adam wrote: Hi Judah
Firstly, I would like to thank you for taking the time to respond to my post.
I am still confused by your response, it seems that you are saying that faith is virtuous as long as it "makes sense" to you. I hope you understand my point that faith itself cannot possibly be a virtue if it is deemed that one persons faith is superior to anothers based on whether it makes sense to you or not.
My position is that faith in God, the Creator of all, the One who is revealed in Scripture and in the person of Jesus Christ, is indeed virtuous. On the other hand, to have faith in a false god is not, just as it is futile to have faith in your ability to fly unaided since you do not have wings. As I see it, the virtuosity of faith depends on the object of faith together with the purpose for which you have faith in that object. I have faith in Christ as my Redeemer as none other can redeem us in the eyes of God. That is my personal belief, and that of all Christians, and I am very aware that it will naturally seem arrogant to those who do not hold that belief. My faith rests on the words of Jesus as reported in John's Gospel: John 14:6,7 Jesus answered, "I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. If you really knew me, you would know my Father as well. From now on, you do know him and have seen him."
If Jesus really is who He says He is, and the whole message of Scripture is true, then faith in Him cannot be anything else but superior to faith in any other system of spiritual belief. If it wasn't, and something else was, then I would be foolish to have faith in it. We are each responsible and accountable for our own decisions regarding the gospel message. To me it does make sense, thus I have faith in the tenets of Christianity as the truth. However, the virtuosity of faith in Christ does not rest on whether it makes sense to me or not. It rests on God who has revealed Himself to us and invites us to believe accordingly.
adam wrote:You state emphatically that islam faith does not have the same merit as christian faith. this surely devalues faith. it is in my opinion hypocracy to say that faith is virtuous as long as it fits my paradigm.
Faith is virtuous if it fits God's paradigm. Islam does not proclaim Jesus as the Son of God, our lord and saviour and redeemer. Allah is not the God of the Bible. Therefore faith in the tenets of Islam is futile for salvation, and those who follow it thinking that it is are deceived. You talk about my paradigm, but it is mine only in as much as I have accepted it for myself as the truth. It is actually God's paradigm. Note the following words from Scripture...
1 And God spoke all these words:
2 "I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery.
3 "You shall have no other gods before me.
4 "You shall not make for yourself an idol in the form of anything in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the waters below.
5 You shall not bow down to them or worship them; for I, the LORD your God, am a jealous God, punishing the children for the sin of the fathers to the third and fourth generation of those who hate me,
6 but showing love to a thousand [generations] of those who love me and keep my commandments. (Exodus 20:1-6)
Is it really hypocracy to say that faith is virtuous only if it fits God's paradigm? In my books, it is what God says that matters. He has the last word - always.
adam wrote:With regards to individual thought, Yes, I do hold it in high regard and perhaps you do also (to a point) judging by your responses. Were it not for individual thought we would still be living on a flat earth. I found this quote on the internet today- " Belief in a flat Earth is found in mankind's oldest writings. In early Mesopotamian thought, the world was portrayed as a flat disk floating in the ocean, and this forms the premise for early Greek maps like those of Anaximander and Hecataeus. Many theologians and biblical researchers maintain that writers of the Bible had a Babylonian world view according to which Earth is flat and stands on some sort of pillars. "
It is wrongly believed that the Bible teaches that the Earth is flat. In fact, it does not do so at all. Yes, a number of clergy taught that it was, but that was a cultural belief at the time, not a Biblical belief. Perhaps they were trying to be "modern" back then, revising Scripture and ignoring the accurate interpretation of language in order to promote the idea of the Bible being true to their belief in a flat Earth.
Dr Gleason L. Archer, Jr
points out in his "Encyclopaedia of Bible Difficulties" (1982)...
Evidences of prescientific inaccuracy have been found by some critics of biblical authority in such expressions as Genesis 15:17: "When the sun went down," and Genesis 19:23: "The sun was risen upon the earth." If that charge is just, then it equally applies to our century, for we still - even the scientists among us - employ the words "sunrise" and "sunset" in our daily speech, even though we are well aware that it is really the earth that rotates rather than the sun that revolves. This is a perfectly acceptable type of phenomenal terminology, employed by all languages at all periods of their history. In fact the wrods for "east" and "west" in most of the Semitic languages are literally "place of rising" and "place of setting". This type of argument is really quite puerile and betrays an amazing naivete on the part of the critic who raises it.
The same is true of the modern myth that the Bible teaches that the earth is a rectangle rather than a globe because it employs the expression "four corners of the earth" (e.g., Isaiah 11.12). The word for "corners" is kânâph, which means "wings", i.e., wing-tips, such as one uses on compasses (even today!) to indicate the four directions: north, south, east, west. But as for the shape of the earth, Job 22:14, Proverbs 8:27, and Isaiah 40:22 all speak of the earth as a chûg ("circle", "disk", or possibly even "sphere"). No one has yet come up with literal corners on a circle, not an ancient Hebrew - or a modern scientist!
kânâph - From H3670; an edge or extremity; specifically (of a bird or army) a wing, (of a garment or bed clothing) a flap, (of the earth) a quarter, (of a building) a pinnacle: - + bird, border, corner, end, feather [-ed], X flying, + (one an-) other, overspreading, X quarters, skirt, X sort, uttermost part, wing ([-ed]).
chûg - From H2328; a circle: - circle, circuit, compassive
Yes, I do appreciate individual thought, but only in as much as it corresponds with reality - where that matters, that is. Creative thinking in literature, music and the arts, etc, is a great gift to humankind. Discovery of those facts about our world that assist and benefit our lives is hugely important. But tell me that it is safe to step off the top of the Eiffel Tower because gravity will be temporarily suspended at that moment, and you are most welcome to your individual thought. I will not entertain its truthfulness for one moment! Likewise, tell me that Allah is the real supreme being and faith in Islam is superior to faith in Jesus, and I will stick with my faith in God as He has revealed Himself elsewhere instead. Individual thought must be reigned in by truth where truth matters.
adam wrote:I found it interesting that you said "Coming back to Christianity was not something I did lightly or easily," I do get the impression that faith is simply something that gives you comfort, so you defend it, even to the point of not accepting the irrationality of your arguments. Do you think that this sounds rational " I eventually made my decision for Christ, and I shudder to think of that now and how close the call was, that I could have died in my agnostic state."
What is irrational about my arguments? If I had died while agnostic and therefore without the salvation offered by Christ, then I would be separated from God for all eternity - and I certainly shudder when I think of that now. What is irrational about that?
adam wrote:So, God only accepts you if you believe in him. I consider myself to be a reasonably kind and generous person (not because God tells me to be this way) but indirectly you are saying that God would accept a serial killing rapist before me simply because he believes in him, Surely you can see an incongruity here.
Ultimately, yes. We are taught in Scripture that we are all sinners and that sin separates us from a full relationship with God. becuase there is little we can do ourselves about that, God has offered us salvation through faith in Christ and the sacrifice He made for us on the cross. Realizing and repenting of our sinfulness and accepting His gift of salvation by faith in Christ will restore our relationship with Him. It cannot happen by good works. No matter how good you are, how kind and generous - you simply cannot be good enough by your own efforts in order to be accepted into the eternal presence of our holy and righteous God.
There is an excellent debate by William Lane Craig and Ray Bradley that addresses this situation - Can a Loving God Send People to Hell
Also, C.S. Lewis writes extremely well on this situation in his book "Mere Christianity" which is well worth a read.
adam wrote:Judah, I sincerely hope you do not think I am deliberatetly being confrontational, I am simply speaking my mind.
It is far better to speak your mind honestly and sincerely, raising questions and discussing issues, than not do so for fear of causing offence. There is nothing offensive in genuine questions of this nature.
Likewise, I am well aware that Christians often seem incredibly arrogant by asserting the exclusivity of their beliefs. Unfortunately it can be no other way. Christianity is exclusive in that Jesus said Himself that one can come to the Father only through Him - that there is no other way. He also taught that we are sinners in need of redemption and justification in order to be right with God and to enjoy His presence for all eternity. He taught that anything else amounted to death - "the wages of sin". These are not ideas that I have made up. They are His, as taught in Scripture - and we have a choice to believe them or not.