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The problem is when one solution for fear is taught as the only way and the fear part comes if you don't follow that way god will kill you. That is essentially a fear core for belief.

Even if you do it for a reward there is still the fear of what if I don't get the reward. These ideas that you call "sound theology" are the low bar of meaning and ethics.

Which logic seems to fall far short of a knowledge that God is Love. I happen to believe in reward for effort as one reason Jesus used to motivate people to serve Him. Just consider the book of Revelation, a revealing of Jesus, where it is told of seven different principles, periods of church history where time after time reward has been given as a reason for loyal service. And in at least one of those periods the removing of the churches' candle was given as a reason to maintain faithful service.

Knowing a possibility of loss of life eternal, with the knowledge that I have now of the Father's character, does not in the least bring fear into my heart since even the death of the wicked I know would and is going to be done with only that necessary to finish pain and suffering in the universe.

The strong sense of fear as being a primary motivator for purpose is evidence of itself that Jesus work is not yet completed in the follower of Christ, and in the unbeliever clear evidence of pursuing a trail leading away from the Master.

"He who does not love does not know God, for God is love." 1 John 4:8 NKJV

"There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves torment. But he who fears has not been made perfect in love." 1 John 4:17 NKJV

Regards!! peace

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Well .... some feel they need to beat someone into a love relationship, obedience and the TRUTH. It's TRUTH at all cost.

Personally ... I think TRUTH is over-rated. I prefer to stick with love and see what happens from there.

I disagree with you that truth is over-rated, but I do agree there are those that bet others over the head with there so-called truth. And I definitely agree with Love above all else. What does Jesus say about Love? 1 Corinthians 13:13-"But for now, three things last - trust, hope, love; and the greatest of these is love. Pursue love! (from the Complete Jewish Bible)

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OK, if we are now trying to make it seem that we are taking the high ground by moving from faith and hope to love (as if they were separable) please consider this: The reward (carrot) which seems to be getting dissed here in this discussion is Christ (Love) Himself. "If you seek me with all your heart, you will surely find me."

Those of you who hate the "love Me or die" concept must consider the facts. He Who is Love is also He Who is Life. It really is "love Me or die," not due to some arbitrary tyrant's pronouncement, but because that's just the way it is.

The Source of Life says "All them that hate Me (hate Life) love death." This is a FACT. Why get upset about it?

Richard Dawkins would pronounce God a monster for saying "love Me or die," but it is no more monsterific than God saying "The atmosphere contains 21% oxygen." That's just the way it is.

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Originally Posted By: cardw
The problem is when one solution for fear is taught as the only way and the fear part comes if you don't follow that way god will kill you. That is essentially a fear core for belief.

Even if you do it for a reward there is still the fear of what if I don't get the reward. These ideas that you call "sound theology" are the low bar of meaning and ethics.

Which logic seems to fall far short of a knowledge that God is Love. I happen to believe in reward for effort as one reason Jesus used to motivate people to serve Him. Just consider the book of Revelation, a revealing of Jesus, where it is told of seven different principles, periods of church history where time after time reward has been given as a reason for loyal service. And in at least one of those periods the removing of the churches' candle was given as a reason to maintain faithful service.

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OK, if we are now trying to make it seem that we are taking the high ground by moving from faith and hope to love (as if they were separable) please consider this: The reward (carrot) which seems to be getting dissed here in this discussion is Christ (Love) Himself. "If you seek me with all your heart, you will surely find me."
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karl: I'm happy to stipulate the 'God is Life, and hence no God no Life' thing and move on. ('Life' there can stand in for both present and eternal life.) To me, that whole 'love me or die' discussion was a tangent from the main discussion anyway, started when someone posted a particular text without much context.

I'd be very interested to return to the issue of rewards, though (not dictating, just hoping people find it interesting).

Let's take eternal life off the table for a moment, and just look at rewards in this life, since that's what we were discussing earlier in the thread. It's something I've been thinking about a lot this week, and discussed in our small study group last night as well. My perspective has changed a little since my earlier posts, and I might talk about that more later. I have another question first, though:

Are the rewards natural or supernatural? (or both?)

Here's what I mean: if I treat people right, all the time, then sure, some people will still treat me badly, but just by human nature, the aggregate of all the ways people treat me is likely to be more positive. That's a natural reward: be nice and people are nicer. It's not supernatural, but if the Bible teaches me how to treat people well (I'm thinking of things like Matthew 5, that are hard sayings, not just general saccharine niceness) (and treating them well sometimes means treating them better than they deserve, but that's a whole other discussion, and can we *please* avoid it here) then following God's ways does get me rewarded, just naturally.

Same applies to things like health: follow God's counsels for what we do with our health and we'll definitely be healthier... but increasingly secular science has a lot of those same suggestions or prescriptions. Eating right has its own natural rewards.

Perhaps that's where I was going wrong before: I was expecting 'magical', supernatural rewards for Christian believers that were denied to others. But these kinds of rewards are available to everyone who chooses to live a life of integrity.

Or are you saying there's something more?

(again, none of these questions are rhetorical devices or traps, or ways to try to 'win' an argument. When I ask questions here it's because I'm wondering myself, and I'm genuinely interested in people's answers. I also believe there will be a wide variety of answers from a wide variety of people. Not all of them may be attractive - or even comprehensible - to me, but I'd see that as more often a fault in me than in the answerers. Not trying to destroy others' faith, working on building my own...)

(sorry to have way too many disclaimers, but my intentions have been misunderstood before in this thread so I'm trying to be as clear as I can)

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...which is pretty much a death threat. I think perhaps what you guys miss when in discussion with Richard is that a text is not a trump card. It can outline beliefs, but it can't in itself shoot down an argument. From his perspective (not mine) these kinds of depictions in the Bible are part of the problem, not the solution.

When I asked Richard what he thought of Hebrews 11: 6, I wasn't using it as a trump card; I was simply asking him what he thinks of it. I'm asking him what it says and what it means. I have no idea what his answer would be. The text shows that Christianity teaches the fundamental necessity of faith in God. The question is why is that the case. Does it make any sense to him?

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Og, Rev. 14:12 in my bible says "Here is the perseverance of the saints who keep the commandments of God and their faith (trust) in [the testimony] of Jesus."

When people use the word 'faith' to bash someone over the head with it, it should be clear they have no clue to what this word means.

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(in response to John317 above - the Dr Rich post sneaked in between as I was writing)

Fair enough. I think he's pretty much answered the question in his last half-dozen or so posts, though.

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Dr. Rich: pk, did Jesus say that about Love? Hmmmm? I can't find where He did that.

1 Corinthians 13:13-"But for now, three things last - trust, hope, love; and the greatest of these is love. Pursue love!" (from the Complete Jewish Bible)

What Jesus said in the Gospel of John agrees with what Paul was inspired by the Spirit of Jesus to write in 1 Cor. 13.

God is not trust. God is not hope. But God IS love. 1 John 4: 8.

God gives us trust/faith. He gives us hope. But God IS love and we love because He first loved us. Love is God's most fundamental characteristic. Therefore, when we pursue love [agape], we are pursuing God, and as we study Jesus' character, we are becoming more like Him. Jesus said that love is to be the motivating force behind our keeping of the commandments. True love for Him will cause us to keep His commandments. John 14: 15. His most basic commandment is for us to love each other as He has loved us, and He said His example of dying for us is the way we're to love one another. John 15: 12. I think this shows that what Paul was inspired to write is in agreement with what Jesus taught.

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abelisle: When bad things happen, it's not because of a lack of faith. It's because God allows them to happen - faith or no faith.

Bad things happen to Christians who have great faith in God. I have to agree with you that when those bad things happen, it isn't because of a lack of faith.

If God didn't permit bad things to happen to Christians, people would be accepting Christ for the wrong reasons. Do we accept Christ for what we can get out of Him or because of what He's already done?

Jesus never promised us that we wouldn't have problems in the world. In fact, He promised that we will have great problems in this life, but He's also promised to be with us and to sustain us while we pass through the problems. I saw this personally happen this last week when my eldest daughter buried one of her 4 year old twin boys,(Samuel, on right), who died after a brief but painful struggle against cancer. God sustained my daughter and her husband, as well as myself and others in the family. I believe these painful things we go through as Christians help us to have greater sympathy and empathy for others who are suffering and going through problems. We know that's one reason Jesus Himself suffered.

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So your position is that there are *not* tangible rewards? What do you then do with all the texts that have been quoted in this thread that suggest there are?

(incidentally, your response is close to my own recognition this week, so I'm not attacking it - it just doesn't mesh well with many of the points made earlier in the thread)

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Thanks John317 for that refreshing view of Paul. You and I know, (so lets quit playing games) that NO ONE can prove (one way or the other I suppose), that Paul was inspired by Jesus, so please refrain calling Paul's words the same as the words of Jesus or of God. Also saying that God or Jesus inspired Paul to write this may be harmful to one's soul since this 'inspiration' could only come from the Holy Spirit. Calling the Holy Spirit a liar (claiming the Holy Spirit's words are the same as Paul's) appears to be blasphemy and after all Jesus, God and the Holy Spirit may not like it one itsy bitsy bit. Black is black and white is white!

I suppose it would be ok to say "at this time you think or believe that Paul's words are the same as Jesus" but then I can't be the judge of that. As for me, I repented of the same belief that you now have and it is now impossible for me to go back for my eyes have been opened.

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Tom Wetmore: Presumption in a way seems a matter of too much faith to me - a taking faith to absurd and unreasonable or irresponsible levels that are totally unwarranted.

... You know, "faith without works is dead." Too much faith, resting on faith alone, not enough effort acting on the faith, not stepping out in faith. All talk and no action.

Presumption is a counterfeit faith-- it's when people expect the rewards (and yes, there are rewards) without fulfilling the conditions. For instance, people may expect eternal life without truly accepting Christ as the Lord of their life and obeying His commandments. Again, as you say, it's claiming to have faith, but it's a dead faith that produces no action and no change in the life. If our claims and our belief aren't demonstrated in our actual lives, they're as nothing. Maybe that's what Paul means in 1 Cor. 13.

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Bravus: Fair enough. I think he's pretty much answered the question in his last half-dozen or so posts, though.

Yes, OK, I will study those posts and then add to this.

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Thanks John317 for that refreshing view of Paul. You and I know, (so lets quit playing games) that NO ONE can prove (one way or the other I suppose), that Paul was inspired by Jesus, so please refrain calling Paul's words the same as the words of Jesus or of God.

Since you admit that it can't be proven one way or the other, then you need to refrain from calling Pauls words the same as Satan's as if it were true.

Nothing can be proven to someone such as yourself. You have no intention or desire to see anything different from the nonsense you have decided must be true. Although the validity of Paul has been proven to me beyond a shadow of a doubt.

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Bravus: Are the rewards natural or supernatural? (or both?)

I would have to say "both," with the disclaimer that "supernatural" means to me we don't yet understand the mechanism(s.) God has built rewards into His creation (blessing {rain} falls on the just and the unjust,) but God transcends His creation and gives additional reward to those who diligently seek Him.

But we don't get to stipulate what the rewards are, or how or when they are to be given (parable of the vineyard.) The sovereignty of God is one of those pills we get to swallow. It is not arbitrary - just another fact. Yet people rail against God for being God.

One of the things many Christians have a "tough" time understanding is tough love. This may reflect on their upbringing. Telling it like it is seems unGodlike (unloving) to them. They think God cannot be loving if He calls people on the carpet for their thoughts and actions. "How can the Potter hold me responsible for defects in the product?" They struggle with how the Christ of the cross, praying "Father forgive them" could also be the Jehovah of the OT, summarily snuffing out the drunken sons of Aaron and then ordering Aaron not to even mourn them.

What if God really were a tyrant? Would He have the right to be? Who could keep Him from it?

I am grateful God has revealed that He is mindful of us. That He wants to preserve our free will in spite of its infinite cost to Himself. That He is a Conservative - offering us opportunity and the freedom to avail ourselves of the opportunity. That He is a Liberal - offering to assist us in availing ourselves of the opportunity. That He is a Conservative in setting a limit to His forbearance, That He is a Liberal in putting all the resources of heaven to work to make sure no child who seeks Him is left behind.

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cardw: What would be relevant is to demonstrate why teaching fear is helpful.

What happens when a patient is told by his doctor that unless he follows the doctor's orders, he will die? I've seen that happen, and I've seen what happens when the patient ignores the doctor's orders. I know a man who ignored his doctor, and not too long afterwards he started urinating blood. When this man's friend told me he was pissing blood, I told him to get him to a doctor fast. He did and the doctor gave him a very sad prognosis. A couple of months later he died. He drank himself to death, but was even sneeking a beer while on his death bed.

I susppose he could have said, "I'm not going to be motivated by fear, so I'll ignore the doctor." The doctor was trying to help him avoid pain and suffering and death, but this man was determined to ignore the doctor and do what he wanted. At what a cost!

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cardw: I do know that when I believed in that god, my life was miserable.

Sounds like there was something wrong with your belief-- not in the belief in God, but in the way you understood and practiced that belief. Such misery usually results from spiritual and mental turmoil. Unresolved conflict. Is this possible?

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cardw: And I see the same fear based reasoning in what you have to say. It's not an imaginary god that I am angry with, it's the fools that keep spreading the fear.

You're angry at Christians for "spreading fear"?

Do you count as "spreading fear" the teaching of rewards and punishment after death or when Christ returns?

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cardw: If you are using fear based reasoning that is foolish to me. .... A teaching that God won't bless you unless you jump through particular hoops is punitive and fear based.

God blesses everyone to one degree or another. He can bless some more than others but He would like to bless everyone far greater than He's able to.

You may not realize it but it's God who blesses everyone with life and all the good things that go along with life. He doesn't withdraw these things from "bad people." Look, for instance, at the evil men of history-- Hitler, Stalin, Pol Pot, etc.-- who had long lives and many great opportunities in life. They didn't know it, but it was God who gave them everything they had. But what did they do with those gifts from God? They used them to safisfy their own evil desires.

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If we observed a mother tell her child that she was going to kill them unless they loved mommy we would be horrified.

When God says "Turn ye, for why will ye die?" He is the mother screaming at her child who is following a ball onto the busy street. He is trying to get the attention of the diver who is about to run out of air and doesn't know it.

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karl: I don't think it is fear-based to believe God can bless you more when you seek Him. It is simply logical. When you seek a stronger connection with the Source of all blessing - more blessing can flow through that stronger connection.

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cardw: So you are treating god like a paycheck.

Suppose you had a young son you really loved, and you often told this son as he grew up that you loved him and that he could rely on you to help him through any trouble he might have. While this child was growing up, you tried to teach him how to have a good life and to avoid the problems that you had while you were growing up. You even opened a large savings account in his name, and finally, as he got to adulthood, you told him it was his.

Then your son left home, traveling the world in the merchent marines. He would call home from time to time in whatever town his ship might dock at, but then the time came when you no longer heard from him. The years rolled by, and you still had no news of your son. Then one day you got a letter in the mail. It was from someone who introduced himself as a friend of your son. He wrote to tell you that your son had died. He'd been living the last 5 years on skid row in a major American city and was so ashamed of how he'd been living that he couldn't bring himself to swallow his pride and contact you for help. He didn't want you to think that he viewed you like a paycheck. The last thing the letter said was that the son wanted his friend to tell you that he was sorry he didn't follow all of your good advice about how to live. He realized that his life would have probably been longer and without as much suffering and pain if he had listened to you. But he'd considered your rules, advice, and warnings as attempts to keep him from doing what he wanted and as trying to manipulate him through fear.

As you lay aside the letter, only one question haunts your mind: WHY? Why did your boy die that way when all he had to do was come home and talk to you as a son to a loving father?

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Originally Posted By: cardw

If we observed a mother tell her child that she was going to kill them unless they loved mommy we would be horrified.

When God says "Turn ye, for why will ye die?" He is the mother screaming at her child who is following a ball onto the busy street. He is trying to get the attention of the diver who is about to run out of air and doesn't know it.

Really, god is screaming, "Don't run into the street or I will kill you?"

This just keeps getting more bizarre.

I have been alive for 50 years. I think there has been enough time to present a reasonable presentation. It's not like I'm living a destructive life now. There is no reason to yell or threaten.

Again, Christianity has to create this imaginary fearful emergency to make sense of all the threatening language of the Bible. Christianity exaggerates evil and it's dangers and ignores the obvious solutions to create this convoluted "solution" that even they can't agree on.

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karl: I don't think it is fear-based to believe God can bless you more when you seek Him. It is simply logical. When you seek a stronger connection with the Source of all blessing - more blessing can flow through that stronger connection.

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cardw: So you are treating god like a paycheck.

He didn't want you to think that he viewed you like a paycheck. The last thing the letter said was that the son wanted his friend to tell you that he was sorry he didn't follow all of your good advice about how to live. He realized that his life would have probably been longer and without as much suffering and pain if he had listened to you. But he'd considered your rules, advice, and warnings as attempts to keep him from doing what he wanted and as trying to manipulate him through fear.

Well this is a sad story, but what has it to do with me? I have no debate with living an ethical life. I find that very reasonable because it reduces suffering. You don't need to threaten me with death to listen to good advice.

What I have a problem with is a god who needs someone to die to prevent him from killing everyone or a god that orders iron age people to practice slavery, rape their enemies wives, commit genocide, makes laws that treat women as property, and has jealous and unpredictable fits of anger.

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