This is me, thinking, about theology, philosophy, and anything in general not related to my main blog about everything else..

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

struggling

i don't know what else to say. my faith as of lately is stuggling to get through the day. i still try to pray and occasionally read the bible but i'm not enthusiastic about it at all and sometimes i even doubt it. i'm even becoming quite cynical and i don't like it. take for example, i was reading some blogs, amy hays to be specific, hers is called 'you love me just the way i am' and the first thing that popped into my head was 'but i'm still not good enough' and in some ways i feel that way. god loves us just the way we are, but that might still not be enough to get us into heaven?

i was thinking about why people are like they are. who am i? where does my personality come from. well, my personality resides in my brain, and the only thing my brain has to go off is memory. without memory what can a brain do. the brain is just a memory machine, a very advanced one. but say for example someone gets drunk and forgets what they did on a certain evening, for example, or even goes under general anesthetic for a operation. now the brain was working but didn't remember it. so in theory you could take away the memory of someone and they'd be no-one. so from the moment a person is born they start to remember things, the way people bring them up and the things they see, and it molds what the person is like. so what makes me different from a child born in saudi arabia? i was born into a situation where i came across god, but he did not. i can only make choices that are given to me, and imo choices are just an illusion anyway, because if you think about it, form the moment you're born everything that is ever going to happen to you is already worked out because nothing is random and because things have to follow laws nothing can change..... if i took away my memory then what makes me a christian or not? if a christian gets knocked out and get amnesia, are they still a christian?

just venting sorry

22 comments:

Jason said...

That's pretty deep. My 2 cents worth, firstly: Desire. Do you desire or want God? I think we can get bogged down by theological symantics about "getting to heaven" or "am I really saved" or "How do I get IN..." but sometimes i feel it comes down to desire, and the rest, though interesting, is superfluous. Do you desire God?

If so, then the rest becomes easy. I'm not a full on Arminian, I believe that God's soverienty does render it certain our brains make certain choices, but I had surgery recently. In that space of unconsciousness it was a relationship between my desire for God,and His desire for me.

The mutual desire became the "Christianity"

I Think.

andrew brown said...

i know for sure i don't desire God like i used to. and it's what i pray for, a want to follow good, not strength to follow him. all of us a strong enough but without want or grace we are unable to

Jason said...

Maybe our prayer becomes "I do believe, help me overcome my unbelief..." as if both belief and unbelief co-exist as a natural occurance within any faith (of course until the perfect comes...)

Love is similar. You love because you choose to. Sometimes the feeling of desire is there, sometimes it isn't.

does that make sense?

I don't know too many people who wake up each morning with this euphoric, emotional desire for God. We wake up grumbling sometimes, shitty, tired, depressed, sometimes not fully desiring God, (I'm obviously talking about the real world!) but there is still this decision - apart from feelings - that we want God. (Very Armenian - I know)

Sometimes God is also there, carrying us or not as he pleases. (Very Calvinistic - I also know.)

andrew brown said...

i'm so confused as how you can put both arminian and calvinist thinking on the same page! i don't get how they coexist! :) (im calvinist btw)

I guess, my attitude, is worse maybe now than it's ever been. sometimes I'd not feel a desire but I always had a desire to have a desire, at least, but now it doesn't even seem like that at all. it's rather sad really :(

Jason said...

Calvaminian! I wrote a paper on ot at BCNZ. Basically, the Bible gives clear indication that some are elected. Elected for what? To reveal God to the rest.

All have sinned, but God makes it certain that some are saved (He's God, he can do this.) But that doesn't mean that the rest have been reprobated, because the elect are called to reveal God to the rest, who are able to make the choice whether or not to accept this relationship. After all it is God's desire that none should be lost.

Sound unfair?

Well once again, he is God, he can do anything.

Jonah didn't get much of a choice...

The rich young man, once encountering God went away sad...

Zacchaeus, once encountering God, responded positivly...

Three people, three different circumstances, three responses to God...

Calvanist + Arminian both part of the story, maybe another part of the mystry called God...

andrew brown said...

Odd. See to me that sounds like the situation most christians are in, to to my mind, they contradict each other. in my calvinist mind people are either elected or they aren't. nothing a man can do can ever bring him closer to God, every single step man takes towards God is because God made him do it, SOO unless God chose that person, they can't come to God, and on the other hand, God isn't weak, if he wants someone to move, they do regardless of what man tries to do. So those who know God are those who have been chosen by God, and those that don't, haven't (yet) been chosen....

Jason said...

It's pretty arrogant for christians to think that the relationship between humanity and God is reliant on a little tick in the "I choose God" box, but there are some fairly conclusive stories in the Bible of un coerced followers, in that the writers give no indication that the only reason they follow God in the first place is because they have been elected!

2 interesting statements from Jesus, Jn 6:37

"All that the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never drive away..."

"...all the Father Gives me..." and "...whoever comes to me..."

in the same sentence.

I don't get threatened by apparant contradictions, take Jesus, fully human but fully God for example. In fact I find it strangly comforting that there are mysteries in faith, mysteries in God. God is bigger than my understanding - copout maybe - but i have no problem with that.

andrew brown said...

there is a difference between a paradox (jesus = god & human) and a contradiction.

I just don't believe that anyone can choose God unless God first chooses them. I address that in another one of my entries in this blog, grace something I believe.

I'm not trying to argue :D just saying my opinion

Jason said...

Maybe a relationship with God comes from either being chosen by God and or our response to his grace?

What does it mean to be chosen by God? Is chosen by God specifically elected or could it be that all of humanity has been chosen at the cross? Some elected the rest now have the opportunity to respond where before the cross this response was not there?

Also not wanting to argue but haven’t had been fully convinced either way...

I guess the reason I push for more of a balance between the two views, is that by prioritizing one over the other creates more problems and digs a deeper hole. Too Calvinistic, leads to Meticulous Providence and lack of responsibility. Too Arminian, leads to faith on our terms, once again down to our little tick in the “I choose God” box.

Maybe my view is more of a process of elimination, but it’s a theology which has practical implications and without practicality, theology becomes irrelevant. This means that my choices have meaning, and that I’m not just playing out some megalomaniac’s fetishes. But also that God is still God.

andrew brown said...

well I don't know what to say. I see how you combine the two, I'd never thought of it like that, but I strongly disagree anyway. But that's cool. We're all part of the same family :D

To me, if you get God's grace there is nothing we can do but accept it. I don't really believe in free will or choice either way. I don't believe God is up there 'wanting' stuff to happen but we're down here foiling his plan. I believe the God is 100% sovereign and what he wants to happen, happens, and nothing else. I believe that every single thing that happens these days is part of God's plan. Not just the good things but every thing.

Rayd said...

Text: Matthew 25:31-46

31 “When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit on his throne in heavenly glory. 32 All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate the people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. 33 He will put the sheep on his right and the goats on his left.

34 “Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. 35 For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, 36 I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’

37 “Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? 38 When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? 39 When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’

40 “The King will reply, ‘I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.’

Everyone has a chance at the kingdom of Heaven. Paul says “what may be known of God is manifest in them, for God has shown it to them. For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made” (1:19–20).

If we understand who God is and we are constantly given choices to do good, which in turn does good for God, then do we not have a choice to follow God or not?

andrew brown said...

read this http://www.spurgeon.org/calvinis.htm it's by this guy called charles spurgeon, he is often regarded as one of the greatest preachers of all, he lived in the late 1800's, his text is a little old english but i'm sure you'll get it.

Jason said...

Spurgeon is definitly one of the great "preachers" of the 19th C. I especially likes his statement "Sometimes, when I see some of the worst characters in the street, I feel as if my heart must burst forth in tears of gratitude that God has never let me act as they have done!" I think I've heard that before somewhere... (Lk 18)

Remember, just because someone is a great preacher, doesn't mean they are a great theologian. You probably can think of some preachers from your old church who had a great following, but who's theology wasn't too solid...

Grace also means that, unlike what Spurgeon wrote in one of his first paragraphs, you don't have to have all the answers to follow and enjoy God. (Thank God for that!)

However, I do agree with Spurgeon that God calls some to follow with almost an irristable love, but I don't see how free-will is in direct opposition to sovereign grace?

andrew brown said...

i think spurgeon is an amazing theologian, and i think you mis-understand his statement there. he never once claims he is better than the people, he is thanking god that god has given him grace. the difference is, is that the pharisees were thanking god because of something they had done, but spurgeon will admit that nothing good that he has ever done he has done himself. man is incapable of good. that statement is exhaustive. only god can do good. any good we do comes from god. if god wants us (individually) to do good, we will.

i don't see how god, being god, can call a person and not have that person respond. that would be a weak ass god in my opinion. either you believe he is completely sovereign, or you believe that he limits himself and just 'tries' to get man to do what he wants.

if god wanted everyone saved, wouldn't they be saved. check out the entry in this blog below it. to me that logic is infallbile.

Rayd said...

What about the people that reject God entirely yet still do good deeds? Is that too from God?

God is not weak. This relates to the perfect God argument. "if God is perfect then why did he create imperfect humans?"

The answer is the same. We have been created to have freedom. He gives us the choice. What good would God have done creating robots? And what good would he have done creating slaves of the underworld condemned to burn in pain, sorrow and suffering for eternity?

No, He gives us a choice, we can chose to do His will, and yes we will stuff up, because that is how He made us, imperfect, Or we can chose to do the will of the devil by serving our selfish wants.

andrew brown said...

did you read the article?

"What about the people that reject God entirely yet still do good deeds? Is that too from God?"

of course. how can any good come from anything but from God? man is sinful and cannot do anything BUT sin unless God intervenes

i don't believe in free will. regardless of religion it is a flawed concept.

since the day i was born i haven't really had a single choice. i didn't choose where i was born or what music my parents listened to or anything. now my brain can only make 'choices' from what it is given, but because of the fact i didn't choose where/when to be born, those situations will never change. right from the start of the universe i was always going to be born where i was. nothing can change that, i can only make choices based on the things that went before me, and because those things were already set, i don't really have a choice

right from day 1 rayd, what you are doing right now was always going to happen. you seem to have a choice in what you do, but in reality, you were only going to make that decision and no other decision. no it's not easy to swallow and i bet you'll do your best to deny it, and thats cool. but remember that most christians have closed minds, don't be like that. noting that i don't have free will gave me the biggest relief of my life. i realised that nothing i can do can bring me closer to God, that it's his grace and his grace ALONE (i cannot emphasise that statement any more) so i can just get on with being a christian instead of worrying about anything.

"No, He gives us a choice"

did he give the little arab boy in saudi arabia a choice? don't you understand that man is only capable of sin and that given a choice man will ALWAYS choose sin. unless God intervenes of course. and if God DOES intervene, then what power do we have to get in the way?

Jason said...

I agree 100% with the fact that we cannot choose anything outside of our environment. I once was on a debate around the statement "It's not my fault! I was born that way!"

I argued that we can only act out of what we have experienced. Therefor any choices we have, are only what has been made available to us. For us to act outside of our experiences, there must be an outside influence to create new possibilities.

But the word "responsibility" keeps coming up?

I know my natural inclination is towards sin.

But who is responsible for my sinful nature?

Who is responsible for bringing sin into the world?

On judgement day, who will be held responsible for my life?

It would be convenient to say "I" am responsible, but how can this be JUSTIFIED if all I am doing is walking a path which someone else has set before me?

The only way I can be justifiably held responsible, is if, given the options (Christ on the cross gave us options) I could choose.

Once again, let me repeat myself "There are some who do not have a choice!" These are the elect!

But I think there is just cause to hesitate in claiming ALL creation moves and acts only by the will of God! (This is different from all creation is held together by God)

I think there is also just cause in allowing the mystry that is God to reasure us that we don't have all the answers, and that we may never have all the answeres.

All I know is that we have a chicken, and an egg. I trust they came in the right order, but as long as I have roast Chicken and Bacon n' Eggs, I wont be losing too much sleep.

andrew brown said...

my major problem with that, is that it's not based on 100% (explicit) grace. it involves man making a step towards God, which I don't believe he can do without God. Are we saved by works or faith? clearly choosing to follow god is a work..... we are saved by grace alone

oh, and when i was in the shower, you commented about great preachers vs theologians. as far as i am concerned, if a preacher doesn't have good theology, then he's not a preacher, he's simply a motivational speaker using christianity as a platform. scripture/theology should be the entire basis of a sermon. the sermons i often used to here, i look back on them and am embarassed that they were even called sermons.

Jason said...

Sorry to disturb your shower, i was really only speaking from experience I guess.

I was saved at a Barry Smith Crusade. Barry Smith preached about the end times, New World Order (Not the wrestlers!) and all sorts of shinanagans around Y2K. His theology was... interesting! His heart was pure, God used him even though his "Theology" wasn't 100% I know a lot of people who met God through his ministry.

I also know my Theology is not 100%, I have no problems admitting this, and (as possibly a "motivational speaker using christianity as a platform,") I think just because someone has a large following, and great successes, doesn't guarantee they have all the answeres right.

In the early church, and even over the last 2000 years, hero's of the faith have got bits wrong according to "more enlightened" believers through the years. Augustine, Luther, Calvin...

A successful ministry doesn't always come with perfection.

However, If God had called them, them, then it really doesn't matter how good their Soteriology is. Right?

And yes some of the "sermons" from your old church were a little "Light" but God still spoke through them, even if it was as the devil's advocate.

you can believe my story or not. The choice is yours. (Deut 30:19)

andrew brown said...

sorry, i guess i put my point across badly.


i'm not against motivational speaking about christianity, i just think it's sad when it's passed off as a sermon

Jason said...

I know, I've been there. I got as frustrated as the next person. I once got mocked in front of a group that the only reason I was goint to BCNZ was "so I could find fault with "X's" sermons..."

I didn't have the heart to reply that you didn't have to go to Bible College to do that...

The statement was hyperbolic.

andrew brown said...

:)