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Some Christian analogies of mine


I've been mulling these analogies over for some time and thought I'd share them. Some I've shared already in other threads during the course of conversation.

Armenianism vs. Reformed Doctrine

So half of Christians say "You choose whether or not you become a Christian" and the other half say "God chooses whether or not you become a Christian". The former is Armenianism, the later is Calvinism, or Reformed Theology. I fall with the Calvinists because I believe it is what scripture teaches.

For example, Paul in Romans says, "For he [God] says to Moses, "I will have mercy on whom I have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion." So then it depends not on human will or exertion, but on God, who has mercy. For the Scripture says to Pharaoh, "For this very purpose I have raised you up, that I might show my power in you, and that my name might be proclaimed in all the earth." So then he has mercy on whomever he wills, and he hardens whomever he wills.

You will say to me then, "Why does he still find fault? For who can resist his will?" But who are you, O man, to answer back to God? Will what is molded say to its molder, "Why have you made me like this?" Has the potter no right over the clay, to make out of the same lump one vessel for honorable use and another for dishonorable use?" (Romans 9:15-21)

Which is a pretty black-and-white argument that God chooses and saves us, not the other way around.

My brother Armenian, in order to demonstrate that we humans can choose to be Christians, will use other scriptures, such as the following:

"For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life." (John 3:16)

Emphasizing that God died for the world not for a select few "elect".

In order to maintain my view that all of the Bible is God-breathed, 100% correct and does not contradict itself, I must demonstrate that both verses are equally correct at the same time, which is very easy to do in this case. I'll resort to the use of analogy, because I believe analogies are most compelling.

Suppose you are walking down the street in the rain and you see five homeless guys. You have compassion on them and invite them into your house to warm up. You have a big blanket that is large enough to cover all of them, and you place them under it. You are saving the five men from the rain using your blanket. But suppose one man doesn't appreciate your blanket. He acts rude and treats your blanket as if it is his blanket, as if he deserves the blanket. You are quite fed up with him, so you kick him out.

Does this mean your blanket is not big enough to cover the man? Not at all, the blanket is plenty sufficient to cover him. You just don't want to cover him.

Jesus' salvation is the blanket and we are the homeless guys. When Jesus died on the cross, his blanket of salvation extended to all of us--indeed, as John 3;16 says, he died for all mankind, the whole world, because he loved the whole world. But just because his salvation is sufficient to cover us all, this is no reason to assume that we will all receive it. As the Bible clearly states in Romans 9:15 and other places, God is giving his blanket of salvation only to those people he wants, not to all of us.

Who gets into heaven?

This naturally leads us to the question of who gets to go to heaven. I'll start by saying that none of us deserve to go to heaven. Any of us that do see paradise get to out of God's pure mercy. Many people I talk to have a problem with this, because they think everyone should be free to go to heaven, and that by God being selective he is being unfair. This stance, however, is hypocritical.

Suppose you have a house. You invite five homeless people off the streets to stay with you in your house. They don't deserve it. They did nothing to earn it. You invited them just because you are a fine and dandy guy. Well, one of these guys resents you. He treats your house as if it were his own. He does not follow the rules of your house and he disrespects you. Do you keep him in your house, or should you be free to kick him out? If you know that he is going to act in such a manner before he ever enters, do you reserve the right to bar him admittance into your house? Of course you do.

And yet we humans want to have a double standard with God. Paradise is God's house. He doesn't have to let any of us in, but he does so anyway because he loves us and has compassion on us. But he has some rules. He wants us to love him, and as Jesus said, "If you love me, you will obey my commandments". Frankly, the person who refuses to make God lord of his private life--including his sex life--should in no way expect a free pass to heaven alongside all the people who did make God lord of their private lives.

That person has no right to complain. He doesn't even want to go to heaven anyway. Heaven will be perfect. We will have new, perfect bodies. We will worship and adore Christ in everything we do. We will all have individuality--but only individuality that conforms to God's perfection.

God is saying, "Hey, look, you want to be a little god of your own life? You want to have sex with whomever/whatever you want, worship false gods, worship no gods, hate others, live your own life and disrespect my wishes? Fine, cool, you can go do that. But you won't be coming into my house". And none of us have the right to demand entrance.

Old Testament vs. New Testament

Many Christians I talk with think that the Old Testament doesn't apply to them anymore--which is why they can just wave aside all the hard verses in the Old Testament. You know, the ones where God squashes all the people who live like we do now. But the New Testament is clear when it says that the Old Testament is Scripture--God-inspired and just as relevant today as the New Testament. Even Jesus himself said "I came not to abolish the law but to fulfill it" and "not one iota of the law will ever pass away".

Now this apparent dichotomy has perplexed many Christians. Many follow that if the Old Testament is not abolished, well then we must all start sacrificing goats and wearing bells and tassels on our robes again. The problem arises because most Christians don't understand what the Bible means when it says that the Old Testament has been "fulfilled". I'll use an analogy to demonstrate.

You are 20 years old. You are forbidden to drink booze. That's the law. For you, if you drink booze, you are breaking the law, and are subject to the consequences.

But then you turn 21. You are now free from the law, because you have fulfilled the law. Has the law gone away? No. It still exists. But are you bound to it? No, you are 21, and have met the conditions required to fulfill the law.

Has the purpose of the law disappeared? No. The purpose of the law is to encourage you to drink responsibly, and it is assumed (a BIG assumption) that people older than 20 can drink more responsibly than those who are 20 or younger. Even though you are now 21, you are still expected to drink responsibly.

Jesus turned us all 21. Jesus fulfilled the Old Testament law by dying on the cross and rising from the dead. The law has now been fulfilled, but the purpose of that law still exists. We are not dragged out into the streets and stoned to death anymore for sleeping with prostitutes. But we are still expected to not engage in sexual sin. We no longer have to sacrifice animals for our sins (Jesus' sacrifice was all we needed). But we are still expected to no longer sin.

I just wanted to put into ink the things I've been mulling over recently.

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4/10/2009, 10:53 am Link to this post Send Email to BMDennis   Send PM to BMDennis
 
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Re: Some Christian analogies of mine


As I've said before, I appreciate your calvinist PoV. Depending on which scholar is reading though, those same verses can easily be interpreted either way. Kind of like the Pre-trib/Post-trib rapture theories.

I personally love swapping verses and ideas on these sorts of discussions and resolve to keep an open mind on the subject provided the theory has a sound scriptural base.

How serious the debates aught to be taken though is kind of a sliding scale. Someone shared the metaphor of a bullseye with me.

Birth, death, ressurection, and Christ's role as the savior of mankind's mortal souls is the dead center issue in the bullseye. If that issue is contestable to the person you are speaking with then you are not speaking with a Christian.
Debates between fellow Christians all fall somewhere in the bullseye on merit of importance. Immorality of homosexuality is close to the center, whereas what color your church building should be painted is way outside the bullseye as a non issue.

When debating among your brothers and sisters in Christ, it's important to remember where in the bullseye your discussion lies and behave accordingly, to be willing to let something slide if it's not a big issue.
I've heard many times from lifetime atheists, that it's not even the belief that Jesus could ressurect himself and be God in the flesh that holds them back from Christianity, but rather the fact that Christians argue amongst themselves about [sign in to see URL].

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Re: Some Christian analogies of mine


Hello Oxhorn,

I read one of your topic, "Armenianism vs. Reformed Doctrine," and find your point to be true: God chooses his elects. I have a question, though: if God chooses His elect, does it mean that man does not have the freedom or a choice to accept or refuse God as their Lord and Savior? I believe that, though God chooses his elects, He also let people to decide for themselves to be with Him into their lifes or not.

Even though we appreciate all the things God has given to us, there is a chance that we can choose to leave Him in times of trials and tribulations. In parable of the sower and the seed (Mark 4:1-20 NIV), some seed went to the rocky soil,

     "where it did not have much soil. It sprang up quickly, because the soil was shallow. When the sun came up, the plants were scorched, and they withered because they had no root."

Jesus later explain to the disciples about the parable concerning the rocky soil:

"Others, like seed sown on rocky places, who hear the word and at once recieve it with joy. But since they have no root, they last only a short time. When trouble or persecution comes because of the word, they quickly fall away."

In the beginning, the people were joyous to recieve the word/Gospel, but when tribulation came, they choose to leave.

Two Sundays ago, my pastor told a story of a woman who recieve Christ as her Savior with joy. She became involved in many of the ministries such as cleaning and teaching kids and was initimate within the fellowship. The church at the time knew her very well. It was fine for two years until a trial came to her life. Unforunately, I do not remember what trial she faced. However, whatever she faced, it made her leave her faith and since then, she never came back to church. The people at the church were very amazed how she, had recieved the word with joy, had served the ministries and church, and had spent initimate time with the fellowship, could have left them. Her life was like that of the rocky soil. She grew very quickly, but her root were not deep enough. So, when tribulation came, her faith in God died and she left Him.

Lastly, I think people chosen by God can choose to follow God all the way or leave Him and walk by ourself. One of the best examples is King Saul and King David. Though both of these men are chosen by God to be the king of Israel and used by Him greatly, King Saul was viewed as a wicked man and King David as a righteous man. King Saul chose to disobey God when he didn't follow His instruction all the way: to completely destroyed the city of Amaleklek. He spared the king and kept the animals stocks to themselves. When Samuel came to Saul to tell him what he did wrong, he didn't repent and, instead, made many excuses. As of a result, God stripped Saul of his kingship and gave it to David (1 Samuel 13:1-15). Ever since then, Saul became a evil man: he tried to kill King David and inquire with the witch.
King David, considered to be a man of God, a man who pursued after God's own heart, had committed adultery with Bersheda and murdered her husband, a soilder who loved King David, by sending him to a suicidal mission. Yet, when Nathan told him what he had committed was evil, David repented. As of result, God spared his life (2 Samuel 11:1-12:13). Though King David had to faced problems that resulted from his sin, he still continues to pursue God and praise Him for who he is.

I noticed that God, in His right, rejects Saul as king, and let David lived on as king. I believe that God chooses his elects, but it is up to us if we want to follow Him and let Him be our Lord. I think am more in the middle. God loves so much that he died for the whole world. It is up to us to follow Him and accept him as Lord, in good times and in trials and tribulation. If we choose not to follow Him, he will reject us; but to those who follow Him, he will have compassion on them.

Reply ASAP. Have a nice weekend, and Happy Easter.

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Re: Some Christian analogies of mine


I'm with Bambi (and welcome to the forums.)

 My most recent curiosity is on the issue of God hand selecting people specifically for the purpose of being evil.

Eg: Did God create Hitler to be the man he was so that he would carry out the Holocaust for the sake of the plan?

Or,
Did God create Adolf Hitler as a human being, knowing full well his destiny and choices he would make and permit it anyway, planning for the future accordingly?

Truly free will? or limited free will?

Brandon and I have discussed this before emoticon

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Re: Some Christian analogies of mine


Ultimately, no, humans have no free will. This seems counterintuitive to us, so let me explain. As the Bible says, God elects some of us unto salvation and others unto destruction, regardless of what we say and do. Practically, this is how it plays out: the man on earth who is saved loves Jesus and “chooses” to follow him, whereas the man who is not saved does not love Jesus and “chooses”, whether actively or passively, to not follow him.

So we humans feel like we are choosing God. But we are only choosing God because God changed our hearts, making us new creatures which are distinguished by our love of Christ. To us, it feels completely natural to love and follow Christ, but only because we are made to naturally love and follow Christ.

You use Jesus' analogy of the sower. God created the man who does not hear the word with joy to be elected unto damnation. But he also created the man who might at one time appear to receive the word with joy but ultimately reject it later to be elected unto damnation. Jesus only created the man who receives the word with joy and lives that word for the rest of his life to be elected unto salvation.

In the end, it comes down to a heart issue. Can a death-bed confessional really bring a man into God's fold? Yes, if the man's heart is sincere. That is, if God predestined that man to be saved. Likewise, can a life-long missionary who cast out demons in Jesus name forsake Christ on his death bed? Yes, if the man's heat is sincere. Which begs the question, did the man ever sincerely love Christ during his life? I would argue no, and that he was motivated to do good by God for other reasons, just like God used Pharaoh, at the cost of Pharaoh's personal soul, to do good to the Israelites by getting them out of Egypt.

People become involved in the church and with Christians for many reasons. Sadly, some of those reasons are not because they love Jesus. Maybe they are lonely and need a community, and the church serves that purpose. Maybe they feel better about themselves by being accepted by Christians, which is an appeal to their own pride. Maybe doing good works makes them feel like they are earning their righteousness, instead of relying on Christ for his grace. Maybe they attended church just so they could show off their Sunday clothes and sing really loudly so everyone sees how holy they are. In the end, a person's activity in the church—that is, his or her outward appearance—has little to do with his or her actual salvation, which is why you can find ex-meth-taking, wife-beating, bank-robbing thugs in prison who look like hell but love Jesus.

If we allow for humans to have the final say over whether they choose Jesus or not, we are stripping God of his sovereign right to do as he sees fit with his own created property. That is Armenianism, however you dress it, and it has little-to-no scriptural validation.

But I love my Armenian brothers and sisters anyway emoticon

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Re: Some Christian analogies of mine


You raise many valid points. As usual.

 I need to diversify my studies more to keep up with you.



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Re: Some Christian analogies of mine


lulz. So, The Simpsons that played tonight was very relevant. Weird too because I haven't actually watched a Simpsons episode since Ned Flanders sold out and slept with the movie star.

The climax of the show was Bart saying something along the lines of "It's the same Jesus."


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Re: Some Christian analogies of mine


Ned Flanders sold out? Awww emoticon

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4/11/2009, 7:12 am Link to this post Send Email to BMDennis   Send PM to BMDennis
 
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Re: Some Christian analogies of mine


Yeah, years ago, was very dissapointing. He dated a popular movie star and things were going really well but it bothered her that they'd never done the deed, so he put out to try to get her to commit.
Afterward she gave the "I'm not ready for a big comittment like marriage" and in the next scene Ned is watching a news bit about her up and marrying a much older director she just met on set 1 week later.

Compromised the character's integrity too much imo.

If you get the chance to watch the catholic simpsons episode (With Liam Neeson) It was good for a chuckle or two.

Last edited by Dusky Beauty, 4/11/2009, 8:19 am


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Re: Some Christian analogies of mine


Heya! A few thoughts -

First of all, isn't it Arminian rather than Armenian? As in, philosophical followers of Jacob Arminius?

Second of all, I went to go look up some apologetics to help me articulate a response. I have always known that there is quite a bit of intellectual debate within Catholicism but what I found surprised even me about the diversity of thought among Catholics regarding predestination.

I got most of my thoughts from ]here, an article from my favorite apologetics magazine. I make no representation about its accuracy in portraying the Calvinist position, but it does a great job articulating and defending the Catholic position(s), and it was a lot of food for thought for me and hopefully others as well.

To pull out a couple of points, to believe in predestination of some sort is unavoidable, simply by virtue of God's infinite knowledge of what will come in combination with is omnipotence. Thus, everything happens either because God wills it to happen or He allows it to happen. Because we are created in God's image (leaving aside our fallen nature for a moment), anything good about any of us is a reflection or a shadow of that trait perfected and fulfilled in God. For example, our creativity - Brandon created the ISW crew, and those characters certainly came to life because of him in a way they could not have any other way. But those characters still primarily reside in Brandon's mind, and they have no life apart from his thoughts and they certainly have no free will. If the ISW characters do something, it is because Brandon directly willed it to happen; there is no possibility of allowing them to do anything on their own accord. When God created Brandon, the same ideas hold true, except Brandon is much more real than the ISW characters will ever be because of the nature and degree of perfection of the being doing the creating. If God wills Brandon to do something, Brandon has no choice - his will is no match for God's. However, if God desires Brandon to do something, but he allows Brandon to do it or not do it, God has allowed Brandon to exercise his free will, and Brandon is free to make the right or wrong choice.

(Thanks for being my visual aid, Brandon.)

This distinction is critical, because it appears clear that while God willed the grace of Jesus's death and resurrection to be sufficient to save the world, he did not will everyone to be saved. He desires everyone to be saved (1 Tim 2:4), but he allows some not to be saved. To continue one of Brandon's analogies, God invited all the homeless into his house, but when they didn't follow the rules, i.e. did not accept his hospitality, he allowed them to leave. God's allowance of some to be damned is not a positive, willful act on God's part, but a lack of interference with the track they are already on, due to original sin and our fallen nature.

I think most of the rest of what Brandon's already posted I agree with - logical consistency with what we know of the nature of God and the universe and what-not.
4/11/2009, 10:01 am Link to this post Send Email to SuXuemei   Send PM to SuXuemei
 


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