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Divine Punishment No Corrective Intent.


Llwellyn
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Hi! One of the very reassuring events in my process of deconversion was to find out that Christians, when they actually think as deeply and analytically as we do, end up agreeing with us despite all the deceptive rhetoric about them having a different and unique point of view on matters. :HaHa:

 

Eastern Orthodox Christian Theologians do not believe that there is a divine punishment for evil that has no corrective intention. They deny the Biblical theology of divine wrath, the atonement, and a soteriology of "justification by faith." Instead, they believe that God punishes only to reform, and thus their soteriology is "transfiguration by operation of divine wrath." This might be a good religion, except that they still cling to the Bible and the Bible, of course, teaches a very different theology of a petulent and bloodthirsty demon who is omnipotent. :Doh:

 

Check out this essay which is EXTREMELY popular among Eastern Orthodox Christians. "The River of Fire" by Alexander Kalomiros was the keynote address delivered at the Orthodox Youth Conference sponsored by the parish of St. Nectarios American Orthodox Church at Seattle, Washington during July 22-25, 1980. Eastern Orthodox Christians hate Biblical theology as much as we do:

 

"Who can love a torturer? Even those who try hard to save themselves from the wrath of God cannot really love Him. They love only themselves, trying to escape God's vengeance and to achieve eternal bliss by managing to please this fearsome and extremely dangerous Creator.

 

The "God" of the West is an offended and angry God, full of wrath for the disobedience of men, who desires in His destructive passion to torment all humanity unto eternity for their sins, unless He receives an infinite satisfaction for His offended pride.

 

What is the Western dogma of salvation? Did not God kill God in order to satisfy His pride, which the Westerners euphemistically call justice? And is it not by this infinite satisfaction that He deigns to accept the salvation of some of us? What is salvation for Western theology? Is it not salvation from the wrath of God? Do you see, then, that Western theology teaches that our real danger and our real enemy is our Creator and God? Salvation, for Westerners, is to be saved from the hands of God!

 

How can one love such a God? How can we have faith in someone we detest? Faith in its deeper essence is a product of love, therefore, it would be our desire that one who threatens us not even exist, especially when this threat is eternal.

 

what Westerners call justice ought rather to be called resentment and vengeance of the worst kind. Even Christ's love and sacrifice loses its significance and logic in this schizoid notion of a God who kills God in order to satisfy the so-called justice of God. "

 

The point is not to convince you guys all to convert to Eastern Orthodox Christianity, but to show that the "Holy Spirit" does not give Christians some new special understanding of how divine destructive punishments are good. Instead, Christians simply don't think about it much or pretend to understand it when they don't. Mostly, they are just overwhelmed by fear that they dare not point out that the King has no clothes. Only Christians with a lot of institutional support behind them -- like Eastern Orthodox Christians -- dare to agree with atheists that hell is sadistic and vicious. Unfortunately for the Orthodox Christians, they are arguing against the Bible, and this is an argument they will not win so long as they consider the Bible divine revelation. :woohoo:

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It just proves that no sect can be true to the entirety of the Babble™. They are being anti-Babblical when thy deny Hell™ as they do. To say Hell™ can't exist because The Lard™ is sooo loving that he'd never invent a place of punishment that wasn't intended to be corrective and helpful, instead of just Gawd getting his vengeance kick - which is the Babblical truth.

 

Hey, stuff like their position is what happens when humans get tired of sick and unnatural things and strive for something better. It'll just serve to undercut their sect, and that's never a bad thing.

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Eastern Orthodox Christianity teaches that beyond the grave, God will bathe all humans in the lustrating light of his divine love with no discrimination and no cruelty. This experience will be joyful for all people who wish to grow and relinquish their evil, whether those people are Christians or not. The same experience will be painful for all people who wish to remain the same and cling to evil, whether those people are Christians or not. God does not shine his light on them in order to make them feel pain, but in the divine light, they will directly and immediate perceive the loathsomeness of the evil that they cling to -- which shall be a painful process. :twitch:

 

Technically, Eastern Orthodox Christianity does not believe in Purgatory, or at least the "Romish Doctrine of Purgatory" where pain is inflicted by God for its own sake and where wise people might wish to leave the purgatory prematurely. But eastern Orthodox people do believe in a kind of purgatory. According to them, all God's conduct with respect to human is purgatorial. All experiences of God are experiences of his active energies which have as their end our moral transfiguration which often involves pain as all learning does. This kind of theology is particularly evident in the writings of St. Gregory of Nyssa, Origen, and St. Clement of Alexandria. :HappyCry:

 

Finally, the Christian theologian C.S. Lewis felt the exact way about God-man relations, as is evident in his books "The Problem of Pain" and "The Great Divorce." C.S. Lewis was no Christian as most Christians understand that word. :HaHa:

 

I actually think that much of Orthodox theology, including their theology of the incarnation and the eschaton is very beautiful and very true. Unfortunately it is not Biblical and the Bible teaches something quite different. I thought a while about converting to Orthodoxy, but it would just lead to a life of constance dissonance where the beauty of their theology is always fighting against the Biblical text. Orthodox theology owes more to Platonic and NeoPlatonic paganism than it does to the Bible, and that is why I am a NeoPlatonic Pagan and not a Christian. :woohoo:

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Llewellyn,

 

Thanks for quoting the article, but the portions you quoted had significant additional information in between some of those sentences.

 

In between a few of the lines you quoted, there are references to the devil and demons, and how satan convinced man to believe that god does not really love us. The article references the devil as a slanderer of this so-called god.

 

The article also mentions western Christianity as "distorted," favoring the more eastern orthodox version of the same myth. More elitist mentality.

 

Interesting article, but it still propagates fantasy. IMHO, they could not agree less with the atheist.

 

I've been known to be wrong, though. I was a conservative, evangelical, Christian afterall. :P:)

 

Regards,

 

JS

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If they are going to change the whole idea of hell to make it more tolerable for them, they don't believe in the Bible. It isn't possible to reconcile the two, though Christians tirelessly try. I can't stand it when Christians are so scared to leave their religion that they try and change what it says at the heart of it. It's ridiculous.

 

Believe it or don't- don't be wishy washy.

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In between a few of the lines you quoted, there are references to the devil and demons, and how satan convinced man to believe that god does not really love us. The article references the devil as a slanderer of this so-called god.

I am an Agnostic and not an Atheist. I stand ready to believe in demons, Satan, the incarnation, the resurrection, miracles, and other aspects of Christian mythology so long as it exists alongside the teaching that the operation of divine punishment is always intended to reform its object rather than to destroy or ruin its object. I would be a Christian if Christianity taught this about God, and taught a soteriology of "transfiguration by operation of divine wrath." But, although the Eastern Orthodox teach these things, the Bible teaches something contrary. And that is why I am not an Eastern Orthodox Christian or any other kind of Christian. I am a NeoPlatonist Agnostic Pagan!

 

I am unwilling to perform the mental exercises, pretense, and trickery that we see in C.S. Lewis's career in Christianity.

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I am unwilling to perform the mental exercises, pretense, and trickery that we see in C.S. Lewis's career in Christianity.

 

More to the point, no? :HaHa:

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For a while, I tried to not believe in hell but to believe in heaven instead (sort of universalist). It didn't work because eventually I realized I was trying to literally believe in a fairy tale. I think that not believing in hell is a step towards eventual unbelief. Even if that person wants to keep the label of Christian, they are essentially an agnostic or deist clinging to a label like I was.

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Eastern Orthodox Christian Theologians do not believe that there is a divine punishment for evil that has no corrective intention. They deny the Biblical theology of divine wrath, the atonement, and a soteriology of "justification by faith."

Hah! Try telling that to my fundie aunt. She's a Greek Orthodox. :Hmm:

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Eastern Orthodox Christian Theologians do not believe that there is a divine punishment for evil that has no corrective intention. They deny the Biblical theology of divine wrath, the atonement, and a soteriology of "justification by faith."

Hah! Try telling that to my fundie aunt. She's a Greek Orthodox. :Hmm:

And that's another reason why I would never convert to Orthodoxy -- even if in theory they have a very sensible theology, there is a big disconnect between what the Professional theologians say and what is believed by the ignorant person in the pew.

 

Most Orthodox people would be shocked to believe that their saints and theologians taught that God punishes non-Christians only to reform them. I see so much nonsense coming out of the mouths of ordinary Orthodox Christians, that the risk is too great to raise children in that church even if at a certain rarified level their theology is indeed hopeful and not grim and hopeless like Biblical theology is.

 

Not worth the hassle.

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For a while, I tried to not believe in hell but to believe in heaven instead (sort of universalist). It didn't work because eventually I realized I was trying to literally believe in a fairy tale. I think that not believing in hell is a step towards eventual unbelief. Even if that person wants to keep the label of Christian, they are essentially an agnostic or deist clinging to a label like I was.

 

I think you're right there. One of the precursors to my deconversion was an abandonment of the hell concept. I struggled to find anywhere in the bible where it explicitly said that people who didn't believe would be tortured forever in hell anyway. Most references I found were to death or destruction - and so for a time I believed that those who didn't accept the gospel would simply die and that would be the end of them. I put this to my dad - who is quite a moderate christian pastor - and he said that maybe I was right... so I felt ok in believing this.

 

Of course, you start to question one aspect of the story... and pretty soon you're questioning all of it.

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Any theological school of thought that rejects a literal interpretation of the Bible is, in my opinion, even more of threat to fundamentalist expressions of Christianity than the most hard-nosed atheists. After all, those who are in the "market" to purchase some sort of religious paradigm -- which is the majority of mankind -- combined with those who begin to doubt a Bible-thumpin theology are more likely to embrace a moderate version of Christianity than to jump off the religious ban wagon altogether. So the more moderate to liberal notions of Christianity spread, the more these factions will hopefully start to supplant fundamentalism; then both unbelievers and believers can co-exist more peacefully. All that being said, I'd like to announce my appreciation for Eastern Orthodoxy.

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Any theological school of thought that rejects a literal interpretation of the Bible is, in my opinion, even more of threat to fundamentalist expressions of Christianity than the most hard-nosed atheists. After all, those who are in the "market" to purchase some sort of religious paradigm -- which is the majority of mankind -- combined with those who begin to doubt a Bible-thumpin theology are more likely to embrace a moderate version of Christianity than to jump off the religious ban wagon altogether. So the more moderate to liberal notions of Christianity spread, the more these factions will hopefully start to supplant fundamentalism; then both unbelievers and believers can co-exist more peacefully. All that being said, I'd like to announce my appreciation for Eastern Orthodoxy.

Just down the street from where I live is this megachurch called "Mars Hill" which is pastored by a young guy named Rob Bell, author of a new book called "Velvet Elvis." Bell has about as much appreciation for Biblical theology as we do. You can attend church for a year and not hear a whisper about divine punishment without a reformatory intent, the disgusting Biblical explanation of Christ's death, and the soteriology of justification by faith.

 

People flock to that church -- especially young people and divorcees, etc. The local Biblical Protestant churches are being vacated as people go to Mars Hill to hear an uplifting message that leaves out some of the the anxiety-provoking, brain-twisting mind virus aspects of Christianity.

 

But do the people in the stacking chairs know that Rob Bell denies Biblical theology? No. Do they stand as ready as their parents and grandparents to look down their noses at "heathens" and "pagans"? Yes. Do they still agree that "Yahweh" is God and the Bible is true? Yes. So, honestly, where have we gotten with liberal reconstructions of the Christian religion? Nowhere.

 

It would almost be better for liberals not to try to make a purse out of a sow's ear. Let's allow the Bible to be presented in all of its obscene and ignorant glory. That way, perhaps, in a few generations we can put the Bible in Museums and landfills where it belongs. I'm not so amused with liberals like C.S. Lewis and Rob Bell who themselves do not believe Biblical Christianity but attempt modern reconstructions. It seems like they just allow the religion to evolve into a more powerfully resilient form.

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I just wanted to point out another Orthodox article on the subject that you folks might find interesting:

 

http://aggreen.net/beliefs/heaven_hell.html

 

In summary, the Orthodox understanding is actually more biblical than the alternatives, which helps to explain the lack of early apologetics regarding this subject.

 

 

My comments (in red) on some of the passages:

 

The Holy Orthodox Church, in keeping with Scripture and the most ancient Christian doctrine, teaches that all people come into the presence of God in the afterlife. Some will bask in joy because of that infinite love, glory, light, power, and truth that is Almighty God. Others will cower in fear and be in torment DUE TO THAT SAME PRESENCE. All the same, there will be some kind of separation or "great gulf".

No matter the exact form of eternal punishment it involves everlasting torments and no matter what he seems to suggest at other points in the article there will be separation between the damned and the saints - i.e the great gulf between Dives and Lazerous.

 

 

 

"Life" in the Orthodox Church as defined by the Fathers, is experiencing the perfect, pure and infinite love of God in ultimate harmony and intimacy for eternity, and "death" is experiencing God's energies in torment, darkness and disharmony for eternity.

Ditto

 

 

Accordingly, from ancient times icons have shown the Saints dwelling in a place filled with the golden, uncreated divine light of God. With the icon we symbolically peer through this "window" into the spirit realm infused with God's energies. In the icon of the Heavenly Kingdom, we see Christ enthroned in the center as God Almighty, surround with the host of angels, His mother the Theotokos, and all the saints. However, at His feet you see others, also in His presence, who are being burned and tormented due to just being there, and have no escape.

Ditto

 

Calvin further rationalized if God is all knowing, then He knows who will be saved and who will not even before they are born, so therefore He must have created some people just so He can torment them in Hell for eternity. This is the infamous "predestination" of Calvin, which makes God the author of evil. This is not Biblical and certainly not Christian. Ultimately this doctrine denies free will, the choice that all humans have to either pursue righteousness, or selfishness.

I haven't read Calvin but I take predestination to mean an inevitable fate at work that the person cannot break free from, i.e no matter if the person wanted to avoid eternal punishment there is nothing that they can do about it. This is not the same as God, who is outside of time knowing everything that happens inside of time before it comes to be. Predestination denies free-will but Gods foreknowledge of all the acts of free-will we do, and his vengeance, does not deny free-will as the author seems to suggest.

 

The point is God could have given us free will without a nature that was attracted to sin through the fault of two people in the Garden of Eden, i.e if God willed it all people would be destined to heaven and not to the gross injustice of eternal punishment. What makes it so completely evil is that the soul who is tormented for all eternity never even asked to be born in the first place.

 

Consider a person who hates God, and anything to do with religion, and has done nothing but pursued his own self-centered desires all his life. It would be far more terrifying, and painful, to spend eternity in the fiery embrace of God's almighty and divine love with no escape, than to be far from Him.

This is just a crass attempt to put a gloss on what is manifestly an evil God, i.e its really a kindness by God that the soul is pained less by not being in his presence. Bullshit! Its still eternal torment that a soul who never asked to be born has to endure for all eternity.

 

However, it is not totally wrong to understand the after life as "type" of Heaven and Hell. Because from each individual's perspective, it will not be perceived as the same "place", but rather as either torment and darkness you can not escape, or as the paradise you have always longed for. For those judged, they will experience God's presence as eternal darkness and torment. Though it is very important to keep in mind what is the cause of either of these conditions, or one could reach very wrong conclusions about the nature of God, as they have in western theologies. To misrepresent the nature of a loving God would cause one to conclude that it was God's intention to punish his creation.

That is the literal biblical meaning consistent with the unjust and vengeful god of the OT and the architect of Dives place of punishment.

 

Indeed, one blasphemes the reputation of the God of the Bible when you make him into an angry vengeful god that punishes His creation.

This writer blasphemes the true God by associating him the unjust devil of a god written about in the bible. Who does he think he is to justify the ways of God to men?

 

 

The cause of the torment is the poor choices that we make, not God.

I don't want to be punished for all eternity but according to many xtians that is what will happen to me because I refuse to worship the bible monster god. I choose not to worship him for sound, not poor, reasons.

 

If one thinks of these two different "places" as conditions that we choose to be in, rather than "compartments" God puts us in, it would be more accurate.

Bullshit! I never asked to be born and I certainly do want to suffer eternal torments for failing to worship something evil.

 

Such is the nature of a loving God. For God is God

Fuck you and your god.

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I just wanted to point out another Orthodox article on the subject that you folks might find interesting:

 

http://aggreen.net/beliefs/heaven_hell.html

 

In summary, the Orthodox understanding is actually more biblical than the alternatives, which helps to explain the lack of early apologetics regarding this subject.

Actually, the Orthodox understanding of God is not "more Biblical" than the Protestant understanding. All of these essays by Orthodox theologians are completely revisionist historically, and completely selective when it comes to interpretting the Bible. The Orthodox understanding of God-man relations, teaching that the wrath of God is intended to reform its object, is simply not Biblical and not Christian. It never has been and never will be. Nowhere does the Bible teach that God's punishments are always corrective. Please read these Biblical texts which will deflate the Orthodox theological teachings:

Jude 1:5-7 (New International Version)

The Lord delivered his people out of Egypt, but later destroyed those who did not believe. And the angels who did not keep their positions of authority but abandoned their own home—these he has kept in darkness, bound with everlasting chains for judgment on the great Day. In a similar way, Sodom and Gomorrah and the surrounding towns gave themselves up to sexual immorality and perversion. They serve as an example of those who suffer the punishment of eternal fire.

 

2 Thessalonians 1:6-9 (New International Version)

God is just: He will pay back trouble to those who trouble you and give relief to you who are troubled, and to us as well. This will happen when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven in blazing fire with his powerful angels. He will punish those who do not know God and do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus. They will be punished with everlasting destruction and shut out from the presence of the Lord and from the majesty of his power.

Again, Orthodox eschatology comes right out of the imaginative and optimistic theology of Plato and Plotinus, and has nothing to do with the insane God who is described in the Bible, with his black revenges who responds to wrong with destructive punishments and who would pardon you only if you infect your mind with the grim rumination that Christ was punished by God on the cross as your substitute.

 

I actually love the Orthodox understanding of God-man relations, because it is more hopeful than any other we could possibly imagine -- even that part where it suggests that certain people, while clinging to evil, shall experience the fires of God's love as pain. (Please see C.S. Lewis, "Problem of Pain," where he illustrates exactly this Platonic concept, but dressed up in Christian words.) And I wish the Orthodox people are right in what they say about God. I won't say that I believe it, because it is simply too good to be true, and that is why I am an Agnostic: I hope there is a God, but don't believe it. But of one thing I am certain: the Bible teaches something completely different. And that is why Orthodoxy is only valuable after you have stripped away from it acceptance of Biblical authority, and the myth of the incarnation and resurrection.

 

As far as mythologies go, I prefer the Norse and Greek ones, the myth of the incarnation is just to simple and flat, plus it will always and forever be tied to this morbid explanation of the meaning of Christ's death -- an explanation which continues to shoot life into the Biblical God of revenge.

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[quote name='Llwellyn' date=

I actually love the Orthodox understanding of God-man relations, because it is more hopeful than any other we could possibly imagine -- even that part where it suggests that certain people, clinging to evil, shall experience the fires of God's love as pain.

Explain the justice in a soul that never asks to be born being tortured for all eternity. How is it possible to love such an idea?. If you try try to put forward the scholastic argument that existence is better than non-existence then why does Jesus say "it would better that person was never born...". There is valid biblical interpretation that says not many are going to make it into heaven.

 

 

 

And I wish the Orthodox people are right in what they say about God.

I hope not because it means that there is a supreme being who brought souls into existence in the full knowlege that the defects he built into their nature would result in an eternal torture for them.

 

I won't say that I believe it, because it is simply too good to be true,

Why is to good to be true?

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Explain the justice in a soul that never asks to be born being tortured for all eternity. How is it possible to love such an idea?. If you try try to put forward the scholastic argument that existence is better than non-existence then why does Jesus say "it would better that person was never born...". There is valid biblical interpretation that says not many are going to make it into heaven.

 

 

I'm not sure I've put it this way yet, but...

 

According to the Orthodox, God bathes all humans in the purifying fires of his love with no discrimination and no cruelty. This works out to God's gift of joy to all those who wish to be transfigured, as they cooperate synergistically to be corrected. But what of those who wish to cling to their evil and not cooperate synergistically to be reformed? For them, the lustrating divine light can work out to no more than God's gift of truth to that person who doggedly clings to evil -- a truth which creates pain, perhaps infinite pain. But the pain is not the purpose of the experience, revelation of the loathesomeness of the evil that they cling to is the purpose of that experience. I agree with C.S. Lewis when he says, in "Problem of Pain":

 

 

Thomas Aquinas said of suffering, as Aristotle had said of shame, that it was a thing not good in itself, but a thing which might have a certain goodness in particular circumstances. That is to say, if evil is present, pain at recognition of the evil, being a kind of knowledge, is relatively good; for the alternative is that the soul should be ignorant of the evil, or ignorant that the evil is contrary to its nature, "either of which," says the philosopher, "is manifestly bad." (Summa Theol., 1, 11ae,Q. xxxix, Art. 1.) And I think, though we tremble, we agree.

 

 

God punishes all people always in a manner intended and calculated to correct. But what if someone refuses to be corrected? (What if, for example, an abusive father refuses to say sorry, or a Christian refuses to deconvert?) Would it be better that they didn't exist at all? I don't think so, I think that existence is better than non-existence, and an existence where we have the freedom to morally grow or resist it is an existence that is better than an existence with no moral choices.

 

Yet evil is evil, and when we deliberately and relentlessly choose it, then the radiant light of the ONE shall (we hope) operate directly to speak the truth about it. It is too good to be true that this will happen, but I hope it does, because it will spell an end to evil insofar as God can do this without the cooperation of the evil-doer. Among other things, it will spell an end to the Christianic cognitive distortion.

 

(C.S. Lewis was a universalist and agreed with this Platonic, non-Christian understanding of God-man relations. Read "the Great Divorce" where he illustrates all of these ideas.)

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Explain the justice in a soul that never asks to be born being tortured for all eternity. How is it possible to love such an idea?. If you try try to put forward the scholastic argument that existence is better than non-existence then why does Jesus say "it would better that person was never born...". There is valid biblical interpretation that says not many are going to make it into heaven.

 

 

I'm not sure I've put it this way yet, but...

 

According to the Orthodox, God bathes all humans in the purifying fires of his love with no discrimination and no cruelty. This works out to God's gift of joy to all those who wish to be transfigured, as they cooperate synergistically to be corrected. But what of those who wish to cling to their evil and not cooperate synergistically to be reformed?

Why did God not just simply make beings with free-will with no internal inclination to do that which is evil.? Is this not an offence against justice?

 

Why did God then pass on an inheritance of sinful nature to all mankind through the actions of two humans in the Garden of Eden. Is this not an offence against justice?

 

 

For them, the lustrating divine light can work out to no more than God's gift of truth to that person who doggedly clings to evil -- a truth which creates pain, perhaps infinite pain.

How casually you mention such an evil doctrine - infinite pain given to a finite being with a highly imperfect nature given to it by "god"

 

But the pain is not the purpose of the experience, revelation of the loathesomeness of the evil that they cling to is the purpose of that experience.

It may not be its purpose but it seems to have been a direct consequence of manifest acts of injustice by "god". You will gather I do not think it is God we are dealing with in xtian revelation - satan gives a better account of himself in the bible than God Almighty.

 

 

I agree with C.S. Lewis when he says, in "Problem of Pain":

For all the love I once had for Lewis and his writings the "Problem of Pain" is not one of his stand outs. I am always wary of people explaining the pain of others away. It seems to be that be people who have suffered greatly, they are present on this board, do not try to give glib advice to others about the "Problem of Pain"

 

 

Thomas Aquinas said of suffering, as Aristotle had said of shame, that it was a thing not good in itself, but a thing which might have a certain goodness in particular circumstances. That is to say, if evil is present, pain at recognition of the evil, being a kind of knowledge, is relatively good; for the alternative is that the soul should be ignorant of the evil, or ignorant that the evil is contrary to its nature, "either of which," says the philosopher, "is manifestly bad." (Summa Theol., 1, 11ae,Q. xxxix, Art. 1.) And I think, though we tremble, we agree.

Yes but only if the pain is finite and of corrective value. Eternal torment does not come under this category.

 

 

God punishes all people always in a manner intended and calculated to correct.

Are you being serious? Remember we are talking about Bible God and mainstream xtianity. What about the OT atrocities that Israel claimed to be divinely sanctioned?

 

But what if someone refuses to be corrected? (What if, for example, an abusive father refuses to say sorry, or a Christian refuses to deconvert?) Would it be better that they didn't exist at all?

Of course! Who would choose an eternal torment ? Look at those people who jumped from the twin towers because they wanted to bring the temporal finite pain to an end.

 

I don't think so, I think that existence is better than non-existence,

Imagine you are in indescrible pain and there is no hope of any relief for all eternity. Never mind what Aquinas or the scholastic theology says. What do you choose?

 

and an existence where we have the freedom to morally grow or resist it is an existence that is better than an existence with no moral choices.

I have already covered this point. Are you saying it was impossible for the xtian God to make humans with free-will that had no inclination to oppose him? Is there not an obvious contradiction between the xtian God of the three O's and eternal punishment for finite beings?

 

Yet evil is evil, and when we deliberately and relentlessly choose it, then the radiant light of the ONE shall (we hope) operate directly to speak the truth about it.

Rather than the ONE speaking out about it why did he not just make us the complete article and avoid this whole infernal doctrine.

 

It is too good to be true that this will happen, but I hope it does, because it will spell an end to evil insofar as God can do this without the cooperation of the evil-doer.

Do you mean you are glad there is a hell of eternal punishment? What makes you so sure you are going to miss it? Why is the eternal torture of your fellow human beings described as being "too good to be true"? This would make me mentally ill to hold such thoughts.

 

Among other things, it will spell an end to the Christianic cognitive distortion.

Can you express this in straightforward language.

 

(C.S. Lewis was a universalist and agreed with this Platonic, non-Christian understanding of God-man relations. Read "the Great Divorce" where he illustrates all of these ideas.)

I have.

 

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Golden Meadows, I am not a Christian. I do not believe the Bible. I do not believe the creation story. I think it was all a horrible mistake. I do not believe that there is a divine penalty that the ONE would mete out as a punishment for the violation of the divine law.

 

But I do think that Plotinus's idea, that Eastern orthodox Christians and C.S. Lewis share, that all of reality is the experience of the ONE's lustrating fires of divine love, transfiguring those who would wish to be transfigured, and speaking the truth of right and wrong to those who do not, is about the most hopeful system of thought that I have ever run across. It is more optimistic than Atheism or Christianity, or Islam, Hinduism or Buddhism.

 

Life is grim, but the ONE shall change grimness to joy by radiating his wrath upon us. That is what Eastern Orthodox Christians and C.S. Lewis and I believe. Yes, we also believe in a hypothetical possibility that some people may wish to cling to evil while they are submerged in the ONE's fires -- this must necessarily be a possibility for moral beings. And, I realize that for those people, the ONE's love cannot be experienced in any other way but pain because they shall see their evil they choose the way the ONE sees it.

 

But this is not "eternal torment" that the Bible speaks of. I do not believe in any such idiotic and cruel notion as "divine penalties for sin." Rather, the pain that the unrepentant feel while being bathed in God's fires is the kind of pain that Hitler will experience, knowing he did wrong, until he joyfully makes it up to the 6 million Jews he killed. This is the kind of pain that Abraham, Jesus, Paul, John Calvin, and Jonathan Edwards will experience, knowing that they, from a position of ignorance, taught morbid nonsense, until they joyfully tell everybody that Christianity is all a horrible mistake.

 

Why did God not just simply make beings with free-will with no internal inclination to do that which is evil.?

Creating a being without the ability to choose evil would be like a married couple buying a doll and putting it in the playpen -- yes, God could have done this, but it wouldn't have been worth the effort, and nobody except God would have known about it.

 

Why did God then pass on an inheritance of sinful nature to all mankind through the actions of two humans in the Garden of Eden. Is this not an offence against justice?

Are you asking me? I despise Christianity and I care not for its origins myths.

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Golden Meadows, I am not a Christian. I do not believe the Bible. I do not believe the creation story. I think it was all a horrible mistake. I do not believe that there is a divine penalty that the ONE would mete out as a punishment for the violation of the divine law.

So far so good.

 

But I do think that Plotinus's idea, that Eastern orthodox Christians and C.S. Lewis share, that all of reality is the experience of the ONE's lustrating fires of divine love, transfiguring those who would wish to be transfigured, and speaking the truth of right and wrong to those who do not, is about the most hopeful system of thought that I have ever run across. It is more optimistic than Atheism or Christianity, or Islam, Hinduism or Buddhism.

Only if the ONE' fire of divine love did not result in an eternal suffering. Agreed?

 

Life is grim, but the ONE shall change grimness to joy by radiating his wrath upon us. That is what Eastern Orthodox Christians and C.S. Lewis and I believe. Yes, we also believe in a hypothetical possibility that some people may wish to cling to evil while they are submerged in the ONE's fires -- such is necessarily the case for moral beings.

Who could possibly choose infinite pain? mainstream xtianity spoke of the complete withdrawel of Gods grace for the soul in a state of hell - it cannot repent because the xtian God will not allow it. You seem to be hinting at temporary hell where people will be transfigured but thats not what xtianity teaches - including the Orthodox Church and, as best I can remember, Lewis.

 

 

And, I realize that for those people, the ONE's love cannot be experienced in any other way but pain because they shall see their evil the way the ONE sees it.

But this is not "eternal torment" that the Bible speaks of. I do not believe in any such idiotic and cruel notion as "divine penalties for sin." Rather, the pain that the unrepentant feel while being bathed in God's fires is the kind of pain that Hitler will experience, knowing he did wrong, until he joyfully makes it up to the 6 million Jews he killed.

I have no hang ups with this description of conversion.

 

 

This is the kind of pain that Abraham, Jesus, Paul, John Calvin, and Jonathan Edwards will experience, knowing that they, from a position of ignorance, taught morbid nonsense, until they joyfully tell everybody that Christianity is all a horrible mistake that.

OK

 

Why did God not just simply make beings with free-will with no internal inclination to do that which is evil.?

Creating a being without the ability to choose evil would be like a married couple buying a doll and putting it in the playpen -- yes, God could have done this, but it wouldn't have been worth the effort.

Disagree. I am not suggesting that God should have made robots.There is no contradiction in us having free will yet having no inclination to do evil. The person who says differently must back it up with sound arguments that do not contradict the three O's conventionally attributed to God.

 

Why did God then pass on an inheritance of sinful nature to all mankind through the actions of two humans in the Garden of Eden. Is this not an offence against justice?

Are you asking me? I despise Christianity and I care not for its origins myths.

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Plotinus taught that being bathed in the fires of divine love shall result in an eternity of suffering for all people. There is pain in moral growth, and so long as there are more things to learn, there will always be pain. There are worse things than being punished destructively by another being, and there are worse things than suffering. Much worse is if you halt in the process of transfiguration -- union with the ONE.

 

The pain is likely to be greater for people who deliberately cling to their evil. And if you absolutely will not deconvert from Christianity, ever, then the ONE shall bring out his big guns until you do. Because the ONE is so altogether alien to wrong, because it is to him a heart-pain and trouble that one of his little ones should do the evil thing, there is no extreme of suffering to which, for the sake of destroying the evil thing in them, he would not subject them. A man might flatter, or bribe, or coax a tyrant; but there is no refuge from the love of the ONE; that love will, for very love, insist upon the uttermost farthing.

 

Where punishment can do anything to this end, where it can help the human to know what he has been guilty of, where it can soften his heart to see his pride and wrong and cruelty, justice requires that punishment shall not be spared. This is the reason of divine punishment; this is why justice requires that the wicked shall not go unpunished—that they, through the eye-opening power of pain, may come to see and do justice, may be brought to desire and make all possible amends, and so become just. Such punishment concerns justice in the deepest degree.

 

You seem to be hinting at temporary hell where people will be transfigured but thats not what xtianity teaches - including the Orthodox Church and, as best I can remember, Lewis.

The Eastern Orthodox Church believes in the theology of God-man relations which I have just described -- that the operation of God's punishment of all humans is intended to correct rather than destroy them. Of course, the Orthodox always properly preserve the reservation that humans are free moral beings and thus can deliberately choose to cling to evil. They can refuse to cooperate synergistically with the ONE and yield themselves to the operation of God's radiating wrathful punishment. It is clearly taught in the writings of St. Clement of Alexandria, Origen, St. Gregory of Nyssa, St. Maximus the Confessor, and St. Isaac of Syria.

 

Unfortunately, this theology is not Christianity and it is not Biblical. Additionally, although all modern Orthodox theologians being trained in Orthodox Seminaries are being taught this, lots of Orthodox Christians of a less mystical mindset would hardly even recognize this theology, and to them, the forensic mimetic virus of Biblical Christianity is more alive in their heads that the true Orthodox variety. That is why I am reluctant to join with them in a repentant community.

 

As for C.S. Lewis, he deliberately wrote so that his American Protestant audience would misunderstand him. I honestly wish I could go back in time and ask him why he bothered. My best guess is that C.S. Lewis thought that he could work with the myth of the incarnation, death and resurrection of Christ in order to make it a functional myth (as described by Plato in the "Republic") instead of a dysfunctional myth, and that is why he wrote "Mere Christianity." I am more skeptical than Lewis about whether Christianity can be fixed.

 

But if you go back and read his books, especially "Problem of Pain" and "Great Divorce", you will see that he believed in a NeoPlatonic, rather than Biblical, theology of God-man relations. Also, carefully read Lewis's introduction to the "Anthology of George MacDonald," and then read the passages from George MacDonald that Lewis chose to excerpt. That book is online here.

There is no contradiction in us having free will yet having no inclination to do evil.

The choice of doing rightly necessarily implies the possibility that the choice shall not be made by a moral being with freedom. Placing a person on path through the woods to the beach creates the risk that the person shall jam his head in the dirt and start tearing up the leaves from the trees.

 

There are grim evils in this world, that much is an empirically verifiable fact, and it is too late to ask "What if no one had ever chosen to be cruel to one another? Or what if no one had ever willfully believed the Christian theology of penal substitution, divine penalty for sin, and justification by faith?" We already have evil, and faith is about believing that a solution will come, and obediently working to be part of that solution. The NeoPlatonist faith is the hope that there is a God, the hope that He whose perfection breathed the universe out may one day transfigure it into a perfect thing. The more we trust, the more reasonable we find it to trust. But, like I said, it is too good to be believed, and that is why we are Agnostics.

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This is just a repetition of what I posted above...

 

According to this mystical NeoPlatonist theology, being bathed in the fires of divine love shall result in an eternity of suffering for all people. Moral growth always involves pain, and so long as there are more things to learn, there will always be pain. Union with the ONE is an infinite and eternal ascent. There are worse things than being punished destructively by another being, and there are worse things than suffering. Much worse than suffering or being treated cruelly is if you halt in the process of transfiguration. Nevertheless, while suffering is an experience common to all, the experience of the lustrating fires of divine love is likely to be far more painful for people who tenaciously cling to their evil.

 

Because the ONE is so altogether alien to wrong, because it is to him a heart-pain and trouble that one of his little ones should do the evil thing, there is no extreme of suffering to which, for the sake of destroying the evil thing in them, he would not subject them. A man might flatter, or bribe, or coax a tyrant; but there is no refuge from the love of the ONE; that love will, for very love, insist upon the uttermost farthing. Where punishment can do anything to this end, where it can help the human to know what he has been guilty of, where it can soften his heart to see his pride and wrong and cruelty, justice requires that punishment shall not be spared. This is the reason of divine punishment; this is why justice requires that the wicked shall not go unpunished—that they, through the eye-opening power of pain, may come to see and do justice, may be brought to desire and make all possible amends, and so become just. Such punishment concerns justice in the deepest degree.

 

You seem to be hinting at temporary hell where people will be transfigured but thats not what xtianity teaches - including the Orthodox Church and, as best I can remember, Lewis.

 

The Eastern Orthodox Church believes in the theology of God-man relations which I have just described -- that the operation of God's punishment of all humans is always intended to correct rather than destroy them. This kind of theology is clearly taught in particular in the writings of St. Clement of Alexandria, Origen, St. Gregory of Nyssa, and St. Isaac of Syria. All of these Eastern Orthodox theologians were avid students of the Pre-Christian Greek mystical theologians Plato and Plotinus.

 

Of course, the Orthodox theologians always properly make the reservation that humans are free moral beings and thus can deliberately choose to cling to evil. Theoretically, humans could choose to cling to evil forever. They can refuse to cooperate synergistically with the ONE; they could refuse to yield themselves to the operation of God's wrathful punishment. And this reservation must be correct, because even now, we see people choosing to remain ignorant and cruel, so the possibility exists that they shall continue to do so forever. Ask yourself, do you imagine that John Calvin or Jonathan Edwards will deconvert while bathed in the divine light beyond the grave? If not, there shall forever be two souls for whom the lustrating love of the ONE is only experienced as a torment rather than a joy.

 

Unfortunately, this theology is not Christianity and it is not Biblical. Additionally, although modern Orthodox theologians being trained in Orthodox Seminaries are being taught this, it is difficult to understand and lots of Orthodox Christians of a less mystical mindset would hardly even recognize this theology. To them, the forensic mimetic virus of Biblical Christianity is believed and is contaminating their heads. For those Orthodox people who know that their theology of God-man relations is different from Protestants, they waste an inordinant amount of their mental efforts in thinking about how Orthodoxy is different from "Western Christianity." I have heard endless arguments about how the Orthodox "Christus Victor" theory of Christ's work is different from the Protestant "Penal Substitution" theory, how the Orthodox notions of heaven and hell are different from the Protestant notions, and how Orthodox soteriology is different from Protestant soteriology. All it takes for Fundamentalist Protestants to win such an argument is to cite about five Bible verses. That is why I am uninterested in joining with the Orthodox in a sacred repentant community -- it is too close to the Bible and Protestantism, and it is too confused.

 

As for C.S. Lewis, he deliberately wrote so that his American Protestant audience would misunderstand him. If you go back and read his books, especially "Problem of Pain" and "Great Divorce", you will see that his theology of God-man relations was NeoPlatonic rather than Biblical. Also, carefully read Lewis's introduction to the "Anthology of George MacDonald," and then read the passages from George MacDonald that Lewis chose to excerpt. That book is online here.

 

I honestly wish I could go back in time and ask C.S. Lewis why he bothered. My best guess is that C.S. Lewis thought that he could work with the myth of the incarnation, death and resurrection of Christ in order to make it a functional myth instead of a dysfunctional myth as it currently exists in the Bible. In "Mere Christianity," he works to shift the focus from the malignant "penal substitution" understanding of the work of Christ, to the benign "Christus Victor" understanding of the work of Christ. Why convert to Christianity and waste his time? Likely he had in mind Plato's recommendation in "The Republic" that reflective men and women teach noble lies -- religious myths told to simple people to motivate them to do what is good and right. I am more skeptical than Lewis about whether Christianity can be fixed. The way I see it, Lewis was being used by the thought virus to make itself more potent and virile and did nothing at all to make it more benign. By fashioning a form of the religion that eliminated all traces of the Biblical idea of "divine wrath," he just helped it to become more adept at avoiding being logically pinned down and then dispatched.

 

There is no contradiction in us having free will yet having no inclination to do evil.

 

When a moral being is created who has freedom, the choice of doing rightly necessarily implies the possibility that the choice shall not be made. Think about it this way, if you place a person on a path through the woods to the beach, you create the risk that the person shall jam his head in the dirt and start tearing up the leaves from the trees as he curses at his companions. There are grim evils in this world, that much is an empirically verifiable fact, and it is too late to ask "What if no human had ever chosen to be cruel to another?" Or "What if no one had ever willfully believed the Christian theology of penal substitution, divine penalty for sin, and justification by faith?"

 

We already have evil, and faith is about believing that there is a solution, and obediently cooperating synergistically with the ONE to be part of that solution. This is what we mean when we say we hope there is a heaven above. It is a hope that He whose perfection breathed the universe out may one day transfigure it into a perfect thing. The more we trust, the more reasonable we find it to trust. But, like I said, it is too good to be believed, and that is why we are Agnostics -- we hope it's true, but don't believe it's true. Belief, like all virtues, is a matter of degree, and we remain on a path of infinite growth and we remain agnostics always.

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Plotinus taught that being bathed in the fires of divine love shall result in an eternity of suffering for all people.

From my own recent experience the xtian outlook on life poisons every aspect of a person’s being and there is no quick fix. Its like a powerful addiction that’s very hard to break free from. At some point I have to accept that there is nothing in xtianity that I will accept automatically as being authoritative. This includes the whole body of theological work done over the past 2,000 years and its prequel in pagan philosophies. No longer will I automatically take the opinion of Aquinas, Augustine, Aristotle or Plato or anyone else as being worthy of idolatry. What Plotinus says in the quoted passage is shit as it stands.

 

There is pain in moral growth, and so long as there are more things to learn, there will always be pain.

Why? Would it not just have been simple for God to make creatures with freewill but with no inclination to do that which is evil? Pure logic says this is possible. If you disagree with this statement then lets discuss as suggested in my previous posts.

 

There are worse things than being punished destructively by another being, and there are worse things than suffering.

I am not sure what this means. If its saying that there is a worse pain than pain and its called pain then we just go round in circles.

 

Much worse is if you halt in the process of transfiguration -- union with the ONE.

Big assumptions. Firstly that there is a “ONE”, that this being has deliberately chosen to make us imperfect, i.e. inclined to do evil but, by completion of some obstacle course, he might make us the all right. Let me put it another way. A guy poisons a persons drink and that person begins to die. At some point the poisoner announces “look here, I have got the antidote to the poison that is now killing you. If you will only worship me with your whole heart, soul and mind (=transfiguration) then I will show what a great, merciful and loving guy I am by giving you the antidote” The guy is sadistic maniac but this is what xtianity, in effect, teaches about God and us. The “transfiguration” mentioned here is just xtianity dressed up to make the xtian God not appear evil but its all hot air. . You will gather I do not accept the assertion made about stopping in the process of transfiguration. The whole process I reject as being an evil idea pinned on God by primitive religions trying to understand the “Problem of Pain”

 

 

The pain is likely to be greater for people who deliberately cling to their evil.

Again I do not accept the model - its modified xtianity but with God still being associated with evil attributes no matter how its dressed up.

 

And if you absolutely will not deconvert from Christianity, ever, then the ONE shall bring out his big guns until you do.

What seems to be suggested is “deconvert from xtianity to modified xtianity”. These views would not exclude a person from any existing mainstream xtian group. All one has to do is shut up about the bible.

 

Because the ONE is so altogether alien to wrong,

Yet he made us with an inclination to do what is wrong! Something does not add up!

because it is to him a heart-pain and trouble that one of his little ones should do the evil thing, there is no extreme of suffering to which, for the sake of destroying the evil thing in them, he would not subject them.

A better suggestion - He simply made his little ones the complete article from the beginning then he would not have to go about inflicting suffering on them in order to undo his own handiwork.

 

 

A man might flatter, or bribe, or coax a tyrant; but there is no refuge from the love of the ONE; that love will, for very love, insist upon the uttermost farthing.

This is just the “hound of heaven” xtian bull. It does not stand up to scrutiny for the reasons given above.

 

Where punishment can do anything to this end, where it can help the human to know what he has been guilty of, where it can soften his heart to see his pride and wrong and cruelty, justice requires that punishment shall not be spared.

ditto. but please remember there is no justice in eternal punishment for a finite crime.

 

 

This is the reason of divine punishment; this is why justice requires that the wicked shall not go unpunished—that they, through the eye-opening power of pain, may come to see and do justice, may be brought to desire and make all possible amends, and so become just. Such punishment concerns justice in the deepest degree.

The xtian account of creation has God being unjust in the first instance by making man inclined to do evil for which his maker then punishes him. Not only that but because Adam and Eve disobeyed our bodies are now positively inclined in such a way to overwhelm the working of the rational mind that says “do not do - God has spoken”. Orthodoxy still teaches eternal torment for a finite crime and this makes God a monster.

 

QUOTE

You seem to be hinting at temporary hell where people will be transfigured but that's not what xtianity teaches - including the Orthodox Church and, as best I can remember, Lewis.

The Eastern Orthodox Church believes in the theology of God-man relations which I have just described -- that the operation of God's punishment of all humans is intended to correct rather than destroy them.

The end effect is the same - eternal torture for a finite crime and its splitting hairs to suggest that that was not the intention. God did not have to make us with sinful natures, he did not have to make hell, there is no essential need for a process of transformation. He could have avoid all of this whilst preserving free will. They must prove that their model is correct by logical argument - at present it makes no sense.

 

 

Of course, the Orthodox always properly preserve the reservation that humans are free moral beings and thus can deliberately choose to cling to evil.

Once again this assumes that if God had made us without any inclination to do evil that this involved a denial of free will - its doesn’t. Simply repeating the same thing over and over doesn’t make it right. Xtianity says that God is omnipotent but then promptly denies it, in effect, by implying that man must be tempted to do evil in order for him to have freewill. Bullshit.

 

They can refuse to cooperate synergistically with the ONE and yield themselves to the operation of God's radiating wrathful punishment. It is clearly taught in the writings of St. Clement of Alexandria, Origen, St. Gregory of Nyssa, St. Maximus the Confessor, and St. Isaac of Syria.

This assertion assumes all the errors I have pointed out above are truths - they are not for the reasons given and they must deny Gods omnipotence by persisting that he had no choice but to make beings who were inclined to evil. Patristic bullshit is still bullshit.

 

Unfortunately, this theology is not Christianity and it is not Biblical.

And its not rational if you start from the basic assumption of the three O’s and Gods goodness.

 

Additionally, although all modern Orthodox theologians being trained in Orthodox Seminaries are being taught this, lots of Orthodox Christians of a less mystical mindset would hardly even recognize this theology, and to them, the forensic mimetic virus of Biblical Christianity is more alive in their heads that the true Orthodox variety. That is why I am reluctant to join with them in a repentant community.

My take is that God is still very evil according to the modified from of xtainity they preach. They think by asserting that since God did not intend eternal punishment that its gross injustices now become acceptable - they don’t.

 

As for C.S. Lewis, he deliberately wrote so that his American Protestant audience would misunderstand him.

I don’t know if that was the case.

 

I honestly wish I could go back in time and ask him why he bothered. My best guess is that C.S. Lewis thought that he could work with the myth of the incarnation, death and resurrection of Christ in order to make it a functional myth (as described by Plato in the "Republic") instead of a dysfunctional myth, and that is why he wrote "Mere Christianity."

He may have thought it to be “true myth” but not to the extent of doubting it’s historicity. Notice that when he dealt with the contradictions in the gospel genealogies all he would say was that “we are dealing with something more than history” or words to that effect. He did not warm, no pun intended, to the doctrine of hell but since he believed Christ had taught it there was no valid reason to dismiss it. This is all from memory - I no longer have a Lewis library.

I am more sceptical than Lewis about whether Christianity can be fixed.

Did he actually say it needed fixed in terms of its teaching?

 

But if you go back and read his books, especially "Problem of Pain" and "Great Divorce", you will see that he believed in a NeoPlatonic, rather than Biblical, theology of God-man relations. Also, carefully read Lewis's introduction to the "Anthology of George MacDonald," and then read the passages from George MacDonald that Lewis chose to excerpt. That book is online here.

I will link to it later.

 

QUOTE

There is no contradiction in us having free will yet having no inclination to do evil.

The choice of doing rightly necessarily implies the possibility that the choice shall not be made by a moral being with freedom.

No! For the reasons given above. God could have made me that I had no pleasure in doing evil therefore I would always choose the good with my free will. The onus is on them to prove otherwise - my argument is consistent with Gods omnipotence and goodness, theirs is not.

 

Placing a person on path through the woods to the beach creates the risk that the person shall jam his head in the dirt and start tearing up the leaves from the trees.

Instead of placing him in the woods with an inclination to do things that keep him away from the beach he could just have easily have placed him on the beach and with no pleasure in going into the woods to tear up leaves.

 

There are grim evils in this world, that much is an empirically verifiable fact, and it is too late to ask "What if no one had ever chosen to be cruel to one another? Or what if no one had ever wilfully believed the Christian theology of penal substitution, divine penalty for sin, and justification by faith?" We already have evil, and faith is about believing that a solution will come, and obediently working to be part of that solution.

It better to say “I don't know” with regard to the imperfect world we live in rather than trying to write back in history a myth that accounts for it all if it involves depicting God as being evil - that's what the religions of Abraham do. Its a price to much to pay in mental anguish and self deception.

 

The NeoPlatonist faith is the hope that there is a God, the hope that He whose perfection breathed the universe out may one day transfigure it into a perfect thing.

What is this NeoPlatonist faith? Is it organised or is just a philosophy that you like and might form the basis of your own faith

 

The more we trust, the more reasonable we find it to trust. But, like I said, it is too good to be believed, and that is why we are Agnostics.

I am a pagan.

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