Saturday, June 24, 2006

Committed to Truth…or Doubt and Unbelief?

Dear Francoise,

I’ve waited to post your comments, in part because I wanted to digest them before I respond to you. I feel it’s necessary to respond on the off chance that another likeminded atheist comes along and says, “Here, here Francoise…you have presented your case well.” I don’t want your doubt and unbelief to be the last word.

However…it seems like a rather odd time for me talking about faith and trying to refute an atheist. For during the last few months…I’ve been going through a heck of a lot. My faith has been very wobbly at times during this roller coaster ride. Yet…one thing I know for certain…is that there is a God, that he is good and that he is the God of the Bible. He revealed himself to sinful man through Jesus Christ. Jesus Christ willing went to the cross to pay the price for my sins. He died that day on the cross…but Francoise…Sunday was coming. And that day…my Lord and Savior gave proof and evidence that he was who he said he was. God incarnate. That is why I’m confident that when I die…not only will my spirit continue to live…but I will be in heaven…because Jesus Christ paid the price for my admission so that I could be forgiven and restored to fellowship with God the Father.

So Francoise…what do you say we get this show on the road?

“I am even more amazed at how many Christians don’t bother to read their own Bible.”

Francoise…on this point I agree with you. To any Christian who attends a church in which you can walk in, not bring your Bible or not crack it open during your Sunday service…run. Find yourself a church and pastor that is firmly rooted and grounded in the word of God. It’s amazing…people don’t realize the treasure they are holding in their hands when they hold their Bible. The very word of God, revealed unto man.

You say that “Shirley Phelps Roper is not inconsistent with Biblical teachings. That she and her crowd base their view of God on the capricious, psychopathic entity of the Old Testament. That is one scary God!”

Just for the record…God is not capricious. God is not impulsive, inconsistent or unpredictable. In fact far from it…God is the one stable being and force in the universe. In Hebrews 13:8 it tells us that Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today and forever. In fact God is the only person or thing in the universe that is immutable.
He does not change.

By psychopathic…I presume you are referring to the passages in which God instructs his people to slay all the inhabitants of the land they are about to enter. The Bible tells us that God’s ways are not our ways. We are incapable of fully understanding God’s ways. But in this instance…it doesn’t take a lot to see the reason behind God’s direction.

The Israelites were entering into a land in which the people had rejected God and were living in all manner of evil and wickedness. God’s chosen people were the Israelites and he wanted to keep them holy and pure. To not enter into the land with people who had outwardly rejected God and were living a very wicked life. God knew if his people entered the land as is…they would be lead astray and slowly start to drift away from God.

The Israelites were God’s chosen people to bring God’s revealed word to sinful man. He needed them to remain pure and set apart. It was also through the Jews that God would enter into to the world in his earthly incarnation.

Did God wipe out people? During the flood all but eight people were destroyed. God had created man without sin…but he had given him that freedom of choice and Adam and Eve chose to reject God and his commands. From there it went downhill. So God wiped out all but a handful of humanity. If things were that evil up to the time of the flood…can you imagine what sin checked would have looked like in our sinful world today?

Francoise…you say “that is one scary God.” And you are right. God is all powerful, all knowing and perfect. He is sinless…and he can not dwell with sin. It is a wise man that in his sin still fears God. However I fear that you say that in a mocking way…not in a way that sincerely and rightly fears a holy, righteous, just God to whom you will give an account.

You point out the scripture that “tells believers that they are to hate their families to prove how much they love him. How egocentric is that?”

Francoise God tells us in his word that we are to love one another. That people will know we are Christians by our love. Throughout the Bible…God command us to love him and love each other. With that command in mind…do you think that perhaps you are not fully grasping what Jesus is saying?

What he means dear friend, is that in comparison to how much you love God…your love for others, family and friends will seem like hatred. It also means that your priority above all must be God and obeying him.

Next you go into Jesus’ teaching about “turning the other cheek”. You question on how that applied to real life. “Do you allow some thug to beat you to a pulp? Do you teach your children to be punching bags?”

Dear one…no that’s not what teaching is about. What it’s getting at the heart of the matter is forgiveness. When you choose to forgive and overlook an offence you can restore or build a relationship. May there come a time that God asks you to literally turn the other cheek after being physically assaulted or beat up? Yes…and indeed Jesus did that on the way to the cross. Do you think that if Jesus did that he might on occasion ask us to do the same? Either a physical or emotional slap?

In fact…even as I write this…I find the Holy Spirit convicting me. You see….I took offense at a person’s comments and actions toward me. My first reaction was to verbally fight back. My second reaction was to walk away…and never talk to them again. Left to my own devises…I might do that. But with God’s word instructing me…and the Holy Spirit dwelling within me…I am reminded that’s not an option as a Christian. My call is to forgive. That may mean that tomorrow I will be hurt again by that same person. Yet I’m called upon to forgive. I’m not called upon to be responsible for what they do to me. That’s up to God to work in that person’s life and character.

Remember when Peter was bellyaching about forgiving. He thought he was being magnanimous in throwing out the idea of forgiving someone seven times. Jesus responded that no…instead we are to forgive 70 times 7. Not meaning on number 491 now you can be unforgiving. No…it means you continue to forgive.

Just for theory sake…let pretend that God is real and he is the God of the Bible. Would you say you have sinned according to what God has revealed and commanded in his Bible? Would you like to receive forgiveness for your sins if that’s the case? Would you want God to turn the other cheek and forgive you? I surly do…because I can’t go a day without sinning. Sinning against God and against man. I’m grateful that Jesus turned the other cheek and endured the punishment of the cross so I might be forgiven.

Next you raise some points that God is mistaken because Jesus referred to the mustard seed as the smallest of all seeds. Then you claim that God is woefully ignorant about the basics of astronomy. Francoise…just between you and me…you come off as awfully cocky and arrogant. You think you are superior to God in your wisdom and knowledge.

I don’t think it’s too much of stretch to see that Jesus was gearing his words to his audience. The mustard seed would have been commonly seen and perhaps the one of the smallest seeds they encountered. So when he compared the mustard seed and the amount growth that even the smallest seed could produce…it was something that they could relate to. On the issue of the “stars falling” perhaps that is God dumbing down it down to a human perspective. To human being living on the face of the earth…long before technological advances…it appeared that the stars we indeed falling.

Your protest and depiction of God over these issues is not that of ignorance…it’s that one who is nitpicking at everything because he does not want to acknowledge there is a God…much less the God of the Bible. If it’s true…that would mean that you would have to choose. Continue to live your live as you choose and reap the consequences…or choose to obey God and change.

Next you refer to the passage in which Jesus tells us that this generation would not pass away until his second coming. Francoise the exact meaning of this has had many Bible scholars interested in what exactly Jesus meant when he said this. It’s not as clear as you make it out or interpret it. Some have theorized that “this generation” may be referring to the generation that is alive when the sign of Jesus second coming are starting.

Lastly…you bring your argument back to Shirley Phelps-Roper. You raise the issue that Shirley was a victim of horrific abuse.

Child abuse and sexual abuse is something that no one should ever have to endure Francoise. However…that doesn’t excuse her hateful and ugly actions that and that that her clan are perpetrating upon the families of dead soldiers. Nor does it excuse the hateful, arrogant, and condemning words to sinners….when in fact Ms. Ropers is just another sinner.

I do believe that people should be warned about the consequences of living a sinful life. But I also know that I am a sinner too. That while my sin may be different…I’m just as sinful as another person. My sin is just as ugly to God…and not receiving the provision for my sin…will land me in hell along with the others whose sin I consider so much greater than my own.

Bottom line Francoise…just because Ms. Roper may have had a wretched childhood does not excuse her current actions. It may give insight into why she is such a sick and troubled soul. But it doesn’t excuse it. Many, many people have endured unimaginable pain and suffering at the hands of a parent…but they grow up to be fine, decent, kind, caring people. So the one does not automatically lead or excuse the other.

If you are genuinely interested in the truth Francoise…if you truly want to know if the Bible is true or false…can I suggest that instead of reading the Bible to pick it apart you read it with an open mind and heart. Tell God that you don’t think he’s real and if he is, to reveal it to you in his written word the Bible.

Some of the best Biblical education I’ve received has been through Bible Study Fellowship. Why don’t you find a class in your area…they have classes all around the world. Commit to yourself that for nine months you will fully investigate the claims of Christ and of God as he has revealed in the Bible. This year…we’ll be studying the book of Romans…starting that first week after Labor Day in September.

Then…after studying the Bible for that time…and giving God a chance to reveal himself to you…if you want to remain in doubt and unbelief…you have your whole life ahead of you to do as you choose.

If what the Bible says is true….don’t you want to know that? Francoise…if you would like me to send you some CD’s in the book of Roman’s by my dear former Pastor, Chuck Obremski…it would be my privilege.

So what do you say Francoise? Are you more committed to the truth…or are you more committed to doubt and unbelief because you don’t want to be accountable to God or anyone else for that matter?

I hope and pray that you will make the right choice Francoise…as does God. But he is a gentleman and will give you that freedom to choose and believe him…or reject him.

Fellow Christians…I invite you to please read Francoise response to one of my articles on Shirley Phelps Roper. If you would like to respond to and can do so in a more effective manner…I would love to publish your comments. So please click on the comments or e-mail links below. Lord bless…Susan

Francoise said…I am an atheist (which means that I believe in one fewer god than you Christians do) and am constantly amazed at what religion does to people's heads. I am even more amazed at how many Christians don't bother to read their own Bible. As one who has read it, I can assure you that Shirley Phelps Roper is NOT inconsistent with Biblical teachings, particularly as she and her crowd base their view of "God" on the capricious, psychopathic entity of the Old Testament. Hoo-boy! That is one SCARY god!!!!

I am even more amazed at the teachings of Christ which most Christians conveniently ignore. Like the exhorting of believers to "hate" (Yes, he DOES use that word!) their families to prove how much they love him. How egocentric is that??!!

He taught you to turn the other cheek. Fine, except how does that apply in a real-life situation? Do you let some thug beat you to a pulp? Do you teach your children to allow themselves to be punching bags for any passing bully? I bet you don't.

If Jesus is also "God", as most Christians seem to believe, then why did he make basic mistakes in biology? He stated that the mustard seed is the smallest of all seeds. It isn't. As far as seeds go, it's fairly large. He said that it grows into a tree, and that birds nest in it. Wrong on both counts. He also said that stars, at some point in the future, will fall from heaven. For a god, he seems woefully ignorant about basic astronomy. Stars do NOT fall!!!! He stated that his generation would not die off until his second coming. They've all been dead for 2,ooo years, and he still hasn't arrived. Why should I, or anyone else for that matter, believe him? What sort of credibility does he have? Just wondering.

But to get back to Shirley. Before you're tempted once more to judge and condemn her, I strongly suggest that you Google "Addicted to Hate". Read her heart-rending story, and weep. Go down on your knees and thank your god that your life has (in all probability) been better than hers. Ask your god to forgive your hard hearts and judgmental thoughts. Ask yourselves how sane and pleasant YOU would have been had you grown up in the Phelps Psycho Compound. Shirley and her siblings grew up in a war zone, their days and nights filled with acute, relentless physical and emotional terror and pain. She was starved, beaten, threatened, compelled into forced marches and made to watch as her brothers and sisters were tortured and abused. She is a most unfortunate human being, and her actions in public are the expected consequences of the horrors she endured. Send out kind thoughts. Send her a bouquet of flowers, anonymously, via Interflora. If you meet her, spare her a kind word. If you can't manage that, refrain from fighting with her. Shirley's dad and the god of the Old Testament are pretty much the same in personality -vindictive, brutal and unjust. No wonder the poor woman is a screaming wreck! Lay off her, for pity's sake, and concentrate on developing some sympathy for her appalling plight.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Susan, this response was outstanding. To the point, but saying the truth in love. Thanks for taking the time to address F's comments so clearly.

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