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Christian

intelligent debate

Sorry, I missed your answer. If, after being punished the spirit is snuffed out and ceases to exist, what's the point of the punishment? To answer your question. Let's start with the fact that God is infinitely smarter, wiser, kinder, etc. than either you or I. Therefore any decision regarding both heaven and hell made by God is, again by definition the best decision made. Your question regarding "how can never ending punishment be justified" first assumes that any decision made by God somehow needs to be justified to you. That speaks of a massive ego on your part. Second, it assumes that you have the ability to understand whatever justification God has. Again, by definition there are lots of times when we can't understand why God does something any more than a one month old can understand why its parents do something. Third, as I've said before people aren't looking for answers, they are looking for an argument as this and other forums shows very well. For argument sake, let's say that the response was that the person was put in hell for the proportion of his life that he rejected God. So if someone spent 1/2 their life rejecting God they went to hell for that same proportion of time. Well, since eternity is infinite in time, 1/2 of that would be an infinite amount of time. Now, let's say that was God's justification. Would you accept it or would you argue about it? Would you put yourself above God and dismiss that reason as not being good enough? Final thought. As I've said although a benevolent God would prefer to see everyone saved, he would also allow humans to control their own destinies. This view opens the possibility of seeing Hell not as retributive punishment, but rather as an option that God allows, so that people who do not wish to be with God are not forced to be. C. S. Lewis most famously proposed this view in his book The Great Divorce, saying: "There are only two kinds of people in the end: those who say to God, 'Thy will be done,' and those to whom God says, in the end, 'Thy will be done.'"  (Sep 2, 2014 | post #100)

Christian

intelligent debate

Hope you had a good weekend. You said "if one person has the Christian set of rules to follow..." and that's where you are making the mistake. Under Judaism and Islam and other religions there is a set of rules that people must follow in order to get into Heaven. Jesus and Paul talked about that no matter how hard people try, they always fall short. Again, nothing against God, it's just who we are and how the world is. And that people get frustrated trying to follow the rules, especially when they know that humans being what we are, it's pretty much impossible. That's where the quote from Jesus about his yoke being light. There are no "rules" under Christianity, it's all about having a relationship with Jesus and making him Lord of our lives. In simple terms, the one who let's go and let's God be in charge goes to heaven. However most folks want to be in charge and just want God to come in to play when something goes wrong. Have you ever seen the bumper sticker "God is my co-pilot"? If God is the co-pilot then we are the pilot and that makes us more important than God. So yes the Christian has the advantage over the non-Christian because the non-Christian spends their life trying to earn their way in to heaven (by their own choice) whereas the Christian simply accepts that God is God and trusts that God loves them. Perhaps this would help. A parent has two children. One child doesn't believe that their parent loves them and that the only way to EARN their parents love is through total obedience. The other child believes their parent loves them simply because of being their child and that in return for being loved, they love back with all their heart, mind and soul. Is there any way the first child can actually EARN their parents love? What generally happens (prodigal son time) is that when the child realizes that no matter what he does he can never EARN his parents love (not realizing that he already has his parents love) the child then runs away and takes control of his own life. Over the years the child grows further and further apart from the parent, believes he knows best for his own life and, even though the parent continues to reach out, rebuffs all of his parent's overtures. Eventually the parent gives the child what they spent their life asking for, a world without their parent.  (Sep 2, 2014 | post #98)

Christian

intelligent debate

You say that Gillette's post regarding Matthew 25 makes perfect sense. Ok, again here is what he posted "Actually, the words of JESUS are explicitly clear on this,a rent they, in the extended :judgement" passage in Matthew 25:31-46." Since this is perfectly clear, please explain what is being rented and who they are that is renting whatever it is. Thanks.  (Sep 2, 2014 | post #97)

Christian

intelligent debate

Actually I didn't say that. I was quoting from a Bible Dictionary. Again, and I'm quoting from the definition of the word Hell. "Sheol, occurring in the Old Testament sixty-five times. This word sheol is derived from a root-word meaning "to ask," "demand; " hence insatiableness ( Proverbs 30:15 Proverbs 30:16 ). It is rendered "grave" thirty-one times ( Genesis 37:35 ; 42:38 ; Genesis 44:29 Genesis 44:31 ; 1 Samuel 2:6 , etc.). The Revisers have retained this rendering in the historical books with the original word in the margin, while in the poetical books they have reversed this rule. In thirty-one cases in the Authorized Version this word is rendered "hell," the place of disembodied spirits. The inhabitants of sheol are "the congregation of the dead" ( Proverbs 21:16 ). It is (a) the abode of the wicked ( Numbers 16:33 ; Job 24:19 ; Psalms 9:17 ; 31:17 , etc.); (b) of the good ( Psalms 16:10 ; 30:3 ; 49:15 ; 86:13 , etc.). Sheol is described as deep ( Job 11:8 ), dark ( Job 10:21 Job 10:22 ), with bars ( 17:16 ). The dead "go down" to it ( Numbers 16:30 Numbers 16:33 ; Ezek. Numbers 31:15 Numbers 31:16 Numbers 31:17 ). Based on that definition, Hell and Sheol fit together. So I'm not too worried.  (Sep 1, 2014 | post #90)

Christian

intelligent debate

You said "Does every human being on the planet have the same equal opportunity for access to that "get out of jail free" card that is belief in Jesus? Plainly NO!" As I've shown, you are wrong and given that you believe 1+1=3, there is no place of agreement. YES, EVERYONE HAS THE SAME EQUAL OPPORTUNITY TO GO TO HEAVEN. At this point, you are disagree because it supports your viewpoint. That's fine, happens all the time. But as I said from the beginning, I'm not going to argue or defend someone else's POV, so if you want to continue the discussion WITH ME, understand that everyone has the same opportunity to, as you put it, get out of jail free. If you can't deal with that, talk to someone else. And for the however many times I've said this, everyone can have perfect behavior, it is our choice not to. So either start thinking and reply to what I actually post or again, go talk to someone else. Another example I never said "And since you claim that NO ONE can be absolutely perfect in behavior" what I've repeatedly said is that everyone CAN be absolutely perfect in behavior but we choose not to. I even used the example of how everyone knows how to be healthy but we CHOOSE not not. No one shoves a twinkle or Big Mac down our throats or forces us to watch TV or surf the internet instead of exercising. The word is choice. Please learn it and use it. The idea of being perfect in every way in order to achieve Heaven/Nirvana/wha tever existed long before Jesus. Incredibly old example - oil and water. Question for you. Let's say Hitler was tortured for 10,000,000 years and I'm tortured for 2 days. What percentage of our entire existence are we tortured? What is the percentage difference between being tortured for millions of years versus a day or two? Again, you asked about other people around the world including Muslims, Hindu's and Buddhists. Jesus is actually part of the Muslim religion so claiming they have no knowledge of Jesus would be false. There are Christian churches in every part of the world and especially today given the internet, Christmas, Easter, Valentines Day, etc. which are known throughout the world, to claim that one never heard of Jesus would be like someone saying they never heard of the USA.  (Sep 1, 2014 | post #89)

Christian

intelligent debate

Ok, you calling me a "Protestant legalistic fundamental" is hysterical. That actually demonstrates you aren't following this thread and as an aside, calling me a fundamentalist would be like calling Hitler a saint. Just a quick reminder, I didn't grow up in the church , was an agnostic/atheist until I was 26. I believe the universe and the earth are billions of years ago. So there is your STRIKE 1. Go ahead and point out the logical fallacies and the extreme limitations of my little box. First, start with a list of all of your degrees and the titles of the books that you have published over the last 2,000 years. Long before you were born, the Romans, Jews, and many others have tried and failed so if you think you can do so, go for it, but let's start with your credentials that show you are smarter than the thousands who have gone before us. Heck, modern day atheists like Hitchens, Dawkins, Russel, etc. haven't been able to point out any fallacies, so what makes you so special? Or is that STRIKE 2? You said I would not respond to Matthew 25:31-46. You said "Actually, the words of JESUS are explicitly clear on this,a rent they, in the extended :judgement" passage in Matthew 25:31-46." I read that sober, than today having several glasses of wine and it still makes no sense. However, I'd like your second attempt of this understanding that Jesus was a Jew talking to other Jews who were certain that there was only one God, that those who did not follow the rules of the OT were condemned to Hell (or given your previous posts "Sheol" or "Gehenna. " So within the understanding of a 1st Century Jew talking to other 1st Century Jews, what was being RENTED? (STRIKE 3?) Also, Paul referred to himself as being "of the stock of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of the Hebrews; as touching the law, a Pharisee".[Ph il. 3:5] So any discussion of Paul's (or anyone else in the NT) MUST BE DONE WITH 1ST CENTURY JUDAISM IN MIND!!!!! (STRIKE ...) Don't make Paul a modern day Christian. You mentioned "Likewise to the Paulian idea that you must be perfect and no one can be perfect, so you are born to burn.' Show off here. Tell us what the 1st Century Pharisaical ideas regarding the idea that "no one can be perfect so you were born to burn". If you were a Roman soldier in 70 BC (note the BC) and you asked a Jewish Pharisee what you needed to do to be saved, what would be the response? Lastly you said that it was hard to find Jesus talking about being burned after death. And yet you reference Jesus in Matthew. He said "The Son of Man (Jesus) will send out his angels and they will weed out of his kingdom everything that causes sin and all who do evil They will throw them into the fiery furnace where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth." (Matt: 13:40-42). That's just one of many. As I said, Jesus talks about Hell more than any other NT writer, yet you are referencing Matthew as a point for your side, when Jesus multiple times in Matthew references Hell. Without any insult, I'd like you to reconcile the versus in Matthew where Jesus talks about people being thrown into the "fiery furnace" with your views.  (Sep 1, 2014 | post #86)

Christian

intelligent debate

Ok, I'm asking just for clarification sake here. Who/How is it determined whether one goes to Hell or Heaven? How is one's time in Hell determined? If, after being punished the spirit is snuffed out and ceases to exist, what's the point of the punishment? Just asking, not arguing.  (Sep 1, 2014 | post #81)

Christian

intelligent debate

I don't find real questions offensive and candidly discussing things helps me sort out my own views as well. You say that "many people through no fault of their own have been and are born into circumstances with less of an opportunity for salvation than you." Everyone has the same opportunity for salvation as me. Take Jesus out of the equation here. Everyone one has the same opportunity because all they have to do is make all the right choices for their entire life. We all have that ability to tell the truth, be kind, care about others, not get angry, etc. And there are no circumstances that forces people to lie, cheat, lust, steal, etc. so everyone is born with the same opportunity. There were no circumstances that forced Hitler to become what he became. He made millions of choices along his path, just as Paul Schneider made choices that resulted in his becoming a pastor and eventually being martyred at Buchenwald. Let's say you and I are talking about life after death and what comes next. We agree that bad people should be punished and good people rewarded. We recognize that we all make mistakes and so there needs to be a way to set aside the mistakes that even good people get. That is where all the different religions come in, as various ways to do that. Reincarnation to have another chance to do better. Follow specific rules to gain points. Make a sacrifice to earn points. Etc. Part of the problem is that we especially want the punishment to be fair as we define fair. Let's say Hitler gets 10,000,000 years of punishment and I get 2 years. After that Hitler goes to Heaven. But Heaven is for eternity so while his punishment was long his reward is even longer and no matter how long he is punished his reward will always be infinitely greater. So at the end, Hitler and I get the same reward. Is that equitable? Christianity is very logical and reasonable, but like a math problem you have to work through it step by step. Most folks want to jump around without understanding the thinking that goes from one step to the next.  (Sep 1, 2014 | post #79)

Christian

intelligent debate

A couple of clarifying points. As I have repeatedly said, I’m not here to argue Atheism versus Christianity like some 5th grader claiming my dad is bigger than your dad. That appears to be what you are looking for and there are plenty of folks who will oblige you around here. You mention that Hell is a Christian idea. From Easton’s Bible Dictionary: “Hell derived from the Saxon helan, to cover; hence the covered or the invisible place. In Scripture there are three words so rendered: Sheol, occurring in the Old Testament sixty-five times. The Greek word hades of the New Testament has the same scope of signification as sheol of the Old Testament. Gehenna, in most of its occurrences in the Greek New Testament, designates the place of the lost.” If Hell was a Christian invention than Jesus (who was Jewish BTW) wouldn't have talked about it and his followers and listeners (who were also mostly Jewish) would have needed him to explain what he was talking about. Again, from Easton: “The inhabitants of sheol are "the congregation of the dead" ( Proverbs 21:16 ). It is the abode of the wicked ( Numbers 16:33 ; Job 24:19 ; Psalms 9:17 ; 31:17 , etc.); Sheol is described as deep ( Job 11:8 ), dark ( Job 10:21 Job 10:22 ), with bars ( 17:16 ). The dead "go down" to it ( Numbers 16:30 Numbers 16:33 ; Ezek. Numbers 31:15 Numbers 31:16Numbers 31:17 ).” The rest of your points about Hindus, Jews and Christians are as accurate as your claim that Hell is a Christian invention and in Topix, I don’t have the space, time, nor desire to go through each and every one and correct them. The title on this thread is “Intelligent Debate.” When you say “You Christians imagine a God who is very much like a human tribal chieftain writ large and living up in the sky, a God with very man-like faults and predilections” there isn't any intelligence in that nor any desire for a real discussion. Just a straw man looking for another child to argue with and I am so beyond that. So, enjoy your Labor Day holiday hope your weather is good.  (Sep 1, 2014 | post #78)

Christian

intelligent debate

Very true and so what? The initial post that I answered was "I would like to have an intelligent, civil discussion/debate with any knowledgeable christian who is up to the challenge. I am a pretty "devout" atheist but I am really open to maybe "believing " if I can find someone to intelligently answer my gripes. Some of them are the ones you've heard before and some of them, I am fairly sure, are different. Peace" That's it. I said I would answer his questions. I'm not here to convert him or anyone else. If you have a question great. As long as it isn't insulting I'll respond with respect. If all you want to do is try to show how smart you are and how stupid Christians are, you are welcome to chat with someone else.  (Aug 31, 2014 | post #70)

Christian

intelligent debate

In the initial post that started this thread the issue was "I would like to have an intelligent, civil discussion/debate with any knowledgeable christian who is up to the challenge. I am a pretty "devout" atheist but I am really open to maybe "believing " if I can find someone to intelligently answer my gripes. Some of them are the ones you've heard before and some of them, I am fairly sure, are different. Peace" This isn't about arguing whether Atheism or Christianity is correct. First there are thousands of years worth of material, probably hundreds of thousands of books, plenty of material on the internet, and let's face it, given less than 2% of folks buy the ideas of Atheism, the debate has been pretty much decided. I'm not interested in converting anyone or going down that road. Been there, done that. For me, the starting point way back at the beginning was that there is one God and that both heaven and hell are real. If you want to join this discussion that's fine but keep in mind that given both heaven and hell are real when the atheist says folks don't go to heaven then that leaves only one other alternative. I also said that I was defining Hell as being absent from God. So if after death one ceases to exist, that would, by definition be absent from God. Thus in Hell. What I find funny is that atheism is pretty much the only religion that guarantees their followers lose. If Atheism is true, then when everyone dies they cease to exist but they don't know it so they lose. OTOH if atheism is false, when their followers die they find out they were wrong and again they lose. For Christians, if atheism is true, when they die they cease to exist but they don't know they were wrong. Neither a loss nor a win. OTOH if Christians are right, when they die they win. Football season has started so the atheist would be like a person betting everything they have that the Yankees will win the Super Bowl. No matter what happens and who plays in the game, the atheist can never win.  (Aug 31, 2014 | post #69)

Christian

intelligent debate

I hope you are having a good Labor Day weekend. Whether you believe in one God, multiple gods or no gods is up to you. Theology is the "systematic and RATIONAL study of concepts of God and of the nature of religious truths." Theology or the study of God(s) goes back to the age of Plato and given that less then 2% find there to be any truth in atheism, the discussion isn't over whether there is a higher power, but what form that power takes. There are literally thousands of years worth of books related to the subject and you are more than welcome to have at it. By doing so you may discover why polytheism died out. The fact that you said "don't you realize that not even ONE God can be proved" shows that you haven't spent much time thinking, studying or discussing this idea. One God as well as other religious views can easily be proved and have been done for thousands of years. Proving the existence of God is easy. Proving the existence of God to an individual is impossible because each of us believe or disbelieve on our own. Just because one can create a logical proof doesn't mean that people accept that proof any more than proving X is a better candidate or Y is a better product means that everyone will vote for X and buy Y. However a logical proof to support the ideas of atheism has never been created, which is why it's never been taken seriously be scholars or the general population around the world. But as I said, I'm not here to convince you but I'm sure you can find someone with the time and inclination to do so on one of the forums around here.  (Aug 31, 2014 | post #68)

Christian

intelligent debate

I hope yo are having a good Labor Day weekend. Ok, we’ll stick with the Christian POV and let’s start by clearing up a few things. The inability for man to go to heaven isn't because of God, it’s because of our own choices and the world around us that we created. Babies don’t go to Hell nor do little children so no, God didn't create human beings and condemn them all to eternal punishment the moment they were born. As we grow up we make choices that hurt others and ourselves. God doesn't make you lie or lust. He doesn't cause me to get angry at my wife or cheat on my taxes. All of that is on us and in every situation we have the ability to choose right from wrong, nice from awful. Pascal noted that man is simultaneously heroic and wretched. He is capable of noble and wonderful thoughts and deeds, yet he also plots and performs horrible actions that are unworthy of even the lowest animals. Indeed, part of man’s greatness is that he can use has faculty of reason to recognize his baseness. He knows what is good but he will not do it. He is captive to selfish and evil desires and he gives in to those desires because his will is weak. God created us perfectly and with the ability to live our lives perfectly. We are the ones who choose to do otherwise. Now if God had created us without the ability to live perfect lives then yes, it would be on him and would be inequitable. But he didn't. Like you I have kids and I watched them go from beautiful babies to angelic 5 year olds to tweens, teens and then adults. And you know what? I never sat down with them and taught them how to lie, to be mean to their siblings, to hide stuff and sneak around. They never had one class in school or a lecture from me but they definitely figured it out on their own. Nor was it something God created them with. If it was we could just take every person and cut out the part that makes them lie, lust, cheat, act cowardly, etc. Divorce, poverty, prisons, wars, etc. would all be eliminated with a simple operation. How exactly is the Christian POV towards salvation “unbelievably” inequitable? Under reincarnation systems my wife and daughters have 0% chance simply because of gender. Under some religions most of the world has 0% chance simply because of nationality. Under Atheism everyone has a 0% chance of salvation. Hitler nor any of his followers were punished for their actions nor was Mother Teresa or Nelson Mandela rewarded for theirs. In your POV which religion is truly equitable?  (Aug 31, 2014 | post #67)

Christian

intelligent debate

It isnt' the people of the Christian faith who have condemned you to hell. Heaven and Hell existed long before there were any people on the earth and and both of them (in various forms) have been part of every religion including those that were around before Christianity. That's why I said that all of us starting in Hell isn't a Christian thing, it's a Theological thing. If you think about it, even the Atheists believe everyone goes to Hell (Hell being defined as not with God). I agree with you about how people live their faith. I've seen lots of folks who are singing in the choir on Sunday and then on Monday are cheating on their spouse, ripping other folks off, etc. The way I look at it is that when I allowed Jesus to come into my life the Holy Spirit took up residence in me. At that point I went from 100% human to 99% human and 1% Holy Spirit. From that point on, the influence of the Holy Spirit has grown so that after 25+ years now I'm maybe 95% human. For some I've see in the church I don't think they have ever moved beyond that initial 1%, and for some they really never became a Christian. They simply accepted Christianity as true without opening up to Jesus. Consider the person who says they believe that Jesus lived, died and came back to life. They accept that Jesus healed the sick and raised the dead. They have no problem with Jesus as the Son of God and the Holy Spirit. Sounds like a Christian except the enemy and all the demons not only believe all of those same things, they know them for facts because they were there. For those of us who are Christians, it is a journey with ups and downs, wins and losses, excitement and loneliness. It isn't something where one goes under the water and comes up glowing in the dark. A second part of your issue is that we are all people with different likes and dislikes. As a simple example my mother-in-law likes dressing up for church and singing all the old hymns. My brother-in-law likes a more relaxed dress code but he doesn't really believe in what's called the gifts of the Spirit (prophecy, speaking in tongues, healing, etc.). I started as a Southern Baptist at 26, dressed up and singing old hymns. Moved through different churches and experiences and now have seen and experienced a lot of things. Some people like High Church and some don't just as some people like country music and some don't. I agree that there are folks who feel that everyone should be like them and it is unfortunate. I find the issues they get so worked up about are tertiary at best and they definitely don’t represent Jesus or His church well.  (Aug 29, 2014 | post #47)

Christian

intelligent debate

Wow. Are you really that new to this? Both the Roman and Jewish historians acknowledged his existence. Can you provide any historical evidence that his existence was refuted by the 1st Century Jews?  (Aug 28, 2014 | post #40)

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