A Question For Christians

Christianity seems to claim to be rooted in compassion and in your God’s boundless capacity for mercy and forgiveness. No transgression seems so great that God will not turn aside his wrath and accept the sinner back into the fold. The prayers of others even seem enough to stay His hand and His judgment as the three Biblical passage below seem to clearly say:

Moses’ Prayer, interceding for Israel…again

So Moses went back to the LORD and said, “Oh, what a great sin these people have committed! They have made themselves gods of gold. 32 But now, please forgive their sin-but if not, then blot me out of the book you have written.

— Exodus 32:31-32 NIV

Stephen’s prayer for his murderers

Then he fell on his knees and cried out, “Lord, do not hold this sin against them.” When he had said this, he fell asleep.

— Acts 7:60 NIV

Paul’s prayer for the Colossians

For this reason, since the day we heard about you, we have not stopped praying for you and asking God to fill you with the knowledge of his will through all spiritual wisdom and understanding. And we pray this in order that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and may please him in every way: bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God, being strengthened with all power according to his glorious might so that you may have great endurance and patience, and joyfully giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance…. in the kingdom of light. For he has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins. He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. For by him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things were created by him and for him. He is before all things, and in him all things hold together.

— Colossians 1:9-17 NIV

In the light of these passages and a great many others like them, it seems that the God of the Christians is very forgiving indeed. It also seems that another can intercede with God on behalf of a sinner or indeed an entire city or race of sinners. Therefor I have a question for any and all Christians who find this post:

Have you offered even a single prayer for Satan, the first and direst sinner who Fell so far due to his sin? Have you prayed once that God forgive Satan’s pride or prayed once that Satan might repent his sin and be brought back into your God’s grace?

Related Reading:

Prayer
Christianity For Dummies
World Religions: The Great Faiths Explored & Explained
The Rise of Christianity: How the Obscure, Marginal Jesus Movement Became the Dominant Religious Force in the Western World in a Few Centuries
Philosophy

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34 Responses to “A Question For Christians”

  1. Christy Says:

    Fascinating, Jonolan.

    Satan, according to Christianity, is a created being, yes, but not human. The forgiveness you detail is a forgiveness offered to humanity through God’s son, Jesus Christ, who willingly laid down his life for humanity. The passages you cited (and so many others which are similar) throughout Scripture deal with the forgiveness of the human race.

    God has provided a solution for the human race through his son, who became human and took on flesh in human form and paid the price. The spiritual war Christianity details is between Satan and Jesus over the eternal fate of the human race, (mentioned and prophesied in Genesis), and technically, all of humanity, since Adam and Eve, are Satan’s property. Jesus came as a ransom for us, to pay the price due for our sin, a price that a just God (God the Father) must see carried out because he is holy (i.e. God, due to his very nature and character, is a just God and the consequences of sin is death, so therefore, Jesus paid the price in our place). And it was Jesus’ rising from the dead that demonstrated his power over Satan’s grip on the lives of all of us, who by our very nature, are prone to sin (sin being defined as anything that separates us from God – murder, lust, envy, broken relationships, greed, pride, selfishness, adultery, etc.), are his by default unless we accept God’s plan for humanity’s salvation – one, recognizing the need for salvation from our sin (recognizing we have a soul sickness), two, recognizing Jesus as the Savior, i.e. the solution to our soul sickness which causes all the things I mentioned above, and then three, believing that God raised Jesus from the dead.

    Satan is spoken of as the ruler of this world (for the time being), but the end battle has already been won by Christ Jesus – God is just demonstrating his patience in waiting for the final judgment, giving men and women a chance to repent and place their faith in Jesus as the only means to their eternal salvation.

    So your question assumes that the plan of salvation that God has put into place for humans (i.e. forgiveness of sins through the death and resurrection of Jesus) also extends to the angelic realm (with the assumption that one ascribes to the Biblical teaching that Satan and the demons are fallen angels) and that’s not a premise I would ascribe to, nor one that is found in Scripture. What God chooses to do with the angelic beings he created who rebelled against him is something different than the plan for human salvation that he has laid out. So to ask if we’ve prayed for the salvation of a figure outside, and apart, from the human realm using those passages as a basis, seems nonsensical to me.

  2. Christy Says:

    Also, just to be clear, I agree with what you laid out as one of the premises of Christianity: Christianity seems to claim to be rooted in compassion and in your Gods boundless capacity for mercy and forgiveness. No transgression seems so great that God will not turn aside his wrath and accept the sinner back into the fold.

    But it’s not a simple decision based upon God’s whim or the effective prayers of others or the sinner himself/herself alone but rather, because God is just, and because God is holy, there are consequences to sin (“The wages of sin is death”*). God instituted a plan to pay for the consequences so that we would not have to, i.e. his son, Jesus and so that we might be restored to a right relationship with Him, i.e. so that we could come into his presence again. Other gods in other religions can forgive at random with no reason…but the Judeo/Christian God is a God who’s very character and nature (just and holy) demands punishment – demands that the wrongs we create through our sin be made right. His mercy is great, and his love, incredible, that he would sacrifice his own son to pay for the sins of others and restore us to a right relationship with himself. But that price was still paid on that cross – the sins were still paid for, and the gift of salvation is thus free to anyone who desires it because the work was already done on the cross.

    Just want to be clear about that. =)

    *”For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Romans 6:23

    [One of the things that separates Christianity from any other religion I’ve come across is that we have to do absolutely nothing to be saved (i.e. it’s not a works-based religion) – Christ already did it on the cross. He said “It is finished.” The work’s been done for us. All we have to do is accept it. That’s the “good news.” =)]

  3. Christy Says:

    P.S. For context, though I know you know this already, Jonolan, yes, I’m a Christian, though I prefer to be known as a follower of Jesus to separate myself from cultural Christianity in the U.S., and no, I have not proffered a prayer for Satan’s salvation – to directly answer your question. As for my reason why I haven’t, see above.

  4. jonolan Says:

    So no prayers for Satan because he is outside the pale of redemption due to not being human? That makes a certain sense I guess given various things I read in the Bible and the apocrypha.

    A thought though – how different could Lucifer or Helel ben Shahar and the third of Heavenly Host who rebelled along side him be from humanity if they suffered from: Free Will, Jealousy, Pride and Defiance?

  5. Christy Says:

    From both a philosopher and a theologian’s point of view, I leave open the possibility that God (now personally speaking of the Judeo/Christian God, which I would argue, is the one and only God) could have created (and did) other beings outside humanity. We know he created humans, animals and the angelic hosts but it’s possible he could have created other worlds/beings, etc. All I know clearly from what has been revealed through Scripture and Jesus (the Word) is that He has a plan for the salvation of humanity. Scripture details a bit about what his stance is towards Lucifer and those who rebelled alongside Lucifer, but it’s primarily the story of humanity, so I can only speak with reference to that.

    I would agree that the issues that affected the heavenly hosts as well as humanity are the same. It might be that God’s plan for dealing with the former are not necessarily fully revealed to us – just the plan for handling our rebellion? It doesn’t mean that God hasn’t/hadn’t also set up a plan for the angelic host. We may just not be privy to it – only privy to the parts of their story that affect us and our’s.

  6. jonolan Says:

    Ah…Romans 11:34 For who has known the mind of the Lord, or who became his counselor? – a very good point. Truly would want to know so much?

  7. Christy Says:

    This woman for one, haha, but maybe it’s better I don’t know everything. *grin* Gives me something to do for eternity – continue my never ending education. ;p

  8. jonolan Says:

    Haha

  9. Mr. Fu Says:

    Okay, just for arguments sake, I have. I hope it helps, perhaps you, if not Satan. 😉

    It is the nature of sin that it results in death. Who can know the depths of Satan’s sin? Sure, Adam knew God, and what he had done. But had he ever seen God in His full glory? I tend to doubt it, from God’s dealing with Moses, Moses is told that for him to look upon God in the face would mean death. So Satan, having seen God in all His glory still rebelled. What is the price for such a sin?

    I doubt even the prayers of a righteous man would help. The efficacy of mine are certainly even more doubtful.

  10. jonolan Says:

    Welcome, Mr. Fu!

    That’s a fair point you raise on the possible or probable lack of efficacy in praying for Satan’s redemption. I question though the idea that humankind should base our actions in such matters on what we expect to work.

  11. frank Says:

    To answer your question – NO! Is satan your God?

  12. jonolan Says:

    No, Frank, I do not worship Satan nor did I say or imply that anyone should worship him. I merely ask any Christians that might find this post if they ever prayed to their God for Satan’s redemption? Get it? Prayed for, not prayed to?

  13. frank Says:

    Oh I get it. And I just simply answered your question. The second part was a stand alone question. Are you angry? How about one more question back to you… Is the Christian God your God?

  14. jonolan Says:

    I took the two questions together; please accept my apologies if I misinterpreted your overall meaning. So, no prayers for the first sinner. Is that for reasons similar to Christy’s, or for some other reason?

    No, the God of Abraham is not who I worship, but I have respect for His followers and make a study of all the world’s religions. As an outsider I often have questions that sound strange or outrageous to the various faiths’ adherents.

  15. frank Says:

    Easy to misinterpret, isn’t it? No apologies are owed to me. I do not know Christy. But I would throw out, the “unpardonable” sin, that not only satan might be held responsible for.

  16. jonolan Says:

    The unpardonable sin? The only sin I’ve heard described that way is suicide. Which were you referring to?

  17. eeyore Says:

    blasphemy….

  18. expatbrian Says:

    I find it hard to believe that a discussion on this topic is still considered serious in this day and age. If the Christian God is the only true God, then what happeded to all of the folks who lived before this relatively new religion was formed? Did God let them all go to hell? And why is it that the Catholic faith believes that, even among Christians, theirs is the only true path to salvation?

    All religions believe theirs is the one true religion. Why is Christianity, with its bloody history, any different? Frankly, I think it’s all mythical hogwash that people cling to simply because they cannot accept their own frightening mortality.

  19. Christy Says:

    Jonolan,

    The one unforgivable sin is (as I understand it) denying the Holy Spirit.

    “He who is not with me is against me, and he who does not gather with me scatters. And so I tell you, every sin and blasphemy will be forgiven men, but the blasphemy against the Spirit will not be forgiven. Anyone who speaks a word against the Son of Man will be forgiven, but anyone who speaks against the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven, either in this age or in the age to come.” (Matthew 12:30-32)

    For context, Jesus was being accused that his healing power was actually attributed to Satan rather than the Holy Spirit (i.e. his deity was being challenged to the point of his accusers accusing him of being in league with Satan), so some commentators suggest that because of the context of the above verse (and again mentioned in Mark 3:29) that Jesus was talking about not ascribing power/authority/Godhood (in essence) to the true God (Father/Son/Holy Spirit) but to Satan. By delineating that if you’re not for Him, you’re against him (only two options – Jesus was always making bold statements) he seems to be really emphasizing that you either recognize his authority as God or you align yourself with Satan. Thus, the unpardonable sin.

    Just my quick take on this. =)

    (I usually have thought of the one unforgivable sin as being a consistent denial of Jesus as Savior and Lord. Which would be included in the above interpretation/explanation since God the Father, Son and Holy Spirit are considered triune and thus One.)

  20. Christy Says:

    expatbrian,

    I find it hard to believe that a discussion on this topic is still considered serious in this day and age. If the Christian God is the only true God, then what happeded to all of the folks who lived before this relatively new religion was formed? Did God let them all go to hell?

    No, we’re judged according to the light/understanding we’re given. The Biblical world view is that God is creator and everything pre-Jesus was leading up to and pointing towards Jesus’ entering humanity, dying on the cross and rising again, so pre-Jesus, believers in God were called to live according to the light/understanding they had been given. The reason you have blood sacrifices in the Old Testament was as a precursor to Jesus, the ultimate blood sacrifice, so those who put their faith and trust in God pre-Jesus have eternal salvation. That’s a quick layman’s explanation. =) I’m sure theologians will be more apt to give a more detailed explanation.

    And why is it that the Catholic faith believes that, even among Christians, theirs is the only true path to salvation?

    I’m not Catholic so will not presume to answer this on that basis. All I will say is that as a follower of Jesus, it grieves me the discord you find among “Christianity” the world-round. But that’s inevitable, really, when humans get involved in anything. 😉 Religion is fine in and of itself – it’s when you add humans to the mess that everything gets all f’d up. 😉 But then that’s the whole message of Christianity… ;p

    All religions believe theirs is the one true religion.

    Not sure I would necessarily agree with that statement but perhaps a definition of “religions” would need to be offered.

    Why is Christianity, with its bloody history, any different?

    I’m not sure I understand the scope of your question. Why is Christianity any different from what? – other religions that believe their own world view is the one true one? Or? I’m not sure how mention of its bloody history is relevant, other than to point out the obvious – human beings are screwed up. But what adherents do in the name of Christianity has little to say about Christianity itself. Simply because a lot of Christians are hypocrites or simply cultural Christians doesn’t automatically mean that Christianity itself should be dismissed. The actions in question made by professed adherents need to be judged against what faith teaches/claims. [And I’m in no way denying a history that is tainted with blood – I’ll be the first to acknowledge that there’s sin in the world and that sin has included people doing a lot of f’d up things in the name of Christ. 🙁 ]

    Frankly, I think its all mythical hogwash that people cling to simply because they cannot accept their own frightening mortality.

    I respect your opinion but would proffer that there is good evidence to back up Christianity’s claims – secular historical evidence, etc. so to so readily dismiss it as mythical hogwash seems a little disrespectful to the thoughtful individuals who choose to call themselves Christians – Christians who have not checked their brains at the door but have carefully examined the evidence, looked at arguments for and against, and have concluded that it is intellectually justified.

    Anyway, at this point in my life after having challenged the claims of Christianity, looked at the evidence, tested them, etc., I would say that to deny the claims of Christianity would take more faith from me than to accept them – I would not have intellectual integrity to deny Jesus as Lord. I’ve often been asked if my faith in Jesus is simply a “crutch” and my answer is readily “no.” But supposing it is all a crock – then really, so what? I die, and I’m dead. Maybe have born a label of lunatic or misguided, needy soul who needed a crutch, but quite frankly, I’m okay with that. If I’m a fool for Christ, then so be it. And if someday, as I continue to always be examining evidence, open to challenges, etc. I find that the evidence weighs more in favor of Jesus not being who He said He was, then I will jump ship. My integrity demands nothing less.

    I tell students I work with to figure out what they believe, why the believe it and if it’s worth believing – and if it’s not, to chuck it. I want them to carefully weigh their beliefs and examine their world view – to test it, to challenge it, to always question. We have reason and logic for a reason.

  21. expatbrian Says:

    Christy, that may be the first truly nonconfrontational, intellectual and reasonable response I have ever heard to the questions and statements I posed. Thank you for that. While I doubt that my mind will be changed, it is refreshing to hear something other than quoted scripture as an arguement.

    I’m uneasy with the idea that Christianity is sound even though Christian man is fukd up. I get the concept but I don’t see how you can have one without the other. And I will never buy the arguement that, if you are wrong – so what.

    I think it matters that we not live our lives under false pretenses.

  22. Christy Says:

    expatbrian,

    Christy, that may be the first truly nonconfrontational, intellectual and reasonable response I have ever heard to the questions and statements I posed.

    That’s absolutely shameful! I’m grieved to hear that. 🙁

    Thank you for that.

    You’re welcome.

    While I doubt that my mind will be changed, it is refreshing to hear something other than quoted scripture as an arguement.

    I didn’t assume your mind would be changed – I just wanted to offer a differing perspective. =)

    Im uneasy with the idea that Christianity is sound even though Christian man is fukd up. I get the concept but I dont see how you can have one without the other.

    Understandably so. But the message of Christianity is that human beings, period, are f’d up and need a solution outside of themselves. So it would make sense that those who choose that solution (i.e. “Christians”) are going to be f’d up because they started out that way (Jesus said if you’ve lusted, you’re an adulterer, and if you’ve hated, you’re a murderer – which means I’m screwed if left to myself ;). He raised the bar of what it means to “sin” extraordinarily high, which from my understanding means none of us have hope apart from Him, so therefore, when I say we’re all messed up, I mean that there are of course varying levels but at at the core, we all struggle – we have broken relationships, we are selfish, etc. — symptoms of our failure to live a perfect life). There’s a lot of talk of “redemption” (being restored) and “sanctification” (becoming more and more like Christ every day) but the key word is “becoming.” When you’re talking about Christians, you’re still talking about people who are human, and according to the basic premise of Christianity, are prone to sin and can never live a perfect life. So when all of that is added up, you’re going to have people who, even those who sincerely want to, are going to mess up, sin, and not reflect Christ as they should – whether in large ways or small; and then you’re going to have people who are not so sincere who are going to do even more damage in His name.

    So I guess I don’t see a problem logically with asserting that the claimed truth about Jesus (i.e. basic tenants of the Christian faith) could be correct and it could be that various Christians and Christian groups throughout the years (thinking of the Crusades, thinking of people who bomb abortion clinics, etc.) are not true followers of Jesus but rather have hijacked the religion’s name to do their own bidding – tried to make God into their own image and to suit their own purposes.

    When I study other religions, I try to separate what people necessarily do or don’t do in the name of that religion by looking at what the holy books/teachings, etc. actually teach. Are these people acting in accordance to their professed faith or are they acting outside of it or in some form of twisted interpretation of what their faith actually says? I’m not suggesting that how a people as a whole act is not a legitimate question to study/ask. Just that I don’t think that we should make sweeping judgments about Christianity (or insert whatever religion here) because of the terrible things people have done in the name of said religion – if I call myself a Christian but go around murdering people, I’m clearly not acting in accordance with Christianity – a mouse in a cookie jar cannot be called a cookie – he’s still a mouse. 😉

    And I will never buy the argument that, if you are wrong – so what. I think it matters that we not live our lives under false pretenses.

    Oh, I was referring to Pascal’s wager in a roundabout way (sorry, I was tired when I responded). I entirely agree – I think it is extremely important that we not live our lives under false pretenses – I wasn’t suggesting that I am. I sincerely believe and have thoughtfully wrestled with the claims of Christianity. My point was only that supposing I am wrong – supposing that Jesus is not who he claimed to be and that in reality when I die, that’s it. There’s no eternal life, no matters of eternity to deal with, well, I lived a life believing in something that was in error, but that’s that. It’s done. I’m gone – there are no eternal consequences – you could say I was duped, you could say I was naive, etc. but the end is the same – I’m dead. However, suppose that Jesus is who he says he is but I refused to believe and I die – well, then there are pretty serious consequences. That’s why I think the claims of Jesus need to be examined thoroughly (and the evidence for and against Christianity) before rejecting them because the consequences are dire in the eternal realm. Or so is the basic gist of Pascal’s wager. ;p That’s all I meant to convey. Not that I think people should live under false pretenses – not by any means!

  23. Soa Says:

    I had this discussion with a priest and asked the question if angels are in foulable and created in gods image then why did Lucifer fall from heaven. The priest offered no answer other then saying that is a great question that I cant answer.

  24. jonolan Says:

    Thanks for commenting, Soa!

    I got some answers of that sort myself – along with a veritable host of other quite mutually disparate answers and apologies – in the theological sense – from various theologians. In fact I may post about my questions about The Fall at some point.

  25. expatbrian Says:

    Well, I certainly won’t argue for the inherent goodness of man because I think the evidence proves otherwise. And I see your point about separating Christianity from humans who don’t follow the teachings even when they profess to be Christians. I also concede that we would all be better off if everyone actually followed the guidelines of that faith, or Buddhism. But we don’t. And we won’t.
    As far as Pascal’s wager, it seems just too hypocritical for me.

    “My point was only that supposing I am wrong – supposing that Jesus is not who he claimed to be and that in reality when I die, thats it. Theres no eternal life, no matters of eternity to deal with, well, I lived a life believing in something that was in error, but thats that. Its done. Im gone – there are no eternal consequences – you could say I was duped, you could say I was naive, etc. but the end is the same – Im dead.”

    It seems by saying that, you are admitting the possibility exists that you are wrong. That must cause you a serious dilemma. It seems to me, if there is even the slightest hint that my faith was unwarranted or in error, I would have to resolve that no matter what else.

    For me, I have no doubts at all that my beliefs or non-beliefs are correct and thus, I don’t worry about the alternative if I am wrong. And it seems that those who believe as I do is a rapidly growing population.

  26. Christy Says:

    expatbrian,

    Thanks for the response. =)

    Well, I certainly won’t argue for the inherent goodness of man because I think the evidence proves otherwise. And I see your point about separating Christianity from humans who don’t follow the teachings even when they profess to be Christians. I also concede that we would all be better off if everyone actually followed the guidelines of that faith, or Buddhism. But we don’t. And we won’t.

    Agreed. (Which is kinda the whole point of Jesus. ;p)

    As far as Pascal’s wager, it seems just too hypocritical for me.

    I’m not sure how I see it as being hypocritical, but I must disclose that I’m coming at this from a philosopher’s point of view and we can get pretty theoretical at times. But…that being said…if you have two options A and not-A, and the weight of the evidence is greater for option one than the weight of the evidence for the second option, you’re going to go with the former. Likewise, if A is one that deals with eternity and salvation and not-A is one that presupposes nothing eternal – that we’re materialistic and simply die and remain dead when we die a physical death, then, logically speaking, what is the more safe bet to wage? The one that has eternal consequences.

    I’m not promoting Pascal’s wager, necessarily; just used it to illustrate a previous point (to explain where my mind was going that night). I sincerely believe in the claims of Christianity, but sincerity of belief, if not in accordance with Truth, is still a false belief – so it doesn’t matter whether or not I’m sincere, really – it only matters if my beliefs correspond with Truth. No matter how sincerely I believe, I could still have believed in error (and this is why I’m always open to challenging, to studying the evidence, etc.)

    “My point was only that supposing I am wrong – supposing that Jesus is not who he claimed to be and that in reality when I die, that’s it. There’s no eternal life, no matters of eternity to deal with, well, I lived a life believing in something that was in error, but that’s that. It’s done. I’m gone – there are no eternal consequences – you could say I was duped, you could say I was naive, etc. but the end is the same – I’m dead.”

    It seems by saying that, you are admitting the possibility exists that you are wrong.

    On an epistemological level, yes. Just as I cannot know whether or not gravity will be in place tomorrow, I “know” on an experiential, but the logical possibility exists that it may not be in place when I wake up tomorrow. Philosophically, I would claim that no one can ever claim to know anything 100%. But that’s in the philosophical realm and none of us live that way, I readily admit that. I’m just saying that one day, I could wake up and gravity could not be in place. I live my life assuming that gravity will be in place (or that the sun will rise) and say I know both will be so, but that’s outside the realm of epistemology. So. I was speaking philosophically, not practically. Sorry about that!

    But that wasn’t my point. My point is: you seemed to have a problem with the idea of Christians ascribing to Christianity and asserted that you believe it’s mythical hogwash that people use as a crutch. I was responding to that point, saying that suppose, even, it is a crutch (I don’t believe it is, but just suppose). And I’m assuming you reject anything beyond this physical world, though that’s maybe not an assumption I should make. But supposing both of those premises are correct, then when I die, if the world is as your world view supposes it is, I’m just…dead. What is it to you if I believed in error? Is it because you’re reacting to the Christians in name who have abused the name of Christ to do their own bidding (i.e. the bloody history you mentioned) and you believe the religion itself duped these people into acting out evil? If so, I could see your concern but would suggest it’s not Christianity’s teaching but rather these people applying their own messed up psychology or evil desires to Christianity, not deriving them from Christianity. And then, that’s again when I would say, that for the Christians who ascribe to true Christianity, what Jesus teaches (love your neighbor, pray for your enemies, bless those who curse you, sell your possessions and give to the poor, love your neighbor as yourself, etc.) then how could you have a problem with the said actions of those who follow his teachings? It seems to me you might have more of a problem with the people who claim to be Christians but don’t live it out rather than what Christ actually taught His followers in terms of how to live? Or I could be totally off. Correct me where I’m wrong, please! I don’t want to misunderstand your points/arguments/concerns/objections.

    That must cause you a serious dilemma. It seems to me, if there is even the slightest hint that my faith was unwarranted or in error, I would have to resolve that no matter what else.

    I must clarify; I never meant to suggest there is the slightest hint that my faith is unwarranted or in error – I’m just open to the possibility and am always testing and pursuing truth, etc. (i.e. engaging with your objections and those of others and wrestling with them – there are many tough questions to be answered and it would be foolish of me to ascribe to something blindly without testing it, examining it and wrestling with it.) But I’m a born philosopher (and got my degree in it) so that’s partly part of my personality. 😉

    For me, I have no doubts at all that my beliefs or non-beliefs are correct and thus, I don’t worry about the alternative if I am wrong. And it seems that those who believe as I do is a rapidly growing population.

    From a lot of articles and statistics I’ve seen, I’d agree. =)

    And I don’t doubt in the every day realm; just open to the possibility in the philosophical. (Blah, I’m always parsing – my apologies. =)

    Enjoy today!

  27. expatbrian Says:

    “Butthat being saidif you have two options A and not-A, and the weight of the evidence is greater for option one than the weight of the evidence for the second option, youre going to go with the former. Likewise, if A is one that deals with eternity and salvation and not-A is one that presupposes nothing eternal – that were materialistic and simply die and remain dead when we die a physical death, then, logically speaking, what is the more safe bet to wage? The one that has eternal consequences.”

    This is the key for me. Your statement pre-supposes that the majority of the evidence supports the existence of option A, which includes eternal life – the Christian God. I don’t ascribe to that, indeed I believe strongly that the overwhelming evidence shows that is not the case and that is why I called it mythical hogwash. Sorry for the term. It just jumped into my head on the first comment. Perhaps I should have said, ancient beliefs and spiritualism against which there is now overwhelming evidence.

    You do bring up an excellent point. Certainly, Christianity as a behavioral guideline to follow is a wonderful philosophy. But along came “holy men” to interpret the teachings and tell folks how to follow it “properly”.

    It seems they were, for the most part, greedy and corrupt and responsible for the ‘bloody history’ I mentioned.

    Common people have depended upon these holy men to interpret the teachings and tell them how to behave since this religion was born. And maybe that is the major problem with it. Because being the sheep that we are, we will follow anybody who even says they are a leader. And we will believe their crap and behave accordingly.

    If the church, any church, expects to regain its respectability, and stop losing followers, it must get rid of these useless, greedy, racist, biased clergy. I’m not just talking about Catholics, its all of the Christian faiths. Blowhards like Dobson and the other jerks who manage to get air time ultimately do nothing for the reputation of the church. To anyone with half a brain, their self interest shines through like Jesus’ halo….:)

    Anyway, nice discussion.

  28. Christy Says:

    expatbrian,

    Butthat being saidif you have two options A and not-A, and the weight of the evidence is greater for option one than the weight of the evidence for the second option, youre going to go with the former. Likewise, if A is one that deals with eternity and salvation and not-A is one that presupposes nothing eternal – that were materialistic and simply die and remain dead when we die a physical death, then, logically speaking, what is the more safe bet to wage? The one that has eternal consequences.

    This is the key for me. Your statement pre-supposes that the majority of the evidence supports the existence of option A, which includes eternal life – the Christian God. I dont ascribe to that, indeed I believe strongly that the overwhelming evidence shows that is not the case and that is why I called it mythical hogwash. Sorry for the term. It just jumped into my head on the first comment. Perhaps I should have said, ancient beliefs and spiritualism against which there is now overwhelming evidence.
    Yikes. My apologies. (I work two jobs and juggle a lot of things and respond quickly due to time constraints so I’m afraid I’ve not been as clear as I should/could be.) So clarification is needed. My first statement if you have two options A and not-A, and the weight of the evidence is greater for option one than the weight of the evidence for the second option, youre going to go with the former was just a simple logical proof that had nothing to do with Pascal’s wager. =) The second part of the above paragraph was explaining the reasoning behind Pascal’s wager.

    My first statement doesn’t pre-suppose that the majority of the evidence supports the existence of option A which includes eternal life, the Christian God. My statement pre-supposed that if there are two options, and I, personally, as I examine the evidence (if you think of A and not-A as being two sides of a scale) see the evidence tipping the scale to one side, am going to go with the side that has the greater weight of evidence. I am morally, logically and intellectually required to do that. For me, by using that explanation, I was trying to illustrate that I’ve come to the conclusion that Jesus is who He says He is. It wasn’t a “leap of faith” and one of my biggest contentions with Western Christianity is that too many “Christians” check their head at the door and don’t know what they believe, why they believe it or if it’s even worth believing; furthermore, they have no answers for anyone who might question them about their belief; we have become intellectually lazy, and I cringe often when I hear other Christians (people whom I love dearly) speak sometimes, giving reasons for their faith. So I just wanted to point out that I understand the disdain that some have for Christianity the faith based upon interactions with some Western Christians and I wanted to proffer that I do disagree with you, respectfully. I do not believe I am ascribing to mythical hogwash simply to satiate a need for a crutch because I’m not emotionally or intellectually capable of facing my own mortality. (But I respect that that’s the conclusion you’ve drawn and passionately believe.)

    Anyway, so I knew you “believe strongly that the overwhelming evidence shows that is not the case” (ahem, I think it was the reference to “mythical hogwash” that might have given you away ;). And I respect that – I may disagree with it 😉 but I respect that’s your belief/worldview. To ask you to believe something other than where the examination of the evidence has led you would be foolhardy on my part or the part of anyone who might desire that. We must be intellectually honest with ourselves and others. The facts are the facts – it’s our interpretations of the facts that lead us to differ in our conclusions, and I respect that you passionately disagree with my world view and beliefs. The whole reason I started the discussion, though, was to suggest that it might be possible for someone to not have checked his/her brain at the door and ascribe to Christianity – you may think the arguments against are stronger, or perhaps that I have not seen all the evidence that might tip the scale for me, but maybe you can agree that there are some who care deeply about intellectual honesty and believe that there are good arguments out there on both sides and that thoughtful individuals have disagreed – that it’s not just the power-hungry, hypocritical people (though I readily admit there are many!) who ascribe to Christianity. That’s all I wanted to initially suggest. =)

    You do bring up an excellent point. Certainly, Christianity as a behavioral guideline to follow is a wonderful philosophy. But along came holy men to interpret the teachings and tell folks how to follow it properly.

    Yep. So just because men screw things up doesn’t necessarily mean you throw the baby out with the bathwater, if I may use a familiar cliche. =)

    It seems they were, for the most part, greedy and corrupt and responsible for the bloody history I mentioned.
    I agree that many such men were in fact responsible for the “bloody history” you mentioned. Wouldn’t deny that for a nano-second. It’s something that not only grieves me but angers me greatly, and for the wrongs that have been committed, I would argue we need to stand up, acknowledge that crap that has been done, and own up to our mistakes and sin.

    Common people have depended upon these holy men to interpret the teachings and tell them how to behave since this religion was born. And maybe that is the major problem with it. Because being the sheep that we are, we will follow anybody who even says they are a leader. And we will believe their crap and behave accordingly.

    If the church, any church, expects to regain its respectability, and stop losing followers, it must get rid of these useless, greedy, racist, biased clergy. Im not just talking about Catholics, its all of the Christian faiths. Blowhards like Dobson and the other jerks who manage to get air time ultimately do nothing for the reputation of the church. To anyone with half a brain, their self interest shines through like Jesus halo.:)
    Which is why I am not a fan of “religion,” will rarely identify myself purposefully as a Christian (because of all the misconceptions that that entails) and instead align myself with Jesus. I agree – Christianity the religion has some good things (great philosophical ways to live, some nice history, some nice people) but it also has a lot of crap within it too, stuff that Jesus never would have anything to do with. So I could leave or take Christianity the religion (including organized “churches” and “holy men” and sheep following blindly other men). Give me Jesus. It’s a relationship. It’s something entirely different than what men have made “Christianity” to be or have tried to make Jesus to be to fit their ideas, their agendas, their pursuit of power/authority, etc. So not only do I understand your distaste, I happen to agree with you on much. But there are some of us who follow Jesus who look at who He is, what He said, etc. and choose to willingly follow Him, with our intellect in tact. You may disagree, but we aren’t simply sheep following blindly. We aren’t taking a blind leap of faith, and we passionately believe there is good evidence for our beliefs; if we didn’t but professed to believe, we’d be hypocrites and frankly, I couldn’t live with myself.

    Anyway, I’m not trying to change your mind on who Jesus is – He can defend Himself – I don’t need to do that nor would I want to. I’m just hoping to let you know there are at least a few of us 😉 who do care about intellectual honesty and sincerely believe we have not simply ascribed to a faith system/religion out of a desperation in light of facing our own mortality – I could care less about religion – it’s about Jesus, Himself.

    Thanks for a fabulous discussion. I really appreciate your candidness and thoughts. =)

  29. Aurvant Says:

    Well, I think that the reason why Satan is pretty much screwed as far as redemption goes is because his Sin isn’t exactly rooted in the same boundaries that ours are.

    1) Satan/Lucifer was an angel and a pretty high ranking one at that. Angels can witness the full glory of God and are supposed to be forever loyal to God. Lucifer/Satan committed the sin of Vanity and literally tried to overthrow God and take his place as the most high. He even convinced a third of the angels to join him, so I would imagine that physically trying to usurp God from his throne would classify as doing something that is unforgivable.

    2) Heaven, the realm where God resides, HAS to be devoid of Sin and Lucifer/Satan committed another foul act other than his own vanity and that was allow Sin to enter in to Heaven. So, for God to continue to have Heaven remain pure and untainted by Sin he had to permanently remove Satan and his minions from the eternal reward.

    This argument and discussion also brings up a rather strange point for me. Being a Christian I have always wondered where Sin came from. Lucifer/Satan does not have the powers of creation so it isn’t conceivable that an angel created a sinister force and considering that Satan/Lucifer was, at one time, a good and loyal angel it almost makes sense to believe that Sin was an outside or sentient influence on Lucifer’s rebellion.

    Kinda like it adds a bit more to the story of Good vs. Evil you know? I mean……God could theoretically just destroy Satan and if Satan is the origin of Sin then wouldn’t it remove Sin as well? Except what if Sin more substantial than that. Like…what if Sin is like an anti-thesis to God?

    Look at the differences:

    God = Love, compassion, forgiveness, truth, creation, salvation, healing, and safety.
    Sin = Hate, apathy, begrudging, lies, destruction, damnation, suffering, and despair.

    But I digress….There are many reasons why Satan/Lucifer is undeserving of being redeemed and it is God’s will that he not be. However, we, as imperfect as we are, are in God’s favor and he wishes to save us despite our own transgressions. So, I think it is in our best interests that we seek our own salvation and try and bring our friends and family with us to our eternal reward.

  30. HannahJ Says:

    Well, in partial reply to your question about where sin came from, Aurvant, I thought of the evil-is-the-absence-of-good/God argument. Don’t know how valid it is, but it’s worth thinking about.

  31. eeyore Says:

    satan is a creation of God….

    otherwise,man would not have the privilege of choice….

    animals don’t have it….

    mammals don’t have it….

  32. |L Says:

    I am a Muslim, and i have prayed once hoping that one day even Satan is forgiven of his sin.

    Look at it from this perspective-

    Satan didn’t have a choice. In order for man to be tested, it was inevitable that he would end up as mankinds adversary labled as the absolute ‘evil’. Now im not really certain on the christian version but in Islam, Angels do not have the capabity to disobey Lord allmighty. Djinn’s however, are given free will like man- Djinns, being creatures born from fire, angels born from Holy light and Mankind born from clay.

    Satan, also called ‘Iblis’ was a very pious being who worshipped God with all his being once, though the creation of Adam created pride within him, which eventually led to his downfall. When god cast satan out of paradise, he requested respite till the last day so that he could turn the children of Adam away from the righteous path of a believer in God.

    Fate is an important thing in religion, pre-ordainment. And since God created all life, God also created and shaped Iblis to be the way he is- This dosen’t mean Iblis didn’t have a choice but more saying that it was his nature that he expressed when pride swelled in him.

    Alot of this has much to do with what one believes in, be satan once an angel or Djinn it probabbly ties down to that, But one has to ask, how can an Angel rebel against there lord? The purest of beings created for the single purpose of gloryfying there maker and doing his commands- I don’t think angels were ever given free will, but that’s just what my version of the belief. Judaism/Christiniaty/Islam are connected, afterall.

    Edit: Forgive me for crashing in on the discussion in advance as i realise this was for christians alone, however i couldn’t help myself as i was looking for such a discussion. I hope you all don’t mind, cheers.

  33. geneo Says:

    Jonolan, this was a great question and comment thread. Wish I’d stumbled upon it sooner. I have never prayed for Satan, because I interpret Rev. 20:10 to mean he can’t be saved. I only have so much time to pray (can’t spend my whole life doing it!) and I have a very long prayer list already. So, why pray for Satan if the Bible tells me how his story ends? I would love to read your questions about the Fall, or about any other aspect of Christianity.

    Also, I would like to chime in on Pascal’s Hoary Old Rational Choice Gambit. I think the choice between the eternal consequences Christianity claims and materialist claims of no eternal life at all is a bit of a false dichotomy. What about Nirvana? Reincarnation?

    Reincarnation has been very difficult for me to deal with at times. What if the soul is eternal, but Christianity is still wrong? What if I am running in circles trying to teach myself that belief in a heaven, a hell, and a god with a personality are vain notions that inflate my sense of self-importance to the point that I cannot achieve true wisdom or true peace? We can make all kinds of claims about an immortal soul that aren’t Christian at all, and some seem just as rational as Christianity.

    I’ve struggled mightily with my Christian beliefs for a long time. Indoctrination from preschool-age is tough to overcome. At some point I realized that I was doing myself too much emotional and spiritual damage by trying to rip it out by the roots. I decided that I’d gotten to the point where continuing to struggle with myself was a form of narcissism and was standing in the way of things I want to do with my life. So I decided to embrace my Christianity, try my best to do what Jesus says, take his promise of divine power seriously, and use that power to do the jobs he told his followers to do in the way that I believe he told us to do them. If all that sounds like a form of mysticism, well, it is.

    Also, a word about those Christian bigots who figured so prominently in some parts of the discussion on this thread. The New Testament is full of warnings against false teachers and false prophets. That’s what these people are, in my opinion. I don’t think it’s a good idea to use them to indict the entire spectrum of Christian worldviews, which has also produced some positive teachings like the Social Gospel and the Liberation Theology.

    I’ll be writing about some things like how I interpret the Bible and why theocracy is dangerous a bit in the near future. I’m blogging against theocracy on Easter weekend.

    : )

  34. Pagan Insurance Companies? « Pine Belt Progressive Says:

    […] really related to theocracy, but here is a warm-up post on religion. Jonolan poses a very intriguing question for Christians. The discussion thread is […]

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