Saturday, April 17, 2010

Musing Over La-La Land

God is a perfect judge with perfect grace! There is a blinding contradiction here. If God's grace is going to spare us from what we deserve, how can He ever give us what we deserve? Alternatively, how can He be a perfect judge if His grace precludes Him from judging us fully and hence perfectly?

Here seem to be the only possibilities to resolve this dilemma: 1) one is absolutely true and the other is false. This necessarily means we are either all saved or all screwed! 2) Neither is true. 3) They are both relatively true. But of course if their individual truth is relative they can just as well both be absolute! This contradiction is but circular nonsense! (see The Duality Of Relativism/Absolutism for clarification) Which seems to be the only reasonable conclusion? I would say 2) neither is true.

Ultimately, behind this warm and fuzzy idea that a perfect God is going to save good people and condemn bad people just does not overcome the simplest of scrutiny. Apart from opinions, how is it determined who is good enough to be spared and who is bad enough to be condemned?

“It has nothing to do with being good or bad, rather, it has everything to do with being saved through belief,” it is often asserted. The problem with this is extensively dealt with in my discussion on what belief is (Obfuscating The Christian Doctrine Of Salvation), and suffice it to say, seems to come up short as a tenable explanation.

Basically, the idea behind this view is believing Jesus Christ died for our sins and hence is an atonement for all of our egregious acts and thoughts, past, present and future. But what about the person who believes “everything” as it were but is nonetheless a complete prick? Conversely, what about the person with a heart of gold who believes seemingly “nothing”? 

One might naively claim the prick does not really believe. Why? Because he does not do what he believes or at least claims to believe? Be careful here! This is a very slippery slope! If this is the standard as to what constitutes belief, we all fail miserably. None of us can even in principle do everything we claim to believe, as only Jesus could supposedly.

So using this as a measurement of belief would require a purely subjective evaluation as to what is an acceptable amount of “failure” so as to still be considered belief. Thus, in order for one's beliefs to be “genuine”, he must ultimately demonstrate said beliefs through “action”. In other words, one must “do” what he claims to believe.

That the prick does not really believe is predicated on the notion that he must “prove” he believes by “doing”! And of course the dilemma with the idea of “doing” as being paramount to demonstrating that one “truly” believes is problematic because this can only be measured on purely subjective terms.

I think what needs to be pointed out is, at the end of the day, I could not care less what somebody believes. Ultimately, what does seem to matter to me is how I am treated. If people “believe” but are jerks, do I care one iota that they “believe” this or that?

Conversely, if people believe nothing but treat me with supreme kindness and respect, do I care that they do not believe this or that? What do you think? What might God think?


  1. I think that God looks at the heart. Remember what Jesus said "not everyone who says to me Lord Lord will enter the kingdom of heaven but ony he who does the will of my father. they will say did we not prophesy in your name and perform miracles in your name but I will say to them away from me I never knew you." You right that it is impossible for any of us to completely measure up and therefore we all need grace. However we still have to give one hundred percent. Jesus says this time and time again. "he who does not pick up his cross and follow me daily is not worthy of me" "he who puts one hand on the plow and looks back is not fit for service in the kingdom of heaven." This notion that all you have to do is believe that Jesus is the Son of God to fully receive is his grace is not biblical. Jesus did come save a bunch of free loaders he came to call the righteous and the unrighteous into His service. As far as God being just; He is just because He created everything so it is all His to do with what He wants.

  2. I am glad that you write these blogs because it gets me thinking. I was pondering what you wrote about a person believing that Jesus is the Son of God and died for his or her sins and still deciding to be a jerk. Obviously a person cannot follow Jesus' teachings and be a jerk, because he spent so much time talking about loving your neighbor in a very emphatic manner that left no wiggle room. So, that person would have to be someone who believes that Jesus is who he says he is and thinks that Jesus has nothing to teach him. For a person to truly believe that Jesus is the Alpha and the Omega, that all things are created by Him through Him and for Him, that He has complete knowledge of the universe and still honestly believe that he or she knows better than Christ they would have to be ridiculously arrogant. They would have to be so arrogant it is absurd to think that such a person exists. Even if a person that arrogant did exist it would be impossible for them to believe in someone like Jesus existed, because that would be an acknowledgment of someone greater than themselves.

  3. Thanks for responding Brian. I don't think one who fails to act according to a belief is necessarily arrogant. What about the morbidly obese person that wants to lose weight but fails to follow your advice? My ultimate view is that it doesn't matter whether God exists. As such, one who finds meaning in life finds it in life ITSELF as opposed to finding meaning in life only because God MAKES it meaningful. See following blog for more on this "intrinsic" meaning perspective:

  4. Thank you for your response. I was not talking about individual actions; I was referring to attitudes or lifestyles. I agree that going against your beliefs is not necessarily arrogant however treating a being you believe to be the creator of all as though He has nothing to teach you is. As far as morbidly obese people are concerned you are dealing with addictions and they may believe that they need to change but, that doesn't mean that they believe that they can.