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JoeMo

Faith - Proof Beyond Doubt or Preponderance of Evidence?

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JoeMo

I don't know if this is an original thought for others or not - it was for me.  When we debate points of doctrine/faith on this forum, people ask for "proof"; and if the initial "proof isnb't sufficient, they ask for more "proof".  If they don't ask for "proof", they provide "proof that the other person is wrong and they are right.  This frequently leads to arguments and accusations hinting at heresy or apostasy.  It got me to thinking - what is the basis of personal faith?  Do we require "proof beyond a shadow of a doubt, or do we lean on the preponderance of evidence?

In my walk as a Christian,  I find that my faith constantly evolves.  As a Catholic, I was a Trinitarian.  When I became a JW, I wasn't.  When I was baptized an SDA I was again.  Now I'm not again.  When I first heard about EGW, I thought it she was full of it.  As I read her more and more, I began to believe she might indeed be a true prophet.  As my Bible Study deepened, I found things in scripture that didn't jive with EGW's writings.  So now I think of her as an inspired writer; but not a prophet.  When I went through my "Taliban" SDA phase, I was convicted that I needed to keep the law perfectly or else I would burn.  I found my efforts to be futile; and I never witnessed anything close to a "perfect" Christian.  As my Bible study deepened, I realized that I am saved by grace alone; and anything "good" in me is a result of grace, not my own efforts.

I guess I'm trying to say that my faith has evolved over my life as a Christian.  Things I was once convicted of, I now reject; and vice-versa.  As I study scripture, I discover "evidence" that I may not have seen before.  As that evidence is realized, it modifies my faith.  As I think about it, my "faith" is guided by the preponderance of evidence rather than "proof beyond the shadow of a doubt".  If it was "proof beyond a shadow of a doubt, it would be "fact" not "faith".  Faith by definition is hope for things not seen.

When people challenge me on this forum, I don't always have strong responses.  Sometimes my response should be "I don't know".

In conclusion, some of my faith involves things that I believe I have been shown; but I can't "prove" it beyond the shadow of a doubt.  I can only go on the evidence I have received, and as new evidence is revealed, sometimes my faith is revised.  What thinkest thou?

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JoeMo

In the post above, I neglected to say that sometimes the new "evidence" doesn't just come from my read of scripture; sometimes I feel the Spirit tells me to look at certain scriptures differently; or gives me an idea to research in scripture.  At any rate, many times scripture and/or the spirit change the balance of the preponderance of evidence.

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R. G. White

I agree, JoeMo. We have sufficient evidence for our faith, but God will not force us to believe by removing all occasion for doubt. When we step out in faith, based on less than absolute proof, then sometimes we do see certain things beyond the shadow of a doubt. Nevertheless, it can be hard to "prove" those things to others, as they may be in a different place in their walk, and God doesn't want us forcing them either.

As an aside, I hope that you will be able to resolve the apparent discrepancies between Ellen White and the Bible, because full confidence in her writings may be highly beneficial for us in time to come. I'd also love to hear your views on the Trinity, and see to what extent we could agree. Personally, I have no problem with a three-person Godhead.

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JoeMo
3 hours ago, R. G. White said:

I agree, JoeMo. We have sufficient evidence for our faith, but God will not force us to believe by removing all occasion for doubt. When we step out in faith, based on less than absolute proof, then sometimes we do see certain things beyond the shadow of a doubt. Nevertheless, it can be hard to "prove" those things to others, as they may be in a different place in their walk, and God doesn't want us forcing them either.

As an aside, I hope that you will be able to resolve the apparent discrepancies between Ellen White and the Bible, because full confidence in her writings may be highly beneficial for us in time to come. I'd also love to hear your views on the Trinity, and see to what extent we could agree. Personally, I have no problem with a three-person Godhead.

You don't know me to well yet, R.G.  I'm kind of a renegade.  As much as I respect EGW as an inspired writer, I do not consider her to be inerrant.  There are many places that - based on my own personal study and consultation of other commentaries,  I reject some of her pronouncements.  For example,  I reject her idea of the day-for-year principle as applying to all prophecy.  Based on that, to me 1798 and 1844 were just other years.  I won't get into my rationale on this again; you'll have to look back at past threads.  I usually start a small firestorm when I discuss this.

I also am not a Trinitarian; I am what I call a "Twinitarian".  God the Father, God the Son, and the spirit of the Father and Christ - a power we call the Holy Spirit - a power; not a Person.  This can cause cotraversey here.

Furthermore, I do not believe the papacy is the antichrist; I believe Islam is the antichrist (more accurately, beast power).  This tends to cause a firefight.

I must clarify that these are just  my opinions; not dogmatic truth.

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R. G. White
31 minutes ago, JoeMo said:

You don't know me to well yet, R.G.  I'm kind of a renegade.  As much as I respect EGW as an inspired writer, I do not consider her to be inerrant.  There are many places that - based on my own personal study and consultation of other commentaries,  I reject some of her pronouncements.  For example,  I reject her idea of the day-for-year principle as applying to all prophecy.  Based on that, to me 1798 and 1844 were just other years.  I won't get into my rationale on this again; you'll have to look back at past threads.  I usually start a small firestorm when I discuss this.

I also am not a Trinitarian; I am what I call a "Twinitarian".  God the Father, God the Son, and the spirit of the Father and Christ - a power we call the Holy Spirit - a power; not a Person.  This can cause cotraversey here.

Furthermore, I do not believe the papacy is the antichrist; I believe Islam is the antichrist (more accurately, beast power).  This tends to cause a firefight.

I must clarify that these are just  my opinions; not dogmatic truth.

Maybe not, but for some reason I like you. You doubtless have your honest reasons for all of the above. I will point out that, on these points, you are not just disagreeing with Ellen White, but with the Seventh-day Adventist understanding of doctrine. I am impressed by the fact that you are not dogmatic about these opinions, and I doubt that any kind of firefight will do anyone any good. I believe that all doctrine matters, but just why, or how much it might matter to a particular person at a certain time, I cannot say. By the way, our position is not day-for-a-year applying to all prophecy. We only apply it to apocalyptic prophecy (i.e. Daniel and Revelation), not based on any clear Scriptural pronouncement, but because we find it to be such a good fit. Of course, Seventh-day Adventists were not the first to do this.

Whatever your reasons, may God richly bless you in your walk with Jesus.

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JoeMo

Thanks R.G.!  I like you too!  You are a strong and sound writer as well as a good guy.  I appreciate your open mindedness.  While I may not agree with all SDA points of doctrine, I find Adventists to be the most studied, open-minded and flexible of all the Christian religions with which I have been affiliated.  I base my personal beliefs on what I understand from my personal study of scripture as influenced by SDA and non-SDA commentators.  My personal theology has evolved quite a bit over the past 30 years.  I may disagree with some points of SDA doctrine; but not to the point that I would ever leave.  I still embrace the basic tenets of the church - Sabbath sacredness and a belief in the soon-coming of Christ.  It is the grace of Christ that saves me - not the doctrine of the SDA Church.  And people here have actually helped me modify some of my beliefs to be more in conformance with the beliefs of the church.

I look forward to visiting with you further on this forum in the future.

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