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

Friday, April 28, 2006

challenge/inspire me

if you read my last post you may be wondering what i am doing
now i made a statement that said i am over non-belief and into uninterested territory. what i mean was that i am now over unbelieving and back into believing, not that i had gone so far in my unbelief. i hope that clears things up. in some ways i am doing better than before but in some ways not.

anyway. you can help me. i know a few people read this from time to time, thanks big jas and rayd sometimes you do

anyway, give me a verse or preferably a passage and i will study it and write a miniture sermon on it to the best of my ability. help me get interested in the bible again. i know if i pick one myself i won't have the motivation but if in a way i'm doing it for someone else, then awesome!


Sharyn said...


I have been reading your blog, and I feel both bad for you and excited for you. You have lots of confusions, and your theology is quite wack (in my opinion). HOWEVER, you have an opportunity to build a relationship with God that is very real. That is exciting, although it will be frightening most likely, and challenging.

My advice (although totally unsolicited so ignore at will) is to persevere. This may be the most important relationship of your life, so worth giving time to. That is, of course, what you HAVE been doing. Continue not giving up, and it will eventually lead you to a breathing space. I speak from experiance. I have been where you are now. I hung on, when others did not, and that is the only difference between me and them. I am not smarter, more spiritual or more good (!) but I was more determined. And I never stopped praying. I stopped reading my bible. I stopped worshipping. I questioned everything. But I never ever ever stopped talking to God. And this was my prayer: "take away this handshake love, teach me deep unto deep". And the other one "change all my heart". For maybe two or three or four years. This is my story. The end of it is that He did. You cannot find the answers, I am afraid they are hidden from us. Much of God is mystery. But there may come a time when that does not matter to you any more, much as that seems ridiulous to you now. It was so for me. I can ask the questions you are asking now (and I do) without all the angst. They hold no fear for me. Believe it or not....

I think you should stop freaking out about the details of the bible - and concentrate on the broad themes. How about choosing a genre, say poetry or minor prophets, and read it without trying to figure out what each part means. Just read it. You will find (I suspect) that the meaning and themes will be clear to you if you stop looking.

That's just my suggestion.

andrew brown said...

i find it interesting you think my theology is 'wack' as it's pretty much standard calvinist with liberal tendancies, but maybe i don't portray that too well

you do make some good points sharyn. i might have to seriously think about them, but thats cool, going ahead is better than not and if i have to admit i'm wrong then oh well whats the big deal?

Sharyn said...

I don't know too much about calvinist theology, except that it exists. But, just from reading your blog, I picked up that you don't believe in free will. Which I find a bit wack, given that the whole bible seems to me to be based on the fact that we have free will. Well, that's one of the things that its based on anyway. In my opinion. I mean, I haven't studied that much theology, but I have read the bible a lot, pretty much daily since I was like 10. That's about 16 years worth. (ouch). And from that I get that God made us and gave us free will.

Also, I find it quite odd that you think this makes God weak. That, to me, is just quite ridiculous. It does nothing of the sort. Being all powerful does not mean you must exercise that power fully to be powerful. To with hold your power, or allow some to choose you or not is another sort of power. In my opinion again. That's all.

andrew brown said...

oh sharyn. if only you knew. i don't think me not believing in free will makes my theology wack, most of the great theologians of history have been calvinists. i know you don't agree because you have catholic heritage, which is staunch arminian. read this it'll give you an insight.

see, free will in the sense of "should i buy a hamburger or not" is more or less irrelevant, it's do to with choosing God. now, i believe in 100% grace. not 99.9%. now if i choose to pray to god over not praying to god, i didn't really choose that because i don't have the fundamental ability to follow god or do good, only God can give that to me. i am not above sin, sin controls me and the only thing that can let me 'choose' otherwise is God choosing for me. i also believe that if God intervenes then we can't do anything BUT follow him.

what is really wack is the contradictory state of the doctrine of most christians out there. they're not really arminian OR calvinist, but they grasp hold of concepts from both camps that often don't quite fit but ignore the contradiction anyway. people say God is sovereign, but then say they can choose to not follow him, doing away with the effect of his sovereignty.

what i want to know is why people are so keen to hold onto their ideas of free will. why are they afraid of accepting anything different? maybe it's pride because they don't want to think they're not in control.

i used to believe in free will, i used to believe that people could backslide and i used to believe that Jesus died for everyones sins, but through study of scripture and PLAIN LOGIC i decided that what i know believe is correct, and that most people have a flawed doctrine. it doesn't make them a non-christian though, don't get me wrong.

i'd love to have a drink with you one time sharyn, it could prove to be quite the excersise in frustration! or fun :)

Sharyn said...

Well, I just think that you are plain wrong! Lol. I do. I think we can choose not to sin, and that we do almost everyday. Lots of the time we do choose to sin, but then other times we don't. And we do that of our own free will. Otherwise, this whole thing is senseless, surely. Oh i don't have a catholic heritage by the way. I was brought up in a fundemental church, quite calvinist actually from what you have said. We believed you couldn't loose your salvation etc etc, and that people are totally bad. However, I don't believe that anymore. I don't think its illogical. I don't understand how that's illogical.

And of course we can choose not to follow God. I mean, it would be stupid I think, but we could. People do all the friggin time! Otherwise, what the hell are we doing?!

And if people can't choose not to sin, then Jesus could not have, and he could not have lived a sinless life. Unless God made him able to live a sinless life, and us not, in which case it renders his sacrifice totally meaningless.

Does it not concern you that most people believe different from you? That would give me pause.

This just does not make any sense to me. Has this 'knowlege' brought you closer to God? Or have you become less close to Him? Becuase, imho, that is the key point. If these things bring you closer to God then there's no point talking about it.

Clearly our disareement hangs on what you mean by soveriegn. I take that to mean all powerful.

Do you think that God chooses some people to be saved and not others? If so, that is totally incongruous with the Bible.

These are quite random thoughts.

Sharyn said...

PS: Just because God gives us the ability to do something, doesn't mean he does it for us. I have the ability to swim, but I don't. Surely what you are saying is that God forces us to be saved or not, or do whatever it is we do. That makes no sense to me. That's not how the Bible is. Do you read the Bible? I guess you must read it quite a bit. But that just DOES not fit.

andrew brown said...

"Does it not concern you that most people believe different from you? That would give me pause. " that's hardly a point because most people in this Country don't even believe in God so maybe we're both wrong. And either way, it's only been recently (as far as Christian history goes) that the majority of people haven't thought as I do. Calvinism was much much stronger but Arminianism caught on because it's more about "me" and less about "God". In Calvinism, I am nothing, in Arminianism, I count for something, I am the reason I'm doing it. Who would still be a Christian if the bible said that we DON'T need to follow God to get to Heaven? Hardly any thats how many, because Arminianism focuses on what God does for me in my lifetime and beyond. Sure we 'focus' on God but the very root of our faith is saving me.

Sovereign to me doesn't mean all powerful, I use the definition of sovereign "One that exercises supreme, permanent authority", you're thinking of one of those omni words. If God is completely sovereign over this universe and everything within it, then everything that does happen is what he wants to happen.

Do you believe God has a plan for your life? Most Christians I've met say he does, but when we sin and ruin that plan, a new plan is formed, based on our new situations, so that makes no sense to me? Or maybe people said God knew that we would ruin that plan, so the original plan had failing in it, which would tell me, that we really didn't have a choice in the plan. Are the plans God has for us completely dynamic and change to the situation? If so, then he doesn't really have a plan and what happens happens.

How could God have a plan and then that fail? God cannot fail, it's completely impossible.

I believe he has a plan for the universe, and every single thing that is happening right now, even rap music, is part of that plan.

Romans 7:something-something "We know that the law is spiritual; but I am unspiritual, sold as a slave to sin. I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do. And if I do what I do not want to do, I agree that the law is good. As it is, it is no longer I myself who do it, but it is sin living in me. I know that nothing good lives in me, that is, in my sinful nature. For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. For what I do is not the good I want to do; no, the evil I do not want to do—this I keep on doing. Now if I do what I do not want to do, it is no longer I who do it, but it is sin living in me that does it."

see, Paul tells me that he has no choice in sinning, he does it even though he desrires not to, and if only we could be like Paul.

See, it's like 2 different views of God, one view, is that he 'wants' and 'wills' people to do things but in the end, it's up to them to choose what to do, and he doesn't really have control*, and on the other hand, what God wants to happen, happens, and there is absolutely NOTHING that can be done about it, and EVERYTHING that he wants to happen, happens.

* but what about when things happen that aren't applicable to choice, like how some Christians say that God led them into church, was that choice or did God choose for them? It is a mystery, if you believe we have free choice.

It's not like I believe we're puppets, but we only have an illusion of choice, because, from the day I was born, I was always going to end up here. The universe is not random, nothing can be, I cannot change what I will do next, or sure, I think I can, but I was always going to change what I do next and therefore did what I was always going to do. Illusion of choice.

And for the important part, how has it effected my relationship with God, because, in the end, this is the important part. It freed me from sin. Sin is something that's in my life, I am a 100% bad person, any good I do comes directly from God. I don't have to concern myself with guilt from sin gone by I can focus on the future. No I don't just let life happen. I believe in a truely powerful God now, not a weak willed one. My God is an AWESOME God. Does revelations talk of a God who 'wants' things to happen but can't make them happen? The beauty of this, is that, despite how hard I try, there is nothing I can do to get closer to God*, and on the other hand, nothing I can do to get further away form him. I have no concerns!

*If Jesus died for my sins, how many did he die for? All of them, even the ones I haven't yet done! so how can I possibly be closer to God? Can I be anymore full of the Holy Spirit than I am now? How can one be anything other than full or empty. Songs that say "Holy Spirit Come" are blasphemous because if Jesus died for my sins to claim that he didn't do a good enough job and I need 'more' is entirely wrong.

Don't think my doctrine is wack Sharyn, it's extremely well thought out. I truely believe Paul believes this way, and only later on did Joseph Arminian bring up these different ideas of doctrine did people start to change their ways. The Catholic church is based in Arminianism, the Reformation was started by people who would later be called Calvinists in protest to a lot of things, doctrine being one, but only a lot later in the piece did the Protestant church pick back up Arminian teaching. It's rife within the pentecostal and similar churches but not so much in more 'traditional' churches.

As much as you think I'm wrong Sharyn, have you even considered I might be right? I've experienced what you believe and have changed since I learnt what I consider to be 'truer'

But Sharyn, in the end, we both love God so that's all good :D

Rayd said...

Sounds to me like you've argued against Evolution Andrew, the universe not being random at all.

I believe your comparison of Revelation (and also other acts like Noah's flood) with the rest of God's character is wrong. God created with a free choice. If God is perfect and omnipotent as well as all-controlling then why on earth did we sin? God didn't want us to sin, if He didn't want us to sin then why did we? We sinned because WE chose to. When God caused the flood He did so because we were so far caught in sin that He was ashamed and regretted creating us. Hang on, if He regretted creating us then how can He have been all-controlling? The Armageddon/Apocalyspe you spoke of in Revelation will happen by God because He promised it. We have been given the free will to do as we please on this earth knowing the consequences of each but because God exists outside of the constrictions of time He knows we will still fail even then to choose rightly. And bvecause of this He has said there will be a time when he again says enough is enough, those who were good sheep get their prize, those who were bad goats get their condemnation.

If you believe God chooses specific people to be followers then you believe yourself above those who were not chosen. Am i right saying this?

"What's so special about you? what have you got that you haven't been given? And if you've been given it then how can you boast?"

You're right that God gives, but He gives us the choice to take it. He offers everyone eternal life, Yes He knows whether or not we will take it, but that doesn't change that we have the choice.

The original plan never had failing in it, God never planned us to fail. He planned to give us free will, and with that free will we failed of our own accord. Again, as God exists outside of time, He knew we would fail, and so a predestined plan was already conceived to account for our failure. I'm not contradicting myself here, Andrew, we find it hard to understand how something can be outside of time because we cannot ourselves live outside of time. It's like a blindman who has never in his life ever experienced sight. He can hear about what it's like but it can never be explained for him to understand or even nearly comprehend what sight is really like. How can you explain colour to someone who has never seen it before? you can't, let alone all the images, the movement, the shadows, the glowing of the moon, the blinding glare of the sun. I don't contradict myself because i know taht my mind is not capable of comprehending what is. This is why we live in such an upside-down world. If we can't see ourselves doing something then it's impssible for someone else to. I believe that there are not prophets like in biblical times because we can no longer comprehend how faith can really move mountains, call fire down from the sky, etc.
We don't understand how Adam could name all the animals because He was created as a perfect human (it's an oxymoron because humans are imperfect, a perfect human is not perfect in perfection's sense but rather perfect in the way God created us) and as a perfect human would have been capable of using 100% of his brain. We only use use about 10% of ours. Is it really so hard to believe that he was capable of things we aren't?

I've strayed from the original subject.
Jesus died for all your sins even the ones not yet committed because He is outside of time. He knows you will commit them, but you will make that choice to commit them, He won't decide for you. Jesus was who He was because he lived his life fighting against sin, He wasn't sinless because God made Him so, He was sinless because as a human he suffered the temptations of sin and fought against them. It was always His choice whether He would sin or not, but He chose not.

You say i contradict myself, Don't you contradict yourself when you say God was fully human and fully God? Well He was, and yet non-christians do not understand it, many christians do not, i do not fully. But i know it to be true. Andrew, you talked about some people being between the extremes of Arminianism and Calvinism and how they contradict themselves to be there. I am between the two extremes. And yet i see no contradiction in what i say. All i see is the reality of God as so much more complex than my small brain, of which i only use 10%, can ever comprehend.

I agree with Sharon in that you should read the bible without a cause of getting anything out of it, you find what you're looking for when you stop looking.

But i also think you should sometimes read to look for something. Here is the verse i give you to talk about, as i used it earlier.
"What's so special about you? what have you got that you haven't beeen given and if you've been given it then how can you boast?"

andrew brown said...

there are a few things in your post which for starters annoy me. 10% of our brain, where did you get that figure?

whats special about me? absolutely nothing. no human is any better than any other. i don't even know if i've been chosen, i sure hope so.

you must have missed the place where i went out of my way to make it extremely clear that NOT A SINGLE THING I HAVE EVER DONE IN MY ENTIRE LIFE IS GOOD AND WORTHY OF GOD. and that every single step i've taken towards him is because he bought me here.

you can't argue against my belief system, it's not like i'm one of a select few who think this way? at times throughout christian history the majority of people have thought the same way i do. im not trying to be cocky, but why are so many christians so hell bent on sticking to their points of views and not giving anything else an option? i told you that i used to believe just like you but then i learnt some more things and it was like a mini-revelation that this really was how God made us and runs things.

""What's so special about you? what have you got that you haven't beeen given and if you've been given it then how can you boast?" I hope i don't sound like im boasting, because i've tried very hard to make a point that i have done nothing good and am not worthy of anything. i am blessed, it's grace, something completely undeserved

i don't get how Jesus could have died for everyones sins, but then that just gets reversed if a person dies a non-christian? so he died, but then un-died for them? i cannot understand that logic of believing that. i also can not understand that someone could become a christian and truely experience God (not in a pentecostal spiritual way either) and then leave him? you can't grasp just how illogical that is to me? otherwise being saved isn't about grace it's about how we live our lives on this earth... how is that grace and not works?

see, i believe that for the elect, they don't have to do anything to be with God, not even believe. I'm sure God hasn't chosen anybody who doesn't believe but that should impart just the seriousness of the situation that i'm talking about.

the only people i know who've studied calvinism and been let-down by it are people who are such staunch arminians that they wouldn't give something else a chance?

why are people so offended by the idea of non-free-will? trust me i feel so much safer knowing i'm not steering this boat of life even f it feels like i am!!!!!

andrew brown said...

rayd, seriously, read this and get an idea for what i believe. this is not a weird culty doctrine? it's what paul himself believed. it does not make god to be any less, in fact, it makes him more!

just read it all and comprehend it and then come back and say something

Rayd said...

So you're moving onto salvation talk, i agree with you that once you have salvation you cannot lose it, but the way i see it is if you say you are a christian but will end up turning away from God then you never had salvation in the first place because God knew that you would turn away.

That verse was not pointing the finger at you Andrew, i wasn't saying you boast as such, although i think everyone boasts sometime or another, but rather it fitted into what i was saying as well as being a touchy verse because if you read it straight from the bible i know that you would instantly assume it is a verse taht agrees with Calvanism. That was the intent of my use of it.

How can God be happy with things we do when it is Him that does them? How can he regret making creation when He made it? I see this as a good explaination in iteself as to us choosing to do wrong and God regretting what He had made. We can thank Noah for also regretting the wrongs he had done (because even though he was a good man he still sinned) because i believe that was what saved him. God's grace on a sinner who repented.

Grace is undeserved, because we sinned. We don't get grace because God made us sin and therefore we are sinners. We get it because we made a mistake when we knew we should do right and because we are sorry for it we receive God's grace.

When Jesus died for our sins He died so taht we might be saved. He died to reconcile man to God. I think it was Elizabeth who explained it like this, I could give some lollies to a little girl with the hope that she will share those lollies to others, but in the end it's her choice whether or not she eats all those lollies herself or shares them around. Ofcourse the rewards of sharing are much better in sharing than in eating them all herself. When Jesus died He opened His hands and welcomed all our sins to die on that cross with Him, but inevitably the choice is ours whether we lay them down at the foot of the cross.

Like i said, i'm somewhere in between the two extremes and i believe in Destiny not fate. I'm guessing you have a very stoic view on this? For me it seems that the choices of what we do in life are ours but God controls the bigger picture. He knows waht we'll do and so He gives us plenty of chances to repent and do right. Infact There is always the option in every situation taht God offers us the choice to do right.

We are saved by grace because our deeds will not get us to heaven alone. But if you really are saved then wouldn't you want to do good things anyway? If you are saved by God's grace yet still continue to sin and do wrong then are you really saved by God's grace? Because you don't act like it. (This isn't directed at you Andrew, infact i find it is in some ways directed at me)

For the un-elected, what is the point in living? Why did God ever even make them? So they could suffer for eternity? Some loving God.

andrew brown said...

see i find it hard to imagine a God who loves people but relies on them to get the job done? I understand all your questions and sympathise with them, no the idea of God creating man to die on purpose doesn't make sense initially, also the idea of God being the author of sin, which I don't believe he is but people think calvinism points towards it. did you read that link? i'd really like you to because it'll make so much better sense of what I believe than I do.

don't for a second think this radically changes the practical aspect of being a christian for me, it doesn't, all it does is internally change how i view God and sin etc. for me it's extremely liberating and lets me concentrate on living for God more than before..