s understanding of truth as “fundamentally anti-Adventist” would drive them out of the church?
I guess that explains why you don’t see that what you are doing here is fundamentally wrong.
Professor Kent: Nothing saddens me more than the droves who leave the Church when they learn that many of their cherished beliefs regarding this evidence don’t hold up so well to scrutiny.
I agree. I am sure that Sean and Bob don’t mean to undermine faith in God, but every time they say that it is impossible to believe in God and in science at the same time, I feel like they are telling me that any rational person must give up their belief in God, because belief in God and rationality can’t exist in the same space. Who would want to belong to that kind of a church?
Sean Pitman: and have little if anything to do with the main point of their prophetic claims
And by analogy, this appears to be a weak point in the creation argument. Who is to decide what the main point is?
It seems entirely possible that in trying to make Gen. 1 too literal, that we are missing the whole point of the story.
Changing the Wording of Adventist Fundamental Belief #6 on Creation
Regarding falsifying the existence of God through the miraculous:
While it is true that one can’t falsify the existance of God and the Biblical miracles at a philosophical level, it seems to me that it is possible to falsify it at a practical level. For instance prayer for healing. How many families who pray for a miracle for a loved one in the Intensive Care Unit receive a miracle?
While the answer to that question doesn’t answer the question of the existence of God at a philosophical level, it does answer the question at a practical level. After 36 years of medical practice I can say definitively that at a practical level when it comes to miracles in the ICU, God does not exist. Even if a miracle happens latter today, it wouldn’t be enough to establish an expectation for the future. So at a practicle level it seems it is possible level to falsify the existence od God, or at least prove His nonintervention which seems to me to be pretty much the same thing at a functional level.
Changing the Wording of Adventist Fundamental Belief #6 on Creation
Sean, what is your definition of “Neo-darwinism” as opposed to “Darwinism” as opposed to “evolution”?