Friday, December 01, 2006

Moving Beyond Pro-Life

This is Douglas Wilson's view of abortion: http://www.credenda.org/issues/8-5anvil.php

This was my response to him:

Dear Doug Wilson,

I have been a fan of yours for the past two and half years (having spent 2 of those years as school teacher at Summit Christian Academy in Yorktown, VA). I had several questions and comments about your essay, "Moving Beyond 'Pro-Life'".

First, how do you define the word "sacred"? I have often argued that "There is no room for secularism, when all of life is sacred." The way I have meant the word sacred, I do not believe I am in heresy for this statement. However, it all hinges on how the word sacred is defined, and depending on how it is defined, I may have to adjust my rhetoric. My point though is that human beings are created in the image of God with great value and therefore should not be murdered.

That doesn't mean that God did wrong when he poured out His wrath on sinners. He is holy, and His wrath is just. That killing is not murder, but abortion is.

On the "fanatics" that kill abortion doctors, in my mind, I put them in the same camp with the abolitionist, John Brown, and John Brown in the same camp with them. But I have not figured out what camp to put them in yet. Are they just vigilantes, or are they lawless murderers? I see clearly that you say they are lawless murderers, but I do not see clearly how you make that judgment.

You said, "When God judges America for her contempt for her children, the judgment will fall not only on the adults, but also on the children--children considered so contemptible that even their own parents slaughtered them."

Perhaps in some cases. However, in many cases, do you not suppose that the children are completely innocent, and are saved by God's grace? Aren't Christians often the victims of injustice? You seem to almost categorically state that all aborted children are contemptible. In truth, we are all contemptible, but who will bring any charge against those whom God has chosen? Is birth necessary in order to be "reborn" or do all who die within the womb go to hell?
You said, "God does not delight in the death of the wicked (Ez.18:23) and neither should we. But if they persist in loving death after hearing the truth over the course of decades, then we ought not force this emergent alien nation into external righteousness. Let them kill themselves, for 'God gave them over to a debased mind, to do those things which are not fitting' (Rom. 1:28), even 'murder' (Rom. 1:29). This is the wrath of God."

There is the Scripture in Revelation that says to let people be as people will be (let those who are vile continue to be vile, etc). However, the vast council of Scripture tells us to hold back those staggering toward the slaughter, to speak out against it, to resist, to make disciples, to command the gospel, to forcefully advance the Kingdom of God. I think the last thing the present church needs to hear is "Let the ungodly kill themselves." Rather, should we not be preaching, "Contend for the faith" and "Boldly declare the gospel" and "Love your neighbor as you love yourself"? Love always protects. True, when God finally pours out his wrath, we ought to acknowledge the justice of His judgment, but until that point, should we not intercede as Abraham interceded on behalf of Sodom and Gomorrah? Will not our prayers move the heart of God (according to His Sovereign plan to have the prayers of his people move His heart)?

"Third, we must take up arms to defend God's covenant children (Neh. 4:14). But we may not use violence until they come after our children. We ought not take up arms to overthrow the established authorities or to defend the lives of Molech worshippers and their children. This is far more secular than biblical."

Is it responsible to take the situation in the Book of Nehemiah to justify violence in our own day? Is there a clear line in Scripture that enables us to discern when violent action is called for and when non-violent protest should be used instead? Is it "our" children that we must defend or "God's covenant" children? How do you know that the child of the Molech worshipper is not one of God's elect? Should not that child be so protected? And what about defending our wives, our sisters, and our mothers?

As we are talking about taking up arms, should we also be talking about how to acquire the weapons we will need when we have to go to battle? Should we be talking about training a Christian militia?

Proverbs says, "A wise man attacks the city of the mighty and pulls down the stronghold in which they trusts." Certainly, we should always be doing this spiritually (through prayer, praise, and worship), intellectually (through preaching, teaching), example (through work with integrity and purity). But what about physically? Should we, like Gideon and Josiah, physically be tearing down the idols of the land?

In a time when many in the modern church have failed to love their neighbors as they love themselves, it seems too easy for people to read your rhetoric and embrace bigotry in the name of Christianity.

God bless.

23 Comments:

Blogger iMuslim said...

Hi Dan,

I read Wilson's article and had a couple of questions.

Quote:
First, whenever any descendant of Adam dies, he is receiving nothing less than what he deserves. In Adam we all die. This mortality, this bondage to death, is the result of our collective rebellion as represented in our first father. We are a cursed race, subject to death. The administration of this death, however, is in the hands of the sovereign God alone. The Lord gives life, and consequently the Lord is the only one who can authorize the taking of it.

Do you and other Christians share in this opinion that death is a "curse" from God?

And...

Quote:
Wisdom says "all those who hate me love death" (Prov. 8:36)

Does "death" here mean murder?

Thanks for your help.

BW

7:05 PM  
Blogger Dan said...

iMuslim,

I won't speak for all who put the label "Christian" on themselves, because there are a great many heretics who use that label. I will speak for "orthodoxy" - that is - those who believe that the Bible is the inspired, infallible authoritative Word of God - the rule for faith and practice.

When Adam fell, he died - spiritually. He also eventually died physically. This is the consequence of sin. Romans 3:23 says, "For all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God." Romans 6:23 says, "For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life through Christ Jesus our Lord." This death is spiritual and physical. As a result of Adam's sin (aside from a couple notable exceptions), we all die physically. And sin leads to spiritual depravity and death. Hell is a place of eternal death.

In Proverbs, we are exhorted, all who hate wisdom, love death. Our American culture is divided because a great many people mock God and mock wisdom and love death. In truth, we have all sinned. Because of our sin, those who do not believe in the Lord Jesus Christ are already dead spiritually. For in Ephesians, we who believe, are told, "As for you, you were dead in your transgressions, but God made you alive in Christ Jesus. It is by grace you have been saved."

No amount of good works or religiosity can make a dead person alive. You, who do not believe in Jesus Christ - the Son of God, are spiritually dead. By continually rejecting the atonement that has been provided for you by the blood of Jesus Christ, you are in danger of being given over completely to a depraved mind (Romans 1). Be earnest and repent while the LORD tarries! Humbly come to Jesus Christ by faith - not in your own goodness or your own ability to please God. You are a wretched sinner. Come to Christ who loves you and who died on the cross for you - the just for the unjust - that you might experience rivers of living water that flow out of Jesus Christ - the Son of God.

God bless.

7:27 AM  
Blogger iMuslim said...

You are a wretched sinner.

Thanks for the reminder Dan, but i already know this!

That is why as often as possible i seek the forgiveness of God.

I actually wrote something about this on another blog a few mins ago. I hope you don't mind me pasting it here.

God said:
"O son of Adam, so long as you call upon Me and ask of Me, I shall forgive you for what you have done, and I shall not mind.
O son of Adam, were your sins to reach the clouds of the sky and were you then to ask forgiveness of Me, I would forgive you.
O son of Adam, were you to come to Me with sins nearly as great as the earth and were you then to face Me, ascribing no partner to Me, I would bring you forgiveness nearly as great as it.
"

The ability to repent from sin is a gift to the believer from God. It is what grants us hope for a brighter future. Forgiveness is conditional upon the following:

1. Cessation of the sin.
2. Regret and remorse of the heart.
3. Firm resolve not to return to the sin.
4. Returning the right of the oppressed, in that which is particular to the rights of man.

It's that simple!

6:27 PM  
Blogger iMuslim said...

P.S. Do the orthodoxy believe that our father Adam and mother Eve (peace be upon them both) were forgiven by God for their sins?

6:30 PM  
Blogger Dan said...

The justice of God demands that those who sin must surely die. It is that simple. No amount of saying you are sorry and being remorseful and praying and doing good works can get you to a place of earning God's forgiveness and love (as if love and forgiveness could ever be earned). God's holiness and justice demand that blood be shed for your sin and mine.

Jesus paid the price for sinners. His blood was good enough to pay the price for sinners because Jesus - the Son of God - was/is perfect.

An old Christian hymn goes like this:

What can wash away my sin?
Nothing but the blood of Jesus.
What can make me whole again?
Nothing but the blood of Jesus.
Oh, precious is the flow!
That makes me white as snow!
No other fount I know.
Nothing but the blood of Jesus.


By denying the doctrine of atonement, you can not be saved. No good work will ever save you. You must be born again - and that by God. (John 3)

May the God of Abraham reveal Himself to you. If you really believe in the God of Abraham, then you will acknowledge Jesus - the Son of God.

God bless.

10:35 PM  
Blogger MarcoConley said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

7:08 PM  
Blogger MarcoConley said...

(first post had too many grammatical errors for me to live with it)

As usual, let me jump in here to play devil's advocate (though don't take that too literally!). You say:

On the "fanatics" that kill abortion doctors, in my mind, I put them in the same camp with the abolitionist, John Brown, and John Brown in the same camp with them. But I have not figured out what camp to put them in yet. Are they just vigilantes, or are they lawless murderers? I see clearly that you say they are lawless murderers, but I do not see clearly how you make that judgment.

I'm puzzled. Earlier, you were very insistent about the need to vocally condemn organizations which undertake terrorist actions.

But it seems to me that the situation of an abortion clinic bomber is substantially easier to condemn than Hezbollah is. For example, how many abortion clinic bombers do you know that spend hundreds of millions of dollars on humanitarian aid, runs hospitals, clinics, and schools.

Now, I don't mean to say Hezbollah is all good-- far from it. But if you find it difficult to categorize abortion clinic terrorists, imagine how much harder it is for a Palestinian to condemn the organization that gives him and his countrymen food, medicine, and education.

No one but God knows for sure if abortion doctors are killing people or not-- but everyone knows that the Israeli military has killed people. If it's difficult for you to categorize abortion clinic bombers as lawless, murdering terrorists, then surely it must be even more difficult for muslims to decide how to categorize Hezbollah.

7:19 PM  
Blogger iMuslim said...

Dear Dan,

It's not a matter of earning God's forgiveness - God is the Most Merciful. He is also the Strict in Punishment, but He has promised that His Mercy will overcome His Wrath in the case of those who repent from their sins and do righteous good deeds.

God has no need to punish those who fear Him and obey His commands.

As for requiring a blood sacrifice to forgive sins - i'm sorry, but that is one of the most pagan things i've heard any Christian say to me!

God is not in need, full stop.

It seems to me that whatever form of Christianity you are following is trying to reconcile between the Vengeful God of the O.T and the Merciful God of the N.T.

God does not change - He has always been Merciful and He has always been Just.

He has always been!

He knew what we would be like before creating us, so to say that something had to change so He could compensate for our sins suggests a lack of forward planning on God's part. This is just not right. God is all-Knowing, Aware.

I can never accept that God would be in need of anything, especially to come down to Earth and sacrifice Himself for us as a human.

The God of Abraham is the God of Jesus and the God of all the Prophets. They all testified that the Lord is One.

Anyway, you won't be able to see this until you pray to God for some guidance.

I kindly request that you sincerely pray to God (NOT Jesus - just the One God) to guide you to that which is most pleasing to Him. Don't use any man-made labels (Jesus never named his followers as Christians i imagine). Just ask God to guide you to the truth.

That prayer shouldn't conflict with your existing faith.

BW

iMuslim

7:19 PM  
Blogger MarcoConley said...

There's all kinds of ways of trying to reconcile of the different behavior of NT God (who's very lovey) with the OT God (who condones, nay orders, genocide and rape). My personal favorite is the one by the early Christian sects known as the Gnostics. In their view, the OT God and NT God acted so differently because they were in fact different Gods. The OT God was an evil, hateful, jealous God who created a world filled with disease and pain, and who routinely exterminated all of its inhabitants when they failed to please him. Fortunately, the One True God, who was higher than OT God, had decided to try to rescue us all from the tyranny of th OT God. Therefore, he sent Jesus--- either to teach us how to escape or to act as a sacrifice, so that OT God's bloodlust would be satiated.
--

A while ago, I was playing chess with a stranger online and my opponent began chatting about her life. Turns out, she was a 16 year old Israeli girl. She had a boyfriend whom she had met online-- he was 17, and he lived within 30 mins drive of where she lived. But they had never met, because she was Israeli, he was Palestinian. Both their parents would have freaked out if they had know the two cared about each other. To that "couple", the palestinian-israeli crisis wasn't that important-- their common interest was Japanese animation and comic books.

So Dan, you should read the Quran and the Bhagavad Gita. iMuslim should read the New Testament and the Tao Te Ching if she hasn't already. Because ya know-- this is how the world is going to get fixed. 50 years ago, nobody talked to each other, but now, we all can talk to each other.

I think, in the grand scheme of things, Christianity and Islam are far, far, FAR more similar than most of their adherents ever realize. And I can envision a world where petty, trivial differences like this can be put aside, where religious people, be they jews or muslims or christians or buddhists, can all come together and unite to try, in vain, to fight off the secularists who are going to take over the world. :)

7:39 PM  
Blogger iMuslim said...

I think, in the grand scheme of things, Christianity and Islam are far, far, FAR more similar than most of their adherents ever realize. And I can envision a world where petty, trivial differences like this can be put aside, where religious people, be they jews or muslims or christians or buddhists, can all come together and unite to try, in vain, to fight off the secularists who are going to take over the world. :)

Hi Marco

Believe me, having been through the Christian schooling mill, i have read both the OT and the NT and even been examined on them. I have an A-grade GCSE in Religious Studies which should have been called "Christianity Studies" as i was never taught any other religion! A GCSE is nothing much really (UK qualification for 16-yr old school leavers!) so it's not so relevant now.

However because of this, and my friendships with various Christians, i am quite aware of the similarities between Christianity and Islam. I have a great appreciation for the sayings of Jesus (peace be upon him) in the NT - i think some of them are beautiful and heart-moving. No wonder Jesus is so loved by both the Christians and the Muslims. The same teachings are found in Islam which is only natural as both religions have the same origins with God, the All-Mighty.

Just as the Christians succeeded the Jews, the Muslims succeeded the Christians. And as most of the Jews rejected Jesus, many of the Christians reject Muhammad.

Old habits die hard it seems!

In the mean time, dialogue and education will help us to love one another more through our shared goals (down with secularists! haha).

But unfortunately there will always be some tension because of the major theological differences we have - but that is the way of mankind. We can but try...

11:11 AM  
Blogger iMuslim said...

P.S. i haven't read any "Holy Books" other than the Bible and Qur'an, but i do have some knowledge of Buddhism and Hinduism as i am of Indian descent. One of my mum's best friends is a Hindu, and i had a good Buddhist friend during my undergrad degree.

However i would like to read their books at some point, God-willing.

I imagine they do contain a great deal of wisdom, as God has blessed humanity with reasoning and conscience. I just wish we'd use it more often!

11:17 AM  
Blogger Cody said...

Dan, thanks for commenting on my survey post. I appreciate when different perspectives are expressed. Blessings.

5:23 PM  
Blogger Dan said...

imuslim,

I don't think I'm out of line to say that God needs to be loyal to His character. God needs to preserve the worth of His glory. God needs to be holy.

This is not implying that God ever is anything but loyal to His character or that He ever fails to perserve the worth of His glory or that He is ever anything but holy, but simply that He needs to continue to do so.

i.e. God needs to be God. He will not give up His deity.

You said, "As for requiring a blood sacrifice to forgive sins - i'm sorry, but that is one of the most pagan things i've heard any Christian say to me!"

At the same time, you claim to have had received education about the Bible and the New Testament:

"Believe me, having been through the Christian schooling mill, i have read both the OT and the NT and even been examined on them. I have an A-grade GCSE in Religious Studies which should have been called "Christianity Studies" as i was never taught any other religion!"

Apparently to me (and I'm no Bible scholar), your education did not go very deep - at all. Read Romans, Galatians, and Hebrews. I'm not making this stuff up about blood sacrifice. It is right there in Bible. And it is not just the New Testament. The Old Testament had a whole sacrificial system - which pointed prophetically to Jesus Christ - the Lamb of God. If you think I have embraced some looney fringe of Christianity, then you simply do not have knowledge of the Bible. I believe what Paul believed - what Augustine believed - what Luther believed. I may have a few minor quibbles with Augustine and Luther on various secondary issues of theology, but we are united on the core issues.

Without the cross of Christ, you can not be forgiven. For by rejecting the atoning sacrifice Christ made for you on the cross, you are rejecting salvation. Your salvation (in your own mind) either depends on your own goodness or on Allah's mercy or maybe some mixture of both. But it doesn't make sense. God will not wink at your sin. You deserve to die and go to hell, and you will if you don't come to faith in Jesus Christ. This is the justice of God.

If God just forgives people - without providing atonement - then He has abandoned His justice. He will not do this. Atonement must be made. You are incapable of making atonement. Therefore, you will die in your sins and burn in hell according to God's justice. This is not a scare tactic. This is simply an objective logical theological argument.

What are my beliefs here?
A. You are a sinner. On this we agree.
B. You deserve God's wrath. On this, I think we agree.
C. You need atonement. I don't know if we agree here or not.
D. You are incapable of providing your own atonement. I think we disagree here, but maybe not.
E. It takes the sacrifice of a perfect person to provide atonement for a sinner.
F. Jesus, who is fully God and who walked the earth as a man, provided that atoning sacrifice on the cross. I know we disagree here.
G. Jesus rose from the dead on the third day defeating sin and death for us.
H. Those who are in Christ have received the atonement and have been justified by faith alone - not by works - lest any man should boast. In the cross God displays His mercy and His justice. He gives us His righteousness as a free gift - thereby justifying us. It can't be earned. It is not cheap. It is free. This is amazing and saving grace.

It appears that our beliefs diverge after point B. So, then either your god (note the small g) abandons justice to display mercy to you without there being any kind of sacrifice to atone for your sins, or he gives you partial mercy, but leaves it up to you to earn the rest of your salvation, or it is totally up to you to earn salvation (in which case, the whole concept mercy doesn't fit), or you go to hell.

Islam is a cult. Mohammed was a heretic that waged war and spread a message that is erroneous. Again, this is not an emotional argument. This is an objective and logical theological argument. You have been brainwashed. You have bought into a lie. And you will die in your sins and go to hell if you do not come to Jesus Christ in repentance and faith. And by the way, you don't work for repentance. In Christ, you are given a new heart - a heart that enjoys God. Thus, one who is in Christ, repents.

Marco,

It all depends on how you define terrorism. Were our Founding Fathers terrorists? Is a woman who sees her daughter being raped a terrorist for killing the rapist? If I witnessed an adult beating a child to a bloody pulp with no intention of stopping, would I be a terrorist to kill him?

The terrorists of radical Islam are bad. But they are choirboys compared to the terrorist mothers who kill their babies, because of personal convenience. The wrath of God is coming; indeed, we are surrounded by the wrath of God. Doug Wilson says that the wrath of God is being expressed through sinful mothers who murder their babies. I'm not sure about that, but I do know that we are starting to receive the wrath of God. But what is coming will be worse. Jesus is coming back on a white horse with a terrible swift sword.

Many of us do know for sure that abortion doctors are killing people. For some reason, you are determined to be blind to this truth.

Israel has the right to exist. Jordan is the Arab Palestinian state. Israel is the Jewish Palestinian state. The call for a "Palestinian Palestinian state" is only possible because of the success of the Arab Propaganda Machine. Bush's "two-state solution" is not "two-state", nor is it a solution. Millions of Muslims have taken vows never to recognize Israel's right to exist. The Arab world (along with many in the Western world) seem determined to keep chipping away at Israel. First, Jordan. Now "Palestine". Then, it will be a border issue. Then it will be another border issue. Then it will be a call for annihilation.

Israel has the right to exist.

Israel has the right to defend herself.

"Palestinians" became "Palestinians" because they no longer thought of themselves as Jordanese, Lebanese, Egyptian, etc, etc.

The Arab world controls the vast majority of the Middle East. Israel is a very small nation. But the Arabs are not content. Too many of them want Israel off the map.

If the "Palestinians" would take a little trip across the Jordan River and establish residency there (or North to Lebanon or Southwest to Egypt), then this wouldn't be a conflict. Well, it still would be, cause there would still be crazies like Ahmadinjad denying the Holocaust and calling for Israel's annihilation. We can thank the heretic Mohammed for that.

Merry Christmas!

6:33 PM  
Blogger Steve Jr. said...

You are a wretched sinner.

You have been brainwashed. You have bought into a lie. And you will die in your sins and go to hell...

Keep preachin' that "good news," Dan! How's that working out for you?

2:05 PM  
Blogger Dan said...

Well Steve,

Two of my friends have accepted Jesus Christ into their hearts this year (God gets all the glory for that - not me). But it was neat to be used by God to plant seeds. Also, there are probably 15-20 people in their 20-Somethings that apparently have a pretty deep respect for me and acknowledge the truthfulness of what I speak. Tonight, for example, I am hosting a "Wisdom Seekers" event, in which a group os us will watch Invisible Children and discuss what our role might be in confronting this injustice.

People who love God have great respect for the truth. Given the state of affairs in this society, they recognize the need for people to rise up with a prophetic message. They recognize the need for sound doctrine to be continually preached. Some resent it. Some object to it. Some don't appreciate it. But then, all I have to do is point out the depravity of our society, and emphasize the greatness of the gospel, and the objections seem to fall by wayside.

Yeah... I would say I'm experiencing a measure of success in my life and ministry. I hope that doesn't disappoint you... brother.

You also might note that at no time has iMuslim objected to my tactics - but only to my theology. In fact, she has defended my tactics. She recognizes the sincerity of my concern. She just thinks I'm misguided.

iMuslim, correct me if I'm wrong here.

Until people see that they are desperately wicked, they don't understand the good news, Steve-O.

Isn't it great that God would extend mercy and grace to sinners like you and me! Merry Christmas!

3:13 PM  
Blogger Steve Jr. said...

Isn't God causing the children of Northern Uganda to be enslaved in the LRA and used as soldiers?

What right do Christians have to mess with what God's doing?

Just trying to connect the dots here.

Congratulations on the conversions, by the way.

Steve-O

7:15 PM  
Blogger iMuslim said...

Hi Dan,

Where have you been? Busy with Church duties this time of year?

"You also might note that at no time has iMuslim objected to my tactics - but only to my theology. In fact, she has defended my tactics. She recognizes the sincerity of my concern."

Tactics - do you mean being honest and straight-forward about the consequences of my disbelief in Jesus being the Son of God? Then yes, i agree with your tactics. It would not be fair on me (or anyone else you were talking to) if you did not fully explain your faith and the consequences for accepting/rejecting it.

However different methods work better for different people. Some folk are more inspired to learn about someone's religion by their good manners, and some by the words they use, and some by a completely random little gesture you made with no prior thought involved - Praise be to God!

When it comes to teaching someone about your faith, whether it be Christianity, Islam, Buddhism or what-have-you, you have to talk straight and not skirt around the major issues, else you are in danger of misleading the individual who is trying to learn from you. Even if you were to lie to them (God-forbid) they would find out eventually and may even apostasize after accepting the faith, which could be very traumatic for them.

Anyway, i read you response which once again reveals your confusion over how Islam deals with sin and forgiveness.

I've explained in very simple terms that sin + repentence = God's forgiveness. If a believer dies with sin on their soul (God-forbid), then these will be expiated via punishment in the afterlife - think of it like jail time. Once you've done your time, you may then enter Paradise cleansed. However any decent believer would abhor the idea of dying with any sins on their soul and so we are highly encouraged to seek God's forgiveness as often as we remember to, and of course try our utmost to avoid sinning in the first place!

I would like you to explain one thing to me about your beliefs.

Jesus allegedly died on the Cross for the sins of the world.

Now over 2000 years later, here you are no doubt sinning on a daily basis.

How does God deal with your sin?

Has all sin past, present and future been cleansed by the Lamb of God and thus no believer can ever sin again?

Or did Jesus simply pay for the sins of the previous generations, and all the believers after him are still accountable for their sin?

If the former is true, then where is the justice - how are post-Jesus believers held accountable for their misdeeds?

If the latter is true, then how does God All-Mighty deal with the sins of the present day believers?

If there is a third option that i am missing then please fill me in.

Best wishes,

iMuslim

7:37 PM  
Blogger iMuslim said...

Just a quick comment - nothing to do with the above.

I don't know if you ever have the time (or inclination!) to browse my blog these days. Just in case you don't i thought you might like to read these two entries:

1) Newsflash: Scientists are human!

and

2) To An-Nasarah, with Love

Number 1 seems to have been an unexpected hit which was a shock as i thought it was badly written!!

Best wishes,

Me

9:22 PM  
Blogger Dan said...

Steve,

I'm not sure what your tone or intentions are in asking your last few questions? So... I'm not making any assumptions; I'll just answer the questions.

You said,

"Isn't God causing the children of Northern Uganda to be enslaved in the LRA and used as soldiers?"

And then,

"What right do Christians have to mess with what God's doing?"

God is Sovereign. He is in total control. He has the whole world in His hands.

Yet, evil happens in the world.

The way I see it, God has a perfect moral will. It is morally right (and in God's moral will) for all of us to love one another. Yet, people hate each other. This is against God's moral will.

But since God is Sovereign, in a sense, everything that happens is within His will - that is - what I call His Providential will.

Example: A baby is born. The doctor takes the newborn baby and rips it in half. If such a thing happened (and things like this have happened in our depraved world), is that God's will?

Well, God is Sovereign. He could have stopped it, and did not stop it. So, it is apparently within His Providential will, but clearly it is against His moral will. For God values human life. We are created in God's image with great value. Therefore, He commands us not to murder. At the same time, in a way that I can not comprehend, He works out everything for the good of those who love Him - who have been called according to His purpose (See Romans 8). History is truly His Story. It is His Story of redemption.

Another example: The Cross. It was against God's moral will for sinful men to put His Son to death. But it was clearly within His Providential will for sinners to put His Son to death. God was glorified through the actions and intentions of sinful men. He used their actions to provide atonement and redemption for all of us who would believe. Praise God!

Now, we should concern ourselves with doing what is within God's moral will. But we should take heart that when people do things against God's moral will, that God will somehow use even those sinful actions and intentions for His own purposes. He will be glorified. He will not give up His glory. He will not share His glory. Whether men rebel against God or not, He will get glory out of us.

In the meantime, we ought to do our part to right wrongs - to confront injustice wherever we see it. We ought to proclaim God's word and command sinners to repent. We ought to model the way of Christ to all - in word, thought, and deed.

Just yesterday, I read Revelation 2, and later read Psalm 2. I did not plan this. But in Revelation 2, the apostle John quotes the psalmist:

"You will rule them with an iron scepter; you will dash them to pieces like pottery." In Psalm 2, the psalmist (David) appears to be talking about himself, but also prophetically about Christ. In Revelation, Christ is sharing this authority with believers who overcome - doing God's will to the end.

Those who are in Christ have authority to rule. Christians who give up their authority are not being humble; they are being rebellious and arrogant. We have a cultural mandate that goes back to Genesis 1. We are to rule. We are to take care of the earth - establishing justice, modeling righteousness, confronting injustice and corruption wherever we see it.

Matthew 28:18-20 says, "Then Jesus came to them and said, 'All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.'"

Jesus has the authority. He gave us the commission. He will be with us. Therefore, in Christ, we have authority, and we must humbly exercise it for the glory of God's Name.

iMuslim, I hope to address your concerns later, but I am not going to do so now. God bless.

9:17 AM  
Blogger Dan said...

Steve,
I don't think I can really accept "congratulations" for the conversions, for it is truly the work of God - not my own work. I am just delighted that God allowed me to play a part in the lives of these individuals. I'm glad to be their friend.

12:50 PM  
Blogger Dan said...

iMuslim,

"I've explained in very simple terms that sin + repentence = God's forgiveness. If a believer dies with sin on their soul (God-forbid), then these will be expiated via punishment in the afterlife - think of it like jail time. Once you've done your time, you may then enter Paradise cleansed."

Ahh... kinda like the heretical Middle Ages Catholic notion of purgatory. Purgatory does not exist. It is appointed for man once to die and then face judgment. When you die, you will stand before God (at which point you will no doubt confess that Jesus is Lord - hopefully not for the first time). And then you will either welcomed into Heaven or condemned to eternal damnation. No second chances after death.

"Jesus allegedly died on the Cross for the sins of the world.

Now over 2000 years later, here you are no doubt sinning on a daily basis.

How does God deal with your sin?

Has all sin past, present and future been cleansed by the Lamb of God and thus no believer can ever sin again?

Or did Jesus simply pay for the sins of the previous generations, and all the believers after him are still accountable for their sin?

If the former is true, then where is the justice - how are post-Jesus believers held accountable for their misdeeds?

If the latter is true, then how does God All-Mighty deal with the sins of the present day believers?

If there is a third option that i am missing then please fill me in."


First of all, I believe God stands outside of time. God created time and space. He sees all of time the way we see the three dimensions.

Christ's sacrifice provided atonement for all who would believe past, present, and future. Since God stands outside of time, Paul is not wrong to say, "But God demonstrates His own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us." (Romans 5:8)

Justification is a Christian theological word. To be justified means to be declared righteous (not guilty) in God's sight. The Bible teaches that we are justified by faith in Jesus - not by works. God provides justification for us. Someone who believes in Jesus has been justified.

Sanctification is another big Christian theological word. When God justifies a sinner, the sinner experiences a profound change of heart, yet still wrestles with a sinful, fallen old nature. Sanctification is the process by which God transforms a sinner.

Those God justifies, he also sanctifies. For He is just. When He declares us righteous (justification), He means it. Thus one who has truly been justified is very uncomfortable when they sin. By God's grace - that same grace that provided our justification - He sanctifies us through and through. This process continues through our lives.

Finally, there is glorification. This is God finishing the work He began in us. This also is a process - and is completed when we pass on.

Justification/sanctification/glorification. The whole gammit is salvation. God saved me; He is saving me; He will save me. All by grace, not by works. For we are God's workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.

The Islamic concept of grace (if it is even there) is a twisted concept. For in the end, Muslims seem to believe that salvation is ultimately achieved by good works. Repentance and obedience is a works based idea in Islam. In Christianity, repentance, salvation, obedience is not about good works, but about faith in the heart in Jesus. Thus, Muslims are insecure - not knowing with full certainty that they will ultimately be saved. (and apparently you dabble in this idea of purgatory).

But an authentic believer in Christ has full confidence and security - not trusting in Himself and His own goodness - but trusting in God and in the atoning sacrifice His Son provided at the cross. I know that I am saved. I know that I'm going to heaven. I am not insecure. Why? Because my faith is in Christ - and not myself. I don't rely on a schizophrenic god who forgives or doesn't forgive based on law or random whim. My God died on the cross for me to redeem me, and now I belong to Him. And nothing shall separate me from the love of Christ. No power of hell, no scheme of man, can ever take me from His hand. For I am His and He is mine - bought with the precious blood of Christ. Here in the love and power and grace of Christ, I stand.

To deny the atonement is to deny Christ. To deny Christ is to assert that I can attain righteousness by my own effort - or that God will just let my sins go unpunished. But I can't obtain righteousness on my own effort. And God will not let any sin go unpunished.

You're in debt. The debt must be paid. Jesus paid the debt for you. You can not pay your way out of this debt. You owe. You can't pay what you owe. You need someone to pay the debt for you. The debt must be paid. The payment demanded is blood. Either you will graciously and humbly accept Christ's sacrifice for yourself, or you will be found wanting on the day of judgment and will be condemned to a Christless eternity.

With much love, I hang on to hope for you. God bless.

1:53 PM  
Blogger iMuslim said...

Hello again Dan,

I need to clarify a word with you: salvation. I have a feeling that you and I understand this word differently - or maybe not. I define it as being saved from an eternity in Hell - is this your definition?

In Islam, in order to be saved from an eternity in Hell, and be eligible for Paradise one must do one thing alone: testify to the Oneness of God, and believe in His message of Islam.

Islam did not start with Muhammad, but rather it started with Adam, and the same message has been preached by each and every intervening Prophet (God's peace be upon them all).

If you accept God & His message, then God has promised the believer Paradise for eternity. If you reject God & His message, then He has promised the disbeliever Hell for eternity.

This is a stand-alone promise that does not refer to good deeds or works. Your eternal abode is decided simply by your belief or disbelief.

In this way, it is exactly the same as your religion, as you say that you can only enter Heaven if you believe in Jesus as the Son of God, and all who reject this message are bound for Hell.

Thus if you substitute the words "Jesus as the Son of God" in the above sentence, for "the One God & Islam", you now have the testimony for Islam.

Now do you understand?

Once you have accepted Islam, you are expected to follow the commands of God to the best of your ability. One can do good deeds and be pleasing to God, or one can commit sin and be displeasing. In fact, the reality is we do and are both. For every sin there is a potential punishment. One can escape this via sincere repentance - i.e., by asking God for forgiveness, feeling regret & staying away from such sin in the future. This effectively wipes the slate clean.

However, if a believer persists in rebellious sin (such as murder, fornication, gambling, usury, etc), and dies without repenting, they are then subject to punishment in the afterlife. Depending on the severity of the sin, the punishment can be in the grave, on the Day of Judgment and even extend to a stay in Hell itself. The punishment and its duration fits the crime; it is a matter of justice. It is important to note here that even if the believer was a terrible sinner, as soon as their sins have been expiated, they will be allowed into Paradise.

That is the difference between a sinning believer and a disbeliever - both will experience the wrath of God in the afterlife, but the first will eventually receive mercy when their sins have been expiated due to the benefit of their belief, whilst the latter is doomed to reside in Hell for eternity.

If that happens to be similar to the Catholic idea of purgatory, then so be it. The Catholics have obviously retained a sense of crime & justice.

This is why i asked the questions i did. I wanted to know whether your version of Christianity preaches justice or not. Your explanation suggests it doesn't, so please tell me whether my following conclusions are correct:

According to your religion, if i accept that Jesus is the Son of God, nothing i do from the time i accept this message to the time i die will ever lead me to be punished - either in this life or the next (except perhaps apostasy?).

After my baptism, i may never again enter a Church, i may never even lift my hands to God in prayer, or praise His Glorious name. I could drink and gamble and fornicate to my heart's content, and still escape any kind of punishment, just because i once said: "i believe in Jesus", and of course, somewhere inside i still meant it.

One could rape, murder and pillage, and on top of that die a rich guy who never felt a day's hardship, and still be guaranteed a happy afterlife, with no repercussions for one's sins, big or small.

Now before you imply this doesn't happen, let me tell you it does. There are plenty of believing Christians who do all of the above, whether they be world leaders or the average Joe. There are some genuine Christians (such as yourself, but God only knows) who do try to live by the Word of Christ. But my question to you is: why bother? Why bother when you can have the "best of both worlds"? You can indulge in the sins of the flesh on Earth, and indulge in the wonders of the afterlife - after all, you are guaranteed safe passage into Paradise for simply saying "I believe!".

This is where the bottom of your wonderful religion falls out. If i have understood you correctly, in your religion God does wink at sin, as you like to put it.

The whole basis of Islam is justice. The laws of Islam - though you wouldn't think it to look at us Muslims right now - were revealed to uphold justice for the individual and society. If an unrepentant criminal is not punished by the Law in this life, he will be punished in the next one. But the key thing to note is that if this person was a sincere believer in God, then he will simply be punished for his crime, and then be released into Paradise with a cleansed soul. However, the horrors of Hell are not to be taken lightly...

In this life, we expect the Courts to mete out the appropriate punishment according to the severity of the crime. We would be horrified to find a judge sentencing a petty criminal to death, or a raping serial killer to six months probation.

In this way God deals with the crimes of his believing servants with justice, for He is the Most Just. They can be spared this ordeal by obeying the Law and avoiding sin as much as they can, and also by sincerely repenting when they do fall into sin. For a God-fearing Muslim, "God forgive me" is an oft-repeated prayer.

"I know that I am saved. I know that I'm going to heaven. I am not insecure. Why? Because my faith is in Christ - and not myself."

Your confidence that you will always remain a Christian till death is admirable, but is not based on reality. Many Christian apostatize, either by choosing another path or rejecting God altogether. Of course i am sure you pray that this does not happen to you, and perhaps that is what you meant by having faith in Christ and not yourself. Indeed, i often pray that God allows me to die upon that which is most pleasing to Him, as i know how easy it is to stray from the straight path.

Now in the end, all that i have said has little relevance to our overall discussion - it is a minor dispute; the major one being the alleged divinity of Jesus Christ (peace be upon him). However i did feel the need to clarify the idea of salvation and justice from an Islamic perspective, as you seemed to be confused by it. I pray my explanation has helped.

Best wishes,

iMuslim

3:02 PM  
Blogger Dan said...

iMuslim,
I don't have time for a full response, but I will say this: If anyone accepts Jesus into their heart and life, and thus become justified (receiving the free gift of atonement), then that person's life will change. People who have "said the Billy Graham prayer" but continue to live like a heathen - these people have never really been saved. They are still bound for hell. Many will come to Christ on that dreadful day saying, "Lord! Lord!" And He will say, "Depart from me! I never knew you."

So, though we are not saved by works, but by grace through faith, those who are truly saved by grace through faith will change. God is just.

3:16 PM  

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