My brother in Christ is wisely seeking counsel to help him grow in his faith. He has good questions.
Debate Rounds (5)
To begin with, and please correct me if I am wrong, although there are various differences between the doctrines, one of the most major differences is the perception of divine plan, which eventually would lead to free-will. To take it step by step, I'll start with God's divine plan. I believe you have read my previous debate post so I will eliminate the definition and such. So, since I am a selfish human being (no sarcasm intended), I naturally link the divine plan to how my life is to play a role in it. In my doctrine (Presbyterian), each individual's life is simply predetermined even before my existence (I guess as whatever I was in the voids of dust??). This is especially bothersome because my dreams are grandiose, and one that is far different from those of many others. Yes, everyone has different dreams, but mine is simply utmost ridiculous. But, the truth is that it feels so real to me and deep inside I feel that this is my calling of some sort. Getting back to my point, the reason I brought this babble up is to ask you, brother, how predetermination is to mix into our personal dreams. God has his will, and no matter what, his will is to be done because he is an almighty God. For example, a man who is predetermined to become a Pastor/Reverend/Servant of God who dreams of becoming an architect or a musician, how is this man supposed to live in happiness (which is what I believe God wants of us)? One part of the scripture says that to live as a Christian means to uphold the crucifix (hence, a life of sacrifice and servitude) while other parts say "ask and you will receive." It eventually led me to comprehend it as "I can ask all I want but eventually it won't matter because God will do what he has made me to be." Since I do both love and fear God, if this is the case, let it be, but I just can't see this from a creator who advocates love above all.
This leads to free-will, for everything we do is free-will. Simply put, it was intended as a gift, but now its a curse. So, in my doctrine it teaches that every action is free-will yet one that was planned/bound to happen. In other words, my debate/questionnaire that I am writing to you write now is also my free-will which was planned/bound to happen by God. When I was enlightened upon this during my fellowship, I just stood up and went home. It was not out of disrespect or anger but simply due to having the thought that I am a "byte" living in a computer system. Hence, my life, my actions all are programmed? Yes, people say that its not like that, because God loves us but lets face it; the Divine plan is the computer and I am one of many bytes making it possible. If my thoughts on this is wrong, which I truly hope is the case, I do feel that my relationship with God will strengthen. Yet, as of now, I feel like a lab rat of some sort...
Brother, I know I have babbled on and on, and I hope you understand. Religion/Faith itself is already quite abstract, but finding words to explain the doubts in my head... this is just a whole other task of greater difficulty. If you can, please give me some of your thoughts and insight on your understanding of the 1. Divine Plan, 2. Free-will, and 3. How you perceive yourself to be part of all this.
"Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. 5 It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. 6Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. 7It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. 8 Love never fails..."
If you think about it, the fruits of Holy Spirit could be seen as a description of God as well. What are the fruits of the Holy Spirit? The Word of God says in Galatians 5:22-23
New English Translation
22 "But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, and self-control. Against such things there is no law."
The feeling of fear can really interfere with our walk with YHWH. Preachers, politicians, husbands, wives, and parents all think fear is a good tool to maintain their power and relationships. It appears to work. It gets the job done to a slight degree for a short period of time, but it's not worth the damage it does to the other persons heart and mind. Fear will never be as powerful as love. Fear will never give a person the physical strength to carry out a task the way love can give a mother the strength to lift a car off a trapped child or a father to run into a burning house to rescue his kids and end up burned alive himself. The Scriptures say: 1 John 4:18
"There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love."
Now finally, someone might ask; "How do you know that God loves you and the above words aren't just platitudes?"; the answer to the question can be found in the month of Nissan (April) 33 A.D. on top of a hill called Calvary. John 3:16 "For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life." Love became a man.
I'm going to end here and let you respond. I know that this isn't what you asked but I feel there might be a need for some foundational work. I'm not accusing you of being ignorant of your faith but rather you sound like your in pain and living in fear. God did not mean for this to be the case for you brother. I will answer your questions though, please don't worry about that.
honoryoo forfeited this round.
The next question is why do bad things happen? For the same reason. We have choices. If we have real choices then there will be real consequences. If God has four pieces of fruit; an apple, banana, pear, and a peach. If he says we can pick one and we pick the pear then He, necessarily, lacks control of the pear by His own choice and restraint. If God honors most of our free will decisions then when we choose evil the world is likely to become a very ugly place. God is Holy and Righteous, Loving and Kind because He honors our freewill but, we are guilty of the evil that comes of our decisions. He is not the one who misused our free will we are. We did not give ourselves freewill, He did. He is good and we are sinful.
The trouble with sinning in an ongoing way is that we can create such a mess of freewill choices that we severely limit what God can do to help us. Other peoples freewill also enters into the equation. It can get to the point where God can forgive us and restore us to Him but the consequences of our actions are pretty much unavoidable and at full force. Again the reason for this is that God honors our freewill.
honoryoo forfeited this round.
honoryoo forfeited this round.
Pleasure in this life is a shadow. We can't let ourselves ever forget that. To be in the presence of God is to exceed the sum of all pleasure and fulfillment. We pursue pleasure and fulfillment because there is something that is missing. We lost it in the Garden when our parents fell. We no longer walk with God as they did. The pleasures we experience remind us of what we had and can have. We confuse the shadow for the light and spend our lives chasing shadows. Ecclesiastes 2:1-3:
1. I said to myself, "Come now, I will test you with pleasure. So enjoy yourself." And behold, it too was futility. 2. I said of laughter, "It is madness," and of pleasure, "What does it accomplish" 3. I explored with my mind how to stimulate my body with wine while my mind was guiding me wisely, and how to take hold of folly, until I could see what good there is for the sons of men to do under heaven the few years of their lives."
We come to realize that there is a form of suffering worse than we could have imagined; the weariness of pleasure. If we are sick of feeling good then what is left but to feel bad or nothing and neither of those is anything to look forward to. Victor Frankel hit on something when he said that what people needed was meaning in life. But he was wrong in that he wasn't specific enough about the meaning. Not just any meaning will do. The meaning for which we all seek and long is to Love God with all our selves and to love our neighbor as much as we love ourselves. For instance, the toys we most favored as children were probably the ones we used most often when we played with others. Watch commercials for toys and you'll see the child accompanied by their father, mother, grandparents, siblings, or friends. The toy is a mere catalyst for the relationship. I was watching a documentary about Ayn Rand. She talked about living for ourselves and our work. But if you look at her life she spent allot of time desperately trying to please academics and literary critics. She spent great deal of time living for others. I'm not putting down for that, we all do it.
Well brother, we can continue in private if you want or we can do another one these right now and just continue on. I need you to respond though.
Two teachers I like are:
honoryoo forfeited this round.
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