You know what I enjoy about your posts? They force me to think LOL!! Sometimes I have answers at my fingertips and others times I gotta noodle things a bit.
To preface, as a believer in Christ I do not define my free will as complete autonomy in which the only laws I’m bound by are those of nature or of human beings. I acknowledge that I am also (and most importantly) bound by divine law which God has established in his creator-created relationship. I accept that I am a sinner and that my sins require shed blood in order to be atoned for and that no amount of my own good works will be sufficient as payment for my sin. I acknowledge that I have chosen to defy God’s divine standards and as such can only realign myself with God through his son Jesus Christ. I acknowledge that I am born innocent without sin in my life, but yet born into a state of sin in which I can engage in sin if I so choose. Provided of course that I am capable to understand the law which God has put before me and can make an informed choice to defy it. It’s God’s law which has both established the standards for our lives while revealing the potential for sin in our lives. God’s law is designed to right the course of our lives, but it has also showed us the means by which we can veer off course. God’s law is the path to freedom.
That said, at the outset I desire to acknowledge, know personally and surrender to God’s will for my life because I know that he created me so that I may honestly desire to choose him in the same manner in which he chose me.
Ayn Rand (whom I don't particularly care for as a writer) said it best, in this excerpt from John Galt's speech; the emphasis is mine:
Damnation is the start of your morality, destruction is its purpose, means and end. Your code begins by damning man as evil, then demands that he practice a good which it defines as impossible for him to practice. It demands, as his first proof of virtue, that he accepts his own depravity without proof. It demands that he start, not with a standard of value, but with a standard of evil, which is himself, by means of which he is then to define the good: the good is that which he is not.
It does not matter who then becomes the profiteer on his renounced glory and tormented soul, a mystic God with some incomprehensible design or any passer-by whose rotting sores are held as some explicable claim upon him - it does not matter, the good is not for him to understand, his duty is to crawl through years of penance, atoning for the guilt of his existence to any stray collector of unintelligible debts, his only concept of a value is a zero: the good is that which is non-man.
The name of this monstrous absurdity is Original Sin. A sin without volition is a slap at morality and an insolent contradiction in terms: that which is outside the possibility of choice is outside the province of morality. If man is evil by birth, he has no will, no power to change it; if he has no will, he can be neither good nor evil; a robot is amoral. To hold, as man's sin, a fact not open to his choice is a mockery of morality. To hold man's nature as his sin is a mockery of nature. To punish him for a crime he committed before he was born is a mockery of justice. To hold him guilty in a matter where no innocence exists is a mockery of reason. To destroy morality, nature, justice and reason by means of a single concept is a feat of evil hardly to be matched. Yet that is the root of your code.
Do not hide behind the cowardly evasion that man is born with free will, but with a 'tendency' to evil. A free will saddled with a tendency is like a game with loaded dice. It forces man to struggle through the effort of playing, to bear responsibility and pay for the game, but the decision is weighted in favor of a tendency that he had no power to escape. If the tendency is of his choice, he cannot possess it at birth; if it is not of his choice, his will is not free.
What is the nature of the guilt that your teachers call his Original Sin? What are the evils man acquired when he fell from a state they consider perfection? Their myth declares that he ate the fruit of the tree of knowledge - he acquired a mind and became a rational being. It was the knowledge of good and evil - he became a moral being. He was sentenced to earn his bread by his labor - he became a productive being. He was sentenced to experience desire - he acquired the capacity of sexual enjoyment. The evils for which they damn him are reason, morality, creativeness, joy - all the cardinal values of his existence. It is not his vices that their myth of man's fall is designed to explain and condemn, it is not his errors that they hold as his guilt, but the essence of his nature as man. Whatever he was - that robot in the Garden of Eden, who existed without mind, without values, without labor, without love - he was not man.
Man's fall, according to your teachers, was that he gained the virtues required to live. These virtues, by their standard, are his Sin. His evil, they charge, is that he's man. His guilt, they charge, is that he lives. They call it a morality of mercy and a doctrine of love for man.
This text perfectly describes how I view original sin. I'd be curious to see what you think about it.
In this case I arrive right back at where I began prior to the reading whereby I affirm the text colored in red that Ayn dismisses as “cowardly evasion”. I understand why she doesn’t like that notion as it doesn’t help solidify her argument. It’s an annoyance that pokes a hole. Given that it is “a response” she at least acknowledges it, but she does so in manner that simply flicks it away meaninglessly as if it was never there….like swatting a fly. It’s akin to Dawkin’s typical, dismissive statements concerning religion when he makes a statement such as, “Science flew aircraft to the moon. Religion flew aircraft into buildings.” These “KO” statements are engineered to elicit an explosive audience uproar or swat away a theist response carelessly via distraction or uproar; still, it does nothing to address the topic at hand. These kinds of KO statements leave me thinking nothing but “OK”, but I digress. Ayn defining the notion as cowardly simply doesn’t make it so. Now, if sin existed as she stated she puts forth a great argument, but she dismisses the crux of the theist response completely and simply rests on her own conclusions.
Ayn’s work begins with the notions that man is born damned and that the divine standard of good imposed upon him is impossible to meet. These conclusions are also rooted in the presupposition that “God” or “the divine” is completely absurd. What troubles me from the get go is that her perspective is void of any form of prior belief or a proactive engagement in that which she stands firmly opposed. Her writing although scathing is still elegant and far superior to my own, but her position is rooted in ignorance because she has no genuine comparative. She just dives right into the side of the argument she feels comfortable defending or justifying; yet hasn’t walked even 10 steps in the pursuit of genuine belief (that I am aware of). She’s fully reasoned away a concept she doesn’t fully grasp. Me, I’ve stood amidst both belief and disbelief and in my case I choose to belief. Why? Because God has demonstrated in my life who he is and that he is real via the Holy Spirit. I can feel the presence of the Holy Spirit in my day-to-day and it’s changed me through and through. The Holy Spirit came upon me from the outside and then changed me from the inside. Why did this happen in my life? Because I chose to accept Jesus Christ as savior via the same manner he and the apostle Paul outlined in scripture….I pursued God on his terms and I’ve never been the same. If a person is going to reason away God I would hope they’ve reached their conclusion because they genuinely tried to seek God on his terms and then came up with nothing. Folks that refuse to meet God on his terms will never find their cogent answer.
Do you think it's reasonable for God to measure you using divine standards, despite the fact that he created you with a proclivity to sin? That's like saying to a group of midgets that they failed to qualify as humans because they aren't at least 5'5" and that they were born with a proclivity to be normal height so it's their fault.
IMHO, God really has no other standards other than divine standards. Although, if we had no means of meeting his divine standards I would say our station in life is completely unfair. Fortunately we don’t have to worry about that because Jesus Christ has provided a definite means to measure up. Believers in Jesus Christ are saved by grace through faith and thereby justified and deemed righteous before the very throne of God.
Simply put, being born with a proclivity to sin doesn’t bother me because I know that despite the ability to engage in whatever things I want (that may defy God) it makes my personal choice for Christ that much more honest and sincere because I’ve chosen his will for my life over my own. If the standards or limitations imposed upon the ability to choose were based soley upon the decisions of finite human beings I’d say the choice has far less value, but given that the standards imposed are based upon the divine will of God who has demonstrated his reality to me makes all the difference. God has made very plain to me his reality in my life…..that perspective makes such a huge difference because I also understand what it means to be without it.
Do you think it's reasonable for God to even bother measuring you when according to the Bible he already knows the outcome of all the measuring already? What's the point in the measuring if the answer is already known and the outcome of the game has been decided? Whether you know the outcome isn't relevant.
I’ve considered this for some time now and in the end I realize the question (and many like it) are framed from the “why does God need” perspective. Essentially if God is all-powerful, all-knowing, all-loving, etc… then why does he need to judge us, sacrifice himself through his Son or go through any of the events he’s laid out before us if already knows the outcome? Simply put LOL, he lays it out so we can play it out! This is how the infinite engages the finite….he does it for our edification, not his…..it’s always about us. God doesn’t need anything from his creation…he created us….he chose us and gave us the ability to choose him in the same way. That fact that he created us with incomplete knowledge means there’s room for growth….it means there’s a journey to undertake. There exists a genuine and honest opportunity to sincerely choose his will for our lives. To choose him like he chose us. The fact that he knows the outcome is seemingly irrelevant because the focus is us. The reason he engages like he does is because we don’t know the outcome and he wants us to earnestly and faithfully choose him and allow him to right the course for our lives. Again, it is always about us and for us.
I see no evidence anywhere in the Bible for this assertion. Perhaps your particular brand or flavor of Christianity believes that, but I don't think you can justify this biblically.
You are correct that there is no specific verse of scripture that details what I’ve stated, but it certainly is implied. I remember when I first read the OT I had so many questions. When I read about King David’s child with Bathsheba passing away and David suggesting that as a believer he would he see his child again in God’s kingdom it affirmed for me the innocence of children and others with disabilities that prevent them from making an honest choice about sin and Christ in their lives. They don’t need salvation because being saved by grace through Christ means we are saved from the wrath/judgment of God. The innocents need not fear God’s wrath for they are without blame or need for judgment.
“Jesus called a little child to him and put the child among them. Then he said, ‘I tell you the truth, unless you turn from your sins and become like little children, you will never get into the Kingdom of Heaven. So anyone who becomes as humble as this little child is the greatest in the Kingdom of Heaven.’”
Christ also indicated how severely those that cause the children (the little ones) to fall into sin would be judged. The children are lead into sin and out of innocence. Further, the primary attributes of God (justice, love, grace and mercy) don’t jive together if the innocents are separated eternally from him after their death.
As believers in Christ we are saved by grace through faith and thereby justified and deemed righteous….like the innocents who are inherently righteous we become like the them through Christ.
Why would God be angry when he knew, in advance, absolutely everything that would happen? And why create us "broken" if we would only anger him? The notion that God created us, and we somehow fell short making him angry must mean that either he messed up in the making or he didn't just likes being angry.
All that God does he does for our edification and not his own. God displays his anger for us so that we may understand the implications of our actions and the seriousness with which God have set forth his standards. Yes, God already knew, but we did not. Again, it is always about us, not God. No offense here, but atheists hate the following example. I love my daughter, but I know she’s going to do things she shouldn’t from time to time. Most of the time I know this before she even does it LOL!! Still, I show her my anger and frustration not because she’s done something I wasn’t prepared for or aware of, but so that she may understand the severity of her actions…..it’s for her benefit.
I assume “create us broken” refers to the ability to engage in sin? We were created without sin and therefore perfect and righteous. We can see this in the example of the innocence of children who are safe from God’s judgment already. We “break ourselves” through sin, but praise God for his incarnate Son that can make us whole and align us with him once more.
But why was this act required in the first place? Why did God need to make the wages of sin death to begin with? And why not "unmake" it and say "we good bros!". Look at it from an outsider's perspective for a second: God says the price of any sin is death. None of the creatures he created are above sin. Therefore, all his creatures must be put to death. But he loves those creatures so much that he can't allow that. So instead of using his amazing powers, he decides that must sacrifice himself to himself to enforce the rule that he created. In doing so, h will appease himself and satisfy the requirement that he imposed. And therefore he will, somehow, save his beloved creatures for a wonderful afterlife...
I honestly can’t answer this question fully.
I know that Israel’s purpose, its deliverance from Egyptian slavery, the blood sacrifice of animals for payment of sin, the acts of tithing, the eating of clean animals, the altogether “strange practices” were all meant to distinguish God’s people from the pagans and sinful peoples around them. They were to be original “salt and light of the world” as Christians are called to be today. It was meant to set the standard for purity and righteousness for those that did not belief and for the edification of those that did belief. I don’t know exactly why God determined that the wages of sin is death, but I do understand that because of the penalty of death how seriously he treats sin and how his divine holiness does not allow for it. We must be free of sin to align with the him. I also understand that although sin is death that life is in blood and that only by the shed blood of Christ was the perfect sacrifice and payment for sin given and life preserved for all that claim him as savior.
Another way to frame the question is to ask “why did God give definite purpose to and affirm the standards he set forth?” Law without purpose or repurcussions is no law at all. If God is divine justice he is the law….he created it, enforced it and fulfilled it. He also empowered us to choose whether or not we will follow the law and he defined specific outcomes for following or defying his law…..being aligned with him or separated from him.
The Israelites were meant to represent the holiness of God and be set apart from the world around them. Jesus Christ came to establish a new convenant and fulfill the law so that all (Jew and Gentile) can have an easy means to reconcile themselves with God. In essence to be deemed righteous and holy (set apart) and aligned with the law and freed from it repurcussions. The law is more than written text….the law lives and exists in God…..God is the law and the law is God. Makes sense that God would represent and fulfill all facets of who he is.
The purpose of God’s law is not punishment, the purpose of God’s law is freedom from sin. Sin is what shackles us, not the law. The law of God reveals the sin in our lives and provides a means to free us from our shackles. Christ then came as the perfect fulfillment of the law…the perfect gift of love that forever provides the pathway to freedom. The sin we indulge in is the illusion of freedom, but true freedom comes from aligning ourselves with God. No longer must we shed the blood of the perfect specimens of our herds, provide grain offerings, etc..……the Son of God established a new convenant so that all can come to him and free themselves from their shackles.
Again God doesn’t need us to appease himself, but if we want to be aligned with him we must accept his law. Again the framework of the scenario you present focuses on the “what God needs”, but the true focus is what we need….that’s always tends to be missed. The law is meant for us, but God willingly fulfilled his law for us when he didn’t have to and demonstrated for us what it means to sacrifice and love others when they truly don’t deserve it.
Jesus Christ’s act on Calvary’s cross was not required, it didn’t have to happen. It was an act of love given to us who did not deserve it so that we may be set free from the bonds of sin. Although first we must acknowledge that we are sinner and thereinlies the rub LOL!!
Jesus Christ left the divine and entered the finite world as the incarnate Son of God. He came for us and lived life as man and demonstrated for us how we should live out our lives for ourselves, for others and most importantly as representatives of the one we claim as our Lord and Savior.
A lot of long-winded responses and still not exhaustive responses either, but I've been as honest as I can be and I hope these have been helpful and conversation can continue. Whew! It always easier to ask questions than it is to provide answers....IMHO.
Have a good evening!!