Why Did God Make It So Difficult

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Why Did God Make It So Difficult

#1

Post by 7777777 » Thu Feb 24, 2011 9:59 pm

Sometimes I get angry at God for making the Bible so easy to criticize. There are so many verses in the Bible that can be interpreted as God being a "evil" God by destroying cities, ordering the killing of people..etc. Also, verses about drinking poison and not being affected is another one. And, How about the one about 2 people praying and the prayer will be answered. All of these verses can so easily be interpreted to make the point the Bible is false. Sometimes I get backed into a corner when arguing with atheists and I get angry at God for making it difficult to defend the Bible. My end position is always, and will always be, that He is God and He does what He wants and when He wants. But, somehow that doesn't satisfy the inquiring minds of an atheist. None of the verses bother me or put doubt in my faith but it makes it hard to explain to others. Couldn't of God made it easier?

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Re: Why Did God Make It So Difficult

#2

Post by MarcusOfLycia » Thu Feb 24, 2011 10:34 pm

Yeah, I used to get that too. It made me think every once in a while. I don't get the 'God is evil' aspect out of it though, for two primary reasons

1. If God is God (an assumption that has to be made here if he can have his character 'judged'), then it doesn't matter if He kills people. This life is a speck on an eternal timeline. He isn't removing the people from the eternal portion of existence, just the temporal. This world isn't for us to survive (clearly revealed by the existence of death). It isn't designed for our pleasure. Instead, it is designed as the ultimate training ground. The thing God uses to scrape down our layers of pride and human self-reliance to our cores, so that our cores might be judged fairly and our characters might be refined. So if He kills people, that's really not any surprise, nor could it really be considered evil. It presumes the definition of evil to be the cessation of another person's life. However... we kill things all the time and it isn't considered evil. Maybe the term is a bit overloaded, but that seems unfair. This life isn't about living. It's about dying that we might live more fully.

2. Kind of links back to what I said before. By what definition is God evil? His own? No, that's not right... The definition of evil as determined by atheists? That's silly though. First, how could a nonexistent being be evil, and second, how can evil exist in the first place? Is one pattern of atoms or one series of predetermined forces really evil while another is not? If there is no human soul, no control over action, etc, then there is no evil! It's just an illusion! So is love and all the other things that make us human. Dawkins said at one point that the palatibility of an idea doesn't influence its truthfulness. Maybe so... but if an idea is absurd because our experience tells us something completely opposite of it, that is cause for us, perhaps, to consider that maybe it is our philosophical ramblings that are wrong, and not our experience.

Another approach to this might be for you to consider the fact that the author's of the Bible had thousands of years to write it, do revisions, etc, and yet we are still left with the text that was there from the beginning. The church has had 2000 years to look at it, wrestle with it, annotate it, etc, and yet, here it still is in its original form, now with literally mountain ranges worth of material written on it by Christians. You ever check out Augustine or John Christiansom or any of the other old Christian authors of the ancient world? These guys are more savvy than your typical atheist today by a long shot, despite the tech difference. You'd be amazed at how things that look like problems to us today really melt when you get a non-"I'm better than you because I'm a modern western elite snob" mentality.

And again... the point of this is that if there have been thousands upon thousands of years for changes to happen, don't you think that if there were problems they might be addressed? The fact that such things haven't had to be addressed is testimony to the fact that they are correct and true just the way they are, and also that atheists have a severe problem researching the positions they argue.
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Re: Why Did God Make It So Difficult

#3

Post by jlay » Fri Feb 25, 2011 7:01 am

You ever check out Augustine or John Christiansom or any of the other old Christian authors of the ancient world?
Good point. I've found a wonderful commentary. It is reading through the bible with the early church fathers. It is a verse by verse exposition with commentary from the likes of Origen, Chrysostom, Clement, etc.
I am reading Mark now. Very cool stuff. And it does show you how the scripture is unchanged, as are most of the essential doctrinal understandings.

Marcus, I think you point out a very good observation. Would people be less skeptical if the bible were without these difficulties? I say absolutely not. God's Word does not avoid these realities. Nor, did those who have been entrusted to preserve, translate, and scribe the Bible through the years, white out or alter those difficulties.
Remember that if the Word is true, then the parts about God demonstrating His wrath are necessary revelation. They are not arbitrary or without purpose. They are ESSENTIAL.

Sevens, I would suggest you read, "Is God a Moral Monster," by Paul Copan. A good book that deals with the 'difficultes in the scriptures.
-“The Bible treated allegorically becomes putty in the hands of the exegete.” John Walvoord

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Re: Why Did God Make It So Difficult

#4

Post by A Y323 » Fri Feb 25, 2011 7:30 am

jlay wrote:Good point. I've found a wonderful commentary. It is reading through the bible with the early church fathers. It is a verse by verse exposition with commentary from the likes of Origen, Chrysostom, Clement, etc.
That sounds very interesting. Where could I find something like that?

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Re: Why Did God Make It So Difficult

#5

Post by Canuckster1127 » Fri Feb 25, 2011 7:42 am

I think God actually purposely doesn't make it as easy as we'd like. Jesus taught in parables we're told in part so that it wouldn't be quite so easy for everyone to understand. There's purposely an element of mystery that requires faith.

Scripture is essential and important as part of God's revelation, but it is not God's ultimate revelation to Man. That is Jesus Christ and Him alone. Scripture points to Christ.

It's speculation on my part, but I like to believe that it's purposeful on God's part that we don't have the original manuscripts of Biblical books. If we did, I think there would be an ever greater temptation than there already is to elevate the Bible and make it an object of worship instead of the "map" that points us to Jesus.

Words in terms of language must always carry an element of interpretation on the part of those using them. They ultimately are only as valuable as they accurately represent the separate reality they are describing. That is why Jesus is God's ultimate revelation. He is more than words inspired, He is the Living Word incarnate. This is at the heart of why Jesus is described as the "Word of God." Logos is the root greek word in that phrase and it's used in that form about 44 times in the NT. Other words are translated "Word of God" as well, notably Rhema in the NT and the phrase is used in Hebrew as well. It sometimes used to speak of specific parts of Scripture, or a particular message of God in a specific context or even occassionally in a collective sense.

When "logos of God" is used in the NT there's a very unique sense to it that speaks of Jesus Christ not only as the messenger but as the message itself. Word of God, as a title for Christ carried on in the early Church and when it was used it was understood to speak of Christ and the gospel message from which He Himself was inseparable. I think we lose something when we don't see and understand that distinction in our use of the term "Word of God." If we're not careful and deliberate we can lose that focus and emphasis upon Christ and reduce Christianity from incarnational truth to merely inspired concepts. That's a great loss when it happens. It leaves the framework of religion without the life force of relationship.

So in that regard, God has made it very simple. It's us who tend to make things difficult and more complicated that it needs to be. Truth is more than abstract concepts and words. Truth is a person and we can not only know Him, but we can be known by Him and His Spirit can dwell within us and continue to lead us into truth, as we develop and deepen that relationship.
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Re: Why Did God Make It So Difficult

#6

Post by jlay » Fri Feb 25, 2011 9:25 am

A Y323 wrote:
jlay wrote:Good point. I've found a wonderful commentary. It is reading through the bible with the early church fathers. It is a verse by verse exposition with commentary from the likes of Origen, Chrysostom, Clement, etc.
That sounds very interesting. Where could I find something like that?
I picked it up in from my Pastor's collection. I'll try to remember to get the official name for you.
It's speculation on my part, but I like to believe that it's purposeful on God's part that we don't have the original manuscripts of Biblical books. If we did, I think there would be an ever greater temptation than there already is to elevate the Bible and make it an object of worship instead of the "map" that points us to Jesus.
I didn't really get involved in your thread about this. But I think it is a very popular trend today today to do the opposite of what you are concerned about. And that is to reduce the authority of scripture. To dumb it down. To question its place. Yes, we have obvious issues with translation. But the scriptures we have today are rooted and established as not man made but God breathed. The scripture today is our revelation of this Jesus. It makes no sense based on the word itself to seperate one from the other. If we rightly handle the Word of truth, the natural by-product is the exaltation of Christ Jesus. If we seek to know Jesus Christ, we must be invested in the written Word.

I know you are speaking specifically to the total phrase "word of God." And I don't write this to downplay how John's gospel reveals Christ as the Logos of God. But, we need to also understand that the use of the word Logos in itself the NT is not always used as you are suggesting. Not even by John in his gospel. For example, the word logos is used to describe teaching (John 6:60) Also, the very words that Jesus spoke. (John 15:3,20) And even the fulfillment of the OT. (John 15:25) All within the same gospel. And then the phrase "logos of God" is used differently than what you are saying in the 44 instances. Such as Luke 11:28, And Mark 7:13 where it Jesus himself distinctly refers to the written scriptures.
-“The Bible treated allegorically becomes putty in the hands of the exegete.” John Walvoord

"I'm not saying scientists don't overstate their results. They do. And it's understandable, too...If you spend years working toward a certain goal and make no progress, of course you are going to spin your results in a positive light." Ivellious

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Re: Why Did God Make It So Difficult

#7

Post by Canuckster1127 » Fri Feb 25, 2011 9:54 am

Inspiration is not in question. What the "problem" is, is a matter of perspective in my opinion. Those who equate the Scripture and Jesus as equal, are going to see any elevation of Christ to his position overall all as potentially a threat to that attempt to equate the two.

The fact remains, any view of inspiration or inerrancy has to recognize that we don't have the originals. That's inescapable. Unless God is not omnipotent that means at the very least that that is by His allowance. I recognize my comments are speculation and I identified them as such. Regardless, the Scripture is an important but it is not "the" revelation of Jesus. Unless one wishes to eliminate or limit the work of the Holy Spirit, it is the Holy Spirit who is given to us which bears witness to Christ. There is no question Scripture is an important, even vital and irreplaceable avenue in the midst of this, but it is not exclusive nor is the Bible an entity equal to any member of the Trinity.

Those who wish to infer otherwise are the ones who need to explain how their position is viable in view of the non-existence of the originals. How you start with manuscripts that are not inerrant and arrive at a finished merged product in Hebrew, Aramaic and Greek and then further translate them and arrive at an inerrant end product without recognizing human elements and further introduction of potential error or simply interpretation, is the responsibility of those making the claim. I hold a high view of scripture and affirm verbal plenary inspiration and I don't even have a problem with inerrancy of the originals in theory, but it's my belief that many who assert inerrancy in the context of many statements of faith today go beyond theory and in practice appear to be assuming that what we have translates to more than we started with and I can't sanction that view as I believe it elevates Scripture above it's appropriate role of pointing to Christ.

IN terms of my statement I'm focusing more narrowly than just the use of the word "logos" but upon the phrase "logos of God". I'm actually in the midst of a substantial article examining every use of the term in the NT with a contextual and exegetical examination of it within the passage to determine the different uses. So far, and I'm not finished so I won't make the statement categorically, but so far, that specific phrase is not used in any instance I have examined that refers collectively to the entire OT (the NT was not in existence or canonized so it's not right to assume beyond the OT). It overwhelmingly refers to Christ and the gospel message. I'll put the article up here as well when I'm done with it and if any want to go into greater detail with it, then that's fine. I'm also taking a look at the early Patristics and seeing if there's any indication of the use of the term "logos of God" outside of that context.

Jesus and the NT overwhelmingly use different terms with regard to scripture, such as scripture (obviously), prophets, law, the introductory term "it is written". The use of the term Word of God when logos is at the root of the phrase was not seen as Scripture. Unfortunately in English he delineation of the term between Logos and Rhema for example is not clear and I think that's one reason why the term "Word of God" has been stripped from Jesus in some contexts and attributed to scriptures and I think we lose something vital in terms of the Bible's and the early Church's view Christ as the incarnational revelation of God. When that happens, when we separate incarnational truth and move to abstract concepts and systems separated from the person of Christ, the irony is that we begin to see a system develop that resembles characteristics of the Gnostic heresy that John in particular was addressing that was arising in the early church.

There's danger of excess in either direction, and it's a matter of opinion, but I believe the greater need is to jealously guard the primacy of Christ and never confuse inspiration with incarnation. Jesus alone occupies that position, role and identity.
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Re: Why Did God Make It So Difficult

#8

Post by jlay » Fri Feb 25, 2011 10:44 am

Inspiration is not in question. What the "problem" is, is a matter of perspective in my opinion. Those who equate the Scripture and Jesus as equal, are going to see any elevation of Christ to his position overall all as potentially a threat to that attempt to equate the two.
Can you give an example so to better understand your concerns in this matter ?
The use of the term Word of God when logos is at the root of the phrase was not seen as Scripture.
Actually, Mark 7:13 would seem to be, based on context, an example of this very thing. Although I'm open to hear your thoughts on this verse.
There's danger of excess in either direction, and it's a matter of opinion, but I believe the greater need is to jealously guard the primacy of Christ and never confuse inspiration with incarnation.
Agreed. And thus that makes 2 Tim 2:15 all the more interesting.
-“The Bible treated allegorically becomes putty in the hands of the exegete.” John Walvoord

"I'm not saying scientists don't overstate their results. They do. And it's understandable, too...If you spend years working toward a certain goal and make no progress, of course you are going to spin your results in a positive light." Ivellious

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Re: Why Did God Make It So Difficult

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Post by Canuckster1127 » Fri Feb 25, 2011 11:18 am

There's varying levels of examples I could give. An extreme example and one that goes beyond the originals and transfers inerrancy to an actual translation is KJV onlyism. There's a trend I note in some particular legalistic traditions (and it's more complex than any one issue, but I think this type of view can be thrown into the mix) where inerrency of the originals is confused with their doctrine and the element of interpretation is glossed over or minimized and the appeal to inerrency of the originals becomes confused with their doctrine being asserted as on the same level because it is "Biblical". It moves in to a rigidity in viewpoint that lacks humility or willingness to continue to examine, learn and grow from the challenge (not necessarily the indiscriminant acceptance of all that is presented.)

The quick answer to the Mark 7:13 passage is:

1. It's the only use of the term in the entire book so it's impact upon the generalization I'm asserting is minimal.
2. When you look at the context of the entire passage preceding it, the term is applied to a single commandment as a message of God which the Pharisees to whom this is addressed, have made of no effect because of the use of their tradtion to provide a loophole that eliminates any sense of obligation toward one's parents.
3. At most the scope of use applies to the 10 commandments, and Jesus' use of the term may be reflecting some terminology transliterated from the Pharisee's use of the term "word of God" which appeal back to it's Hebrew usage, to where it's Jesus appealing to their use of the term in the illustration of how they elevate their traditions above the actual communication from God through the 10 commandments.

It's interesting to see the pattern of the use of the phrase throughout the NT. It's actually used most by Luke in His Gospel and Acts. I recognize that there's room for nuance and variance in the use of the term by one NT author as opposed to another. The overwhelming theme however in the NT where "logos of God" is employed, never, to my observation thus far, refers to scriptures collectively. The Mark 7:13 passage clearly doesn't fully fit that pattern, but neither does it support the assertion that scriptures collectively are referred to as the "word of God" within Scripture itself. Overwhelmingly it refers to Christ or the Gospel message of Christ which was preached well before the canonization of NT scripture and if the term is reflective of the terminology used at the time of the events described rather than the timing of the writing of the book involved (which is a controversial assertion I know) then it's clear to me at least when the Patristric writings are factored in, that the term grew in it's usage to be a title that applied to Christ and that Gospel message that isn't maintained very well in translation or general usage within english speaking Churches.
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Re: Why Did God Make It So Difficult

#10

Post by Noah1201 » Sun Feb 27, 2011 12:34 pm

Canuckster1127 wrote:I think God actually purposely doesn't make it as easy as we'd like. Jesus taught in parables we're told in part so that it wouldn't be quite so easy for everyone to understand. There's purposely an element of mystery that requires faith.
This would make sense from a Calvinistic perspective, but not at all from the perspective where God loves everyone and will do everything in His power to convince them of His existence.

There are hundreds of similar questions that can be asked. It's not just the apparent "evil" in the Bible. What about the evidence for evolution that was, even if not conclusive, persuasive enough to convince most scientists of its truth? How many people were converted from Christianity because of reasons like that? Why would God make a world with so much evidence for something that is, in the opinion of most theologians, incompatible with the biblical description of creation?

We could go on--why are there tens of thousands of false religions in the world? If the purpose of this world is to choose whether to be with God or not, why are there so many gods to choose from? Why make it so confusing?

For these and many other reasons, I've concluded that either Calvinism is true, or Christianity is false.

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Re: Why Did God Make It So Difficult

#11

Post by Canuckster1127 » Sun Feb 27, 2011 2:16 pm

I don't see where that recognition is primarily Calvinist. It's equally derivable from the perspective of free will, where faith is an element of conversion.

The reason there are so many religions in that world is a direct result of man's free agency and ability to examine evidence and come up with his own explanations. There are multiple thousands of denominations, with different elements of dogma and emphasis even within Christianity, some of which is small differences and some of which in places is diametrically opposed to other elements of Christianity.

I don't see that Calvinism is the sole option, but I know that there are many who have come to that conclusion. Calvinism to me is more of an adaptation of Stocisim and Determinism and the extension of those philosophies into Christian Theology. It's appealing to the Western mind because it is formed in response to the questions that the Western Mind forms. I tend to believe God on a more personal level as opposed to reasoning based upon His attributes. That's my opinion and direction however. I allow for other directions and other opinions and try to learn from them where I can.
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Re: Why Did God Make It So Difficult

#12

Post by mandelduke » Mon Feb 28, 2011 8:27 pm

Sodom and Gomorrah, and the flood of Noah was like God cutting out cancer from mankind. Have you ever wondered why God did not just kill Adam and Eve and start over, after they brought calamity on the human race? He had every right to, but far from killing them, he sent his son Jesus to pay the price. When Cain Killed Able God protected him by placing a mark on his forehead. Genesis 10:14-15 But we must keep in mind that
where there is no law there is no transgression. Romans 4:15 So killing someone at that time was doing them a favor.

Even when the law was in effect God showed King David mercy, After he committed adultery with Bathsheba. And then had her husband murdered both crime was punishable by death. , 2 Samuel 12 Now comes the good news God don’t hold us believers accountable for our sins, because Jesus took our punishment. So please show how God seems evil! Anyone that finds the Bible so easy to criticize knows nothing about God, or his word. If you are wondering about your salvation
Romans 10:9
"If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved." End of story.

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Re: Why Did God Make It So Difficult

#13

Post by 7777777 » Tue Mar 08, 2011 12:34 am

Noah1201 wrote: For these and many other reasons, I've concluded that either Calvinism is true, or Christianity is false.
I have only recently considered Calvinism. It is difficult to imagine God deciding who to save and who not to but Calvinism does answer a lot of questions such as:

1) Why doesn't God just appear before everybody?
2) Why can the Bible so easily be portrayed in such a bad light?
3) Why do some pray and pray and pray and still not believe?
4) Why do some turn away from Christianity?
5) Why do I believe?

I don't know all the answers and am sometimes reluctant to defend Calvinism for fear of "scaring" away someone from pursuing God. I mean, what if I'm wrong about Calvinism? Do I want this person I am speaking with to think, "What difference does it make? God has already made His decision so why bother?".

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Re: Why Did God Make It So Difficult

#14

Post by MarcusOfLycia » Tue Mar 08, 2011 6:37 am

7777777 wrote:
Noah1201 wrote: For these and many other reasons, I've concluded that either Calvinism is true, or Christianity is false.
I have only recently considered Calvinism. It is difficult to imagine God deciding who to save and who not to but Calvinism does answer a lot of questions such as:

1) Why doesn't God just appear before everybody?
2) Why can the Bible so easily be portrayed in such a bad light?
3) Why do some pray and pray and pray and still not believe?
4) Why do some turn away from Christianity?
5) Why do I believe?

I don't know all the answers and am sometimes reluctant to defend Calvinism for fear of "scaring" away someone from pursuing God. I mean, what if I'm wrong about Calvinism? Do I want this person I am speaking with to think, "What difference does it make? God has already made His decision so why bother?".
We get to a pretty scary point when we determine that either one person's theology (about everything) is true or everything we believe is false. The problem may lie in the fact that some of your assumptions fall in line with Calvanism, so the other tenets seem to be the only ones that make sense in resolving other issues and staying true to what you already think. I'm not a Calvanist, but I do see a lot of good in some of the ideas (I'd like to read Calvin's works at some point when I can get a hold of them). However, like all attempts at completely defining the Christian faith, it doesn't quite do the task justice - there are still things it can't explain, and still things other people have explained better. If you are looking for a nice survey of different theologians in the history of Christianity (who can explain some of those missing pieces and better explain some of the shaky things), get a copy of iTunes installed and look up RTS (Reformed Theological Seminary). Their "Church History" podcasts (I think they have two) are very good, especially the first one since they cover so much material.

You're not alone when you say you don't know all the answers, but if you get enough Christians together (as looking at the history of Christianity does), you can get a whole lot more.

http://itunes.rts.edu/
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Re: Why Did God Make It So Difficult

#15

Post by jlay » Tue Mar 08, 2011 4:02 pm

It is difficult to imagine God deciding who to save and who not to but Calvinism does answer a lot of questions such as:
Actually this isn't a problem, this is biblical. God has absolutely decided who to save and who not to. The problem with Calvinism are the views with how God works this out, not whether God has 'decided' who to save. God is soveriegn and has already decided who to save. God saves those who will believe. In the end Calvinism is a view that God preprograms some for saving faith and some for condemnation. Predestination and election are 100% biblical doctrines. It is the determined views of Calvinism I take exception with. Yes Calvinism is consistent in its theology. That is one of the reasons it is appealing to many.
-“The Bible treated allegorically becomes putty in the hands of the exegete.” John Walvoord

"I'm not saying scientists don't overstate their results. They do. And it's understandable, too...If you spend years working toward a certain goal and make no progress, of course you are going to spin your results in a positive light." Ivellious

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