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Old 03-22-2001, 05:17 PM   #1
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God is all powerful.

So why did Jesus have to DIE to forgive our sins? Explain why an all-powerful being needs such a medium to absolve us of sin.
 
Old 03-22-2001, 09:08 PM   #2
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Also explain the following.

Jesus's death atoned for all our sins. Had it not, we would all have an eternity of torment in Hell. There are six billion people on the Earth, so the total amount of surrering required for our sins is six billion times eternity. Jesus had three hours of pain on the cross. The cross, by all accounts, is not as bad as Hell. So by my rough calculations, Jesus' suffering was barely enough to cover one peron for swearing when they stubbed their toe.

What happened to the rest of our sins?
 
Old 03-22-2001, 09:34 PM   #3
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Quote:
<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">Originally posted by schalldampfer:
God is all powerful.

So why did Jesus have to DIE to forgive our sins? Explain why an all-powerful being needs such a medium to absolve us of sin.
</font>
All powerful is meaningless without a definition. Such a definition should not include logical impossibilities.
Such a logical impossibility would be this:
Can God make a circular square, or make 2+2=5?
It is difficult to answer yes to either of these questions. An answer of no would seem to limit the all-powerfulness of God.
Yet there is another option: The question doesn't have an answer, ie the question is meaningless/a logical impossibility.
In asking whether a logical impossibility is possible we are in fact not asking a logical question at all.
Thus in defining all-powerful we must exclude from the definition the possibility of the all-powerful being performing logical impossibilities.
ie Definition of All-powerful: The ability to perform any logically sound exercise.
(Do you understand/agree up to here?)

Now we can apply this to your question. If it can be demonstrated that it would be logically unsound to forgive sins without Jesus' death, then an all-powerful God would still require Jesus' death to forgive sins.

Now we progress into deep theology:
God is loving and just. (agreed? Or at least I'm assuming this)
God's just-ness requires that justice occurs.
Thus when people sin, justice is required in the form of punishment for that sin.
God's love doesn't like to see us hurt by punishment.
God skillfully invents system where love and justice both happen: (almost like finding a technicality in a law)
If God punishes Himself for sins, then punishment still happens and we get off.
Thus God gives himself the justice (ie Jesus) and gives us mercy/love.

Ingenious really when you think about it, a brilliant solution to the paradox of Mercy and Justice. (Which are both good things but are mutually contradictory - almost)

Thus anyone who accepts Jesus gets the mercy, and anyone who doesn't gets the justice.

John 3:16-21:
16 "For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but may have eternal life. 17 "Indeed, God did not send the Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. 18 Those who believe in him are not condemned; but those who do not believe are condemned already, because they have not believed in the name of the only Son of God. 19 And this is the judgment, that the light has come into the world, and people loved darkness rather than light because their deeds were evil. 20 For all who do evil hate the light and do not come to the light, so that their deeds may not be exposed. 21 But those who do what is true come to the light, so that it may be clearly seen that their deeds have been done in God."

I suggest you read the Gospel of John with what I've said in mind. There are several other passages about judgement and saving which make it clear.

I hope that helps,
Tercel
 
Old 03-22-2001, 09:49 PM   #4
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<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">Originally posted by Iain Simpson:
Also explain the following.

Jesus's death atoned for all our sins. Had it not, we would all have an eternity of torment in Hell.</font>
No, we would have faced judgement if Jesus hadn't atoned. I'm not sure that judgement can be immediately equated with Hell.

Quote:
<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">There are six billion people on the Earth, so the total amount of suffering required for our sins is six billion times eternity.</font>
Hmmm, possibly... I'm not sure of that. (But I'll assume you're correct for the remainder of this post)
Quote:
<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2"> Jesus had three hours of pain on the cross. The cross, by all accounts, is not as bad as Hell. So by my rough calculations, Jesus' suffering was barely enough to cover one peron for swearing when they stubbed their toe.

What happened to the rest of our sins?
</font>
1) You're confusing physical pain with suffering. The suffering that comes from sin is separation from God. That in itself is what many believe is the definition of Hell. (Personally, I fence-sit ) Jesus cries out that God has forsaken him, which seems to anguish him more than anything else. Thus a great (infinite?) amount of his suffering was the separation from God rather than the physical pain. And then according to Peter (I think it's 2nd Peter somewhere) he spent time in Hell as well until he was ressurrected.
2) Jesus, being God, is infinite. Thus his suffering can be infinite. As for the required 6 billion times infinite, we are dealing with two infinites here and I hardly think we are in a position to compare the two in size.

Does that make sense?
Tercel
 
Old 03-22-2001, 10:02 PM   #5
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Is it just to allow an evil person eternal reward for a single belief, though he may have been equivlent to stalin, killing millions of people?

Is it just to send one to hell for not believing, but acting as He would have us act?
 
Old 03-23-2001, 03:37 PM   #6
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Hi Tercel

Well, I am of course aware of the paradoxes involved with multiple infinities etc. My post was a little on the facetious side. But it does hint at many tenents of the Christian doctrine of salvation which I don't like. Or should I say Christian doctrines, because Christianity is far from a monolithic religion - many Christians now don't even believe in Hell at all. But my biggest problems (as usual) are with the conservative and fundamentalist positions.

In Hell, whether defined as eternal fire, separation from God or both, we have a doctrine of infinite punishment. Since people are finite, this means infinite punishment for finite sin, which seems to be about the most unjust thing I can imagine. It also means that when I jokingly suggested that three hours of punishment equates to one swear word I was wide of the mark. One swear word equates to infinite punishment. Mass murder also equates to infinite punishment. How does this represent justice? It simply makes God an infinite fiend.

Dividing people into sheep an goats is ridiculous. Is there really nothing in between perfect goodness and infinite wickedness? The Catholic doctrine of purgatory at least addresses this paradox, even if it was promoted mainly to sell indulgences.

As for the Hell/judgement point you raised, does that mean you think unbelievers will go to heaven if we lead good lives? Or are we all too sinful and debauched to possibly be saved without faith? The fact that you quote John "Those who believe in him are not condemned; but those who do not believe are condemned already, because they have not believed in the name of the only Son of God" implies the latter. In that case judgement does equate with Hell.

But if justice means evil requires punishment (which I don't accept anyway - punishment is just a polite way of saying revenge), then surely it means that good requires reward. So where does the reward for good works come if we're going straight to Hell for not believing?

And I still don't accept the notion that one man can be punished in another's place. This means forgiving one crime and comitting another. Punishing Jesus for someone else's crimes cannot in any way be called justice. Even if we accept that justice requires punishment, punishment can still only be justice if aimed at the right target. Otherwise it just becomes God lashing out in anger at any target he can reach.

And how does the doctrine of mercy for believers work? Do you still have to refrain from sinning to get Jesus' mercy? Ah, but if you don't sin you don't need mercy. Or does belief entitle you to sin with impunity?

Emperor Constantine knew his baptism would mean his sins would be forgiven. So he deliberatly put off his baptism for as long as possible so he could get his money's worth of sins. Along the way he murdered his wife and daughter. Then he was baptised at the end of his life, knowing this would forgive all his sins and he'd be guaranteed a place in heaven. This type of thing was quite common among early Christians - late baptism was abandoned more because of the risk of dying suddenly in your sins and going to Hell rather than because of any moral or logical problems with it.

So my question really boils own to this: What kind of justice can even consider punishing an unbeliever more severely than a believer who has led a worse life?
 
Old 03-24-2001, 06:24 AM   #7
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Don't agree with Tercel and "logical impossibilities."

Tercel:
&lt;God is loving and just. (agreed? Or at least I'm assuming this)God's just-ness requires that justice occurs.&gt;&gt;
Many passages in the Bible show God having his followers kill: Dt.17:2-7 (killing
those with different religious beliefs), 1 Kg.18:40 (killing religious leaders of different religion) Doesn't sound too just to me!

&lt;&lt;&lt;Thus when people sin, justice is required in the form of punishment for that sin.
God's love doesn't like to see us hurt by punishment.God skillfully invents system
where love and justice both happen&gt;&gt;&gt;

I still say a God that could create this one "speck" of planet in this vast universe of
millions of planets could also create man with free will and without sin. As for God's
love not wanting to see is hurt by punishment...well, the Bible does not support this notion as he destroys cities with fire, floods the planet, sends plagues, kills all the first born, and so on, and so on.

&lt;&lt;If God punishes Himself for sins, then punishment still happens and we get off.
Thus God gives himself the justice (ie Jesus) and gives us mercy/love.&gt;&gt;&gt;
This makes no sense. God created everything so he also created sin. If he did not
create sin where did it come from. If he didn't then he's not all powerful. How does
punishing yourself for something you created make it all right. The day he supposedly
created the planet he knew everything that ever was or will be.

Also, on Jesus...God could make a thousand Jesus' and bring them all back to life.
So is Jesus part of God or separate from god? So those 3 days of death (when god/jesus full well knows they'll be brought back to life) make up for the eternity of hell (and he created hell) he lays on an inferior being that he created and that he knew would sin?

As for logical impossibilities: God turning someone into a pillar of salt; Jesus feeding a thousand with a few loafs; raising people from the dead; the plagues that are put on
Egypt; parting the red sea; fitting all the animals on the ark and feeding them; healing
the blind; manna from heaven; and so on and so on!

&lt;&lt;In asking whether a logical impossibility is possible we are in fact not asking a
logical question at all.&gt;&gt;
Considering that God made everything including the laws of science and physics,
etc., and, in light of the logical impossibility of the "miracles" in the bible. It is perfectly logical to ask if God could make a circular square or any other such notion. Anything that is a "miracle" is a logical impossibility yet we are expected to accept this without evidence other than a Bible that's filled with errancy?

I am God. I love you but I create you inferior and with flaw. I know you will sin but I place you in direct danger and know you'll be tempted. When you sin and fail with
your inferior mind that I gave you, I penalize you for eternity eventhough I knew it would happen. Not to mention I make sin (whatever that is) in the first place!

Yeah, this all makes perfect sense.
 
Old 03-24-2001, 08:56 PM   #8
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[quote]<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">Originally posted by schalldampfer:
Is it just to allow an evil person eternal reward for a single belief, though he may have been equivlent to stalin, killing millions of people?[quote]
Yes and no, that's the whole point... ~sigh~
It's not just so far as that the person isn't getting their deserved punishment, it's merciful. But it is just because Jesus is getting the punish, so the punishment is being served.

Quote:
Is it just to send one to hell for not believing, but acting as He would have us act?</font>
Well for starters if the person doesn't believe then they aren't acting as God would have them act. But say they'd never heard of Jesus and they acted as God would have them act then I am certain they would not go to Hell.
 
Old 03-24-2001, 09:25 PM   #9
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Quote:
<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">Originally posted by Iain Simpson:
But my biggest problems (as usual) are with the conservative and fundamentalist positions.</font>
I would probably count as conservative... or at least as opposed to liberal...

Quote:
<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">In Hell, whether defined as eternal fire, separation from God or both, we have a doctrine of infinite punishment. Since people are finite, this means infinite punishment for finite sin, which seems to be about the most unjust thing I can imagine.</font>
God is infinite though, so sin against God must be infinite not finite... I think.

Quote:
<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">As for the Hell/judgement point you raised, does that mean you think unbelievers will go to heaven if we lead good lives? Or are we all too sinful and debauched to possibly be saved without faith? The fact that you quote John "Those who believe in him are not condemned; but those who do not believe are condemned already, because they have not believed in the name of the only Son of God" implies the latter. In that case judgement does equate with Hell.</font>
You forget those who die without ever hearing of Jesus. They face judgement but not necessarily Hell. (Or possibly they will have an opportunity to accept Jesus?)
Actually I wanted to quote one of the other verses in John which demonstrated by belief more clearly but I couldn't remember the number of the verse. The passage that I did quote is unfortunately confusing because it combines several ideas into one.
The first idea is that anyone who truly believes in Jesus (or moreover that he died for their sins) will not be judged but given eternal life.
The second idea is that Jesus/God is the light and near God all is revealed whilst away from God all is hiden. This I think applies to Heaven and Hell too. (Although it's rather a scary thought: In heaven does everyone there know what we have done in our lives? If true I'm sure many people would prefer Hell because Heaven would be worse)
The third idea is that anyone who does what is good goes to the light that their good deeds might be shown, while those who do evil hide in the darkness.
The fourth idea is that the people who do what is good will all recognise the light in Jesus and believe and thus be saved. While the evil people will hide from the light in Jesus, and not believe and in the judgement be condemned for their evilness.

So John's not saying that all people who do not believe will go to Hell, but rather that the majority of people who hear of Jesus and do not believe do so because they are evil and therefore will go to Hell. Believers and non-believers is therefore a reasonable approximation.

Quote:
<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">But if justice means evil requires punishment (which I don't accept anyway - punishment is just a polite way of saying revenge), then surely it means that good requires reward. So where does the reward for good works come if we're going straight to Hell for not believing?</font>
See above

Quote:
<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">And I still don't accept the notion that one man can be punished in another's place. This means forgiving one crime and comitting another. Punishing Jesus for someone else's crimes cannot in any way be called justice. Even if we accept that justice requires punishment, punishment can still only be justice if aimed at the right target. Otherwise it just becomes God lashing out in anger at any target he can reach.</font>
I think that someone else, volutarily, chosing to take someone elses punishment and the law-breaker accepting satifies the requirements of justice.

Quote:
<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">So my question really boils own to this: What kind of justice can even consider punishing an unbeliever more severely than a believer who has led a worse life?</font>
Remember the two of them have been offered forgiveness for their wrong-doings, yet one has refused. What kind of justice denies that person's right to refuse forgiveness?
 
Old 03-24-2001, 09:44 PM   #10
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Quote:
<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">Originally posted by Thomas:
&lt;&lt;&lt;Thus when people sin, justice is required in the form of punishment for that sin.
God's love doesn't like to see us hurt by punishment.God skillfully invents system
where love and justice both happen&gt;&gt;&gt;

I still say a God that could create this one "speck" of planet in this vast universe of
millions of planets could also create man with free will and without sin. As for God's
love not wanting to see is hurt by punishment...well, the Bible does not support this notion as he destroys cities with fire, floods the planet, sends plagues, kills all the first born, and so on, and so on.</font>
Free will without sin? The notion of free will without the possibility of sin is the same as free will without the possibility of choosing. It is a logical impossibility, it can't happen, it doesn't even make sense to talk about it happening.
Normally whenever the bible talks of God causing damage to humans it is because the people are doing evil and God is punishing them.

Quote:
<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">&lt;&lt;If God punishes Himself for sins, then punishment still happens and we get off.
Thus God gives himself the justice (ie Jesus) and gives us mercy/love.&gt;&gt;&gt;
This makes no sense. God created everything so he also created sin. If he did not
create sin where did it come from. If he didn't then he's not all powerful. How does
punishing yourself for something you created make it all right. The day he supposedly
created the planet he knew everything that ever was or will be.</font>
God created the possibility of sin by giving free will. Man exercised that possibility.

Quote:
<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">As for logical impossibilities: God turning someone into a pillar of salt; Jesus feeding a thousand with a few loafs; raising people from the dead; the plagues that are put on
Egypt; parting the red sea; fitting all the animals on the ark and feeding them; healing
the blind; manna from heaven; and so on and so on!</font>
Firstly on the pillar of salt: Sodom was located in the region that is now the dead sea area. Volcanic activity (similar to that described destroying Sodom) combined with the high amounts of salt in the rocks there has buried many trees etc under layers of salt. The story that Lot's wife was turned into a pillar of salt is very convincing: This is what would happen to someone caught that situation.

Those are not logical impossibilities, they are just miracles. (With the exception of the animals in the ark) They make complete sense as possible events if we allow God to act. A logical impossibility is a thing which simply cannot even exist because it's descripton is inconsisant.

Quote:
<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">&lt;&lt;In asking whether a logical impossibility is possible we are in fact not asking a
logical question at all.&gt;&gt;
Considering that God made everything including the laws of science and physics,
etc., and, in light of the logical impossibility of the "miracles" in the bible. It is perfectly logical to ask if God could make a circular square or any other such notion. Anything that is a "miracle" is a logical impossibility yet we are expected to accept this without evidence other than a Bible that's filled with errancy?</font>
Damn it, repeat 10 times: "Miracles are not by nature logical impossibilities".
Miracles are simply events where reality did not follow its normal laws due to divine intervention. Scientific normal laws are a requirement if we are to have miracles. (A miracle by definition is abnormal and we can't have abnormal without normal)
 
 

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