Comment on Revisiting God, Sky & Land by Fritz Guy and Brian Bull by Ron.
Bill Sorensen: So, they were no doubt ignorant on some level. And because of this, God chose to give them another chance.
I think this is the pivotal point that Mrs. White tried to highlight in her Great Controversy theme. There are some things that are impossible to understand without experience. For example the concept of color to a person born with only gray scale vision. The nature of death would be another as is the difference between good and evil.
It wasn’t just Adam and Eve that didn’t understand, up until Jesus death, it was the whole universe. There are still many people who don’t understand.
I agree with Sean that God chose to create freedom of choice and that He values it highly. An important nuance that I am trying to bring to the discussion is the fact that freedom of choice can only be free to the extent that the person making the choice can understand
1. that a decision is being made,
2. the full range of available choices,
3. the potential burdens, of each choice,
4. the potential benefits of each choice,
5. the decision is un-coerced.
These are the essential elements of an informed consent.
It is BECAUSE Adam and Eve were deceived and did not sin in the full knowledge of what they were doing that they have the possibility of a second chance. It is this fact of their partial ignorance that makes the plan of salvation POSSIBLE because it opens the door to the possibility of a changed mind, or repentance. It is also this that MANDATES the plan of salvation on God’s part. If God had allowed them to make a not-just-temporary-however-painful-it-is decision, but a permanently LETHAL decision without adequate informed consent, then He would have failed in His attempt to create truly, completely, freewill choice, and continuing the medical parlance, He would be NEGLIGENT for not having given informed consent.
So, I agree with Sean’s point that God is not morally bound to save man. Where we disagree is in the timing. Sean believes that God was not bound at the time of creation or at the fall, I believe that God doesn’t get completely off the hook until the end of the Great White Throne Judgement when everyone, even Satan bows to the righteousness of God’s character and judgement. It is only after every individual of the lost fully understands, and reaffirms his/her previous decisions in the full light of the knowledge of good and evil that God has the moral right to permanently end their existence.
It is this larger perspective that I am trying to address. If you look at Eve’s decision within the boundaries of time between creation and the second coming, then I agree with you, it is an unmitigated catastrophe. But if you look at it within the larger boundaries from God’s first conceptualization to the eternity after the Great White Throne Judgement, then it is not a COMPLETE unmitigated disaster. Because what comes out of it on the other side of the experience are several valuable positives.
1. Satan’s lies are exposed and God’s character is vindicated.
2. Not only man, but the whole universe now understands the difference between good and evil.
3. As a result, the Universe is secure from a recurrence while at the same time exercising perfectly free will.
4. Man attains a more intimate relationship with God than was previously possible, i.e. we become “partakers of the divine nature” 2 Pet.
5. Man moves from the innocent dependency of the Garden, to that of a “knowing good and evil” adult friendship relationship with Jesus. “I no longer call you slaves, but friend. – Jesus”
6. Many virtues are demonstrated that were previously unknown before the fall. Examples: Courage, perseverance, patience, forgiveness, repentance, mercy, integrity, faith, and faithfulness, enmity toward evil, and many more which are not possible to demonstrate in a sinless, stress free environment.
7. God’s law is revealed.
8. While we all experience death as a temporary sleep, ultimately, man will still experience the fullness of eternal life, thereby fulfilling God’s original purpose.
These are the fulfillment of the “greater good” which justifies God’s creation of free will.
Here is an example that might help some understand what I mean when I say I affirm Eve’s choice.
In my residency I worked at a V.A. hospital. It was amazing to me to watch the camaraderie of the WWII vets as they sat in the halls sharing their stories it was truly unique. I have not seen it in any other group of people in my lifetime.
Now I don’t think any of the vets would chose to go through WWII in order to gain the camaraderie of fellow veterans, but on the other hand, the camaraderie is a precious and valuable thing that can not be created in any other way. To dismiss the value of the camaraderie because the war is so painful is to devalue some of the precious gold that came out of the furnace of WWII.
At the same time, acknowledging the value of the camaraderie does not in anyway diminish the evilness of WWII. In fact, dismissing the value of the camaraderie is in a way dismissive of the true horror of the war that created it.
In the same way, you would not choose to go through the history of this sinful world to gain the blessings listed above, but having gone through the history of this world, it is disrespectful and ungrateful of Christ’s sacrifice to dismiss the blessings He died to give you. To say that your life in THIS world, the sinful one, does not have value, is to be dismissive of the life Christ came to save, and thereby is dismissive of the value of Christ’s death. That is why I affirm Eve’s decision, because to do otherwise is to dismiss the value of Christ’s death, and the blessings that come in it’s train. I am above all thankful. I believe thankfulness is the essence of Christianity.
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”?